One Family Owned: 1968 Pontiac Firebird

For all of his failings as a manufacturer in his own right, John DeLorean did come up with some interesting ideas. His initial vision for the Firebird was a perfect example, as he wanted the company to produce a version of the car that was more “European” in concept. The result was a Firebird with a high-revving 6-cylinder engine under the hood. That is precisely what we get with this 1968 Firebird, and after spending its entire life in the care of one family, they have decided to part with the car. It is located in Chesterfield, Virginia, and is listed for sale here on eBay. With bidding having reached $9,050, the reserve has now been met. Interestingly, there are also 149 people who are currently watching the listing.

Finished in Verdoro Green, the Firebird is said to have undergone a light restoration around 25-years-ago. It has survived nicely since then, and there are no obvious rust issues to be addressed. The paint has a deep shine to it, while the exterior chrome and trim look to be immaculate. The owner refers to the Firebird as being “virtually rust free,” which suggests that there might be some hidden corrosion to be dealt with. Overall, it really is a car that shows some promise.

Apart from a crack in the dash pad and a stretched cover on the driver’s seat, there is little that the interior of the Firebird needs beyond a really good clean. Apart from those two faults, the rest of the interior trim and carpet appear to be in very good condition. I noticed that there is what appears to be an FM converter hanging under the dash, but the original radio is still fitted to the dash. I really don’t think that there would be anything more satisfying than standing back and surveying your work after a weekend spent cleaning the inside of the car because the results should make the effort worthwhile.

This is the moment where I get really frustrated because the owner doesn’t supply any photos of the engine. What we know is that it is the 250ci OHC-6, which is backed by a Powerglide transmission. The engine is said to be original and wears a 2-barrel carburetor. If this is true, then the carburetor wouldn’t be original. The base 250 came with a single barrel Rochester and produced 175hp. The “Sprint” version was fitted with a Quadrajet carburetor, and with increased compression, produced a very healthy 215hp. Personally, I suspect that this is a base 250 with a different carburetor. The car hasn’t been driven for around 2-years, and while it does run and drive, it will need some work and maintenance before it will be ready to hit the road. Still, if it has only been sitting for 2-years, this might not be a big job.

I’m quite taken by this Firebird, and I actually quite like the idea of the 6-pot under the hood. I would much prefer it if this was hooked to a manual transmission because that configuration would be able to extract the best from the car. In many ways, the story of the Firebird-with-a-six mirrors that of the equivalent Mustang. In years past, people would buy these cars and ditch the small engine in preference to something with more capacity and cylinders. Today, the 6-cylinder Firebird, like the Mustang is really coming into its own. This is a nice example, and I can fully understand why so many people are watching this listing.

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Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    This would be great if it had a stick to appreciate the six, but a power glide na, LS conversion material.

    5
    • Wolfgang Gullich

      So, ruin an important piece of technically interesting automotive history with a common and boring engine swap?

      38
      • pugsy

        Yes.

        12
      • TimD Member

        Yeah maaaan. And, like, Respray Red, or whatever. You just don’t know what’s awesome.

        2
      • JOHN

        Sure, keep the original parts. LS conversions or adding a Pontiac V8 can be easily done without destroying the car or hacking it up. If you are concerned about the value of the bottom of the line collectible Firebird, just keep the swapped parts, it can be restored back to original in a weekend easily. I’m all for the LS swap, I just happen to have a 2006 LS2 and a six speed laying around…

        3
    • CapNemo CapNemo

      If I was going to swap, I’d stick with a Pontiac engine, but that’s just me. Regardless, more power is always nice!

      16
    • Big_Fun Member

      There is a website, and even a dedicated chapter in the Pontiac Oakland Club of America (POCI) for this OHC 6:

      http://www.overheadcammerschapter.com/

      http://www.poci.org/POCI_Chapter_News_Details.cfm?NID=152

      Take a look.

      Thanks

      4
    • Dave

      If you want one with a V8, buy one with a V8. Otherwise changing the engine and trans is only the beginning of a long, expensive project.

      2
    • RalphC

      Agreed. The OHC six was under rated, though I think the Chrysler slant six was better for the era.

      4
      • 36Packard

        The slant six was wonderful ,esp in 2 bbl form with a 2 inch exhaust.

        3
    • 1989XT6

      A three speed turbo 350 would be the best way to preserve the OHC 6, and make the car much more enjoyable on the street, especially the highway. Dropping an LS/manual swap is gonna cost too much, enjoy the way they were supposed to drive, they are pony cars, not muscle cars.

