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Lean-To Find: 1968 Pontiac Firebird

Black Plate '68 Firebird

Reader Richard B is a car fanatic and has been his entire life. His need to hunt down and buy cars started in 1971 at the age of 14. Using his paper route money, he bought his first project, a 1960 Corvette for just $300. Since then, he has owned a number of interesting cars and a few have slipped through his grasp. He found this 1968 Pontiac Firebird and tried to save it from further damage, but wasn’t able to make a deal with the owner. He thought he would share the story of finding it with us. His story in his own words right after the break!

1968 Pontiac Firebird

Wearing its original California black plates sits this forlorn-looking red ’68 Firebird coupe in a lean-to approximately 10 miles south of the Canadian border in North West Washington State. Believed to be a 350 automatic, the car seems to have been kept dry by the lean-to so far, but the back of the structure is resting on the rear half of the car. It seems that it must have landed softly though because there is no apparent damage. Other than the obvious (and relatively minor) damage to the front end, the rest of the car (at least that which is visible) appears to be straight with no apparent rust.

Dirty 1968 Pontiac Firebird

Best case, it could be cleaned up and driven after a set of new wheels and tires and replacement of the front bumper of course. But without pulling the car out from under the lean-to, it’s impossible to conduct a meaningful triage to determine the presence/extent of rust in the floors and whether or not the engine is serviceable in its present condition, or the extent of the damage to roof and rear quarters from the lean-to. As long as the body is solid, at the very least it could be a restoration candidate, but whether that scenario is even monetarily feasible remains to be seen. The owner has turned down numerous offers of purchase from locals over the years and even recent queries receive the reply “not for sale” the exact power train and interior color couldn’t be determined because a closer inspection wasn’t allowed.

We doubt this one will be rescued from that lean-to in time to be a feasible project, but it is certainly a fascinating sight. Thanks for sharing Richard your find with us!


  1. Bob Friendship

    I can never really understand why, unless it has emotional attachment, owners can’t let someone take on and save something (like this or similar) when it is otherwise going to end up rotting into the ground, doing no one any good.
    I once knew an old scrap yard dealer, here in England, who had many cars that would have qualified as classics and would have been saveable. I would ask him, “Do you fancy selling me this (or that)?” He would rub his hands together and grin, saying “…well, boy, I’ll want that one some time.”

    Years went by and he died.

    Hundreds of interesting ( and more than a few quite rare) cars were crushed and the site was developed for housing.

    End of.

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  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    It sure is frustrating seeing a car slowly being assimilated into its environment. I’ve seen more than my share of cars and trucks that the owners refuse to sell yet won’t do anything about getting them into a place where they won’t be damaged. Unfortunately they still have that right to do with it what they please and the rest of us have no choice but to watch the car slowly disappear. There is still light at the end of the tunnel and it requires that element of patience and friendship that might slowly turn the tide in the potential buyer’s direction.

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  3. joe

    all vehicles are worth saving if you wanna put the time and money into them.

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  4. Rick

    Geomechs is spot-on with his comments. For us folks doing the old car hobby on a budget, it means keeping an eye out for interesting stuff in the area instead of flying into Monterey or Scottsdale for the highbrow auctions. Having pursued this hobby the budget way, I’ve ended up with several cars after the passage of time that were pretty decent when I started watching them, but were much the worse for wear by the time I finally got them years later. However, like many of you, I’ve discovered that there is a common denominator; generally it’s older folks that don’t want to part with the cars in situations like this, and ultimately it takes a funeral for a car like the Firebird to make it into the marketplace. And besides, it’s the thrill of the chase . . .

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  5. erikj

    That is another sad story. I to have seen more than my share of cars like this firebird. A few years back I answered a ad for a 60 impala for sale, the price was a weird $96.75. When I got there the car was a 4-door but very nice and the only problem was the orig. 6cyl ( rebuilt years back and not ever broke in) had a freeze plug poped out . I was short $20, the old man selling the car refused to take any money down,he just said $96.75-nothing less. I rad to a bank close by got back to see someone else paying him. The car was towed away and I was still there since I noticed under a car port was a 56 chev. under a tarp. I asked if I could take a look at it . What a shock to look under the tarp and find it was a convert.. He said it had been there for 30 years and he gave it to his son. Then he mentioned he had not talked to the son in 20+years. Of corse it was not 4-sale. Tires flat and time taking its toll I left a phone #. 3 months later I stopped to ask again. when he answered the door I asked about the car it pissed him off and presented me with the barrel of his shot-gun. He said don’t come back. Well I would drive by once in a while but didn’t dare stop. About a year passed and went by and the chev. was gone and the house looked vacant. I asked a and the old guy had passed. The chev. was hauled away by a wrecking yard and that was it. always wondered if it was saved. Darn that old guy.

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  6. Sim

    Living through decades of hard times like the war and the depression might be part of an old-timer’s loyalty to his possessions. Back in the ’90s, was patiently waiting in the wings for a car I wanted to purchase from an old friend who was in his late ’70s. Over a 5 year period of working for him on his property I would occasionally mention that I’d like to purchase the old car that was hidden under a ton of junk in the old workshop. It was there when he bought the property back in the late ’50s and was still sitting there 50 years later. Through years of asking and taunting him every so often with offers, he finally sat me down one afternoon in an effort to explain why that filthy old 1939 Austin American wasn’t going anywhere. In short, it was his personal history lesson that I’ll never forget… but I get it now.

