good first car?

hi, i just joined this group because i will be turning 16 in february and im starting to look around at cars, and a 3rd gen firebird is something i've been looking at for awhile because my dad used to have
an 87. so i'm wondering would these cars be good for a 16/17 year old as a first car, i've looked into the insurance and its about even with any other cars ive looked at as long as i get a v6. so basically im looking for a 3rd gen v6 firebird, but i want to know how problematic these cars are, i know that because most of these cars are over 20 years old there will always be little things wrong, but i was thinking maybe of taking out the engine and dropping in a crate engine, but maybe not right away and i'd only do that if it was breaking down alot. so what are the most common problems with these cars, i am mechanically inclined so i could probably do most things myself but i just want to know what parts are most likely to break. Also i live in canada, so are these cars any good in the snow? i know my dad said his always fishtailed unless he put about 100lbs of sand in the trunk.
Thanks,
Dave
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dave349 wrote:

I've had 1st & 3rd gen Camaros, and none are any good in the rain or snow. It would be a great summer car for you, if you don't wreck it.
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Dave, I can't help but giggle outwardly even as the guilt builds up inside. [Group soapbox time]: So, I guess we're all responsible here. Yeah, that's right. All you guys on the Camaro/Firebird site. You oughtta be ashamed of yourselves for encouraging him! [End soapbox: Queue old guy's nostalgic waxing:] My first car was a '69 Camaro that an old guy (early 30's) taught me how to build by watching, doing and extracting the bolts I snapped. It wasn't anywhere near 20 yrs old, though, and I was sixteen. And, I WOULD HAVE never let it go; but, it wasn't my fault... In my expert opinion (seeing as how I've been sixteen since '80-'81 and now own an '87 T/A), the two areas of needed repairs are going to be A. Cosmetics (headlights don't pop-up, window motor, console, seat covers) and, B. Anything a sixteen-year old driver blatantly thrashes without due regard for the consequences... Hehe:) Good luck there, young dog. Be safe and welcome to the "first hot rod" club! Best Regards, Drink

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James Drinkwater wrote:

    Hell my first car was a 72 Chevelle. 9+ inches of tread width. Same tires summer or winter. Winter time just needed some ballast, let the air shock down so I had just enough suspension travel to keep the tires from hitting the inner wheel houses.
    A few years after getting my license (after replacing about every front suspension and steering part one at a time) I finally bought some new rear coils, and regular gas charged shocks. Not only are air shocks a pain in the ass, but using them with wasted rear coils means crappy rain and snow traction.
    Deepest snow I drove that car in, 8 inches. Biggest problem, The incline of my driveway was enough that if iced (like parking on snow with hot tires) the chevelle, or our van would slide down and a few times over the curb.
    As for my 3rd gens (85 T/A 87 GTA) Neither one is a good rain or snow car. The 85 T/A I never drove in the snow, never intended to when purchased. Had to move it in the driveway once with 2 inches on the ground. Tires had a hard time getting any traction. It also handled like crap in the rain. Front end plowed, rear fishtailed to much. 16 inch god year tires (i can recall which ones, hasn't been on the road in years).
    The 87 GTA (hasn't been on the road in years either) has 15x6 2nd gen (77 to 81 Firebird) snow flake wheels. With regular passenger car type tires. It will drive ok in the rain, even go in the snow.
    My advice for most people who live in the land or winter heavy rains and snows: Get tires for the winter with a good Mud & Snow rating (M&S rating on the side wall). All 4 matching tread. Even if you use a 16 inch wheel. 16 inch wheel truck tires will fit your stock F-car 16 inch wheels, no matter what the guy at the tire shop says. As long as they are not 16.5's, a 16 inch wheel is a 16 inch wheel as far as tire bead is concerned.
    These days most of the time I spend driving either my S-10 Blazer 4x4, or my Buick Century. (too many projects, not enough time or money). I will normally leave the Blazer in 2-High unless I really start losing traction. That with A/T (All Terrain) type of tires in the 235/75/15 size. I keep the fronts at 32 PSI, the rears between 25 and 30 depending on the season. It even has the factory Eaton Gov-lock (govener locking differential that is supposed to not lock in above 20 MPH).
    The Buick with a all weather tire type (215/70/15) does worse in the snow then the Blazer does in 2-High. The front end plows as bad as my 85 T/A did/does in the rain with the buick in the snow, the rear end wants to fishtail in a curve or a corner unless you slow down to a really low speed, and in a snow 4 inches deep, 35 to 45 MPH is the fastest you can keep control at. On the interstate in a snow storm thats slow enough for you to get sandwidged between a fast mover and a slow truck.
    The keys to snow driving are practice, knowing your vehicle, and using the right type of tire, with the right inflation for the surface.
Charles X-mas 04 Drove a 24 foot Box Truck (international 4700/DT466/Allision) 200 miles thru snow, ice, and got home to 18 inches of unplowed deep blizzard snow. Didn't get stuck, didn't miss X-mas.
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I have a 3rd generation camaro in utah, i just put wide snow tires on the back and it does awesome in the snow. you have to let off of the throttle a bit, or else you through sparks.
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Well, 3rd gen camaros/firebirds make good first cars, if you know how to work on them. However, they are REAL bad on snowy roads, not just kind of bad, they are terrible! You might want to either go w/ a front-wheel drive car -- much better in snow-- or else drivethe Firebird in summer, and get an old pickup for the winter...that's what I do, I drive a '68 Camaro summer/ '98 Malibu winter beater! Good luck, old cars are a great hobby, just look at the pics on my web page!: http://home.comcast.net/~tmannett
Terry M.
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ya, im looking at these because i want to have a car i can work on myself, and maybe restore it. but as far as driving in the winter from wha you've told me they seem really bad, so i think ill get this as a late spring/summer/early fall car and then get a cheap beater for the winter maybe an old civiv or neon which seem to be cheap on autotrader Terry wrote:

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My first car was a 1984 Firebird V8 and the insurance wasn't all that bad (I couldn't get insurance on a Corvette for any price). Everyone I knew of in high school that crashed bad were driving little foreign cars.
They're as reliable as any mid 80's GM so you'll learn a lot about repair. Fortunately they're easy to work on, parts are generally cheap, and junk yards are full of them. I can't think of any weak points in particular. Condition is very important. Take your dad with you when you test drive since he has experience with the model.
No rear drive car will ever be very good in the snow but I drove mine year round without too much problem. Good tires help. It's worth the trouble anyways.
It's a real shame that insurance companies are scaring today's kids into these little econo-death-boxes. There's absolutely nothing you can do to a Civic that will make it not suck.
-rev
dave349 wrote:

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lol i know insurance prices are really bad now a days especially for first time drivers and the difference between a firebird/camaro and a little civic or escort isn't that much, and definately not enough for me to pick a crappy little car liek that. i want a car i want to drive not something i have to drive lol. and i know with these cars being old, condition is very important so i will be looking for something that has either been restored recently, or something that is still in good condition with lower miles. just one question, by " They're as reliable as any mid 80's GM " does that mean mid 80's gm's were bad? not that it will stop me form buying one, just i don't really know lol.
PS: your right, no matter how much you tune a civic it's still a civic :P
The Reverend Natural Light wrote:

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lol i know insurance prices are really bad now a days especially for first time drivers and the difference between a firebird/camaro and a little civic or escort isn't that much, and definately not enough for me to pick a crappy little car liek that. i want a car i want to drive not something i have to drive lol. and i know with these cars being old, condition is very important so i will be looking for something that has either been restored recently, or something that is still in good condition with lower miles. just one question, by " They're as reliable as any mid 80's GM " does that mean mid 80's gm's were bad? not that it will stop me form buying one, just i don't really know lol.
PS: your right, no matter how much you tune a civic it's still a civic :P
The Reverend Natural Light wrote:

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My first car was/is an '85 Camaro... ended up getting the v6 because it was the only thing in the area at the time. Bought it the day I got my license. Storeed it the first winter to drive my dad's spare escourt that kept breaking down, and said fuck it.. and drove the Camaro year round after that.. in NE Wisconsin.. had 235/60/14s on there and with my speaker box in the trunk had very few probs in the snow... actually had fun with the car... still is one of my spares.. but getting a transplant in a couple months. I wanted a Trans Am, but settled for a Camaro.. I was impatient. Only piece of advice I can give is, get what you want, don't settle... you'll be kicking yourself the second you buy it. I mean I am on F-body #4.. and still have all 4.. loving every second I have in them. Good luck and have fun. The less tickets you get, the better insurance will be.. so keep the foot off the accelerator or find a local strip. (knowing from experience as I was averaging a ticket every 4 or 5 months for the first couple years.. :( )
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Amen Reverend!
The only thing I've heard about these cars is that the EGR system can be prone to going out or going bad; but then again, I've heard everything wrong happen to them from rear ends blowing up, torque converters' fins breaking off to spun rod bearings. I guess that's why they call me the freak. Anyways, good luck getting that car, the good part about it is you wanting a V6, so it'll be cheaper to buy than a V8, even though you can pick up a good V8 for about $4k anyways.
The Freak
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As far as I'm concerned mid 80's are no worse than any other year auto's. I've owned quit a range of years and makes. I trust my '85 Camaro Z-28 more than I trust my '99 Honda Accord EX. At least my Camaro never left me dead at a busy intersection before like the Honda did. Matter of fact the worse problem I have had since I bought the Z-28 new, was the ignition coil went bad. (305 4bbl H model) At least that happened in the driveway. But now the motor is hopped up, the suspension beefed up and almost ready for new paint, now she runs better than ever.
As far as my Camaro on snow or ice, I would rather stay home really! :) But then it is a sports car isn't it, not a Hummer?
AA
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this is all great, but i don't think ill have to drive it in the winter, my auto shop teacher just got an old dodge shadow for free, and he's auctioning it to the kids and highest bid takes it and the money goes to the program, and nothing is wrong with it other than it's missing a front bumper (the guy before used it as a field car, i live out in the country so we have lots of field races lol) and it only has about 142,000 kms. so the highest big right now is $65, so i figure i'd get that and next fall i could safety it and get a new bumper for it real cheap at a junk yard and in the mean time use it as a field car lol. but thank you for all your help guys.
Ztwoeight wrote:

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LoL at the civic comments
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--WebTV-Mail-18102-5080 Content-Type: Text/Plain; Charset=US-ASCII Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7Bit
I left my signature on so you can see my pride and joy... I made it through last winter in Fargo.!!! Granted, it's only a v-6 and I didn't have to drive but 6 miles to work, it did get kinda scarey a few times. Got stuck in the driveway once after about 6 feet of snow but on the other hand was still fun and driveable with less than 4 inches of snow. Practice, Practice, Practice...
-CCC
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just a correction my dad had a '92 v6. i was way off lol dave349 wrote:

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