Thursday, October 17, 2013

All 21 H bodies I've owned with pics and descriptions...

Well I guess a good post to share with the world would be all 21 of the H bodies I owned. With a little information about each one.

This should take some goes...

#1  My 'hand-me-down' 1980 Pontiac Sunbird.  This is the car that got me started on H bodies.

It was bought new in 1980 by my parent's. I was 8 at the time it was brought home. I liked it instantly.

I liked the unusual color. The baby trans AM look. the unusual side window profile. The fact that I could hop over the rear seat and into a play area as Dad drove us to Grandma's house was big plus.

One day on a ride through Niagara Falls Canada (the main uphill strip that has all those touristy places like 'Ripley's believe it or not' wax museum).. One of the parked cars along the road was a Silver "Formula" model. I was set from then on, on inheriting the car and adding all the stuff to make it look like one of those.

Chevrolet Monza 1980 Pontiac Sunbird
1980 Sunbird
Chevrolet Monza 1980 Pontiac Sunbird

On the last day of school for my Junior year of High school...the Seniors were doing the typical burnouts and smoke shows  and there was this very sinister black on black car that looked remarkably like my sunbird, but somehow different...   It was a '77 Chevy Monza.  I was laughing that a 4cyl could do such a thing not thinking my Sunbird could muster that much of a rumbling moke show..  maybe in reverse..

Well thats when a buddy overheard and walked up noting that these cars came with V8's... I totally doubted and disagree'd, and he told me I could go see for myself...
He told me of an auto parts yard that lets you walk around and browse the cars.. and that there were some V8s there to look at.

Look at? Ha!..  I was soon planning a swap. I'd seen some other friends pulling an engine, and felt if they could do it so could I!.

So I found my first Starter Sunbird for $100. and away I went..

#2 Here, I found the rare opportunity to park next to a cool Black Monza with "Monza Magic" pinstriped in gold on the tail.  @ Darien Lake amusement park

Chevrolet Monza 1980 Pontiac Sunbird
Here it is as purchased...looks cool but it just had the stock 4cyl engine.
V8 Swap 1980 Sunbird,  late 70's,
Here I go, it's V8 time.  Poor me - Not schooled on how to know what to look for when buying a used engine...I got boned on a junky 305 that needed a rebuild. wish I would have saved for a 350! 
1980 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975  H body  Skyhawk Starfire
Add caption
Best picture of the car as I drove it that Summer.
Blew the 305 up right away,  Got a decent deal on -of all thing's- a running 307.

smokey burnout sunbird V8 cool cars
This Burnout was actually the last day the car drove before being dismantled (had rust issues and H bodies were plentiful at the time)  307 running strong. 

 Spent a really cool summer as a security guard at the Rochester Yacht Club..   What a summer that was.

 Then along came a spider...   Not a factory spyder model (yet)...but a really cool 1980 monza 2+2...
That got spyder emblems on it as soon as I got it.

#3 This was my first monza.  It was cool. Spotted it along side a garage in Penfield, Ny. Talked with the owner and scored a deal on the car, for a song and a dance. It was a 1980 V6 4speed model. PS / PB no AC.
Red interior. vista vent sunroof.

Ran good for a few days but I soon spun all the bearings in the motor. It clanked all the way home, but made it. And soon after It had the V8 from the sunbird, and the sunbird was parted out.

 Had a nice and straight body.. And some factory sport stripes as well..

 My first V8 Monza.. Here's the 307 again.

Then came the fateful January morning I decided to goof around in traffic, kicking the tail out in the snow.
All was good, until the car took off into low speed spin-out.
Thought I was going to knock the curb, but just so happened a 1966 or so Chrysler New Yorker was headed my way.  
I was ok. The other driver was fine. the '66 had a slightly bent fin and cracked headlight.
Here's to learning to be careful in the snow - the hard way.
Well, not exactly this model but similar, and the pic was too good not to post...

So that car was dismantled and sent away..
..and I was monza-less.

For a while.. but then... be continued!

#4  Enter..... The Mad Max Mirage............???

 I can officially say I was a young man there..
Whats the story with this one?
Well, first of all, talk about the luxury of a full garage / workshop courtesy of Mom and Dad!!
I found it for $1300 with no motor. Came with lots of goodies and solid body with the "Mirage" package panels fiber-glassed to the body, and Sidepipes.

