Author Topic: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400  (Read 226 times)

737driver

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"MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« on: September 06, 2019, 10:03:38 AM »
So this week I was able to begin work on another new project car. A 1972 Firebird. I purchased this car in April of 2018 in Albuquerque and it was part of collection of sorts. I had bought with a 1970 Firebird and a collection of Firebird parts.
Originally this car was a 1972 Firebird Esprit with a 400/2V automatic and was Revere Silver with a dark blue interior. It had the TH400 transmission with a Posi rear. The car was last registered in 1996 and from what I can tell, it was not really running much since then. Fortunately it was from a dry area, and was at least stored in a covered area. Over the years it collected quite a bit of dirt and what not but still the body remains in great shape. I couldn't find any previous body work or major dents. The only issue it has bodywise is the trunk pan. Apparently something caused a rust issue in the center under the spare. Shouldn't be much of an issue because everything else looks great. The interior isn't great but I planned on re doing the interior anyhow. 

Mechanically , it isn't bad, the motor did turn over and the drivetrain looks good, but again I plan on going through it and rebuilding it. Same goes for the suspension and brakes. I pulled the Gas tank on found about 2 gallons of gas that went bad sometime back in the late 90's. The inside of the gas tank was really nasty, I mean really bad! This comes from sitting for so long, obviously.

I pulled the car into my workshop on Tuesday and started taking things off and looking things over. I got the front bumper off and found that it was in really good shape overall. The endura nose will need some attention but it is good solid piece. The next day I started removing the fenders, wheel housings, front radiator core support. All of it looked really good with no issues other that dust and dirt. The fenders and hood were in excellent shape and I could find no damage, rust or previous body work. I also cut out the exhaust pipes and drained some fluids out of the engine.

Yesterday I got the motor pulled out and as well as the gas tank, drive shaft, and engine accessories. Everything had dirt and dust on it which was fine by me. I had to spend a lot of time vacuuming and sweeping. With all the dirt I cleaned up, I am probably a landowner in N.M, there was quite a bit!

So the initial plan is take a part everything make a list and start working on it. It goes without saying that paint and body is a must. Im thinking about Lucerne Blue with black interior. As far as suspension and drivetrain goes, I want to keep the 400 engine. I will have the motor rebuilt but I will add a Holley Sniper. In addition I will most likely go with an Overdrive transmission (200r4) similar to what I have on my LeMans. Additionally a new cooling system and AC (vintage Air).

For Suspension I am going to make some upgrades but mostly keep it stock, (solid body bushings, Sub Frame Connectors, springs and shocks) Same with the brakes, just a few upgrades there. Most likely the plan also includes 17" rims.

So I kinda have my work cut out, but I have a really good feeling about this project. I called this project "MY 72" because of the vanity license plate that was still on the car when I bought it.

Here are some pics so far!
Jim


















 Inside the gas tank!








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

FormTA

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2019, 11:53:08 AM »
Wow! You guys with the rust free cars should have to restore at least one from the northeast, Ohio, Michigan area... It's just not fair...

Nice car you got there!
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???

Jack

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  • 1971 Esprit TA Clone W72 1972 Formula 68 350 HO
Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2019, 12:39:29 PM »
The gas tank is rusty... does that count. I agree very nice car, you can't go wrong with an early 400.




Regards, Jack

737driver

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 11:07:04 PM »
The gas tank was absolutely horrible on the inside, the outside looked great, and I figured I’d be keeping it. Okay so it’s not completely rust free, the trunk pan will need to be replaced. This is the only bad rust I have seen so far. Otherwise it’s pretty good. That will be one thing I’ll probably do first. If anyone has any ideas on where to find good sheet metal patch for the trunk pan I’d certainly appreciate any advice.
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

737driver

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2019, 11:11:36 PM »
Wow! You guys with the rust free cars should have to restore at least one from the northeast, Ohio, Michigan area... It's just not fair...

Nice car you got there!
Thanks, I agree it would be a whole different story dealing with rusty cars. Sheet metal repair is a great skill to have . I am always amazed to see some of the work I’ve seen here on TAC.
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

Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2019, 11:11:36 PM »

T A Troy

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2019, 04:29:05 AM »
Really nice car!! I would check with Auto Metal Direct for the Trunk floor pan. I have always been happy with the fit and quality of their parts.
Troy

Nexus

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2019, 08:12:40 AM »
Glad to see this getting done. Harder to find older ones in good shape!!

Impossible in my area!!

