Author Topic: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd  (Read 363 times)

Maxthe222

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1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« on: June 11, 2019, 08:20:07 PM »
Well, that took long enough. Took a whole year to get the car here, and not all the parts aren't even here yet! Still waiting on the Doug Nash from the freight company in the states as well as a bunch of other junk.



Now thing thing has a helluva story behind it. And boy, it was something else to get all together, but at least I got a complete car for less than $2,000. And lemme tell ya, this car didn't come in once piece. So first question you'd all likely have is, "Max, surely you don't need another one of these, you already have a Y84, and somehow accumulated a '71 Formula somewhere down the line, why did you get another one? Albeit one that's not actually got an engine in it?" Great Question!

Well the Y84 is just a Y84, it's a fine car and it's WS6 too, but it's just not... rare enough. Like, it's a real SE, but y'know, everyone's got a Y84 now. Special Editions aren't special anymore, and now everyone has a black T/A around here. Also, I never had the chance to put my personal touch and make my own creative changes and expressions to the car without damaging the value and since I strongly believe in YOLO (You're Only originaL Once), I didn't wanna ruin it. So what then? The Macho ones smelt delicious. Only one in Australia, and no one knew where it was. All unique, all had awesome paint jobs and cool custom stuff done to them. Found 1978 #146 for sale, spent a year trying to buy it, the super greedy owner wouldn't come to a compromise on a total wreck of a T/A, and my heart was shattered. So what then?

Rumours spoke of a heavily customised 2.1 ton titan, capable of killing any Camaro, with the style of a New Romantic age album cover, with power, handling and style to surpass any vehicle of it's era. Not to mention it's rarity! None are the same, all are unique! with stylish paint jobs and eccentric interiors, it's PERFECT. Never would I imagine, this vehicle, nay, this legend of GM performance vehicles in a time where performance was in crisis, would ever be in the reach of a over-hyped teenager. Not to mention, the Cameo White on Carmine Red Hobnail is legitimately the colour combo I wanted for one of these cars. One of the first firebirds I looked at online was this white on red colour combo and had special editions not been a thing, I would've got them instead.



Low and behold, on craigslist for $1600, I see this picture. Only a few hours away from my mate's place in the states, with "could be a fire am" in the description of the listing, I gave the owner a call.



So this is the abridged version. Well, the owner was told by a friend of his friend of a friend's roommate said "Hey that looks like a FIRE AM" and he googled it and went with it. Only reason why I noticed it on CL. So, made him an offer for half the asking price, he just took it, and that was that. He is a really nice guy, he was actually a big Dodge collector and didn't know anything about Pontiacs. Also turned out to be a great contact for Barracuda parts. Gave me absolutely everything he could about the car. Phone number of the guy he got the car from, basically everything except an engine and transmission. Here it is on it's way to my buddy's place in the states. And I gotta say, My buddy Danny went above and beyond to help me out with this car. He helped in every way possible, he cleaned it out, replaced the windshield, the list goes on. He kept the car stored for me all this time, helped organise stuff with the freight companies, let me dump all my deliveries at his shop, helped me sell my other T/A's up there, got paperwork from the DMV's for me on my behalf, and even helped me find parts. Absolute champion, and if you need a mechanic when you're up in North Conway NH, go pay Danny and the Car Guys a visit. I can confidentially say he has (maybe too much at this point) f-body experience lol!




When I got the car into my buddy's workshop, I found an article online with a discussion in the comments with a guy called, let's just say, the "Q-Boss". I had a really interesting discussion with him about the car and the VSE history, and I sent him photos of a few things on the car which he said looked pretty VSE to him, so that was pretty cool.

Now this is the part that I really love doing. Tracking history on a car that has absolutely no information aside from a phone number for some random person, parking tickets from 1997, and a NY licence plate. The phone number was from a guy who just bought the car a few years back, he just wanted the car for the sub frame to put in a truck, but never used it, he mentioned he took some subframe bars from the car, and originally I thought he meant the WS6 frame braces or something. But later on down the line, I think he meant the VSE front structure kit, and I didn't realise that until a few months later when I saw the one broken bar in the trunk. So, whaddaya do?

