Sunday, April 26, 2020

Yard Bird: 2002 Pontiac Firebird finds 2nd owner

Daytime pic with Firebird parked on road with headlights up and glowing.

Bird’s eye view. Ever noticed a car and thought it was cool? Then you notice it again. Then you can take no more, and beg the owners to take some money in exchange for the car, a few papers and the keys?  We at Junkyard Life do that all the time. Sometimes we are cool about it, but if I (Ron) am involved, forget negotiating and playing with a poker face, for I have not one. Those other times we buy the darn thing and no one believes it randomly followed us home. A 2002 Firebird Sport Coupe in Sebring Silver Metallic  found it’s way to my garage. We love the Yardbirds – the Jeff Beck kind or this really cool Bird we found in a yard. 

Firebird ownership can be addictive. I had to have this one. This yard bird was still in the hands (yard) of Miss Debbie, the original owner. A really nice lady who took great care of it, didn’t let anyone else drive it and serviced it regularly. The interior was as clean as the day it rolled off the showroom floor.

Wearing a bright Silver Metallic exterior and a harmonizing black cloth interior, this 2002 Firebird Coupe was packed full of options. How many options can one cram into a Firebird? Miss Debbie was up to the challenge. Her poor Pontiac salesperson at Crown Pontiac in Hoover, Alabama developed writer’s cramp filling her order. She was among the last lucky people to own a brand new Firebird. What a day that was. She went straight to her mom and sister’s house. “Look what I got!,” she said.

What did she get?
A beautiful Sebring Silver Metallic Pontiac with tons of options. Power seat, power windows, power door locks, T-Tops, power mirrors, power rear hatch release, cruise control and more things we didn’t even suspect or knew were even available on a V6 car. We were pleasantly surprised to find a positive traction rear end with the optional 3:42 gear. It moves this Bird quite well. Thank you, Miss Debbie. Your Bird is in good hands.

Last of the breed
We know it was not the last Firebird, but it was built in late August of 2002 and depending on how many Birds were hatching per day, this may very well have been built in the last week of production. (A mere 1,349 from the last Firebird to roll off the assembly line.) We also know it isn’t a rare model, but consider the minuscule number of Firebirds you see cruising around today. They are an endangered species to be sure. Ask anyone at the Trans Am Nationals, which we attend every August, about the disappearing act the Firebird is pulling. Many people have fond memories of a Bird from their past, but now regret letting the car out of their possession.

The Big Bird Show
Despite not being a Trans Am or a Formula, my Silver six-cylinder coupe will be welcomed at the Trans Am Nationals, the aforementioned annual gathering celebrating Pontiac Firebird history and a fellowship of Firebird fans. We also provide a counseling service of sorts to people passing near this gathering of Birds and take the time to stop and tell us their Firebird story usually ending in some type of seller’s remorse. We nod politely and use comforting words while we vow to ourselves to never be on the other side of that conversation. Long live the Firebird!  

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Junkyard Life’s Firebird Fun Facts

  • The actual last Firebird built was a bright red Trans Am convertible. 

  • This Firebird was sidelined due to cooling problems. 

  • 2002 saw 23,330 Firebirds built.
Exotic birds, such as Scarlet Macaws or Cockatoos are often subject to quarantine before being sold to the public. I bought this Bird DURING a quarantine. There has to be a joke or an irony here, but I just can’t put it together.
  • The most popular color for 2002 Firebird Coupes was black, selling 1,545 cars, narrowly outselling Bright Red at 1,504 cars.

  • The rarest of the Firebird Coupes would have to be Sunset Orange Metallic, a stunningly beautiful color, but only 372 were made in that optical celebration. 

  • Our color, Sebring Silver Metallic was the  fourth best-selling exterior hue with 1,189 so equipped. 
  • Sebring name comes via the South Florida city known for auto racing and home to Sebring International Raceway, which is one of the oldest continuously operating race tracks in the U.S. The first race there was in 1950.

  • The name “Firebird” is based on the famous Phoenix bird, which comes from Slavic folklore. 

  • Rumor has it that the car’s name “Firebird” was not contrived on the spot, but more of a revival of a name from turbine powered show cars GM was considering in the 1950s.
John Delorean would not have named this late arrival to the pony car war anything less than something spectacular.

*Editor’s Note: Junkyard Life staffer Ron Kidd made it through this article with only one classic rock reference and one mention of his hero, John Delorean. This is progress for him.

Shiny chrome 5-spoke wheels and shiny silver paint.

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Friday, April 10, 2020

1968 Corvette 427 Rescue of a Legend

Building and roof falling in on Corvette so it must be moved to save it from further damage.

The Urban Legend Lives On. 
Every town has a mystical car story from which urban legends are born. We tracked one down, uncovered the story and actually saw the car! It was (and still is) a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (that story here) with a fat 427 and a 4-speed. Here are the Cliffnotes:

Young man does these things...

  • buys his dream 1968 Corvette convertible.
  • dominates the streets in his hometown.
  • encounters local law enforcement.
  • eludes a major citation, as well as several more he had coming.
  • stashes the car for 33 years.

1968 Corvette must be moved to keep it safe. The old barn/garage was in need of repairs.

Fast forward a few decades
Family helps Big Block Mike move his Vette from the once enjoyed seclusion. Mainly due to the threat of the now dilapidated garage coming down on the poor car. Junkyard Life was invited to witness the grand move. How could we turn that invitation down? A 427 Corvette? This is the ultimate in automotive excavation! We had to be there, join us!   

