This issue’s featured car is actually more than one and is the collection 3rd generation Firebirds and Trans Ams of Ken and Josh Travis from Candler, North Carolina. Here is the story:
I have been a member of the club since I acquired my first 1991 Trans Am Convertible, which has been a few years now. I am submitting the following saga and a few pictures for your interest and consideration.
I purchased my first car when I was 14 years old. The year was 1964. The car was a beautiful 1952 Pontiac 2-door Catalina hardtop – no door posts or door window frames. The straight eight was internally damaged, and I spent my summer break from high school being caked in black gunk as I worked on the engine and EVENTUALLY brought it back to life. I have been an auto enthusiast ever since! I later owned a sweet 1956 Pontiac two-door hardtop Catalina Custom, and then a fabulous 1963 Grand Prix. Chief Pontiac has been in my blood almost all my life. Apart from the 3rd generations that have taken up residence here, I drive a 2006 G6 GTP Coupe when the weather is fair and I’m not wearing shop clothes. My daily go-to most everything car is a sweet little 2000 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe. Even after a gazillion miles it still runs like a little hot dog on its original 2.2L 4-piston pumper.
I ended up working for a major manufacturing corporation as a mechanical manufacturing engineer. Working on cars just naturally falls into the realms of professional expertise. Reading technical drawings, working with extremely tight tolerances, most aspects of industrial plating and paint finishes has aided me well in my passion for preserving these wonderful cars.
With intense enthusiasm, my son Josh works side-by-side with me. He is exceedingly methodical while working with fit, finish and assemblies. I am blessed, as he is a walking encyclopedia of GM part numbers, torque specs and possesses a wealth of parts sources in his head. Accurate research is his forte. He likes the smaller “fiddly” tasks, I love building the engines and other mechanical systems.
Josh and I affectionately refer to our present collection of 3rd generation F-Bodies as members of our Bird Coup, a throw-back from Fire “bird” and the “Screaming Chicken”, which now number eight in the garages! There are (3) 1991 Trans Am Convertibles, (1) 1992 Trans Am Convertible, (1) 1992 Formula 350 T-Top, (1) 1991 Formula 350 Hardtop (at present under full nuts and bolts restoration), (1) 1989 Formula 305, with a 5-speed transmission and a Borg Warner 3.44 rear axle (also in stages of restoration) and (1) 1989 Formula 350, waiting in line for its full-blown restoration. All eight possess TPI engines.
I only acquired the white 1992 Trans Am convertible a few months ago. A previous owner has badged it as a GTA, which we all know is not correct, but for the time being I will leave it as is so as not to risk damaging paint to remove them. Also, the car was born with a 305 TPI, but somewhere in its dubious history it received an engine swap to a 350 TPI. No new convertible ever received a 350. I have plans to add sub-frame connectors to stiffen the chassis because this bad boy does LIKE to go down the street!
The two 1991 red convertibles and the 1992 white convertible were all originally ordered by and delivered to Pontiac Corporate Headquarters and then later put out for auction. I’m not clear what Pontiac Division did with the cars while they were in their possession. The third 1991 Trans Am Convertible, white with black leather, was delivered to and owned by the owner of a Pontiac dealership in Ohio. Restoration on it has not been started.
The two red convertibles and the green 350 Formula have had extensive restoration/preservation work accomplished 100% in our home shop. Engines have all been completely machined with all new internal parts, rotating assembles all weighed and balanced. All have received new sensors, injectors, MSD distributors, etc. Transmissions have been rebuilt with heavy duty internals to produce a positive shift. All the suspension parts, including rear axle housings, have been sent out for sandblasting and powder coating. All the under floor pans, gas tanks, engine bays have been thoroughly cleaned and repainted. All suspension components have received new bushings, new steering linkages, new ball joints, springs, new shocks/struts, new universal joints, brakes and anything else needed to make these old bad boys as good as, or better than when new. Four of the flock are tagged and insured, but only driven in 100% fair weather. The only item I have deviated from factory original is the exhaust systems: Magnaflow seems to suite them well
It has been a pleasure to work on these fantastic old cars. They draw a lot of attention and admiration whenever they get out to go play. It is amazing how many people admire the convertibles and comment that they have NEVER seen one before. Small wonder since so few were built and even fewer now are still in existence, especially in pristine condition.
The above is a quick and very short version of how and why these cars have, or are, transitioning back to their original awe. I appreciate and have enjoyed the Eagle these past few years and look forward to many more issues.