If you think Stephen Farmer’s Pontiac looks good from the top, wait till you see what’s hiding underneath.
It’s all too common these days to find cars that look like the toughest thing since Jake the Muss, but which lack any real substance underneath it all. So it’s refreshing when you stumble upon a car such as Stephen Farmer’s 1968 Pontiac Firebird, which is far more than initially meets the eye.
From the outset, it’s easy to see the car has been well-built, although it’s fair to say it looks more like Jake the Muss wearing lipstick and a summer dress than it does anything tough. However, the car could be compared to some sort of archaeologist’s dream. The more you dig and look, the more you find, including things that you didn’t know ever existed, and parts that have never before been seen on this side of the globe.
Bird Of Prey
Given the spare-no-expense quality of the Firebird, it’s perhaps surprising to learn that Stephen had never previously owned a muscle car. He was, however, lucky enough to grow up around American iron. “I remember the late ’60s when dad had a ’68 Pontiac Laurentian with bench seats, with the same peaked nose, and the days when we’d go to Browns Bay for holidays; it was miles away then. I have great memories of that car, but now I’m older and know a bit more, the Firebird is a better car.”
But why, after all these years, build such an impressive beast? The short version goes something like this: after being around motorsport and particularly circuit racing all his life, when he returned from overseas 10 years ago Stephen got involved with International Motorsport and its owner, Lyall Williamson. International Motorsport runs a host of circuit cars, including NZV8 touring cars, Porsche Cup cars and more. “During the motorsport off-season, a lot of International Motorsport’s resources were underutilised,” Stephen says. “Lyall had recognised this in the past, and had the staff perform a few very impressive nut and bolt restorations on Mustangs and an old Porsche, although one of the Mustangs did end up with an NZV8 engine in it!”
Knowing International Motorsport had the knowledge ” thanks to Lyall and his staff ” the facilities and contacts after years of being involved in the motorsport scene, it made sense for Stephen and Lyall to join forces and create a company that could work alongside the motorsport business and focus on creating vehicles such as the Pontiac that Stephen was dreaming of. And so International Performance Classics was born.
The first project for the new venture was sourced and the rest is history.