The Hooniverse: Tom's 1969 Pontiac Firebird Part IIThis bird's become a Phoenix

1969 pontiac firebird

The ‘Bird is back, one more time.

By now you should be pretty familiar with this 1969 Pontiac Firebird. It belongs to my friend Tom, and I’ve been chronicling it’s journey here on Hooniverse for some time now. The car has come quite a long way since when we first introduced it here on the site. After that it was time to redo the interior a bit. From there Tom learned a lesson in making sure the battery is secure. Most recently we featured the Firebird in a video that focused on the subject of old cars, and why they rule.

Now it’s time to say good-bye though, because the both the car and my friend are moving away. Before that happens, we decided to get the Firebird into a better state. What does that mean? How about paint, body work, engine dressing, front and rear brake upgrades, and oh just a complete Stage II TVS suspension setup from Hotchkis.


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We’ve transformed the Firebird without losing any of its charm or character. The engine is still a fairly weak 350, and the on-center steering feel is ghostly. Turn that wheel a bit, however, and it’s a very different beast. It corners completely flat and there is zero dive under braking. Speaking of braking, Tom grabbed a set of disc brakes for the front and cop-spec drum brakes for the rear. It now stops… well, not that great, but far better than it did before.

What Tom has now done is create a platform for something even greater. Rather than shoving a larger engine into a vehicle that’s not ready for it, the Firebird is primed and perfect for the eventual 400 upgrade that Tom has planned for some point down the road. The suspension is darn near gorgeous, and it’s more than the car needs at this stage. Hotchkis offers up TVS kits for a variety of machines, and if your machine is on that list I highly suggest you grab such a setup.

So now the car is in a better place in terms of its drivability. I got to give it one last run down the Pacific Coast Highway before we put it on the transport truck. In fact, that’s why we have some audio issues with the video. We had maybe 45 minutes to shoot the car before driving it directly to the transporter. Regardless, I think the video conveys the upgrades we applied and the emotions that an old car can bring about.

(psst… now it’s time for me to focus on The Wombat)

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7 responses to “The Hooniverse: Tom's 1969 Pontiac Firebird Part IIThis bird's become a Phoenix”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    Jeff, does it have power steering? He could upgrade to a later gear, like out of a '79 WS6 Firebird Trans Am, and get a much faster box with improved steering feel.

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      That would require changing the rag joint, which ain't a big deal, but nowadays you can get reman stock boxes with faster ratios.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        That's an idea. Back when I need a replacement box, in the early '80s, that wasn't an option yet. I had a '64 Grand Prix with a worn out box, and I replaced it with a box out of a wrecked '79 Trans Am. Made a huge improvement. I think I paid $50 or $100 for the box, and replaced the hoses and the rag joint.

        1. LTDScott Avatar

          Yeah, there are even newer modern options too, with valving similar to rack and pinion for even better feel.

  2. frankthecat Avatar

    Are disc brakes in that car's future? I can smell the brake fade from here.
    Edit: derp, teaches me to watch all the way through.


    It's just amazing how much just a little bit of lowering and stance improvement makes a car look. I'll freely admit that stock, I wouldn't have looked twice at that beyond thinking "that's a solid old 'Bird". But now, it looks way more aggressive and eye catching. That's something I'd notice.

  4. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's Firebird.

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