Teen used lockdown time to rebuild dad’s muscle car

Christopher Blair and the 1980 Pontiac TransAm he restored while schools are closed by the pandemic. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

When Ontario schools shut down suddenly this spring Christopher Blair was more than happy to spend his days in the garage.

The St. Patrick’s student spent the next two months mechanically rebuilding and fully restoring a 1980 Pontiac Trans Am.

The teen is “obsessed” with mechanical things, his parents say.

“Everything he could get his hands on he’d take it apart and put it back together,” said mom Cynthia. “He bought a welding machine when he was 12.”

“Since he was two years old he’s always had an interest in anything with an engine,” added his dad, Graeme Blair.

The senior Blair bought the Trans Am, which he calls “the last of the true muscle cars,” in 1987 and has driven it only in summer.

During the lockdown, 17-year-old Christopher rebuilt the suspension, power steering and put in a new transmission found on Kijiji.

Much of the labour was cleaning it and repainting.

“There was 40 years of dirt and grime,” his dad noted.

With so many retail stores closed sourcing the parts was difficult, so some parts had to be fashioned on a metal lathe in the garage.

But Christopher also thought the car could use a few more “ponies,” his dad said with a laugh, so they located a 6.0 litre V6 engine at a junkyard.

Christopher cleaned it up and, with help from a professional mechanic, rebuilt the engine.

“It pretty much performs like a Corvette engine now,” said Christopher.

When it was finally done he drove the restored vehicle over to his teacher’s house for inspection, earning a school credit in the process.

“He loved it,” Christopher said with a smile.

Heading into grade 12, Christopher said he hopes to eventually work as a firefighter and restore cars on the side.

His next project is a 1984 Pontiac Fiero, which is parked in the family driveway beside a battered aluminum boat, which he’s also prepping for a paint job.

The teen is self-taught and picked up his skills by studying manuals, watching YouTube videos, even joining a weekly cars-and-coffee club so he could pick the brain of veteran car buffs, mom Cynthia said.

“There were days when he would put in 10 hours, easily.”