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An OK from the wife can put a muscle car in your life

Jeff Glucker October 3, 2011 All Things Hoon 43 Comments

1969 Pontiac Firebird front

I’m sitting in the shotgun seat of a Nissan Murano, and I have over $5,000 worth of twenty dollar bills in my hand. No, I didn’t just get off stage at the Golden Banana, I am accompanying a good friend to Los Angeles so he can buy a “new” car. I had to throw the quotes around new, because this particular vehicle was actually born back in 1969, and the brand isn’t even around anymore. The keys to a 1969 Pontiac Firebird are waiting down the road, but first I have to keep counting all these 20s.

My friend’s name is Tom. He’s recently followed the standard life path, and that’s led him to his wife, his house, his dogs and his kid. Luckily, he made the right choices along the path, because his wife just said “OK” to the purchase of the aforementioned Firebird. Tom’s voice was downright giddy when he rang me up; “Dude! Are you available tomorrow? I’m going to buy that Firebird I found on Craigslist!”

1969 Pontiac Firebird inspection time

I was available, and I was happy to come along for the adventure. When he was a younger lad, fresh out of high school, Tom patrolled the streets of Chicago in his ’69 Chevelle, ’77 Camaro and ’72 Nova. He’s since moved out to California, where his garage is home to a Jeep Cherokee (4.0-liter FTW!) and a Nissan Murano that handles all the daily duties. The time was right to add a bit more displacement and style to his Huntington Beach home.

All the bills successfully counted, we arrived at the seller’s home to find the Firebird patiently waiting for us on the street. Upon first glance, the white hardtop looks subtly aggressive with its low set stance and appropriately styled steel wheels. Some bits of trim are still hanging on, while a few others have given up their life to aid in the greater quest for added lightness. Regardless, the outside looked to be in decent shape. The classic coupe will need a paint job down the road, but as she sits, she’s still a looker.

Inside was a different story, but in a very good way. The black interior had help up remarkably well, and little needs to be done to the passenger space. At first glance, anyway. Later inspection would find a bit of rot in the passenger side floorboard. The trunk and driver’s side, however, are both free of rust.

We still had to get to the most important bit.

Pulling the lever that sits in the most familiar spot, we opened up the hood. Sitting quietly beneath all that sheet metal sat the 350 cubic-inch beating heart of this Firebird. Keys in hand, I slid into the right front seat. The tumblers in the lock happy to be reunited, I twisted and hoped for the best.

1969 pontiac firebird engine

Hope gave way to surprise because the Firebird burst immediately to life. The idle was deliciously lumpy, and it’s clear this beast was ready to move on to new owners. I took it for a quick spin around the block, and deemed it up to the task of traveling from Los Angeles back to Huntington Beach. The brakes, steering and engine all felt solid, which mean it was time to fork over the cash, sign some paperwork and head home.

Since Tom brought the car into his life, he’s already sent if off to the mechanic for a more professional look. The Firebird has received a tune-up, and will soon be getting a new exhaust system. After that, Tom plans to replace the crappy aftermarket stereo with a slightly better aftermarket stereo. Further down the road, it will be time to think about new paint.

It started with a desire to capture a bit of missing muscle. From there it progressed with the OK from a loving wife, and it’s now the 1969 Pontiac Firebird sitting in my friend’s driveway. I was glad I got to see this unfold from start to finish. Tom said he “felt 18 again” after that first drive home, and I could see it on his face.

1969 pontiac firebird on the highway

As a true enthusiast journeys through life, he or she will occasionally wander away from the automotive path. It’s always nearby though, and a simple OK can put an extra shot of passion back into your life.

  • IronBallsMcG

    BTW, we miss you at the Golden Banana.

    • COMING UP ON THE CENTER STAGE, PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER… FOR FIREBIRD

      • IronBallsMcG

        IF YOU'RE NOT CLAPPIN' YOU MUST BE FAPPIN'…

  • Wonderful story.

    I kind of feel that "wandered away" part going on right now. Just so many things going on in life not car related I haven't twisted the keys on the toys more than once each this summer. Just to get them out and flog them. The Edsel has seen daily service at the shop but the others. Tucked away. If I'm not in the mood there is no reason to be in the mood.

    This story kind of makes me want to get back into it for the mental health it gives.

  • $kaycog

    It looks like the Firebird has a great new home with Tom who will provide it with some well deserved TLC. It also looks like Tom gets a lot of TLC from his wife.

    • She's a goddess, you've got to admit. She'll look great in this Firebird, that's my prediction.

  • That appears to be a lot of car for $5K.

    • Car actually went for a bit more than $5k… less than $7k though.

  • Scandinavian Flick

    Nothing like something awesome from a dead car brand to bring life back to the excitement of that "new" car feeling.

    Sounds like the car and the wife are definitely keepers!

    • tempesjo

      How would you know about the feeling of something awesome from a dead car brand?

      Good to see you here!

      • Scandinavian Flick

        I know nothing… Nothing!

