Firebird Day at the Museum – 2017

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What a fun and fantastic time we had in Pontiac Illinois again this year, as we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Firebird, at the 3rd Annual All Firebird and Trans Am Day at the Museum!

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Member Paul Gundberg’s 1968 custom color, show bird coming into town. Half the fun of this event is when our club caravan’s down to Pontiac from Chicago.

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1978 Martinque Blue, 1969 Limelight Green and 1968 Autumn Bronze. Where else could you see such rare colors of Firebirds all together at one time?

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Many people came just to see this 1973 Formula Firebird with 433 original miles, featured in the May issue of Smoke Signals magazine.

 

This event is co-sponsored by Midwest Firebirds and the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum.  All proceeds from the event go to help the museum continue their great work promoting the legacy of the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors, and the Oakland Motor Car Company, which produced cars from 1908 to 1931 and then became Pontiac Motor Car Company in 1932.  I am ecstatic to report we had 85 Firebirds and many more people at the event, and were able to generate over $4,300 to the museum’s bottom line!  As Penny Dye from the Museum told us:  “That’s a huge impact to the museum for a day of cars, music, food, and fun in the sun on the square in the beautiful little town of Pontiac, Illinois.”

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I’m so happy that our club has grown to the point where we can give back to the Pontiac hobby. In this case, we are giving the POCI Museum and Tim Dye a check for $1,000 to go to the restoration of a PMD wooden Indian used as a dealership display.

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The second generation Firebirds were well represented, both in numbers and quality cars like this rare 1973 455 Super Duty Trans Am in Buccaneer Red.

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We saw some great custom Firebird Creations like this fourth gen.

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Member Jerry Watters drove down with Vince and I from the Algonquin area. This ’67 with custom color paint was a show winner at the World of Wheels show last month.

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Can you imagine driving more than 300 miles on Bias Ply Tires? That’s what member’s Vern and Dianne Bailey did with their 1967 Coronado Gold convertible 326. All the way from upper Michigan to be at the show.

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One of my personal favorites – a 1976 Trans Am in Carousel Red. Pontiac used this color for Firebirds once before, in the 1969 as a special order color.

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Member Pete Abe’s Limelight Green with Parchment interior 1969 400 convertible. This car can also be seen in Rockey Rotella’s new book “The Definitive Firebird and Trans Am Guide 1967-1969.”

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You’ve gotta love a 1970 Trans Am in Lucerne Blue!

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This sign in a silver ’69 Firebird really evoked strong emotions in the comments on our Facebook site.

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This beautiful Firebird for a Prius? Are you kidding me?

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This is a one-owner, true survivor, 1979 Trans Am. There was even a picture of the young 18 year old owner when he first purchased the car, 38 years ago on his display board. Firebird Fact: 1979 was the high water mark for Firebird production, with 211,454 produced.

Spring Cruise 2014

It all started in 2014 when our club did a cruise down Route 66. This event even made the local paper, as classic car reporter Matt Avery attended the cruise with us.

 

Our club’s involvement with the museum started in 2014, when we did a Spring Cruise down Route 66, ending at the museum.  We then met up with members from the Indianapolis Firebird Club and did a tour of the museum led by curator, Tim Dye.  Tim approached me with an idea.  He asked if we would consider co-hosting an event with them for Firebirds of all generations the next year – which he dubbed “All Firebird Day at the Museum.”

We just completed our 3rd Annual All Firebird and Trans Am Day at the Museum a few weeks ago, although you could argue we’ve actually been there for four years in a row!  And every year we are getting more Firebirds coming from further away, as interest in this Firebird gathering is gaining some serious momentum.

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Tim is leading a group of us on a museum tour at one of our previous events. Notice the ultra rare, 1976 455 Special Edition Trans Am in the foreground.

One of the cool things about this event is that it is not just a “car show”, the museum is open the whole time, and special behind the scenes tours are offered, including the new art gallery, which our club helped sponsor last year.

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An example of one of the museum’s back-office tours – They have so many interesting cars, they don’t have room in the main display area, so some sit tucked away, in storage.

Part of the day’s events include a tour of the private auto collection of Alan Finkenbinder, and a tour the Dongbai Art Studio.  The Village of Pontiac provided Trolley service to all of these locations, as well as shuttling our group to Mario’s Pizzeria for a special pizza lunch prepared for the participants.

