Theft Recovery: 1983 Pontiac Firebird

Finding a sunken anything is always a trip, but long-lost muscle cars under water will never cease to be entertaining. This 1983 Pontiac Firebird was stolen in 1989 and recently turned up in a lake bed in Cobb County, Georgia. Residents of a nearby community had the lake partially drained for repairs when the Firebird’s roof exposed its longtime hiding spot. Find the full story here on the Atlanta Journal Constitutional website.

One of my occasional online pursuits when boredom reaches a high is to Google images of vehicles being removed from lakes, rivers, the ocean, wherever – as long as it’s been submerged for a few decades, I’ll take a look. I remember years ago when I lived in Worcester, Mass., a stolen Mercedes C32 AMG was found in a local lake. I’ll never forget the pictures of that German muscle car being dragged up (see below).

Of course, you always wonder if the owner would be interested to know where and how his car was found. Since the Firebird was reported stolen and likely totaled out by the insurance company, the owner would still be listed and has to be notified the vehicle was found. Purely for the entertainment value alone, I would accept the car back to relive a few years’ worth of memories and then send it to the scrapyard.

Image courtesy of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Here’s the stolen AMG sedan I referred to earlier, which turned out to be a case of insurance fraud. The reasons for ditching a car in such a profound way escape me, especially when you’re just taking it for a joyride with little chance of being found after the car is located. Both the Firebird and C32 likely ended up in scrapyards shortly after being recovered, as a watery grave leaves little chance for rebirth.


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  1. Dave, sth Australia

    Firebird and Charger the best car names ever assigned. Lot of mud in this one, would have been real heavy to drag out, if the water was cool , low oxygen then maybe rust would be minimal.

    Like 8
  2. Costa

    It looks like there’s air still in the tires!

    Like 6
  3. Kevin H

    Love it that the tires are still holding air!

    Like 6
  4. Dave

    Hey, if they got that WW2 tank they dragged out of a bog in Poland running then this should be a piece of cake.

    Like 21
  5. Ralph

    Might be flooded…..

    This is a regular thing in FL, every once in a while, theres a body in there too for extra mystery.

    Like 18
    • peter

      Do you mean the carburettor is flooded?

      Like 3
  6. Clay Harvey

    In 1986 a man had problems with his Nissan PU on the boat dock at Lake Fork. The emergency brake failed and it rolled into the lake. He called a wrecker service and divers from the local VFD to retrieve it. The divers hooked on to a bumper and the wrecker pulled out a 1985 Ford conversion van. Surprise!! Turns out it was reported stolen in Mesquite 4 months earlier. It was complete with key in the ignition. I bet the insurance company had some hard questions for the owner.

    Like 14
  7. Maverick

    Lil tlc then flood the market .

    Like 8
  8. sir mike

    Let it sit in the sun for a few weeks….should start right up….

    Like 9

      I think you have to fill the interior, and the engine bay with rice. That cures it. I read it on the internet

      Like 44
      • redsresto

        Got to find a zip lock big enough to fit it in too. Redsresto

        Like 5
      • Ralph

        Get like 4 no 5 DampRid buckets and you’ll be ok……

        Like 1
  9. JW454

    I wonder if the fire department would hose it down for you? It would take a big hose and a lot of water pressure. I never cared for the Firebird or T/A from this era but the 82-92 Camaro is one of my favorites. Go figure. We like what we like I guess.

    Like 3
  10. Frank Sumatra

    Too bad it wasn’t a Porsche. (For a variety of reasons)

    Like 1
  11. Stangalang

    Shovel and a shop vac..little wd40 on the wires..fresh gas and fire it up. Lmaooooo I wouldn’t even wash it

    Like 3
    • Anton Cuschieri

      Not even a change of engine oil? Not even taking out the plugs, filling the cylinders with oil? Not even a few minutes of blasting with high pressure air. Not even opening up the carb, draining the water and filling directly with clean fuel? Pure madness! nothing to the gearbox and diff oil?
      Apart from the WD40 on the plugs, do you think the points would make contact to fire the ignition?

      • moosie moosie

        G M stopped using points a long time ago, 1974 or thereabouts. Let this poor bird die, it spent 30 years in its watery grave. Other then for environmental issues they should have left it where it was. A home for the fish’s .

