The builder of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe custom Firebird is said to have come from a long and illustrious line of funeral directors. That’s a good fit for a dead marque, but will this unique ride’s price have you spinning in your grave?
So yesterday’s car was a bird wrapped around a horse that itself had the heart of a snake. It was Canadian too so there’s probably some moose thrown in there someplace for good measure. That menagerie was not enough however, to overcome what was seen as an onerous price tag, and the Cobra-enhanced ’92 T-bird went down in a pretty decisive 77% Crack Pipe loss.
That Thunderbird’s customizations were almost all mechanical, with only the hood and wheels representing significant deviations from the Super Coupe mean. In complete contrast, this 1979 (?) Bayliff Italia seems to be a bone stock Firebird underneath, with a completely tailor-made set of clothes up top.
C. Budd Bayliff was a Packard fanatic, so much so that in 1978 he bought the rights to the Packard name and his Bayliff Coach Corp started building Packard branded customs based on various Ford and GM cars. Some of those were more successful than others, and some were, well, to be honest, the most hideous things you’ve ever seen. Sorry Bud.
Bayliff Coach Corp also built hearses, and its founder is claimed to have burying people in his blood. How a history of Packards and plantings resulted in this custom Firebird is anybody’s guess, but it fully appears that this is the only one ever built. You can decide for yourself if that’s a damn shame or a bullet dodged.
The car is presently being sold by a Michigan dealer and is advertised - and I assume licensed - as a 1979 Firebird. I don’t know how that year found its way onto the title as the most identifiable aspects of the car - the T-roof, doors, dashboard, pop-up lights, yada-yada - are all most obviously from the 1982-’92 edition.
Aside from those, it’s a pretty amazing transformation, melding parts from the GM catalog - J-car Buick Skyhawk hatch, Pontiac 6000 tail lights, and a grille that I just can’t place - into a unique shape. The idea apparently was to ape a Ferrari GT, and while the end result could never be mistaken for anything out of Maranello, it will also require a double - or maybe triple - take to realize that’s a Firebird underneath all that.
That Bird is said to be powered by a 5.0 V8, and it comes with a 4-speed automatic. Given the questionability of the actual year, it’s impossible to speculate on which engine that is, or its output. It does have a chrome airliner however, so what we do know at the very least is that it’s fancy.
The rest of the car is equally up to the task of being fancy, what with custom fenders, unique sail panels and revamped front and rear ends. The over all effect is striking in what was achieved, and the whole thing looks to be in excellent shape.
The interior belies the Firebird base more so than does the exterior. Yes, it does have custom upholstery, and a wood-rimmed steering wheel that looks totally out of place, but it also reminds us all of the time when GM celebrated exposed fasteners on its interiors, both the real kind and the fake. Remember that?
There’s no faking that this is a pretty unique and interesting ride, and one of the few coach-built cars from the ‘80s that wasn’t intended to be a blast from the past. But will all that make it worth $26,995?
What’s your take on this one of a kind for that kind of cash? Does $26,995 seem like a fair price for so interesting a piece of history? Or, to command that much would this Italia actually need to be more Italian than the automotive equivalent of an Olive Garden entrée?
H/T to AlphonzeMephesto for the hookup!
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