Longer story short, contacted the local police station, they accidentally gave me all the last legal owner's details over the phone. Like, seriously? Since I wasn't expecting them to do that, I didn't get a chance to record what they said. They thought I was the owner calling them about the parking tickets even though the first I said was "I just bought this car". So, the woman on the phone recognised her mistake and just hung up, and that lead was dead. But I knew the guys name, just not how to spell it. The DMV didn't turn up anything, in NY they destroy all the information like that after 5 years, so 20 years was too big of a stretch. However, one guy at the DMV who was really helpful who used to have a firebird found out that the title was surrendered to NY in 1994. The question is, surrendered from where? The phone number trail brought me all the way back to 1997 when the car got towed, and I found the towing company who actually towed the car. Still in business, and since I had such a good run getting through like 3-4 owners who had the car before the truck-subframe guy, I knew the lead had to go dead somewhere. The towing guy didn't really care at all and said he didn't wanna waste his time talking to me. Thanks...

So the phone lead was dead, the DMV had nothing, and the police weren't gunna give me anything. Well, one last clue. The car wasn't originally from NY. The PHS says it was sold new in Texas, at Chris Bates Motor Company Inc in Beeville, Texas 78102.



I could find absolutely zero on that dealership. No names, pictures, basically anything to prove it existed, so that didn't help. But, the car must have been registered in Texas, right? Well, one phone call and a filling out one form later......



Unbelievable. Names and addresses to not one, but two previous owners. And the full name of the guy the police accidentally told me about! Straight to facebook, I added the owner before the guy in NY, and he immediately got back to me. He was very disheartened to see what happened to his car, and to see what state it was in. He said that the car was in fantastic condition when he sold it, all completely intact and all original. It was his father's car, and he had this car through high school and had a lot of time behind the wheel, and that he has some old photos of the him and the car. He confirmed the car was a FIRE AM and that he bought it with the VSE kits already installed. One other piece of information that he mentioned was that the guy his dad bought the car off was called "Craig Alstead". I can't find anything on this guy. He mentioned that the guy his dad sold it to was one of his Air Force buddies, which explains this picture I found underneath the seats:



So now, I have an almost complete timeline. Now the question is what happened to the car in the mid 90's? Well, I found that out too. So, I finally got in contact with the guy from NY. And boy that was a pain. I had found his son on FB, and a guy with his initials in the phone book. Turns out the guy in the phone book was a cousin, and I asked if he could pass a message on to the family. The son was straight out rude. Completely and utterly rude. I can see why he'd be annoyed at me for calling people in a phone book, but seriously? What he said was a bit uncalled for. Especially since I found more of his and his family's photos in the car and I'm actually going to send those back to him:



So anyway, I finally get a call with him. The elusive NY guy. A boy, that was an eye opener. The guy wasn't straight about anything. When I asked him what happened to the motor and transmission, he got a bit funny. He would insist that the motor inside was a 403 oldsmobile engine. Asked if he had a buildsheet, and he said it was in the glove box. Interesting to note, the buildsheet was in pieces under the bottom part of the passenger seat foam, so I don't think he was telling the truth about that either. And then said he blew the olds engine that was in it and took it to a scrapyard. Said he saw the 403 embedded right on the block. An olds to a manual transmission? Something didn't sound right. The car was a "Z" code 400, and the previous owner before him proved it was completely original when it left his hands. And here's the VIN too:



I asked where the car was and what happened to it. Well, I found out that too. He had a "friend" who had his own mechanic's shop and he had the car there for a while after he boofed the car. He gave me the name of the mechanic's shop and told me it closed down a few years back. Something told me he didn't really like the guy or they were on bad terms.

