Paul Wolfe graduated from college in 1968 and still has his graduation gift from his parents, namely a 1968 Pontiac Firebird.
Pontiac Firebirds were the upscale pony car cousins of the famous Chevrolet Camaro when both GM models debuted in 1967. Eventually the Firebirds built their own reputation in the pony car world and stepped out of the Camaro shadow.
Paul’s Firebird left the factory with a Pontiac-built 350 cubic inch small block, an engine not to be confused with the Chevy 350 small block in any way, shape or form. Paul’s Poncho 350 was equipped with a 2-barrel carb and hooked up to a Pontiac automatic transmission.
Pontiac built a very reliable powertrain combination that would serve Paul very well over the ensuing years. Paul told MyStarCollectorCar his Firebird “is not a performance car but it’s been very reliable over the years”.
Paul used his Firebird as a daily driver from 1968 to 1974 and his car took him on many adventures over the years. The list included his first post-college job, his second post-college job with the US Army, and the church where Paul was married, along with a series of road adventures that included the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Paul also took a long cross-country road trip to California via a northern US route (complete with a visit to Mt. Rushmore) in his Firebird. The entire road adventure covered between 4500 and 5000 miles according to Paul. It was a trouble-free trip that helped strengthen Paul’s relationship with his dependable ’68 Firebird graduation gift.
Paul told MyStarCollectorCar his Firebird “didn’t know what a garage was” during its early years when he used it as a daily driver. However, Paul bought a Pontiac Grand Prix in ’74 and retired his Firebird from daily driver use.
The car became a secondary car in Paul’s world until it was eventually put into long term storage during the 1990s. The most important part of the equation was Paul retained ownership of his beloved 1968 Firebird until he was able to decide how to reintroduce the car to the outside world.
Paul was fully retired when he began the restoration process this past year by assessing the Firebird’s current condition and forming a suitable game plan. Paul possessed enough mechanical skills to tackle the Firebird’s brake system and replaced any parts that required an upgrade during the process.
Long term storage is hard on vehicles, so Paul rebuilt the carburetor after he dealt with any fuel delivery issues from the Firebird’s many years in barn storage. Paul told MyStarCollectorCar he was able to reduce his overall repair costs because he had enough mechanical ability to work on his own car.
Paul’s future plans for the Firebird include a few cosmetic repairs since the car was exposed to salt when he used the car as a daily driver in Michigan for a few years.
Y: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.