Author Topic: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?  (Read 4336 times)

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« on: February 01, 2016, 12:58:57 AM »
My 75 Formula 400 needs rear quarters, trunk and floor pans,etc.in addition to the usual drivetrain and suspension rebuild. The sad fact is I cannot restore the car and sell it for even build cost, so the car currently sits, it's fate uncertain. As much I would hate to part the car out to recoup my cost, even I know it's rare Bird, and still has a 481988 400, 4-speed, Rally gauges and Rally II wheels. I could part it out and recoup my costs, but I need a street car because my 72 Esprit will become a track car with a full cage, race seats, and essentially not street legal.

My idea is to convert the 75 Formula 400 into a 70 bodystyle front and rear- add new repro 70-73 full quarters,  rear and trunk pan, rear bumper, taillights70-72 nose and valance. I already have the nose, bumper brackets, lower valance and turn signals, so the front end will be easy. Obviously the rear shell mods will be extensive, but all the parts are available and the end result will be much more desirable to me than a 75 Formula 400. I know it wouldn't have the same value as a real 70 Formula 400, but I would have a frame-off restored replica at a fraction of the cost and one hell of a street Bird to drive around. Turning this one into a Pro tourer would be a definite option as well.

Any feedback or thoughts on this idea are appreciated.

Geno
« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 12:29:16 PM by 72blackbird »
1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

nas t eh

  • Active Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 841
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2016, 04:05:10 AM »
If I was in your shoes I would not restore it as a 75 and I would only restore it as a 70-73 if I thought I could not find a true 70-73 formula with good panels on it for less money then the restoration of the 75 would cost. I think you can still find a very solid early formula for $12-18,000. I don't know how much metal work you want to do and how much you value your time, but it sounds like that 75 needs $5-8000+ in metalwork alone. If it's only a financial decision I think you will be parting it.
current
73 T/A 4speed
past birds
75 T/A 455 4speed
75 T/A 400 4speed

silver78

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3433
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2016, 07:21:08 AM »
Thats alot of metal work and years to complete.  I'd consider parting it and use the funds to buy what you want.
MY BUILD THREAD:  http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=41850.0

Previous builds:
65 Galaxie sold
67 camaro RS sold
68 camaro RS sold
69 camaro sold
72 Nova SS
81 T/A 4 spd sold
86 IROC sold
88 Formula 350 sold
92 Z-28 sold
93 9C1 Caprice sold
94 Impala SS sold

FormTA

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2877
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 11:04:42 AM »
I'm one of the crazy ones.. I'd make the swap. You have the car to start.
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 01:00:13 PM »
I do agree changing the rear of the shell is extensive, but my time is free and I would offset the cost of the conversion by selling the front and rear bumpers, which do fetch good prices on the 2nd gen parts market. Of course I would need a jig and a rotisserie to do the work too, but I do have a 72 Esprit to verify panel position and alignment.

Cost is a factor in any build for me, so having a decent core with all drivetrain parts and not having to buy a car saves me some money. My goal here is not to build a numbers- matching 70-72 Formula 400, but to turn a 75 Formula 400 into a replica of a 70-72. I know many wouldn't spend the money unless it was the real thing and I understand that logic,  but I'm trying to make the best use of what I have to achieve a mechanically identical result. Most likely the car will receive pro touring upgrades as well, and I don't doubt the 4-speed will get replaced with a 5-speed down the road. I have yet to run the numbers, but another goal of this project is to do it as cheaply as possible within reason. The 406 currently in my 72 Esprit will go right into this car, since the 72 is getting a e-head, roller cammed 455 and that engine is nearing completion. The 4-speed will be rebuilt with help from local Pontiac buddies. I'm going to make a parts list and see what it will take to make this conversion happen.

Geno
1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 01:00:13 PM »

nas t eh

  • Active Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 841
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 01:30:52 PM »
When you get a parts list together I'm sure you'll have your own answer. It will either make sense to you or it won't. I'd like to see the list and cost once you have it, if you don't mind sharing.
current
73 T/A 4speed
past birds
75 T/A 455 4speed
75 T/A 400 4speed

Jack

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10203
  • 1971 Esprit TA Clone W72 1972 Formula 68 350 HO
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 02:34:02 PM »
I would get another 71 or 72 Espirt and not mess with the back, I would consider converting a 74 but you should be able to find an Espirt for the price of the 75.