I look forward to the progress
Charlie

79 Esprit but like many, it will be a T/A clone
(18 years and counting but still have her)

roadking77

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2019, 08:33:33 AM »
OK Jim, Here you go again trying to put the rest of us hobos to shame! Im sure this will be finished before mine, LOL.
Are you still planning on keeping the gas tank? If so, how will you clean it?  I haven't even looked at mine yet but figured they are pretty cheap and was planning on replacing with new. AMD should be fine for the floor pan. With a trunk pan you don't have the need to have body lines perfect and they can be made to fit pretty easy.
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

737driver

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2019, 10:18:31 AM »
I don't plan on keeping the gas tank. I wanted to try and re use it but the inside had quite a bit of corrosion. I felt for the price of a new tank wasn't really all that bad. I am going to check on AMD for a trunk pan and finally start to learn how to do sheet metal replacement. A very good friend of mine (who bought the 70 from me) is really great at that kind of stuff so he is going to show me how to do the work. He is really great at that kind of stuff and its convenient because his shop is next to mine. Body work and paint is something I really want to learn how to do, so I think that will be a learning focus for me.
To be honest I am always really impressed by the work I see you guys do on bodywork and paint, yet for me it is the one area that is my weak spot. No better time than the present to learn it!
:)
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

737driver

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2019, 10:39:37 PM »
So tried to clean up the engine today. I have the motor on a stand and it is heading off the be rebuilt this week. The outside was absolutely dirty and my best attempts to give it a cleaning got it better but it is still pretty filthy, at least on the outside. I took the external components off, intake, timing cover, oil pan, valley pan, valve covers and heads. I was very happy to see everything looked really clean. I was expecting a horror show, but it looked really good. There was about a 1/8" thick film at the bottom of the oil pan , mostly due to sitting for a long time, other wise everything looked very promising.
My plan for the motor is to bump the compression to 9.0 or a bit higher, add a 4bl intake (replacing the 2bl) swapping the heads from 7J2 stock to #11 heads I had from a 1970 400. The reason is because in 1972 the 7J2 head only had 3 bolts per side for the exhaust manifolds. I am going to use RARE ram air exhaust headers and unless I use the aftermarket exhaust brackets the 7J2 heads wont work with the Ram Air headers. So if anyone is looking for a good set of 7J2 heads with stock exhaust manifolds let me know. The #11 heads I am using will hopefully up the compression a bit more and will work out pretty good I feel.
I was pretty happy to see the timing cover was in excellent shape. It wasn't corroded and cleaned up really nice, same for the valley pan, dirty on the outside but very clean on the inside. I will probably replace the oil pan though. It is good shape but does not have any baffling. I like to have baffling in the oil pan because I feel it is a good idea. Honestly I believe this motor was rebuilt once before a long time ago but I am just glad it looks good on the inside.
I am going to go with an HEI distributor, most likely the Davis Distributor, and I plan on using the Holley sniper EFI. I am a big fan of the sniper and have had great luck with it on two other motors. I have an original Ram Air cleaner assembly that I will use to make it a fully functional Ram Air intake system.
My goal is to get around the upper 300's on the horsepower maybe 400hp. I don't want to go overboard because I prefer a more streetable engine. Basically I am going to use a similar setup that I did on my 79 400 motor I have in the TransAm.
The transmission right now is a THM400, I plan on getting that gone through and checked out as well.
Here are some engine pics so far.
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

Nexus

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 06:58:44 PM »
Cool!!
Charlie

79 Esprit but like many, it will be a T/A clone
(18 years and counting but still have her)

TATurbo

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2019, 09:49:38 PM »
Congrats on the new project.  Looks like a really nice car.  I love the 'Pontiac 400' badge on the grill.  I'm not sure if I've seen that before. Very cool.   
It's been a long time gone, but I had the pleasure of driving my Dad's '77 TA with a 400 while I was in HS back in the '80s.  I fondly remember the 400 as a great torquey motor which (even with the relatively crappy AT's of the era) made it fun to drive. Made for easy burnouts! And, it would hang with the TA's and IROC Z's of the era.  And, the TB EFI sounds like a great upgrade!

I don't have any direct advice on the trunk panel repair, but I can tell you I was -not- happy with a replacement panel I ordered from Classic Industries. It did not have a Manufacturer noted in the catalog listing.  So I guess I 'd say maybe steer clear from ordering replacement panels where you can't tell if it's from a 'good' manufacturer (like AMD (as the others noted) or OER (a little less so in my humble opinion.

I don't think you need it, but 'Good luck' with it.  I'll be following around.
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

chief poncho

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Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2019, 04:09:05 PM »
Great project car Jim!  I also recommend AMD.  I didn't have any issues with the parts I ordered from them fitting.  I ended up with a complete trunk floor pan rather than a patch.  The only thing I would recommend is getting everything you need ordered at the same time so you don't end up with huge shipping costs.
1971 Lucerne Blue Trans Am (455HO, Automatic) - currently my project car.
Previously Owned TA's/Musclecars: 2002 Pewter WS6/M6 Trans Am, 1968 Dodge Superbee 383/4speed,  1975 TA 455/4speed, 1989 Mustang LX 5.0/5speed, 1980 TA Indy Pace Car, 1977 TA 400/Auto, 1989 GTA 350TPI, 1990 GTA 350TPI, 1986 IROC 305TPI, 1989 Mustang LX 5.0/Auto, 1993 Mitsu 3000GT VR4 (and probably a few I've forgotten about)

Re: "MY 72" - 1972 Firebird 400
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2019, 04:09:05 PM »
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