Gray Ghost 1980 Pontiac Firebird - Second Gen Showroom - Firebird Nation

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Gray Ghost 1980 Pontiac Firebird


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#1 TransAmer99

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  • Year: 1980
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  • Engine: 1972 Pontiac 400
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Posted 22 April 2009 - 10:36 AM

Okay, probably about time to do the 'Official Gray Ghost Introduction'. Some of you may have heard the story, but I never get tired of telling it, so bear with me. In 1997, a buddy of mine had started TACH - the Trans Am Club of Houston, picking up where a former club had disbanded several years before. Since we worked at the same facility and I was in Graphics at the time, he enlisted my assistance in creating a club logo. This was before I was a diehard Pontiac fan, although I had owned a pretty sweet '83 Grand Prix from 1983 until 1988. Anyway, back to the topic at hand - I did a visual study of the 2nd Gen hoodbird designs and decided that would form a basis for the logo. See what you think:

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Bob was hooked on the design and I was smitten by the urge to own a 'Screaming Chicken' of my own. Through the club newsletter, I learned of a fellow with two for sale - a '79 Pontiac Firebird 403 car and a 80 t-topped Pontiac Firebird 301. He was asking $1000 each. So, promising my wife that I wouldn't do anything foolish (unless it was a really, really good deal), Bob met me at my house and we drove out in the country in his pristine, award-winning 400/4-spd TATA. As we neared the place, I could hardly believe my eyes. Both cars were in the guy's front yard and from a block away, looked very complete. Perhaps this wasn't going to be a wasted trip after all. Did I mention that I love T-tops, despite their many problems. Yes, I had already pretty much made up my mind.

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Keep in mind that this was February, 1998 and I had yet to own a digital camera. Therefore, I don't have many pics of Gray Ghost's early days. So, the guy comes out to greet us, see's Bob's Tenth and declares "you guys certainly don't need any of my cars!" I explain that, no, I didn't 'need' one, but was interested in looking nonetheless. Bob, being considerably more expert than me, was there to do transportation duty and offer his impressions of the cars. Both had been sitting out under a tree for some time, as leaves, sap and branches made pretty evident. But the guy had jumpstarted the cars the evening before to charge them up and after a little coaxing, my T-topped diamond-in-the-rough started and ran. We took it for a brief test drive, careful not to let the exposed seat springs go where no man has gone before. Yes, the interior was pretty rough as the sun had pretty much eaten up all the oyster gray plastic and vinyl. But the car ran, and that was the important part, and I though it might make it back to my house in one piece where further evaluation could take place. We negotiated a $750 pricetag because, as I put it, I'll have to get some seatcovers right away and it was very low on gas. The seller balked, but his wife must have smelled cash and gave him a nudge. 'Okay', he said, 'Deal!' Bob chided me on the way out the door with the keys, saying that if we hadn't reached a deal, he would have given the guy the whole thousand bucks!

I asked Bob to tail me home, just in case anything happened, so we stopped at a NAPA store for some seat covers, gassed up next door and were on our way - 40 long miles to the house. But a funny thing happened near the interstate: Bob couldn't resist the urge to romp on his Tenth, just to show off the inferiority of my anemic 4.9 (non-turbo) with it's factory-rated 150 hp. In so doing, Bob threw his fan belt and effectively disabled his own car! So I turned around, picked him up after securing his car by the roadside and carted his rump back to NAPA for some belts, hoses and a screwdriver set. Note to self: never go anywhere in an old car without tools and supplies in the trunk!

But we did make it back home after helping Bob replace two derailed belts and an upper radiator hose. I sheepishly greeted my wife on the driveway by saying 'it followed me home - can I keep it?'

Anyway, the next order of business was gutting and replacing the interior. I got all my plastic pieces and the hobnail cloth seats off of ebay from a guy in KS who was parting out a late-2nd Gen. It cost me all of $150 and necessitated a switch from gray to black, but I liked it better that way. My inlaws were vacationing in CO and I had them detour slightly on their way home to stop by KS and pick up the loot, so I didn't even have to pay shipping! (did I mention that this has been a low-buck, DIY project from day one?)

Anyway, I've done all the work myself, with help from other TACH buddies and even got the paint & body done for less than $3k. I won't bore you with any more verbage, but allow the pics to do the talking:

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'Thank you very much and I hope we passed the audition!'
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Rest In Peace, Pete, a.k.a. "Brother Rat" and Jay, our Firebird Brother!
Y'all two keep each other out of trouble up there, okay?

