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70-73 GM F-bodies

blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
edited March 7 in Chevrolet


  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    These cars are hard to find. As an owner of one, I have had trouble finding others who share an interest in these early 2nd generation vehicles. Even in regional shows, my 71 firebird esprit is often the only 70-73 gm f body in the show.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I don't think it's necessarily lack of interest that's hurt these cars, blh7068. It's probably that in the late '70s-early '80s, so many kids got a hold of these cars and either 'over-modified' them, wrecked them, or otherwise drove them into the ground. These cars are still relatively plentiful, but finding one in anything like factory condition is unusual.

    I remember in about 1976, my uncle had a burgandy '73 Z-28 with a white vinyl interior and those very cool graphite alloy wheels. That car was *stunning*. This is definitely one of my favorite GM cars ever. I don't like them nearly as much after '73 when they got new front and rear treatments, or in '75 when they got the 'aquarium' rear window.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,586
    ...that cars in general cars built in the early-mid '70's rusted worse than cars built in the '60's. So in addition to kids ragging these things out, Mother Nature and the DOT took their fair share of them off the road, as well!
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    GM cars made after about '71 did tend to rust badly here (we use lots of road salt). Definitely some cars fared worse than others (Novas and Camaros more, full-sizers less).
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    were all about poor body integrity. I can't speak for the other GM lines, however. I agree 100% ghulet, It's not a lack of interest that's hurt these cars. I know they built/sold more camaros in the 70-73 period than the pontiac counterpart, probably because it was less expensive than the firebird. 70-73 firebirds are hard to find for all of the reasons you and Andre mentioned. Also, 70-73 firebird production was quite low compared to say, 75-81.
    74 was kinda an oddball year, to me IMO.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    My dad's '77 Camaro Z28 was stolen in Feb. of 1979 after two years of owning it. Even though I was not around at that time, he still likes to tell me stories about that car. Here are some of his comments about his Camaro: It loved to drink gas, the poor 350 V-8 was smog-strangled, the ride was extremely harsh, and it shook, rattled and vibrated all over the highway. And, yes, I have ridden in some 2nd-generation Camaros and the body integrity is not very good. These cars are not Acuras or Lexuses, believe me.
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    My 71 bird is not too harsh, but your what your dad said is fairly common. Did he like the car at all ? And you are right they are not Lexuses or Acuras. Completely different animals from different eras.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,586
    ...I think the 350 they used in the Z-28 was down to something like 170-185 hp. And by that time, they were almost as heavy as a Caprice, so I wouldn't expect them to be screamers.

    By the late '70's, wasn't the Firebird/Trans Am outsellling the Camaro? Seems like once "the Rockford Files", "Smokey and the Bandit", and "CHiPs" came out (I remember Ponch had an early '70's Firebird), that sales took off.
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    Yes you are correct on both counts, HP was down to that if not lower, and those cars picked up extra baggage as the 2nd gen years rolled on.

    As for sales, yes by that time the firebird was outselling the camaro. Rockford's first bird in that series was a '74 fact all of the 'birds used on that show were esprits. It was Smokey and the Bandit that boosted sales in the 77-81 time frame though.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    In a way, my dad was glad that the Z28 was stolen because he was tiring of it. He said that it was a real chore to drive.
  • Found memories of the 1st of the 2nd gens. Had a 73 (regular) 455 TA. So much mod potential even with the low compression "smog" motor.

    You hardly ever see them anymore as daily drivers. They seem to fall into two classes anymore. Parts car/basket case or show ready.

    As mentioned, the production numbers were quite low the the early years. Especialy for the Firebird. 72 was the strike year, and only a handful made it to the showrooms. All the cars left on the line when the strike was settled were destroyed because they would not meet the new 1973 5mph bumper impact/safty standards.
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    Only 1286 T/A's were built in 72. I have a 71 esprit, mostly original that I would never use as a daily driver...the body integrity on those cars are really bad. Plus as previously mentioned kids get(got) a hold of em and tore them up. I had also mentioned production on early 2nd gens was low compared with the camaro..
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I'd thought the flexiflyers started with the '82-up(?) Camaro/Firebird but it sounds like this is an old and proud tradition. My '95 Firebird rattled like a tin can by 10k.
  • As an owner of many camaros, and 1 firebird, I can say I LOVE the handling of the 2nd gen F-body. I prefer the 70-73 models.

    The later 2nd gen cars were definitely run into the ground by people who frankly just didn't care about the cars. Some people just think of cars as transportation . . . camaros were never ment to be cadillacs. (rattles and rough ride?? Its all part of the fun of a performance car!)

    I can also say that any car is going to have good and bad qualities.

    I would and will never own an acura or a lexus because frankly I think the cars are VERY ugly. (ok the nsx is ok and sporty looking, but the regular cars are just like boxes to me . . . generic and no personality.)

    So to the guy whos dad didn't like the z28, that is too bad but to each his own.
    One of my best friends had a brand new 78 Z28 in high school and the car ran really well even for the supposidly low hp engines, and the chicks loved it!!
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    The 1977 Z/28 was actually the return of the Z/28 after a 2 year hiatus. There was a '74 model but none in '75 or '76. I remember thinking the '77 was a disgrace to the name because it really wasn't much other than some stiffer suspension pieces and a bunch of stickers. It is probaly the absolute least desirable Z/28 ever.

    I can personally account for taking two of the 70 1/2 (they used half model years back then) -73 models out of existance. First, I drove my '70 1/2 Z/28 into a tree. Then I bought a basic '71 and stripped the body parts off of it to try and salvage the Z. It sorta worked but I'm sure that car didn't survive for long.

    I believe there was a massive strike in '72 that resulted in very low production number for all GM (if not US) cars.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I've owned some fairly rough performance cars and you don't have to put up with that many rattles to go fast. The four GTOs I had were as solid as a vault compared to the '95 Firebird. Even my '69 Firebird 400, not the most solid car I ever owned, didn't rattle as much as that '95.

    The '82-up F-body was the low point in build quality for a company not known for its build quality. Someday when you're sitting down I'll tell you about the '89 Camaro convertible I drove.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Yeah, I had an '82 and an '84 Z/28 and after the '84 and having owned nothing but Camaros since I got my drivers license in '75, I was done. I am sometimes tempted to buy a fourth generation Camaro just so I can say that I have owned at least one of each generation but I don't think it would be worth it.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    I've owned 3 F-bodies, a 1977 Firebird T/A, a 1985 Firebird SE, and a 1996 Camaro Z-28. In terms of squeeks and rattles, the 1977 was the worst.
    In it's defense, however, I installed every polyurethane part that Energy Suspension makes for that car. On one hand, that tightened up the handling, but that also took out a lot of compliance, hence the rattles over bumps. I sold the car last year, and it was in excellent shape, with just over 44,000 miles.
    The 1985 was much quieter, and the 1996, which I still have, is the quietest yet. I did, however, install subframe connectors in the '96, and that helped tighten everything up.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I've noticed in the past few years that the Caprice was built a tad better than the Camaro. Not by much, though, since Caprices still had lousy GM assembly.
  • And he got it 3 years old with only 28k on it.
    Still looks and runs well. New long block, car still going strong, though problems with rot around rear window, common with these. He took care of the car, and the 350 auto trans is a real good drivetrain. They CAN last you, his car is proof of that.
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