1979 Sunbird coupe Project

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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby Chief_Runs_W_Coyotes » Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:22 am

Finally got a set of fresh tires. I had ordered Toyos through Jegs to find out they no longer had the tire in question (over a week later). I ended up getting a set of Kuhmo Solus TA11’s and while I feel like they don’t fit the “period style” of the car they definitely look better than the white walls and they perform better too! The date on the old tires was marked 82 if that tells you anything about the previous ride quality. I also replaced all the lug nuts with some new ones from jegs as my old ones, which I assume were the originals, were a welded two piece design and the hex’s were splaying out on several of them. The new ones are a one piece design with a beautiful chrome finish, and are heavy duty in nature. I also liked the lengthened hex portion allowing for better grip.

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Guess which ones are mine lol
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Looking clean
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Definitely like the new paint on the rims
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Other than that I’ve done a little touch up paint inside and out. Much more to come.
1979 Pontiac Sunbird (currently undergoing restoration) with the old duke and a 4 speed
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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby HI WINDING MONZA » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:43 pm

Have one of those tires on my driver's side front on my 92 Sunbird, they seem to last a long time, but with the heat and the rough road surface, not too long.( Plus they were used)

Since the car is a beater, and front end is pretty much shot, used tires on the front, new tires on the rear. Plus I mount and bubble balance them myself with my handy dandy Harbour Freight tools, lol.

Doug in P.R. 8)
My Old Cadillac Powered Monza Still Lives...........now on its 6th owner!..........Somewhere in Arizona

The 90's just keep rollin' along........
1990 Chevrolet Silverado Regular Cab Long Bed 350 TBI V8 700R4 111K miles
1992 Pontiac Sunbird Coupe 2.0 OHC MPFI I4 TH125C 153k miles
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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby Chief_Runs_W_Coyotes » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:10 pm

So far they seem like decent tires, I’m still used to the feel of low profile z rated tires and it’s a bit of an adjustment. It was a great price also. Once I figure out what I’m doing with the bird I might get a summer wheel and tire package with some larger basset wheels (they have the proper lug pattern with larger diameter and width with a larger offset) and drag radials. I’ve went back and forth with engine options and I’m leaning towards improving the Duke, for now, and installing a posi rear with some steep gears. Idk if a previous owner has modded the ol Duke but it seems more potent than I expected. I can one wheel peel fairly easy and it has solid road and highway manners. I don’t struggle to pass anyone. I’ve read how gutless they are but it feels as peppy as my Scion TC was and that was 160 fwd. I don’t think it’s near those numbers by any means but it has a solid launch.

A 92 sunbird? I had a 94 with the 3.1 v6, a fun car for what it was...until about 95 miles an hour and then the rear end would become weightless and squirrelly. You don’t see them much anymore.
1979 Pontiac Sunbird (currently undergoing restoration) with the old duke and a 4 speed
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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby Chief_Runs_W_Coyotes » Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:07 am

So today I tackled (or attempted to tackle) the washer fluid pump. It had never worked and with it being my new daily driver I figured I should deal with it. I cleaned the reservoir and changed the pump and it works now...kind of...the drivers side will spray but not the passengers; the culprit was the hose going to the nozzle had a wear/burnt portion which squirts the fluid out into the engine bay. Almost a win. I also “fixed” one of the visors, it had black duct tape on it when I purchased the vehicle and I couldn’t look at it anymore so I stitched the rip. It’s better but not great by any means. The kids helped by vacuuming the interior, armor alling the plastic and vinyl bits, and putting the stock floor mats back in. They did a great job!

On to the bad part. I noticed today that a large portion of my passenger side wheel well is missing. It rusted away and fell off in the last week. I knew I needed to repair it in the future but didn’t think it was that bad. To be honest I’m a bit discouraged today and disappointed with myself for not believing what I read about the sorry state these cars are in and how difficult it can be to find replacement parts. I constantly find myself in these kind of predicaments, moments where I realize my alpha male pride and attitude that says “it didn’t work for them because I wasn’t the one doing it”. The rear end looks like it’s spent the last 41 years at the bottom of a lake, the drive shaft matches, and for some reason the exhaust seems to be hanging really low, but it’s still attached at all points. I’m not giving up on it yet, I have big plans still for this car, I’ve simply come to the realization today that it’s worse than I thought and will be a lot more work than I thought. I’m sure many of you have been there before.
1979 Pontiac Sunbird (currently undergoing restoration) with the old duke and a 4 speed
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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby DarthVega » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:08 am

