After having restored a few cars in the past (mostly firebirds and GTOs), I have a reached a point in my life where I take a different direction. Take the three cars I have now:
1979 Trans Am SE 78K original miles, 400/4spd, REALLY nice car, not perfect but nice. I restored this car over 10 years ago, and found myself (after finding out it was one of 1,100 made in it’s configuration) more or less “trapped” into doing a restoration using all OEM or very high quality (read $$$$!) parts to keep it “correct”. I love the car, but I think I found myself afraid to drive it because of all the money, time and effort that went into it.
1968 Cutlass – Bought it from the original owner, has approximately 42,000 miles. All original, down to the AM radio. The paint was heavily oxidized, so I spent many hours buffing it out, it came out nice, but obviously not “show” ready. I have no “emotional” attachment to this car, like I have to the T/A, so I had no problem changing the wire wheels to Olds SS11 rally wheels, adding a true dual exhaust with flowmasters, and converting the A/C to 134. I enjoy drivng the car, it gets almost as much attention as the T/A, and I don’t have panic/separation attacks if I take to work and have to leave it by itself for 8 hours. I don’t want to make major changes to the car, it has the original “rocket” 350, 2bbl, and 2spd auto tranny, and it runs like the day it came off the line.
1979 Firebird – The crappiest of all three, yet the one that is gaining my love and attention more each day! I bought the car on Ebay for almost nothing, had to pick it up and trailer it back from Arizona. There is nothing special about this car, it is a base firebird with T-tops, but it is 100% rust free! The 301/boat anchor and TH350 are coming out, and I am taking this car to a bare rolling body and starting from scratch. I plan on dropping a 425 hp 455 and TH200 overdrive, a Strange 12-bolt rear, painting it dark carbon metallic to match my Chevrolet Avalanche. I will add a vintage air a/c system, black leather seats, electric fans, up to date gauges, 4 wheel disc brakes, more or less do what Pontiac should have done. I will keep the “look” of the firebird, they are becoming rapidly scarce, but I don’t feel I am taking anything away from it’s value. A person would have to look really close to really notice that the car is “resto-fied” rather than restored. I think I love this car because it allows me to express myself through my car, rather than feel like I have to follow a specified “mold” and that there is some “restoration god” looking down and examining every nut, bolt, and washer that I am installing to make sure that it’s “correct reproduction” or OEM.
Anyway, these are my thoughts…….