Every year at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas there is one car that stands out from the crowd; you might not see it on day one of the show, but eventually, you will hear people talking about it over and over. Riley Stair’s 1970 Pontiac Firebird was that showstopper at last year’s SEMA Show. During the entire week of the show, traffic would come to a halt when you walked in the vicinity of the Vibrant Performance booth. The attendees could not get enough of this car, and for good reason: every time you’d take a look at it, you would find another detail that would mess with your mind.
Now, Build Biology is giving those who didn’t get the opportunity to see it in person an inside look at Riley’s wicked Firebird.
At first glance, you’ll notice that this car sits super low; it sits inches off the ground and by that we mean probably less than 4-inches total. On a second glance, you’ll notice it’s also super wide! In fact, it is 7-feet from wheel to wheel with the help of 16×12-inch wheels on not only the front but the back as well. Everything about its exterior is nothing short of extravagant, and it only gets crazier the more you look.
When Riley started out building this project he scrapped everything but the shell and went to work. The entire frame is custom fabricated with the use of both rectangular and round tubing. With the engine set back 20-inches, he then bead-rolled and sheet metaled the whole interior and underside of the car. The exhaust is a work of art: all eight primaries made of stainless-steel tubes seamlessly merge into one collector which was all fabbed up by Riley. The Pontiac was too low to route the exhaust under the floorboards, and instead of trying to go the traditional route, the exhaust had to be run to the front of the Firebird before making its way back and exiting above the rocker and below the passenger door.
At first glance in the engine compartment, the power looks like it comes from a big-block, however, you would be mistaken: this powerplant is a 400-cubic inch Dart LS Next Gen II block with 1/2-inch mains. The block houses a Callies crank, GRP aluminum connecting rods, with custom JE Pistons that are 16.25:1 compression. To top the engine off, Dart 10-degree canted-valve heads were used with titanium valves and a “very large” Cam Motion billet cam.
Riley stated, “To me, a huge compression, snappy, angry, borderline suicidal LS or a V8 variant is the engine for me.” With the expectations of this monster revving to 10,000 rpm, we think he is right on point. The 400-cubic inch mill made an impressive 700 horsepower to the wheels with a very soft tuneup and sounds very angry doing so.
Riley did an excellent job building this car, and it shows with every detail you see. From the hand-formed metal fender flares to the execution of the cage and chassis, this Firebird is a work of art. The most amazing aspect to us is the fact that it was built under a carport at his parent’s house. This goes to show that you don’t need a big fancy shop to create the car of your dreams.