Update: the only reason I shot this is because of the fabric strap from the trunk holding up the exhaust pipe. But nobody else seems to have noticed it too.
This is one of those cars that you don’t often seem to see in silver. From a color perspective it totally works and goes good with the black trim and the dark tail lights..
But that’s all I got….
Really I see few of these CamBirds or Fox bodies as regular drivers. Especially in silver since it tends to fade to a dull grey when not kept up.
I still see tons of SN95 generation Mustangs as drivers, F bodies are much less common.
The F-bodies may have won most of the magazine comparos, but the Mustangs were more practical as daily drivers.
That said, I still like these. Better to be over-styled than the plain anonymous cars that were just around the corner.
Amen to that!!
As an owner of a 1999 Pontiac Firebird, I can attest that driving that car as even a semi daily driver was miserable. The car is a large car(outside dimension wise) but cramped inside. By contrast the Miatas that I got to dive and my Ford Probe(both smaller cars) were so much more comfy to drive.
I had mine for almost 2 years and I put a whopping 6,000 or 7,000 miles on it because it was a big pain in the ass to drive it. The number one issue I had with it was the seatbelt, no matter what I did, the damn thing was still uncomfortable to wear. I remember the last 30 minutes of an hour long trip I wound up driving illegally without a seatbelt on (something I never do) but the seatbelt rubbed my collar bone raw(even with a seatbelt pad)
I ended up selling the car 3 weeks later.
Your comments ring true, Leon! I briefly owned a 1997 T/A convertible (sadly an automatic, would have kept it with the 6-speed manual) and I had the same feelings about it – huge on the outside, small on the inside, and my kids sitting in the recesses that pass for a back seat were so low that they couldn’t even see out in any direction except the front.
I really wanted to love the car, but it did absolutely nothing for me when I sat in it or drove it. The exhaust did sound like a muscle car is supposed to sound like, so there was that . . .
More so than the same year of Camaro, these Firebirds always struck me as crudely styled “child’s toys” that were upsized just a bit too far. Like the REAL car would have been 9/10ths the size of these monstrosities.
Basically, just badly overblown styling.
IDK, for some reason, this image pops to mind when I see this generation Firebird.
Maybe the last gasp of styling for styling’s sake, with that whopping front overhang covering largely empty space, and making the wheelbase look even shorter. A long nose is sporty, yeah, but not if it’s mostly empty overhang.
I never liked this generation Firebird/Camaro. In fact, I think most of GM’s mid to late 90’s cars were absolutely hideous with maybe just a few exceptions.
It was somebody’s precious baby at one point and it’s still on the road getting its probably dirt poor owner to where he needs to go, so dumping on the car and its owner seems particularly gratuitous and unnecessary to me.
I would not be too concerned since we are just making comments and observing another roughed up Firebird or Camaro which does have stereotypes. I sometimes drive and park like a Camry driver, but I can live with myself.
That road looks pretty, which one is it?
I was surprised at the number of hoopties and/or worn looking vehicles when I moved to Portland in 2013, but I have gotten fairly used to it by now. I cannot tell if their Pontiac is dirty or if there is a cover on their Oregon Trail License Plate. There are some Firebirds and Camaros of that vintage around here, but not that many and some look worse than this one.
I too noticed the strap, but i have grown somewhat unsurprised about interesting vehicle repairs and did not bother to come up with a comment.
I noticed the strap but misinterpreted the use. I thought it was holding the trunk lid closed rather than holding up the tailpipe.
Maybe it is. I hadn’t thought of that.
It’s probably my Ford bias but even before I developed that when these were new there was always something more dumpy about fourth generation F bodies in low performance spec than SN95 Mustangs of the same era, which were ultimately the bread and butter packages in this segment and why the Firebird is no longer with us and the Camaro took a long hiatus. A WS6 Trans Am’s performance goes a long way to overlook the cheap/generic/ugly interior and overal plasticy feel of everything, but with a 3.4 under the hood that stuff is hard to overlook
Never was a fan of the fourth gen styling. The tapered shape looked weird, which was mostly rectified with the 98 facelift if you can get past the numerous nostrils it sprouted in exchange. The third gens looked great by comparison, much better than the Camaro IMO, but the tables really turned with these. I wanted to like them, being a lifelong fan of the second gens and moderate fan of the third, but my Dad always made fun of them, calling them batmobiles, and as much as I tried to scoff at the notion as a kid, he was right. They looked ridiculous when new and have aged terribly.
Just a beater. While I think that these cars were a bit to overstyled, the base models are at least spared the horrendous huge nostrils, scoops and glaring stripes. From this angle it looks pretty dramatic, especially in that silver. These were the best handling and performing of the breed, until the current incarnation. And these are dirt cheap of course. For some reason there is less shame in the base V6 Mustang, which always sold in much higher numbers. In my area V6 SN95 Mustangs are everywhere. A very popular low cost driver. I think that the GM V6 may have been available with a manual five speed tranny, which would have been a good combo. I saw one at a local consignment lot and thought it would be a good car for a teen age enthusiast. I think these V6s were good for 200 hp.
The owner has made their choice. Instead of a compact Honda or Toyota etc. he or she is staking their claim to the glory days of the American Muscle and Pony car. They will live out their link to the dream until they fix up the car or it dies.
This is one of those cars where color choice is important. All cars look good in black, but not necessarily in lighter colors such as silver and white. Though it seems these days most manufacturers seem to only offer Red, White, Black or Silver/Gray.
