Home » Somebody Turned A Camaro Into A Buick So I Converted A Firebird To A Cadillac

Somebody Turned A Camaro Into A Buick So I Converted A Firebird To A Cadillac

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What if BMW built a pickup truck? How might Mazda have tooled the Miata as a shooting brake? Suppose Ferrari built an SUV? Oh wait, that’s right, the Purosangue exists. But there are plenty of other provocative car concepts that manufacturers have passed on building, leaving outside fabricators to take matters into their own hands. Recently, we’ve been looking at creations like this from German specialist bb-Auto. When Porsche wouldn’t build a Turbo Targa and Mercedes didn’t consider retractable hardtops in the seventies, Ranier Buchmann’s firm made them a reality.

Today, for every well-crafted and fully resolved example of third-party realizations of visions left unproduced by factory engineers, there are countless privateers and home DIYers who attempt to do the same thing with far more questionable results.

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Recently, on Facebook Marketplace, I saw a dubious concoction that would fall firmly into the questionable category (though I do applaud the builder for going for it). Instead of just looking at this monstrosity in disgust and moving on, I was inspired to imagine what an even more absurd factory interpretation of this theme might look like. Hold on to your seat, and your lunch.

A Frightening F-Car

I often see AI-generated “cars of the seventies” and wonder what photos of real vehicles were pilfered to form the strange uncanny-Detroit-valley images. Facebook Marketplace presented me with some photos last week of something that I could swear was not an actual car but, in fact, turned out to be as real as death and taxes.

Through a translation of the French-Canadian post, the seller in Quebec apparently has a “1986 Camaro” for sale. It’s a V6 and the Firebird steering wheel tells me that it likely started like as the Pontiac model instead. Here’s a six-cylinder SE model below:

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General Motors

The seller took this rather attractive car and made modifications to turn the sporty pony car into a sort of low-slung personal luxury coupe, as seen below. Exactly why someone would do that is nearly as befuddling as the certainly creative ways this backyard build seems to have been executed.

Camarolack Hero 7 2
Facebook Marketplace

Boy, there’s a lot to unpack here. The seller has even placed a chair a few paces back from his masterpiece, perhaps so potential buyers can contemplate it more comfortably, and at length. Let’s give it a try from our own seats, be they in the office, living room, or … other rooms.

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Facebook Marketplace

Assuming it’s a Firebird under there, the sleek pop-up headlight nose appears to have been replaced with a chopped and modified facia panel from a 1977 Buick Century and a chrome bumper of indeterminate GM origin.

Buick Camaro Front 7 2
Facebook Marketplace and asdfafsd

The builder connected this fascia to the rest of the car with sheet metal that appears to have been formed on a bending brake. Like the similar-sized Chevy Monte Carlo, the Buick mid-sizers of this era had flowing “pontoon” fenders meant to evoke cars from days of yore. Even if the builder had Bentley-level metal forming skills on an English wheel, such a stamped-in shape would be hard to replicate. Naturally, a tool that can only do ninety-degree bends won’t be able to do this, so a hand-drawn pinstripe encourages the viewer to imagine a curvier shape. It doesn’t work at all, obviously – if anything, it highlights the straightness. Straight panels look just awful and aren’t even very car-like at all; can you imagine, say, a high-tech electric car company a car composed entirely of straight lines? Of course not.

Camarolack Front Side 7 2
Facebook Marketplace

The Monte-ruse is further attempted with strange patches of vinyl roof on the tops of the doors and rear fenders. Ah, but some real work went into chopping holes into the sides of the thick “B” pillars (and likely making it even less structurally sound) and putting in glass “opera windows.” The rub strip has been moved below the crease/character line on the side so now it serves no functional purpose.