More googling and phone book scouring, and I found a trucking company under the same name from the same area with a phone number, and gave them a call. And yep yep, it was the mechanic! Told me that he had the car for a while, he was supposed to take engine out, and he dropped the transmission out to work on it, and there was a "disagreement" between the two, which lead the car to be left outside the shop for years. After a while, it got towed for sitting for so long or because it got moved onto the street, so the local council or government took it or whatever. And the guy even remembered the guy who towed the car, it was a local towing yard which was the same one I had called before, thus completing the timeline!

But, this doesn't answer the question of what happened to the engine and transmission. Well, someone told me that there was a complete '79 400 block for sale on ebay so I bought that block and heads etc. However, I put some adds up on the local area on CL and asked if anyone had another one of those '79 400 blocks for sale. After getting like 10 emails from bananas trying to sell me '68 400 blocks and other 400 Pontiac blocks. A month later, some guy emailed with a picture of a really nice condition block with the PWH stamp. I was surprised and replied back immediately. He asked what car it was out of and what the VIN was. Sent him a picture of the VIN and told him it was a white firebird that was somewhere in Schenectady. Sure enough, he emailed me a photo of the stamp on the side and I was over the moon. He was going to put it in his '79 firebird. I asked how much he wanted for it, asked if he'd trade for another PWH block, and he agreed. I spoke to him over the phone and asked him where he got it. He didn't want to tell me, but after I pressed him, he came out and said "I didn't buy it if that's what you're asking". I didn't think it was smart to ask anymore questions after that.


So, where are we now? Well, it's here now!











Oh and the assistant panel beater is here assesing the damage:


Here's the trunk, and yes it's as bad as you'd think a car sitting outside for 10 years with a battery tray glued onto the bottom part where the drain is so the water wouldn't drain out and the battery acid would spread would look:




And here we have the "factory" windshield "ram air" weight reduction intakes:




Rear seat floors:




Big phat Hurst shifta:


A 1/4 of the parts that came with the car:


The engine in pieces:


Ooooh, original fuel sticker tag  8)



So, the plan is, a very hot killer street performer, all it needs to do is beat modern mustangs and compete with the current day market. If it can be kept original, it will be original. Still deciding on EFI over a good ol Q-Jet. Interior will be mostly the same, considering getting Recaro's like the Dales Bale Junior silver F/A. There are plenty of those lying around my parent's attic, and some are absolute perfect 1984 double bump ones with the headrests. If I don't wanna spoil the recaros, i'll get a similar interior thing done like the blue '76 that a this person called Tracy now owns. The Bionic Phoenix has it's own unique colour pallet compared to the standard FIRE AM bright orange and red, so I will do my best to have them absolutely perfectly replicated on the side pillars. I really really wanna look into getting the Macho stripes and having "VSE" in the places where a Macho T/A would have "DKM", and having the Formula lettering on the side of the doors instead with FIRE-AM on the side. At first, I'm going to have the engine mildly built. I don't have too much experience behind big HP cars, so I don't wanna just get in a 500HP F/A and roll it off a cliff. My Y84 has maybe 180, so I can't say I have anything comparable. Maybe the '71 Formula? I've got all the structure kits and parts to fully restore and deck this thing out, so hoping this get's finished before I change to an aviation degree to become a pilot. (That commitment would take up wayyy to much time lol). If it's gunna be the only FIRE AM in Australia (maybe only one in the world outside the states  :shock:), it's gunna have to walk the walk and talk the talk.


Anyway, my university exam periods are coming up in a week or so, and I want to strip most of the junk out of the car and get it into every Australian car owner's favourite business, the panel shop. Engine block and parts are at my uncle's workshop already. Since the metal is cheap (even down here floor pans from {shudder} Ponti-world are pretty cheap) I may not go broke during this process. I think I have about a year and a half to finish the car, otherwise my dad's probably going to burn it.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 10:19:37 PM by Maxthe222 »
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2019, 10:10:43 PM »
Wooo project thread!