Usually as those cars get older ( muscle/pony cars ) the deviation of condition grows pretty big, and usually those high performance versions were kept better. ( still, I saw a nice V6 Camaro from the ’90s last year for sale, and it was kept in the garage during winter )
This Z28, was obviously not driven in the winter at all, not even for one week, otherwise the corrosion spots would show up on those chrome wheels ( and those are most likely the original rims ) and I took a very close look. It looks as nice as in a 1999 video game.
Or, as another way of looking at making a crappy old car work, is the owner simply keeping the hatch closed? Or maybe both functions are being served.
I must confess that I thought the strap was there to keep the hatch closed, too.
Maybe I got it wrong? 🙂
There’s actually a third, albeit unlikely, possibility, and that’s that the strap is there to hold the bumper cover on. But given that the cover seems to be otherwise aligned properly, I wouldn’t give that theory much credence.
I’m thinking Paul’s right about it being a makeshift exhaust hanger, simply because the exhaust pipe doesn’t seem to be in its proper, centered location to the left, but is pulled much closer to the middle, near the license plate holder.
No you got it correct. It is holding up the exhaust pipe. If it was holding the trunk down then they would have attached the rope/bungee cord to directly under the the license plate, there is a hook attached to the underside of the bumper(the metal part) that they used when these cars were delivered on the truck to the dealerships. that can be used if the trunk is not latching.
Trying to hold down the trunk by using the exhaust will cause the trunk to slightly bounce up and down turning the dome light and other lights on and off (which would be annoying). This because the exhaust system moves around due to the rubber grommets (it is designed that way to protect the exhaust from bumps. A too rigid exhaust will snap off going over bumps
While I agree that the strap is being used to hold up the tailpipe, the problem of the hatch bouncing and causing the dome light to turn on and off is easily solved: removal of the dome light bulb or, more likely in this case, a couple pieces of black electrical tape on the dome light lens.
Well at least with my 99 Firebird there were the following bulbs that turned on when a door or the trunk was open
1. Dome light
2. Trunk light
3. under the dash courtesy lights
4. Light on the dash telling you a door was open
Plus (at least on mine) there was a periodic dinging sound telling you a door was ajar.
Which failure is more likely?
Yikes! I’ve butchered some exhaust systems in my time but nothing like that.
I was gonna say something about there only being plastic coat hangers about, so they had to improvise to keep their muffler from dragging. (I’m guilty of this, too-I ended up using an old belt on my rusty beater)
This design was already getting long in the tooth when I got my first GM dealer job. I remember them well. I was quite impressed with the performance and handling of the V8 models, but their build quality was absolutely horrendous. There wasn’t a single one of these I worked on that some interior component was broken, missing, or in the process of falling off. And the seats could have doubled as third world prison torture devices. Ugh.
The 4th-gen f bodies may have been superior performance, but the SN95 Mustang was much more pleasant to live with every day.
I did notice the strap that I also assumed held up the muffler. IIRC, these cars have a hanger on that muffler that can be damaged or even rust out. I doubt that the rusting part happened in that neck of the woods, though.
I liked this generation of F-body a lot. I found the Camaro to be a bit bland, the early versions of this Firebird were my favorite. When my one daughter was in Girl Scouts, my wife “volunteered” me to help with Girl Scout camp. It was on a campsite up on Pine Mountain in middle Georgia and the only way to the site was on a service road. I was a bit apprehensive driving my Dakota up there, but one of the other dads drove his brand new Trans Am up to the campsite!
It’s kind of a shame to see a once-nice car like this in poor condition. Although, I’m pretty sure that we (car nuts) are the only people that see these machines as something with a personality or a reason to notice them. To the rest of the world, it’s just another “thing”, with no reason to think much about it beyond purchase price, cost of operation and what to do with it when it expires.
I think it might be a temp exhaust repair.
On my 1999 Firebird, the previous owner must have really wanted a Camaro as the Firebird V8 exhaust(dual large round pipes) was replaced by a aftermarket exhaust with Camaro pipes (thin rectangular ones) well the pipes coming off the muffler were heavy and not supported. I got to work one day and as I pulled into the parking lot i was rewarded with a loud scrape scrape sound. The welds attaching the passenger side exhaust pipe had broken and the pipe was leaning against the street. If I were to back up, then the pipe would have been forced backwards under the car doing some damage.
I had the following choices.
1. I could call a tow truck and pay to have my car towed home(40 miles away)
2. I could pull the pipe off
3. I could “fix” it temporarily with a heavy extension cord that I had just bought on the way to work from home depot.
I really did not want to spend all the money to get it towed home(especially if I had to replace the exhaust system shortly after) I also did not want to pull it off because there might be a chance it would be welded it back on and fixed.
In the end, I sacrificed my $10 extension cord and lopped off the ends and wrapped the cord around the pipe and wrapped it around one of the bumper mounts. It was crude and looked terrible but it worked and allowed me to get it home. I drove it like that for a few weeks and then had the exhaust replaced with the correct OEM one.
I personally think this driver is pulling off the perfect trifecta– holding the trunk lid down, exhaust system up AND the bumper cover on!
I can probably admit to doing similar, albeit less visible, exhaust hanging hackery. I used to wear a wallet chain in high school (because suburban street tough of course), and when one of my pipe hanger welds failed I wrapped the chain around the pipe and crossmember, put a few bolts in the links to hold it taught and left it like that for two years without any problem.
Are you Big Jay Oakerson by chance?
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