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1987 ASC Suntour

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by Brian Medford  More from Author

The Firebird That Never Was

ASC is no stranger to custom vehicles. Their specialty though usually falls under chopping the roofs off of cars and even trucks. This was not the case with their Suntour Firebird. In 1987 ASC was already working on convertible version of the Camaro and Firebird, which makes sense as the two share the same F-body underpinnings. The idea for the Camaro and Firebird was pretty straightforward: cut the top off but make it look good and functional. But what if you wanted something a little different? That is where the Suntour comes in.

The Suntour appears to be a fairly normal Firebird from a distance. But come closer and you begin to see the modifications that truly set this car apart. For starters there is the polycarbonate windshield that extends into the roof above the driver. This presented a problem for the ASC team as forming glass to make the necessary complex curves was both difficult and expensive. Polycarbonate was chosen as a substitute, which worked for a show car, but in the real world proved hard to keep scratch-free. Another trick piece of engineering was the sliding glass sunroof. ASC dug into their mechanical experience to create a unique cantilever mechanism that moved the sunroof up and back far beyond any normal sunroof’s capability. The sunroof actually slides over the top of the car giving the driver an amazing open air experience. Amazingly these radical roof changes did not alter the crash-worthiness of the car itself!

Underneath the Suntour retains its stock driveline. The stock 305 cubic-inch V8 (even though the brochure states a 350) moves the car just fine along with GM’s 700R4 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission. Outside ASC developed a subtle body kit to compliment the shape of the Firebird. This one-off kit was sculpted in clay then cast in epoxy. The wheels are also one-off 17” x 10” aluminum pieces which were specially made for the Suntour. Moving inside ASC trimmed the interior in red leather and custom Recaro seats. A full-length console was fitted along with custom door panels, a custom steering wheel, and a custom cargo cover that was attached to the rear hatch.

The Suntour impressed the folks at GM but more importantly it got tons of attention on the car show circuit. After a few years the car was sold to an ASC employee who swapped out the wheels but otherwise kept it the same. Today Rick and Jim Schmidt, who also own National Parts Depot, own the car and display it as it was originally built. It is comforting to know that such a unique vehicle is in good hands.


Specifications
Number built – 1
Construction – Unibody
Engine – 305 cubic-inch V8 (LG4)
Power/Torque – 170 horsepower/250 lb-ft torque
Transmission – 700R4 four-speed automatic
Suspension front – MacPherson strut with coil springs
Suspension rear – Live axle with coil springs and torque arm
Steering – rack & pinion
Brakes – four-wheel disc
Length/width/height – 188.1/72.4/50 inches
Wheelbase – 101 inches
Weight – 3,355 lbs.
0-60mph/quarter-mile – 5.2 seconds, 13.8 seconds (estimated)
Top speed – 132 mph (estimated)
MPG – 17-24 mpg EPA est.
Price – Priceless

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