Owning & Driving a Sprint 6 – Part 2

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A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

SPRINT 6: In the first Sprint article, Mike Noun went into great detail about the Sprint and how John Delorean wanted to create a car that could compete with the best sports cars Europe could offer.  In this segment, We were able to talk to the owners of six of these OHC Sprints to get a better feel for exactly what it is like owning and driving one of these rare first-generation Firebirds. Story by Ken Pitcher

1969 Convertible, Las Vegas, NVA Spring 6 engine in a 1969 Firebird. This 1969 Sprint 6, 3 speed manual, ragtop sold for $39,600 at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas in 2011.  It is Midnight Green with a black top and possibly the finest restoration ever performed on a Sprint 6. A Spring 6 engine in a 1969 Firebird.A Spring 6 engine in a 1969 Firebird.A Spring 6 engine in a 1969 Firebird.Tri banner vintage ads 100dpi

Clare – 1968 Convertible – Houston,TX

Clare Scarlett sunrise croppedClare and her father Andy, both own first-generation Firebirds, and are both part of the HALF Car Club (Houston Area Legendary Firebirds).  This is truly a Father / Daughter story that started over 20 years ago.  Clare told us; “While I was very young my father had a gorgeous ’68 black cherry, Firebird 400 convertible.  I remember as a child helping him wash the car.   It was something I loved doing with him and that’s when my love affair for cars began.   I would go with Dad and the HALF group to car shows, but I always wanted to have an American muscle car of my own, and specifically a Firebird!  I have an appreciation for the fact that so few people own them.”  Andy told us, “Claire’s love for Pontiacs goes back to her first car she had in high school, and she has always enjoyed having something that not everyone else had, her Sprint Firebird certainly fills that bill.” Clare continues, “When I saw the burgundy, convertible Sprint (which I knew was rare and coveted amongst Firebird lovers) I immediately went to Dad to see if we could get it.  It was on E-bay, and came from Nevada.  We made a few phone calls and within an hour and a half we had bought her – sight unseen.  It was Father’s Day and it was a ton of fun!  I named her Scarlett”.

A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

Clare and her 1968 Pontiac Firebird. It was purchased from a seller in Nevada.

Clare and Dad

Clare and her dad, Andy.

However, anytime you buy a car without seeing it first you could be in for a surprise.  That certainly was the case with Scarlett.  Andy told us; “When the car arrived, we realized that, the pictures didn’t do justice to the true condition of the car.  It needed a lot of attention.  A new top and back window were installed, the body paint was also much worse that the pictures had shown.  The good news was that the engine ran and seemed to be in pretty good shape and there was practically no rust.  However, when driving on the freeway a couple of weeks later, the block imploded.  A rebuild was needed, along with paint, front suspension work, and a new interior.  We bought a running 1 bbl engine, moved the cam and lifters over from it, and the car ran beautifully.  It’s been running well ever since.

A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

A vintage WWII plane makes a perfect backdrop for the convertible.

A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

Clare posts an average of 22MPG.

Clare drives Scarlett frequently throughout the year anytime the Texas weather is nice.  She has driven down to the Mississippi Coast for Cruisin the Coast twice (a 7 hour drive one way), and even though this engine requires premium fuel, it does get about 22 MPG at 75 MPH, due in part to the 2004R automatic transmission.   She has showed the car at AutoRama in Houston three times, and it’s always fun to see how many Pontiac people stop and say, “I’ve never seen one of those before.”

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Marc’s Windward Blue ’60 Sprint Convertible from Dallas Texas

A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

 “My family is the original owner of this 1969 Windward Blue Sprint, 3-speed manual convertible, says Marc from the Frisco, Texas.  This one has a rare dark-blue deluxe interior which makes it really stand out.  “We lived in Illinois growing up and my father purchased the car new for my Mother.  Later on, she sold it to me and my dad’s name is still on the protecto plate.  Marc old us about a favorite childhood memory of the car and going to a local drive in named Elams on Eldorado Street in Decatur Illinois.  “My mother would take my sister and I, pick up our grandmother and go get a hamburger and a “Black Cow” ice cream float.  That and riding with the top down on the way to a local swim and golf club  are the key reasons that I bought, keep and restore this car.  It renews those memories every time I hit the ignition.”

A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

The car was not driven that much over the years and is 100% original with 63,000 miles.  The motor has never been pulled or taken apart and the entire driveline is factory.   It is nearly rust free and was only driven during one winter of its life which is significant since it was an Illinois car until 1998.  I replaced the entire interior and top a few years ago.  According to Fred Simmonds Research, there were only 213 Firebird Sprint Convertibles made in 1969 with manual transmissions. The 69 Firebird Sprint is a one year only, strongest OHC (230hp/260tq), has the coveted  “H” cam, 10:5-1 comp, high flow intake, split exhaust, high energy coil, larger Sprint harmonic balancer.   “I think one of the reasons these Sprint Firebirds are so rare is because they actually cost almost as much as a Ram Air car – and not too many people were willing to pay that much for a 6 cylinder. Some of these cars stickered as much as $4,200.”

Marc 69 Back 2 Dallaswm “Restoring and maintaining them is also a challenge but the OHC group of guys and gals is fantastic! The knowledge and resources among them is incredible.”  Marc told us that one of the best OHC forums on the web is at http://sohcsix.yuku.com/Marc 69 Back Dallas wm“We really don’t show it much, choosing to enjoy the car on Sunday drives or getting it out on special occasions. The car is so much fun to drive with the 3-speed manual!”  I love driving the car as it is a head turner.  Any time I stop at a gas station or red light I get questions about the car or a big thumbs up.  When I pop the hood they are amazed to see a 1969 Pontiac with an overhead cam.  Roll the nut off the air cleaner to show off the factory Quadrajet and explain how light the car is with plenty of power.  The “H” cam produces some awesome lope at idle and the car drives like a small V8.A Sprint 6 Pontiac Firebird.

    This is part of a special three-part look at the Spring 6 Firebird. Click the image below for Part 1: The Little Engine That Could.

A Spring 6 engine in a Pontiac Firebird.

**Special thanks to the individual owners for providing historical images of their vehicles**

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