Schwab commemorates the 1979 tech upgrade with a custom Firebird – Design News | Car Plazas

Stockbroker Charles Schwab & Co. is presenting a custom car to the winner of the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament in Fort Worth, and for this year’s award, the company chose to recognize the crucial decision to automate its transaction and record-keeping systems with a new mainframe in the 1979 by selecting a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am as the car to customize.

According to the company, the installation of the computer system demonstrated the value of information technology as it allowed the business to grow thanks to the improved customer experience provided by the computer data.

As with previous awards since 2019, Schwab turned to renowned manufacturer Pure Vision Design for the customization work on the Firebird. The challenge was to identify a suitably desirable 1979 car that fell into the depths of the automotive era dubbed by enthusiasts the “Malaise Era”. “I said ‘thank god there’s a Trans-Am,’ because that’s the only halfway decent-looking car from 1979,” recalled Steve Strope, founder of Pure Vision Design.

The primary upgrade was the installation of a General Motors aftermarket crate version of its aluminum 6.2-liter LS3 small-block V8. This engine is rated at 430 hp and 425 lb.-ft. of torque.

For comparison, the 6.6-liter cast-iron big-block V8, which was the most powerful engine available in the car when new, was rated at 220 hp and 320 lb.-ft., making the lighter LS3 small-block a tremendous accomplishment represents improvement.

Newfound speed calls for improved stopping power, so installed Pure Vision Baer racing brakes with 13-inch rotors. Larger HRA Classic Series wheels accommodate the larger brakes and wear high-performance Michelin Pilot tires.

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Cockpit driver amenities include power seats borrowed from a Porsche Panamera and clad in custom Schwab upholstery, Dakota Digital instruments and a Kicker audio system with Bluetooth audio input and a subwoofer.

The Schwab Firebird is unmistakable thanks to its custom paint finish in Azzurro California Blue (a Ferrari shade) with a hand-painted Firebird graphic on the hood, replicating that worn on Firebird Trans-Am models. Additionally, all of the Firebird’s lush pinstripes were recreated by hand, an incredible task given that there are so many of them on the Trans-Am models. “It’s amazing how much pinstripes there are on this car,” Strope marveled. “It’s on both sides of the rear spoiler! All hand done.”

The second-generation 1979 Firebird Trans-Am design is best known as the car Burt Reynolds drove in Smoky and the Bandit, although the film car was a 1977 model with a slightly different grille design. With that in mind, Schwab also hired country singer Jake Owen to record a new version of Jerry Reed’s theme song from that film, “East Bound and Down,” with the Schwab Firebird being included in the song’s music video.

While all of the hardware that went into the Trans-Am’s upgrade is what stands out to him, says Strope, it’s the thoughtful execution of the car’s interior. The tops of the Porsche front seats are trimmed 6 inches to better fit the cabin of a 1979 car. The seats retain their electric adjustment, heating and cooling, but they’re now clad in leather printed like a Luis Vuitton bag, but with Schwab lettering and the Pontiac badge centered on the seatbacks.

“A lot of tasteful design went into this seat and I’m very proud of it,” said Strope, thanking Gabes Street Rods Custom Interiors for the work. In addition, the Firebird’s cockpit features the tartan fabric from the Schwab Challenge winning jacket. “The material of the winner’s jacket is in the door panels and on the sides of the seats,” emphasized Strope. “Not how it; the same actual fabric used in the jacket.”

This attention to detail ensures that the golf tournament winner will receive a better reward with this car than any trophy that would gather dust on a shelf in his palatial home.

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