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My Old Flame!

1993 Pontiac Firebird
Posted February 5 2009 06:32 PM by Johnny Hunkins 
Filed under: Project Cars

Project Thunderchicken lives!

Good news about an old project car got me thinking about how much GM has changed.

Before I took the job as editor of Popular Hot Rodding in May of 2003, I was the editor of GM High-Tech Performance magazine on the right coast. One of my project cars at the time was this ’93 Firebird that I special ordered from Ciasulli Pontiac (Little Falls, NJ) on February 4, 1993. That car lived a hard life at GMHTP as a testbed for engine, chassis, and brake hardware, and I drag raced, autocrossed, and road raced it religiously. When I sold it to move to California (no way would it have passed smog), it had run a best e.t. of 11.97/117.

I stay in touch with the current owner, Alan Forsyth, who lives in Georgia. He’s now got the car going 10.98/124. This is with a 396-inch stroker LT1 that has ported Lingenfelter heads and intake. Most of my original combo remains intact, except for a cam upgrade, catalytic converter deletion, and I think a gear change in the 12-bolt. The car was really fast when I had it, and it’s even more impressive now.

Thunderchicken's original bill of sale from 1993. Check out the price!

Looking through the old paperwork, I found the order sheet, and it got me thinking about how cool it was to special order a car just the way you wanted, without the extra crapola. Back in ’93, I was able to order a stripped-down Firebird with no A/C (they actually gave you credit to delete it!), roll-up windows, and the 3.42 G92 axle ratio for just $18k (including destination charges). Later that year, I set both ends of the IHRA Pure Stock (H/PS) record with nothing more than a change to some Mickey Thompson Sportsman tires.

Boy, how things have changed. If you go over to the Chevy site and take a look at the 2010 Camaro SS order sheet, you’ll see it’s loaded up with enough standard-equipment techno-baubles to make a Cadillac blush—and with a price to match. And there’s no way around it, unless you order a GMPP body in white for $7,000, and build it yourself. That wouldn’t be legal on the street though. I’ll have to think long and hard about paying $31k for a new "base" Camaro SS. The ’93 Firebird was the last new GM car I ever bought, and I miss the idea of being able to special order something special at a price I can afford.


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