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Post Info TOPIC: 1994 Pontiac Formula V8 Firebird LT1 350 restoration with my son.


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1994 Pontiac Formula V8 Firebird LT1 350 restoration with my son.


Ok, so everyone who seen my computer build thread this past Christmas knows that I love to build things and share the experience.

http://autotrend.activeboard.com/t61374782/custom-built-amd-fx-40-ghz-8-core-w-solid-state-speed-demon-/

Up on the docket for this spring was my kids 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula V8 project. He gets his permit in late October of this year so I have been on him the past year to get his vehicle in order. We picked up the firebird in pretty much bare non-rolling condition as it was purchased this way. It's obvious someone was planning on making this vehicle a drag strip car, but the kid is seeing to it that this Pontiac see's some more years on the streets as a daily driver. To date the kid has $1250 of his OWN money into it. That fancy computer I built my other son for Christmas? Well my oldest took the cash option and poured it into his car.

Here is the car as it was purchased from a customer who was only interested in the high dollar 383 stroker engine for their 1975 Corvette Stingray project. It was stripped of its engine and drivetrain, interior and eventually the complete front off-road tubular suspension, rendering the car to less than a "roller" status and into the "Shell" citatory.

In these photos above it still has it's front suspension, but eventually it would come to pass that they were sold off to someone with off road drag racing aspirations. That being the case, we had to find a suitable donor car to put this very clean, low mile 1994 Formula Firebird back together.

After months and months of the kid bugging me to look at all the local craigslist listings for low dollar donor cars we come upon a nice car with lots of meat on the bone. The only problem was the guy wanted $1500 and the kid only had $800 left... Well, ole' Dad (me) come thru on the wheel and deal and got the guy down to $850 and I loaned him $50 and this is what we got.

You might be thinking the same thing we were thinking at the time, that this car is nice enough to just drive and fix up as is! But our hopes of such an easy score were dashed when we got a closer look at the vehicles chassis that was rusted out to the point of no return. It made no difference as we were really just looking for a parts car, and obviously it's the reason we got the car so cheap.

Outside of the rust, the vehicle had a great running LT1 engine and Automatic Transmission. It had lots of non-rusty body parts (most made of plastic, obviously) and a beautiful black interior. It also had some performance goodies like Hooker Headers, and a Borla Stainless steel exhaust system with quad polished stainless tips. It was just what we needed! Now all we had to do was swap the parts.

So we got to working on the getting the donor vehicle stripped.

Now, with the donor and all of it's parts ready for transfer, we have to muscle the "non" rolling chassis from the house to the garage. This is done with the assistance of the entire family, a 2 ton jack and a heavy duty dolly.

 

 

 



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So we start to install the donor LT1 350 into the firebird. Keep in mind the car already had a gear, sub frame connectors and aftermarket rear lower control arms.

So now the car runs and drives under it's own power. Not only that it's a low mile, 2 owner, rust free Formula Firebird that will have earned "classic" status in just 3 short years. I am proud of the dedication my son had to this project, it was a pleasure to help him along the way! Not only that it is PAID FOR, and he has a respect for the vehicle along with an intimate knowledge of ALL the systems in the vehicle. We have a few things to finish here and there, plus we have to put some wax on the beast. Most of this car was built from the scraps of not only the donor vehicle he purchased, but of that monster 1975 Corvette Stingray project that is lurking.

He has a nice black interior he is waiting to install from the donor Trans Am, he's saving up for his stereo wires before he lays the fresh black carpet. He has 6 more months before he can drive on his permit with an adult in the vehicle but by far I'd say he is well ahead of the pack for his age.

 

 



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That's absolutely awesome.....

Congratulations to you & your son SELLC.

I'm sure glad we don't have a need for salting our roads where I live, as seeing the results made me nearly shit-my-pants...( Or did you maybe have Stoma living in the back seat for a while ) ?...

Can't wait for a video once she's completed.

Cheers,

Rastus

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Thanks Rastus!

And no, we don't let Stoma live in the donor cars. LOL

I do have a video of the kid driving it out of the garage when we got it running but I haven't uploaded it to YouTube yet. We are waiting to do the burn out video before we post a video. LOL



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Ah, the burn-out video....Can't wait !

Also, no doubt your son knows how to drive, but geez, a 350 in a little coupe is a really hot package....I sincerely hope you can instill some "sensibility" into him before they're both unleashed onto the streets.

If possible, I'd consider disconnecting the kick-down cable, just to make sure that those double-kick-downs at 50mph that send the car side-ways are avoided...

Looking forward to the videos.

Cheers,

Rastus

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I'm waiting until after we install the radiator and fans to do the burn out. Right now we have them removed to do some touch ups here an there on the radiator support where we scratched it a little moving it with no front end.

