Reader Submissions: I Flipped Burgers To Buy My First Car: A 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350

I Flipped Burgers To Buy My First Car: A 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
March 14, 2018
22 comments

Story and photography by Viktor Hansen

My name is Viktor Hansen, I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and this is my 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350. Growing up in my country, one tends to see American cars few and far between, but that wasn’t the case for me. My dad had an orange 1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1 in the garage, and when we weren’t driving it, looking at it, or working on it we would be indulging in our shared enthusiasm for American cars through other means. He showed me all the great car chase films like Bullitt and Cannonball!, and I always had a preference for Vanishing Point from both a film perspective and of course because it was the one with my dream car in it. I also enjoyed Driver from 1978, and so it was almost inevitable that I’d drive a muscle or pony car of some sort.

And just a few months ago I purchased such a car. It also happened to be my first. I’d been working a classic teenager’s job for some time at our local burger joint, and I was always good about saving birthday money and the like, so last December I pooled together everything I had and spent it all on a Pontiac. I drove out to a barn on the other side of the country to look at the car in person first, and after falling in love with it decided to take it home with me. We agreed on a price that would leave me with the car and $100 to my name, and that’s how I found myself, at 17 years of age, in the driver’s seat of my own Firebird. I was both broke and the happiest I’ve ever been. Any machine with working forward gears and a set of seats will make for a grand old time for a new car owner, and here I was lucky enough to be sat behind the wheel of one of my favorites!

I know there must be more out there—and if you’re reading this please speak up!—but so far I’m the only person around me driving a ratty pony car as a daily driver. When you do something a little muscly here, it tends to be restored or resto-modded, so my original car is a unique sight parked out on the street. To me it’s one of the best-looking designs for a two-door car, and I also love how it sounds—though I’m not so sure my neighbors love being woken up by the sound of a small-block V8 in the morning! Oh well.

It’s an odd sight in the city, but I prefer driving it rather than waiting at traffic lights, so when I want to just indulge in the experience I take it out of all that density and into this little section of nearby forest. There are some tight corners and a few of those S-turn street signs that we all love to see, and though Firebirds aren’t the most grippy things out there it’s still an absolute blast to go through the gears and let the body roll to its limits. I used to race karts as a kid and my brother did it on a professional level, so I’m not going to pretend the Firebird has that level of agility, but it does deliver that American muscle feeling in spades; loud V8, floaty suspension, long hood leading the way.

I plan on keeping this thing for quite a while, but it’s much older than I am and has had quite a life before me, and as far back as I can trace it, it was sitting at an old lady’s house all the way out in California (rust free at this point no doubt!). It was built from the factory as a Firebird Esprit—a sort of luxury trim level—but when it made its way over to Denmark in 2008 it was set up like a Formula 350. I haven’t been able to determine when this work was carried out or who did it or where they did it, but I’m leaving it as is for the moment. Remember, it left me with $100 to my name!

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viktor hansenRicki knightGreg HansonMark JohnsonRob Recent comment authors
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Ricki knight
Ricki knight

Go Victor! You’ve made a great decision – enjoy! Here is Australia I recently bought a 73 Buick Riviera boat tail – not quite a pony car but good vintage American iron. Good sort of madness…

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Ricki i love boat tails send some pics @viktorrhansen on insta 😀

Greg Hanson
Greg Hanson

From one (Victor – my middle name) Hans(o)n (American of Swedish descent) to another:

A great purchase and a great story. Best of luck with your American muscle car. It’s great any time we see young guys like you enjoying vintage iron, especially a young man from Europe who appreciates American muscle.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Thanks man love these old things i will slay in it as a viking for sure but a danish one haha you where close tho! love sweden reminds me of the states with all the nature they got

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Salta Argentina with a big smile on my face after reading your story Viktor- fantastic! When I was a kid I had a real ratty ’73 formula with a 350, three speed and those sweet fiberglass hoods. One snowy night my brother and I got into our own version of a Rockford episode smashing into each other on Minnesota backroads! We made it home but with two beat up cars. I took my 350 and glass hood and dropped them into a ’71 firebird. Sold it and bought a nice ’75 formula. Thanks… Read more »

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Awesome story and i could only imagine how fun that would be 😀 still got the 75? then send some pics man @viktorrhansen on insta we can dm there 🙂

Rob
Rob

I didn’t think 70 had a formula350 option just a formula 400, I thought it wasn’t until 1971 that the formula350 came out. This car sure is cool! Love that it’s your daily. I used to daily my 80 T/A and those were great times. Still have her. Along with a 70 esprit.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Really cool and iam not sure if its a original formula 350 i don’t care. Hell yeah they where made to be driven #dailydriven

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Very cool Viktor! I watched your Youtube video and it was like watching an old episode of ‘The Rockford Files’! If you’re not familiar with that show, you
should be! The American actor/race driver James Garner (starred in ‘Grand Prix’!) played Jim Rockford, a down on his luck private investigator who drives a (wahoo!) Firebird. Great story lines, good acting, and lots of chase scenes with the Firebird(s)! Check it out, you’ll love it. One of my favorite TV shows of all time!

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

i seen all the chases on youtube haha love that car! and thanks glad you liked my youtube video 😉

Vic
Vic

Gorgeous car, sir. I’d take a car like yours over a pristine show car any day.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Same here many ratty muscle cars are the best 😀

Nick
Nick

Rock on Viktor! Drive the wheels off that hunk of ‘Merican muscle. Anyone can make payments/pay cash on a new car, it takes passion and a true enthusiast to keep an oldie rolling.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

So freaking true and sure will!!! if you wanna see the car in action then check out my youtube channel here 😀 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ttozroE-7BXrDc0kaI_Fw

Bohemianracer
Bohemianracer

I always wanted a Firebird between 70 to 74, but had to settle for a 71 Toyota Corolla when I was in college.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

It’s still possible! hope you get one man 😉

Rob
Rob

Nice. I had a 76 Formula back in the day. Don’t ever sell it, you will regret it. I have for over 35 years…

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

i wanna try to keep this till i die and hope you come across one again man 😉

Robbe-
Robbe-

One of the most beautiful Muscle Cars ever made.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

i know right, love it so much!

Rubens Florentino

Congratulations. The Firebird for sure is part of my “Top 5” Muscle cars list.
The American V8 spell was casted all over the World. Here in Brazil we are also crazy about them.
I am glad to know you enjoy your bird as a daily driver, that is the way it should be.

viktor hansen
viktor hansen

Thanks man glad you see that way many people hate me for dailying it haha! #hatersgonnahate