 

Formula Museum

The museum always provides one or two of their special display Firebirds for us to examine up close.  And this year was no exception, as they brought out the 1970 special-color, 433 original-mile, restored Firebird Formula that was featured in the current Smoke Signals magazine, and a real Sportsman-Series 1979 Trans Am race car for all to enjoy.

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You should have heard the noise coming from the race car when they actually drove it into place under its own power.    It was quite an attention getter!

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There were only two third generation Trans Ams like this one at our event, and I think this is the group we would really like to see increase in number in the upcoming years. I personally owned an ’82 Trans Am, and loved it.

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The special edition Daytona 500 Pace Car Trans Am for 1979.

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We saw plenty of fourth gen LS1 powered muscle like this sharp WS6.

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This 1969 OHC Six Firebird came all the way from Ohio.

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Fun in the sun, surrounded by vintage Firebirds!

Firehawk Poncho Post

Check out this rare Firehawk. From 1992 to 2002 Pontiac offered a performance and suspension upgrade by SLP to Formulas and then later, Trans Ams. In 1994 it boosted the HP to 300, and only 500 were produced. These are sought-after cars today.

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We even had one “Fifth Generation” Trans Am make the show with this 1978-style makeover of a modern Camaro. …if only Pontiac stayed in production, who knows?

 

Being a First Generation Firebird club, this is a wonderful event for us to co-host, to unite all Firebird enthusiasts.  We truly enjoy seeing all the years of Firebirds, especially those rare Anniversary and Special Edition Trans Ams and Firehawks, you just don’t see at every car show.  The idea behind the show has always been to create a fun event for Firebirds of all generations to celebrate our Pontiac car model, and support the POCI museum.  Kind of like a smaller version of the Trans Am Nationals, held in the heart of Illinois.  And other than Illinois, we had Firebirds come in from seven different states including, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and even Mississippi!

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Many of our members drove their birds down to Pontiac, like Vince Fornelli with his recently restored, 1969 red on red 400 Convertible. This car spent several weeks getting a professional makeover at Tri-Power Automotive in Libertyville.

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Member Larry Dalton of Mississippi, had this ’67 Linden Green base Firebird trailered to the show, to see if anyone was ready to buy a very clean restoration project.

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Another Firebird for sale, that turned a lot of heads, is this ’67 Sprint, 4-speed convertible with red interior and custom silver paint, from St. Louis.

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Mebers Mark and Heidi Hadac drove down from central Wisconsin in their custom color 1968 455 powered convertible. The color could be mistaken for ’67 Plum Mist, but it is actually from a modern European sports car.

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The end of Firebird production was 2002, and they went out with a bang, with this collectors edition Trans Am convertible. This is one of 1,041 convertibles produced.

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This Crystal Turquoise, 1969 Ram Air III Firebird won the Best of Show Award at the 2014 Indian Uprising show. Owned by club member’s Mike and Margaret Gudenschwager, from Indiana.

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Tim Dye snapped this great photo of a Cameo White 1973 455 Trans Am.

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Three generations of Firebirds, uniquely represented in one cool shot from my son, Spencer.

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Steve, cruised down from Palatine in his 2001 Platinum, Ram Air Trans Am. Here’s a fact for serious Pontiac collectors – in 2001 there were only 796 Ram Air Trans Ams produced.

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A fun thing we have always done at this event is have a raffle to give away some cool Pontiac-related items – and who doesn’t like free stuff?

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We want to thank our raffle sponsors:  Ames Performance Engineering, Tri Power Restorations in Libertyville, RM Restorations in Lakemoor, The National Trans Am and Firebird Club in Chicago & the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum for their generous donations!

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There were so many great Firebirds and Trans Ams on the square, I wish we had more space to show them all. You’ll just have to go yourself next year to see your favorite flavor!

 

If you want to be a part of this Firebird get-together next year, mark your calendar now for the 3rd weekend in May.  We hope to have even more Firebirds on hand for another wonderful day at the museum.

 

(Story by Ken Pitcher,  pictures by Tim Dye, Mike Noun, Poncho Post, Dave Sullivan, Spencer Pitcher and Ken Pitcher.)

Midwest Firebirds

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