Mike from HEIDTS Automotive Group gives us the rundown on this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am pro-touring restomod build at the 2017 SEMA Show. This car features major front and rear handling upgrades thanks to HEIDTS suspension components.
John Wargo from The Custom Shop in Flanagan, IL takes a few moments to show us around their latest build: a resto-modded, pro-touring 1967 Pontiac Lemans nicknamed “GTLS3.” This car is loaded with custom touches, from the LS3 engine swap to the unique paint and interior. This car was displayed at the Optima Batteries booth at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
There are no shortage of beautiful American-made cars, but I believe that when Americans and Italians combine their talents to build a car, the results are truly magic. There are numerous examples from history such as the Hudson Italia, an American car that wore a body designed by Carrozzeria Touring. Another example is the DeTomaso Mangusta and the Pantera, designed by Ghia and powered by Ford V8 engines. Though they were not hugely successful, the Stutz Blackhawk and the Chrysler TC by Maserati also paired American powertrains with Italian-designed bodies.
At the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, I discovered another car that followed the “American powertrain + Italian design” formula. Designated as a 1969 Farago CF428 coupe, this car was a one-off prototype created by Paul Farago and Sergio Coggiola, formerly of Ghia. Coggiola and Farago were two designers who formed Carrozzeria Coggiola in 1969.
Their first project was from none other than John DeLorean, who was at the time head of the highly successful Pontiac division over at General Motors. DeLorean wanted a concept car that would grab attention for Pontiac, something exciting that could be used to promote the brand. A 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 428 cubic inch V8 was appropriated for the project.
Though it maintains its Pontiac drivetrain and chassis, the resulting coupe is a low-slung, wedge-shaped car that looks like a more refined, sophisticated Pontiac that just spent a semester studying abroad. The extreme angle of the windshield and seamless integration of the roof into the rear deck reminds me of the Ford Mustang Mach I with the Sportsroof body style. Though the sheet metal has been changed dramatically from a Grand Prix, the car retains its Pontiac door handles, tail lights, and interior.
The car was displayed at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance by its owner Frank Campanale of Michigan, who is a relative of Farago. The car captured the 3rd Place win in its category of “American Dream Cars of the 1960s,” a well-deserved honor.
After this project, Paul Farago went on to work with Virgil Exener from Chrysler on the Stutz Blackhawk, which also used a Pontiac drivetrain. He also worked on the Maserati Ghibli, which bears a stunning resemblance with its long hood and short deck.
This car never made it into production, but I find it fascinating to see what a 1970s collaboration between Pontiac and Italian designers would have looked like.
Classic cars are easily the closest thing we’ll ever have to a time machine. Step inside of any restored (or simply not beat to shit) car of yesteryear and you’re instantly transported to another time.. completely surrounded by the smells, sounds, and styles. Continue reading
One of the more interesting vehicles found at Barrett-Jackson this year was this Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. Among the more high-profile G-bodies like the Monte Carlo, El Camino, Cutlass and Buick T-type, the Pontiac tends to become more of a forgotten offering. Couple that with this aerodynamic-enhancing body conversion by Auto-Fab for homologation purposes and you find yourself with one interesting piece of history.
Being one of only 1,225 Grand Prix models converted, it’s provenance is evident in it’s smooth Firebird/Camaro-esque rear windshield, revised front fascia and small fiberglass trunk lid. That’s correct: Despite it’s appearance, that window is static, not hatch.
And that lack of useful storage space is only one of the many issues that kept this production variant out of the General Motors limelight. The lackluster performance from the 150hp 5.0L carbureted v8 available only through the 2004r auto and a 3.08:1 rear end ratio didn’t help either. If you remember correctly, even the lowly Monte Carlo SS had an alternative 180hp variant during it’s run, not to mention the offerings from Buick and Oldsmobile.
Despite it’s shortcomings, aesthetically it’s a stud in the confines of it’s era. Which, along with it’s rareness, is probably why this well-kept, low-mileage example went for an impressive $11,000 at auction.
Many of these builders focus on creating pro-touring cars – that is, a classic 1960s muscle car updated with a modern powerplant, independent rear suspension, and disc brakes to name a few. These and other modifications vastly improve the safety and handling of these old rides and in many cases, exceed their original levels of performance.
One custom car that caught my eye at SEMA 2015 was this beautifully restored and upgraded 1963 Pontiac Acadian, which was the Canadian version of the Chevy II / Nova. This car was built by JF Kustoms in Osoyoos, British Columbia – the same shop that built the “Rivision” Riviera that captured a Ridler Award in 2014. Continue reading
It’s hard to look at a second-gen Firebird and not think of “Smokey and the Bandit.” While this car has been forever etched into our memories by the 1977 film, this car is so much more than a movie cliche.
When this car was new, people were worried about Vietnam War protests, the emerging counterculture movement, the start of punk rock, vehicle emissions laws, and The Man taking away their rights. With its Screaming Chicken logo on the hood and its utter lack of subtlety, the Firebird Trans Am is a middle-finger response to the social changes of the 1970s. As long as I’ve got my horsepower, you and your issues can sit on it and rotate!
Look at this face, you can actually see how miserable the car feels, and do you blame it? For $2400 you can rescue this would be shit kit car. I’ll be the optimist and pray it’s transformed into something respectable. Continue reading