        <img src=";

        In all likelihood, you will see a lot more of me here 😉

        • $kaycog

          *waves hi*

          • Scandinavian Flick

            *waves back enthusiastically*

  • Devin

    Things I don't have: Wife, Firebird, $5,000…

    • Helpful Hint: It's generally less stressful to acquire those in the reverse order of your list.

      • Alff

        That is solid advice. However, if you acquire the right wife she'll give you the $5K to buy a Firebird.

        • The Professor

          Agreed, but you don't find ladies like that just anywhere.

          • Alff

            I'm batting 50%. Her heart is in the right place but her purse is empty.

  • oldcarjunkie

    Nice buy for him. Those slot mag style rims suit the car quite well.

  • brazilreporter

    Lucky me that has a wife with an OK stamp as well_<img src="; width ="550">

    • I just love it when you post pictures of your Opala.

  • ptschett

    Welcome back Jeff!

    The only thing on the car where I don't agree with the previous owners' taste is the lettering across the windshield…. I've just never been a fan of that. (Probably as a reaction to the folks who insist on using that to ensure we all know their bodykitted/coffeecan-exhausted/cut-springed Honda is still, in fact, an Accord.)

    • Devin

      It's worse when they bring out the JDM name, since the Japanese name is always significantly less cool to anyone who isn't one of those guys. Oh badass, a Silvia! Your car has the same name as an elderly aunt!

      • ha!

      • Fear the Bluebirds and Fairladies.

    • I agree with you on that, and it's something that's easily rectified.

  • Awesome car! I looooove Pontiacs from 1969!!!
    <img src=";
    🙂

    • tonyola

      My personal pick for a '69 Pontiac would be a well-equipped Grand Prix SJ with the 390hp 428 and four-on-the-floor.
      <img src="; width=500>

      • dukeisduke

        Yep, a 428HO, with a 4-speed (or a Turbo 400 with the GTO valve body), and a 3.55 or 3.73 posi would be excellent.

      • Hell yes! I have always loved me some old GP's! My love of the GP spans thirty years…starting with the 67(one of the very few cars that I really dig in convertible form), and ending with the 87 GP! FWIW, I do have the 390hp 428 4bbl, complete with "48" code heads!!! I'm not sure, but I think that somebody wanted a sleepy street machine; ordering an HO motor in a "more doors" with wind-up windows and A/C. Either way…I'm happy about it! 😀

    • dukeisduke

      Sweet.

  • jims63valvert

    Wow. This brings back memories. Back when I was 18 and a student at USC my friend and I were perusing the Recycler (the Flintstone version of CL) and saw a 1969 Firebird for sale for $450. Being from MA, I had the great idea to buy the car, fix it up a little, then drive it across country and sell it for a HUGE profit. Well, I ended up moving back to MA and left the car for my friend to fix up. We had taken the intake manifold off to paint and it stayed off for quite a while. I flew back a few months later to finish it up and then make the drive, but it wouldn't start. Working with the few tools that we had in the dirt near my friend's apartment we couldn't get it running. I ended up flying back to MA and he sold the car for $250 not running….I'm glad Tom's story ended better. Maybe my wife will let me buy another '69 Firebird someday.

  • Ending up with the right spouse is a wonderful, important thing.

    Good wife is good.

  • Your trips out in the car seem to be a bit more productive than mine. I come back with memories, you come back with Firebirds.

    I have much to learn. Props to Tom.

  • SSurfer321

    Congrats to Tom and his spouse! Looks like they got a bargain.

    My Mrs. hopes to one day have either a Cougar muscle car, 40 Ford or vintage Fiat. I remind her every day how much I love her!

  • Good on Tom, and his wife.

    I would love to have a classic or muscle car, but I am content that my wife let me have a bike until the time comes for either.

  • Those are steelies? Could have fooled me, looks like slotted mags.

    Kudos to Tom, I always dug the 'Birds over similar year Camaros.

    • dukeisduke

      They're rarer, they have a Pontiac V8 instead of a small block Chevy.

  • dukeisduke

    Jeff, is that a 350? Because it doesn't have the hood with scoops that a 400 would. Post the engine code (located on the front of the block, on the passenger side, just below the head). I can look it up. Also, that steering wheel looks weird, like it came from a different Pontiac. And those are slot mags, not styled steel wheels. Gee, I can remember when you could find a decent Firebird like that for less than a grand.

    • Smells_Homeless

      I agree with you on the steering wheel, but it may just be that I haven't seen one without the rally wheel. I hope he keeps the 350. It's so easy to go big with a Pontiac nobody ever does the 350. I plan to upgrade the 350 in my LeMans to H.O. stats when the time comes.

    • We THINK it's a 350, haven't dug any deeper than peering into the engine bay. I will get the code from Tom.

  • dukeisduke

    It looks like the Endura front bumper is shrunken and hardened, like they typically do with age. On the '69 Bonnevilles like the one above, they start to chip and crack after awhile.

    • tonyola

      Actually, they looked kind of like that even when new. For 1969, the engineers put a black spacer between the Endura and sheetmetal, which detracts somewhat from the appearance and is particularly noticeable on the light-colored cars. Apparently Pontiac designers were none too happy about the kludge and they made sure it was better thought out on the new-generation 1970.5 Firebirds.

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