Your Car Stories Amplified

It’s Not a V8

By Steve Ochoa; San Antonio, TX

It has been a while since my last car episode. So here is what has happened since.

Last go round I found my muscle car. A 1979 Trans Am big block, T-Top black on black, in great condition. I really liked this one. My dreams fulfilled…or so I thought. I ended up selling the car. Not because I was tired of it and needed a new adventure. It was dying a slow death. The car had become a money pit. The car was falling apart. I could do some work myself, but then bigger problems started up and I needed help…help that costs money. Anyway, I sold it. Lost money but managed to get a good amount for it. So now here I am again without a muscle car. Lest we not forget about my sweet 64 T-Bird ragtop. More on that later.

Trans Am Dreaming

Back 15 years ago I was wanting a second-gen Trans Am. The prices were out of my reach at that time. I was looking feverishly for about a year.

Browsing through Craigslist, I see a 1981 Pontiac Firebird for $12,500. Knowing what I know from shopping these cars, this was probably a project car…and it was not a Trans Am. I was not going to get into something like that. So, I did not open the listing. Checking Craigslist regularly for a Trans Am, I see the price dropping on the 81 Firebird. The next time I saw the listing the price was $10,500.

From that point forward the price was lowered by thousand-dollar reductions. I still had not opened the listing to see the car. It had to be a rust bucket. Checking one day the price was now $5,500. Curiosity now had a hold on me. So, I opened the listing. OMG the car was beautiful. Artic blue matted with a new dark blue perfect interior, multi-blue color hood emblem. The car looked almost perfect. So there had to be a catch. Was this a real listing or some scam…not sure…I called the listed phone number.

1981 Pontiac Firebird V6

A young gal answered. I told her I was calling about the Firebird, and her first words to me: “it is not a V8.” I said that’s ok. She was taken back a bit. “Are you still interested?” I told her I was. She was shocked. “Do you know how many calls I have taken for this car and nobody wants the V6 engine.” I am no horsepower junkie so it was good to go. The car has the 231 Buick V6. Not a rubber patch layer, but still a very solid engine.

It was the Firebird Esprit. Power windows, AC, original radio that worked, only 54k certified miles, restored by her grandfather. He could no longer drive the car. She lived just south of Austin. So, we met up in Buda, Texas. She came driving up in the car.

1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit
1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

It was absolutely outstanding. The paint was smooth and glossy, the interior was new, the engine sounded good, and the transmission shifted perfectly, the AC was cold, the radio worked and zero rust anywhere on the car. She told me her grandfather put his heart and soul into the car — to me, there was no doubt. I bought the car for $4,700!

The Pontiac also had a recent transmission transferable rebuild warranty. No one would touch the car without a V8. I still have the car and it is not going anywhere.

Car Show Attention Grabber

At car shows and car meets, the car gets so much attention. The artic blue with dark blue interior color combination matted with a multi blue colored hood emblem is a real eye catcher. Since buying the car, I have had minimal repairs. It is just so solid. I now have a second-gen Firebird.
I am here to tell you I am glad it was not a V8. She would have sold it before I called. I have finally realized my sweet blue Firebird was the answer I could not figure out. All this time running around buying cars, selling them, fixing them, getting frustrated, the answer has been in my driveway the entire time. So now my T-Bird and my Firebird are sitting in my driveway getting all my attention. Jessica still has the Corvette. Since then, I have retired after 25 years of teaching college. I loved my career and now I have settled in on life and my cars.

Are there more car adventures for me? Don’t ask Jessica, as you will get a resounding yes!

Photos copyright Steven Ochoa, all rights reserved.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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