Initial fault list

Faults I was aware of when I bought the car:
  • Valve guide seals need replacing. The current ones are so worn out, every time the engine starts, the car fills with the smell of burnt oil. You have to keep the windows open when starting the engine or driving in urban areas.
  • Broken lifter on the right hand side headlight. The light itself works.
  • Missing air snorkel (the tube that extends from the air filter housing to the front of the car)
  • Air conditioner not working, or at least empty
  • Hood lift supports (gas struts) are dead.
  • Some rust in the chassis and underbody
  • The steering inclines constantly to the right
Additionally, a full maintenance (change of all liquids & filters) is probably in place.


The Beginning

My fixation on the 3rd generation Pontiac Firebird (and to a lesser extent, anything with popup headlights) finally reached a critical point.

The specimen is a 1991 base model w/ a 5.0 TBI engine. It has 220'000+ miles on the clock, plenty of rust damage, no service record and a broken headlight lifter. On the positive side, the engine room looks like it's in original shape. In other words, a "perfect" project car.

The complete lack of service history -- even the owner's manual had been lost -- amazes me. Even though it's just the base model, it's quite a rare car, and despite their age and mileage, these cars even keep their value quite well.


Why the blog? First, to fight my frustration over the lack of service history. At least everything I'll do to the car will be documented. Second, to provide information -- caveat lector -- to anyone who might have a similar project in their hands. On top of time spent on actual mechanics, finding out details, measurements, steps required for various procedures etc. can take a lot of time, especially for a complete noob like myself. If I can save someone else the time I'll spend measuring a pipe or procuring a rare connector, all the better.

Also, I intend to document how much this stuff costs. American cars have a reputation for high maintenance expenses, and this is probably one factor averting people from this hobby.

Some of the articles will be backdated in order to keep them in correct chronological order.


Asking price for the car: € 5 600. Eventual sale price: € 5 000.