Completed Hot Rod Firebird Build
(Dawn and Gary Hartman standing in front of "The Black Widow")


Our Firebird build tale begins twenty years ago, when Gary Hartman haggled with his neighbor for the 1967 classic.  His daughter, Dawn, a travel nurse, immediately fell in love with the old bird.  Fast forward to 2017, when Gary found himself considering downsizing his “toy” collection and letting go of this gem.  Call it Divine Hot Rod Intervention… but something stopped Gary from saying goodbye, and he instead embarked on a three year long labor of love, as a surprise for his daughter. 

That alone makes for a great story- a loving father and daughter, a beautiful Firebird build, a big reveal, an award winning custom 1967 Firebird sitting in the driveway… but luckily for us, the plot thickens.  Gary teamed up with father and son duo Robert and Billy Davis of 3-D Classic Auto Restoration, after talking classic cars with Robert's wife, who works at the local bank.  Their collaboration spanned several years, and displays a level of detail, and thoughtful design that is truly remarkable.  With some creative freedom from Gary, and a passion for beautiful craftsmanship, Robert and Billy poured themselves into this project. 


The father and son duo behind this 1967 Pontiac Firebird Build.
(Robert and Billy of 3-D Classic Auto Restoration)


3-D Classic Auto Restoration is named for 3 generations of talent.  Robert and Billy being the second and third generations.  They have specialized in classic builds for years, but the upholstery side of things is relatively new to them.  While Billy has had plenty of practice, it is shocking to learn that this was his "professional auto upholstery debut" of sorts.  

The Firebird Build of a Lifetime

While Dawn did have some input throughout the design- helping choose paint colors, reviewing leather samples, in a lot of ways she was kept in the dark until the hot rod Firebird was complete.  The two-toned Bordeaux Reserve and Merlot paint scheme with a Champagne Gold stripe to highlight the gorgeous shape of the car was just the beginning.  If you noticed a theme in those three paint colors… know it was no coincidence.  Pay close attention, and you will see that unbelievable level of detail throughout the entire design.



For example, there are leather interiors, and then there are leather interiors.  This Firebird definitely falls into the latter category.  Continuing the theme of beautifully subtle two-tone color combinations from the exterior, the interior is decked out from top, to bottom, all way to the trunk and fire extinguisher strap in two-tone leather.  The Chicago Camel and Canyon Gold used compliment each other seamlessly. 



There is a real elegance to this project... but also some serious "wow" factor under the hood.  As Dawn explained her prize ride has "5.3L, heads shaved to 0.030" with Lunati cam 0.549" lift, link bar lifters.  Comp roll rockers, 4l60 with TCI racing rebuild, upgraded shell and planet.  A Sonnax servo.  Ford 9" 3.50 gears, posi-trac, 31 spline axels, and Wildwood brakes.  Polished stainless steel dual exhaust with custom tips to mimic the original ribbon taillights."  They also "put mini tubs in the rear to house the 18" ties and Foose wheels."



Before the "big reveal" came in July 2020, Dawn had already named her Firebird "Black Widow."  When she popped the hood... she couldn't believe her eyes.  An exact replica of her own black widow tattoo was stenciled on the engine.  This detail may well be the pinnacle of the project- as it shows the level of deep creative collaboration between Gary, Robert, and Billy.  As well as the love Gary put into this masterpiece for his daughter.

To top it off... some modern luxuries were also added like Dakota Digital instrumentation, Pioneer stereo, and a backup camera.  Along with power windows and locks.  Lending to the overall feeling that this car was customized to be driven, experienced, and enjoyed. 

The Proof is in the... Firebird!

The Hartmans knew they were in love with "The Black Widow," but it is safe to say that everyone who meets her is blown away.  This December, Gary and Dawn hopped in "the widow" for a ride down to the North Pole Rod Run.  Where she took home a "Top 10 in Show" award- along with countless comments, and gushes of praise from attendees and fellow car enthusiasts alike.  



"The Widow" has also already graced the cover of Gulf Coast Motor Sports Magazine, along with a loving write-up of the adventure by Dawn Hartman herself.  



While the nitty-gritty aspects of the build are fascinating, and showcase the phenomenal talent of the father and son duo that is 3-D, the obvious joy this project brought to all involved is the most noteworthy.  It would not be a stretch to say lifelong friendships were formed, and it can be said with certainty that this beautiful old bird holds a truly special place in the hearts of everyone involved... the team at Leather Hide Store's included!