Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Test Drive: 1972 Pontiac Firebird

You don’t see early, second generation Firebirds in the classifieds often. So when this 1972 Firebird appeared in the newspaper for $3,500, I knew I had to act fast if I wanted to see it. I contacted the seller and we arranged a meeting spot where I checked out the ’Bird.

The seller wheeled his orange ’72 Firebird into the shopping center parking lot just before sunset. I started making mental notes as he filled me in on the history of the 66,000 mile car. He became the Firebird’s second owner 15 years ago. It was parked in a yard covered in a mountain of wet leaves and resting on flat tires. He purchased the car and got it car running with hopes of restoring it at a later date. The seller mentioned that he didn’t really want to sell the car. He placed an ad to please his wife. She hopes unloading the Pontiac will increase the curb appeal of their house which is for sale. His stalled plans of restoring the car are up to their stiffest challenge.

This Firebird appears to have its original, rare Sundance Orange paint and the Saddle interior has all the original but worn parts and pieces in place. It has factory a/c and the doors shut well. A walk around the rear of the orange Firebird revealed a rust-pocked roof. Most of the damage was caused by water soaked up into the old vinyl top. Quarter-size holes along the rear edge of the roof pointed the way to the rusty rear floorpans in the Firebird. The current owner removed the original vinyl top when it was purchased from the original owner around 1993. The trunk has weathered the wrath of the vinyl top issues without signs of rust.

The car drives great and the seller said he would drive it 500 miles without fear. I liked the throaty sound of the 350-cubic-inch V8. This engine was the economical V-8 choice for ‘72 Firebirds. Under the hood a few replacement parts from discount auto part chains have kept the Pontiac moving.

How rare?
Pontiac made 12,000 Firebirds similar to this in 1972. A total of 29,951 Firebird, Espirit, Formulas and Trans Ams were built. How rare is this one? I can’t tell you specifically, but how many 1972 Firebirds do you pass on your way to work, let alone see at car shows? Not many.

Overall, this is a large project but one that could be driven as is. That’s always a plus. You never know what might turn up for sale in the newspaper. A new project may find you.

Do you have a cool ride? Send your story and photos here.

Honeycomb wheels minus the factory trim rings.

1972 Firebird has 66K miles and a 160 MPH speedo.



1972 Firebird has its original saddle interior.

Early second generation Firebirds like this ’72 came with an Endura front bumper.

I bet this 1972 Sundance Orange Firebird has been sold by now.

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