Rear wheels and tires are locked up and slide through the mud.
Tires slide through the mud as the 1968 Corvette dragged out of barn by a yellow tow strap.

The Corvette Virus

Now, extracting an automobile from where it has been sitting for three or four decades is not without its challenges. The Polyglass tires refused to hold air. Of course they wouldn’t. None of us thought they would. The period correct Cragar mags declined our request to leave the car. So a combination of, our buddy, Chris Sanderson’s temper and a large sledge hammer persuaded the stubborn tires to change places. Three 15-inch Rally wheels and one GM steely we had in the Junkyard Life stash served rolling stock duty for the relocation. The loading went surprisingly well after that, despite a few more expected problems. Nothing these guys couldn’t handle.

A removable hardtop and Camaro bucket seats were added in the 1970s. Sidepipes once roared beneath the doors.

Stubborn Clutch-Release Thyself!

No. It will not. I even said “please” several times. The heavy duty 1970’s era clutches made a work out of just a small commute. This one decided to stay in place and the 4:11 positraction rear did it’s job well and would not under any circumstances let those rear tires move. It has been in that position for 33 years-why unlock now? The original 4-speed took the side of the clutch and it too refused to move. No shifty business going on between those seats. What happened to common courtesy and southern manners? I said, “please!”

The one car wooden garage is close to caving in on the car. Moving it was the only option.
Don't look back! The Corvette is finally pulled out into the daylight.

Need help moving a car? Tell them it's a Big Block Corvette. Chris and Daryl go under to find a mounting point for winch.

Rear deck of the 1968 Corvette covered in animal waste and debris from decades in storage.
Footprints and debris from critters, such as possum, were found on the Corvette.

You Force my Hand-and my Tow Strap-and my 1968 Mustang

What? You lost me at “hand”*. You read correct. The solution to our locked up 1968 Corvette was a tow strap locked onto the chassis of a 1968 Mustang. Hey, it was there, we needed it, we used it, we were in Ford country! What can we say? So if you strap a Corvette to a Mustang, you can then pull the trailer from underneath it. Thus, freeing the Corvette. I know you Ford guys have some metaphors and phrases , so go ahead and hit us with them. We knew the job was dangerous when we took it.

Un-Locking the Rat Junkyard Life Style

It isn’t everyday we get to take the spark plugs out of a Vette and spray a ton of anti-seize penetrating oil into the massive bores of the 427. So we took advantage of that opportunity as well. Is that Junkyard Life style or what?  So stay tuned as we let this beast sit for a couple of days and let the magic oil do what it can, so maybe… just maybe, we can turn the motor by hand and see if it will budge. If it does, then a whole new line of fun begins! Stay tuned!

Ron Kidd

— Junkyard Life

* Editor’s Note: According to Junkyard Life staffer Ron Kidd, the phrase “You lost me at hand” was the first unsuccessful phrase before the “You had me at ‘hello’” slogan became popular.

Tag date is 1987.

Unloading required strapping the Corvette to a 1968 Mustang.

A 1968 Mustang, hidden in shadow of garage, helped hold the Corvette as trailer pulled away. Wheels, brakes and/or transmission on the Corvette are froze up.

No options under here. Manual steering, manual brakes, no A/C.
A look at the Fat motor 427 under the hood of the 1968 Corvette.

Street racers ran and hid from cars with these emblems back in the day.

Original wood wheels bring $500 in good shape.
Aftermarket steering wheel was cool. Now, not so much.

A set of borrowed Rally wheels and tires used to transport the Vette. Instantly the car looked better.

Will it turn over? To be continued...
Chris, Daryl, and Ron take a look at the engine. Will it turn over? To be continued...

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Video: Project $300ZX lowbuck Z31 Nissan Part 1

This 1984 Datsun/Nissan 300ZX spent 30 years with one family before being offered up for sale at $300. A minor basement flood dashed the family dreams of one day restoring the 5-speed, V6, 2+2, slicktop. The Z31, as they are known in Nissan circles, had been parked 20 years after developing an engine noise.

WATCH Project $300ZX Part 1:

One man's trash, another man's treasure! Junkyard Life jumped on the deal but soon learned that these cars have little value when in non-running condition. Damage to the ECU (computer) and an engine full of syrupy sludge had me on the verge of flipping or stripping some parts to get my money back. But, this car has an unlikely rescuer! My son, Joe, a 16-year-old with dreams of hammering gears in a 5-speed sports car. With barely a budget, the quest was on to find a good engine and/or parts car.

Part 1 begins as we haul the basement-fresh 1984 $300ZX home. Fuel pump issues and a rusty gas tank were the first issues that needed addressing. Soon after, a 1986 300ZX parts car (ran when parked) is located for $350 but it is filled with Amazonian-sized ants and piles of rat poo. Joe and his buddy, Ethan, tackle the dirty work and turn wrenches to try and make the $300ZX run! Er, knock!!

The 1984 Nissan 300ZX as it sat in a basement after 20 years. Engine woes sidelined the car but other obligations always seemed to push the car's needed repairs on the back burner.

More details to follow on the $300ZX and more videos. Stay tuned!

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at