Regards, Jack

hakitup

  • Active Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 998
  • What more do you need?
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2016, 04:10:40 PM »
I think it all depends on your budget and time frame. I think it would be cool to see a 70-73 with the 75 rear window, then tell everyone it was the original test car for the window that had sealing issues :D

Tom H
"I don't know what you call it, I only know the sound it makes when it lies!!"

1975W87

  • Active Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 342
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2016, 07:56:09 AM »
I think 70 thru 73 are the best looking 2nd gens. Since you have to replace all the sheetmetal anyways it would be a cool project and you would have one unique ride.

FormTA

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2877
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

roadking77

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8731
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2016, 09:48:49 AM »
Sounds like a good idea, but I  think it would be much easier to part the 75 and find a pre 73 firebird to work with. Although you say your time cost nothing, that is not true. You may not pay yourself but time is valuable in many other ways. I think you have your mind made up and im looking forward to see your project.
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2016, 10:01:44 AM »
Well I grabbed my copy of Classic Industries Firebird catalog and listed all of the parts needed to put a 70-73 rear onto a 75-78 shell. In addition to new full quarters, I would need inner drop panels behind the lower quarters, a center fill panel between the trunk panel and rear bulkhead panel, a rear valance panel, bumper braces, and gas tank mounting brackets. I'm sure there are other small parts not listed but are needed to do the conversion, in addition to the back glass, gas tank,tank straps, taillights and wire harness- the sum total of new parts without any discount pushes close to $2000. In short, it would take serious work and funds to do the conversion.

I think if could find a 70-73 shell in decent condition for the same money, it would be easier to move the subframe and modify it to fit, instead of spending  $2k to convert a 75 shell. On the up side of that conversion, the 75 Formula is a factory 4 -speed car and I would have no issues about it wearing Formula 400 emblems, or calling it a Formula 400 at a meet or car show. Nitpicking? I know the 70-73 Formula crowd can be as snobbish as the 70-73 TA crowd when it comes to replicas, especially when they see the emblems. I'm not trying to offend anyone, but I do also want it to look authentic- the biggest Pro touring mods might be a built engine, some 17" honeycombs and some Rally 1000 seats- the rest will be stock.

Geno

1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

nas t eh

  • Active Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 841
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2016, 02:25:50 PM »
That's actually slightly less then I figured the parts would cost. I thought you would end up a little over $3000.
 
current
73 T/A 4speed
past birds
75 T/A 455 4speed
75 T/A 400 4speed

scarebird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1287
  • Parts vender
      • Scarebird Classic Brakes
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2016, 02:49:09 PM »
I have actually done this to a 79; if you are handy with a MIG gun and plasma cutter it is not a big thing - though fixing a 75 is far easier.

http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=718107&highlight=heretic&page=5

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2016, 01:39:41 AM »
I have actually done this to a 79; if you are handy with a MIG gun and plasma cutter it is not a big thing - though fixing a 75 is far easier.

http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=718107&highlight=heretic&page=5
Scarebird,
Impressive project. I like how you kept the 75 rear wraparound rear glass- I don't think I will do that, but it suits your car well.

I have less than $ 2k in my 75 Formula 400, and the car has a 481988 400 as well as a 4-speed, so my plans are to see if both are usable and can be rebuilt. I have no plans for an expensive LS crate engine- but I know many prefer it. Even with repop sheet metal and lots of new parts, I might be into the Formula for another  $6-8k- not bad for a 70 Formula 400 replica. The car already has Rally gauges too, so I plan to just upgrade to a160 mph speedo and use the stock woodgrain applique dash plate- my 72 Esprit is already on its way to being a full-on pro tourer, so factory gauges are fine on this car.