  2. Karl

    If the engine IS original then leave it as it is although it’s a very weird combo with a powerglide and a 6 cylinder, that doesn’t seem right at all? If it’s not the original engine then the LS conversion would definitely happen. The body is nice after a fer questions were answered that would dictate which way to proceed.

    1
    • Fordfan

      Not weird at all i had the same overhead cam 6 in my 1967 tempest with what i called a power glide what
      It’s a two speed automatic but pontiac called it but a different name

      1
  3. LARRY

    Leave the 6 cylinder in it and change the transmission. Source a 4 barrel intake and carb..headers and dual exhaust..leave the body and white walls and turn some heads!!

    7
  4. Eskild

    I wonder one thing ive observed at this site: what is it with u and manual transmission??
    Cant be any better than automatic. I agree with u in small engines like a 4 banger,but with 6/8 cyl it cant be better than auto tranny?

    Just bare over with me with my bad english writing

    5
    • Morgan Winter

      Your English is fine; two-speed automatics are not, ha ha!

      4
      • Dave

        And yet, GM sold millions of cars with two speed automatics in them. Pro drag racers embraced them. At least they don’t constantly hunt for the *right gear* like the current crop of 6/8/10 speed automatics do.
        10 speeds belong on bicycles. End of story.

        11
      • Mountainwoodie

        I’d bare myself but it might give some folks the vapors. But bear with me as I need your patience for this mini rant. For our foreign readers, folks of a certain age (me) think automatics are an insufficient challenge to ones’ driving skills…in addition to which they are just plain boring.

        That said as you know I worship at the altar of originality. So even if this Pontiac is a “mostly” an original vehicle as it rolled off the assembly line, hence therein lies its inherent value, whatever that might be to a buyer.

        For me sitting in a vehicle with the original equipment , paint etc, even if “slightly ” refreshed, is like time traveling whether a ’69 Pontiac or a ’36 Packard.

        1
    • Ralph

      Don’t you know everyone on here is a hard core race car driver?

      Everything has to be manual and have at least 500hp or your a giant p***y…….

      Unga bunga……

      6
      • pugsy

        I am curious of all the guys commenting on leaving a piece of junk engine in a car, who of you actually owns a classic car?

        3
      • Dave

        Last one I owned was a 64 New Yorker with a 413.
        50 year old cars with swapped engines are so boring. When was the last time you saw a Poncho with the OHC six?
        Years ago I went to a car show in Columbus. Standing out in a sea of SBCs was a T bucket powered by a chromed Pinto engine with a handmade intake manifold holding four carbs.

        8
      • Ralph

        I have 7, what do you want to learn about?

        4
    • local_sheriff

      Eskild; there’s nothing wrong with automatics in cruiser cars. However they will rob alot of your vehicle’s output. Also, in a ‘sports car’ like this Firebird many prefer the feeling of control and shift point predictability they get with a stick. When driving in slippery conditions like snow or mud it’s also helpful to have the clutch to help you out.

      Personally – if I had the option to choose between two identical cars but with the two transmissions, I’d definately go for the manual one. That doesn’t necessarily make the auto a bad choice

      1
      • Dave

        Especially when the car is 50+ years old and has a powertrain combo not seen very often. V8 Gen 1 Firebirds outnumber sixes maybe 100 to 1. Gas was plentiful and cheap in 1968 so why stick with the base engine when a few dollars more bought a little pizzazz?

  5. Morgan Winter

    No pics of the motor? Makes me wonder if the original OHC 6 is still in place. The seller states the car has a 2-barrel carb, not an option on either of the sixes. In any case, an upgrade to the Sprint OHC 6 could be a fun setup.

    1
    • Redwagon

      Upgrade to the Sprint 6, a manual transmission and redlines. Drive until the cows come home.

      3
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        My family’s first Firebird was a gorgeous copper 1967 Firebird Sprint with redlines. Veddy European. It wasn’t the last. We found a 69 with an OHC and three speed and years later a 76 with GM 250 straight 6.

  6. Wayne

    If in fact the carb has been changed, then upgrade to an aftermarket throttle body injection and a 700R4 transmission. That would make a very nice package.

