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Amongst the dozens of jobs carried out on the car by my friend on our behalf were....
Servicing the engine:
All fluids drained and replaced using proper US lubricants
Refurbishing the door trims:
Fasteners were replaced wherever necessary and all surfaces cleaned. New damp-proof layers fitted to outer surface of door trims.
Cleaning all the upholstery
Servicing the Posi axle
Cleaning and painting the Cat
.....and those big 3" tailpipes
Repairing the headlamp retaining brackets where welds had failed with age involved making new lugs out of sheet steel
Click HERE for a complete list of work done on the car before we received it.
A brief history......
Ever since I was at school, I'd wanted to own a car that was powered by a V8 engine. I'd come to love the sound of V8s from visiting motor racing circuits and seeing awesome Group C sports cars (like the Lola T-70 and Ford GT40) and American muscle cars (like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro) battling it out on the track. But I thought I would never be able to afford such a car, and that, even if I could, it would be prohibitively expensive to insure and run.
I was wrong. A friend let me in on the secret that it needn't cost an arm and a leg to buy and run an American muscle car. By then, I'd waited a long time, but thirty-five years after leaving school, I finally managed to realise my dream...
With a little help from my friends.....
My friend, who had many years' experience of running muscle cars, offered to locate a good car for us, and once he had found one, he spent almost three months servicing, valeting and fettling it for us - surely the most dedicated of friends ! He even converted the front parking lights (sidelights) for full UK legality, and did the job so neatly that you'd never know they weren't factory-fitted. (See picture on the Gallery page).
When we finally took ownership of this, our first muscle car, (a 1988 Pontiac Firebird Sport Coupe), we had no idea how much fun it was going to be. But we soon found out, on the day my mate brought it over to us !
The fun begins......
Hearing a powerful car approaching along the nearby streets, I grabbed my camera and ran outside in time to see my mate pulling up in the Firebird. I called my wife and we both gazed at the stunning black coupe. My mate had worked so hard polishing and valeting the car we could hardly believe it was 17 years old. A little later, he took me for a demonstration drive, reminding me of all the driving wisdom he'd imparted to me over the last year or two while I had been looking for a suitable car. Then he let me take the controls myself, and away we went.
A car like this demands respect. There was no way I was going to assume I knew how to handle it, despite 27 years of driving experience, albeit with with lesser cars. So I was pretty cautious with the Firebird, and in return, it offered me civilised road manners. Getting used to the left-hand drive, in combination with the considerable width of the car, was easier than I expected, though it still took me a little while before I learned to give obstacles on the right that little bit of extra clearance which would make my passengers feel more comfortable. I'd worried a bit about the fact that almost none of that very long nose is visible from inside the car, but I found in practice it wasn't a problem, and I only needed some initial guidance from my mate when backing the car onto our rather confined forecourt, so that I didn't risk clouting the front as I swung the car around.
What I hadn't reckoned on was the fact that, during and after my first drive, I couldn't stop grinning. I notice this effect every time I take the Firebird out, and it clearly affects every one of my passengers, too. Driving a Yank does that for you. It's huge fun, even at modest speeds, breezing along with the big 350 cubic inch (5.7 litre) V8 purring away under the long, smooth hood and that gorgeous bass rumble of exhausts at the back.
Our gratitude and thanks to my best mate for making this car so great !