Kevin Oeste of V8TV tells HPP, “We showed viewers a ton of tech and how-to’s in the 33 vid
“I didn’t want a race car,” says 46-year-old Steve Prouty of his and his wife, Julie’s, ’69 Firebird. “I just wanted a stylish, mildly modernized, and competent performer that my family and I could comfortably enjoy on the road.”
Pontiacs have been in Steve’s blood since his formative years when his grandfather was a PMD dealer. A self-professed “Pontiac fan for life,” Steve bought a ’71 Ventura for his first car, and the Wisconsin native has owned multiple Pontiacs since. In fact, he still has the ’68 Firebird he bought in high school back in 1981.
“There’s plenty of power with no drama or hesitation as you pull through the gears,” says
Admiration for Pontiacs draws like-minded friends. Steve first saw this ’69 Firebird when his buddy Mark Hadac purchased it in 2005 and Steve towed it home for him. Soon thereafter, Steve’s friend Jon Crary bought it, so Steve towed it to his house. When Jon lost interest, Steve seized the moment and bought the ’69 in August of 2007. He recalls, “I knew it was a very clean car with a lot of parts included, and I wanted to see it completed, since I had been involved with it from the start. I contacted Kevin Oeste, owner of V8TV Productions (www.v8tvshow.com), and he liked the idea of doing a Pontiac project for his show.”
Kevin notes that Steve wanted to build an updated Firebird that still retained Pontiac items. “We thought it would be cool to do a Pro-Touring car that wasn’t a Chevy or LS powered. It seems Pontiac fans have the strongest brand loyalty, and they don’t like to see too many modifications. If you build one, it needs to retain a Pontiac engine and overall look and feel. The plan for ‘Routy’ really capitalized on these elements, and also added some popular upgrades in all the right places.”
Ben Hermance of Hermance Designs was tasked with developing the exterior theme. “When I got involved, a few of the design decisions had already been made. Steve selected some classic five-spoke wheels and favored the aggressive look of the Trans Am appearance package.
The mildy modified 0.030-over 400 features a Holley Avenger EFI system that was easily fit
“Beyond that, the paint scheme was totally up in the air. We tried a wide range of colors and stripe concepts before nailing this one down. The bright red just jumped off the car when we saw it, and it really stood apart from the other concepts.
“We elected to paint the chrome bumper to achieve a more integrated and cleaner look. The stripes were inspired by ’70 GTO Judge fender graphics. We wanted to create a stripe that could have potentially been factory installed. It was a natural fit due to the crowns on top of the fenders and how they fade out through the door. The colors were intended to tie in the interior and wheel centers, and break up the intensity of the red.”
The Holley Avenger system employs a 700-cfm throttle body and 65-lb/hr injectors.
With a plan in hand, the V8TV team got to work on restoring and modifying the body in its Waterloo, Illinois, shop.
After scraping off the undercoating, the floors were media-blasted to reveal previous floorpan and trunk sheetmetal replacement. The body panels were stripped via sanding to uncover reproduction quarter-skins.
As the primer came off, the list of required bodywork got longer. Ultimately, the trunk floor, quarter skins, decklid, package tray, doors, front driver’s floor, firewall, fender bottoms, and dash center were replaced.
A set of leather power seats out of an ’00 T/A were installed to hold the driver and passe
But that wasn’t all. Kevin explains: “The most difficult aspect was the bodywork and panel fitment. As First-Gen F-body enthusiasts know, the ’69 Firebird has a very complex nose structure, and they didn’t fit that well from the factory. We spent considerable time reconstructing the filler between the bumper and hood to make it fit as tightly as we wanted. The reproduction steel Trans Am hood fit pretty well, but the scoop inserts required some attention, and the fiberglass Trans Am wing was reworked to fit to the quarters better. Steel was added to the front fenders to tighten the door gaps, and the door skins were extended for a proper fit. We had to work every panel on the car, but the results speak for themselves.”
Three coats of Dupont Epoxy DTM Primer were applied to the bare metal and Chroma Premier 2K 32430S Primer over the body filler, which was followed by block-sanding with progressively finer grits of paper.