It began life as a maroon 1978 2+2 sport, with the V8 & Automatic tranny.
It was saved before any major rot claimed the frame, but certainly had a ton of bondo here and there. 

I had everything needed to finish it off. Ran the 307 and a 4 speed again until it started burning oil..

Started with a 2.29 Open differential, and with the 14 inch tires it had an excellent overdrive + top end.
It worked really well on expressways. Downshifting to 3rd made a great passing gear and made driving fun

I wanted a Posi though and found a great deal on a low mileage 3.08 posi.

Once I got used to driving it with different shift points...I think it was faster 0 to 60 but not as much fun or as fuel efficient on the highway. 
Not as bad as having tiny 60 series 13" tires. 
Drove this one A LOT.
Had a lot of fun with it. This was the first privately owned vehicle to travel down the newly completed 531 expressway.
Got me to Toronto and back to see a Pink Floyd Concert.. One of the only other times I met up with another monza out on the highway.
Had a mad max look to it in person.

It was eventually well...  It was getting kinda beat and...I think found a suitable replacement...

More like stumbled across..  But this one here is what this blog is all you can read all about it's story in other post's.
Here's a couple of pic's as it was back when I got it.

I could have stopped here...but no..  no I didn't..
Let's see 5 down, 16 more to go!
Sometime Before buying this red spyder in 1995......

I had this Gold 2+2... why?... I liked the look..would have been a perfect V8 conversion but the frame was totally shot in the front. It was a good running original 4cyl car.  PS and automatic, but manual brakes.
Wish I would have kept the front air-dam, it was a nice plastic aftermarket one from A&A. 

The slick looking side stripes were actually just a quick experiment with electrical tape that came out pretty cool. Overall it was a good deal, I paid $60 for the car. I sold it. I'm pretty sure I saw it later on wrecked in the front. 

Around this time (just before finding the red car) I scored this little gem. It was a 1977 V8 2+2.
 Firethorn metallic, red interior.
It had suffered a deer hit sometime before I found it. Which explains the blue hood and black fender. Got it for a low price. Had to have it because it was an original V8. This one, like every maroon GM car I've ever had, was more finicky than the rest.
  Eventually sold it to a buddy who kept going strong for a few more years. And had a lot of fun with it. 

Stumbled across this one on a ride.. Had to have was a 1975 with a mint black interior. It was a nice running 262 4-speed, and I always liked the uniqueness of the 1975 interior. And the price was right $350 or something.. cheap because while the front looked as sharp as it used to.. the sides were rusted bad. The car had sat in a field for some time. I put it on the road as my daily driver, (to keep the red spyder as a secondary car). Of course the rear trailing arms immediately broke free, leaving me to resort to using bungee cords to hold them up against the frame.  
Believe it or not it ran pretty good like this for quite some time! I parted this one out. a friend of mine still has some of the interior pieces. The kid who bought the car from me fell through on his end of the deal and I ended up salvaging a few odd's and end's but didn't get the motor like I was supposed to.

Around this time on my way to a Rush concert I spied a little white 1976 monza parked in lot off of the Thruway. I checked the car out..left a note and next thing you know I was towing home a 1976 262 auto parts car with white and green interior. Car was originally a Lime green one. The rear axle pulled away from the frame as the car was ratcheted to the flatbed.   So it was quickly dismantled as a parts car.
This is the only one I never got a pic of. Still have some of the Green interior including the Rally gauge dash cluster.          1976 White 2+2   ***NO PICTURES***

Also around this time is a 1978 monza parts car I found. Not sure How I found it... But there it was
It was just a rotted shell good for a V8 donor car..  By the buildsheet codes this car was just days away from being a 1979..    #10

 Says Starfire GT but was a monza. Looks like there was a cool starfire running around town at one time.
The car on the right is the car listed below. The left is the one above. On the edge is the back corner of a 1997 Cavalier I bought at the time because I liked the teardrop window. Heck if that thing wasn't a piece of junk in 2 years. What a waste of money!  I just threw my money everywhere at that age..

