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Old 08-08-2018, 08:35 AM   #1  
ksr
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Introduction - new member

I've just joined and I live on Hilton Head Island, SC. I've occasionally browsed the forums over the years.

Long-time third gen owner and fan. Some people dream of owning a Ferrari, I'm happy with my 1988 Trans Am GTA. I bought this one in February with only 32,000 original miles, one owner. 5.7L. Digital dash.

Prior to this, I had a 1990 Formula purchased new in 1990 that I drove for eight years and logged 167K miles. Bought another 1990 Formula in 2003 that I kept for six years and 124K miles. Between those two, I had a 1998 Trans Am convertible, and after selling my prior third gen in 2009, I had a 5th gen Camaro. No one that knows me was surprised to find that I'd bought another third gen. I guess you always stay faithful to the one you really love.


Last edited by ksr; 08-08-2018 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:13 AM   #2  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Gorgeous car! Welcome!

Similar story to myself.. had some reliable third gens growing up and racked some miles and finally got back in the game when I found my 30k mile Vert..

Something about these cars.. they weren’t the fastest, they weren’t the highest build quality, but there’s something really cool and fun about these cars. There are people that really go crazy for them..

I’ve said similar things.. I see all these exotics at car shows but I wouldn’t trade my thirdgen for any of those.. If someone gave me a Ferrari I’d sell it and buy a bunch of Third Gens and a bigger garage..
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:53 AM   #3  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Thanks!

Cars of the 1980s don't have the best reputation for quality. But in terms of style, I actually thought it was a pretty good era. We were away from the ugly bumpers of the 1970s and styling became more aerodynamic. To me, the third gens still look fresh and modern, a totally timeless design. Of course, I'm older (54) and grew up in the 1970s and that does impact your perspective. Maybe young guys today look at a thirty-year old car like mine they way I looked at cars from the 1940s or 1950s when I got my license in 1979. Those cars looked ancient to me back then. Heck, in 1979, even a lot of cars that were only ten years old looked really old to me.

I've owned fifteen vehicles, all domestic, thirteen of those from GM. A number of them, including my f-bodies, were cars that magazines like Consumer Reports would tell you to avoid at all costs. Yet, I've never once had a car fail to start, break down, or stand me somewhere. There's been some recalls, though nothing that ever kept me from using my cars. I never had a nagging issue that required multiple trips to the dealer to fix, and really have had very few issues at all that weren't just from age. Maybe I've just been lucky. My prior third-gens (as well as my fourth- and fifth-gens) were absolutely bulletproof. Yeah there were some cheap parts. The interior of my "new" car looks almost new; it's in great shape. But just like about every other one I've seen, the center console is warping and I'm hoping to find a reproduction somewhere. And also, like about every other one I've seen, my spoiler has some cracking and I'll eventually buy a fiberglass one to replace it.

I bought the car sight-unseen (except for lots of pictures and videos) on eBay. I figured that if it arrived as advertised, I won't have any issues. No matter the quality of 1980s cars, ones that still survive must have been pretty well put together and well cared for. So far, outside of a new battery, my GTA feels like a new car.
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:37 AM   #4  
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Re: Introduction - new member

I agree the exterior design doesn’t seem as dated as 70s and early 80s cars. Many people (non-car people) think my IROC is from the 90s and are surprised when I say it’s an 88. They are surprised it’s that old. A lot of older guys ask what year it is and say, “It looks brand new!” Some people have guessed “1994 or 1997”

I bought mine sight unseen as well and it was a great deal and was in great shape. I’ve been taking the time to go through and replace anything that is showing wear just to have that complete “brand new” look. I used to work in the automotive/auto parts/auto body business so I had it painted by a guy I knew from work that does amazing restorations. I toiled over it because the car looked good, but when the sun hit the front end you could see chips, spider cracks, etc. At first I was just going to redo the front clip, but had him do the whole thing and I really love how it came out. Now I’m trying to get every other piece of the car as perfect as the paint!

I had never bought a car sight unseen, but I knew how to fix pretty much anything on these cars myself as long as the motor and transmission were good. The car shockingly didn’t need anything other than an alignment. The original Catalytic Converter died on me after the first year but that’s no big deal.. I’m shocked that the car doesn’t leak oil anywhere. I never owned a thirdgen that didn’t have a couple leaks. Even the bushings and front end all looks good. Car corners like a beast. I was shocked the Cruise Control still works and all the buttons still have the white factory script.

I have to get the passenger door apart and fix some squeaks, find a power seat bezel since mine has a crack in it. Also have a crack in my front convertible bow trim, but those are impossible to find.. Other than that the interior is near mint aside from a small wear mark on the drivers seat I can probably fix with a vinyl/leather repair kit.

Like you said, the cars that are still around and in good condition are probably not the “lemons”.

I always found these cars to be pretty simple and reliable. The interior quality is not up to German standards and they feel a little clunky sometimes.. but they are fun and turn heads..
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:11 PM   #5  
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Re: Introduction - new member

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Originally Posted by 88IROCvertZ View Post
I agree the exterior design doesnít seem as dated as 70s and early 80s cars. Many people (non-car people) think my IROC is from the 90s and are surprised when I say itís an 88. They are surprised itís that old. A lot of older guys ask what year it is and say, ďIt looks brand new!Ē Some people have guessed ď1994 or 1997Ē

I bought mine sight unseen as well and it was a great deal and was in great shape. Iíve been taking the time to go through and replace anything that is showing wear just to have that complete ďbrand newĒ look. I used to work in the automotive/auto parts/auto body business so I had it painted by a guy I knew from work that does amazing restorations. I toiled over it because the car looked good, but when the sun hit the front end you could see chips, spider cracks, etc. At first I was just going to redo the front clip, but had him do the whole thing and I really love how it came out. Now Iím trying to get every other piece of the car as perfect as the paint!

