1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

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1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:41 pm

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge Sunbird fan. I had two in high school (1991), one was a hotrod with a 327 and the other was a daily driver 151 car. I always wanted another and finally was able to pick up a nice 1976 Sunbird Towne Coupe in January 2016. It was quickly followed by a 1980 Sunbird Towne Coupe in April or May. Think that would cover me? Nooooo... It should have.

The Formula was always my holy grail. Always wanted one. Never had a chance to get one. Then Jerry Boger sent me a picture of his 1980 Formula. It was a wreck and I should have passed it up but I just couldn't. I drove 8-hours from Cleveland, Oh to Hamptonville, NC to pick it up. It looked a lot worse than I expected and I almost said I'll pass. But, again, I couldn't...probably should have...and loaded it up for the trip home.

formula j1.jpg
At Jerry's
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Formula s3.jpg
No rear valance. Shocking...
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sf1.jpg
Homeward
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I started cleaning it out today so I could figure out how to proceed. The hatch window was broke out years ago so it had been home to who knows how many critters. I also assumed that the floors would be really bad from water getting it to the car. Surprisingly, as I vacuumed out all the dirt, nuts, leaves, etc. I saw that the floors were not all that bad. A few holes here and there but nothing major. The interior is a complete loss. Fortunately, I was able to pick up a 1980 Monza hatchback that seems to have a mostly complete and intact interior. The only part that is really worrisome to me is the A-pillar on the right side is pretty damaged from an encounter with a steel mailbox. I am hoping I can simply cut that out, cut out the same from the blue car, and splice it back together.

sf2.jpg
Home
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sf3.jpg
Home
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:45 pm

Cleaning pictures.
sf4.jpg
Hatch
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sf5.jpg
Passenger floor
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sf6.jpg
Drivers Floor
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The dash is a total loss but I will use a lot of parts from the donor Monza.
sf7.jpg
Dash disaster
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Too bad the gauge cluster is destroyed. I know a guy that has the same cluster so I will see if I can pry it from him.
sf8.jpg
Full instrumentation?
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:49 pm

So...Am I completely nuts?? :rolleyes: :?: Do you guys think she is saveable?
1980 Formula trim tag.jpg
Trim Tag
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I think she is but it is going to take a while to put her back together.

Not sure on engine/transmission yet. Leaning LS3 but also thinking stock-ish 151 since it was a 151 car originally. I was planning to start my 1976 Coupe project but I was apprehensive on tearing it apart. This one has no attachment and its already mostly apart. :lol:

Let me know what you all think!
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby Kenova » Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:16 pm

If you are starting from scratch for a drive train and would be happy with a four then maybe one of GM's newer four cylinders would work for you.
You would even have a choice between turbo or blower. :mrgreen:
Here's some inspiration. http://ls1tech.com/forums/conversions-h ... osted.html

Ken
My other car is a Nova.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby Monza Harry » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:44 pm

Ken I was thinking the same thing but a "Formula" should have a V8 D :censored: n it! And in todays bounty of Alloy V8's that it should be! Since it isn't a prime restoration project FUN is on the table in my head {I know your wallet isn't voting the same way as my head, Kevin! :lol: ] Perhaps a "Northstar" compete with transaxle straight into the back seat like that bug(?). Just some idea's to have fun with, $$$$$ money will usually end these dreams in a HURRY!
RedFiveKBS wrote:Think that would cover me? Nooooo... It should have.
Well as sick as you clearly are, you have come to the "WRONG" place for "HELP" we will certainly encourage such fool hardiness [with out exception]! I have a piece of "Rust" that used to be an '80 Monza Spyder that I have been going to cut up for about 5+/- years now, but it still hasn't happened! We NEED HELP but I don't want it either! Harry :D
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:35 pm

Thanks, Guys! One interesting idea is a Cosworth motor. One of the CVOA guys has a motor and transmission he offered to me for the project. That would be pretty cool. I sort of want a bit more power though.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:37 pm

