Sally Longo didn't learn how to drive until she was sixty-three years old. Surely what the rest of us take for granted, driving wasn't something Sally had to do until her husband passed away. With her nearest relatives in Ohio, Sally was without an instructor. However, several teenage neighbors came to her rescue and helped her hone her skills in an old Oldsmobile Cutlass. After putting some miles under her belt, the Penn Hills, Pennsylvania native felt that she was ready for a new car, so she sold the Cutlass to her tutors and ordered a brand-new 1975 Pontiac Firebird Formula.
It turns out that Sally always wanted a "sports car," and the Formula was just what she was looking for. For $4,008.60, the 175-horse 350 4-barrel Firebird with an automatic transmission was delivered straight to her house and, as ordered, it was equipped with the Cordova vinyl top in white, matching white interior and paint code 51, which specified the vivid Sunstorm Yellow. Sally didn't drive the Pontiac much, but she did back it out of the garage every day, obviously relishing her prized Formula.
Years later and closing in on 90, Sally moved to a managed care facility in Ohio near where her family lived. Sally's children handled her finances and it was decided that the Formula was to be sold. Luckily David Viglianco, Sally's grandson, wanted to buy the Firebird and drove it home for the measly sum of $500. With all of 2,924 miles on the odometer, the Pontiac was a great bargain and now it would be kept in the family. David drove the Bird every now and then until he decided to restore it.
While one has to wonder what there is to restore on a Pontiac with only 2,924 miles, you have to remember that the paint in 1975 wasn't the greatest. They were still using single stage and although the Formula didn't get driven all that much, it did get to see the sun quite often. This resulted in slightly faded Yellow that was more sunflower than Sunstorm. David had the Bird repainted in its factory color, this time with Sherwin Williams basecoat/clearcoat paint and, although the Cordova top was still in excellent condition, he had it replaced. "The top was in real good shape, but it had a couple of very small cracks and I was afraid that water might get in there and start rusting," said David. The Formula still retains all of its factory white interior, with the exception of the headliner, replaced with an NOS piece.
The original hoses and belts have all withstood the test of time and the drivetrain was also left untouched. The 350 cubic-inch, four barrel-equipped Pontiac engine and TH-350 transmission send power to a stock 2.56-geared open rear end. Stock Pontiac 15-inch Rally wheels wear the original Uniroyal GR-70-15 steel-belted tires and the stock disc/drum brakes are employed to stop the Pontiac.
Today, the Formula still leads a charmed life. David drives it about once a month and tools to car shows every now and then, but that's pretty much it. When we asked what his future plans for the Formula were, his answer would seem to carry on his grandmother's tradition. "I'm going to hold onto it for a while," said David, "Maybe I'll give it to one of my kids when they're old enough."
Yes, driving is something we can take for granted, but the ability to pilot an automobile is a freedom we should cherish. We're sure that Sally would agree. Though she doesn't drive anymore, her like-new "sports car" still takes to the streets on occasion with a caring family member behind the wheel.
There aren't too many hoods that say muscle like this fiberglass ram air unit. Pontiac did
As it was ordered, the Formula did not come with the rear spoiler or Trans Am side-splitte
The bright white interior looks right at home in this vintage '75 Bird. Original owner Sal
Astute onlookers will notice the accent stripes on the car. Code 638/D98 specified the $43
350 cubic-inches, 175 smog-clogged horsepower and a four-barrel carburetor were pretty goo
The original spare is still waiting for emergency use. Along with an all-original Pontiac,