Also since it bothers me it's a phoenix, the mythical bird of fire and rebirth, not a lame eagle.  Secondly power with a manual transmission is a lot different than power with an automatic.  You have instant transmission of engine power with no loss(compared to a torque converter auto, still have drivetrain loss regardless) which is why with even the most anemic of engines you can spin the tires to some degree if it's a manual.  I'd say build the short block for power and then neuter it with more mild cam, intake, heads, exhaust, etc... until you're ready for more power and when you are it's just bolt-ons to get your power and the short block will be ready for it.  Which is kind of what you said anyway, but might as well spend the money on it being built once when the rest you could tackle yourself or worst case you have the shop do the cam with the engine in the car.

I wouldn't worry about keeping up with new cars though, never minding power you're at a huge gearing disadvantage and slight weight disadvantage if you're going to have the car fully optioned with power options and A/C.  I think the late second gens were right around 4,000 pounds all in for a fully loaded T-top automatic car, the manual saves a bit of weight though not sure if the Pontiac 400 is any lighter than the Olds 403.  Well compared to newer Mustangs and Camaros anyway, the freaking Challengers are really portly at 4,100-4,200 pounds depending on if it's the R/T or SRT.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 11:09:27 PM »
That is true, it is a Phoenix, although they do call the FIRE AM logo the bionic eagle. My olds still spins tyres very easily with it's TH350. I don't wanna bore the block out, that's one thing I wanna avoid. It's still a totally stock block. An engine builder I was speaking with mentioned that when it's bored out, the 400 can run into some cooling issues. Also I think the ten bolt needs to be beefed up

In terms of the A/C? It's something i'd want to keep, but for now I think i'll take off the HVAC box, and maybe the ducts under the dash when that comes out. Maybe, I dunno, not sure if it's a good idea to leave it on or if it will be a big hassle to put back on. Since this car didn't come with the original A/C unit, I might get a lighter modern one later on down the line. As for the power windows etc... I think one of the units was taken out of the left door, so if i'm gunna replace one, I might as well replace both with some higher tech stuff.

Oh, and you haven't seen the size of a Doug Nash 4+1 lol, I think they're the same weight as a TH400. Definitely more than a Super T-10 that's for sure. But, it will have an overdrive gear!
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

TATurbo

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2019, 11:39:28 PM »
I'm amazed by your investigative skills!  I 'lost' a 1996 WS6 Formula about 15 years ago.  Maybe you could track it down for small fee? ;-)
JK of course. 
This looks like it'll be a very interesting project.  Thanks for sharing!  I'll be keeping an eye out for updates.
Good luck!
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 12:13:09 AM »
Hmmmm, I can certainly have a look! I have found much more bizzare cars and parts! How did you "lose" it? 8)
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 12:13:09 AM »

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 01:24:54 AM »
That is true, it is a Phoenix, although they do call the FIRE AM logo the bionic eagle. My olds still spins tyres very easily with it's TH350. I don't wanna bore the block out, that's one thing I wanna avoid. It's still a totally stock block. An engine builder I was speaking with mentioned that when it's bored out, the 400 can run into some cooling issues. Also I think the ten bolt needs to be beefed up

In terms of the A/C? It's something i'd want to keep, but for now I think i'll take off the HVAC box, and maybe the ducts under the dash when that comes out. Maybe, I dunno, not sure if it's a good idea to leave it on or if it will be a big hassle to put back on. Since this car didn't come with the original A/C unit, I might get a lighter modern one later on down the line. As for the power windows etc... I think one of the units was taken out of the left door, so if i'm gunna replace one, I might as well replace both with some higher tech stuff.

Oh, and you haven't seen the size of a Doug Nash 4+1 lol, I think they're the same weight as a TH400. Definitely more than a Super T-10 that's for sure. But, it will have an overdrive gear!
Ahh ok, so does make it the 6 Million Dollar Eagle? :lol:  Also for whatever it's worth, 300 hp is plenty without traction aids even though these days it's nothing.  So I'd just build the 400 to whatever it gets easily, reliably, and inexpensively then call it real.  I'm not a power freak though, so you may differ once you get used to it.

