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6 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Firebird

The Firebird embodies American muscle. Many still rave about the impact these classics had in earlier times. Even though they’ve been around for half a century, there’s no end in sight when it comes to car enthusiasts’ love for this particular classic. We work with all kinds of Firebird builds to bring you the coolest AC for your ride. But you may be surprised by these facts you didn't know about the Pontiac Firebird.

1. John DeLorean wasn’t on board

The Pontiac king had his doubts about the Firebird, at first. Before his name starred in the classic sci-fi Back to the Future, DeLorean worked as an engineer for Pontiac. They wanted him to create a car that could compete with the Mustang and Camaro. Instead, he thought Pontiac needed a two-seater sports car called the Banshee. He eventually gave in and produced the first Firebird six months after the Camaro in 1967. Although six months late to the game, the Firebird obviously was a hit.

2. 1st WS6

As an upgrade to the 1978 Trans Am’s suspension, Pontiac produced the first WS6 Performance Package. Most notably, the package contained 15x8 Snowflake rims and a larger sway bar giving the Firebird a wider appearance. It ranged between $251 and $324 depending on if you want with the additional W72 package. In total, it contained a larger sway bar, 15x8 snowflake rims, tighter steering box gear ratio, and GR70-15 raised white letter Good Year Polysteel Radials. In 1979, the package contained the first four-wheel disc brakes for Firebirds.

3. 1st screaming chicken

Bill Porter and Norm Inouye created the infamous decal in 1970. If this makes you scratch your head, it’s because they held off using it. John Schinella, another Pontiac designer, saw the decal and started pressing management to use it. Finally, in 1973, they made it an add-on costing $55 and became the car’s signature feature through 1981 and again from 1985-1987 on the third generation Trans-Am.

4. It starred in Smokey and the Bandit

After Smokey and the Bandit debuted in 1977, it started picking up even more steam (or smoke). If you know your stuff, you might notice that the car is a mashup of two different Firebird models. The car is mostly a 1976 Firebird Trans Am but replaced the front with a 1977 model. The custom decals on the vehicle also caused Pontiac’s demand to skyrocket. However, soon after the frenzy died down, so did the need for the car altogether.

5. Best Firebird horsepower/torque ratings

No Firebird ever exceeded 400 horsepower. In fact, unlike it’s Chevy competitor, it didn’t even come close. That being said, the most powerful Firebirds of all time were the 1969 and ‘70 Trans Ams with the Ram Air IV engine option. The 400 cubic inch V8 maxes out at 430 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 Rpm and 345 hp at 5,400 Rpm.

6. 1st Buick engine

A less rare Firebird fact you may know is that in 1989 500 Pace Car Trans Am used a Buick engine. However, they didn’t use just any Buick engine. It was the turbocharger 3.8 liter V-6 featured in the GNX and Grand National. It maxed out just under 250 horsepower and 340 lb-ft making the Pace Care, up until that point, the quickest Firebird ever sold. 

April's Cool Ride: Phil's 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix 400

The vehicle belonged to my father-in-law. He passed away and left the vehicle to me. It is all original. He was a machinist by trade. He removed the wheel opening moldings because he said it's a haven for rust. It has 72000 miles and works. He installed a Bose CD player into the glove box.

The Original Air components are condenser, hoses, compressor, switch, drier, accumulator, expansion valve, suction valve, evaporator and control.

 

Original Air and Alien Enclosure's COVID-19 Message

Here at Original Air and Alien Enclosures, we are committed to serving our customers while keeping our team safe and responsible during this uncharted time of uncertainty. We are currently open to serve you and the automotive restoration community and will continue as long as we can do it safely and responsibly. Our team has implemented the CDC guidelines and heightened sanitation protocols, as we are still committed to customer service and providing support for your project.

With stay-at-home orders active in almost every state, there are limited options for enjoyment. This is a great opportunity to begin, continue, or rekindle your passion and excitement for your car or truck project. With many children on extended breaks from school, automotive repair can even provide an opportunity for practical education and quality time together (and hopefully pass on this passion to the next generation).

We will continue to provide the highest level of service possible. Not only will we send what you need right to your door, but we will also be available via email, chat, and phone with our sales and service support.

The safety and well-being of our staff and community remain our top priority and will continue to keep you updated as we work towards normalcy.

Sincerely,

Original Air and Alien Enclosures

The Pontiac Beaumont: The Classic You Never Got to Drive

Cars produced everywhere are subject to import/export laws and trade tariffs between countries. Due to levies and fees, some automotive makers in Canada decided to get creative. Some American models were unavailable in Canda, so makers chose to design Canada-only brands that combined certain features and drivetrains. 

