50 Years of the Firebird – Behind the Scenes Story

50 Years of the Firebird – Behind the Scenes Story

Photo courtesy of Gary Kessler Photography

Pete & Betty Zink brought their 1973 Pontiac Firebird for our 2017 Concours advertising photo shoot. When asked about the story behind their car, Pete shared that his interest in Firebirds traced back to his high school years in the early 1970’s. Muscle cars were popular and my favorite was always the Firebird. He liked the twin scoops and clean lines of the Firebird Formula. A typical production year saw about 45,000 Firebirds – 10,000 of which were Formulas and 5,000 were Trans Ams.

About 15 years ago, Pete began his search for a Formula with the largest engine (the Pontiac 455) and a four speed transmission. He finally found what he was looking for in Las Vegas. With no salt on the roads, the body of the car was in good shape. The car did need everything else. The faded red paint was blasted off to reveal a history of red then black then cream and finally the original celery green metallic color. The factory combination of slate green and a black interior looked great.

Pete acted as the general contractor throughout the restoration process, parting out the various jobs to subcontractors near and far. His wife, Betty’s, only input was to leave off the rear spoiler. We went back and forth about it, but finally left it off. She was right. The car looked better without it and truer to the intent of the Formula’s designer.

During the project, Betty told Pete that the first car she ever bought new was a 1973 Firebird Formula! It was Florentine red with a white interior. Who knew! Pete thinks this fact points to a potential study for a PhD dissertation on the correlation between attraction to specific car models and attraction to potential mates!

Pete’s takeaway – “Cars are memories and worth preserving”.