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From “Beat-Up Bruiser” to “Custom Cruiser”

Beth is definitely not your average girl. Ever since she was a teenager, she was something of of tomboy wanting to help her dad with “guy stuff”. Believe it or not, she has not only physically helped doing automotive restorations, but even insisted on completely rebuilding a Fiero engine all by herself! It did run great, for anyone who has any doubts. During Beth’s teenage years, both of her older sisters had been proud owners of 2nd gen F-bodies. Her oldest sister had a beautiful black 1977 Firebird Trans Am t-top and her other older sister had previously owned a white 1981 Camaro. Beth had always liked the long sleek curvy F-bodies so it was no surprise that she wanted one herself. One day, her sister-in-law called to notify her that she had an abandoned car in her back yard that used to belong to her ex-boyfriend, and she knew she and her husband could do “something” with it.

What was found was a dilapidated red 1975 Pontiac Firebird with a 400 that didn’t run. Her sister-in-law said he wanted $50 for it because that is what the junk yard offered her and it had to go! After a quick family meeting, Beth and husband decided they had room to adopt this poor, forsaken “diamond in the rough”. Once the car arrived at the Danko custom shop, the next step was to figure out what was wrong with it, and then come up with a game plan. Beth made it clear that it had to be different, but look kind of like a rare factory car.

The Build.

As luck would have it, a new starter, battery and fresh gas was all that was needed to get it running.  After a complete tune-up, we started on the design concept. The hood had to be something special that no one else had, but flow with the natural body lines of the car and look like it could have been a factory special edition. After a few sketches and the nod from Beth, we set out to cut and bend up the vents in the rear of the hood and form a fiberglass custom scoop around them. Next, we scoured the local junk yard for a plastic front grille that would have matching strakes. We found a Buick grille that looked just right, so we cut it to the shape of the Firebird grille and custom installed it into the nose.Instead of installing the Danko standard style wheel flares in the regular way, she wanted them to be blended into the body and not be so roundish. This was not as hard as it seems since we were “familiar” with doing custom fiberglass! Once the (4) 1970-78 Danko wheel spoilers were blended into the body and the shape slightly reworked to her satisfaction, we had to come up with a wheel choice. After looking at all options, we both agreed that nothing says factory cool like Corvette wheels, so we quickly snapped up a set of chrome Vette rally wheels. These would really fit the new personality of the car, but of course, we didn’t put them on until the car was painted. Another very interesting addition that we came up with was a junkyard pair of side panels from those common rear window louvers. This little mod along with the red painted rear window trim looked right at home and gave it a unique look. We also opted to install a factory 3-piece trunk spoiler to give it a mean factory look from the rear. Being that the car was a 1975, it was supposed to have a lower splash pan, which we do actually make. Nevertheless, the rubber covered 1974-75 bumper was in such bad shape that we opted to go with a later model 1976 bumper. It fit right in place and actually really completed the sleeker more modern look she was after. The car was now ready for paint, and Beth’s father offered to help out by laying down the flawless Dupont Corvette Red Urethane. Next, we turned our attention to the interior. It already had a cool white interior that cleaned right up, but we sent the ripped front seats out to be recovered. We also installed a polished aluminum T/A dash board with the performance gauges. Last, we installed new black carpet , re-tinted the windows and added some custom striping on the lower body. As a final touch, we made some custom SST Badging, which stands for “Super Sonic Transport” of course!!  No, there was never such a thing as a Firebird SST, but if Beth would have had her way, this exact car would have been available at your local Pontiac dealership back in 1975!

Related posts:

  1. The Pontiac Trans Am – An American Legend
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2 Responses to From “Beat-Up Bruiser” to “Custom Cruiser”

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. elliott norton says:

    this is one cool firebird. im a mopar man but i love all muscle, new and old. i especialy like the 70 era t/a,s and firebirds.

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