Category Archives: General

for items of general interest

Auto Insurance

The auto insurance industry is not easy to navigate. There are so many factors to consider when shopping for a provider that car owners often get lost in (or cheated by) the fine print.

On behalf of consumers, a team of researchers at Reviews.com set out to identify the auto insurance providers that rise to the top, “based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost.” Take a look at their helpful guide here: https://www.reviews.com/auto-insurance/

They started with 41 of the nation’s top auto insurance companies. These are the factors they considered in their comprehensive review:

  1. Financial solvency
  2. Claims processing
  3. Coverage options
    1. New car replacement
    2. GAP insurance
    3. Uninsured motorist coverages
  4. Discounts
  5. Customer support

Their guide not only provides their overall favorite auto insurance providers based on the above considerations, but also offers recommendations tailored to your personal needs – whether you’re a pet owner, veteran, on a budget, or…a classic car owner! (They recommend Grundy) Find their research process, recommendations, and purchasing tips here.

Technical Sections Volume III Now Available

A  complete copy of all the Technical Sections, topics, questions and answers published in the EAGLE from 2008 to 2017. It is indexed by category such as electrical, suspension, etc. for easy reference and accessibility and contains over 100 pages. $15 plus $5 shipping and handling for the printed version.

 It is also available on CD-ROM for PC or Mac (can also be emailed with no shipping charges) in combination with Technical Section Volume II. It is indexed by category and contains over 250 pages. $15 plus $5 S&H for the CD which contains both Tech Sections Volume II and Volume III (emailed $15).

Available from the NFTAC by ordering on the website at www.firebirdtaclub.com/regalia.htm or by using the order form in each issue of the Eagle..

It can be purchased as part of a 3 volume combo that contains Tech Sections Volume I, II and III all printed (over 400 pages) for $40 plus $10 S&H or a CD combo which contains Volume I printed and Volumes II & III on CD for $30 plus $5 S&H. Other options available on the club website at www.firebirdtaclub.com/regalia.htm and in the club magazine.

National Firebird and Trans Am Club Advertisers – Insurance, Parts, Publications and Literature, Service

These are the people and services that help bring information to our club members by advertising in our club publication, the Eagle. Please support them.

Insurance

Classic Auto Insurance, 1-800-397-0765, www.classicins.com
collector car insurance for less

Parts

Ames Performance Engineering, 1-800-421-2637, www.amesperf.com
Firebird and Trans Am restoration parts

Convertible parts, 1-800-343-4261, www.hydroe.com
pumps, cylinders, roof rails, weatherstripping and more!

Firebird Central, 859-408-2000, www.firebirdcentral.com
the best parts at the best prices, 10% off online orders using coupon code: EAGLE

Frank’s Restoration Parts, 760-361-3242, www.frankspontiacparts.com
buy, sell, new, used and reproduction

National Parts Depot, 800-874-7595, www.nationalpartsdepot.com
Restoration/Performance Parts & Accessories

The Parts Place, 800-442-0411, www.thepartsplaceinc.com
original and reproduction parts from the Pedal to the Metal!

Parts for your Firebird or Trans Am at http://parts.firebirdtaclub.com.
parts for all Pontiacs and other vehicles!

Year One1-800-932-7663
www.yearone.com
Parts for your Pontiac, Firebird and Trans Am

Publications and Literature

Firebird and Trans Am color sales brochures, 315-432-8282, www.autolit.com
original sales brochures for most cars and trucks

Pontiac Shop Manuals on CD, www.firebirdtaclub.com/regalia.htm
with Fisher body service and 1963-75 Pontiac parts, for ‘67, ‘68, ‘69, ‘70, ‘71 or ‘72

NFTAC Technical Sections, 773-769-7166, www.firebirdtaclub.com/regalia.htm
Volume I, II & III. Copies of technical topics published in the NFTAC Eagle.

Service

Speed and Sport Chrome Plating, 713-921-0236, www.speedsportchrome.com, sales@speedsportchrom.com
chrome plating, 15 day service, specializing in classic cars

Book Review: Pontiac Firebird: 50 Years


by David Newhardt

Celebrate 50 years of Pontiac’s iconic muscle car

The early 1960s saw American auto manufacturers desperately trying to sell cars to the emerging baby-boom market. Pontiac attained success with its original muscle car, the GTO, but as successful as the GTO was, it was handily outsold by Ford’s grand-slam home-run pony car, the Mustang. In response, Pontiac entered the pony car market in 1967, its new Firebird, a model that became one of the most iconic cars of the classic muscle-car era. Eventually the top Firebird model, the Trans Am, became the standard bearer for automotive performance in the U.S. market, kept the muscle car flame alive throughout the dark years of the 1970s and led the charge when performance reemerged in the 1980s.