I had never bought a car sight unseen, but I knew how to fix pretty much anything on these cars myself as long as the motor and transmission were good. The car shockingly didnít need anything other than an alignment. The original Catalytic Converter died on me after the first year but thatís no big deal.. Iím shocked that the car doesnít leak oil anywhere. I never owned a thirdgen that didnít have a couple leaks. Even the bushings and front end all looks good. Car corners like a beast. I was shocked the Cruise Control still works and all the buttons still have the white factory script.

I have to get the passenger door apart and fix some squeaks, find a power seat bezel since mine has a crack in it. Also have a crack in my front convertible bow trim, but those are impossible to find.. Other than that the interior is near mint aside from a small wear mark on the drivers seat I can probably fix with a vinyl/leather repair kit.

Like you said, the cars that are still around and in good condition are probably not the ďlemonsĒ.

I always found these cars to be pretty simple and reliable. The interior quality is not up to German standards and they feel a little clunky sometimes.. but they are fun and turn heads..
People not in the know don't realize just how well these cars handle. A bumpy road can unsettle the rear, but on any sort of decent road surface, I just love how these things can tear through a corner.

I was told that everything works before I bought it, and sure enough, everything does. Headlight lifters. Cruise control. Steering wheel radio controls - which I've heard often don't work. The digital dash is fairly underwhelming, but it all works, and I like the digital speedometer which shows well even in sunshine. I think the standard, backlit orange gauges in the Firebirds were really nice and frankly nicer than the digital dash, but I'm glad I have the digital just because it's fairly unique and very "80s."
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:54 PM   #6  
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Re: Introduction - new member

I think the digital dash is awesome. Back in the day us IROC guys were jealous that the Vettes and GTAs got those.

It’s great that the headlight motors work. Those things were notorious..

I’m very surprised at the handling of this car for being 30 years old and bone stock.

The acceleration is ok, torque-y and fun in 1st and 2nd gear. 3rd gear is a little weak.

The braking is a little underwhelming

The handling does not feel dated at all.. great fun on a nice, twisty road

Share some more pics for sure! Would love to see the digital dash, interior, etc




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Old 08-08-2018, 05:23 PM   #7  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Gorgeous GTA!
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:55 PM   #8  
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Re: Introduction - new member

That is a nice one had an 89 GTA that same color and it was stolen. Still miss it.
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:58 PM   #9  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Cotm material, someone should nominate. That thing is nice! I wanted a GTA at 8 years old when they came out. Took me 30 years but I got me one. I hope my next one is this nice. Welcome aboard.
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Old 08-09-2018, 08:39 AM   #10  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Thanks for the compliments!
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Old Yesterday, 09:38 AM   #11  
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Re: Introduction - new member




High-tech (vintage 1988) dashboard.
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Old Yesterday, 09:40 AM   #12  
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Re: Introduction - new member

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High-tech (vintage 1988) dashboard.

Thatís really cool!
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Old Yesterday, 09:54 AM   #13  
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Re: Introduction - new member

I'm not the best photographer, and there's lot of glare, the price you pay to live in sunny South Carolina.

I was very pleased at just how good the interior is. There's warping around the center console, which seems to be the case in just about every Firebird I've seen. But the seats are in great shape. No cracking or dry rot on top of the dash. Headliner totally solid.

Flame red is an interesting paint. It really looks different, depending on the light. In certain light, it's very red, in other conditions, much more subdued and almost a rust color.







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Old Yesterday, 10:18 AM   #14  
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Re: Introduction - new member

beautiful ride
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Old Yesterday, 04:14 PM   #15  
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Re: Introduction - new member

Welcome- gorgeous car!
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Old Today, 10:14 AM   #16  
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Re: Introduction - new member

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Originally Posted by 88IROCvertZ View Post


Thatís really cool!
It photographs well. To be honest, in person it's fairly underwhelming. The Corvettes from the same era had much more impressive displays. But I'm glad that I have it because it is very much "of its time" and is somewhat rare.

I always thought that a strong point of the Firebird's interior were the four big instrument pods, nicely backlit in orange. But I really like the digital speedometer and graphical tach. But the other gauges here don't look like much. I think some sort of hybrid would have been a good idea. Keep the tach and speedometer on the left side, and use the standard gauges for fuel, pressure, temperature, and volts on the right.

The tach looks good, but with a 350 V-8 and automatic, you rarely see the graph move very far up the scale. They should have changed the gradations a bit, maybe so that 2000 RPM was in the middle of the scale. That would have made the graph change more frequently. In normal driving, you just see the green bar hovering around 1500-1700 or so RPMs.
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Old Today, 11:23 AM   #17  
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Re: Introduction - new member

I can understand that.. it’s still something I’ve never seen in person so I appreciate the digital dash!

The car looks great in and out!

I find interior shots only come out good on overcast days out of the shade.. With the Vert or TTops it’s a little easier as well..

Last edited by 88IROCvertZ; Today at 11:27 AM.
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