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Camarolack Side View 7 2
Facebook Marketplace

Somehow the stock Firebird’s full-width taillight (or Camaro lights, if that’s what this is under there) didn’t fit the look the owner wanted so more flat sheet metal was thrown on, flanked by badge-modified taillights from Pontiac’s own luxo-coupe: the Grand Prix. In some ways, this thing looks kinda-sorta like Pontiac’s own NASCAR homologation glass-backed Grand Prix 2+2, except the factory-built fastback didn’t have an actual opening hatch since GM couldn’t do what some Canadian homebuilder was able to accomplish. The builder has also added a “Camaro” badge to his new sheetmetal. I’m so confused.

Buick Camaro Rear 7 2
Facebook Marketplace and asdfasd

Do you think this madness stops on the outside of the car? Hardly. Take a look at this dashboard. Somebody busted out their woodworking skills here on a chunk of plywood and also proved why my wife always says to use wood conditioner before adding stain or you’ll get “a blotchy mess” (She’s right, FYI). These guys seemed to have skipped that step. I do like the silver pen used to create accent lines on the wood.

Buick Camaro Dashboard 7 2
Facebook Marketplace and asdfasd

Even the door panels are decidedly not Firebird pieces and were pilfered from some baby land-yacht:

Buick Camaro Door Panel 7 2
Facebook Marketplace and asdfasdf

The crowning glory is in the back seat where you’ll see the lengths the builder went to – lengths that didn’t go quite far enough. Somehow the inside pillar covers were stolen from a Grand Prix or similar car and then crudely chopped and squished in place to fit around the glued-in opera windows.

Buick Camaro Interior Panel 7 2
Facebook Marketplace and asdfasdf

The amount of time invested in this bizarre conveyance is truly impressive, and the effort to render the design in three dimensions (and as a functional vehicle, no less) was certainly a task many orders of magnitude more difficult than dashing off silly drawing to realize automotive dreams, as yours truly does. Speaking of which, what if I tried to make an even more absurd factory F-body from a higher-level brand?

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Trading In A Chevy For A …

In making a higher-end GM F-body, I just don’t see Buick or Oldsmobile as brands that could work with a sporty GT car; besides, let’s go big or go home, right? Yes, we’re going to make the Cadillac of Camaros.

Attempting to differentiate between F-body siblings is not a new idea; most memorably, the pop-up headlights of the third-gen Firebird helped separate the Pontiac from the Chevy Camaro. To help breathe Fire into the Bird as sales dwindled in the back half of the 1980s, Pontiac offered the high-performance but luxury-oriented GTA model for the 1987 model year to help set it apart and elevate it from the Camaro IROC-Z – but some within the division wanted more. The answer was the “notchback” GTA model for 1988, which featured a new fiberglass hatchback to replace the all-glass rear window. It’s bit of a love-it-or-hate-it addition; for me, the notchback looks better than I thought it would, yet it still seems a bit wrong. Only 718 units were sold before the notchback disappeared in 1989.

Gta Pontiac 7 2
Bring A Trailer

My Cadillac Camaro is the Solitaire, a name taken from the late-eighties show car that we’ll steal some design details from.

Cadillac Solitaire 7 10
General Motors

I’ve kept the notchback idea but continued the sail panels back very slightly from how they are on the Firebird, and I’ve made them a bit less upright. A new rear tail and an angled upper section that fits better with the new rear hatch than the abrupt Kamm tail of the Firebird create a more integrated look. Black “fake window” trim panels have never been my favorite thing, but here I’m using them to lighten the look of the thick “B” pillar in a manner not unlike the early Fieros did.

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The nose is inspired a bit by the Solitaire show car with a low, rounded grille and thin composite headlamps. They’re so thin that 1980s technology would likely have required power-raisable “eyebrows” to hide actually-taller headlamps to create the squinty visage. (But the lamps could still work as flash-to-pass lights in the daytime with the eyebrows lowered). Wraparound turn signals feature cornering lights, and the smooth-faced Cadillac alloys are a tasteful addition that I fear some owners will shitcan and replace with chrome wire rims shod with Vogue whitewalls. That’s a yikes for me, but hey, when you buy a car, you get to do what you like.

