To anyone who grew up in a tight-knit neighborhood, shooting the breeze over the backyard fence with a neighbor on a warm sunny day is a familiar pastime. Sipping a cool drink while solving world problems, or debating the merits and shortcomings of the local baseball team, could easily become a summer-long vocation.

For Pontiac guys, however, the conversation would normally stick closer to the matter at hand-how great they are and how much greater they could be with some further tweaks. But in order for those conversations to ensue, the neighbors first have to realize that they share an affinity for Pontiacs.

As far as Andy Asaro was concerned, James "Jimmy" Pavlides was simply the nice older neighbor, an electrical engineer who built motorized model airplanes as a hobby and used to speak to Andy's grandparents over the fence that separated their Brooklyn backyards. Jimmy had lived there with his sister, Amelia, since before Andy was born. As a teenager, Andy took a job at a local hobby shop where Jimmy used to buy fuel for his airplanes, so they began to speak more often.

In 1984, at age 16, Andy bought a '70 GTO, and mentioned it to Jimmy when talking over the fence one day. "I have a machine, too" Jimmy replied. "It's a '67 Firebird that I bought new." Intrigued, Andy had to see the Pontiac and Jimmy obliged. There, tucked away in his garage, was a '67 326 H.O. Firebird in Verdoro Green with a three-speed manual trans, a 3.55 Safe-T-Track rear, a set of Rally IIs with redlines, the Ride and Handling package, Custom interior, Rally gauges, a hood tach, and a console-mounted clock, among other options. What it did not have was power steering or brakes-none of Jimmy's cars did.

He cared for his Pontiac as a doting father would his only child. It had less than 26,000 miles on it and was nearly as fresh as the day he had purchased it 17 years before.

By the '80s, Jimmy was driving the Bird very sparingly and only around the neighborhood. The last time it had been out on the open road was in the late '70s, when he took it to Jones Beach, New York, and ended up street racing against a '69 GTO. He told Andy that the Bird would hold its own until the top of Second gear and then the Goat would come on strong.

Jimmy would never let anyone ride with him in the Pontiac, and he boasted that no one had ever sat in the backseat. He wouldn't even let anyone into the garage to see the car for fear of it being damaged or stolen. Andy says he's the only one who ever made it to the door of the garage to look in and see it, and each visit was prefaced with Jimmy asking, "Are your shoes clean?" If the answer was an affirmative, Jimmy would say, "You may proceed."

Despite the age difference of 38 years, having Pontiacs and a backyard fence in common was more than enough for the two to become friends. When Andy would work on his GTO, Jimmy would hang out and watch, and also bestow some of his engineering knowledge on him. "He was very impressed with the results of the body-off restoration I did on my '70 GTO," Andy recalls. "I would joke with him, saying it took me four years to get my car into the same condition his Firebird was already in."

The pair of Brooklynites grew close over the years, and it was a shock to Andy when Jimmy suddenly passed away in August 2005.