I'd agree with you on disconnecting the kick down cable but these vehicles do not have them. Kick down is electronically worked out thru the throttle position sensor. I also agree with you about a 350 engine in the hands of a rookie driver, and that's one of the MAIN reasons I refused to re-build the kids engine with some nice internals. This setup should be MORE THAN ENOUGH to see if he can keep his spurs from jingling and jangling. If he can make it until 18 years without too much trouble I might consider showing him how to build the engine for max performance. I feel somewhat bad though, the kid has to try and make it two years without a ticket in a bright red Firebird with an exhaust system that screams "LOOK AT ME!", lol.

I already gave him the ole' "With great power comes great responsibility" speech. lol, may the force be with him!



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Ah what the heck... After a week straight of working on the kids car we got it to move under its own power for the first time in many years. At this point I pretty much kicked the kids car out of the garage and told him to get things ready to finish it off once I got caught up on customer pay jobs. 

Keep in mind a few sensors were disconnected, a few vacuum leads plugged and no radiator or cooling fans installed at this time. I joined the Trans cooler lines with 3/8 hose so it could be driven in and out. We later had to change out the fuel pump and filter as the one in the red car had given up the ghost from sitting so long. Kid was lucky to have an entire parts car though. Pretty much only had to buy a $4 filter and $9 of gas to get it to this point so far. (Not including the cost of the donor car of course).



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That sounded fine ! And no smoke or anything to be concerned about either.

A stock EFI 350 would be plenty for anyone I'd guess, & possibly no need to modify in the future if she's still running fine. The beauty of a small light car is that the lack of weight is like free-horse-power anyhow ! I'm sure the motor would rev to 5,500 in std trim ( or close to, 5,000 rpm would be enough for an auto ), so that's got to be enough doesn't it ? Maybe one of your 100hp dry shot NO2 packages is all that's needed one day...Or....Why not pop-in a 5.0 ltr for now, while he works on the 350 over the next few years ?...

I'm surprised that PowerStroker hasn't chimed in yet. Even he would be thinking what a cool car to get around in I'm sure.

Cheers,

Rastus

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Oh PowerStroker is still here, he has just been super busy with a bunch of crap at work and around the house. I always liked the F body, nice job Rex!

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My son, Rex Brandon, started his first day of Driver Training today with All Star Driving School! 

They put his butt right on the road and he says that he loved every minute of it! Not only that, I have never seen the kid study so hard at something. Reviewing his driving tests indicate that he needs to pay close attention to the study guide, as most all test are derived from actual wording of said guide. Not reading into a question often means remembering verbatim key instructions as they are referenced in the study guide. Test administered on such curriculum seemed to be of quite detail with the All Star study guides. I feel confident he's getting a better education than I did at my age, and that my friends is what it's all about!

Getting back in theme with the thread, Rex already has his car out from winter storage and is in the process of getting the interior up to top shape. In that time I'll have to work some magic on his wiring and tuning. Should turn out real nice and once he has his permit maybe we can take the vehicle to some private property so I can show him the art of understeer driving! 



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Congratulations Rex Jr. !!!

Enjoy your car when it's finished, & drive like an old-lady going to church around town is all I've got to say.

Keeping yourself alive is your responsibility, as there's always a chance of you taking some-one out, along with some-one else, taking you out too. Eyes & ears at full attention & at all times, especially with that much mumbo you've got.

Spend some time searching out a good, quiet, 5-10 mile stretch of road, where you can really let that motor breathe & play with a few revs. Keep out of town.

I hope you finish it soon.

Ciao,

Rastus

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This is where he left off last fall before it got put away for the winter.

As you can see he has already installed the "Trans-Am" spoiler and got all of his black interior parts in order and stored them indoors over the winter so he could clean them. 

This is pretty much right where he will be picking up, as right now we have to treat a few rust areas before they become more than superficial while the carpet is out. After that we got to get his HVAC in order, along with a bit of wiring and we'll be ready for the carpet and wiring. From there he should be able to drive it.



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Lucky for the kid the weather has taken a huge turn for the better this week! 50-60's, whereas last year this time we had single digits or lower temps with over a foot of snow!

He is working feverishly to finish the car before his learners permit is issued, why? I don't know... Maybe he can find someone in the family crazy enough to drive with him in the Formula Firebird... As for me, I'll be seeking the relative safety of the Mercedes when he drives me around. LOL

So far he has got his dash removed, door panels installed and is treating some superficial rust that was developing under the carpet before the new rug and interior is fitted. Honestly this little bit of rust is the only area that got festered up, likely because it's right under the drivers feet and gets wet.



