83 firebird rebuild-- yay or nay?


#1

hi all,
I’m new to the whole rebuilding/car maintenance world, but I did take some automotive classes in high school so I have a pretty good idea what I’m pretty competent with cars and tools. I was searching craigslist when I found this: http://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/cto/4487270508.html It’s an 83 firebird that was completely disassembled by the previous owner, however all the parts were sorted, organized, and kept indoors. It looks like a pretty good deal, especially if I can haggle an even lower price, but I am hesitant to move because I don’t know if I can handle the rebuild. I have plenty of time to work on it, and I don’t believe losing interest will be a problem, but I was wondering if anyone could shed light on how difficult it will be to do a complete rebuild.
Thanks,
Sam


#2

If you are competent with hand tools and have a good grasp of mechanical things…it should be a fairly easy project. The only bad news is that any rebuild always cost more time and money than you think it will. Been there…done that. Look at it this way…even if you fail…it will be a great learning experience. My dad always said you can’t learn to swim until you first get wet. Good luck.


#3

That’s what’s called a “basket case” @sam-i. And such a basket case would be a nightmare for anyone other than experienced professionals. I would guess that sooner or later the parts will be sold individually.


#4

Basket case? Not really…I would call it a rolling chassis…But that’s a long, long ways from a drivable automobile…And if ANY of the little bits and pieces are missing or broken, replacing them will be expensive and difficult…The instrument cluster, all the behind the dash stuff, the clutch linkage and steering…Brakes and brake lines, fuel tank and fuel lines, it goes on and on…And you still need an engine and everything connected to it…

You could buy a '83 Firebird, a very nice one, for much less than you will spend rebuilding this one even if you could get it for nothing…


#5

With the internet all things are possible.
Before the internet you actually had to know what you were doing or have something a lot more than a haynes manual to do a rebuild.
If you have the time,the desire and the money to do it the internet can provide the know how to git her done!


#6

I once bought a Harley Davidson Hummer for $20. It was in several boxes and all the pieces were supposed to be there. It was such a simple machine and I was sure that a couple of Saturdays would be all that was needed to get it back together. Months later I gave the pile of junk away. Once the fasteners and incidental pieces are scrambled it is awfully difficult to unscramble the pile.


#7

@Rod Knox

Too bad I wasn’t there when you were giving them away. Unless you’re talking about a scale model, I could have made a bundle selling the parts on eBay.


#8

I’d walk away from this one

Buy something that’s driveable right now

In my opinion, this could turn out to be a car that’s never completed


#9

The car is not as complicated as a newer one. The engine is your basic SBC, still available in some form in a crate ready to pop in for likely less than rebuilding the 305 in it. There are lots of reproduction stuff for these cars so parts are pretty easy to get. Take a look at the wiring harness to make sure it is there and not a rats nest. The price is cheap, the pile looks pretty complete and the body is not a rusty mess. Go for it. It is a great learning experience and should be fun. Don’t expect to make money. Good Luck!


#10

If you’re doing this to end up with a nice, driveable car in a few months then walk away and look for something finished.

If you’re doing this as something fun, a dream car, a challenging project you’ve always wanted to do, then go for it. It will take you years and you can expect it to cost you more in time and incidental parts than you will ever recoup, but the satisfaction and pride of looking at your finished product and saying “I did this” is beyond price.


#11

You can get a tired Firebird from the 1980s for around $5000. It will be a driver right away. While you work on it, you can still use it. What do you want the car for? If you want cheap transportation, a runner is a better bet. If you want to build a drag car, this would be the right kind of car to start with.


#12

The early 80s cars are the least desireable of all time to me. The smog controls, drive-ability and power were horrible.


#13

thank you for all the feedback everyone. I really appreciate it as I am new to the world of car maintenance. definitely gonna skip this one now.


#14

Good choice @sam_i‌


#15

A decent paint job will cost more than a running car… That’s something few hobbyists can do themselves…


#16

If you’re prepared to put up a separate garage to build it in, willing to devote an infinite number of hours to it, prepared to spend a bunch of money on missing parts, and the word aggravation is not in your vocabulary then it might be the car for you.

Organized or not, once digging into something like this one often finds a number of missing parts, rust that is more severe than originally thought, etc.

There’s a pile of parts shown but no pics of the engine. The nose high stance of the car means the motor is not hiding out there…
Even if the guy came down on the price you can probably find a clean, ready to go car for less money than what you would sink into what should be called a rolling project.


#17

I just finished a frame-off resto on a '77 Camaro (similar to what you’re looking at). It’s not a difficult thing to do. But there is one universal truth in the restoration hobby - it will be much more expensive and take much more time than you estimate.

My biggest concern with your project is that it is already disassembled. No way to know what’s good or bad, what’s missing, or if it was disassembled properly. And you won’t have any point of reference when you put it back together. I would rather start with a complete car, in any condition, and tear it down myself.


#18

Good choice to walk away. It is MUCH MUCH harder to put something together if you didn’t take it (or 10 cars like it) apart. As others have said, get a decent running car, then work on it and learn.


#19

This is my rule of thumb about car repairs

If something’s going to be taken apart, make sure you’re the one to do it

Don’t get into something when some other guy took it apart, possibly a long time ago . . . and you don’t know what was going on before he took it apart, and you don’t don’t why


#20

This is far from being a simple bolt-together. It’ll require entirely rebuilding the braking system, the electrical systems, the interior (including the upholstery), the cooling system, the powertrain, and a whole lot of stuff I’m forgetting. This is a major restoration effort, and in the end you’ll end up with something not resembling the original vehicle.

If your goal is to spend a few years or more doing a major restoration of a car you’ve admired for years, or to learn everything there is to know about automotive systems, and you have the time and about $30K-$40K to spend, go for it. If your perception is that you’ll simply do the bodywork, bolt everything back together, and drive away, forget it.

I agree with JT’s statement: if your goal is to build a drag car, you’ve struck gold.