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...Things that stick!
Tuesday, September 28, 2021

What makes us car guys? When did the bug bite? Why Pontiacs? For that matter, why brand affiliation at all?

I remember as a high school student filling my note books with SS454, HEMI, GT500, COBRA, etc. No brand affiliation, just block letters and ink smeared textbooks. So, when the change from car guy to brand guy? Well this is how it happened for me.

The first car we got as a family was my older brother's 1967 Mustang fastback, with a 289! Wow, that car was fun. He installed an 8-track player and shackles, and then proceeded to tear up the streets with it for one whole summer.

Then one day we raced a friend with his dad's Pontiac Catalina. We claimed that we didn't see him coming up from behind us due to our elevated rear end, but we knew it was time for a change. After scouring the ads we fell upon a 1967 Firebird 400, the same engine that beat us but in a lighter package! Our odds were great!! To further our goals and assure success, we decided that it would be prudent to rebuild the carburetor. It took over a week to get the car started and months to get it running properly. Luckily our friend's dad sold the Catalina and bought an Impala during our down time.

By the end of that summer we had the car running again and from then on our older brother was considered kind of local carburetor guru thanks to his ability to take apart a Rochester Quadrajet on the side of the road. We didn't race much that year, but by the end of summer we were putting on some killer smoke shows.

That fall another friend of ours transplanted a big block Chevy into his 70s Pontiac Trans-Am, and sold us a Crane cam, Torker intake, and a Holley 780 carburetor for the Pontiac mill in our Firebird. We then found a donor car with a 4 speed setup and 3.90 positraction rear end. We spent that winter at our friend's garage refreshing the engine and installing said items, and the next few years finding excuses to go through third gear with what turned out to be a deceivingly fast Firebird. We didn't race that car at a track but we surprised ourselves as much as others on the local streets driving what should have been faster cars.

That was our start. A few years later we became known as the H.O. boys locally because of a string of 1971 Trans-Ams we owned and raced. Those cars were ahead of their time, miles ahead of the Firebird, and cemented our love for Pontiacs.

Still to this day it's that little 400 that says Pontiac to me.

Mind you the kickdown of a 455HO at 55mph...

Dimitri Meletakos


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