A/C is life though, especially in the land of giant killer spiders and angry emus.

I thought it was a Dough Nash 4+3?  Or at least I know that's what it was in the Corvettes.  I hear they're garbage, the overdrive part, and most convert them to a plain 4-speed or swap them for something else.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

FormTA

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 04:55:01 AM »
Great story. This is going to be a great thread! Thanks for sharing!
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
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See the recurring theme???

Jack

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2019, 05:52:03 AM »
Longest intro ever... I like it and will see what you will do with this one.




Regards, Jack

ryeguy2006a

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2019, 06:00:22 AM »
Love the background story and that you found a real Fire Am from back in the day. Were you able to get the original rear sway bar assembly back from that guy?

1976 Trans Am LS1, 6 speed, C5 12.8" Brakes, LS1 rear 12" brakes, 17" Aluminum Rims, and much more...SOLD
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roadking77

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2019, 07:21:20 AM »
Great story and investigative skills. I hardly have the patience to read a magazine let alone do what you have done.
Finished!
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Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2019, 05:03:11 PM »
Yeah the A/C would be reallll nice here on long drives. The Y84 gets really hot being a black car, you can get cooked down here with the t-tops on! It mostly has been raining down here lately anyway. Oh and that reminds me, when I've been pulling things out of the car in the rain, I noticed the car was somewhat dry, and then I noticed... the t-tops aren't leaking? Ran my fingers along the roof channel, pillars and door window, it's all dry! The seals on the car are pretty tight, it is going to be such a shame to take the roof stripping out on this one!

And ooohh goodness no it's not that D/N, this one is a chunkier old apparently invincible transmission back when Doug was on top of his game.
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2019, 05:28:10 PM »
Ah cool, then depending on how it's geared and the final drive you might already be aces there.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2019, 05:39:59 PM »
Love the background story and that you found a real Fire Am from back in the day. Were you able to get the original rear sway bar assembly back from that guy?

The rear sway bar is still untouched, I think you're talking about the front braces that guy who wanted the frame for the truck wanted, I did ask him about it again, I think he said he took them out, but didn't end up using them because they were damaged. The tabs on the front structure kit were snapped or rusted off, (one or the other) and he removed them and chucked them. ;/

Also, might keep the 3.23 gearing, still want to be able to drive it without revving the heck out of the engine, maybe 3.73?
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2019, 06:48:50 PM »
Hmm... from what I can find the Nash 4+1 isn't an overdrive with said ratios: 3.27, 2.14, 1.57, 1.23, 1:1  So staying with stock wheel diameter of 27.4" with a 3.23 final in fifth gear you'd be churning 2,178 rpm at 55 mph and 2,772 rpm at 70 mph.  If you went to a 3.73 final that'd go to 2,515 and 3,201 respectively.  3.42 final would be 2,306 and 2,935 respectively.  Presuming the internet isn't lying about the 4+1 in multiple locations I'd see how the 3.23 already there does you first.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2019, 07:44:37 PM »
Isn't 1:1 overdrive?
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2019, 07:44:37 PM »

