Garage Project: 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Pontiac celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 1976, and after 50 years of making cars, this GM division was still going strong at this time.  By 1976 the Firebird had already been in production for nine years, with another 26 years left before production finally ceased in 2002.  The Firebird being offered for sale here is about midway through the second generation of Firebirds, which Pontiac produced between 1970 and 1981.  If you are in the market for a mid-seventies General Motors F-Body, this 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula may be worth taking a look at.  Located in Montello, Wisconsin, it can be seen here on Craigslist with an asking price of $10,000.  Barn Finds would like to thank reader Kenneth Athon for the tip on this one.

So let’s get the bad news out of the way first.  The Firebird is missing its entire front from the hood forward, and some of the pictures in the ad show the car with no driver’s side front fender.  The car does appear to now have a primered front fender, but this seems to be a recent addition.  There is also a salvage title that comes with the car, and no explanation why.  I have never purchased a vehicle with a salvage title, and from what I have been reading I believe this means that a car was considered to be a total loss by an insurance company at some point and that the vehicle has been deemed to be unroadworthy.  I’m also reading that in some cases you can get the title changed back to clear if the car can be proven to be roadworthy again.  Maybe some of our readers can shed more light on this, but in any event, I’d want to make sure that the title issue could be fixed easily before I bought the car to have that peace of mind.

The good news is that most of the rest of the car seems to be in really good overall condition.  I think the current owner’s vision was to make the car a nice driver, and things appear to be well on their way.  The interior is said to be new and it looks to be in very nice shape.  The car is also said to be rust-free and most of the body looks good, although the hood doesn’t seem to exactly fit right near the windshield on the passenger side.  And speaking of the windshield, the seller does state that it needs a new one.

This Firebird is powered by a 350 cubic inch V-8 and an automatic transmission, and the seller says the car runs and drives great and is fast!  The car also has a Borla performance exhaust system.  Mileage is claimed to be 57,000.

The current owner says this Firebird would be easy to finish, but that he can’t right now.  I’m wondering if that red Corvette in the garage has piqued his interest, and maybe the Firebird has taken a back seat to the Vette?  What are your thoughts on this 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula?  Do you think $10k is reasonable for what you’re getting here?


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  1. alphasud Member

    In most states once a vehicle is written off you are given a bill of sale if bought in its salvage state. Once the vehicle has been restored to a safe condition it usually undergoes a inspection by a repair shop or whatever the DMV of the state requires to get a title. Once the new title is issued it’s branded as a salvage. It is illegal to wash the title in the remaining few states to remove the title branding but I’m sure it still happens. If your personal vehicle is written off by the insurance company you are given the option to purchase it at a determined amount set by the company and you can either repair it yourself or sell it on for a profit. Still gets a branded title though.

    Like 8
  2. Connecticut MARK

    You can get a title called rebuilt if everything checks out safe, but value of car is way down, remember he got paid once from insurance, now he is trying to be paid again, too much for a salvage, maybe turned to rebuilt car I think.

    Like 1
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Might as well put a ’70-73 stock nose on(very heavy though), IF you can find non rusty used bumper brackets/supports, which i believe STILL are not being reproduced – ridiculous.
    Or possibly 1 of the fiberglass noses, tho fabrication is req’d to mount it, grills, & headlites.
    Not sure if finding a unique ’76 only front bumper would be ez to do either.

    Like 1
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    In some states AFAIK if a vehicle is stolen and paid off, if later recovered (even if in perfect condition) and is sold it has a salvage title. Depends on the state the vehicle was titled in.

    Like 3
  5. Nieko

    A damage title can be anything from hail or wind damage to a serious collision, depending on the previous owner history. At any rate the damage to the car would have to exceed 70% of the current market value. If the front fender that is in primer got damaged it is a good possibility that was enough to put the cost of repair over the value, even if it is considered a classic. Good mark or the AMD corporation can produce quality replacement parts, just bolt on a new fender, some paint and back on the road we go…..As for the damaged title thing, I would do an in depth inspection of the car before purchasing.


    These days if a classic car or truck has a branded title is no real concern. If you are fine with a explaition to how it got that way so be it. I know of pleanty of projects that simply had a lost title and not able to find the legal owner but never crashed or whatever.I have a 71 purple twister very nice shape- It sat under a carport from 1994 to 2004 until i got it.The property it was left on was foreclosed by the bank and the Duster was declared junk. Its a 3spd/83/4 rear front disk That shows no abuse other than left to sit all those years.It now sports a nice paint job ,outside,inside(eng. compartment-int.-trunk) underside . Restored bucket seat int built original 318. The title sports as salvage through. My point is this is a very clean never damaged car that has the salvage stamped on it. There are many,many, many of these cars and trucks that where never hurt or safety impaired.

  7. Rob Norman

    Branded titled cars can still drive straight, if the chassis isn’t harmed in the original damage event. I have two of them with the “branding” based on “cost of repair ” . I made good settlement money , bought back the cars from the Ins. companies — repairing the exterior damages at a cheaper shop– and whistled to the bank with a few hundred left over on both cars.

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