Martin B 1976 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 2dr Hardtop Coupe

My daughters revived my interest in my Trans Am!

My interest in mechanics and old cars came early in my life: my dad always had one - not the classic beauty you might dream about, all smooth lines and polish, but old beat-up rust buckets cobbled together with chewing gum and wire. He didn't have much money so he made do with whatever car he had at the time. How often did I have to crawl under the car by the side of the road to wire up an exhaust pipe, or loosen up a seized brake cable pulley? So many hours under the hood helping him to change a valve or make up a gasket of some kind - I think he might just about have had all the tools required to strip down not just the engine, but also the entire car, and re-assemble it by the side of the road.

Anyway, fast forward a few years, I passed my test and started the same pattern of fooling around with old clunkers (albeit cherished old clunkers), but I finally got my break. After going to college, getting into electronics and working a few years I decided to go big or go home... I put a down payment on what I had really been wanting for the past couple of years: my one and only new car, a 1976 Trans Am. Not very practical with three young kids but my wife liked it so I was in! We seemed to get by in it somehow, even all of us going to the drive-in on occasion(!) where we would, somehow, watch such movies as Star Wars and of course, Smokey and the Bandit! My kids grew up with that car, and we would bomb along listening to ELO, Heart or Pat Benatar on the bassy old 8-track player.

Although years later we bought a more practical family car, I still used the old Bird a lot, and by this time the old bird had been repainted, the motor modified a little, then after many more years put back to original again. Then, Inevitably it seemed, one day I lost interest and without so much as a "well it's been fun baby" I shoved her away into various garages and barns for the next 20 or more years, while work and other aspects of life took over. So many changes over forty years. My wife passed away, my kids grew up, got married and carried on with their lives, and I met my new partner, and we went to the UK for a couple of years to further her career, with never even a thought for that poor old dusty black TA mouldering a way in somebody's garage back in Canada. We returned, then we went to live in Newfoundland.

So, enter 2013, I am now retired, and about to turn 65. An incredible thing happened: my three offspring, now all living in Kingston, Ontario, did some surreptitious conferring and decided to bring the old car to a paint shop and get the bodywork fixed up and painted, in the original 1976 format, and it looks awesome! (Apparently it started up quite readily, once the gas got through, but new plugs really helped.) They threw a party for me at my middle daughter's house, so I came out and the first surprise was most of my old friends from work had somehow been rounded up and were there... "surprise..." then later I was blindfolded and led, stumbling, up the steps to the driveway where this awesome looking car was facing me. The first words out of my mouth was "Is that my car?" Of course, everyone laughed at that. I had to jump in and take her for a spin - yup, there was that same familiar clutch tremble, and the slight whine of the Hurst transmission, all the gauges looked good and as I put my foot down a little I thought there's that old familiar big block rumble.

That was two years ago, and I have to say "thanks girls, you have given me back my enthusiasm (and the responsibility) for my car again. It was thrilling to be driving her home from Ontario to Newfoundland, and at the ferry it was exciting - and a little embarrassing if one is not used to it - when several of the ferry workers stopped directing traffic for several minutes to get a better look at the car, causing the ferry traffic to stop!. But I had to feel proud. I can't wait now to use some modern parts (on order) to help the engine deliver the horsepower she was supposed to have before the smog years hit. I will swap out the heads for some better flowing ones, put on some Doug's headers and a Pypes exhaust with Ultra Flo mufflers, do a re-jet of the carb and maybe buy a new ignition system. Spring is a long time away, but it will come. (Newfoundland is no time to work on cars in an unheated garage in the winter!)

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