Owners Name and Surname: Mario Vingos
Builders Name and/or Shop name: (Body Prep & Paint, MF Autobody, Assembly Done By Thinus Van Dyk)
Mario Vingos has an absolute love for Muscle Cars and has put together the most wonderful collection of the finest Detroit has to offer. A good friend of his bought a 1957 Chevy Apache in 2012 and when he saw it he fell in love. From that moment onwards, the bug had bitten and he started his collection. His dream was to build a 1957 Chev Apache which he did and then he went on to build a 1956 Chevy Belair Pillarless 2 door and he has not stopped since. One of his many favourites is the 1968 Pontiac Firebird. Mario contacted Bryce Roberts at Creative Rides to help him find one and by November 2014, the search was over.
The Pontiac was red and needed a lot of attention. A complete restoration was in order. The rust on the car was really bad so it was sent to MF Autobody. They had to replace the entire floor, door skins and the trunk floor. Figueiredo Snr had to repair some panels and make others from scratch. The bodywork took nearly a year to complete. A lot of the parts could not be salvaged so new ones were brought in from the US. The list included new glass, grille, headlights, taillights and fuel tank.
The old suspension was tired and needed a lot of TLC. Mario opted to import a complete front suspension from Heidts in the US. The motor and gearbox were equally tired and a brand new 383 Stroker motor and TH400 Automatic transmission package was imported from the Engine Factory in the US. This motor pushes out a staggering 475 Hp.
Mario has still got the original motor that has been refurbished and crated. The diff was replaced with a better ratio and to better handle the horsepower. A special stainless steel exhaust was made up by Millennium 7 Performance.
With the body remodeled to perfection, it was time for paint. Mario’s choice from day one was black. He opted for the same colour code taken from the CLK 63 Black series Merc.
On the interior the original seats were stripped down completely. The frames were refurbished and along with the springs, were all powder coated and then reupholstered in pure black leather. Mario imported an original new Pontiac Steering wheel then had it covered with black leather to match everything else. The interior was done by two retired aircraft trimmers. Mario’s best kept secret!
When it came to the wheels, Mario went for a set of Foose wheels that were imported from the US. They run 18’s in the front and 20’s on the rear, making the stance and ride height on the Pontiac perfect in every way.
The total build time on the car was approximately 2 and a half years. The car came out exactly the way Mario had envisioned it. When we asked him what else he was busy restoring he said this:
“ I am currently busy with a ’68 Chevell and a ’69 Dodge Charger which are being built by All American Muscle. I also need to refurb a ’66 Mustang Fastback and a ’68 Dodge Charger”. Clearly, we will have plenty more of Mario’s cars featuring in the magazine.
Mario would like to thank:
Armando Figueiredo from MF Autobody
Johan Van der Linde and Phillip Dean Parkes from Millennium 7 Performance
Gavin Wilkins from GWR Racing
Thinus Van Dyk