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Coming along really well !

Ciao,

Rastus

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As promised, the burn-out video!

It's getting pretty close... Just got the interior left and it will be ready for the kid to start driving.. 



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Classic !!!

That was all-too-easy.......

Your son better find all the back-roads he can, or his license will last about as long as Stoma on this forum...

Good work,

Rastus

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Yeah, I kind of feel bad for the kid... It would seem it's going to be quite the challenge to drive this car without raising the eyebrows of the local law enforcement. Being a city dweller there aren't many back roads that don't have countless old people who love to call the police for anything and everything anyway.

Still, I keep telling him - "With great power comes great responsibility", this before and after I showed him how to do brake torque burn outs! LOL, hypocritical? Maybe... But I performed mine on private property that belongs to me... So if he want's to do a burn out in the driveway, so be it... But anywhere else it's not going to go un-noticed and I have told him this... I have also told him to put his red spoiler back on or at the least remove them lime green stickers from the back window as they scream "Pull me over", even just having the spoiler and hatch a different color isn't a good idea as it makes the car stand out even more... I mean it already sticks out like a sore thumb just because it's a Firebird, is Red and has a loud a$$ Borla exhaust. 



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Well, given the fact that my kids Formula Firebird already melts the tires off with little to no effort whatsoever a good friend of mine sold us something to help in the drag racing endeavors...

This should ensure that our first trip to the drag strip does not see us spinning our wheels out of the hole! A nice set of 26.0 X 10.0 X 15 inch Mickey Thompson slicks on aluminum Weld Racing Pro-Star rims with studs to keep the tires from spinning on the rims. This should allow for maximum hole-shot throttle, even if the kid does eventually get a stall converter and some nitrous. Down at 12 psi these wrinkle wall, FULL ON slicks should do the job... A little VHT traction compound aught to soften them up a bit on the staging line burn outs also.

Here is looking at a very interesting 2018!



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Getting close to being finished with this beast but still needed quite a few parts to finish off both this project and that 75 stingray G2LT1 conversion... That being said the kid and I headed out to Swanson Ohio to buy another parts car.

The kid got a pretty good deal on the car and it even had a nice factory headliner, his Trans Am spoiler in red to match his car, and some dash parts that we were trying to find. The rest of it will be sold off and or scrapped but we did need some engine mounts from this car to jig up the newer G2 engine to the old school 75 Singray frame. 

It was a pretty good trip, although much longer than I has anticipated.. it was under 100 miles so our AAA covered the entire tow. We drove the Cadillac that we fixed down there and it was a nice day to buy a car. We didn't get back in until 3am the next day and I have been dragging ass every since, but I am glad we got the car.



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Well, so much for a parts car...

Kid has already got it running and driving! Guess we will have to look for a Corvette parts car.



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Damn parts car, even though it's 100% stock is still pretty mean... Not as mean as the other one, but man... Now we're thinking it would be a shame to put this one down..



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I remember when you first posted that on DH. Cool!

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All too easy !!! And really low revs too.

I love it ! I would keep it as a back-up car...

Nice controlled driving too BTW...

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Great Pics!

Didn't know you had a mini me, Stellar. Your son is a chip off the ole Block, so to speak. He's adorable - looks proud as a peacock, what kid that age wouldn't be ?!?

You're a good Daddy.


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Thanks Hasle! He is 16 years old right now and knows everything! So if anyone gets stumped on any given issue, we got a know it all teenager we can ask. He probably looks proud because he pretty much found the car, negotiated a ridiculously good deal and has executed his plan to near perfection. This was even before we knew the damn thing ran, because it was all torn apart without a battery and half the top end apart when we bought it.

And yes Shawnee, I did post photos of the kids Formula on DH - many of them the exact same ones as this thread. Now the kid has a Formula which is in really good shape, and the ole' Trans Am that is rough around the edges.

Rastus, thanks for the complements on the driving.. It was stock so I did the best I could to achieve maximum ignorance - er, I mean show. I don't know what is in store for the Trans Am, but I know the kid will be taking out the headliner, top dash plastic and some other odds and ends for his Formula. He is also going to swap out the deck lids as he likes the bigger Trans Am spoiler apposed to the more low profile Formula spoiler. I myself like the side skirts (ground effects) on the Trans Am too but the kid says he don't like em. Odds are we will sell the entire car as a whole to ensure it has a better chance of seeing a little more action before someone either cuts it up or restores it. It's been damn good to us so far, but it's got lots of cosmetic and rust issues that would have to be tended to. Who knows, the only car around here not for sale is my Corvette! LOL, and the kids Formula of course, but that's not in my name or it might be! LOL



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