Do you remember the two 1967 Pontiac Firebirds that were bought, restored and sold by Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage (GMG) in 2014 and shown in the Discovery Channel hit reality TV series “Fast N’ Loud“? Well, the current owner who won the bidding for the cars at the 2017 Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction is putting the pair of historic Firebirds up for sale again, this time for a princely price of $285,000! If you’re wondering why such a high price for two Pontiacs, you have to know that these cars were reputed to be the first two Firebirds – a convertible and a hardtop – to roll out of the Pontiac Motor Division (PMD) production line in 1967.
As common practice during those days, these first two cars weren’t immediately sold at a Pontiac dealership but were used for product pictorials, car shows and advertising displays. 1967 PMD production records show that the first Firebird ever produced was tagged with Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) 100001. It was a convertible finished in Regimental Red with a black soft top and fitted with a 250-horsepower Pontiac 326 cubic-inch V8, column-shift automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. As a car destined for advertising and show duty, the convertible was fitted with a deluxe red interior, cruise control and a rare floor-mounted clock. A metal body tag inscribed “Show 1” was installed at the Pontiac factory.
The second Firebird wearing VIN 100002 is a hardtop coupe finished in Silver Glaze with a black vinyl top and fitted with a 280-horsepower 326cid High Output (H.O.) V8, floor-mounted 4-speed manual transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Since it will accompany the convertible in promotional campaigns, it was fitted with body stripes, Rally II wheels, a hood-mounted tachometer, tilt-steering, floor console, and deluxe interior. Pontiac installed a “Show 4” metal body tag on Firebird #002.
Part of the Pontiac Magnificent Five
To differentiate their pony car from its Chevrolet Camaro cousin and their Ford Mustang rival, Pontiac created a unique identity for the new Firebird. Instead of offering one car with multiple options, PMD presented “The Magnificent Five” with each Firebird model having its own distinctive style and different engine. Firebirds #001 and #002 were part of the show cars presented in various launches, dealer events, race weekends, and promotional tours for several months.
After the Pontiac’s “Magnificent Five” promotional tour ended, nothing much was reported about Firebirds #001 and #002. In 2014, Richard Rawlings and his friend Dennis Collins found the cars in the barn of former NBA basketball player Chuck Alekinas in a deteriorated state of disrepair and bought the pair of Pontiacs for $70,000. The two Firebirds were taken to the GMG workshop in Dallas, Texas, where a frame-off restoration was undertaken under the supervision of Jason Aker, a concours restoration expert, who was brought on board to oversee the project. The restoration was covered in several episodes of “Fast N’ Loud”.
“Holy Grail” Pontiacs
“Having done the deal and bought the cars, we elected to bring them back to their former glory so that people can enjoy them as originally built, rather than leave them to deteriorate further,” explained Rawlings. “Gas Monkey Garage rose to fame as a hot rod and custom shop, but the team has done an exceptional job of turning out a museum-quality restoration on these great historic cars.” He also made a risky deal with the buyer to restore both cars to museum-quality condition in just 60 days or pay a $10,000-a-day penalty for every day over deadline. Fortunately for everyone, GMG finished the cars on time.
Rawlings reportedly spent a total of $400,000 in parts, paint, labor and miscellaneous expenses on both cars during restoration. After GMG made the deadline, the two Firebirds were presented to JD Pass, a cowboy, entrepreneur, collector and long-time GMG friend during the 3rd Annual Concours d’Elegance of Texas on May 4, 2014. Afterwards, the restored Pontiacs were kept inside a private museum in Colorado. “This discovery of the very first and second Firebirds ever built, two of Pontiac’s ‘Magnificent Five’, was an enthusiast’s dream”, said Pass. “The significance of the second Firebird is that it was the very first 326 H.O. ever built!” Pass and his business partner, a lifelong Pontiac enthusiast, reportedly paid $650,000 for the two “Holy Grail” Pontiacs.
GMG tried to keep the two Pontiacs as original as possible. They only replaced the rusted floors and quarter panels with new reproduction panels but used as much of the original steel as possible in a bid to retain the originality of both cars. Both cars represent an amazing piece of American automotive history. They’ve been kept together as a pair, restored together, and were sold together, which makes them a fascinating pair of historic cars.
At the 2017 Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction, owner JD Pass lifted the “Reserve” prices of his pair of historic Firebirds and bidding was closed at only $260,000. JD lost money during the auction since he reportedly bought the cars from Rawlings at $650,00. The winning bidder and current owner, who prefers to be unnamed and refers to these cars as “Pontiac Royalty”, relocated the Firebirds from Colorado to Lincoln, Nebraska and just recently listed them for sale (again) with a price of $285,000, which is a bargain compared to the $470,000 needed to acquire these significant cars and restore them to concours-quality condition. Car collectors are certain that these prices of these first two 1967 Pontiac Firebirds will rise significantly over time because after all, these are historic American automobiles with significant provenance and a long fascinating tale of their existence.