According to Webster's, a monarch may either be a ruler of a sovereign nation or a beautiful butterfly. In Pontiac's case, Monarch refers to a vibrant shade of yellow-paint code 56 or "Y." Combine the '72-only color with a rare '72 455 H.O. Firebird Formula that's loaded with options, and you have a unique piece of Pontiac history.
Joe Parish, owner of Capitol Flag Company in Houston, Texas, says, "I received a call from a car buddy telling me that a '72 Formula was sitting outside of a Southeast Houston business, so I decided to stop by and see the condition of the car. The owner had lost interest in restoring it. After inspecting the Pontiac, I knew that this was something special as it wore Formula 455 badges and a factory-original Ram Air hood. Viewing the engine and transmission at the owner's son's house confirmed the Bird as a numbers-matching 455 H.O."
Fitted with a wide range of factory options, including air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, and a rear-window defogger, this was a fully loaded Ram Air Formula. According to the business owner, his son purchased it from the acquaintance of the original owner in 2002, but he couldn't relate the car's history. Although it is known that it was sold from the famous Gay Pontiac dealership in Dickinson, Texas, it is unclear how or why it sat untouched in a garage for 27 years before being rescued.
Only 276 Formulas were equipped...
Only 276 Formulas were equipped with the optional LS5 455 H.O. engine. Conservatively rated at 300 net horsepower at 4,000 rpm with torque coming in at 415 at 3,200, this engine was an 8.4:1 low-compression screamer. Breathed-over 7F6 heads and a XE268H Comp Cam pump up the factory ratings without being uncivilized on the street.
When purchased, the Formula was-for all intents and purposes-a time capsule. Having logged only 36,000 miles, the last state-inspection tag affixed to the car was from 1974, while the Texas license plate was circa 1975. In addition to being covered in decades worth of dust and grime, somewhere in its life, an apparently overzealous owner had fishtailed the Formula into a 2-inch-thick sign pole, resulting in a pole print in the driver-side quarter-panel, along with a dented roof and shattered rear glass.
Further investigation revealed that the Formula sustained some front-end damage after 1974 as it had a replacement '74-'75 core support installed with GM stickers from Frank Gilman Pontiac on the hood and front bumper. After purchasing the Pontiac for a mere $6,500, Joe set out to restore the areas in need of work with an eye toward maintaining originality.
The Formula was transported to Joe's warehouse where he stores and restores his private collection of cars. "Fast" Eddie Nicasio, a painter who had previously worked at a shop Joe frequented, was hired to work out of the warehouse and complete the body and paint tasks.
The original, standard, black-vinyl...
The original, standard, black-vinyl interior with bucket seats and the optional front console were removed to facilitate the restoration, but once complete, they were reinstalled right down to the carpet and headliner. An impressive list of amenities includes custom air conditioning, concealed windshield wipers, and AM/FM/stereo/8-track player. Small items such as the convenience-lamps package, right-side vanity mirror, and Soft-Ray tinted glass all around add luxury touches.
Joe says, "The goal was to retain as much of the original car as possible, including repairing the damaged quarter and roof." Work began by stripping the body to bare metal. The front end, doors, hood, and deck lid were removed, and after the shell was shot with Ditzler epoxy primer, the damage from the pole to the driver-side quarter-panel, roof, and passenger-side panel became the biggest challenges.
Since the accident had distorted the roof and damaged a quarter, the Pontiac was sent to Roy's Frame in Houston where a series of body pulls put the roofline back into proper position, and then the arduous task of getting the panels into paint-ready form began. By using a hammer, a dolly, and other reshaping and shrinking techniques, Eddie was able to tediously recraft the metal into shape. Once the major repairs were completed, attention turned to block-sanding the body.
With the front end and engine out, the engine bay was next in line for restoration. After removing the inner fenders, the front subframe and firewall were thoroughly cleaned. The former retained its original paint, while Eastwood chassis black was used to freshen the latter. Inner fenders and the core support were stripped and refinished in PPG semigloss black.
After a final check of the bodywork and application of a sealer, the Formula was shot with PPG DCC acrylic urethane. A total of four coats were expertly applied, and following adequate curing time, the paint was wet-sanded and buffed to a brilliant shine. The factory Cordova top was replaced with a reproduction YearOne item, and the body trim was reinstalled.
In this day and age of over-restored trailer queens, this Bird was done with an eye toward retaining as much originality as possible