By Brian Brennan – Photography By Author
It’s Saturday afternoon of a record setting Barrett-Jackson Auction here in Scottsdale, Arizona and one of the major “must see” happenings is the awarding of the coveted Barrett-Jackson Cup. More than 50 amazing looking hot rod cars and trucks are vying for the award. While there are the Top 5 acknowledged there can be only one winner. (To see even more of this story, make sure to grab yourself a February 2023 issue of Modern Rodding. It’s one of the Triple Crown of Rodding cover cars having won the Best Street Machine category.) The judges, Bobby Alloway and Troy Trepanier ha their hands full whittling down from the 50 to the Top 5 and we can only imagine it was significantly more difficult to come away with just one ultimate hot rod.
Taking home, the top honors, the Barret-Jackson Cup, is the ’69 Pontiac Firebird belonging to Brad Sather and built by Troy Gudgel and the master craftsman from BBT Fabrications out of Mahomet, Illinois. The field of 50 was highly competitive with the Top 5 finalists an amazing collection of “hard to beat” hot rods. Congratulations to all of the Top 5 and a very special “hats off” for the ’69 Firebird for rising above all others. Brad will be taking home not only there cognition for a job well done but also a check from Barrett-Jackson for a cool $20,000.
The ’69 Firebird has all the boxes checked. Creativity, design, appearance, and execution of the work, followed by flawless assembly makes the ’69 Firebird something special. But there are two more very important boxes to check. The Firebird can be driven on the street and can achieve fantastic flying mile speeds. It is very capable of registering speeds into the triple digits. To be exact, the Firebird has seen 199.027 mph (203 mph past the traps) at the “flying mile” Harvest 2022 event hosted by ECTA Motorsports.
One begins to expect results such as this when you realize 8,000-plus hours were methodically planned out an executed to delivery this one-of-a kind hot rod.
The V-8 comes by way of Butler Performance and rests under the hood and between the Roadster Shop framerails. The 1,200-plus horsepower twin-turbo 482-inch Pontiac is based on a Butler Performance 1AII aluminum 138-pound block. From here the motor is topped Edelbrock cylinder heads. The V-8 is turbocharged with a pair of Twin Precision Turbo & Engine 6870 turbos (68mm) managed by a Holley Dominator ECU and tuned by Carma Performance, yielding the 1,200 hp. Inside the Ross reverse dome pistons (-33.75-inch dish) are a custom-ground LSM billet cam and plenty of ARP hardware holding matters together. Getting the spent gases out falls to the custom exhaust system by BBT. BBT worked the Vibrant Performance stainless steel tubing, bends, and accessories to match up to a pair of Borla ProXS mufflers.
The power is then moved rearward through a Bowler Performance Transmissions–modified T56 (six-speed) transmission, McCleod Racing RTX twin-disc clutch kit and pressure plate, and then onto an Inland Empire Driveline driveshaft. From here the Roadster Shop independent 9-inch rearend employs Moser 35-spline axles and a set of 3.08 gears. Wilwood can be seen in the rear with 14-inch rotors and four-piston calipers operated by a Tilton 76 series master assembly and a Tilton 600 series underfoot pedal assembly. More Penske coilover shocks are used in the rear. The powertrain rests within a Roadster Shop FastTrack chassis that is outfitted with Corvette C6 front spindles, Penske coilover shocks, Roadster Shop 1-1/4-inch sway bar, and Wilwood 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers. Steering comes by way of a Roadster Shop rack-and-pinion that is wheedled into service through an ididit steering column. More corner appointments include the EVOD Industries unique wheels and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. The 19-inch (9.5 and 12 inches wide) wheels are wrapped with 265/35R19 and 345/30R19 super performance tires.
The sheetmetal on this ’69 Firebird did receive a thorough going over by the gang from BBT. Immediately you can see that the body has undergone widened fenders (1-1/2 inches each), freshly fabricated rockers, and a custom aluminum hood with vents. More mods include modified quarter-panel body lines, a custom grille, a one-off rear spoiler, and front and rear air diffusers along with a full belly pan. These are modifications we would expect on a car that is easily capable of 200 mph. Another popular modification to cars of this era is the flush mount front and rear glass. BBT was also responsible for crafting the door handles and side mirrors.
Once the body mods were completed then it was off to spend numerous hours in the BBT body shop working and reworking the sheetmetal until it was flawless. From here it was then delivered to Mitch Mumbower of Relic Restomods so that he could apply the PPG McLaren Racing Green. Once painted it was then up to Advanced Plating to add their subtle touch.
Inside rests more amazing artistry designed and built for its dual purpose—ideal for the street and the showroom, but also dialed in for those 200-mph blasts. Starting with the BBT custom-fabricated aluminum dash it is outfitted with Dakota Digital HDX gauges and custom air registers to handle the cool and hot air from the Vintage Air system. BBT and ESP Spares are responsible for the custom-machined gauge cluster trim and the stereo speaker grilles, accompanying A/C registers, and the pedals. Wiring the interior as well as the remainder of this hot rod falls to the use of a Coach Controls system wired into use by the BBT staff. From here the dash is fitted with an ididit steering column and a Sparc Industries billet wheel. The headliner (more BBT handiwork) consists of aluminum panels that are wrapped in black Alcantara. (Alcantara is a combination of synthetic materials that is well known for its ease of maintenance.) The seating consists of a pair of bucket seats that were made and covered by Cato’s Custom Upholstery and swathed in Moore & Giles fine leathers. Cato’s also handled the black carpeting throughout. When making those high-speed runs there is a custom racing seat insert that rests in place, allowing Brad to spend time “at the office.” BBT then built the rear portion of the passenger compartment with a “rear seat delete” in keeping with the hot rod’s performance purpose.
Well, there we have another Barrett-Jackson Cup in the record books. Congratulations to Brad and Troy on this amazing ’69 Pontiac Firebird.