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1983 Pontiac Firebird - good or bad?

  
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1983 Pontiac Firebird - good or bad?

 
cbreiter cbreiter
New User | Posts: 35 | Joined: 06/11
Posted: 10/09/12
02:59 PM

I am looking at buying a 1983 Firebird, comes with a 305 V8, and a three speed /w overdrive, and 4 barrel carb. I am looking to replace my 1980 Ford Fairmont with this car, and I was wondering if they are a good car for upgrades. I am getting rid of my Fairmont, cause it would cost me more to swap in a 302, than to buy annother car with a V8 already. Far as I can tell this car has mostly new stearing components, and all new door seals, and has had the body restored. the car has about 170,000 km on it. Just was wondering what the consensus is on cars like this?  

waynep71222 waynep71222
User | Posts: 155 | Joined: 04/12
Posted: 10/10/12
07:11 AM

say.... the fairmont.. unless its really trashed out.. might still be a decent ride... finding almost any 302/5.0 and C4/C5 will slide in..   the AOD transmissions should also fit..    i would prefer the fairmont.. over the firebird. but that is probably just my choice..

don't get me wrong.. i like firebirds also..
a few things to check on the firebird...   take a friend with you..  open the hood...  have the friend rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look down at the top of the steering box..   the steering box should NOT ROCK... there should be no creaking or cracking noises. this is just an issue with a few that have been abused...  GM put triangles with 2 bolts into the cross member and one into the bottom of the frame horn.. this reduced the reaction of the end of the frame horn from the twisting of the steering box..  not all got them..  they are easily removed from donors.. take the bolts with you.. they are special just for that application. self tapping. 2 different sizes..  if the steering box rocks more than 1/4 inch.. RUN fast the OTHER way..  there are very few ways to fix them other than chopping and welding another front section on the frame..

you can see the bolt holes in the crossmember for the triangles just above the center drag link to the center of the idle arm end and on both sides of the end of the pitman arm..

to really help in tightening up the 3rd gen steering somebody came up with a brace that bolts between the top of the sway bar brackets and the frame rails..  this has an adjustable length rod between them...  this really stiffens up the front of the frame..  probably have to check the superchevy or chevyhiperformance.. even camaro performers magazine print issues for an ad..

Wonder Bar Steering Brace 1983 1992 Camaro F Body Firebird 995 2

with an 83 model..  you will probably have a feedback carb... guess what... those. if the system is working.. can get well over 20MPG...  if you keep your foot out of it on the freeway...    and if yours has a feedback system.. you will want to invest in probably an OBD1 scan tool.. perhaps finding a MONITOR 2000... as those will work just fine.. and can be had for 50 to 70 bucks on Craigs or ebay..   please.. don't get in and attempt to adjust the carb if its feedback..  its complicated and has to be done correctly while monitoring the system with a dwell meter or a scan tool..  

redneckjoe69 redneckjoe69
Enthusiast | Posts: 388 | Joined: 04/10
Posted: 10/10/12
09:58 AM

i believe thats called a wonder bar.   heres a link with pics.http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/suspension-chassis/465817-wonder-bar.html  

cbreiter cbreiter
New User | Posts: 35 | Joined: 06/11
Posted: 10/19/12
04:49 AM

I ended up getting the car, however I had not read the replys to my post proir unfortuntalely. It turned out that it is actually an '84 firebird trans am, with the regular 305. The steering is tight, and the metalwork is good, no excess bondo anyway, however the car was refinished about 15 yrs ago, and whoever painted it uesed lacquer thinner, instead of reducer in the paint, so I have large areas where it is cracking and coming off. I need to do someengine work on it aswell, but I had intended this to be a project car when I bought it. I drove it some and I am getting roughly 25 - 30 with it. I'm thinking that once it has some work done to it, it will possably have a bit more power, as it is all stock and hasnt been changed in years from the look of it. The main reason I decied to go the chevy route is cause its way cheaper than Dodge. Any idea if I can get a complete wiring harness for the whole car? I can just replace it all with new bulk color coded wires to rebuild it, but if the other is available it would be way less work. Thanks!  

