If Mark Bonta's '69 Firebird convertible looks like a car costing a lot more than $25,000, you'd be right, sorta. Mark gets into the affordable dreams club by virtue of having bought the car so long ago--1984 in his case. Purloined for the pittance of $3,500, the total build-out cost would be more like $35K in today's dollars. We're going to let it slide anyway, solely on the merit of Bonta's perseverance. You gotta admire a guy who's had the same hot rod--and the same vision for it--for the last 23 years. You see, Bonta wanted to build a Pro Touring car long before there was such a thing as Pro Touring. There are some big-ticket items on Bonta's 'bird, such as the $2,989 receipt for paint and body; the interior work for $1,500; $2,362 for an Art Carr trans/converter combo; and the Intro wheels for $2,150. But the high-dollar stuff is nicely offset by things like homemade traction bars, a used MSD ignition and distributor, a free rearend scored from a friend's donor car, a used carb for $100, and a budget 355 long-block from PAW.

1969 Pontiac Firebird Convertible
Owner:Mark Bonta; Modesto, CA
Engine:355ci small-block Chevy (PAW), B&M blower, Crower roller cam, ported iron heads
Transmission:Art Carr 700R4, 3,000-stall converter
Rearend:9-inch Ford, 4.57:1 gears
Chassis/suspension:6-point rollbar, Herb Adams sway bars & firewall brace, Koni shocks
Brakes:stock discs & drums
Wheels:Intro 18s in front, 20s in back
Best ET:12.33 @ 109 (with 285/60-15 M&H slicks)
Total cost to build:$24,121