Next up is a 1976 V8 Spyder (one of 2,339 made), that I only had for a very short time.

It was basically a parts car.  It was a NY car, and the frame was shot by the time I got it.
This I paid 80 bucks for it as a rolling shell.  It donated some great parts.


 Was a cool car at one time, for sure.

I spent an afternoon putting an engine in it. moved it 50 feet, and then eventually dismantled it. 
Mostly because another  came along shortly after getting this one.

 Next up..   spyder number #2    Random email spyder #1.  #12

Sometime around this time, (@1997) I got a random email from someone who had a  rust-free 1979 monza spyder body in Utah for $100 before it went off to the crusher.

Since the price was right I wanted it..   It cost $800 to get it shipped. I had this monza for a long time. Probably the 2nd longest ownership besides my red spyder.

 I was a 1979 black spyder.  Was a V6 4speed. new. I ran it in a few different configurations of V8 4 speed / Automatic. With stock 13" wheels, and with a handling kit and 14" tires, and it really handled well. It was a raw road machine.  Lot's of fun with this car!
 Hamlin Beach State Park.

 Loved the removable "Vista-Vent" sunroof.

Here it is in it's final had evolved into a raw road machine.... All insulation and sound deadening material was stripped along with any excess weight.  The car was loud raw and crude, and I loved it.

Eventually...Time to do anything with it, Money,  and lack of storage space forced me to sell it in around 2006. All the serious parts were kept for future use and the shell was bought and hauled off to Albany NY.
Actually also, I had a job that was taking me across town and even across the state, and this one was giving me overheating issues, and gas prices were skyrocketing so..   I went and bought a new economy car.

Looking back ( isn't hindsight always 20/20)? I could have invested in an aluminum radiator, and an overdrive transmission for far cheaper than this New car I bought, but I couldn't get those needed things on Payment's like I could with the new car, and driving in snow/ de-icing chemicals and with a good heater was a big selling point.

It had my 3.42 posi with 5 lug conversion. As I've been told, that rear axle is still around if I wan't to go and get it, but the car has been dismantled and processed.

I got maximum fun use out of the thing while I had it.

Well sometime around this time I was on a country drive and spotted a Sunbird.

Turned around and next thing I know I was throwing a wad of cash at someone to snag this must have Formula Sunbird set up for racing.

 Look at it would have grabbed it to.
 Wasn't sure what I was even going to do with it.  I put a 305 4-speed, and even with that little mouse motor  it was scary fast with the 4:11 gears.  The  ladder bar suspension and slicks made the back end feel way to loose. Wish I would have held onto it, but then ANOTHER cool h-body came along!..

One of my favorites, didn't have it for very long though.. wish I would have kept it..
But I came across this Green '77 by way of a random email.. low and behold it was right across town!

 Had A/C new.

 A monza spotted in it's natural habitat..the back roads..

A forest green metallic with tan interior 1976 2+2 V8? With a 350 and 3.42 Posi re-drilled for 5 lugs?
with a 1980 Front air-dam, For a rock bottom price? Heck yes!
 I really liked how much more detail there was in the earlier interiors.. this one had a really cool 2 tone tan  vinyl interior. An aftermarket sunroof. I had to sell the Sunbird to get it. It was a tough choice.. but I could make more use of the 76, and I did. Lot's of fun journeys in this car.

The car was sold off to make room for other interesting monza's
It was pulled out of storage given a battery and driven overnight to New Jersey by it's new owner.
The car was spotted on ebay a few years later. It had been cut and welded a bit for racing , and was in pieces. Ah well..

I've lost track of the exact order I got these cars in..  I think this next one may have been bought a few years before this green '76 above, I cant remember.  But this next one has it's own long story....

A 21 hour train ride, and a 15 hour sneak-a-thon back home.. would net me a sweet looking 1980 spyder repainted Corvette silver, with dark blue cloth interior. V6 Auto...

Yep.. I had just gotten this big bonus check from work, and what do you know, another email arrives...this time the car is in ST. Louis MO.  a 15 hour drive from home.

