1971/2001 Trans Am Project
This very interesting project was sent to me and written by Aaron.
See his new website here at www.extremefirebird.com
Well, my step-dad Mark, my mom Becky, and I started working on the birds this past Labor Day weekend up in Iowa. That's where I grew up and also where my parents have all the tools anybody could imagine. I also don't think my apartment complex would allow me to work or store the birds in the parking lot :o) So I'll be traveling up there quite often.
I bought the 71 350 Firebird, with out the engine or tranny, from a guy in Tucson, Arizona. It was shipped up
to Iowa about two weeks ago. It has an original Formula hood, but has a bow in the middle from the stiff hood springs. Hopefully laying weight on it will bend it back, but it still won't be used b/c I want to put a very nice paint job on it later and I'm afraid it will bow back and crack the paint. From the pictures (001, 004, and 005) you can see the interior and dash absolutely shot. Pictures 065 and 067 show how amazing this car is! There was little surface rust on the passenger side floor b/c we think the heater core leaked. There was also a hole cut in the fender well like someone was replacing something in there. Otherwise the rear window weather stripping must have gone bad b/c of rust under there and some rust in the quarter panels. You may not believe me, but I was taking out the bolts holding ! the seat to the floor by hand with a wrench! Over spray from the factory can be seen in the trunk. Everything is pretty much solid. The protect-o-plate was also found wedged in the back seats; just too bad this car will be far from stock!
To power the 71 Bird, I wanted to drop a fuel injected LS1 in to it, b/c I don't know much about carburetors, the aluminum block will lighten the front-end, and also b/c there's a lot of potential power to tap out of it. So we found a 01 TA that we bought in Chicago at an auction (pictures 026 and 028). You may think I'm crazy for not having it fixed up to keep the TA, but I also want to use the interior and dash out of it (picture 040). The airbags were popped, but that can be worked around. I'll sell the front clip, driver side door, rear hatch and wing, tail lights, and whatever else is left over to recover a lot of the money.
Pictures 091 and 102 are the before and after pictures of the 01 dash being taken out. There are a lot of wires hanging out. By this point my step-dad, mom, and I were asking ourselves if we had gone insane yet! Picture 107 shows the dash and console held in place in the 71. We couldn't believe it, but the 01 dash fit like it was made for the 71. It was pretty much the same width of 56 inches. The distance from the firewall to the steering column bracket and steering wheel were also identical. Picture 089 shows the power seats and rear seats in place. The rear seats were about 2 inches narrow on both sides, which will work out fine for putting minitubs in the rear for the 315 wide rubber. Even the width between the seat bolts matched perfectly.
That's basically all that was done in the first weekend working on the birds. I'll be back up there maybe during Thanksgiving Day weekend and hopefully the dash will be mounted and back from the chassis shop. A roll bar and back braces will be put in and the lay down coil over rear suspension. Then the turkey day weekend will be devoted to sanding and prepping it for paint by Christmas time. Then I'll spend all of my accrued vacation time for final assembly in the spring with the bugs worked out by summer of 05.
The 01 TA had 26K miles on it and the 71 had 62K. We're going to see if the 01 rotors and brakes work on the 71. Anyone happen to know? The 71 had factory disc brakes. I would love to hear some input or suggestions if you want to give it. I'm learning a lot as we go on this project. Feel free to forward this on to anyone. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed working on the birds!
PS. I'm looking for another formula hood and a front bumper for the 71. If you know of anyone selling, please let me know. Thanks!