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1978 Pontiac Firebird Esprit


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#1

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:05 AM

Some of this is in another thread but it was easier to redo it then edit all the pics back in.
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Winter 2005-06

I got my hands on this great piece of machinery Oct 25th, 2005. i'm only the 2nd owner of this 1978 Pontiac Firebird Esprit and it's never been restored. Most of the work was done on this car back from 92-94 by a friend of mine. It was his father-in-law's car originally. This car has never seen winter and has never even had any snow touch the body. It's been stored in a garage it's whole life until the summer of 2005. That's when my buddy's wife wanted a Mazda Miata and she got preference in the garage. The Bird got put out in the driveway under a custom fit cover. Luckily I came along and got it before the snow flew that year. I got the steal of the year!!! The car had 108,600kms on it when I bought it. The drivetrain in it would cost more to build then what I paid for the whole car! I had it transported, in an enclosed transport, from London, Ontario to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia arriving here November 7th. When it arrived here at home I found out what an incredible deal I really got.....the car was loaded and I mean stuffed full of extra parts! Complete set of Window surround Mouldings, interior trim panels, weatherstrips, beltstrips, car cover....it was just a friggin treasure trove!

In 1978
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IN 2004
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Over the winter of 2005, I pulled the engine to rebuild it. Once it was out and cleaned I decided I'd rather put the winter budget into interior improvements. I order in NOS carpet, headliner and parcel shelf. I also added Autometer gauges which I mounted into the console, changed the Bowtie Tachometer to a slightly smaller less gaudy one, and got a Hurst DualGate shifter for her. Since I only have one ear that functions I don't need some fancy A$$ stereo system. I have a basic Panasonic CD AM/FM stereo which is powering 2 6"X9" Pioneer 180W speakers. I didn't want to destroy the dash so I left the stock radio there and mounted the stereo into the map pocket below it. While I had the interior out for the carpet to be replaced I replaced the rear interior trim panels. The original ones were sun-dyed to a lovely shade of pink, and severely dried out.

Winter 2006
This winter I relocated my oil & water gauges to the dash and built drink holders into my console. I also installed a new Pioneer deck, in the map pocket, and added a pair of 4" speakers into the original dash location of the premium speaker supplied by GM.

I didn't build a 383 Stroker this winter instead I've having done a 355 SBC making 410-425hp and 430-450 ft lbs of torque. The block deck was milled down .035 so that my pistons are only .005 down the bore at TDC. This should give me an effective compression ratio of 10.5:1. I port matched the heads to the intake, and had the flow of the Dart II Sportsman heads improved by the Speedshop. I got a complete Comp Cams kit, using the Xtreme Energy 274 Flat tappet Hydraulic as the stick.

I'm also finally retiring my Edelbrock Performer intake. I've had and used this intake for a minimum of 20 years! It's been on 4 different engines & vehicles. I got a new Edelbrock RPM Air Gap as a replacement. It's a pretty wild looking intake and should work well with the cam and heads. A Holley 750 Vac Sec will be feeding this beast.

The exhaust is being taken care of by Hooker Headers 1 5/8" tubes which will be going into a complete Flowmaster exhaust system.
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Winter 2007-08
I decided to pull the engine again this winter and just check it out to see how it was holding together. All the bearings were checked and re-installed. I had decided to change camshafts again this winter goingto a Comp Cams 280AR solid roller stick. Good thing I did too, as we found that 3 lobes were gone of the flat tappet cam in under 12,000 kms. I knew the inherent problems with flat tappets and today's oil so it was really no surprise. I also installed a 3500 B&M Convertor, Comp Engineering adjustable drag shocks on all 4 corners, Comp Engineering traction bars and had the Comp Engineering frame connectors put in. An Edelbrock "quiet" flow electric fuel pump, 1/2" fuel line and driveshaft loop were also installed. I also had the windshield replaced as it was pitted and scratched. I bought 2 new Cragars for the back, 15X10's witn 295/50/15's mounted on them.
All new brake lines were run and the power brakes were removed. The front end was totally rebuilt also.
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Exhaust cutouts were added
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http://i13.photobuck... 2008/sEPT6.jpg

So what's next for my bird, well I'll tell you. The drivetrain and ignition are coming out this winter and the car is being put away for a year or 2. The drivetrain and ignition are going in my Monza drag car and I'm planning on building a proper Pontiac drivetrain for her. I'm looking at doing a 455 matched up to an overdrive auto tranny. Also while the Bird is off the road the interior is going to be redone and she'll be painted.

Pete

#2 FBN Firebird Nation

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:11 AM

:burnout23: :beer: :2: Excellent thread Pete, and it looks like you are having a lot of fun with that Firebird. Did you have to think hard about cutting up that hood??

#3 1tinindian

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 02:27 PM

That looks like a T/A hood, Bob.

You really are getting the most out of your 'bird, Pete.
I salute you! :burnout23:
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#4 FBN Firebird Nation

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 02:54 PM

Now that you mention it Leon, I can see the black hood, I guess my eyes are starting to fail me. :burnout23:

#5 tonka

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 04:26 PM

WOW!!!!!! :burnout23: :beer: :2: :lmao22: Did you have 2nd thoughts on removeing that stock all matching #s engien?
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#6 Alan70

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:37 AM

Nice pics and story! Lets us know how the mazda does!