#2 formulafan

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 10:41 AM

Classic and I love the gray. you rarely see gray on old restored T/As anymore.. nice work and beautiful car.
MODS
CAI w/ 9" high flow filter.
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More to come

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#3 electrobrandino

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 10:53 AM

Very awesome story....I love the 2nd gens, and hopefully can afford to get one and restore it someday :29snick:

#4 JBs81Turbo

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:06 AM

Beautiful...I hope I can make mine that nice some day.

#5 CF_TransAm

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:25 AM

Sweet bird!!! But the "TACH" logo.......Awesome but but your @ idle......should be red lined!!! :29snick:
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#6 badbird5.7

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:23 PM

beautiful car
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2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS.6

5.7 ltr LS1
Slp lid w/ holley powershot filter
Jaam Ram Air System
LT headers, ory, Slp loudmouth 1 exhaust
Slp manual fan switch
Tripple gauge pod
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Corvette ZO6 rims 17x8.5 front, 18x9.5 rear

#7

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 03:24 PM

truly a work of art my man! looks perfect

-shouldahadaveight

#8 ta collector

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 04:25 PM

great story and a nice looking bird to go along with it,thanks for sharing.
our birds:
1967 Firebird
1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am
1979 W72 400 4 speed Trans Am
1984 Trans Am 15th Anniversary
1991 Trans Am GTA
2002 Trans Am Collector Edtion #1358
2008 G8 GT



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#9

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 04:58 PM

that is a great lookin bird!!!

#10 DanJz

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 05:48 PM

That bird is gorgeous!!! Great job!


I really hope to own a second gen bird someday
1992 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350- my baby. My summer DD, runs and drives great but needs some minor work. Current mods: 4th gen center console, aftermarket Alpine stereo and Polk Audio speakers. Future plans: new exhaust system (winter project), engine overhaul and upgrade once the L98 gets tired (which won't be for a good long while since she's been well taken care of and has another 150,000 in her I'm sure) and new paint job and decals. Current gremlins bugging me: a passenger window motor dying a slow and painful death, a very slowly leaking power steering hose, and a drivers seat that likes to recline and rock back and forth without me touching the lever lol. I'd love to get a nice set of black 4th gen seats for it at some point but it's not my main concern. My Dad's the only one who can't stand the current seats lol


She's not perfect, but she's still awesome!

Unfortunately I'm away at school now so I really don't get to see her as much :(. This summer should be a good one. New rims (The Ronals in the picture below) are going back on the car, and by the end of the summer I hope to put a new exhaust on it, but we'll see



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#11 SoulTerror

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 06:01 PM

Cool story and sweet looking bird.

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#12 FBN Firebird Nation

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 06:07 PM

Beautiful Firebird, great story, and great Logo!!

#13 TransAmer99

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  • Engine: 1972 Pontiac 400
  • Transmission: TH-350, 2.41 rear

Posted 23 April 2009 - 07:08 AM

Thanks for all the great comments, folks, they are certainly appreciated - as are each of you. Here's a few pics I didn't get in yesterday:

A little extra detailing when I did the brakes
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A closeup of my 'custom' speedometer/odometer
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Some of my fresh air intake handiwork
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Some additional 'early days' pics of Gray Ghost
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I drove the car for a year after the paintjob trying to decide whether I really wanted to apply the decals. I finally decided to put them on. I had purchased a set from Phoenix Graphix shortly after acquiring Gray Ghost.
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Rest In Peace, Pete, a.k.a. "Brother Rat" and Jay, our Firebird Brother!
Y'all two keep each other out of trouble up there, okay?

#14 ta collector

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 07:23 AM

love all the pics, Jim
our birds:
1967 Firebird
1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am
1979 W72 400 4 speed Trans Am
1984 Trans Am 15th Anniversary
1991 Trans Am GTA
2002 Trans Am Collector Edtion #1358
2008 G8 GT



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#15 81frbd

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 07:32 AM

Looks great. Don't see too many Ontario Grays anymore. Looks like Phoenix does some nice decals.

#16 DBridge

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:09 PM

Wow man, I love how you get a rough car that can be an eyesore and turn it into a real head turner! Love the story! Great pictures to go along with it! No doubt a great lookin car!
"You can live in your car, but you can't race in your house."
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#17 Letsrollracer

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:49 PM

Great job on your bird, looks great.
1991 Fire bird with a possi rear end with 410 gears, and a K and N air and oil filter and some royal purple, also a Flow master 3 inch stainless steel exhaust.Hey Imports call me when you find the other half of your engine.


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#18 1tinindian

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 02:51 PM

Love the color! :waitasec:
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
2006 Pontiac GTO
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#19 Pete W

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 03:21 PM

Jim, she is a beautiful bird and so glad you restored it, the color is excellent! Thanks for all the info, great to see this! :waitasec: :25help:


#20 TransAmGirl91

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 03:26 PM

Great pictures Jim!! Posted Image

Love the color.
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