    1
  7. Wayne

    Pugsy, depending on your definition of “Classic” I guess I own 3.
    Dave, I agree with you. I have been attending every Hot August Nights in Reno since the beginning. I am bored with small and big block Chevys, small and big block Fords and the same goes for Mopars. Now even LS motors are common place. (yes I know they make unreal horsepower, have owned one and drive one regularly) I really enjoy seeing “different” power plants and/or imaginative modifications. (One of the reasons that I enjoy looking at rat rods, you never know what you are going to see. (how about a straight 8 Packard with a T-5 speed and dual throttle body fuel injection? It idled at 250 rpm so smooth you could not believe it!) In most cases I would not want to own one for the fact that most look uncomfortable to drive for long cruises.) This year there was maybe 8 or 10 really different cars. No mater what it is, I always enjoy the sounds and the pretty paint and always appreciate what it takes to complete a project.
    36Packard, the Leaning tower of power was a great engine (have had several) However 6,000 RPM max on the 170 and 5,000 RPM max on the 225 due to not as many main bearings as the GM 230, 250, 292, Ford 240, 300, or AMC 232, 258, 4.0 straight 6 cylinder engines. Which are all great engines.

    1
  8. oilngas

    When I was 17 a friend wrecked his 69 Grand Prix SJ with the 428/390 hp engine. That motor then went into my 67 Firebird. That was a fun car.
    Now that I’m almost 60 keep the 6. Add Quadrajet, header, and bump up compression, and install the 700R4 transmission.

    1
    • Joe Defelice

      Heck!!! Even a Turbo350 would be a huge improvement. For those who don’t grasp the reality of a powerglide… Picture a 3 speed auto transmission without first gear. Totally gutless off the line. I swapped a T350 into my 66 Lemans with a 326, and it behaved so much better..Yes, a 4 speed auto would gain a bit more on the top floor, but getting moving in a efficient manner is the most useful advantage Corporate bellhousing makes the swap out an easy job.

      1
  9. John Oliveri

    To a purist point of view, if this was the more desirable combo w the 4 barrel and 4 speed, I’d leave it alone, might be worth something some day, but with this underpowered 6 and 2 speed power slide, it’s gonna be miserable to drive, and no I wouldn’t deface a Pontiac w a LS motor, a 400/ 400 combo would make a very desirable car out of it, and probably not loose any value, because its not valuable now

    2
  10. TimM

    I think today finding this car with a 6 cylinder rather than a 350 or 400 is more rare!! I don’t think there are a lot of them that didn’t have the motor pulled back when the cars were cheaper used cars and people weren’t all that concerned about numbers matching!! One good thing is you will probably go a lot further with this one on a tank of fuel!!! I say drive it the way it is!!!

    2
  11. MARK RILEY

    First, it is probably not a Powerglide, it is a Super Turbine 300 2 speed. I can understand the mistake on the “2bbl carb”. For those who are not familiar with the car enough to know it does not have a “Powerglide” can be forgiven for not knowing the difference between the carbs from the outside looking at it. I recently sold a 67 OHC 6 cyl, Firebird w/48k original miles at Barrett Jackson in CT. Mine was similarly equipped but Gold inside and out, and in considerably better shape. I still love this car and only sold mine because it was too nice and too original to modify. I have a complete Sprint set up, that I was planning to swap over but i just couldn’t alter the car. $16,500 at B-J made me feel better though.

    5
    • Dave

      Chevy guys call it a Powerglide. Buick and Pontiac fans call it a Super Turbine. Olds fans call it a Jetaway. Whatever you call it, GM sold millions of cars with them and now, 50 years later, we see them because they didn’t get raced and wrecked like their 4 speed brethren did.

      Cars like these you can actually drive and enjoy without playing Ricky Racer at every stoplight. And at today’s Interstate speeds, those 4.11 gears and glass packs will make you and anyone riding in the car miserable. Trying to sleep while your ears are ringing sucks.

      But hey, you looked cool at every gas station you stopped at, and thanks to that monster mill and gears, 11 mpg made sure you stopped often.

      Been there, done that.

      3
  12. Wayne

    Being an old Pontiac parts person, the 2 speed transmission is not a Powerglide.
    It does use “some” of the same parts, but is heavier duty than the standard Poweglide. So it is not a Powerglide with a different bell housing.(as in the case of the V8 Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick cars)

  13. rpol35 Staff

    “which is backed by a Powerglide transmission.”

    It’s actually a Super Turbine 300; similar to the PG as it is a two speed but it’s a completely different transmission and was used by Buick, Oldsmobile & Pontiac (BOP).

    1
  14. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    I agree the overhead cam 6 Firebirds are harder to find now than the ubiquitous V8s. Let’s not forget with the OHC 6 you also got a hood without a pair of scoops/nostrils in the center and if you want super-rare find a Sprint without nostrils but WITH a hood mounted tach. I believe it was a box you could check when ordering.

  15. Frank

    That “light rust” is on the lower right rear widow corner it appears……………

  16. 53' Chevy 3800

    The rust is apparent in the lip in the open trunk shots. Seller even went out of the way to pull the rubber away to better show it. Nice car IMHO. I’d clean it and enjoy it as is.

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