      • Terry Bowman

        Your correct Moosie, I had a 73′ truck that had points and I believe the 74′ also had them, but the cars started using them in 74′ and all GM used them in 75′. I finally installed a HEI around 80′ and what a God Send, it was. Still have the old points dist. around some where.LOL Don’t think that a point dist. is inferior to a electronic one, you just have to adjust it more often. I use a duel point in my 340’s, just put in a hot coil(not so sure if it helps in performance, but seems to keep the plugs cleaner) and I have never had a failure that left me stranded. The HEI has.

  12. William J Murphy

    Just needs a buffing out.

    Like 3
  13. Vin_in_NJ

    MotorTrend Channel had a great episode on it’s show “AutoBiography” about the sunken Chevys, where Forty years after they went missing, a ’69 Camaro and a ’52 Chevy Styleline are found side by side at the bottom of a lake in western Oklahoma. No one knows how they got there or why the three people in each car didn’t escape.

    Like 4
    • mikestuff

      Here’s one of the many articles about those Chevies found in OK.

      I remember going to a Pontiac Dealer in Las Vegas, about 2014, when I had some service done. One of the service writers was talking about the story, he had grown up there and it was a story that never went away….so many questions unanswered.

      Like 2
      • Paul

        Was there a Pontiac dealer in 2014?

        Like 9
  14. Roger

    Ran and drove when Parked…… LOL

    Like 9
  15. Terry Bowman

    If lakes could only talk!!!!!

    Like 2
    • James Martin

      Get a car fax before you buy this one.

      Like 5
  16. YourSoundMan

    My heart will go on, I won’t let go, dear F-body! :D

  17. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’d want to clean it out just to satisfy my curiosity, I’d want to know how the body shell held up. It might be surprising. Often when ship wrecks are found the parts that are covered in mud are the parts that are still intact. As for the engine as water invaded the oil pan the oil would have floated up into the cylinder bore’s and could have remained trapped there for years, which might mean things inside might not be as dire as we would think. I recall a VW bus that was pulled out of a lake after many year was brought back to life after some work. If this was a Porsche 911 or 356 there would be people lined up with there cash to buy it. Funny how whoever folded the sheet metal into a car plays a big part determining if it will be restored or scraped. If this were my stolen car I’d want it back even if all it ended up being is a planter.

    Like 5
  18. moosie moosie

    This happened in New York a few years ago, anyone remember a car that was a “Daf”

    Like 1
  19. JBD

    These still remind me of the Tom Cruise movie. I hated that it was a new 1983 928.

    • MikeK

      Who’s the U-Boat commander?

      Like 2
    • Little_Cars

      Let’s not forget Ferris Bueller’s friend with his Dad’s Ferrari that got nudged into reverse and flew out of its parking spot several stories down to an inhospitable resting place.

  20. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    My 2 cents. From my old home town. Old Elky and later Ford. The area was a Lovers Lane type place.

  21. 1st Gear

    1983 Firebird a “muscle car” ? Come on,really? Seems as if it’s 10 years late for that title. And since this thing has housed who knows what for as long as it has in that water,sorry to say but this thing is toast.

    Like 3
  22. v

    i think it can be saved.. ill bet the owner and insurance company will argue over ownership for years to come…its yours no its yours its yours no its yours…

    Like 4
  23. Mr. Skiles

    You forgot the muscle car pictures.

    Like 1
  24. Brad Spielman

    Amazing patina.

    Like 1
  25. Fossil

    Barn Find, be buggered!!
    It’s a Pond Find!!

    Like 1
  26. TimM

    Birds are supposed to fly not swim!! Can you put flood insurance on a car???

  27. JBP

    fantastic it isnt faling totally apart. im a bit surprised u still can see what car it was. but funny Windows is gone, and Roof look undamaged?
    pritty shure there still is parts u could use. it look Pretty strait, not what u could expect after 30 years… Maybe it was parkt in a barn somewhere, and first dumpt much later.
    there stays nowhere it has bin at the buttom of that lake since 1989..

  28. Riz Ilyas

    Who is going to rebuild it.

    Come on! Step up gentlemen!

    Like 1
  29. JL Serkes

    For those who commented about the Mercedes Tires, its wild isnt it. They are made for long term period. I have a 2005 4Matic Wagon, C240 and its a work horse. Slow and steady, solid, and safe. Comfort and gogo. So much fun in the snow.

    Like 1
  30. Will Irby

    Ran when launched

    Like 2

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