Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Firebird may not pack a V8, but the V6 it does have makes up for that a bit by being a newly installed replacement mill. Let’s see if that helps this flamboyantly-styled drop-top live up to its asking price.
Well, it’s been a rough week here so far, with cars and trucks dropping like bantams going up against Vitor Belfort. Yesterday’s resto-mod 1987 BMW E30 was no exception. That car had its issues, but the M3 engine and gearbox and a super nice interior solidly balanced out those shortcomings. Ultimately, the balance was thrown off by the car’s $23,000 asking price which saw the Bimmer fall in a massive 82 percent No Dice loss.
Perhaps today we shall try something a bit cheaper.
This 1998 Pontiac Firebird is a good bit cheaper than what we’ve been looking at of late. The ad hints at several reasons why this is the case, and we’ll get to those in a second. First, though, let’s make sure everybody’s up to speed on the model we’re considering.
This is an example of the last of the Pontiac F-bodies, a platform shared with the Chevrolet Camaro and a direct competitor to Ford’s category-defining Mustang. Both the Firebird and its parent Pontiac are long gone from the new-car scene and while the Camaro has been reintroduced as a laudable retro-styled pony car, its days are seemingly numbered as well.
As noted, this is the last body style the Firebird wore, and it’s one of the most audacious. The nose features an aggressive facia with pop-up headlamps and Pontiac’s iconic dual-nostril air intakes. That leads back through a roller coaster of curves in the bodywork, punctuated by air extractors along the flanks and ending with a picnic table-sized spoiler on the trunk lid.
This one adds to the audacity with an arrest-me red topcoat accented by a brace of gold stripes on the front fenders like it’s a Grand Sport Corvette or something. A tan convertible top and matte-silver finish factory alloys complete the look.
Ok, now let’s get to why this Firebird is seemingly cheap, and then we’ll decide if it is, in fact, cheap enough.
According to the ad, there are a number of caveats to buying this Firebird. First off, while the styling is aggressive and portends Pontiac’s promised excitement, that’s not backed up by the car’s V6/auto transmission drivetrain. The 3.8 under the hood isn’t one of those modern V6s that offers 300 horsepower and whispers in your ear that everything’s going to be alright after a hard day at the office. No, this is an old-school OHV V6 that after giving you its 205 horses, says “That’s it. All I got.”
The 4L60E four-speed automatic behind the V6 should be competent for cruising, but it’s going to sap some of those ponies as well. The seller actually chooses to promote the car, not on its performance, but on its mileage, comparing it to that of a Civic and Corolla. Any time you compare anything to a Civic and Corolla you know the jig is up.
That’s not the only issue with the drivetrain either. The ad claims that the engine is a replacement mill. It further says that while the mileage is 74,000 that the odometer has rolled over. What the Helen Hunt is going on here?
On the plus side, the seller says the tires are like new, and that the brake pads actually are so. The car also passed its last state safety inspection so it can’t be all rickety. The appearance is somewhat rickety, with scuffs in the paint on the nose cap, an apparent issue with the back window (or is that just a trick of the light?), and a somewhat tired interior. Making up for that, perhaps, is a clean title and the seller’s advocation that “everything works”, calling the car “Not perfect, but ready to be driven.” Despite that, it’s being sold “as is.”
Ok, there’s a lot to unpack here. Given all that, let’s now get down to just how cheap this Firebird is. The asking price is $4,999 and that is a cash-only price. What’s your take on that, and the car as a whole? Does that $4,999 asking seem cheap enough for the car as it is described in the ad? Or, does that price make this a Firebird that will never become a phoenix?
H/T to Phillip R. for the hookup!
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