My Black Pontiac

Pontiac Firebirds first came on the scene in 1967, and in the following years established themselves as one of the most popular muscle cars to come out of America, and were at the forefront of the market until production stopped in 2002.

I used to keep my beloved Pontiac in my famous asbestos riddled garage until I had Sydney asbestos removal guys tear it down last year, then I sadly decided to get rid of my black beauty as I really couldn’t store it.

The Pontiac Divison of General Motors bought out three variants of the Pontiac Firebird in 1982: the standard base model – which was aligned with fellow General Motors’ release, the Camaro Sport Coupe, the more luxurious Special Edition, and most famously the high performance Trans Am.

The Trans Am is memorable most notably for its role in the successful television series Knight Rider. Its role is that of a crime fighting machine named KITT, which in tandem with emerging star David Hasselhoff stars in a number of dramatic storylines where “direct action might provide the only feasible solution.”


The Trans Am is given a number of special features and abilities, including advanced technology, a near indestructible body, a voice (that of William Daniels), and artificial intelligence that allows it to control itself.

With its television success came a new and widespread fanbase. A cocktail of crime fighting, technology and style meant it appealed to a wide range of viewers.

Even before the show the 1982 Trans Am was a success, with an unexpectedly high 53,000 sales that year meaning that it accounted for 45% of all the Firebird’s produced, with young males being again being won over by the car’s stylish looks, as well as power. It also provided a cheaper alternative to market rivals like the Chevrolet Corvette.

The 1982 Trans Am had the choice of two different 305-cid V8 engines. The standard engine gave 145bhp, while an optional fuel injection Corvette engine could be fitted, giving 165bhp, making it the most powerful of the three 1982 Firebirds.

Tests on the 1982 Trans Am’s acceleration yielded differing results. At best, it was estimated that it could go from 0 to 60mph in 9.2 seconds, at worst in 10.8 seconds. While apparently relatively modest compared to muscle cars of a decade earlier, it was still quicker than most early 80s cars.

Three decades later the popularity of the 1982 Trans Am is still high thanks to its part in Knight Rider. In prime condition they are usually nowadays worth around $6,500, relatively cheap for a classic. Car insurance companies in most cases will not insure classic cars for their value, so it is important to get an agreed value when shopping for car insurance quotes.

Back to the Past: The DeLorean

> Although it was made famous in a 1985 Hollywood classic, the blueprint for the DeLorean DMC 12 was first drawn up in 1976 at the DeLorean Motor Company, and it was finally built in 1981 at the company’s factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

Despite the factory being built to develop 30,000 cars per year, a total of just 9,000 new cars were built. Even though they were manufactured in Northern Ireland, only 20 were assigned to be right-hand-drives after research suggested a potential market outside America.

The DeLorean Motor Company’s founder, John DeLorean was an engineer from Detroit, who had previous involvement in the automobile industry, developing cars in his hometown for General Motors. The DeLorean DMC 12 turned out to be the only car ever developed by the DeLorean Motor Company, leading it to be simply known as the DeLorean.

Delorean

The DeLorean’s 2.8 litre V6 engine yielded a slightly modest maximum power of 170hp (130kW), with a more impressive acceleration performance of 0 to 60mph in 8.8 seconds owing to its lightweight 1.2 tonne frame. The transmission options were the five-speed manual, or the three-speed automatic.

The car was chosen as the time machine in ‘Back to the Future’ thanks to its futuristic appearance. Features such as Gullwing doors and a stainless steel body persuaded the film’s writers to shelve their original plans of using an old refrigerator.

The car is used to travel through time by Michael J Fox’s character Marty McFly, who accidentally ends up in his own Hill Valley neighbourhood back in 1955 rather than being able to travel freely through history and the future, as was originally intended. The car gained a cult following from the film, popular with car collectors both young and old.

Indeed the dream in still alive for the DeLorean, which still has a considerable following to this day. Stephen Wynne, an Englishman from Liverpool bought the DeLorean Motor Company name and assets in 1995, and began building DeLoreans using the equipment and numerous spare parts remaining from the 1980s.

Car Insurance for classic cars can often prove costly. Given that it is hard to find an insurance company who will insure a classic car for what it is actually usually worth, it may be worth getting an agreed value when looking for car insurance quotes. The new DeLoreans are available from $57,000US,with upgraded versions available for more.

The company was declared bankrupt in 1982 after running into financial trouble. DeLorean also faced a charge of drug trafficking, which he successfully fought against on the grounds of entrapment, although accusations of him acquiring public money did his and the car’s reputation more damage.

The redeeming impact the film had on the car’s memory is best summed up by co-writer Bob Gale, who stated that “probably half the people who own DeLoreans today own them because they saw ‘Back to the Future.’” John DeLorean is known to be a fan of the film, and following its release wrote to Gale to thank him for “keeping my dream alive”.

Herbie the Love Bug: 1963 Volkswagen Beetle

It also made a name for itself for something completely opposite to its purpose. The 1963 Volkswagen Beetle starred as a racer named ‘Herbie’ in the popular franchise of films spanning almost four decades.

The original Beetle was designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche in 1938, the Austrian engineer who also cars for Mercedes Benz as well as the first Porsche cars.

It came after a request from Adolf Hitler for a basic Volkswagen (literally ‘people’s car’), capable of transporting a family of five at 100kph. These new cars would be available to all citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme.

Production slowed significantly during World War II, and stopped in 1945 after the factory suffered damage from Allied Forces bombs. After being handed over to the British post war, it survived by producing cars for the British military.

British Army Officer Ivan Hirst is widely credited with saving the Beetle. After removing a potentially destructive unexploded bomb from the factory, he resumed production. Eventually the factory was handed back to the Germans, and Volkswagens became popular at home and beyond.

The 1963 Beetle was introduced with enlarged directional lights. It had a manual four-speed transmission and an engine that had a modest maximum power of 40BHP (24kW), but was still a very successful model with nearly 900,000 cars produced that year.

Nowadays restorations of the car are carried out, and are available for less than $10,000. Given its status as a classic car, when looking for car insurance quotes for the 1963 Beetle it is important to get an agreed value, as most companies are unwilling to insure them for what they are worth.

A local synthetic grass company in the Australia had the novel idea of covering their Beetle in Synthetic Grass. It took 3 months to cover the car with astroturf. The Sydney synthetic turf car drives proudly around Sydney.

Fake Turf Car

The height of the Beetle’s popularity was in the sixties. It was this popularity that contributed to the 1963 version’s selection as Herbie in the Disney series of motion pictures that started with The Love Bug (1968) and five additional films; the most recent being Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005).

Herbie

The Beetle first features in The Love Bug as a car that is acquired by unlucky racing driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), who quickly finds that it appears to have a mind of its own, seemingly capable of controlling itself and feeling emotion.

It also turned out to have a surprising turn of speed for an unimposing car, transforming Douglas’ fortunes and turning them into a formidable partnership, winning many races. Throughout the series of films Herbie proves to be a formidable racer, in addition to being involved in a number of adventures.

Herbie appears in a familiar livery throughout the series, with a fabric sunroof and blue, white and red stripes from front to back on a white background accompanied by a racing style ‘number 53’. In the 2005 film, to create the impression that Herbie could achieve top speed in reverse, the engineers took the body off the chassis, and placed in back facing the wrong way.