Pontiac Firebird: 50 Years chronicles the Firebird’s rich history, from the early attempts to reach the youth market in the early 1960s, through the potent and turbulent years of the classic muscle car era, the resurgence of muscle in the 1980s, to the car’s continued popularity today.

This 2017 hardcover book is, priced at $50.00 is available on Amazon.

Purchaser review from Amazon: Finally a big fancy and good hardcover book on one of my other perennial favorite vehicles, the Pontiac Firebird and its derivatives, the Formula, Trans Am and so forth. Beautiful book chronicling this vehicle that sadly is no longer with us. Smokey and the Bandit and movie cars and marketing genius is in the book. I would have like to have seen the current Bandit conversion T/A (Camaro with a body kit made to look like a T/A; they also have a GTO based kit and other kits from others) car and aftermarket Camaro based clones as well as the racing cars and racing heritage. Otherwise I love the cover, love everything about the book and the history contained in it as it is well written. Glad to have this book in my F-Body (Camaro/Firebird) Book collection. Hope one day Pontiac will come back with the Firebird, T/A and Formula (wishful thinking). In the meantime we have a book like this tha
t perfectly shows these legends. – Jose Lopez P

The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide 1967-1969 by Rocky Rotella

In the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company took the automotive world by storm with the release of its new “pony car,” the Ford Mustang. It was the right car for the right time, and it caught General Motors by surprise. One year later, after seeing the Mustang’s enormous sales success, General Motors announced the development of its own pony-car platform, code-named “Panther,” to compete with the tremendously popular Mustang. And what a competition it became. Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds hit the market as 1967 models, and the world clamored for more of these new Mustang killers. These F-Body cars became some of the most popular enthusiast cars of all time.

 In The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide 1967-1969, Pontiac expert and historian Rocky Rotella examines each production year of the first generation of Firebirds. Production figures, option codes, running changes, model year changes and variances, rarity, collectability, interviews with engineers, and more are thoroughly covered in what is sure to become the ultimate Firebird reference book. Complementing the detail and year-by-year analysis is a combination of archival photography from the launch of these cars and beautiful color photos of original and restored examples.

Whether you are into the first generation of F-Body convertibles, Formula 400 performance models, the special overhead cam Sprint 6s, or even the first Trans Ams of 1969, this book tells the entire story of these immensely popular cars. It is an excellent addition to any pony car, muscle car, or any enthusiast’s library.

The fresh-off-the-press hardbound book, priced at $39.95, is available through Car Tech Books at 1-800-551-4754 or at www.cartechbooks.com . It is also available on Amazon.

This 1977 Trans Am Will Leave Smokey in the Dust

This 1977 Trans Am Will Leave Smokey in the Dust
by Jeff Edelstein, The Trentonian

One of my lifelong dreams was fulfilled last week when I got to pretend to be Sally Field. Maybe I better explain …

I was riding shotgun in a beautifully restored black 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Special Edition. The “Smokey and the Bandit” car, hardtop edition. And let me tell you something: Whoa. It’s been my dream car since I was a little kid, which is weird, because I’m not a car guy in the least bit. But this car does it for me. It’s just so … badass. There’s really no other word in the English language that describes the car better. It’s a badass car.

And I was riding in it courtesy of Nicky Sindora, a 20-year-old Trenton resident who spent the better part of the last four years putting this particular one back together.

It was his 16th birthday, back in 2009, and Sindora knew what he wanted: His mom’s Trans-Am, which had been parked in the driveway for about 15 years.”  It had been sitting there since about 1993, 1994,” he said. “Completely undriveable. The floors were rotted, the engine was done, the transmission … everything.”

Now understand: This was not just any car. Sindora’s dad, Larry, had bought it as a wedding present for his wife. And even though it was on the junk pile (and survived not one but two catalytic converter-related fires) no one really wanted to get rid of it. In fact, Sindora’s two older sisters had failed in their lobbying efforts for the car.

“It would have been totaled by now if I got it,” said Jessica Sindora, one of his sisters. “Nicky is the right person to the get the car. He’s more responsible than we ever were at his age and he’s not your normal 20 year old. He deserves that car.” His sister’s observation is on the nose. Nicky Sindora is not your average 20 year old. He doesn’t drink, do drugs, smoke or swear. He works with his dad for Sindora and Son Hauling — “we’re like ‘Sanford and Son,’” Sindora said — and his interests are less Justin Bieber, more “Leave it to Beaver.”

