Seeing classic vehicles come out of long-term storage is one of the most satisfying car-related things out there. Much more so when the vehicle in question is a muscle car. However, dragging old cars out of barns is not always fun and games. As this 1968 Pontiac Firebird shows, saving barn-kept classics is usually about cleaning thick layers of dirt and vacuuming rat poop.
Rescued by YouTube’s “GTRobby,” this once-glorious Poncho spent a few good decades in storage. There’s no info as to how many years we’re talking about, but based on the dirt covering the body and the overall condition of the car, we’re probably looking at more than two decades of confinement. And needless to say, the barn it was kept in didn’t provide optimum protection against the elements and against rodents that usually turn abandoned cars into their homes.
It may look pretty bad at first glance. But the Firebird is mostly complete and doesn’t have a lot of rust to complain about. It needs a couple of headlamps and the roof has a big dent in it. But it’s nothing that can’t be solved with spare parts from scrapyards. Most of them are loaded with Firebirds that aren’t worth restoring.
The interior, on the other hand, is a big mess. The rear bench is missing, the front seats are toast, and the trunk is loaded with all sorts of junk. On top of that, both the floors and trunk were loaded with mouse excrement, which turned the cleaning process into a disgusting affair.
But once everything was vacuumed and washed, the owner discovered that the floor panels are still in solid condition. On top of that, both the dashboard and the door panels are still in one piece, which is a nice surprise for a car that spent more than 20 years in a barn. And I bet this red and black interior was gorgeous when new.
Speaking of red, the door jams suggest that this Firebird also had a red exterior from the factory. Based on Pontiac’s 1968 color palette, this hardtop was probably finished in Solar Red. However, someone decided to spray a thin layer of black over it, so most of the body is now covered in swirls and stains of black and red paint. The terrible finish becomes even more obvious after the Poncho gets its first wash.
As for the drivetrain, there’s good news and bad news under the hood. Not surprisingly, the engine bay looks pretty bad after all these years in storage. On the flip side, the fact that this Firebird still has its engine is excellent news. There’s no word on whether it’s the numbers-matching unit, but our host claims it’s a big-block V8. It probably won’t fire up without a full rebuild so the owner is obviously considering an LS swap.
For reference, the 1968 Firebird was offered with a wide selection of inline-six and V8 powerplants. Pontiac offered an entry-level 250-cubic-inch (4.1-liter) inline-six rated at 175 horsepower, as well as a beefed-up 215-horsepower version in the Sprint model. On the V8 front, options included the 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) L30 and L76, good for 265 and 320 horsepower, respectively.
As for big-block V8s, Pontiac offered the 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) L67 and L74 H.O., both with 335 horsepower on tap. The Ram Air II version of the L67 delivered 340 horsepower in the most potent 1968 model year Firebird.
All told, this Poncho may be too far gone for a full restoration, which would be too expensive relative to its market value, but it has great potential as a restomod. And it’s yet another classic muscle car saved from the crusher, which is good enough for me no matter how this Firebird returns to public roads. Check it out in the video below.