Marc Gaymon was at a friends wedding when he first saw this 1969 Pontiac Firebird convertible. It had been purchased new and driven loyally by the first owner until about 1976, but by 1995 it was sitting forlornly in a garage and slated to be given to the friend. That didn’t stop Gaymon from asking if the car was for sale but he was told “no.”
A few years later, he again saw the car sitting but even though nothing had happened to it, he was again told it wasn’t for sale, and that it was to be given to the friend. That went on for the next 13 years. Each year, Gaymon would inquire about buying the car and each year the owner just laughed and again said “no.” Of course, his friend did nothing with the car during this time and it just sat and became ever more dilapidated.
Then, on Christmas of 2010 (well, a week before actually), Gaymon received a phone call asking if he still wanted the car. Gaymon said of course he did. After all, he thought that he had made it very clear that he had always wanted it and had special plans for it. After striking a deal, he eventually picked it up in March of 2011 and had the car delivered to his Dayton, Ohio, based shop.
The Firebird was brought down to it’s most basic element – the shell.
Gaymon and his crew set right to work with his new toy. As the owner of G&G Performance Parts and Customs shop, Gaymon usually builds high-performance cars and trucks for customers, but the Firebird was going to be all his. He thought that it would make a good “rolling business card” for the business and that it would make the perfect car for him to drive and have fun in.
The first thing they did was to strip the car down to bare bones and take the body to be media blasted. Once it was free of old paint and rust, it was mounted onto a rotisserie where G&G literally replaced every panel on the car. They redid the upper/lower dash, added a complete new floor pan, cut out and replaced both rear quarters, tail panel, both doors, front fenders, radiator core support, new hood, complete front nose, and outer wheel tubs. It doesn’t sound like there was anything that they hadn’t replaced and it is now literally a whole new Firebird.
This ‘bird might make for a pretty picture, but under that menacing stare is a beast that’s all business.
Once Gaymon and G&G employee Eddie Gibson had finished installing all the Restoration World, Year One and Classic Industries metal pieces, they added a very cool fiberglass hood that came from The Parts Place and HID 8000 series LED head lights as well as Dakota Digital LED tail lights to the mix. The Firebird was then ready to receive its PPG Pearl White paint that was applied by Gibson.
That “new is better” angle went for the suspension and drivetrain as well. Gaymon wants to not only look good when he’s driving his “Bird,” he wants it to fly, too. We captured video of his car, above, while attending the Heidts Performance Car Challenge earlier this year.
Performance To Match
Being into high-performance driving, Gaymon placed a call to Heidts, a company that is equally into high-performance driving, to radically update the suspension system. Heidts has been designing and building killer suspension systems for vintage musclecars for over 25 years, and in that time they have risen to the top of the market due largely to the care and quality that their products exhibit.
From just about any angle, the Firebird looks great, it was difficult to choose what pictures we would use since none of them truly do this car justice.
One thing about the old musclecars, they may have looked great and went pretty fast but they didn’t handle all that well and didn’t want to stop. At all.
With their Pro G Subframe/IFS and Pro G IRS system, Heidts has the answer to the handling ills that the stock Firebird exhibited and installing them is easier than you may think. Some cars require welding in the cross member, but the Pro G subframe literally bolts into place.
The Heidts system can be tailored to each specific application, and in this case, Gaymon went with Heidts 2-inch lowered spindles along with Heidts coil-over shocks. These coil-over shocks are fully adjustable and Heidts has a selection of springs to fine tune the action.
A Heidts anti-sway bar and power rack and pinion steering system only adds to the precision package while the Wilwood brakes make slowing down enough for that corner an easy proposition. Found on all four corners, the Wilwoods feature 4 piston calipers that clamp onto drilled and slotted rotors.
In the rear, Gaymon installed a Heidts four-link suspension complemented by another pair of Heidts coil-over shocks and powder-coated panhard bar. It holds aloft the Currie Enterprises 9-inch rearend housing that has been equipped with a 3:73 gear ratio and a full posi unit. The combination of the Heidts IFS and four-link systems makes the Firebird handle well enough to give Gaymon the confidence he needs to compete at the highest levels.
It takes good rubber to go fast on a road course, and the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires give enough grip to make that a reality. The Schott G5 Cover Lock 18-inch wheels (Front: 18×7, Rear: 18×9) are not only good looking, they are light and race tough enough to be the perfect additions.
Power comes from a 2006 GM LS2 (376ci) engine that thanks to its 10:7.1 compression ratio produces an estimated 400 horsepower, which is enough for any track (ok, except maybe the Bonneville salt flats). That didn’t keep Gaymon from upgrading items such as adding a Street and Performance LS 2 Air cleaner, OBX SS shorty headers and a Vintage Air LS Front Runner pulley system.
G&G Performance Parts & Customs built a 4L70E transmission to harness that power, which is sent off the 9-inch via a driveshaft that was custom made by the guys at American Drive Line out of Dayton, Ohio.
Sure, going fast is an important thing for Gaymon, but he also likes a few creature comforts, too and the interior shows that. He used Scat Ralley Pro Car seats but had them upholstered in white with black suede inserts by the crew at Cars Plus of Xenia, OH, who also did the rest of the upholstery work. Gaymons G&G crew custom made a cool fiberglass dash and then filled it with a Dakota Digital Instruments and a Pioneer stereo system that plays through JBL speakers.
The interior is just as sharp as the outside of the car, and all business, too.
Other items that adorn the Firebirds interior are a cool Flaming River Water Fall steering wheel and a Hurst Dual Gate floor shifter. Speaking of cool, a Vintage Air Underdash air conditioning unit blows the cool air while the American Autowire / Modern Vintage wiring system keeps the lights burning bright.
Marc Gaymon says he wanted to showcase all of the different talents G&G Performance Parts Inc & Customs had to offer (fiberglass work, wiring, paint/body work and creative ideas), and that he gives God all the glory as well as his Wife (Tonya), Daughters (Regina and Tiara), and his son (Marc Jr) for putting up with all the time and energy being spent on building the car and the business. He also wanted to thank Eddie Gibson (Paint), Justin Morgan (wiring), Joel Marsh (fiberglass), and Kevin Smith (mechanical).
Though it took more than 13 years to acquire, Gaymon and his crew had the Firebird ready to roll out in only 9 short months. The car is slated to see many events this year and Gaymon is especially excited about his participation in the Heidts Performance Car Challenge 2013 as well as running in this year’s Power Tour.
This Firebird is testament that not only is hard work and skill needed to produce top quality cars; it also takes plenty of patience. Check out more pictures of this incredible Firebird in the gallery below.