The Old Car Detective - Bill Sherk

1977 Pontiac Firebird with one 
owner 29 years
    Darren Pike of Hamilton, Ontario, writes:  “Good day, Bill, I’m sending pictures of my 1977 Pontiac Firebird that I have owned for 29 years.  I bought it in 1984, when it was only seven years old, and put 2000 miles on it before the motor blew.  That’s what I get for buying a car ‘as is.’
    “So I went out and bought another engine, a 350 Chevy V8 from my friend’s dad for 300 bucks and with only 49,000 miles on it.  All’s well that ends well.  I’ve had that motor in my car ever since.  It’s been a very reliable car and now has 160,000 miles on it.  Fresh paint and body work was done nine years ago.  From that day on, it’s been my boy toy and never sees rain.”
    Ten years before Darren’s 1977 Firebird was built, General Motors was having a milestone year with the launch of the Chevrolet Camaro and, a few months later, the Pontiac Firebird.  Both these new cars rode on a wheelbase of 108 inches, and with their sporty good looks and choice of engines were designed to compete head-on with the Ford Mustang.  Darren’s ’77 Firebird also rides on a 108-inch wheelbase. 
    The first generation of Camaros and Firebirds came in two body styles: a 2-door hardtop and a 2-door convertible.  The second generation models appeared in mid-1970 with low-slung European styling and one body style:  the 2-door hardtop, of which Darren Pike’s ’77 is a beautiful example.  
    A Chevrolet 350 V8 has powered his Firebird since 1984.  That small-block Chev V8 can trace its origins back to 1955, when Chevrolet brought out a V8 engine with 265 cubic inches, its first V8 since 1918 (yes, Chevrolet had a V8 in 1917-18 but it was too far ahead of its time and was dropped).  In 1957, the “265” that came out in ‘55 was punched out to 283 and cranked out horsepower as high as 283 if you had the Super Ram-Jet Fuel Injection engine.  Another boost came in 1962 when the small block V8 was boosted to 327 cubic inches.  The next boost came in 1967 when the small-block Chevy was punched out to 350 cubic inches, an increase of 85 cubic inches from the engine introduced in 1955. 
    The Chev 350 V8 was a favourite engine for street rodders for the past 40-plus years.  They are powerful yet compact, and can be made to fit into almost any engine compartment.
    Darren Pike poses with pride alongside his 1977 Firebird.  His plates read CB.NFLD because he comes from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

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