One of the funnest monza journeys involved me taking a train ride to go get the car. 11 hours to Chicago.. Got to run outside and have a quick look.  Then found my train to MO. another 10 hours.
Got there and met up with seller.  Had a ton of faith in the deal I tell ya. But sure enough the car ran nice the whole way..   In the picture below it's just crossing into Indiana on it's maiden voyage to it's new home.

Was so nice and straight and the Corvette silver paint looked awesome. It originally was silver and also would have come with some blue spyder decals to match the interior.

monza spider  Chevy mazda
1980 Monza Spyder

 So on the way home, in Northern Ohio...early on a Sunday Morning, after stopping for gas, I decide on a whim, to take a detour and sight see this local state park.   Waaaay out in the wood's.
No one around, very peaceful but somewhat eerie too..

I found this look-out tower at the top of a hill..

 I dared climb a bit of it but not all the way to the top.

 Gave the back-end the spyder style black-out, and I thought it looked excellent...
231 buick ran good and strong. But a little hot.

One of the best rides this car had was heading towards Philly on rt 9 heading south..
I got in with a fast crowd.. A 'Vette in the lead, a Mustang Cobra holding a strong 2nd.. Both late models.
After that was a Porsche 944 and me sharing 3rd and 4th.
It was some cool company, and the 231 kept up surprisingly well.

Unfortunately,   The car suffered some bad luck early one evening...
A moments distraction to the passenger side mirror and I couldn't stop in time for a van.
I'd worked hard all day, was tired and groggy, and needed to trudge over to the store to get something to eat.  I doubt I ate anything that night.

I couldn't help but be pissed off at the "Sears carpet care" van driver, who slipped out into the road just ahead from a side street, and proceeded to stop suddenly and hard .. and never let up off his brakes. " Claiming to the police, "it looked like he was asleep"   .... He was watching me the whole time? He could tell that from his mirror? Why not ease up and give a guy some room?  Oh well, at the end of the day, no matter what - still my fault -.  :(   live and learn!
Awwww!!!!!  :(    One disappointing ride out to get some dinner.
 I had a body shop do what they could to pull the frame back and was able to get the front clip back together with some spare parts I had.  Didn't look all that bad from a distance anyways.

Had to look like a 75 to 77 now. Silver was a great color on those years too. Yes the orange turn signal lights were from a skyhawk.

 Car was eventually sold and went back towards the Midwest.  This one end's up in the "What the Heck it's 1999" category.

Hmmm, what was next?...

Oye!  Why on earth?  Showed up on a local used car lot for $300.  Perfect daily driver! #16
 Car overheated if driven too hard.  I stil beat on it and it took a lickin and kept on ticking.
231 V6, Automatic.

I'm pretty sure I had so many monza's  (probably like 4 or even 5 at the time) That I had to let some go, and of course this was one of them. I think a few parts were taken off the car and it was just hauled away.
Wasn't super solid underneath in critical area's.
 Here I scored this neat little 1980 blue sunbird coupe for a daily driver. It had a deluxe blue cloth interior which meant some shag like carpet instead of the cut-pile type usually found. It was a 4cyl and ran great.
Super deal.. I think it was another $300 deal.

Cant remember how I found the car, but how I got it was cool. It was a Canadian car, in Toronto.
I needed to get some special paperwork from GM, to be able to 'import' the car into the US.

I drove the car to my buddies house in Beamsville. There I rented a Uhaul and Tow Dolly.

I towed the car to the border (this was just after 9/11) So I didn't know what to expect. Well funny thing was, I walked into the office with this Huge debacle over this lady's Horse trailer and Horses.
She and the Border police were going back and forth for what seemed like an eternity...Finally they took a break and grilled me for a minute or two.. They took my paperwork into a back room and about a minute later they were telling me to scram. I ducked out of there, just as the Horse argument was starting back up...
 I towed the car to the Uhaul place in Niagara Fall's Canada, got rid of the truck and trailer and carefully drove the car home on the backroads.

Was a great little car. I was in the process of dismantling it after a year or 2 of daily driving, and some jerk snuck up and stole it for the scrap value.  Gone were the great cloth seats , interior panels and an aluminum round-hole rim I was using to roll the car around on.

