By Merri Hanjora - [email protected]


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LIMA - Gary “Taco” Smith, of Lima, owns this 1981 Pontiac Firebird. He took it to the Westgate Charity Car Show.

“I bought it in 1988 and had it restored in 1989. It was in a car lot sitting in back. I saw the Cragar wheels and thought, “this has potential,” said Smith.

Cragar wheels have been in production since 1930, but it was with the Cragar S/S Super Sport Wheel in 1964, that the company became closely associated with the iconic styling of muscle car wheels, so it’s no wonder that the wheels sparked Smith’s decision to buy this car.

The Pontiac Firebird is an American classic “pony” car. It’s rival was the Ford Mustang. The Firebird was the base model, but there were also the Sprint, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am models. It was built from 1967 to 2002. Although the Pontiac Firebird was six months behind the launch of the Camaro, the car was an immediate success.

The sporty car was popular with anyone who wanted to look cool.

Speaking of “cool”, the sales brochure for Pontiac’s 1981 Firebird featured late actor Burt Reynolds sitting on a black and gold Trans Am talking on a CB radio. Reynolds had driven a 1980 turbo charged Trans Am in the 1980 movie, “Smokey and the Bandit II,” and had helped make the black and gold color scheme popular when he drove a 1977 model in the original “Smokey and the Bandit” movie.

There were not very many changes from the Firebird 1980 models during the 1981 production run. A complete redesign occurred for the 1982 models. The base engine was a 231 CID six-cylinder that produced 110 horsepower. During the 1981 production run there were approximately 70,899 models produced.

The engine in Smith’s car is original, as it’s a V-6 automatic.

During the winter months the Firebird is stored. Smith enjoys taking his beauty to car shows during the nicer months.

By Merri Hanjora

[email protected]


See more profiles of Real Wheels cars at

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