redneckjoe69 redneckjoe69
Enthusiast | Posts: 388 | Joined: 04/10
Posted: 10/19/12
06:12 AM

for wireing, id try a company like painless wiring.   if you go to the junkyard, your gonna get 25-30 year old wiring.   hardly worth it.    you may find lots of useful info on thirdgen.org.   its all about 82-92 camaros, firebirds and trans ams.   i think an 84 trans am just won car of the month for september on there?    click on message boards to enter  the forum.   many nice folks over there to help you, not that you cant get help here,...but its more specific to your ride.
http://www.thirdgen.org/

  heres an 84 TA i owned years ago.  nice cars. Cool
0224184643  

pepsi1 pepsi1
Enthusiast | Posts: 301 | Joined: 10/11
Posted: 10/19/12
06:14 AM

If you can get 25 to 30 MPG on a 28 year old car. I'd say do the cosmetic work and leave the engine alone...LOL... Your a true gear-head. You want to go faster...
Good Luck

Bob  

waynep71222 waynep71222
User | Posts: 155 | Joined: 04/12
Posted: 10/19/12
06:43 PM

bob is completely right...

DON'T touch a thing under the hood or the dashboard...

that has a feedback carb...   if you swap a single vacuum hose around... or a single wire...

you will have issues...

please do not adjust the carb...  understand.. DO NOT ADJUST THE CARB..

let me say it again.. DO NOT ADJUST THE CARB...   don't think about rebuilding the carb... don't think about exchanging the carb for a similar rebuilt...  rebuilts will usually have the WRONG calibration... these carbs require a small selection of specialized tools... including an dwell meter and a scan tool to look at the live data stream.. really saves DAYS of work...





if you attempt on getting more power out of it...

you are going to SERIOUSLY reduce your fuel economy...

one fellow on one of these forums... took some bodys advice.. toss all that computerized stuff out.. throw a holley and an intake on it..  a vacuum advance HEI...

he went from 26 MPG... to 12 MPG..  ask how to get his fuel economy back like it was...

put the feed back system on.. and restore it to full function...


if eventually you get a check engine light flashing at you .. or you have drive ablity issues..

first.. these really need a scan tool...

check craigs.. for OTC or snap on MT 2500 ...   with the correct cables and cartridges a monitor 2000,  monitor 4000E ...  or one of the many versions of that... some other harder to find used scan tools can also be used...    i used to specialize in feedback fuel systems.. rebuilding those feed back carbs.. spending several hours fixing wires... replacing a few parts... verifying .. each sensor is working properly and communicating with the computer...  it gets complicated..

one thing.. the computer harness is on the engine and a few places under the hood... but it runs through a hole in the firewall on the passenger side of the firewall...

where the engine control harness and the lighting harness pass through a bulk head connector on the drivers end of the firewall past the power brake booster...

also... with trans ams...

look at the image above with the RED bar...   look closely at the bottom of the radiator core support... see the air dam..   there is a replacement air dam from GM... fits like 86 or 87 models..  retrofits to earlier models..  this is a fairly rigid bolt on air dam... limits the airflow under the car by bulldozing the air at the core support... this builds a pressure wave in front of the radiator at highway speeds...  if this car has the shorter factor air dam... or is missing the central section under the core support..  it will usually overheat above 55 mph..  

i know this for a fact...  i measured it with a magnehelic pressure gauge used in the HVAC industry..  

pepsi1 pepsi1
Enthusiast | Posts: 301 | Joined: 10/11
Posted: 10/19/12
09:16 PM

Wayne I could not have said it any better. Once you fool around with those feed back carbs your asking for trouble.
  I have a 2006 Impala with a 3.9. If I am only on the highway I may touch 30 MPG.
I get an average around town and highway of 24.7 to 25.6. But it's a rocket ship.