For instance: While the Trans-Am is his pride and joy, a close second is a 1959 Schwinn bicycle he restored. He loves vintage stuff, and working with his dad gives him ample opportunity to feed that need. But back to the Trans Am.

His parents decided to give it to him. They didn’t know what to expect. Four years later, they’re blown away.

“I’m proud and very, very impressed,” said his dad. “It’s a headturner. It’s never looked this nice.”

So the details: Um … it’s badass? Listen, as I said earlier, I’m not a car guy. But I love this car, as I mentioned in a column from two years ago about my burgeoning midlife crisis. (I wanted one. And a fling with a woman named “Caandeeiye. Anyway …) Anyway, Sindora saw the column and reached out to me, telling me he was restoring a Trans-Am, and if I’d like to see it when it was done. I responded calmly, something like, “OMG YES PLEASE WHEN NOW SOON?” Alas, I had to wait.” Over four years,” Sindora said. “A lot of time. I spent close to $25,000. A lot of people helped out, chipped in. But now, if I wanted to, I could sell it, at auction, for $45,000.”

I asked if he had any plans to sell.

“I’m never getting rid of this,” he said. “If I get married and my wife says to get rid of it, just give me the divorce papers.” That said, the whole process of restoring wasn’t exactly smooth.

“They only made 549 hardtops,” Sindora said. “And every piece of this car comes from one of them. I wanted every detail to be correct. Thank god for eBay. And while I’m glad I did it, I’ll never do this again. It did get aggravating, trying to fix it, find the parts. I ended up buying a whole other one for parts at one point. Once, I took a drive to Maryland to pick up an engine piece I needed. And once I got the engine in, I couldn’t get it to start. Found a stink bug nest in the carburetor.”

But now that’s it more or less done, save for some minor details — and it’s only been on the road for a little over a week — Sindora is thrilled.

“I love the lookers,” Sindora said. “Most reactions so far are jaw dropping. People are stopping me, making me offers on the car. And it boogies.”

I can attest to the boogie nature of this perfect car. We found an empty parking lot. He hit it. And it boogied. (I tried to repress a Sally Field-like giggle.) According to Sindora, the car can hit 170 MPH, as he found out during diagnostic testing.

“I don’t want to ever get a ticket in this,” Sindora said. “But if I do, I’m asking the officer if we could take a picture together with the lights flashing and everything.”

Eastbound and down …

Jeff Edelstein be reached at jedelstein@trentonian.com , www.facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and @jeffedelstein on Twitter.

Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition Nicky Sindora, 20, of Trenton with his  restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition.  Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition

First Two Firebirds Discovered!

First 2 Firebirds Discovered First2Firebirds2The first two Firebirds ever built have been discovered! These were hand built by John Delorean’s crew. The Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud film crew was on hand to document the discovery. They are going to be restored and then off to a museum. You can watch the build on the April 21 and 28 episodes of Fast N’ Loud on the Discovery Channel. I’ve got my DVR set!

And thanks to you Wes for the head’s up!

Brian Massey

SEMA Car Show Vegas

For fans of cars and casinos, the SEMA car show in Vegas is a must. Running at the Las Vegas convention Centre the next SEMA car show is in November 2013. Taking place from 5th to 8th November this will be the biggest SEMA show yet, packing in a load of automotive fun amongst the greatest casino atmosphere in the world, making for an adrenalin filled weekend.

The show is the highlight of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (formally the Speed Equipment Market Association) and it will attract around 100,000 attendees from over 100 different countries, on top of those who already descend on the casino city. The SEMA show is only open to trade members (the general public are not allowed to attend) and is held in conjunction with the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, this will be the biggest event to hit Las Vegas in 2013, even bigger than the WSOP (World Series of Poker) tournament.

The SEMA car show provides a perfect opportunity for the forging of new contacts, the renewal of old ones, and for undertaking important and lucrative business. It also provides an opportunity for delegates to let their hair down in the party city. Although some delegates might care to spend their evenings working on spread sheets and press releases in their hotel rooms in the evenings with their entertainment limited to the occasional visit to an online casino, the general ethos is one of partying the night away, especially on the final evening, and Las Vegas is the ideal please to do so.

