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Mechanic School Training in Action: Turning a 1967 Pontiac Firebird into a Modern Hybrid!

Published on April 28, 2016 by in Blog, CATI
Learn how one man used his auto repair training to turn a classic car into an eco-friendly restoration

Learn how one man used his auto repair training to turn a classic car into an eco-friendly restoration

Every auto enthusiast loves classic cars. Since most classic cars that are in good condition are considered collector’s items, they usually come with a high price tag. This prevents most people from ever owning one. Restoring a classic car, however, can be an affordable option, and is a project that most auto mechanics love to undertake.

Classic car restoration involves finding a worn-out model and making it street-ready with new engine parts, a clean interior, and a fresh paint job. It’s usually a time-consuming project that involves locating parts that are much harder to come by than when the car was originally built. When doing a restoration, most people are looking to literally “restore” a model by fitting it with manufacturer-specific engine parts from the particular model year. In some cases, however, cars can be restored to perform better than they ever did before.

If you’re thinking about enrolling in mechanic school, there’s a chance that you have some ideas for a restoration project that you’d like to start one day. Read on to learn how a man in the US is taking a less conventional route by restoring a classic Firebird and turning it into a hybrid.

Using Auto Repair Training to Clear Out Old Wreckage

Bill from Columbus Ohio is the man behind the restoration project that’s gaining internet popularity. Bill works as a mechanical engineer and got most of his auto repair training from his father, who taught auto mechanics at a local school during Bill’s youth.

He originally bought the 1967 Pontiac Firebird in 1979, paying only $750 USD at the time. “I drove it for years and made many memories.” said Bill, proving that the car lived a good life before it was locked away in storage for many years. During that time, mice found their way into the vehicle and ate away at the interior and wiring which put it in rough condition. The engine was also described as “on its last legs” by the time Bill began his restoration project in 2014.

What Auto Repair Training Teaches Students about Engine Swaps

Bill started with a conventional restoration, but soon began running into major electrical issues as well as a lot of hidden metal corrosion. The engine, which had been out of order and hadn’t received checks or maintenance for many years, was also going to be an issue to fix up, since a majority of the parts would need to be completely replaced.

Around the time he realized how long the project might take him, Bill’s wife asked if it was possible to convert the classic into a hybrid like the two Prius’ the couple owns. He realized that as it turns out, the 1967 Pontiac Firebird and the Prius V have almost exactly the same wheelbase. You’ll learn while becoming a mechanic that when two wheelbases match, it makes for an easy fitting engine swap, which is what Bill decided to do when he acquired a gas-electric engine to replace the beat-up Firebird powertrain.

Overall Costs and Upcoming Projects

Bill is comfortable working with eco-friendly auto technology—he currently works full time as an engineering supervisor for a company that manufactures hybrid transit busses. He reports that the overall costs haven’t been as high as he expected for this type of restoration. The Firebird cost $750 decades ago, plus $6,000 for a Prius V with around 8,000km on the odometer, and around $4000 for tools that he needed for the job.

With his ongoing restoration project, Bill has gained a lot of attention from the online auto community – mostly from people who didn’t believe a project like this was possible. The classic Firebird with a hybrid engine is expected to be finished by 2019. His next project? He plans to build his wife a fully-electric BMW Z3 roadster.

Interested in training at a top mechanic school?

Visit CATI for more program information, or to speak with an advisor.

 
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