Still Photography By Patrick Hill, Action Photography By Kevin Diossi, Chassis And Before Photography By The Owner
Frank and Lisa Serafine, owners of Prodigy Customs in Orlando, Florida, have always loved Firebirds, but as with many large families, Lisa had to buy an SUV to transport their kids. "We build some of the wildest Pro Touring cars on the planet for other people," Frank says. "But we have three boys, and although Lisa craved a Firebird, she could only dream of having one before now."
The idea to build a driveable dream machine developed as their children grew into adulthood, and Lisa watched Frank and their sons design and build Pro Touring cars for customers. In 2007, their youngest son, Michael, became a car builder in their family business, and Lisa decided it was time to make her Firebird dream come true.
"I had said for years that when the kids were grown, I was going to get a musclecar. It's only fitting that the child who forced me into an SUV in 1985 should today help me build the ultimate Pro Touring Firebird," she says. That's how 'Project Empty Nest' was born."
Frank and Lisa found the '69 Firebird convertible for $3,200 on eBay. It was a one-owner, 350ci two-barrel with Matador Red exterior and black standard interior. When they went to load the Firebird onto a rollback, they learned it had been sitting outside a house since 1982. "We had to remove a tree and a fence to pull the Firebird out," Frank says. "It was rooted into the ground and sunken to the rockers."
Prodigy Customs used the white...
Prodigy Customs used the white and blue color scheme from the '69 Trans Am for its theme. The Pro Touring Firebird includes a T/A-style hood, a removable hardtop boot cover, a rear spoiler, front air extractors, flared rear wheelwells, and Forgeline 19-inch TA3P snowflake wheels.
The Body's Pro-Touring Personality
"Styling was extremely important," Frank says. "Lisa loves her '00 WS6 T/A six-speed convertible, so we decided to use the first-year Trans Am for inspiration. Our modernized theme would pay tribute to the eight ultra-rare '69 Trans Am convertibles."
First, Lisa asked Michael to deal with the rust that had destroyed the '69 Firebird. "Michael replaced every body panel," Frank says. "There was nothing solid left."
That allowed the family a clean slate on which to build Lisa's dream car. "We used GM reproduction sheetmetal but styled it for a Pro-Touring look-bulging the quarter-panels and fenders slightly, and trimming and beading the fender lips," Frank says. "We added Detroit Speed and Engineering (DSE) minitubs in the rear and custom-molded fiberglass inner fenders in the front."
Envisioning what his dad called a "smooth and detrimmed exterior," Michael fabricated steel closeouts to replace the windshield trim; then flush-mounted the windshield. He made custom headlight fascias to eliminate the rubber impact-cushion strip on the front of the Firebird and molded a fiberglass front bumper for it. Michael also modified the rear shell with a Camaro gas-filler opening that houses a gas cap made by Larry Callahan of Pro-Touring.com, and outfitted the tail panel with a '68 Camaro bumper.
Fiberglass work includes a custom, removable hardtop boot cover with T/A-style hoodscoops protecting a Royal Blue Hartz cloth convertible top from Robbins Tops. To smooth the transition from the boot to the body, Michael eliminated the stainless trim around the convertible top well opening, so the boot cover blends right in. Other exterior fiberglass styling cues include a Trans Am-style hood and front-fender air extractors supplied by Early Birds of Toronto. The rear spoiler was molded by Prodigy Customs and is not a reproduction piece.
"This Firebird is my wife's...
"This Firebird is my wife's dream car," Frank Serafine says. "It's at home on the street, the strip, and on the road course."
Here's how the Firebird looked...
Here's how the Firebird looked when Frank and Lisa pulled it out of the owner's yard in 2007. It had been sitting there since 1982.
Lisa's dream Firebird features...
Lisa's dream Firebird features a 525ci Allpontiac.com/Butler Performance aluminum block, Tiger heads, a custom sheetmetal intake, EFI, and a progressive nitrous system. A custom, functional ram-air system features two air intakes, 3-inch tubing, and two Accufab Viper 70mm throttle bodies. Note the new March Performance Style Track pulley system that made its debut on this Firebird.