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Dick & Carol Johnson's '69 Firebird

Dick and Carol Johnson's 1969 Pontiac Firebird

The Story

I always thought it would be fun to buy a California car to drive back to Minnesota. In 1974 my wife’s parents, in California, needed a car: a 1974 Oldsmobile Omega 2 door hatch back. Since we had an Oldsmobile dealership, we had the vehicle!  We volunteered to deliver it to Pacifica, California, just south of San Francisco with our two daughters, 2 1/2 and an 8 month old. That gave me the opportunity to look for and purchase a California car!  After much looking, I bought this 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible from the original owner.

We abandoned our suitcases, packed the trunk, added a piece of foam rubber to the back seat for the comfort of our little girls…(this was before seatbelts) and headed home to Minnesota. Our trip to California had been a long 4-day trip, trying to be patriotic with the new 55 mph speed limit and a new car with ‘break in’ constraints.

On our way back to Minnesota, we discovered groups of 3 semis running between 70 and 80 mph so we would fall in between the second and third semi and roll along. When they turned off, we would drive 55, waiting for the next group of semis and again fall in.  The return trip was made much quicker and more fun. Once in Minnesota, we drove the car for the balance of the summer, then stored it in my father’s barn where it stayed for approximately 30 years. 

In 2007, we took the Firebird out of storage.  About the only thing we did mechanically was to replace the fiber timing gears with steel in this 46,000-mile car. We then completely refinished this rust free car.

In 2009, our Pontiac franchise was bought out.  We put the car back in storage with no trim on it, no exhaust, carpet and a few other missing pieces.  When I saw the Land o’ Lakes GTO Muscle Car Classic I thought I should try to have it done and find out what I had done correctly and what I could correct to make it better. Our Firebird won first place in the featured car class.  I was a little surprised because there were a number of very good-looking Firebirds there.

I am going to work on the items that weren’t ‘correct’ and try to make it even better.

Dick and Carol Johnson



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