Working on stripping the donor car, 1980 Monza. I was hoping that this donor car was in much better shape but it has a lot of rot. The floors have big holes cut out where someone was planning to repair them. The left fender has two big dents from when the left front wheel flew off the car when the previous owner was towing it home. It was also packed with mud on the bottom where it meets the cowl. Hopefully, the right fender is not packed with mud so I can reuse it.
Deconstruction1.jpg
Tear down
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The doors have mud in them but I think with some blasting and careful surgery they may be able to be saved.
door2.jpg
Left door
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The only real good part of this car is its interior. It is filthy, nasty dirty but it appears to be in great condition under all the filth. The last registration sticker is from 1991 when it was supposedly parked in a barn with the windows rolled down a bit.
Filty Dash1.jpg
Nasty
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Filty dash2.jpg
Yum...
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This was after just a quick wipe down with some of those citrus based cleaning towels. I'll give it a more thorough cleaning later.
Almost clean Dash.jpg
Cleaning
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I am going to gut the balance of the interior and put it aside. It may be traded to Ken Mahoy for a red (Carmine) interior which is what the Formula had when new. I also plan to cut some bits out of the quarters for the Formula. The quarters look pretty good but I fear I'll discover mud when I cut into them. The donor Monza will also be giving up it's left door striker. The door kept opening on the trailer ride home and I only noticed the striker was damaged after I got home. It is actually cracked 2/3 of the way around and bent over. This poor car had a rough life.

I may have to use the entire wiring harness from the Monza too. The Formula had sat out side without a hood for a long time. I know a number of the connectors are full of mud from wasps and other bugs so it may just be easier to swap the whole thing.

The Monza is also a manual steering car. I had been hunting a complete manual set up for a while and this was a nice surprise. It may go on the Formula or saved for another project. I plan to salvage any good parts off the Monza I can whether I need them or not. I am sure others can use the parts I do not need. :D

Oh! Any I ran the trench from the house to the garage for new power and gas. I am sure I'll get the electric done shortly and I hope to have the gas done soon. Just need to get my brother over to place the furnace and hook it up so I can safely hibernate in the garage all winter. :th:
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby mahoy78spyder » Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:01 am

Let me know when you're ready to come on by, Kevin, and I'll get that interior stripped out of the Skyhawk. :th:
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:27 pm

Sounds good Ken! I have to finish pulling the parts out of the Monza donor.

I hope to get the bulk of the inside metal work and underside on the Formula done over the winter. Then I'll focus on the exterior. I have the Monza doors I'm going to try to save and I do have a few fenders I think I can fix. Also need to fix a hole in one of the quarter panels with parts from the Monza. I'm keeping the manual steering set up from the Monza for a future project. I had thought about keeping the rear diff but since I'm planning to haul the carcass to you, I'll leave it in to aide in moving it and I really don't need it. It probably would have donated its brackets for to another rearend. I'll take some pictures of the underside in the wheel wells for you. I think they are good but I haven't looked hard yet.

At least I was able to get my electric to the garage updated to 50A service. Now I'll be able to run my big compressor and the MIG without blowing my breaker. It was just 2 #12's with NO ground since I moved in 17-1/2 years ago. It was well overdue. The gas line is run but I need to make the connections inside the house and the garage. I need some heat out there so I can work all winter. :)
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby sportriderok » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:23 pm

Love to see you tackling this one! Take your time and get it done when it is done. No pressure, except lots of pictures!!
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:05 pm

Thanks, Sportriderok! It is going to be a lot of work.

I was hoping to save the doors off of the donor Monza but the more I'm looking at them the more I'm thinking they're toast. They have some pretty good rust up in the top of the window frames on both. Not sure it is worth all the effort on these. I have started looking for a better pair of doors and I am talking to a place out west that has a number of cars that are supposed to be solid. They quoted me $400 each for door shells. It would be just over $1000 for the pair shipped and I will probably buy them assuming they are good and solid. I am just waiting on pictures.

Still working on stripping out the interior of the Monza donor and I think most of it is good and just needs a good scrubbing. I did find a piece of the build sheet.
I think the mice got the rest. :(
build.jpg
build.jpg (133.11 KiB) Viewed 540 times


Once I get all the interior out, I'll be parking the shell outside and moving the Formula inside. I really want to get the floors cut and patched, pull all the wiring out (I think it is pretty butchered), drop all the suspension and rear, mount it on the rotisserie, and start working on the body. I'd love to have it in all primer and the underside finished by Spring.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Fri Nov 25, 2016 9:21 pm

