Thursday, March 11, 2021

Buying a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Esprit Part 1: Splashdown

1979 Firebird Esprit sprays water 10-feet high during a cruise home through a massive rainstorm. 

Got my Firebirds and boats mixed up. Buying a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Esprit from FaceBook Marketplace was easy. Getting it home proved a challenge. Splash down occurred after a torrential downpour flooded a highway in Tarrant, Alabama. Junkyard Life's Ron Kidd wheeled the Mayan Red Firebird through the deluge of rain. "Hey Ron! You might wanna... Too late." Splash test dummy indeed. Faith, my daughter and Junkyard Life's female Firebird fanatic, bought the car but Kidd begged for the opportunity to drive the unproven Second Generation Bird 76-miles home. I'm sure she cringed when the 10-foot wave of water covered her new car and also the windshield of our follow vehicle that she was driving. Captain Kidd never faltered. The red Bird made like a redfish. Swimming through safely. Check out the video below.

1979 Pontiac Esprit window sticker and envelope full of paper work tells the story that this was a pampered car.
Dealer items, window sticker, build sheet and a mountain of maintenance receipts came with the Esprit.

Paper trail We found loads of paperwork and documentation were included on this original paint car. According to the Georgia license plate, the car had been parked in a Tuscaloosa, Alabama apartment complex parking lot, where we were inspecting it, for more than a year. The current owner had moved from Georgia and was in the process of moving again. Undeterred by a few door dings and a dead battery we dug in for a closer look. The Firebird was rust-free and appeared to have been meticulously maintained during most of its life. The dash, uncracked and not faded, was evidence that the car had been parked in covered area. (Note: A second gen Bird dash can be expensive to replace.) The engine, though not original, looked fresh and boasted 2 more cylinders than the Esprit came with from the factory. Best of all, the A/C worked!

A hopped up Chevy 350 engine was installed by a previous owner.
A V6 was originally installed in the 1979 Esprit but a previous owner added some horsepower. A Chevy 350 with 4-bolt main, and double hump heads gives it some added juice.

Water you talking about? What makes this story freaky is that Faith took a spin and plunge down an embankment into the woods when she hydroplaned in her 1978 Pontiac Formula Firebird. Her new-to-her 1979 Firebird Esprit sailed like a boat on its first voyage during the ride home. We hope this one stays on the road! Stay tuned for more on how the first, a 1978 Firebird Formula, led to the second, a 1979 Firebird Esprit.

Jody Potter
– Junkyard Life

The Mayan Red Firebird has red seats, red dash, red carpet. You get the picture? Red, red, red, on red.
Inside the 1979 Esprit are red deluxe seats and red everywhere else.

Rear angle of Mayan Red 1979 Firebird Esprit with 15x8 WS6 wheels.
A set of WS6 8-inch snowflake wheels were added to the 1979 Esprit.

A black Formula steering wheel was added because I like the performance look of the wheel. It was standard item on Trans Am and Formula.
A Formula steering wheel was source from Ames Performance. This company sells only Pontiac parts and has been a big help getting old Ponchos back on the road

Sunset on a red 1979 Firebird Esprit with my daughter Faith behind the wheel.
1979 Firebird Esprit are not as popular as Trans Ams and Formulas at shows but this one will turn heads when people see or hear it coming.

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

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