Enter the Beaumont SD: a Canadian model based off of the Chevelle SS. The name Beaumont dates back to the early 1960s as a sub-model of Canada’s Acadian. At first, it was largely based on the Chevy II but later adopted the A-body of its American cousin. As of 1966, Beaumont was a Canadian brand all on its own. 

It wasn’t long after that Beaumont began stepping up its performance. It introduced the Beaumont Sports Deluxe or SD with a 396 ci Chevy big-block V8. Note that initially, Acadian had an SD, but it was luxury-based with a six-cylinder rather than performance-based. From ‘66 to ‘68, Beaumont offered a range of six and eight-cylinder engines such as the 350 ci and 327 ci V8s. In about eight years, roughly 72,000 Beaumonts were produced. Even fewer Beaumont SDs were produced, making them the rarest of the GMs. 

You don’t see these too often. A customer of ours built this beautiful 69 Pontiac Beaumont. Below are some photos he shared, including Alien Enclosures’ "Speedster" trunk panel kit in Black with Grey vinyl. What a great way to include a trunk-mounted battery!

 

March's Cool Ride: Phillip's 1965 Ford Mustang 289

While visiting my sick father in Ohio I saw the car on a lot. A few months later when he passed away, I was in the need of a truck to move momentos to Florida and as I was buying the truck, I commented, "Give me a package deal and I'll take the 65 too". An hour later, I drove it off the lot. The only thing I added was power steering and an Original Air upgrade for the AC. The photo is from a small car show in Enterprise Florida.

All Original Air components are the condenser, hoses, compressor, and evaporator.

Do Kits Work with Headers?

We often get asked if our kits will or will not work with headers. Most recently, we got asked, “Will the upgrade kit 23-231 brackets work with headers?” The not-so-simple answer is: it depends. 

Not all of our kits mount to the exhaust, typically Chevrolet. They will work with factory exhaust manifolds and most headers. However, you have to consider a number of variables with headers. The thing you need to take into consideration is the tube size and style of the header. Some headers may just not work. Others might require a slight bracket modification to clear the front header tube. 

The Chevy compressor mounts were designed for either exhaust manifolds or headers. However, Chevy mounts were designed to the engine and not any particular vehicle. There are HUNDREDS of different header designs out there, tailored to each individual vehicle and while the mounts will work with most headers, there is a chance they may need to be modified slightly to fit a particular type of header. Some may take a little more work and in RARE circumstances, they will not work at all. 70s small block Chevy trucks are the only ones we’ve come across. So far.

Our Pontiac/Olds/Ford/Mopar mounts do not attach to the exhaust, so there’s never an issue there.

To those who have similar questions, we would say unless you are running super-comp headers, you might require slight modification. Otherwise, you should be fine.

But if you have any specific questions on headers and our kits, call us at 1-877-233-5523.

February's Cool Ride: Stephen's 1971 Ford Mach

I've had for 49 years. It's at 600,000 miles. Yes, I still drive it. I love this car. PS, PB, air, cruise, automatic C6. Been all over the country. I also rebuilt the original motor in 2001. 

Original Air components are condenser, hoses, compressor, switch, and control.

A Guide to Revitalizing a Vintage Mustang A/C System

Main article originally published by americancarcollector.com

What you’ll need: 22-102 Stage 2 Performance Upgrade Kit, a/c lower mount bracket, a/c belt, 1966 Mustang

Summertime is the best time to drive you classic. It’s also the hottest. A mid-morning cruise can easily turn into a sauna on wheels. A ride in any classic should be a fun, blast from the past, not a sizzling sweat-fest.

Even though it’s currently winter, get the best out of your spring and summer experience. Take the time now to make any adjustments to your a/c system before it gets too hot even to consider looking under the hood. If you want the best experience for you, your grandkids, or significant other, you need to control the temperature with a functioning a/c system.

Many ‘60s and ‘70s classics have come with new A/C’s. But chances of them working well or working at all are slim to none. Original Air has conversion kits that can update the original system with R134a refrigerant, lines, hoses, and all other components you need to keep you cool. And no worries, the kits don’t change the look of the original control unit.

ACC had gotten a 1966 Mustang with a missing compressor. They ordered our Stage 2 Performance Upgrade Kit. Included are a new rotary compressor and clutch assembly, mounting brackets, all the hoses and fittings required, a high-performance condenser, and a new filter/dryer. Read their original article on their step-by-step guide on how they did it.

