firebird Hadling

Hello all
I love my new (to me ) Firebird. Its a 78. I know little (nothing) about american car handling, other than they seem 'floaty' on the old
films !
I have noticed that mine 'bottoms out' if I use a bad road at speed. Whilst this is fun, I though I should see about curing the problem.
What would be the steps I would take to 'stiffen up' the suspension ?
It has leaf springs at the back and coils at the front. Should I think about uprating these or should I try harder shocks 1st ?
If it helps - this is my car http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&itemE77117010&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1
Thanks for any help on this subject.
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On Sun, 9 Oct 2005 12:48:18 +0000 (UTC), Tricky

<snip>
Since the car is over 20 years old, I'd start by replacing the bushings on the front end, rear end, swaybar, and subframe. Next step would be to install larger sway bars in the front and rear. The last thing is to replace the springs and shocks, some like to lower the height of the vehicle which means you should change the shock height to match the spring that you are going to use. Much more information can be had at pro-touring.com. A site dedicated to the better handling of many types of cars.
...Ron -- 68' Camaro RS 88' Firebird Formula 00' Mustang GT Vert
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RSCamaro wrote:

Thanks Ron
I will see if I can find a source for components over here (UK). I guess by Sway Bars (American) you mean Anti Roll Bars (English). I will give the suspension a check out when I get a chance.
As I siad in a previous post I am used to antique VW's - tiny little things ! they have 'bump stops' to stop 'bottoming out'.
The firebird whilst 'bouncing' up and down skidded one of the wheels, I guess it got trapped on the wheel arch (fender). Anyhow, I am learning, and when I get it in my garage I like to know what to look for 1st !.
I will have a look at pro-touring and learn some more - Thanks !
Should the Firebird be 'tight' on the handling ? or am I looking for better than stock ?
Rich
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Air shocks (some may laugh) are cheap , can make a vast difference and makes the rear V stiff. If you have a posi axle it helps, as the rear breaks away smoother without throwing the body all over the place. It's a different driving style that some can't manage, but hey drifting is fun :-). i've been doing it for 20 yrs. I had a set of big block springs on the front, a real pain to fit but the car sat way too high so I cut them down (several inches). This made a vast difference. I never got around to changing anti roll bars, as stuff was a bit harder to acquire back then in 85-95. The only problems i had then was that the body could be felt twisting around you, cracking the screen.
My '78 Camaro started as a 6 pot, blew that up and had a 305 fitted which ran mid 17 second quarters and did nearly 30mpg. Best with that motor 15.2 @97, a real sweet motor. Replaced it with a 350 4Bolt which just never ran right from day 1. 3 engines, 3 gearboxes, 2 axles, all good fun. I've still got her but she's in a bad way, but i bought a '95z28 M6 last year as I havn't got the time to do it.
For cheapness/ results , i would try air shocks first.
HTH
--
Mitch - 1995 Z28 LT1 M6
terminal snipped-for-privacy@sand-hill.freeserve.co.uk
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On Sun, 9 Oct 2005 21:24:51 +0000 (UTC), Tricky

Your Bird also has rubber snubbers for heavy hits on the suspension. The bounce is controlled by the shocks/struts though. I just replaced the struts on my Mustang and the driver side unit was working like a pogo stick, no dampening whatsoever. The passenger side had a hook in it from a shot it took by a curb going around a corner at a less than safe speed. Not a bad idea to check these components.

As Terminal Crazy wrote, change the shocks first if you are having that much bounce in the suspension. Don't buy the chaepest that you can find either, you won't be happy with them. You get what you pay for after all.

I don't know what options your Bird came with so I'll ussume that you have either a V-6 or a standard V-8. If you want better handling you'll want to upgrade all of the suspension and the brakes.
My Bird being a 88' Formula handles excellent for its age. I've replaced the shocks/struts and some of the bushings. I will complete the bushing job in the spring. Polyeurathane is the way to go if you are interested. In fact I like the handling on my Bird much more than my 00' GT Mustang convertable. It stays pretty flat in the turns as opposed to the major push I get from the Mustang.
...Ron

-- 68' Camaro RS 88' Firebird Formula 00' Mustang GT Vert
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snipped-for-privacy@handmade-f9.co.uk says...

