In 2008, I wanted to get a car for my son's 16th birthday. Though I had little mechanical skill and never rebuilt a car before, I really wanted to get him a classic instead of a newer car, so we could spend time together restoring it and have something unique when we finished. I mean, how hard or expensive could it be, right? The answer took two and a half grueling years and apparently everyone in the world knew but me.
My first choice being a first generation Mustang or Camaro, cars I had owned several of in my day, where quickly dismissed due to cost. My second choice was a generation 2 F body. I've always liked these cars and owned a half dozen or so, which appeared much more affordable because they were a distant second from a popularity point of view from their first generation predecessors.
We got a line on a '72 Firebird Formula and raced out to California to pick it up, only to find out it had been mistakenly crushed in a clean up project. Totally dejected, we got back to town only to find a gentleman down the street had a running 1979 Berlinetta he was willing to part with for a reasonable price. Showing signs of a hard and mismanaged life, it wasn't much to look at and barely ran, but it was straight, rust free and easy to get parts for. A friend of mine who had worked on cars his whole life offered to assist which, as anyone who's ever restored a car will tell you, turned out to be a huge blessing. We had no idea what we where in for, and if it wasn't for him, this project never would have succeeded.
Long story short, after 2 years of scraping, sanding, wrenching and most of all spending, we had what turned out to be, both in quality and expense, more than I had ever expected, With a new power plant and drive train starting with a fuel injected GM crate 350 going through an upgraded 5 speed transmission and ending with 3.73 posi gears, completely restored suspension, interior and 2 stage paint, we finally had a car that was as reliable as a newer car, but turned heads like these cars did in the 70's. Something few newer generation car can compete with.
Though the car wasn't ready when we had originally planned, he was able to drive it his senior year of high school and actually won the most popular car award for his graduating class. Just the cherry on top for a car that he can be proud of for another thirty five years.