Jim G 1967 Pontiac Firebird 2dr Convertible

The One That Got Away... And Came Back One More Time.

Our 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400

One more ride for Barb ….

The original owner of this Firebird 400 convertible purchased the car in the summer of 1968 – Barb was a 22 year old beginning nurse. Thirty eight years later she got to drive the restored Firebird to her retirement party.

After working in California for a few years, Barb returned to her hometown area and worked in a local nursing home. She retired in September of 2006. With help from Barb’s daughters, the nursing home’s director called me with a very special request… “If you still know of or possibly still have the car, would you be willing to bring it to Barb’s home the evening of her retirement party?” The decision for me was an easy one – YES!! I had not met Barb, and she had only seen the restored car in photos. Arrangements were made for us to have the car in town with enough time to meet the nursing home director before going to Barb’s house. Barb was at home expecting a ride to her gathering in her director’s minivan. Little did Barb know that in about ten minutes she would see the convertible she had fallen in love with over 38 years ago sitting in her driveway.

Barb answered the door for her director with the expected excitement of her retirement party – as she turned around after locking the door, time moved backward! First Barb mentioned, “that looks like my old Firebird…..that, is that, THAT IS MY FIREBIRD!!!” After tears and a couple walk-a-rounds, Barb was ready to meet us to take her for a very special ride. I drove her around town for a few minutes and then offered her a chance to “sit back in time,” and she WAS ready. She remembered that it did not have power steering, she remembered that is still had the big engine sound, and she remembered how hard it had been to give up this very special car.

History of Our Car…

The Firebird 400 convertible was purchased on December 5, 1992, in Davenport, Iowa. The car had to be trailered the 50 miles trip home on one of the coldest days that winter. The original title had not been transferred so the name and address of the previous owner was still listed. After exchanging letters, we learned that the ”previous” was the original and only owner of the Firebird. The car had been purchased by a 22-year-old nurse in Culver City, CA. Barb purchased the car during the summer of 1968 with around 7,000 miles on the odometer. The car was sold as a new demonstrator with full warranty. Barb loved her Firebird and drove the car everywhere, for the next 32 years. The Firebird and Barb parted in 1990 with major front brake problems and 113,822 miles. The second owner never licensed or drove the Pontiac for two years.

When the Pontiac reached our home it spent the next 21 months in our garage. The car was stripped down to the major metal parts; the cleaning, the restoring, and the replacing of the entire interior began. In the fall of 1994 the old interior was re-installed and the convertible was road-worthy – ugly, but roadworthy. A local hobbyist was willing to work through the winter of 1994 hanging new GM fenders and replacing both rear quarter panels. The car left his garage in February of 1995 in primer and ready for the paint shop. With the painting done in March of ’95 the ‘bird’ returned to our shop ready for new interior, trim and new tires and wheels. The engine was cleaned, detailed, and all fluids and filters replaced. The original engine has never been opened -- now having over 183,000 miles.

Jim Gabriel

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Henry Canada February 15, 2014 at 07:40
    Thats a great story. This is what the car hobby is about , making good times and good memories come alive.

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