Drive or Restore: 1969 Pontiac Firebird

When you’re in the market to find a classic car, you often find a total project or one that has been completely restored. It’s not often that you find one, though, that meets somewhere there in the middle. This 1969 Pontiac Firebird, found here on Craiglist, is definitely a project but not one that would have to be loaded on a trailer in pieces or unearthed after years of sitting. This is one fifty-plus-year-old classic that’s worth taking a look at.

There are not many details in the listing, but it does say that this first-generation bird holds a high output 350 under the hood. It does not say if it’s the original powerplant but does describe it as low-mileage, which may be an indicator that it is.  It wouldn’t be uncommon to find a car like this with the original engine long gone and a small block Chevy in its place, but fortunately, this one still runs on Poncho power. The listing does say that it runs and drives, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s completely roadworthy. The fact that it is running and driving, though, is at least promising.

With the exterior appearing a bit rough, it was surprising to see a fairly nice interior. This lends credence to the mention that it really might really be a 70,000-mile car. There is just something so cool and inviting about that GM pony car interior. It’d be even cooler with a four-speed as opposed to an automatic, but that likely wouldn’t bring on any complaints from anyone sitting behind the wheel. It’d be great to see this interior in person, but the pictures at least look promising.

Even with the listing being short on detail, the seller does state that it needs bodywork. That’s probably the best way to say that it needs a fair amount of rust repair. It’s easy to see from the pictures that this one has plenty of areas that need attention. No interested party should be fooled by the words “easy build”. While it looks like a nice, complete project, the work involved in restoring a car like this back to health is no easy task. Fortunately, this Firebird looks like it could be a fun little driver or be ready to be pulled apart for restoration. If this was your car, how would you move forward with the project?


WANTED 1971 Saab 96 Looking for either a mostly-done project or a driver-quality car. Contact

WANTED 1965 1975 Porsche 911/912 Wanted Porsche 911/912 restoration project or driver thanks Contact

WANTED 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Have cash in hand. Call 573-541-1970 or email Contact

WANTED 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Looking for a 1961 Biscayne in decent shape for an everyday driver. Will also consider Bel-Air Contact

WANTED 1969-1970 Mercury Cougar XR7 Coupe Looking for a rolling chassis with good sheetmetal in the North East Bub. Any parts considered. thx Contact

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  1. Steve R

    Thats too much money for what you are starting with.

    Steve R

    Like 4
    • Tom Member

      Correct Steve.

      350 Automatic, not a 400 car. Needs Quarters, bottoms of fenders rotted = more rot elsewhere = LIMITED VALUE

      You can buy this car done for $20-25K. Sorry folks, the market is changing.

      I have restored 2 69 Firebirds and in todays market I can’t even put a dollar value on this car with what the realities ARE.

      Like 6
      • Tom Member

        A second look at that left quarter at the vinyl top speaks something really BAD under that vinyl top. That just killed ANY budget on this one.

        350 HO ?

        Like 3
      • Arthell64 Member

        I didn’t think the market was ever that great for 67-69 350 firebird’s.

        Like 2
  2. Rich

    Honestly, I think I’d buff out that paint, make it reliable, contain the rust as best as I can and just enjoy it.

    Like 6
  3. Kirk Wolfe

    Well, sadly isn’t another standard Firebird with a classic 250-in-line, three-speed and filled with options. I’d like to build one with the best mechanical options as possible and enjoy the rarity of a economic engine.

    Like 1
    • Gord

      A friend of mine purchased a 1969 brand new with the OHC Sprint 6 cylinder package and 3 sp standard trans. It still sits in his shop waiting to have the engine rebuilt and be put back on the road after sitting the last 20 years – but it is rust free.

      Like 2
      • Little_Cars

        Gord, any chance it is a pale metallic green color with body damage to the passenger quarter? Father had the same, was a better car than the “new” 1973 Camaro he traded away to buy it. Tell your friend best of luck with that OHC rebuild. I’ve heard some internals are hard to find, and cores are beginning to dwindle.

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        Disregard my comments about your friend’s car being the same as my dads. If bought new, it never left his hands! But a rare ‘bird indeed in that configuration. Here is an example of what ours looked like back in the day. Ours had wheelcovers instead of Rally II for most of its life. This photo shows a bigger engine callout on the hood.

  4. Little_Cars

    @Kirk Wolfe…are you my Dad reincarnated? When these cars were only a few years old and sitting in the backs of used car lots he would scoop up the ones with the most obscure set of options and usually a 6 banger under the hood. This happened from their introduction until around 1978. Nary a Formula 400, Trans Am or Esprit in the bunch. The vinyl top on this one infected the inside of the trunk, rear window reveal, and the inaccessible area below the quarter windows. Final note–no Firebird ever looked good with those Appliance wheels with multiple holes punched through them. Rally II wheels and a proper set of radial T/A went on every first and second generation Firebird I’ve ever owned.

  5. CCFisher

    With so much rust in around the rear wheel openings and streaming down from under the vinyl roof, I would be surprised if it’s truly roadworthy as-is. Rust is like an iceberg. What you see is a fraction of what there is.

    Like 2
  6. A.J.

    Ten grand for a part out? Just the rust you can see is a killer. Imagine what lies below it.

    Like 1
  7. Brian K

    I would hate to see the frame on this. 10k is a hard pass. When buying a classic car, I always look for something under the rust belt if possible. You are better off buying something show ready vs this rust bucket, spending the extra money while avoiding the time lost enjoying the car. The market is all over the place when it comes to what things are worth these days.

    Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Is that a voltage regulator on the firewall? I thought they were on the radiator support on 1st gens.
    Not sure when f-bodies got the alternator with internal regulator.
    This car was no doubt left out/driven in the rain – at least. I wonder if there would be rust on the roof & below the rear vinyl roof molding if there was no vinyl roof. The rust that bothers me the most that i can see in the pics provided is on the open passenger door where the door hinges bolt to the door …
    Is that repairable, or do you need to get a new door?
    Rust is less likely where the door hinges bolt to the body – i think.
    I would remove the ashtray & move the aux gages to that location.
    & pull the console radio, unless you insist on using cassettes instead of a
    wireless mp3 player radio frequency adapter that plugs into cigarette lighter.
    Rubber fuel line to the carb not the best move.
    For ’69, since Pontiac knew a totally new bird was coming in ’70, they should have used the ’68 front end & just changed the dash.
    Anyone spot the ’67 door mirror?

    Like 1
    • Arthell64 Member

      But than you wouldn’t have the 69 T/A which is the best looking 1st gen firebird IMO.

      Like 1
      • JoeNYWF64

        Well most people, i think , prefer the ’67-8 f/b front end.
        I’m CONVINCED the ’69 front end is an odd mix of endura & chrome because if it was all endura, it would look too much like the upcoming ’70 gto! (& IMO pontiac should also not have changed the ’69 GTO front in for ’70 – for 1 year!! lol).
        & Pontiac could have put the ’69 t/a’s lower fender & hood scoops onto a ’68 body, as well as the rear spoiler. & why not add a std hood tach! The rear ends of the ’68 & ’69 f/b’s(unlike camaros) are so similar that i don’t know why pontiac even bothered to change it, as well as the tremendous costs for development & tooling up all the other ’69 changes – for just one year!! (Doesn’t the 2021 challenger still use basically the same major body panels as the 2008?!! lol)

  9. TimM

    High asking price

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