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2019, 08:56:27 PM »
1:1 is one to one, all your three speed autos and most all 4 speed manuals(there was one Chrysler exception that comes to mind that had an OD 4th) have 1:1 as their top gear.  Technically .99 would be overdrive, but I think the highest overdrives I've seen were .8X something.  The T-56, in the my car anyway, has a .74 for 5th and .50 for 6th.  The 4+1 from what I could gather is sorta like these newer 5-speeds from Richmond that have a 1:1 for fifth, they're meant for racing and not the street.  Further digging said the 4+1 uses straight cut gears without synchronizers, so unless you rev match perfectly all the time you'll be clashing gears and then when you're not it's going to be noisy as f*** whining the entire time.  So the 4+1, if all that is true and I don't see how multiple places would be wrong saying the same thing, is pretty much straight up a gearbox for racing.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2019, 09:30:41 PM »
Ahhh, see one thing to note is, there are two different types of these D/N 4+1's which I found out a while back. Apparently, there are two types, but they look almost identical. One of them is a regular manual transmission with the H-pattern etc. That's just the street one, and it's apparently a very good street transmission at that. A few relatives down here have them in their Toranas. The other is an inline shift transmission that is generally for drag racing (or just racing purposes) only. The way to identify them is by the bulge on the side of the transmission casing. Other than that, they look basically the same. And yeah, the Richmond Super Street transmission is the exact same Doug Nash 4+1 one. They bought him out in the 90's, and they kept his design and started re-manufacturing it, so I guess you could say they are repop's? There was a period when the quality of the Richmond ones was very lacklustre.
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2019, 10:05:58 PM »
Sorta like the Tremec T-56 sucks compared to the Borg Warner T-56, funny how that works.  Yeah I see something about a torsion tube, and then magnesium or aluminum housing.  Apparently the shifters were interchangeable since I saw something about someone using a H pattern shifter on a racing one.  So the street one should have helical gears and synchronizers then...  Hmmm...  I wonder if you could re-gear it with parts from Richmond to get overdrive.  Then again with a 3.27:1 first gear you could just go lower on the final if you find first too unruly and/or you want lower 5th gear cruising speeds.  The T-56, or mine at least, has a 2.66:1 first gear so it with a 3.23 rear in a second gen would hit 57 mph at 6,000 rpm whereas the 3.27 first gear would hit 46 mph at 6,000 rpm with a 3.23 rear.  So you could go to a 2.73 rear and hit 55 mph at 6,000 rpm and then 5th gear would be at 1,841 at 55 mph and 2,343 at 70 mph.  So if anything with the 4+1 I'd say the 3.23 or a 3.08 even, unless you can re-gear it just to change the final drive though it'd make more sense and be easier and cheaper to set the rear to the gears in the transmission.

Ahhh, gearing is so fun.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

737driver

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2019, 10:26:03 PM »
Looks like it is a very interesting project. I think it is great that you got some history on the car as well! Looking forward to seeing some progress!
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
1970 Firebird
1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2019, 12:24:06 AM »
Yeah Richmond sells re-gearing parts etc, I've been discussing it with another memeber on here who bought one new and still has it. Actually, I wouldn't mind a very violent first gear, I like my body-warping first gear launches
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2019, 01:22:00 AM »
Only if you have the traction to grab and go versus sit and spin. :P

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2019, 02:03:25 AM »
Only if you have the traction to grab and go versus sit and spin. :P

Oh it better sit and spin lol that's what it's all about
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2019, 09:14:52 AM »
Carpet, seats and most of the interior are out. Had an hour or so after work finished to get some stuff out of the car. Geez there was a lot of junk in here.



I do want to try and save the original carpet, but seriously?!? That acoustical insulation stuff is ridiculous! There is so much of it! And I can believe how many places they stuffed it into. It's really stuck into the carpet, and must have held so much moisture in the car.

Another thing is, the red t-top trim is definitely buggered. Maaaybbe can be saved but already chucked them by the bin so they're probably really flexed and bent now. They are really chalky. Hurt real bad to chuck em out ;( Finding OEM red ones is not going to be easy either. Plus, I refuse to repaint other coloured parts red, they have to be red originally, so this might be a problem. I've got literally everything else except t-top parts in red. (And ooooh part numbers!)





And hey, some good news, the headliner is in fantastic shape! Surprised to see how well it lasted!





And found some more shreds of the buildsheet in the carpet and seat foam, so that's pretty nifty! hope there's still one on the gas tank, but Danny checked and said he didn't see anything :/



Oh and here's the pretty part, really not suprised here. Actually, a lot more of the metal is good under the carpet than I thought. It's just the footwells and under the passenger seats that are bunk. But where it's rusted, IT'S RUSTED.







