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Topless Screaming Chicken: 1980 Firebird Convertible

We see a lot of unusual cars here on Barn Finds.  Some are rare, some are desirable, and a few are the manifestations of situations where what was done seemed like a good idea at the time.  Take for example this 1980 Pontiac Firebird convertible being sold on craigslist in Selbyville, Delaware.  We know that General Motors didn’t make a convertible Firebird, and I doubt that there were many aftermarket companies interested in the project either.  My guess is that this rather neat convertible is the product of an amateur customizer and a Sawzall.  With owners of Firebirds and Trans Ams of this era complaining about body flex on factory equipped T-tops, was this a really good idea?  Is it an idea worth $9,800?

As we have become accustomed with craigslist ads, the details on this Firebird are slim.  The seller tells us that it is a classic 1980 Firebird convertible and adds the line “Very eye catching!”  From there we learn that the car has a 383 stroker motor under the hood, dual exhaust, and a beautiful paint scheme.  We are also told that the car runs great.

Just looking at this car, I am wondering if anything has been done to strengthen the car after the removal of such an important structural component.  It reminds me of a homemade VW Beetle convertible I once saw that had a set of screen door hooks at the top of the rear sections of the doors.  The eyes they hooked into were on the door pillar.  While the burnt orange paint and screaming chicken on the hood look great, a close look at the convertible top cover and the header make you wonder if a convertible top is even there.  Could this car be just a chopped top cleaned up to look good?  Is there any weather protection at all?

Take a careful look at the three pictures we were given in the ad and tell us what you think.  Try to keep any comments about the wheels family friendly!



  1. Bakyrdhero

    My very first thought was “is there even a roof under that top boot?”

    Like 4
  2. local_sheriff

    This may not be a sawzall job at all; when I first got interested in cars in the late 80s I inherited some old car magazines from a relative. One of the publications was written in 79, presenting a series of coach built conversions of 2nd gen Firebirds and Camaros. Chance would have it that I spotted one locally just days after reading the article, and it’s the only one I’ve seen in person since.

    The company performing the conversion was National Coach Engineering, it may or may not be the same company being involved in ambulance and hearse conversions. If so that’d be a clever move to stay afloat after the 1978 shift-over from car based to truck/van based ambulances – the more topless sportscars you can yank out the door, the more hearses you’ll possibly sell !!

    Production#s of 79-81 vert conversions are unclear but is said to be around 500. I seem to have read that prices ranged between 15-25k back then making them rather pricey vehicles even by today’s standards

    Like 3
  3. Andre

    I’m more offended by those terrible wheels than the top.

    Like 12
  4. Matt steele

    I think it looks better than one with a roof on it.. I never like the front of these cars. The previous generation was better looking in the front

    Like 2
  5. Miguel

    Jeff, if you are going to call it a convertible, what does it convert into?

    Like 1
  6. Brian Scott

    Holy cowl shake Batman. Cabrios have come a long way, but I remember riding in my folks’ lowly ’86 Cavalier RS ragtop, which shook like a wet Weimaraner just out of a duck slough. Pretty sure Jim Rockford would have considered this altogether too flashy.

    Like 1
  7. Marko

    The “Beautiful Paint Scheme” looks like the factory Fiero Bronze Metallic to me, with some replacement black ABS spoiler and wheel flare parts added. If this was a conversion by ASC or Car Concepts, that was done properly, and this car sold for a reasonable price, it could be restored to a fairly nice car. Wouldn’t handle like a fixed roof T/A but would make a lovely weekend tourer.

    Like 1
  8. Tom

    I would like to see a side view with the top up to get a look at the lines of the car as well as a structural check before rendering judgement.

    Like 0
  9. Marlene McPherson

    I have an ’87 Firebird that’s a convertible, but when I look up the VIN it says it’s a coupe. Not real sure what I have either, but it looks good.

    Like 1
  10. plwindish

    I’m not a fan of anything about the car. The black front and rear bumpers do not add anything to the look. I highly doubt that there is a top, other than a tarp, that goes over the interior.

    Like 2
  11. Rosco

    Wouldn’t take much to straighten it out. Paint the black parts same as the car and replace the ugly wheels with 15″x 8″ snowflakes.

    Like 1
  12. CCFisher

    The hard top boot looks a little too professional for a sawzall job. However, it also appears to be a bit too low-profile to hide an actual top mechanism. Is this a convertible, or is it topless?

    Like 0
  13. Jack Hammer

    GM did make a Firebird Convertible: 1967.

    Like 0
    • Rosco

      Also available in ’68 and ’69 for first gen.

      Like 0
  14. T Mel

    It’s not a “screaming” anything, you dope.

    Like 0
    • Steve Bush Member

      UGH!! Wasn’t this “thing” featured a few months ago. And if Jack (three guesses on his last name and the first two don’t count), wants $10k, he might provide a proper description and more than three photos of the car.

      Like 0

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