Ah jeeze not another monza with another story...  #18
This one came from the coast of Massachusetts. Someone wanted to give it a good home, it was a part of their family for a while, but they felt it was rusting away. Well..  Rusting away it was..  after all, this car had a home about 300 ft from the ocean shore..  But the car had been a well maintained nice vehicle. So it still had some life left in it.
 I put some fresh oil, battery and tires on it, and the car had a very happy time Puttering around town. It was a V6 auto, that ran excellent. Wasn't a barn burner, but it was smooth and pulled nice.
Had some nice new black paint and the red cloth interior was super comfortable.
Eventually, the rear brakes lines went on the car. And the car, while stoppable was a little dangerous to drive in traffic. I might have fixed it, but of course another Hot deal came along, and that spelled the end for this little 1980 soldier.

It was parked for a while, and another deal came along where I could trade some of the V6 engine brackets
 for a Low Mileage Sunbird Coupe...     To be continued
1980 Chevrolet, red interior
Carmine Interior
So the decision was made to carefully dismantle the car, so many of the parts could live on in other H bodies. 
I still have parts like the seats, steering column, front clip, rear hatch. As spares or whatever.
The engine brackets and A/C stuff whats traded for a neat little runner.
That's the next car...

1978 Sunbird Coupe

This little car was a great little runner! Why did it have to be brown? Not the greatest color, but it sure worked well getting by law enforcement, car looked slow even when driven fast.
And that's how you had to drive the thing. It was a first Generation Iron Duke.
You worked the automatic shifter like a manual-matic in a $200k sportster.
Revved the engine to the moon and it got into traffic accordingly.
It wouldn't grenade.  
No worries on parking the thing anywhere. Great little daily driver... 
So, of course,  What had to happen? in the twilight hours of a Friday morning on an empty highway?

It was like the Deer-ship Enterprise was hovering up in space when  a deer decided to beam down right in front of the car.
 I was able to limp the car about 5 miles back home .. But the radiator was pushed into the fan and the car was loosing all it's antifreeze

Without much of a choice I added some water to it and tried to make it about 20 miles to a storage area.

About half way there the car got so hot it quit and wouldn't restart for 2 hours.
It stalled again about 100 feet from it's destination, and then made it there.

By then, I'd burned a hole in a piston.
Iron Duke, Burned Piston, detonation, overheating

The car was parked for a while future uncertain.
The frame was holding on, but wasn't solid enough for a V8 swap..
So not sure what to do with it, probably headed for the junk pile...

Well..  In a strange twist of fate, I was checking out a junk yard in PA.. when I stumbled across an identical twin of this car with a perfect front clip ripe for the picking.

I had the tool's and got the car a new lease on life. Even risked scratching up my new Aveo's roof getting the hood back home (200+ miles)
Sunbird, 1977, 1978, 1979
So whats the story now?
Well, I just so happen to still have the car. It has another 78 Iron duke engine, borrowed from the Sunbird Pictured Below..Since that car got the 231 from the Starfire pictured below it.
The car has a vibration issue, that I'm pretty sure has to do with the trouble I had mating the transmission to the engine. As it is, would need quite a bit of basics to get back on the road. So once again it sit's.
Writing this I'm having thought's of insuring it and getting it going as a winter car.  Not sure.

This Sunbird was found on an ad on Craigslist. A little bit of a drive away towards Syracuse, NY.

It wasn't listed as a Formula and as I rolled up my eye's grew wide.
The price was right, so I snatched it up and drove it home..
1978 Disco
1978 Sunbird Formula   
Pictures really help the car. Up close it has lot's of flaws typical to a 35 year old car.
Put it on the road and had a TON of fun driving it around! 
Disco, 1978, Led Zeppelin

Along with it's unusual exterior color combo, it has an unusual interior.. White with black accents.
Black Formula Steering wheel, rally gauges.  
 Trans am, Pontiac Sunbird
Formula wheel

When the car was new it had 5speed transmission it. As I got it, it had a 4speed installed in it's place.
The 4 cyl ran great. and with the 4 speed it was an ok get around car.

But the car really needs a performance make over.  I still have it. 
As it sits, the original Iron Duke is in the car above. And a 231 V6/ manual everything is in it's place along with a like-original 5 speed.

It needs some exhaust work to be road ready. Not sure what I'm doing with it, although I know I'm keeping it (car's build date is my 6th Birthday 4-20-78)

I like the manual-everything configuration the car now has but I think it need's a real motor.