 

Read original American Car Collector Article featuring Original Air’s Stage 2 Performance Kit

 

January's Cool Ride: Arnie's 1984 Ford F150

I bought this after doing the H R P T 5 times. And not again without A\C. This fit the bill, It had factory air, but nothing but dash controls. So I called Original Air and they sent everything I needed to put air back in. Easy install works great.

We have been on the Hot Rod Power Tour 8 times, 5 as a long hauler. But the last 3 with air. I was looking for something to put air conditioning in. My other race car was not an option. But this truck was more than I was looking for. So I called Original Air and told them what I had. I was sent everything needed to install with ease. At my age, a little comfort is so nice. Living in the midwest, the temperature and humidity can get into triple digits. But now we can enjoy cruising in it when we want.

After I got the truck, I finished the interior, changed rear gear ratio, and added overdrive in the transmission. I also changed the camshaft, and heads to lower compression ratio. Now it's the cruiser I always wanted.

Original Air components are condenser, hoses, compressor, drier, accumulator, expansion valve, suction valve and evaporator.

6 Ways to Kill Your Classic

You’ve taken your classic out enjoying the spring, summer, and fall. But it’s getting close to the holidays, which means winter is more or less here. Those of you in colder temperatures will likely play it safe and store your car. Regardless of whether you choose to use a garage or not, these six things can seriously screw up your classic during the winter:

  1. Bad storage/bugs/rodents

If you’re in a location that’s got snow, ice, and salt all over the roads, lock it up. Sure, you’d want to drain the fuel and check the antifreeze. But that doesn’t mean you’re good to go when it comes to avoiding issues with storage. If they can take out half the population of Europe, trust us. They can seriously harm your car. Rats or mice can chew through wires easily. A lot of the damage isn’t noticeable until you’re on the side of the road, stranded. They can feast on upholstery and installations as well as make nests infesting them with anything from feces to their offspring. 

  1. Salts on the road

Not many of us remember chemistry class. Here’s a refresher: sodium chloride + steel = iron oxide. In other words, salt and metal create rust, which can leave a devastating impact on a classic. Driving down a wet, salted road with an unprotected surface like the exhaust, the frame, and suspension parts is an easy way to get rust. And if you’ve got fiberglass, that only does so much. The steel underneath the plastic panels will begin to corrode eventually. Understand water doesn’t equal rust. Some of the best-kept classics have come from areas with heavy rain but little snow. 

  1. Worn tires

The appearance of good tires can be deceptive. Plus, almost any environment can cause wear and tear. Flat spots, tread wear, UV exposure, dry rot, and age are all common factors. Most classics don’t see any more than 15,000 miles a year. A good rule of thumb is to replace them, at max, every seven years. Even if the tire appears fine, don’t risk it. Blowing a tire can threaten your life, others' lives, and severely damage your car. 

  1. Lack of cleaning

Corrosion can set in if you don’t properly clean it. Wash it, polish it, wax it. It may seem unnecessary to some. Why clean a car when you’re about to hide it away in storage? Bird poop, dead bugs, and other dirt are acidic, which eats away the surface. Dirt hidden inside crevices can lead to more long-term damage. Also, check inside the car for any leftover crumbs, wrappers, or trash. You don’t want to give rodents or bugs a home for the winter.

  1. Nonuse

Keeping classic cars hidden away like museum artifacts doesn’t help. It’s not an artifact, it’s a car, and cars need to be driven. There’s the common myth that car enthusiasts stow away their classics, which is why their car is intact. Those who do this turn out to have some of the most problems when they’re finally driven. The tires get flat spots, batteries corrode, seals dry out, then they leak, and gas begins to varnish. Remember this saying, “Nonuse is abuse.” The most reliable car is the one that is maintained, and this involves using it.

  1. Bad driving

We don’t necessarily mean reckless driving. You can inspect a classic all you want after it’s been sitting. If you don’t start it and let it warm up from the cold, you can do some major damage to the engine. Start the car, let it warm up a bit, drive gently until it reaches normal operating temperature, then drive normally. Don’t forget to engage the A/C compressor to ensure the front seal remains properly lubricated. You wouldn’t want to bring your car out for the first drive of the spring, just to find out you have leaked out all of the refrigerant during the long winter months.

With these tips in mind for the winter season, we hope your car restoration project is an enjoyable experience. If you need help finding or installing new items, be sure to contact Original Air for assistance.