Had a somewhat productive day working on stripping the Donor Monza. The balance of the interior is pulled and set aside. The main dash was a pain just due to all the wiring connections holding it in place but I got it out. Also pulled the entire wiring harness and steering column (it was a manual steering car). I am hoping the Formula's harness is good but it sat outside for a long time with no hood. I think the connectors are going to be corroded and/or full of mud from wasps. They are both 1980 hatchbacks so I am assuming the harnesses will be virtually identical. if not, at least I'll have the bulk of it and just have to splice in some bits.
Dash.jpg
Dash gone
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The floors are spotty. The left passenger pan is near perfect but the left front was cut out as was the right passenger pan. The right front pan is intact but it has a number of rust holes. The one good pan will get cut out for use on the Formula.
Floors.jpg
Floors
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The rear hatch and wheel tubs are in really good condition. The plan is to leave the rear sheet metal in place and haul the whole shell off to Ken Mahoy's place. He needs a lot of these parts for his C06 Spyder project.
Left wheel well.jpg
Left Wheel Well
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Right WW.jpg
Right Wheel Well
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Spare tire well.jpg
Spare tire well.
Spare tire well.jpg (136.84 KiB) Viewed 513 times

I want to finish pulling the little parts out of the interior and then roll this hulk outside. I'll cover it for now as I will need to cut some pieces out of the quarters and floor for the Formula. I really need to get the Formula indoors so I can pull it apart. It's up the street at my sister-in-laws and getting water in it since there is no hatch glass.

I also met a guy on another FB page that makes reproduction parts for Mavericks and Comets; floor pans, torque boxes, patch panels, etc. We spoke on the phone for about an hour and he was confident he could make reproduction panels for H-bodies. He is just 25 minutes from me so I hope to be able to meet with him soon. I'll report back with, hopefully, positive news.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby b_pappy » Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:27 pm

Quite the project, but sounds great. You're making good progress already. Always fun watching these projects, and what others are up to.
If you're serious about a 4 cylinder I was thinking the ecotec SSTC (l61 I think) engine would be very nice, but personally I think it needs a V8.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:36 am

b_pappy wrote:Quite the project, but sounds great. You're making good progress already. Always fun watching these projects, and what others are up to.
If you're serious about a 4 cylinder I was thinking the ecotec SSTC (l61 I think) engine would be very nice, but personally I think it needs a V8.
Bruce


Bruce, I think the LS3/6-speed option is winning at the moment. :P I've wanted a hot rod for a long time since I sold my first one years ago. No point in building a 4-cyl one. I was considering a Cosworth motor just to be different but with a 120hp or so...nah...
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby Monza Harry » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:24 pm

RedFiveKBS wrote:
b_pappy wrote:Quite the project, but sounds great. You're making good progress already. Always fun watching these projects, and what others are up to.
If you're serious about a 4 cylinder I was thinking the ecotec SSTC (l61 I think) engine would be very nice, but personally I think it needs a V8.
Bruce


Bruce, I think the LS3/6-speed option is winning at the moment. :P I've wanted a hot rod for a long time since I sold my first one years ago. No point in building a 4-cyl one. I was considering a Cosworth motor just to be different but with a 120hp or so...nah...

Kevin the other problem with the CW is its' lack of power handling by todays standards, Hammerdown has stated a couple of times that the cylinders separate from the crankcase at about 270HP [he probably has the most experience with this situation of most on this board so I wouldn't consider arguing that with him as I know that in the Midget Race cars they never took off as the "go to power plant" I knew of a few reasons that a few over came but they quickly abandoned that pursuit] while that would still be a hoot to drive and easier to build the rest of the car around, and this car would turn corners with todays tires and suspension upgrades like it was on RAILS! [the all alloy engine up front would be a light combo and be excellent in the FR/RR weight distribution dept. Also less weight means you need less traction and less heavily built parts that adds [subtracts I guess would be a better description] to the lighter weight and round and round we go until you have a jet engine on you roller skates, But there are better 4 cyl. choices today even staying in the "Generals Family" ECO Tech are available with both a supercharger or a turbo and both are easily upgraded today with adequate [to even good] aftermarket support, that will still not supply the "S :censored: t Eating Smiles" of the LS 6 speed [Auto or Stick available today] I don't think there is a bad choice in the [Alloy] LS family for an H-Body about 200 to maybe even 300 lbs. off the nose and 350>500+ HP That will be hard to match with even a 2.4 ECO with a bigger blower but given the chance I would be chomping at the bit to try either one! A "Fast" car is one thing and a "Fun" car is a different thing, but not to be passed up either way, let your experience, or desire for new challenges, and a realistic* budget be your guide.! Harry * The budget is probably the most important as you don't want a "Killer Project" that goes unfinished for 34yrs. like someone else's project that keeps stalling for every possible reason: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=43547 :oops:
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