The back of the Solitaire show car would be echoed in the Camaro Cadillac’s clean rear shape with a high-mounted full-width thin taillight “bar” and even a central pointed crease that even recalls the iconic tail of the 1967 Eldorado. Note that the car in this view has the F-body “T” top option, and another twist: the rear backlight can open. As you’re putting the roof panels in the trunk, you fold around and click the backlight in place under the flat part of the hatchback, giving you the equivalent of a convertible with a large targa bar.

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Inside, we’ll start with the typical Firebird/Camaro F-body dash, like this top-of-the-heap GTA instrument panel:

Used 1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Gta Ws6 1651275482
Diamond Motor Works

The all-new dash would utilize a Buick Reatta/Rivera touchscreen for climate and radio functions, with the added benefit of being hooked to an industry-first rear-view camera (the camera would be mounted behind the electrically pivoting logo in the taillights to keep it clean so you don’t get a big blurry screen when you pop it in reverse as on most modern cars). Digital instrumentation includes a speedometer and warning lights on an “upper” level and a full set of reconfigurable displays below (push buttons next to the speedometer switch modes of the gauges below). For fun, we could make stick available as a no-cost option over the automatic even if they would likely only sell a few dozen of them. I tried going full Knight Rider with the dash but that just isn’t Cadillac.

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Better Than A Cimarron, At Least

None of the technology or tweaks to the F-Body would have been inexpensive, but compared to building bodies in Italy and flying them to Detroit (as was done with the infamous Cadillac Allante) the Solitaire would have been dirt cheap. Rear wheel drive and some semblance of a back seat would have been Solitaire features lacking in the Allante that likely helped to kill sales of that car as much as the stratospheric price. Like a Saab 9-2X or a Lincoln Mark VII LSC, you would have essentially been getting a fun car in a fancy suit from a far more upscale retailer.

Successful or not, there’s one thing I’d really like to see built, and it isn’t this. What do you say we give our Québecois builder an old C4 Corvette, a beat-up Cadillac Coupe DeVille, and let him go to town with a sawzall?

Relatedbar

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Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines If Japanese Wacky-Car Company Mitsuoka Made A Tribute To The Second Generation Camaro – The Autopian

What If Ford Had Made The Mustang Mach-E A Torino Instead? – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines The Nightmares That Could Have Happened If Dead GM Brands Survived – The Autopian

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Beau Wayne
Beau Wayne
11 days ago

From a design perspective it’s a horrible exercise in slap dash unthought out example of multiple weaknesses.
Front end is OK those are easy – it’s the B-pillar & design flow.
Here one can discard the entire design for a new structure that creates structural rigidity & greater aerodynamic flow by going full fast back rather than clipped, so B-pillar stripped out replaced with thick Targa type structure supporting rear glass

Scotty Scott
Scotty Scott
11 days ago

The 1977 Buick Century coupe doesn’t have the exaggerated sculpturing of the original 1973 colonnade Century and Regal. Buick and Olds colonnades got new coupe bodies for 1976 and carried on for 1977.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
12 days ago

That Cadillac Camaro looks good,good job. Less can be said of that home-built thing up top.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
12 days ago

That window treatment is disturbingly reminiscent of the Zimmer Quicksilver

Genewich
Genewich
12 days ago

I’ve been dreaming of a modern 90’s Caprice, but BEV with the same footprint as the Silverado EV only half as tall. OR a modern Aero TBird four-door coupe as a direct competitor to the Ioniq 6

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
12 days ago

Bishop needs to give the same Cadillac treatment to an early 90s Geo Metro convertible. I’d love to see that. I’m guessing that with an extended hood, you might be able to smorsh a 32V Northstar in there as well.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
12 days ago

I really appreciate the dude that built that Buick abomination. I mean the result is obviously rough. But it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. And he saw it through. He made interior window trim! There are questionable decisions galore, but I appreciate the grit it took to finish the project. Most would have given up.

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
12 days ago

I really dig the shape of it. Execution is a bit rough, but I would rock it!

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