Gold 1969 Firebird Convertible 455


My youngest brother was the first in the family to own a Pontiac. A single owner, 1969 Firebird coupe 350 2bbl. Faded verdoro green with parchment interior. Straight metal, no rust, hub caps and it worked. I thought little brother did okay in 1984 for $1800. Color didn't count, he was 16 and had wheels. Three years later he stopped by and asked me to jump in for a ride. Carousel red, new wheels, TQ 20 cam, reworked TH350 and an amazing stereo. That 15 minute white knuckle ride set the hook. In 1989, a friend at work purchased a 1968 convertible bird. I picked up the want ads the day after we drove it to lunch in downtown Seattle. I still remember how amazing it was to be able to stare straight up at the skyscrapers while blasting through the city blocks.

So on August 21, 1989 (on its 20th birthday) I bought my 1969 Firebird convertible 350 2bbl. The owner was a lawyer (Dan) from Oregon that decided it was too expensive to have all of the mechanical problems fixed. Fortunately, he only had the car for a year. The bird still had its Arizona plates showing where it had spent the previous 15 of its 20 years. Dan had decided to have the original engine rebuilt so I drove home my prize with the "temporary" engine smoking the whole way. The next weekend I rescued the original engine and transmission from an obscure machine shop in Portland, Oregon.


Although it looked okay (even with a ragged white top) it had its share of mechanical problems. These problems did not help to ease the doubts of my skeptical wife. The first seven years were spent slowly working my way through every system with the exception of the a/c. Experience was not the only thing I picked up over these years, I also have a small library of Pontiac information and four large shelves of spare and original parts.


The real fun came in the last few years when all the performance and cosmetic upgrades were made. My philosophy on upgrades and factory options is to search out and install the best parts that Pontiac has produced without permanently modifying the stock car. In other words I have all of the parts necessary to bring the car back to stock. No cutting! If it doesn't bolt straight up, I'm not interested. With the completion of the a/c, a tilt wheel, and some handling upgrades, I will have my ultimate car. (Sure a stock ram air set up could also be added to the wish list but this is not a very realistic goal.) The hunt for a 400 hood, the 455 engine build up and other neat upgrade efforts are each stories of their own.

Funny how something that was built a month before I began carrying a metal Apollo moon landing lunch box to kindergarten, is such large part of what makes my life fun. Oh and one last thing, my wife is still skeptical of the thousands of dollars that have been invested to "fix the mechanical problems". However, I suspect that secretly she loves seeing the smiles break out on the faces of our two boys in the back seat as she lets the 455 part with some of that expensive rubber on the way back from swimming lessons!

I would like to express thanks to all who have provided me information over the years on this project. Without their knowledge and time the results achieved would not have been possible. Specific thanks go to Ken Reimer who after years of e-mail and one ride probably knows my car better than I do.


Year: 1969
Make: Pontiac
Model: Firebird
Options: Firebird 350 sport option, AM radio w/ manual antenna, Console (w/ bucket seats), Power front disc brakes, Power convertible top, F70-14 whitewall nylon tires, Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, Decor Group, Variable-ratio power steering, "Soft-Ray" Tinted glass all windows, and Custom AC (NA w/ Sprint or Ram Air)
Body: steel; unit body/frame with front subframe
Layout: front-engine, rear drive, 2-door convertible
Color: Antique gold, black top and interior
Interior: Standard upholstery
Front suspension: upper and lower A-arms with coil springs
Rear suspension: live axle on multiple-leaf springs with staggered shock absorbers
Tires: F70x14 wide oval
Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
Engine: ohv V-8, 350, 265 SAE gross horsepower (bhp @ 4,600 rpm), SAE gross torque 355 @ 2,800 rpm, two barrel
Bore & Stoke (in.): 3.88 x 3.75
Transmission: 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 (M35)
Steering: ball and sector
Brakes: rear drums, front discs
Rear end: 3.23 open
Wheelbase (in.): 108.1
Overall length (in.) 191.1
Overall width (in.) 73.9
Track (in.) front 60.0, rear 60.0
Weight (lbs.): 3,247 - 3,346 (67-69 conv), 2,955-3,080 (67-69 coupe)
List Price: $3,045
Number produced: 11,649