Hey this car is good to go! Didn’t see many of them down south, well at least I didn’t, Duke or not, she will definitely shine!
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Re: 1979 Sunbird coupe Project

Postby Chief_Runs_W_Coyotes » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:42 am

Thanks for the comment DarthVega, but the pictures are at selfie angles, you know the ones..."turn your head till you look thin". Well, with this car its "angle till you don't see the rust"! So I have been daily driving this now for a couple months and have been really enjoying it! It has slightly reshaped some of my plans for the car, and sadly also lengthened my timeline by a lot, as it's my only way to work at the moment. So I thought I would take a few minutes and touch base with thoughts and opinions on a few things:

1. The Duke - drives a lot better than I expected, part of this might be the fact that it's a four speed car and I shift normally above 3,000 rpms, but it manages to go pretty well. It has been dead reliable every day. There's obviously room for improvement and I'm still working out the plans but when done I should be around 140 hp and still reliable. All in I'm looking to keep it under $1500 in upgrades to the engine as this is meant to be a budget build. Currently looking into the following:

A. Head work: deshroud the valve area, enlarge all ports, increase valve size, and switch to Z-28 springs. Should be about 80% of what the SD-4 heads were.

B. Camshaft: swap to a 272 grind and switch to the aluminum drive gear that's used on the 235/292 straight sixes. The micarta gear makes me very nervous lol

C. Exhaust: long tube headers from hedman meant for the Jeep application (the 81 jeep 2.5 was the same as my engine). The headers will likely need a little modification but should help exhaust flow greatly. Followed up with a cat delete and I'm still undecided on mufflers. I'm trying to keep that old school vibe so I'm thinking glasspack and a resonator.

D. Intake: biggest lump sum can be found here...double side draft webers. I'm most likely going to have to fabricate a manifold as the duke manifolds that I have seen were actually SD-4 manifolds which were slightly different in design (other than the larger ports).

E. EGR: with the header and intake change this will be deleted. Gas mileage will suffer some but not too bad.

F. Other: new plug wires, all top end gaskets replaced, ARP head bolts (currently missing one, it came that way), engine repaint, replace all rubber everything.

2. Transmission - the short gears provide a fun driving experience, most of the time. The only real issue I have is highway cruising, around here it's 70 or more for average highway speeds which is 3,000 rpms and up with the old four speed. I have come across an article about using the 3 speed saginaw's overdrive tailshaft and replacing the four speeds tailshaft with it to get a four speed overdrive. Google hasn't provided much luck on sourcing one of these but I plan to keep an eye out next year at swap meets and the like.

3. Ride Quality - the old bird rides about as good as any car I have ever been in. It is a little soft but corners well. I plan to stiffen and lower it a little with a spring swap and new shocks. I hadn't planned on replacing the springs but the drivers side rear of the car sags about an inch and half and I don't think shocks would be enough to correct this. The plan is to buy stock replacement springs and cut off a coil and a half, kyb replacement shocks should still function properly with that short of a drop. The other issue I have with ride is that above 70 it feels like I'm on ice, this is likely a caster issue which I will have investigated shortly, but this car could use some functional aero. I have been searching for a front chin spoiler that was more than decorative and have come up empty handed. I think I will need to put my fabrication skills to the test and make one the way I want it. Rear spoiler is still undecided between a few options.

4. Interior - still haven't done anything here yet, I'm undecided on whether to reupholster the factory seats or swap them. Radio is going to get replaced with a retrosound, and I'm looking for some old clarion shelf speakers for the rear. Also still trying to decide the best cupholder placement as door hanging isn't my favorite but it's not horrible. Steering wheel is going to get replaced with a classic Grant unit with a wood grip 14" diameter to give me some more room to get in and out. I'm glad mine has the tilt option otherwise I couldn't get in at 6'4" tall.

If you have any advice on the above ideas or options to look into, or sources for parts, please let me know. This has been a slow build process and will continue to be as such but hopefully with tax season around the corner I can get more done (or get the body work done if I can get my other car running again.)
1979 Pontiac Sunbird (currently undergoing restoration) with the old duke and a 4 speed
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