Early 1967: The first Firebird rolls off the assembly line in Lordstown, Ohio, and a legend is born. More than 30 years after its birth, a nearly perfect example of the rare "light heavyweight" of the '67 Birds resides in Randy Lynd's garage in Goshen, Ind.
The Tyrol Blue (L76) 326 HO convertible has lived with the Lynds since 1994, when Randy's wife, Connie, purchased the previously restored vehicle from her brother as a present for her husband and her son, Chad. Quite a bit of sentimentality rests behind this most generous of gifts. Connie's father was the proud owner of two 1929 Fords and one 1931 Ford that were entered in, and won, numerous shows in the late '70s and early '80s. Connie remembers fondly, "The grandkids just loved all his trophies, and they remembered how proud he was of all of them." Connie's father passed away in 1987 and it was a desire to pay homage to her father's car-loving spirit that led Connie to bring this beautiful Firebird into her family's life.
The heart of this cruiser is the 326 HO V8 that pumps out 285 horsepower. A Carter AFB paired with a dual exhaust system including 2.25-inch tailpipes conspires with a stock 2-barrel cam (269°/277° duration, .374/.412 lift) to bump the horsepower rating to 35 over the standard 326 2-barrel V8. Heavy-duty suspension and Wide Oval tires round out the package.
A Super Turbine 300 2-speed automatic tranny was selected over the standard 3-speed manual to make those long open-road trips even easier, and to add to the cruiser image. Also note that the shifter is on the column and there is no console.
The standard 3.08 rear gear was opted for on this 'Bird in lieu of more aggressive cogs. Stopping power is provided by 9.5-inch drums at all four corners, but our example has power brakes to make hauling this 3417-lb. baby to a halt even easier.
In addition to the power brakes, the HO Bird also came with a host of other niceties that make it unique and hard to find: air conditioning, a tilt wheel, power tinted windows, custom deluxe interior, Rally II wheels, a hood mounted tach and a power convertible top. Power steering was also selected and this lowered the atrocious 28:1 manual steering ratio to a manageable 17.5:1, as well as reducing the turns lock-to-lock from 5.4 to 3.4.
The interior, covered in Parchment Morrokide, is further augmented by the addition of a special gauge cluster to monitor engine vitals. The Tyrol Blue exterior and its white/parchment counterparts combine to produce a fabulous-looking vehicle that is sure to draw some rather long first looks.
Of course, this cruiser has not looked so clean for its entire life. Time and 94,000 miles of wear took their toll and, in 1992, Randy's brother-in-law had the car restored to bring it back to pristine condition.
The engine was overhauled (standard bore) and new internals, including a high-volume oil pump, were installed. The transmission received new seals and a new vacuum modulator, and the rear was resealed as well. Brakes and the front end were completely rebuilt. A new old stock (N.O.S.) interior, including factory seat belts, was installed, and the car was repainted in the original Tyrol Blue with a protective clearcoat. The only nonoriginal parts added to this classic were a custom fit Kenwood 50-watt AM/FM cassette player and chrome tips for the exhaust; however, the tips can be removed and the Kenwood replaced with the original AM radio when it's show time.
With 96,600 miles on the odometer, the Lynds' 326 HO Firebird is now used only on Sundays for a jaunt around town or taken to the occasional car show. Randy couldn't be happier with his little slice of American automotive history. "I don't think they've made a better car than the Pontiac Firebird, especially the old ones," he says.
Future plans for the Poncho? "I'll probably have the car forever, then pass it on to my son." And how would Grandpa feel about all this? Well, the Lynds' beautiful and rare '67 Firebird received an Editor's Choice award from this magazine back in 1996. We're sure Grandpa couldn't be prouder.