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:23 AM

When I got the car the ground pounding, asphalt ripping 305 was already gone;) It came with a 327 and now has a 355 SBC. I also forgot to add on the original thread that I'm now running a set of race prepped aluminum Bowtie heads. These things have had a lot of work done on them. Then I pulled the Hookers (as they didn't fit the angle plugs) and got a set of big tube Hedmans. It breathes much better now.

Yes Bob that is a 77 TA hood, I got it from a friend. It's just painted in black epoxy primer. The stock hood is back on now and the velocity stack removed, as it's getting too cool out.

Edited by Brother Rat, 08 October 2008 - 03:25 AM.


#8 TheArrogantOne

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:11 AM

damn rat, it looked good then, it damn well looks good now. as always sweet ride bro.
21 to 1, I'm liking the odds....

#9 Zippy

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:36 AM

Right on Pete. Lookin good. I'm glad your puttin a true Pontiac drivetrain in her though. :lmao22: 455, put some 3.08's in the rear, then you will be able to drive her HAHAHAHA


What cam you runnin in that 350?
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Posted 08 October 2008 - 10:58 AM

Right on Pete. Lookin good. I'm glad your puttin a true Pontiac drivetrain in her though. :middle_finger: 455, put some 3.08's in the rear, then you will be able to drive her HAHAHAHA


What cam you runnin in that 350?


Thanks for the kudos guys!

I'm running a Comp Cams 280AR solid roller.

Actually Zip, I'm thinking more along the lines of the 3.42 or even a 3.73 rear with the Poncho driveline. I'm going to do a 4spd auto for it so the should help the mileage.......shhyaaa right!!! The guys at the shop last night started on me about stroking a 455 to a 490.....now that sounds like fun :lmao22: :ditto: :middle_finger:

#11 96firebird

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 11:29 AM

WOW!! that looks awsome!! :lmao22: :ditto: i have always loved that style firebird.
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#12 JoeCool

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:34 PM

NICE :lmao22:
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#13 carrera4s

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 07:26 AM

Congrats Rat Brother!! :beer: Nice show and much more GO !!! :fbn2:
It's the perfect sleeper but I wouldn't show that filter around...it'd be much more "undercover" without it sticking out from the hood IMHO :fbn2:

I'm pretty ignorant and I'm about to show it once more...^^
why would you do those cutouts in the exhaust pipes?? just to diminish backpressure and make more noise or what??

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:41 AM

Congrats Rat Brother!! :beer: Nice show and much more GO !!! :fbn2:
It's the perfect sleeper but I wouldn't show that filter around...it'd be much more "undercover" without it sticking out from the hood IMHO :fbn2:

I'm pretty ignorant and I'm about to show it once more...^^
why would you do those cutouts in the exhaust pipes?? just to diminish backpressure and make more noise or what??


Oh I know keeping the stock hood on it gives it more of a sleeper look, but in all honesty when you hear this car you know it isn't a sleeper. Also what I found was that I had a very small area with which to intake air as the "normal" airfilter is a dropdown style. When I was racing I could feel it laying down bigtime on the top end, like it was starving. When I switched hoods and put the velocity stack on it, the runs felt better and my consistency started to show it.

Not an ignorant question at all Bud, as far as the exhaust cutouts go, I use them only when I'm at the strip. It gives me more power thru less backpressure. It's much easier to remove them and reinstall them then it is to disconnect the whole exhaust system.

#15 saliger64504

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 09:52 AM

as always pete nice bird cant wait to see some vid's of it also you planning on buying a set of electric cut outs so you dont haft to craw under the car to undo your dumps.
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Posted 09 October 2008 - 04:18 PM

as always pete nice bird cant wait to see some vid's of it also you planning on buying a set of electric cut outs so you dont haft to craw under the car to undo your dumps.


For what electric costs I'll crawl under and undo them. We only have 5 race weekends a year so it isn't too bad. I undo them in the garage on Thursday night then drive the car out onto the street on Friday to load it on the trailer I know my neighbours love me :beer:

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 10:39 PM

Lookin good man. Again, I'm with Zippy - can't wait to see pure Poncho power in that engine compartment! When you go overdrive, are you planning on a TH2004R? I've been back and forth on that idea for a few years myself. From the research I've done 3.90 or 4.10 are better gears for that trans.

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 02:47 AM

Thanks for the info Ken. I'm not sure what tranny I'm going to use, 700 or a 200.

#19 mr71transam

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 03:56 AM

Brother Rat, You have done a great job on your Bird. Just one question, with your Dual Gate shifter can you get into all gears. The reason I ask is because no matter how much I adjust mine I either can't get to latch (stay) into Low or Park. It's one or the other. I'm not sure if it's my unit or I'm just missing something. Did you make or buy the console cup holder? (OK two questions). Bottom line your Bird is a Really Great looking Bird. Hope to see more pictures.


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Posted 09 November 2008 - 12:37 PM

Nice ride! I'm curious how you fit the RPM intake under the stock hood. I've been told that it wouldn't fit on 2nd gen. birds. I'm trying to build a stroker 400 and would love to use the rpm manifold.




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