For those who wish to mix up there passion for cars and casinos but who cannot make it to Vegas, there are games available at online casinos such as the best mobile slots at MobileSlots.net . Good to Go is an racing-car themed adrenaline arousing five reel slot machine that offers punters nine pay-lines and combines all the fun of pit-babes, screaming rev counters and chequered flags, whilst Granny Prix is a scratchcard game that gives you the opportunity of a payout whilst Granny is at the wheel – if you can defeat her, that is.

The Iconic Firebird on the Hoods of Trans Am.

from Hemmings by Marik McCourt

The hood graphics that branded the Pontiac Trans Ams of the 1970s were almost predestined, with the link of Native American mythos with this General Motors division dating back to its 1926 inception as Oakland’s lower- priced six-cylinder companion car. Named after the Michigan city and the legendary Native American chief, the first Pontiac cars would wear Chief Pontiac’s likeness, and the arrowhead symbol that followed it was subtle in comparison to the intimidating power of the firebird to come.

Pontiac’s quickly engineered version of the late-to-market Chevrolet Camaro adopted an appropriate name previously used on General Motors’ three Motorama gas turbine experimental cars of the 1950s. The design of the red and black firebird badges fitted to the fenders and tail panels of first generation Firebird coupes and convertibles were traditional and featured tucked-in wings.

Firebird Decal The firebird emblem would receive a restyling along with the cars it appeared on in 1970, most dramatically as an 8.5-inch decal on the top of the Trans Am’s body color Endura front bumper. For the first time, the Firebird’s firebird would spread its wings and spit flame from its beak, and the relatively subtle 1970-1972 Trans Am would get a shot of attitude in 1973 that would define it for the rest of its days.

David Newhardt’s book, Firebird Trans Am, discusses how the soon-to-be-famous big firebird came to be:

“Bill Porter remembers, ‘Norm James, the designer of the 1957 Firebird III show car, had been in the airport at Phoenix and had seen this stylized firebird, with its wings spread and sort of feathered. He did a decal firebird on the hood of the Firebird III. It was much more stylized and much more angular than what ended up on the hood of the modern Trans Am. I remembered it, and it gave me an idea of a device to get the hood scoop to look like it belonged on the car, by wrapping these wings around it- it kind of sucked [the scoop] back into the surface of the vehicle, integrated it. I laid one out, and a graphic designer named Norm Inouye helped refine it.’ “

Bill went on to explain that GM styling director Bill Mitchell was furious to find this design being applied to one of the prototype cars, and ordered it removed. John Schinella, head of the Pontiac Design studio and a fan of the concept, took the controversial hood emblem, and with help from 3M, made it more production friendly, creating three for three red, white and blue Trans Ams for presentation to management. Bill Mitchell was finally swayed by seeing a black Trans Am accented with a gold bird, done in the same mold as his black and gold cafe racer motorcycle; he relented to offer it as an option for 1973.

Regular Production Order WW7, costing $55, was available on Trans Ams in three colors: a blue-flamed bird on Cameo White cars, an orange-flamed bird on Buccaneer Red cars and a pale green-flamed bird on Brewster Green cars. These hood-hugging firebirds were a generous 45.5 inches wide and 44.5m inches tall, and were an instant success.

Helping to celebrate the Pontiac Motor Division’s 50th anniversary in 1976 was a Trans Am Special Edition painted Starlite black with gold pinstripes, lettering and a striking gold firebird on its hood. This car would inspire the 1977 Special Edition Trans Ams that achieved huge fame with the Smokey and the Bandit movie. A similar black and gold livery and gothic-style script theme was available in 1978, and would continue in modified form from 1979 to 1981.

To mark the Trans Am’s tenth anniversary in 1979, Pontiac released the biggest ‘bird to date, one whose wing tips wrapped on to the fenders and separated the body’s Platinum Silver paint from the roofs charcoal paint. The Turbo Trans Ams of 1980 and 1981 traded the shaker for an offset hood bulge, so the firebird was redesigned with a long flame that curled up from its beak onto the bulge.

When the aerodynamic third-generation Firebird and Trans Am debuted in 1982, the bird decal remained on the nose, albeit in smaller form; a larger hood firebird would be optional through 1987. Although the firebird would remain an integral part of the Firebird and Trans Am until the model’s demise in 2002, it would never again have such a prominent size or placement.

Hood-spanning firebirds of all sizes and colors are reproduced today by Phoenix Graphix and Stencils & Stripes Unlimited, and can also be purchased from Classic Industries, Ames Performance Engineering and Year One.