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Old 11-29-2010, 12:17 AM
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Default 1971 Firebird Build ("The Other Woman", a.k.a. Project "T.O.W.")

Since I have now officially embarked on my latest project, I thought it was time to create a build thread.

The car is a 1971 Firebird. I purchased this car from South Florida in July of this year. The car appears to be an Esprit, originally a 4-speed car with AC. The car was restored in the early/mid 90's, and it seems to have been driven very little since then. The interior is in overall good condition with just a few common issues (dash pad, console door). The exterior of the car is a mismatch of Trans Am front fenders, rear fender flares, and a fiberglass Formula hood.

I saw a lot of pictures of the car before I purchased it, and I had several phone conversations with the seller. Unfortunately, even after asking many many specific questions (this isn't my first second gen), the car arrived with more rust issues than I was led to believe. The reality is that the car is a good 20-footer. I'm not sure if it's painted in the original Buccaneer Red or not, but the red is a good color on the car. Both lower rear quarters have some rust issues, and some small patches on the lower doors be required. But overall, I felt pretty good about the car for what I paid for it, especially given what I could find locally (ie: much worse for more money).

So it's now November, and I enjoyed driving the car a little bit for the few months that I've owned it. It took me a while to get the title straightened out (lesson learned, make VERY certain that an out-of-state seller really has a title in their name), but once that was done, I got to drive it a bit. And clearing the title was also my last hurdle to clear before starting on the big changes that I have planned for this car...

My goals for this car are pretty simple... I don't want to turn this into a show car. I want to build it to drive it. Specifically, I want to do HPDE events at the local tracks, so my choices in drivetrain and suspension reflect that. I also want to drive the car, so it won't be solely a track car. I won't trade off some comfort for outright performance.

Given those goals, I wanted a car that looks presentable enough as my starting point. I intend to replace all of the mechanicals of the car, but don't really want to dive into bodywork if it can be avoided.

After a lot of research, here is the list of items that I've decided to go with on the car. I managed to score a pretty good eBay LS2 built almost like I wanted it. The suspension was a much more difficult choice at first, as there aren't as many choices available for the second gen cars as there are for the first gens... But I'm very happy with my selection, and I can't wait to get this thing on the road...
  • Engine
    • LS2 402ci
    • Ported L92 Heads
    • Custom Cam (234/242, .602"/.605", 112)
    • Edelbrock Victor Jr. L92
    • FTP 4-barrel 1350cfm Throttle Body
    • F.A.S.T. XFI Controller / Harness
    • Champ LS oil pan / pickup
    • JRS Tri-Y LS headers with 1 7/8" primaries, 3" collectors, ceramic coated
    • Built by Golen Engine Service
    • Expected output of 550-580 engine HP
    • Prodicy Customs / Wegner LS Accessory Drive Kit with AC and remote-reservoir PS pump
    • PRC Radiator / AC Condenser / Oil Cooler / Dual-fan setup
  • Transmission
    • T56 Magnum
    • Prodigy Customs T56 Magnum install package
  • Front Suspension
    • JRS's custom built front Subframe
    • JRS's DOM custom control arms built to C6 dimensions
    • JRS's Monoball control arm bushings
    • C6 uprights / hubs
    • Bilstein single-adjustable coilovers
    • JRS's splined sway bar
    • DSE Subframe bushings / bolt kit
  • Rear Suspension
    • JRS's Torque Arm rear setup
    • JRS's Watt's Link
    • JRS's custom built 9" housing
    • 9" Center Section with 3.89 gears and a True-Trac differential
  • Brakes
    • Front - Baer Pro-Plus System (14" rotors, 6P Calipers)
    • Rear - Baer Pro-Plus System (14" rotors with integrated parking brake, 6P calipers)
    • Front and rear calipers in black with red letters
    • DSE Master cylinder and booster
  • Wheels/Tires
    • Forgeline wheels (undecided on actual style, leaning towards the GA3 or the SO3, I love them both)
      • Front - 18" x 10"
      • Rear - 18" x 12"
    • Tires are undecided, but likely either the Michelin PS2s or the BFG KDWs
      • Front - 275/40/18
      • Rear - 335/35/18
  • Body Mods
    • Trans Am front fenders
    • Trans Am front and rear fender flares
    • VFN Trans Am Fiberglass Shaker Hood
    • DSE Mini-tubs
  • Interior Mods
    • Seats (Sparco or Cobra)
    • Ridetech's Tiger-Cage (still debating whether I will go this route...)
    • Custom Dash Insert with AutoMeter gauges
    • Prodigy Customs Vintage-Air Gen IV package
  • Other
    • VaporWerks Gas Tank
    • DSE Subframe connectors
    • DSE Wiper Motor
    • AAW Classic Update 70-81 Camaro wiring harness with 70-73 Firebird add-on

