1981 Pontiac Firebird Formula - Scott Sauvager
She was beautiful. Dark Burgandy, twin hood scoops, honeycomb wheels, and a dash, unlike anything I had ever seen. I remember seeing a '4 wheel disc' on the door handle, opening the door, and sitting down. I was sold! I remember trying to play it cool, but Dad actually laughed as he looked on, he knew.
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1981 Pontiac Firebird Formula
Photographer: Wayne Hunter
Performance Stats: 485ci Pontiac 722hp w/o boost
My name is Scott Sauvager. I grew up in a small neighbourhood in Hanover County Virginia. My childhood was all about hanging out with friends, riding bikes, and then later motorcycles. We had a core group; we were all about the same age and all car guys.
Growing up our time was spent on 2 wheels dreaming of the day we could get our licenses. When we were able to get our high school rides, we spent evenings and weekends working on them. Dad tolerated the driveway being full of various projects from as far back as I can remember. My friends that are nearby still hanging out and attend various car events. Many of us still have our high school rides or those that were bought right after graduation.
My automotive passion was initially fueled by my grandfather, Melvin Gaulding. From the time I was able to hold a wrench or help with a flashlight, I was excited to be in the shop with Grandpa. His passion was restoring WW2-era jeeps. If memory serves, he restored around 50 Jeeps over the course of his life. I learned how to drive in a 1942 Willis Jeep. He was always willing to teach (and tolerate) a very young me.
He would always tell me ' Boy, you're watching a master at work'. I believed him. His drive to make it right and not to cut corners has stuck with me and served me well over the course of my life. As I grew up, I realized what a blessing he was to me. The seed for fixing, modifying, and later hot rodding was planted early. Thanks, Grandpa!
I remember pulling up with Dad and looking at her for the first time through 16-year-old eyes. She was beautiful. Dark Burgandy, twin hood scoops, honeycomb wheels, and a dash, unlike anything I had ever seen. I remember seeing a '4 wheel disc' on the door handle, opening the door, and sitting down. I was sold! I remember trying to play it cool, but Dad actually laughed as he looked on, he knew.
I get to experience the past while driving towards new horizons. I genuinely enjoy taking my gal and hitting cars and coffee, local show, and the occasional burnout. Dad always supported my addiction to always clean, improve and even drag race back in the day. Every time I get to take her out I am thankful for all of my family and friends that helped me along the way. Windows down, camming hard at a light with the supercharger whistling then running through the gears - Awesome-)
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The biggest portion of the importance of the car to me is rooted in the number of 'firsts'. I drove to Lee-Davis High School in this very car back in the day. learned a lot about a lot of things in that car. The thing that stands out to me is how many people get genuinely excited when I tell them it's my high school ride. I love the fact that dad and I bought this car together. I reflect on late nights with the Hanover Farms neighbourhood crew wrenching on our cars and then heading to the track.
What's super cool is the fact that when I first sat behind the wheel it was making (at best) 150hp with an automatic, now pushing north of 4-figure power w/ a 6speed. The uniqueness of my Firebird is all of the incredible people that helped me along the way, my friends and family that turned the dreams of a 16-year-old into a reality.
485 Jerry Loan built a Pontiac w/torqstorm supercharger and methanol injection, Interior is stock minus gauges and engine controls. Triple black paint by Roy Bent. Year One Snowflakes wrapped w/Firestone Firehawks. The suspension is Vintage Detroit Speed. The brakes are original WS6 4-wheel discs.
Who did the work?
The paint was done by a dear friend, Roy Bent. The engine was built by one of the best in the Pontiac game, Jerry Loan. Everything else was done by me. I enjoy the build and the process. I have installed multiple parts over the years, 3 different transmissions, multiple rear-end gear sets, exhausts, cams, carbs, and other goodies. I have always liked the clean look with the ability to get it done if called upon.
I’m always looking to make it better/faster. Next up is E85 and a second blower.
Follow your heart. If you're passionate about a project, the long nights are tolerable, and the end result will make you appreciate your accomplishment and what others have done. Listen. I was looking to get a couple of tenths shaved off my 1/4-mile time and spent a lot of time/money on things that just didn't work. An older neighbour, Bob Napier came by and within 30 minutes made a fuel cooler out of some scrap copper and a coffee can. First, past the car dropped 3 tenths, It simply cost me a little pride. I later learned he was a drag racer from the 50's on up. He was only willing to share if you were willing to listen.
Shout out to all the family and friends that believe in and support this great community of auto enthusiasts.
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I have gone from a dreamy-eyed kid to an older ... dreamy-eyed kid-) I enjoy the friendships, the craftsmanship, and the rides. I enjoy seeing the next generation moding out their rides. The grandkids enjoy the trip more for the ice cream I think but, in the end, they will remember they had a good time in the same car I've enjoyed for so long.
I'm driving it-) a 1981 Pontiac Firebird Formula
Please leave your comments on my story in the comments section at the bottom of the page, Thank you.
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