Owner Victor Weitzel says,...
Owner Victor Weitzel says, "I like all the wows when people see it and say, `That's a badass ride.' Even some of the old guys who are purists and say they are not fans of customizing a car, tell me it's very well done. To earn that respect is very cool."
Many of us have heard the saying I really enjoy the work. More times than not, however, it follows the phrase, This really annoyed me, but ..., as we try to justify in our minds that, though things may be tough at the moment, our core belief that satisfaction from a job well will get us through it. While plenty of hobbyists are content to gaze upon, own, show, or drive their Pontiacs, what Victor Weitzel actually enjoys most is the craft of building and modifying them.
Hailing from Ahwahnee, California, Victor is 44 years old and self-employed in the textile printing industry. Though his affection for vintage Pontiacs and his mechanical aptitude run deep, curiously, it all started with Dad's Buick.
"I grew up with my father as a gearhead," he tells HPP, "replacing brakes, clutches, and whatever else my brother Jim and I could handle. Dad had a '65 Buick Skylark when we were kids and I liked it because it wasn't a Chevy. I guess that's what started my love for the off-brand GM cars."
The Buick was great but a GTO was even better. "The first time I saw a '67 GTO, I thought it was the meanest-looking car ever and vowed that someday I'd own one." Victor made good on his promise to himself and bought a '67 Goat in September of 1995. He has owned a herd of other '66-'67 Pontiac A-bodies as well, and even a '68 Firebird and '76 Formula, but the GTO remains in the family and was the conduit for this '69 Firebird convertible.
How He Found It
Pontiac people are a fairly tight-knit group and they gravitate to one another. A chance meeting at a car wash with fellow hobbyist Mike (last name unavailable) back in 2001, and the resulting discussion over Victor's '67 GTO, led Mike to offer up his '69 Firebird convertible project for sale. The cache of extra parts to come with it included six doors, four fenders, two hoods, three sets of taillights and headlights, and more. For $1,800 it sounded like the deal of a lifetime--until Mike revealed that three other people had already looked at the Bird and walked away due to its condition.
Curious but light on cash, Victor took Mike's contact info. A few months later, he still didn't have any disposable funds, but he called Mike anyway and offered collectable gold coins for the Bird and the parts. Having a wife who was anxious to get the car and the parts out of her sight, Mike relented and agreed to the deal. It would turn out to be beneficial to both sides over the next seven years.
Victor says, "The six 1-ounce, gold American Eagle coins were worth just under $300 each at the time. If Mike still has them, I think he's way ahead at a value of approximately $1,000 each at the current rate."
How did Victor make out? "It was pretty scary," he says of his Firebird. "For more than three years, rats made a motel out of it, the trunk had grass growing in it, and it was probably a good thing I couldn't see all the Bondo and rivets hiding under the primer or I may have walked away too."
But he didn't. Memories of a quick '68 400 Bird he knew as kid, the desire to drive a convertible, and the allure of owning a First-Gen F-body that wasn't a Camaro were too strong to ignore.
Once the project ensued, "It started taking on a life of its own," Victor says. "I wanted a car that got noticed, and I wanted people to realize it's not a Camaro--it's a Pontiac Firebird, and that's way too cool." Though '69 Firebird convertibles certainly aren't hanging out on every street corner, building a car that would make people stop in their tracks was a tall order.
A Paxton SN2000 Supercharger...
A Paxton SN2000 Supercharger feeds compressed air to this 0.030-over 400 engine to the tune of 8 psi. "The setup is very streetable," according to Victor. "It can sit in traffic without overheating."
"I have approximately 250...
"I have approximately 250 hours into designing and building the brackets and pulleys to mount the Supercharger on a Pontiac engine," says Victor. A March serpentine pulley system with A/C was installed as well.