Oh well, next i'll be taking the dash out to restore. Excited for the holidays to come around so I can really get stuck into it. Don't like wasting time, just like getting a job and getting it done. I see it as a big Lego set anyway. Can't be too hard. {Famous last words}
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Dreamn2

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2019, 11:09:26 AM »
Glad to see you got it! Look forward to the restore. Finding any molded color parts for the bird in good shape will be next to impossible as they all turned chalky and brittle after time except for black. Don't forget to update the guys in the FA Group. BTW, my name has changed on there to Bird Man so I haven't seen any messages on there in quite a while if you have sent them.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 11:11:26 AM by Dreamn2 »
79 Fire Am
76 Fire Am
79 W72 Formula

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2019, 01:48:10 PM »
You've reminded me why I don't like old cars, thank you. :lol:

In all seriousness, I'd look into black interior pieces and if you still want some red do it as an accent colour.  I hate red, so I'm biased, but it'd be a lot easier and probably cheaper to get a nice interior again doing such.  Like Dream mentioned the original black pieces don't get brittle and chalky for whatever reason, my '79 was all black interior, whereas the grey or oyster interior of my brother's '80 was chalky and fell apart if you looked at it funny.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2019, 04:12:51 PM »
Ahhh that explains where you went, yeah I'll post over there soon, I'm interested in doing a comparison of the original VSE stuff still on the car to the reproduction equipment I got off Dave.

Well that just means I'll have to look harder for them then! I found the red T-Top handle covers on eBay, but those u-shape trim pieces have still eluded me. Is there a way to ensure that the ones I currently have will last longer? Like coating them in anything? Maybe better paint or clear coat?
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2019, 05:58:39 PM »
It's a degradation of the plastic through and through.  Your best bet would be getting a full black interior and then dying them all with some SEM or the like if you want original(ish) red interior.  Which if you're talking about repainting original red pieces red anyway then I don't see why you'd be against painting black pieces, that won't turn to chalky dust, red.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2019, 03:53:52 PM »
Nah I'll keep scuffing or scratching them, especially when constantly taking the T-Tops on and off and the black spots will really OCD me. I'd feel dirty. There's a few manufacturers reproducing them, I'm going to ask if they can produce a new one in red for a small batch or something. I bought some used T-Top frame egde parts and they seem to be ok, one only has a single small chip in it.
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

Casey

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2019, 05:01:50 PM »
Don't be a gorilla and bang up the interior of your car? :lol:

You could try getting a reproduction company to make them in red, but I'd expect no less than 10-25 paid pre-orders wanted to do it.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

TATurbo

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2019, 09:11:35 PM »
Good luck with the red T-Top pieces. I spent a little time trying to find them but couldn't.   But, then again, I don't think I have your patience.  I'm pretty sure I got rid of mine when I bought replacements...I don't have much storage space to hang on to parts. If I come across them, I'll let you know.  They were not in good shape, but better than the ones you have I think.

Regarding my '96 WS6.   I didn't lose it per se'.  I had to sell it.  Couldn't fit the baby seat in the back and wife in the front at the same time.  I traded it in 2003 for a '94 Grand-Prix.  It was 1 of around 450 WS6 formula's that first year the WS6-Ram Air package came back.  6Spd, red t-Tops and cloth interior.  It was really Karma that did me in though...
When I bought the car I was loading my stuff in the back at the dealer when a guy came in and said 'darn, I was just coming to buy that!'.  I sold it in 2003, then around 2013 I found it in a used car lot in the same area.  The dealer wanted $3500 at first. I told him Perfect I'll be back in a day or two(it was fresh off the truck and he hadn't processed or cleaned it yet).  He called me the next day (Presumably after learning what he had  and said the price went up to $4000.  I told him that I once owned that very car and I'd pay it.  I went down the next afternoon and he said some other guy came in and bought it for $5000 cash earlier that morning.  Probably the same guy I bought it out from under 10 years earlier, I bet.
Anyway.  This is the one that got away....
 
