Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cars in Yards: 1969 Pontiac Firebird features famed ’69 Camaro body lines at a bargain

1969 Camaro body lines are 30 percent cheaper on a 1969 Pontiac Firebird. I’ve done the math and witnessed it in person. The 1969 Pontiac Firebird gets no respect. The Poncho ’Birds are a bargain when compared to Chevys prized Camaro cousins. Your pocketbook will thank you now if you score a yard find like this black 350-V8 1969 Firebird but get ready to choke back tears when or if you decide to sell. The Pontiacs will not reward your restoration efforts by bringing you a big return on your investment. Chevy is winning the race to the bank in this muscle car war. 

This 1969 Pontiac Firebird 350-V8, flower bed needs weeding.

Numbers don’t lie
  Check the numbers as First Gen F-bodies roll across the auction block or compare their values on Collector Car Market, a favorite online resource of mine. In #3 Condition a base V8 Firebird 2-door (350-2 barrel) hardtop is valued at $7,550. A base V8 Camaro (327-2 barrel) 2-door hardtop is valued at $11,100. The Camaro is worth 32 percent more than a similar Firebird. Ouch! 
  This is especially painful because the Camaro coupe was cheaper when new at $2,726 compared to the Firebird’s $2,821 base price. Also, Chevy produced 243,085 Camaros for the 1969 model year, while Pontiac produced 87,708 Firebirds. 
  Baffled? There are fewer 1969 Firebirds and they are worth less than 1969 Camaros.

John Z. Delorean and his bag of tricks moved to the Chevrolet division in February 1969. Did the '69 Firebird get a bum rap because John Z. was pushing the Camaro?

Hard to find First Gens
  Cruising farmlands and back roads for muscle car magic is all to often a wild goose chase. Big block muscle cars and any rusted-out relic resembling a Barrett-Jackson stage star have been squirreled away or sold multiple times. Those transactions inflate the price each time the car changes owners. 
  My guess is that 1969 Camaros have changed hands more often than any American-made muscle car in history. Their values have climbed so high that no one would dare park one outside. Or would they?
 I squinted my eyes as I spotted a black 1969 Camaro parked in the weeds. "Ron, check out the ’69 Camaro!" I had no sooner processed the though in my head, when I knew I was wrong. It can't be a 1969 Camaro in the weeds. They don’t exist.
  "It's a '69 Firebird, even better!," Ron said.
"What could be better than a 1969 Camaro parked in weeds?," I thought.

Rear, side marker lights on the 1969 Firebird were a one-year design. In 1968 the rear, side marker lights were the Pontiac arrowhead.

Is the Firebird for sale?
  Our black 1969 Firebird find and the subject of our budget bench racing abuse was not for sale. The owner has plans to "fix her up, someday." 
  One question bounced around inside the truck on the way out of the Firebird owner’s driveway. "If it were a Camaro, would it be parked in the yard?"

– Jody Potter,

Do you know where a muscle car is parked in the weeds, send photos and an address. We’re on the way!?  Send emails to

Pontiac sold 20,000 less redesiged 1969 Firebirds compared to 1968 'Birds. That underwhelming total occurred during an extended 17-month production year.

I love the lines on the Camaro... I mean Firebird. These tail lights were also used on the Pontiac Astre. 

1969 Pontiac Firebird production numbers 
Coupe: 75,362
Trans Am Coupe: 689
Trans Am Convertible: 8


Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  Send emails to

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Garage find: 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon

Is that a Cutlass under there? I (Ron) got the call. It turned out to be one of those deals that almost happened a long time ago. It pays to be nice to all situations even when they don’t pan out. Because they could later! The Junkyard Life Guys hit the road to check out a car we missed out on in December due to seller remorse. Not what we were expecting, far better!  We were told an older lady had stored her Cutlass about ten years ago and is now ready to see it go to its next home. I had an idea about a great new home ... mine. 

It’s a two-door. That was the first good news. We had some digging to do-that’s for sure.

  While Anthony and Jody were Automotive Excavating from the top, Ron finds his way into the side via the heavy Oldsmobile door…What surprises await the Junkyard Life Guys? Woodland creatures? Jimmy Hoffa?
Notice the door behind Jody. The Cutlass and other debris had blocked access to this room for over decade. They had long forgotten what was in there.

  The Cutlass was full of good surprises! It was a Salon model ... Cool! We did not expect deluxe velour bucket seats and a very sporty console with a floor shifter, but there it was! The Salon package consisted of such shifty pleasures.   
  This buried treasure also had tilt wheel, cruise control, a rear sway bar and a landau top.  It also lacked of most power options, you must lock your own doors and roll your own windows up or down. The seats, as cushy as they seem, are also manual. Where does this ride fall on the option list? Like most, I would say. Somewhere between Bare Bones and Super Loaded.

 One of the best surprises was all four Olds Rally SS3 wheels in a 15” only offered for a few years. Most wheels like this you see are most likely of the 14” variety. They were usually body color and looked classy and fabulous on these cars.

 Notice the Bicentennial theme on the owner’s manual. 1976 was an anniversary year for Pontiac, but I don’t think Oldsmobile commemorated America’s anniversary with any special packages or themed cars. If you know of any exceptions, please share with us. We would love to know and keep an eye out for them.

 We rolled it back to clean the Quadrajet. We gave it a good once over. Jody installed a hot battery while Griggs and I changed the oil and filter. We picked a thinner than usual 30 weight for speedy lubrication travel through a long dormant 350 Olds engine. We unsuccessfully attempted to drain the fuel (we added some fresh fuel) and successfully aired the low tires. Hit the key and success! For about three seconds. Then nothing. Hmmm. 
  We were tag teaming the carb and the ignition with starter fluid attempting to load the Salon on the trailer against gravity when it cleared up and ran on its own, even when we weren’t expecting it to (sorry, Griggs). So we drove it up on the trailer-cool!

Anthony proves once again that he is a Strapping Young Man. This shot also drives home (get it?) how beautiful this car is! We love Oldsmobiles!

The Oldsmobile Excavation Team – Ron Kidd, Anthony Powell, Jody Potter and Jeremy Griggs.

 Now that we got her home, I have had time to fix a few small leaks. I fiddled with this and adjusted that. So now, "Nanny Dean" (named after her original owner) is running great. This car is very solid and extremely fun to drive.  Stay tuned for updates as we attempt to get the air conditioning working and turn "Nanny Dean" back in time. Keep your eyes open for these seemingly forgotten Colonnade body styles. They are making the hobby interesting with another aspect of muscle and luxury. They aren’t all the same and there are several cool models and packages to be on the look out for. Happy Hunting.

— Ron Kidd,

Ron’s Trivial Oldsmobile Salon Facts
  • The 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass was one of Americas best selling cars that year. It was a special year for the USA and new cars were selling well despite the gas embargo that threatened American V8s.
  • Oldsmobile had a hit on their hands in 1976 with the Cutlass and its new "waterfall grille."
  • The Cutlass Salon package almost got you a 442. Many had rear sway bars and 350 Olds engines with Quadrajet carbs!
  • The floor shifter in the Salon package could even be had in a 4-door body. Imagine a 4-door with front buckets and a floor shifter-that was bold for a family car!
  • 1976 also was the first year for T-tops in the Cutlass and the last year for a 455 under the hood.

This 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon is finally back on the road after years of serving duty as a storage shelf.

We immediately noticed the super sticky steering wheel and dash pad on the Cutlass. It's a common problem associated with these 1970s and newer models that have been parked for a while.

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to Ron at or Jody at