It needs a V8.

If I could go hog wild with the car right now I would have some "15 or 16" inch WS6 Trans-am snowflake rims on it. like a baby TA.   And then maybe a newer LS7 motor swap.

Along with a good cosmetic make-over this car would really kick.
Truth is, this car is pretty rough around the edges. Lack of maintenance allowed rust to dig in log before I got a hold of it.  I'll probably do a separate blog about this one to show more details.
Might make a good track car for the local SCCA chapter's "SoloII" event's.

Olds, H body, Starfire,
1977 Starfire GT V6 no PS no PB 5speed

This dang Starfire cost me a small fortune!!!!  Find out why tomorrow!!! 

And finally this one.  
This car was found just after I'd thought to myself wow 20 h bodies.. that was cool... I don't need anymore.

So of course later that week in the newspaper "77 Olds Starfire, Like chevy monza V6 5speed runs good parts car $200.

So I go out and look at it, and it's this Starfire GT.
I'd seen the car and followed it one day about 15 years earlier. The car looked brand new that day.. I couldn't stop and chat, and I hoped to see the car again, but never did until here.

I wouldn't have grabbed it, was only $200 and had the rare 5speed set up. And it was mechanically well kept. A full service record kind of car. Also of note was the Nice black starfire interior I could sell off(did that, gone now). And decent front and rear clips.
The owner explained he'd driven the car summers -only since he bought it new in '77.
Then as the car got really old he drove it for a few winter's.  Parked it in a barn over a dirt floor and this is what happened to the car.
Frame totally shot. Rocker panels gone from rust.

So what do you know I made a deal, and decided to drive the car home on a Saturday evening. Adding to the risk was the car not having much in the way of brakes. A refilled master cyl only exposed some leaks. 
We weren't sure if it would hold good stopping power the whole way home, but I planned to be extra cautious, and make use of downshifting and the E brake as needed. And Saturday evening traffic across town was light.

As you've read, this is something I've done a few times  before including runs from Niagara falls and as far away as St, Louis.

I guess this time I'd gotten a little too used to doing this. 
I left some old stickers on the windshield (Here in NY a yearly inspection sticker is color coded) and that was the first not so good thing, 2nd was a few bulbs not working.

At an intersection to to enter the highway a New York State Trooper took interest in my car as I passed.
I turned onto the highway and hoped for the best.

But soon enough in the mirror that trooper car had gotten turned around and was whipping onto the highway.
Dang it.  
I gave the Trooper my story.  The local County Sheriff patrol would shake their head and tell me to get on my way on my side of town.
But Toto was way outside of Kansas here.

The trooper wasn't having any of it...had the car towed to impound, and threw the book at me.
I was issued four citations, for lack of registration, inspection, swapped plates, and worst of all No Insurance.
The tiny town court gave me hell, and refused to be fair with the charges. They dropped 3 but kept the worst...  After Court fines and fee's, Towing , Impound, Towing to storage, Civil Penalty, DMV fee's
I paid $2400 for this Damn car!!!!!!
I still have some of the parts from it. Front and rear clip's.
The Motor / tranny / Manual Steering and Dashboard All made it to the Sunbird Formula pictured above.

Well that's my story...was that enough H bodies for ya? 
One of every year, and almost every make but I haven't owned a Buick Skyhawk

#22     ?????????.

Update 2017!!!    I thought I was done at #21!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But now #22 is here...    Remember #1???  Well, what better way to wrap up the collection ( I'm telling myself this is the last H body I will own).  With an Identical twin to the very first Sunbird I ever owned. 
Same color exterior, Same interior, same 2.5 iron duke engine. Very close build dates nearing the Final week of November 1980, in the extended production period of 1980.
4speed manual , Has A/C, Sport Mirror's, Cloth interior.
I found it within 150 miles of my house, so I had to jump on it.

I'll post some pic's of how I got it, and how I've upgraded it.


And there you have it. More pic's to come....

1 comment:

  1. I'm richard. I now own a 1980 notchback rare is this car?my email is my car is in mint condition and I'm restoring it. Baby blue and has an iron duke motor