Classic Car Corner - Dec. 30, 2013

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere

JOE’S FIREBIRD: I’ve been going to The Woodinville Bagel Bakery every weekday morning that I’m in town for almost 20 years. I have the same thing every morning so as soon as they see me pulling up in whatever car I’m driving that day they start making my tall decaf americano and then I order my bagel choice for the day heated with nothing on it.

This was originally a muffin shop and then was Bigfoot Bagels for many years. My daughter even went to high school with the original Bigfoot. Many people know that this is my morning office and will catch me there before I wander over to my real office at Windermere. I even sold a home to someone I met there.

So what’s this got to do with classic cars? I’ve gotten to know Joe, the store manager for several years, he likes my cars and I talk to him about his car. Unlike me, he has had his car since 1995 and plans to be its last owner. He’s just going to keep fixing it till either he or the car dies.

Joe has a 1991 Pontiac Firebird and you’ve got to see it to believe it. It would not really be a classic by most people’s standards but is interesting so I’m going to write about it anyway. It has a V-6 engine that was replaced because the oil change company didn’t tighten the oil drain plug, the oil all drained out right away and the original engine blew up. The rear end and automatic transmission also wore out and were replaced. This car is the t-top model of which one side was replaced when it blew off at 70 miles an hour! Joe has been run into three times by others and never collected a dime (or done the repair). When I first saw this car it was flat black and since then Joe has rattle can painted it with flat black Plasticote. He even did the wheels AND tires with flat black. This car has the retractable headlights and like many cars of this era they don’t retract anymore.

Recently, the VAT device (vehicle anti-theft) went out and prevented Joe from starting the car so he ending up riding his bicycle to work for a few weeks. Two local shops were unable to fix the car so he had Mac’s Towing haul it out to Mike’s Repair (whom I seem to keep busy myself) and Mike easily made the repair as well as found a vacuum leak that had apparently been affecting the car’s performance for quite awhile. Joe has also replaced almost everything else on this car by now. I believe that part of the reason he has had to do so much work on this Firebird is that sometimes those doing the work were not very competent. When you stop by The Woodinville Bagel shop check out Joe’s Firebird and say hi to Joe (or me).

For those who read last month’s column (it is available on line) there’s an update on my 64 Studebaker GT Hawk. I did burn up the engine and Mike is doing a complete engine re-build for me. It’ll be done by Jan. 11 so watch for my low slung, dark green Studie darting around Woodinville.

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