Those are the big-ticket items that I've decided on so far. Before I get too much further I want to give both Frank at Prodigy and Jake at JRS a big THANX for all of the time and help that they have given me so far. I've spent a lot of time on the phone with both, and they have helped me make a lot of decisions.

So far, I have received the JRS front subframe/suspension, and it's a work of art! I'll post pictures separately. I also have the front and rear Baer brakes. The rear housing is assembled but needs to be powder coated. The engine will be on the engine dyno this week and should be on its way to me by Friday. Most of the rest of the parts are on order and will be shipping over the next month or so...

Oh, about the project 'name'. About 3 weeks after I bought the car, my girlfriend gave me a gift to christen the project. It's a gold Firebird keychain. On the back of the pendant of the keychain was engraved "The Other Woman". Hmm, that didn't take long now did it. But since I plan to use the car frequently on the track, I somehow turned that into "T.O.W.". Hopefully I haven't cursed myself with that name choice...

One final note... I wanted to get this post out today, the 1-year anniversary of my father's passing. I owe all of my car knowledge and willingness to take on a project of this magnitude to him, so in many ways this is a tribute to the may things that he taught me.

Ok, enjoy the build, I'll post up some pictures in a few minutes...
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2010, 12:20 AM
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Here are a few pictures that I was sent before purchasing the car:





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Old 11-29-2010, 12:22 AM
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And a few pictures of the interesting work that had been done to the car prior to my receiving it:





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Old 11-29-2010, 12:26 AM
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And some of my rust opportunities... Underneath the car is actually surprisingly clean, but I expect that someone just bondoed over some previous problems when the car was restored, and after 15 years or so, those problems have come to the surface...



This is the worst spot:



Also note the runs in the paint... Several spots like that on the car...

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Old 11-29-2010, 12:29 AM
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On a brighter note, my JRS subframe and suspension!



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Old 11-29-2010, 12:36 AM
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And of course, the 'gift'.

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Old 11-29-2010, 10:17 AM
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Hey Bryan - great project and a soild plan. The car should be a screamer! I do hope you don't have a rust 'snowball' on your hands...
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:16 PM
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Very cool Bryan. Should be a great car when complete.
Keep us posted.
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:35 PM
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So I did some work over the weekend that I didn't get to include in last night's pictures... I pulled the engine (it's going into a friend's Model A project) and transmission, and I was preparing to drop the subframe. Then the real fun began.

The engine and transmission came out pretty easily (the hoist was REALLY close to the front bumper on the Firebird, but I managed to do it without removing the bumper). As I went around to loosen the subframe bolts, the one under the AC box broke loose. Oh crap... And there was no way I was getting to that nut without removing the AC box. And there was no way that I was removing that AC box without removing the inner fender. See where this is headed?

The further I got into it, the more little rust problems that I found with the cage nuts that are used to assemble the front sheet metal. I assume that Florida humidity got to them, as most were pretty rusty, and I had 2 break loose. And unfortunately it looks like I need a new radiator support as well...

Now I find myself in a quandry. As I said in my original post, I really wasn't planning to dive into the bodywork on this car. But with it this far apart and needed to replace a couple of items already, should I just go ahead and strip the car down and do the bodywork? Or I should more accurately say, have it done? I don't really have the time or facilities to do it myself right now. Hmm...

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

Old SBC 350 that came out:



My workspace:



The aftermath of the fender, inner fender, and AC box removal:



The pile o' parts:



Rusted out bottom of the radiator core support.

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Old 11-29-2010, 06:55 PM
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Jake sent me a picture of the rear housing that he is building for me.

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