Well...looking at the pictures in the auction it appears that it may be a standard Firebird that has been made up to look like a "Trans Am"(top of the line Firebird) What are the first four digits of the VIN number? 2W87 is a real Trans Am.
The standard Firebirds were made to be a sporty commuter car with a nice interior and soft ride. They had soft springs, small sway .....uh, I mean anti-roll bars and many times not even a rear anti-roll bar.
If your car is really a Trans Am clone I would upgrade the suspension to Trans Am level. T/As had large 1 1/4" and 3/4" anti-roll bars, stiffer springs Starting in 1978 there was even a better suspension option called WS6 that included stiffer rubber bushings, springs, frame braces, quicker ratio steering box, and 15x8" aluminum rims.
Where you ever able to find out what kind of engine was in it? It looks like a Chevy small block engine in the pictures.
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Dennis Smith wrote:

It is not a TA. It had the TA wings added.
The original engine was a V6 3.8.
The Vin starts 2T87
The engine - (see last thread) The date code is 73 on the block and heads. But the block casting is for a 350 in 73 and the engine code 'stamp' is for a 455 in 73
So I am still not sure about the engine. My feeling is that its a 350. Would be nice if its a 455.
Its got a edelbrock pontiac torker inlet with a holly 600 carb. Standard Casting for the exhaust mainfold with two large bore (havent measured) pipes straght through with larege cherry bombs .How much HP might this gain ?
Rich
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snipped-for-privacy@handmade-f9.co.uk says...

OK. It was originally a Firebird Esprit which was a luxury version. That explains the cushy suspension.

Can you get any better pictures of the engine? Looking at the picture in the auction it looks a lot like a Chevy engine rather than a Pontiac. A Pontiac engine will have an air gap underneath the intake and a stamped steel valley cover on the top of the block and the distributor is installed directly into the block. Pontiacs will have a cast aluminum timing chain cover with the water pump bolted to that. 1969-1981 Pontiac engines use 11-bolt water pumps.
Here are some pictures of my 455 HO. Your engine should look like this if its a Pontiac. All Pontiac engines look the same from 326-455. There is no small or big block like Chevy.
http://ps2page.tripod.com/my71ta/455ho.htm

Most 350's at that time were 200HP or less stock. I would guess that you don't have more than 250HP.
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Dennis Smith wrote:

Cool (I think ! )

I will take some pictures and post them tomorrow.

Nice ! Is it easy to pull these engines ? I can pull a VW bug / camper engine in 10 minutes on the driveway! the same to put it back :-) No water pipes to worry about though .

The figure for a stock 73 350 pontiac with twin exhaust is 175 HP :-(
Damn those emission laws ! I see earlier engines with 380+ Hp as stock.
Thanks Dennis
Rich
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Ok - Here goes again ( I posted this once but it didn't show up )
Dennis Smith wrote:

Cool ( I Think 1 ) Nice to know the history.

I will take some pics and post them

Nice ! How hard is it to pull these engines ? I can pull my Bug engine in 10 minutes on my driveway, the same to put it back !

From what I have found on the web - a 73 350 twinn exhaust is 175 Hp stock.
Thanks Dennis
Rich
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Dennis Smith wrote:

Link to photo's of engine.
http://photobucket.com/albums/a93/LITTLESMILESUK /
Thanks Rich
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says...

That
in the

Pontiac
valley
into
the
pumps.
if its

small
you don't

Looks like a stock cast iron intake manifold to me.
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snipped-for-privacy@handmade-f9.co.uk says...

Well...I have good news.
You definitely have a Pontiac engine in there. I was thinking it was a Chebbie because the alternator is on the wrong side but it looks like someone made non-Pontiac alternator brackets fit.
It has the pyramid shaped assembly line "transfer lug" at the back of the engine near the distributor which 455's have. The YA in 1973 means 455(which you already know)
The heads are 4X which is what was used in 1973. There is an additional stamped two digit code on a small machined pad. I uploaded a picture that shows the location. You may need to use a small pocket mirror and flashlight to read the code. If I remember correctly 4X-1C are 455 heads.
http://ps2page.tripod.com/my71ta/DSCF0002.jpg
My feeling is that you have a 7.5L 455 in there.
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Dennis Smith wrote:

Now more confused !! The arrow you draw to the head stamp. H6 both sides. Looking this up shows they are 455 heads for the year 75/76.
The head date casting is for 73. the big number in cast in the middle is 46 .
Thee block casting is 488986 which for 73 is 350.
Is it possible that a block cast for a 350 might have been built as a 455 ?
Any other ways I can cross reference ?
How about I take a spark plug out and measure the stroke ? TDC to TBC
Rich
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oops - TDC to BDC !
Rich
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snipped-for-privacy@handmade-f9.co.uk says...

It looks like a 4X in the pictures. I guess its hard to tell with the surface rust.
My info shows that a 46 head is for a 73-74 Pontiac 350. Well if the part number is 488986 on the block then its definately a 350. I looked through some books and the 350's also had the "transfer lug".
The 350 has a HP rating of 150HP-175HP and orignally a 2-bbl carb. The higher HP version was with factory dual exhaust.
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Dennis Smith wrote:

I should have put 6H there

Its definately 46

The date code is 1183 : i guess I183 Sep 18 1973
Might they have built the engine in early 74 and stamped YA then ? That would make sense.
Rich
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