What’s it like to drive a 1967 PONTIAC FIREBIRD? Ask this original owner…

I rode up to north Malibu the other day to the beautiful pad of Barbara Fish and her husband, Sal. They’re fantastic people with a super passion for cars and here’s why.

Off I went when I heard that this gal Barbara had a smokin’ hot 1967 326 Firebird Convertible (one of my faves). And the thought of meeting new people here in town, especially if they’ve been here longer than my 30-year stint, got me juiced like a dragster. 

When I arrived, I could see down the driveway the glistening shell of the red bird against Barb’s banana and palm trees. The perfect shot was about to happen, and I was pretty sure that nothing could happen to make it better… until, I met Barbara. 

She came out with an outfit that looked like it was made for the car. My shot just went up a notch for sure. And then, Sal told me he used to be the publisher of HOT ROD Magazine. That’s when I nearly hit the ground, teeth first. But that will be another story because this here article is all about the Barb.

Retired college professor from Pierce College in Los Angeles, Fish bought this beautiful car on day one back in 1967. An Automatic V-8; 326 and now still with the original body, top and interior, but with an upgraded transmission and wheels.

“I bought it new in 1967 from a dealer in Fort Wayne, Indiana,” Barbara starts to tell me. “Interesting side note: The dealer was a friend of mine. When I called him to get a price, I mentioned I had a Triumph to trade in for which he gave me a good price. When I drove into the lot to pick up my new car, he noticed it was a Triumph Herald, not the TR3 he had assumed. Though disappointed, he honored the trade-in price.” 

Whoa, a car dealer who actually keeps his word. Pretty sure that’s when I soiled my shorts. Sorry for the visual. 

But the Barb goes on. 

“In l967, it was a unique statement, especially for a young, single, third-grade teacher,” she said. “In fact, one of my student’s father was always waiting for me after school trying to buy it.” 

But there was no way Barb was going give this redhead up. Her favorite part? The color and the convertible top, obviously. Red is her thing. Her primary use is to visualize the “Thelma & Louise” thing (minus the “jump into death” part). Just feeling young and carefree.

But the best story was yet to come. 

“The day my Mother and I were driving through Kanan (probably back in the 80s) when we were terrified by a high-speed vehicle passing us on a curve and double yellow line,” Fish said. “The irony was that this ‘speed demon’ got a short distance ahead and was stopped at the tunnel for some construction. As we approached behind him snickering while waiting, the guy gets out of his car, saunters back to us, leans one elbow on my car door, and apologizes for frightening us. Those steely blue, sparkling eyes were so familiar. Yep, you guessed it: It was Steve McQueen. Needless to say, my anger turned into admiration — a moment I will never forget.”

Wait, did she just say that Steve McQueen blessed her car? Hold on, I’m calling the Petersen Museum and telling them to save a spot. 

“The second best story is when my soon-to-become husband, Sal Fish, helped me load up the car in front of my Sausalito duplex and followed me in his truck carrying all of my worldly belongings,” Barb continued. “I was relocating to Southern California (Malibu) to start a new life as a soon-to-be-married woman. Oh, the things you do for love.” 

That’s the perfect story around Valentine’s Day.

And what does Barb love about living and driving in Malibu? The “Thumbs Up and Smiles” when someone appreciates her vintage vehicle, she claims. 

That’s not an exaggeration, either, because that’s exactly what I was compelled to do when I arrived. They gave me a tour of the house, showed me some cars and talked Malibu and all I could do was hope that she didn’t notice that my left eye never stopped looking at that car.

One last thing that Barb mentioned was her favorite road. 

“It’s got to be Route 66,” she said. “In 1968, my Mother and Maltese Terrier accompanied my relocation from the Hoosier State to San Francisco where I secured a new teaching assignment. It was a thrill to see the sites on such a famous stretch of highway. Life was good. Little did I know that four years later it would become even better. I met Sal and moved to Malibu, which has been my home for 44 years and still counting.”

What an awesome story, Barb. We should all be so fortunate to live a wonderful life like that. Oh wait… we all live in Malibu, so we do. Thanks for reminding us.

And that, folks, is why cars are our thing. They take us on life’s journey to bliss and back. And if we’re lucky and close our eyes real tight, we may all be passed by the Steve McQueen’s of the world and say “thanks.” I for one, can’t wait. 

Until next time, lovers of caritos.

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