Bob  

cbreiter cbreiter
New User | Posts: 35 | Joined: 06/11
Posted: 10/20/12
03:21 AM

It is kinda hard to start at this point, I am going to replace the fuel pump and starter, alt, to see if that helps at all. I also plan to put new wires and plugs, distributur cap and stuff on it. just basic matenence for now. I honestly wouldnt mind it getting down as low as 15, I kinda of bought it expecting to get around 15 - 20 mpg out of it, cause my truck (1986 dodge ram, 318 2 barrel) gets about 20. I figgured a 305 with a 4 barrel should be able to get that. I was thinking about adding a cam, higer flowing heads, an aftermarket intake, headers, dual exhaust. I may decide to rebuild the engine yet, but at this point im not leaning in that direction. I may swap to a cowl induction hood too. Of course electric fans will be added aswell. It was bought as a hotrod project for a weekend cruser. It doent have to get phenonminal fuel economy. If i leave it like it is it already gets way better than my fairmont, cause i get 25 in it if I drive like a 90 year old gradma, lol. otherwise its about 15 in the city.  

pepsi1 pepsi1
Enthusiast | Posts: 301 | Joined: 10/11
Posted: 10/20/12
11:06 AM

If you have over 100,000 miles on it when you replace the cam do a timing chain. If you are really looking to get some performance. Put the 305 under the bench and purchase a crate 350.

Bob  

redneckjoe69 redneckjoe69
Enthusiast | Posts: 388 | Joined: 04/10
Posted: 10/20/12
12:59 PM

one dis-advantage to trans ams of these years is, its hard to keep them cool when you start modifying them.   not any airflow through the front.   make sure you have that airdam as Wayne mentioned.   they also made 2 different airdams.  1 is 1 piece,...the other is a 3 piece unit.    
   
  dual exhaust is very tricky on these cars.   not much room if you want to keep it off the ground.   many pics and such on that site i gave you, to get some ideas.  long tube headers usually bottom out and end up cutting holes or dinging the headers.

  any pics of your new ride?   alot of people use photobucket.   copy/paste the IMG code.  

   im with Pepsi, park the 305 and get at least a 350 if your gonna build a hot street ride.  

cbreiter cbreiter
New User | Posts: 35 | Joined: 06/11
Posted: 10/20/12
01:35 PM

I do have some pictures, but I dont even know what photobucket is, lol. Its all black with T-tops. Decoding the VIN tells me that it is an SE, but the according to the licence issuer it is a trans am edition. I have a friend who said that he will help me build a 350 with about 400 hp for it. the reason I was thinking to add some of that to the other though is because of how cheap chevy parts are. I can rebuild the engine for less than half of what it woulda cost to do it in my '67 dodge dart. I have the 2 vent airdam in front, but it looks like it has been cracked in the corners, so i'm thinking about going to a knight rider bumper. I dunno they look kinda cool, lol.  

cbreiter cbreiter
New User | Posts: 35 | Joined: 06/11
Posted: 10/20/12
01:41 PM

oh and for the wiring, I wouldnt go to the autowreacker. I can get trailer wiring that is really good quality and is all color coded. It comes in differnt guages, and stuff. I just know on my 86 truck a lot of the insulation was falling of the wires, before I had a small meldown where the wires shorted. Wasnt so fun figguring out where 40 plus wires went after all the insulation burned off them, lol.  

redneckjoe69 redneckjoe69
Enthusiast | Posts: 388 | Joined: 04/10
Posted: 10/20/12
02:53 PM

sounds like a good plan.    hers a link to photobucket.  its free.   click on the link, like the ones above. http://photobucket.com/
start an account.     i use my cell phone to take pics.     once you start an account, you can get a number for mobile uploads.    i program it in my phone like a contact.    its longer than a phone number, with some computer looking adress.   copy/paste the IMG code in your post.   its easier than it sounds.   heck, this dumb red neck figured it out.  lol.  

redneckjoe69 redneckjoe69
Enthusiast | Posts: 388 | Joined: 04/10
Posted: 10/20/12
02:58 PM

there should be RPO codes in you center console.   it will tell you all the options on your car,...if its the original console.    you can look them up by clicking on the 3rd gen link above on one of my previous posts.    it will tell you alot about how the car was built originally.  

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