John B 1968n

It All Started With 99 Cents

As a young boy and as many did, the trip to the local dime store was a great reason to visit the toy department. In that toy department was the Matchbox and later Hot Wheels displays that grabbed my attention. This is where my passion for cars started. I wish I had played nicer with those magical vehicles, they provided many hours of fun and imagination.

My dad had owned many cars during my childhood, some of the more memorable cars were a 1959 Cadillac, 1957 convertible Chevy Belair, Corvair, Gremlin and various other Cadillac's, even one I got to drive. I was not old enough to reach the pedals but you did not need the put your foot on the brake in those days to take the transmission out of park....oops! The most memorable car my Dad owned and eventually became mine was a 1968 Pontiac Firebird coupe; it had a 2 barrel 350 motor and an automatic transmission. Boy, what a cool car! It was so sporty looking, I loved it! The car remained around and I was turning 16, Dad decided that it was time to buy him a new car, he sold me the Firebird for $300 and my obsession began. I had big plans and no money. I went out and found my first job at Wendy's and started bringing home the cash. I would spend whatever I could for parts and upgrades, the thing was, I drove it daily, working on it was tough. For a couple of years I did this and never quite got to where I wanted, I did finally get a beater and garaged the Firebird to strip it down to nothing. Unfortunately the car had cancer, more than I could deal with and finally parted the car out. I was down but not out. I was soon looking for my next car and a family friend told me he had a 1965 GTO for sale, Bingo!

To keep this story short I will briefly say that this car was a continuation of my Love for Pontiac's

Fast forward to 2004, I was driving my second 1965 GTO; this was a Tri-Power 4-speed, post car. Nothing like having a four speed except if you’re in traffic, Woodward Dream Cruise was fun but the clutch was stiff and by the time you were done your calf muscle was trash. I was going to do a full frame off restoration on her until my wife as a Birthday gift sent away for PHS documentation for the car. Well went it came in the car was found not to be a GTO at all, someone had turned it into a clone. With a heavy heart I sold my dream car and started looking for my next. I started thinking about what I really wanted next and my thoughts turned back to my 1968 Firebird once again. I started searching all avenues for my Firebird, I was looking for a very specific car this time around, a 1968 Firebird 400. I found many and a couple of them were just what I was looking for, I did the PHS search on them and found clones once again. On one of my searches I stumbled across a 68 Firebird in Hemmings, called on it and it had already been sold. The person I was talking to did however say they had another one they had just received in. We talked and finally decided to request some photos of the car. After receiving the photos over the internet, I looked them over and it did not look bad and better yet it was a convertible. I got the numbers off the VIN and motor and trans and ran them through PHS one last time. It was a matching car. Mind you this was not a perfect car but a diamond in the rough. I wired the money to purchase the car and I arranged for shipping of the vehicle from Seattle, Washington to my home in Michigan. Once it arrived the gentleman driving the rig pulled me over to ask if I knew what I had purchased...GULP...yes I said and he proceeded to take me to the underside of the vehicle still on the upper rack of the hauler. He pointed out some major rust issues and again asked if this was what I purchased, for once it was off his truck it was mine. Needles to say it came off the truck, it certainly was misrepresented but for the most part a complete car. Besides that, it was a numbers matching car.

A good friend of mine had just completed a restoration of his Corvette and the outcome was amazing, I had asked who had done the work and he gave me the location and name of the guy who did the work. I really wanted this person to do the car as it needed to be fully restored. After meeting with him and looking the car over we agreed on a price and time frame for the car to enter his shop. October of 2004 the Firebird was hauled over to his shop minus the engine and transmission and work was started. I visited the shop weekly to see and photo the progress and ended up with a good friend in the process. With each step, the car revealed many hidden obstacles, the Firebird was far worse than even he expected. His work was more but held his price firm, I was very lucky to have found such a reputable individual. Well after 18 months and many hours of hard work and let's not forget a bank account, it was finished. Early October of 2006 it was delivered to my home fresh and ready for the streets. I was absolutely beautiful! In my wildest dreams I could have never dreamed of owning such a beautiful car, I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.

I’ve been on two Hot Rod Power Tours and many, many car shows in the last ten years, along the way, many miles of enjoyment and smiles. I belong to the Motor City chapter of the POCI and frequent a local cruise in at the Fireplace Bar & Grill most every Monday throughout the year. I’ve met some of the best people and have organized many cruise events involving travel in our classic cars. I would not trade any of the experiences all due to owning a classic/muscle car for anything. Remember, it all started with 99 cents.

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