Performance Upgrade

Options: 1969 Grand Prix rally gauges, dash clock, glove box light, 1967 400 hood with 455 emblems, 1967 hood latch, 1969 (reproduction) hood mounted tachometer, 1969 rear spoiler with 455 emblem, 400 front bumper arrowhead emblem.
Engine: Pontiac ohv V8
Block: 1973 455 factory drilled and tapped for main caps
Bore & Stoke (in.): 4.15 + 0.030 = 4.18, 4.18 x 4.21
Displacement: 455 + (0.030 over bore) = 462 in3
Compression ratio: 9.93:1 (Blake)
Crankshaft: Stock, magnafluxed, journals turned down 0.010"
Connecting rods: Stock Armasteel cast, magnafluxed, resized, ARP bolts
Pistons: TRW forged flat-top with valve relief
Push rods: Stock
Rocker arms: Stock (1.5), adjustable allen lock 3/8" stud nuts
Camshaft: Wolverine, Blue Racer WG-1169
Int. Exh.
Cam lift: 0.295 0.310
Valve lift (1.5 rockers): 0.443 0.465
(1.65 rockers): 0.487 0.512
Lobe ctrs: 107 117
adv. dur. 280 290
0.50 dur. 214 224

Lobe separation: (107+117) / 2 = 112
Overlap: 61
Built in advance: 112-107 = 5
Installed advance: 2
Power range: 2000-5000 rpm
Heads: 1978 Trans am 6X with 2.11 intake, 1.66 exhaust and 92 cc chambers on average. Rebuilt with Sealed Power valves, bronze valve guides, valve springs. Intake bowls enlarged. Exhaust seats cut wider to 1.77, hardened seats installed, bowls enlarged, buttons removed, extra casting flash removed, material around push rod boss reduced, gasket matched. See graph for flow testing results.
Valves: Sealed Power standard OEM replacements
V-1902 Exhaust 21-2N stainless steel, 1.770", stem diameter 0.3410", length 4.975", 45 degree grind.
V-1903 Intake 1047 sil-chrome, 2.110", stem diameter 0.3415", length 4.979", 30 degree grind.
Oil pump: TRW 29-67 lb spring, 20o filter adapter
Ignition: MSD 6A, MSD Capacitor, HEI distributor, Accel Super Coil, ? spark plugs set at 0.045, Bluemax wires.
Timing: Initial: 10 deg. BTDC
Mechanical: advance begins at 1,000 rpm
10 deg. at 1,800 rpm
20 deg. at 2,600 rpm
Vacuum: advance begins at 10"
10 deg. at 15"
Carburetor: 1969 Grand Prix Rochester Quadrajet four barrel, 1973 Bonneville bowls (center section), primary jets = 74, primary rods = 43, secondary rods = CC, secondary hanger = G
Air cleaner housing: 1969 GTO dual snorkel with rechromed lid
Air filter: 14" x 3" K&N
Oil pan: Stock Pontiac V-8, baffled
Fan: Stock 7 blade with thermostatic clutch
Radiator: Stock four core
Fuel pump: Mechanical, vented
Exhaust: Ram Air III cast iron long branch manifolds, custom bent and welded aluminized 2.5" pipes, Dynomax 17733 mufflers
Water pump: TRW
Transmission: 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 (M40), BM shift kit, heavy duty intermediate roller clutch
Torque Converter: BM Traveler 20423, 12" diameter
Rear end: 3.23
Wheels: 14 x 7 Pontiac five spoke (Rally II)
Tires: Goodyear Eagle ST P265/60R14, tread wear 360, traction A, temperature B, overall diameter (height) 25"

Questions or comments about this car? Darrel.

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