Geoff Brittain set out to turn a run down Pontiac into a tarmac-eating shark. The results speak for themselves
Trying to make your car look like a shark is an interesting approach to building a vehicle. Maybe I should clarify a bit more. The owner of this stunning 1967 Firebird is Geoff Brittain, who just happens to be the owner of a Motueka custom paint shop that goes by the name of Kustom Kolors. When I say he wanted the car to look like a shark, I wasn’t referring to some parade float fibreglass monstrosity, but more that he had a theme in mind for the build.
Although Kustom Kolors does quite a bit of custom car body and paint work, its main business is building and painting custom motorbikes. On looking round the rural workshop it’s obvious Geoff has an eye for style, and likes adding comprehensive themes to the machines he works on.
After many years of building both bikes and cars for customers, Geoff purchased the Pontiac as a fresh import he could build up to his own tastes. When the vehicle arrived in Motueka it wasn’t in a bad overall condition, although it had been stripped to a shell and many parts were missing. Besides the missing bits and pieces, the body was in need of a decent tidy-up after sitting in the California sun for many years. Over the next eight months, Geoff would strip the shell of every nut and bolt and take the body back to bare metal. Panel by panel the dings and scrapes were removed, leaving a remarkably straight body as the finished product.
During the rebuild the subframes were removed from the body and painted up in gloss black. With the body shell stripped bare, it was sat on a jig and rolled into the Kustom Kolors paint booth, where Geoff could work his magic.
Although it shares the basic body shell with Chevrolet’s Camaro, it’s the Pontiac’s nose cone that creates the vehicle’s love it or hate it shape. In Geoff’s mind the nose cone, coupled with the vented rear guards, give the car a shark-like appearance. Not being an arty type myself, I never noticed it, but ever since it was pointed out to me I’ve had to agree.
I guess if you want to be all spiritual about things you could almost say the car told Geoff what colour it should be painted. With this in mind, Geoff mixed colours until he came up with the Shark Grey mix he finally settled upon. After flawlessly applying the custom hue to the shell, Geoff felt something was still missing, so he decided to add the black racing stripes. The stripes themselves have been accentuated with custom blue and black pinstripes.
More Than Just Paint
With the bodywork well and truly sorted, Geoff set about giving the car some motivation. The motor was among the missing parts for the vehicle. Not one to be phased by such trivial matters, Geoff tracked down a healthy replacement. Charlton Auto Imports, which is based down the West Coast in Gore, happened to have in stock a remanufactured block built with 9.1:1 compression ratio internals.
To extract a few more ponies from the 261kW (350hp) motor, Geoff fitted an Edelbrock high-rise intake manifold and a 600cfm Holley carb. One of the things that impressed Geoff the most during the build was the American Autowire replacement loom he purchased. “I’m no auto sparky but it was child’s play to wire up. For $800 it was well worth it just to not have problems with shitty old wiring,” Geoff says.
At the engine end of that new wiring is an Accel electronic ignition which, along with an MSD coil and Accel leads, fires the package into a
To allow the car to stay cool in the hot Motueka sun, a large alloy radiator has been fitted, along with an electric fan. Thanks to this setup the aftermarket water temp gauge is yet to hit halfway. Mounted with the water temp gauge just in front of the B&M shifter is a small tacho and matching oil
The TH400 transmission that came with the motor has no trouble putting the estimated 300kW (400hp) through to the limited slip rear end. Well-known hot rod builder and Motueka local Chris Webby created the short custom driveshaft for the vehicle between fitting Viper V10s to rat rods and other similarly crazy projects.
Always The Bargain Hunter
With no front seats in the car when it was purchased, Geoff had to think outside the square. While searching for suitable replacements he stumbled on some leather-clad buckets from a late-model Mazda. Instead of grabbing just them, he also decided to purchase the matching rear seat. There was no chance the seat itself would be fitted, but it was easily unpicked and the leather was used to re-cover the Pontiac bench. A few other trips to the wrecker’s also paid off, including one that unearthed a suitable set of front brakes. After a bit of scouring around, some VT Commodore callipers were stumbled upon. Rather than purchasing Holden rotors and running into stud pattern problems, Geoff turned to the opposition and purchased BA Falcon 300mm drilled and slotted rotors. With the Falcon stud pattern Geoff could fit the 17 x 8- and 17 x 9-inch rims that came from Charlton. To bring the 225 and 255-wide rubber closer to the guards, Geoff has invested in a decent suspension setup. Up front are now KYB gas adjustable gas shocks and aftermarket springs, along with an Energy Suspension bushing kit. The stock rear multi-leaf arrangement has been replaced by a King single leaf.
While not ultra low, the new suspension gives the car a great profile and a purposeful stance on the road. It’s not just looks though, as we found out on our spin around the roads of Motueka ” the car also handles far better than the factory could ever have imagined.
With a layer of Dynamat soundproofing below the carpet and boot floor, the comprehensive sound system Geoff installed was actually quite audible, even above the stunning tone of the 400 coming out through the Flowmaster mufflers and Flowtech headers.
A Better Place
Although Geoff wanted the car for himself, he was also building it up to sell off as a billboard for his work. Not too long after our photoshoot a lucky punter from Nelson took the keys. While the car was in Geoff’s possession, though, he wasn’t afraid to clock up the kms on it. The vehicle’s run-in drive was up to Palmerston North for the NSRA Street Rod Nationals, which is no short drive and includes a pretty expensive ferry trip. Sure, riding a shark he could have tried to make the trip without the boat, but somehow I don’t think that would have worked in his favour.
With the Pontiac now gone from the workshop, it’s time to start looking for a new project. Being capable of performing the entire build himself means Geoff’s options are wide open. One thing’s for sure though: judging by the quality of the Pontiac, whatever he decides to build will be stunning.
1967 Pontiac Firebird
Engine: 6555cc (400ci) Pontiac, 9.1:1 compression, Edelbrock high rise manifold, K&N filter, 600cfm Holley electric choke/vacuum secondaries carb, Accel electronic ignition, American Autowire loom, Accel leads, MSD coil, Bosch platinum plugs, 2.5-inch Flowmaster mufflers, custom exhaust, Flowtech headers, alloy radiator, electric fan
Driveline: TH400 trans, 3.08:1 LSD 10-bolt diff, custom driveshaft
Suspension: KYB gas adjustable shocks, King single leaf rear spring, Energy Suspension bush kit
Brakes: BA XR6 300mm drilled and slotted rotors, VT Commodore callipers, police spec pads, stock rear drums
Wheels: 17×9-inch COY rims, 225/40R17 and 255/45R17 Bridgestone tyres
Exterior: Custom paint
Interior: Leather bucket seats, re-covered rear seat, Momo steering wheel, Prosport gauges, Kenwood head unit, Sony 6x9s, Fusion amplifier, Howler subwoofer
Performance: 300kW (400hp)
Occupation: Spray painter
Previously owned cars: HQ Monaro, HZ Premier
Dream car: Too many
Why the Firebird? Good for business exposure
Build time: Eight months
Length of ownership: One year
Geoff thanks: Kustom Kolors, Chris Webby Engineering, Mortimer Upholstery
Words: Todd Wylie Pics: Quinn Hamill