Geno



1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2016, 01:39:41 AM »



scarebird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1287
  • Parts vender
      • Scarebird Classic Brakes
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2016, 09:33:12 AM »
Thanks.  If you were to do it yourself I would change over if you prefer the 70-73 look.  If having a shop repair the damage I would stay 75.  Were I to do this over I would have gone with the 74 Super Duty look and saved much hassle in the rear quarters; just swapping upper tail panels instead of lower quarters.

NOT A TA

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3163
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2016, 10:15:11 AM »
Geno, have you considered using the 75 to build the track car out of? Sell off all the original bits and buy fiberglass stuff to give it the 70 look but lighter. Just make flat sheetmetal floors instead of repros eliminate the tail panel filler and so on (think cheap). Ya know, "because race car".
John Paige
Lab-14.com

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2016, 11:48:49 AM »
Geno, have you considered using the 75 to build the track car out of? Sell off all the original bits and buy fiberglass stuff to give it the 70 look but lighter. Just make flat sheetmetal floors instead of repros eliminate the tail panel filler and so on (think cheap). Ya know, "because race car".
Hi John,
I decided to make my 72 Esprit a track car because it already has full Autometer gauges installed, as a few other parts (Kirkey race seats, solid body bushings) that make it more ready for track time. The 75 Formula will need more work, but OTOH it has the Rally gauges and the 4-speed setup- it wouldn't make a bad track car either. If I were to make the 75 Formula the track car, I would leave the back 74-75 bumper on, put a 70 nose on, swap the race parts on, put a cage in it and hit the track.The issue is still the rear quarters- they're full of bondo and need to go. I also haven't done a complete inspection of the car too- I'll be lucky if the framerails are solid too.

Geno
1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

jmkm4800

  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2016, 05:50:09 PM »
Ive been thinking of changing the nose of my 76 to a 70-73. im not too concerned about the rear because im on a BUDGET. seems like an easy swap, is that true? Thx

Jack

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10203
  • 1971 Esprit TA Clone W72 1972 Formula 68 350 HO
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2016, 06:46:26 PM »
Ive been thinking of changing the nose of my 76 to a 70-73. im not too concerned about the rear because im on a BUDGET. seems like an easy swap, is that true? Thx

Easy enough especially since the hood is the same, you need the nose (obviously) but also the l-bracket (2 sets large and small) and the fender front clip is different, see my restoration thread I modified a 78 fender to work with my 72.




Regards, Jack

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2016, 09:39:49 PM »
I have a 76 TA that I put a 77 nose on- the 76 models lend themselves better to the 77-78 bodystyle because the rear is identical to the 77-78 rear. I just added the 77 nose, grills, bumper brackets, and the T/A hood, and my 76 TA now looks EXACTLY like a 77-78 model. But brackets do need to be added to the lower fender, to keep the lower back edge of the bumper tied to the fender.

The 70-73 nose swap is very easy on a 76 model because of the contoured hood, which is the same shape as the 70-75 hood- it's just a matter of getting the right bumper brackets to mount the 70-73 bumper. You'll have to remove the 76 header panel bracket on the fenders to mount the 70-73 nose, but the spot welds can be drilled out easily. You'll also have to add some metal tabs on the lower fender edges to give yourself something to tie the 70-73 lower valence to.

Geno

 

1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

jmkm4800

  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2016, 09:32:24 PM »
Any thoughts on us body fiberglass nose and valence? Wondering if it would be easier on a 76 to 70-73 conversion.

72blackbird

  • Oracle Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2016, 12:19:15 AM »
Any thoughts on us body fiberglass nose and valence? Wondering if it would be easier on a 76 to 70-73 conversion.
IMO the factory parts are easier to bolt onto existing fenders, after you remove the brackets that are specific to 76 models only. It all depends on your skill too- the lighter race fiberglass requires some bracket fabrication to mount.

Geno
1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

jmkm4800

  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2016, 05:52:53 AM »
Good info Geno, THANKS. I'm just getting back into this stuff and have minimal fabrication skills. Have a chance to get a front clip for less than a fiberglass nose. Think I'm picking it up today!!

Re: Convert a 75 Formula 400 to a 70: crazy or clever idea?
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2016, 05:52:53 AM »
You can help support TAC!