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  7. Bryan Cohn

    The era of having attachment to cars and other things is quickly coming to an end.

    With the middle class having less and less money to spend on their fun in general, pretty soon there won’t be anyone to buy some of this stuff. Look at the market for Model T’s today, its horribly depressed, too many good cars and not enough enthusiasts. That’s only going to get worse, not better. Same goes for that 56 Chevy or whatever. My daughter who is 8 will be interested in cars but you know what she thinks is cool? The Pontiac Solstice. She’s not going to want my Miata race car or to race Formula Ford like I did or drive a ’73 Civic to High School. The lesson might have been unforgettable but would it also be better if he’d sold or better yet willed it to you so you carried on the history lesson? Instead if probably went to his kids who didn’t care about the old car dad had and crusher it went…..

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  8. jim s

    what is the story on the other cars i see in the background? thanks

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  9. Charles

    Seen too many nice finds that have met a similar fate around here also.

    There used to be an old fellow who lived in a camper in the middle of what looked like a junk yard. I would stop and talk with him from time to time, as he had a couple of rough GTO’s and a 69 Charger painted like General Lee, had a 440, but was originally a factory Hemi car. The Charger ran as I have seen this fellow out in the community with it. The man was friendly, and would always visit as long as I was interested in staying there. I think he was pretty isolated and lonely. He never sold anything, and it was apparent that his health was not good.

    He passed away one winter, and the family moved quickly. I don’t get a chance to go in that direction except about once a month, so one day everything was there, and a few weeks later it was a cleared lot. I stopped and talked with some younger family members. They were not car people and had no clue of the value or collectibility of any of those items. They had everything crushed and the lot cleared. The property is prime river-front acreage in the Smoky Mountains. There is an upscale RV park there now.

    For this very reason, unless something unforeseen happens, I plan to sell most of my collection before I am too old or sick to manage it. I am so OCD about stuff that everything has to be in perfect condition all of the time. Hopefully when I start to have difficulties keeping up with everything, it will be time to trim down some. Someone else might as well enjoy these items, rather then then sit in my garage and rot.

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  10. paul

    Not enough sh*t piled on top of a vintage Bird, why did they bother to park it under that roof if they were just piling crap on it, or why didn’t they just pile the crap in front of it?!

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  11. steven

    Like to have it. It would go with my 69. Someone needs to let it go to someone how will fix it up and enjoy driving it.

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  12. Bake

    I know those vehicles belong to the owner, but DANG, if you know you’re not going to restore or ever use the vehicles, then sell it and let someone treat them right. Geez, that’s just selfish. Honestly, as I’m reading some stories, it pisses me off.

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  13. Dave

    I had a 1969 Beaumont for over half my life (I’d owned it for 21 years at the time), and for economical reasons had to store it for the last 5 years I had it… It got damaged in storage (water and mouse damage) and so I decided to sell it… When it was running, I’d turned down 6500 dollars for it, but when it was damaged I let it go for much less… That was close to 20 years ago, and I ran into the guy who had bought it recently. I asked him about it and he said that he hadn’t done anything with it except scrap it and the only thing that was left was the console… It was a beautiful car-power windows, bucket seat interior, 300 h.p. 350 small block, TH350 tranny, 12 posi rear end… Hearing it had been scrapped really stung… I can “sort of” understand some peoples’ attachment to their old cars… Some just have a dog-in-the-manger attitude though…

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  14. Charles

    Countless cool cars have been lost over the years.

    In 1966 my dad purchased a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville two door hardtop. Nothing unusual except the car was ordered with a 421 Tri-power engine. The car had some nice options such as an automatic trans, PS, PB, and factory air. The car ran well, however the three duces had a tendency to get out of adjustment easily. As a kid interested in anything with an engine, I learned how to tune them. That made my parents happy as they did not have to pay someone to keep the car running correctly. The car served faithfully as the family cruiser By the late 70’s salt air had made a mess of the body, then the rear main seal began to leak oil. In a short time it took a quart of oil to go 50 miles. My folks parked the car in the driveway, and moved on. By that time I owned a Shelby GT350, so I had no interests in restoring the old Pontiac. Eventually we moved back to the farm and stored the old car in a hay barn. The barn was full of cats so at at-least it was spared damage by mice. The rust continued to grow, and we finally figured it was a lost cause. A local wrecking yard hauled it away and it was soon crushed. By today’s standards the car would not have been that difficult to fix, but in those days it seemed impossible.

    A year ago I spoke with Floyd Garrett, of Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, TN. I asked Floyd about the car as I have never been able to find any information on how many Bonneville’s were built with the 421 Tri-Power. He said that it was certainly rare, and could be a one of one, but no one kept records of those sort of things.There are a few 2+2’s and GP’s that came with that engine, and some Bonneville’s that were built with 421 four-barrels, but not many Tri=Power Bonneville’s.

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