IMG_20180214_0001 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I have the VIN...I keep meaning to Carfax it or something. 
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

scarebird

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2019, 09:54:12 PM »
...The seals on the car are pretty tight, it is going to be such a shame to take the roof stripping out on this one!...

I would really try to save them - the aftermarket ones have not gotten good reviews.


Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2019, 03:34:51 AM »
Don't be a gorilla and bang up the interior of your car? :lol:

You forget how much I talk about bananas on here, plus i'm very hairy, comes with being Greek I suppose lmao, also I get into a lot of situations where the interior gets banged up, my poor Y84.... that console was original too...

And the seals? I mean i'd love to, but I don't know how to get them off without butchering them? Something something heat gun, but i'm afraid of drying the rubber out to hard and cracking it and damaging it or something.

I had another hour after leaving the bar early today to get home and get started on popping the dash out, plus I wanted to get a few other little bits and pieces out, didn't last too long though with the rain and mosqiutos coming into attack. I never realised how much space there is back in the dash! Not to mention how much miscellaneous junk I've found in the car!

Firstly, the wiring. Oh my god, the wiring. It shows that the previous previous previous owner cared about the car. Because at one point this might have been a high tech alarm system or something. Now i'm not sure if this is a switch for rocket pods or ejector seats (makes sense with a t-top roof), but this car has like 4-5 different switches hidden throughout the car.



Actually, I think i've seen this in manuals, it's the Camaro KillerĀ® rocket system, only available from select dealers. I think I saw it on the build sheet, RPO M72 I think.



And as you can see, if there wasn't already enough cables and wiring in the car:



I got the dash out too, and the behind the dash area looks really good, the screw holes for the speedo and tacho are cracked abit, and I broke that clear plastic piece that holds the wiper/wash tag up. Oops.





Now here's one of the more interesting finds. As I was removing the A/C duct-work, I saw this little black piece and I thought "oh no that's cracked or broken off somewhere now I have to buy an expensive duct-work pipe" And then I was like, hang on that's not off the car...



Turns out it was a lighter! Stuck all the way in the back of the dash somewhere, behind the carpet and amongst the wires for at least 20 years. I can only imagine how that got stuck back there. Oh, and it still works! In fact, surprisingly well!



Now Mr. TATurbo, seems like a promising case, leads aren't that old, trails still fresh and car is likely kept somewhere safe in good condition due to it's rarity, and likely since the person who paid $5000 for it likely knew what it was. I'm going to need a few more details from you and i'm sure at the very least I can give you the name of the guy who owns it.
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

scarebird

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #32 on: June 15, 2019, 10:41:26 PM »
ah, delay wipers - always a nice thing to have!

Maxthe222

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #33 on: June 15, 2019, 11:01:38 PM »
ah, delay wipers - always a nice thing to have!

I have them on all my Firebirds, what's the difference between those and a normal one? Funny you say that because this one has an aftermarket wiper motor installed for some reason, and it's a very strange looking one at that...
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula ???

TATurbo

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Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #34 on: Today at 12:20:36 AM »
Thanks Max, maybe I'll PM you.
Regarding the wiring.  Sounds like you've done this before, but I was terrified by the wiring in my '81.  The computer had been all but cut out before I bought it.  And at 19,  me and my friends didn't know much about wiring when we were working on it back in the day.   When I stopped driving it regularly in '96 it had several gremlins I knew needed to be worked out.   As it turns out, it really wasn't that bad to remove the entire dash harnesses and all the sub-harnesses to go through them.  Like I said, sounds like you've done this before, but if you ever have any questions. I've been through it and would be happy to share my experience.
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Re: 1979 VSE FIRE-AM 400/4-Spd
« Reply #34 on: Today at 12:20:36 AM »
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