Friday, December 16, 2016

1989 Trans Am 20th Anniversary V-6 turbo

Back in 1989, production sports cars were considerably slower compared to the fast, technology potent sports cars that are being produced today. Thanks to the shortage of fuel and the bad economy, the '80s were a breeding ground for poorly performing Mustangs, Camaros, Trans Ams and Corvettes. 

But in the late '80s, Buick brought some relief to the unimpressed gear heads with their 1986-'87 Grand National and Regal T-Type. The two very similar models where technically two-door sedans that came with a six-cylinder engine that used a turbocharger and an intercooler to produce 235-hp and some very impressive quarter-mile time slips. In fact, for those two years, the sluggish looking grocery-getters were the fastest American made production vehicles at the time.

Pontiac Looks to Buick for a Bad Ass 20th Anniversary Edition Trans Am
In 1989, Pontiac would prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved Trans Am. For the anniversary addition, Pontiac would go outside of the box and for the first time would produce a Trans Am with a V-6 motor, the same V-6 motor that Buick used for the dominating Grand National and Regal T-Type. For this special anniversary edition, Pontiac would produce 1,550 Turbo Trans Ams in different combinations of hard tops and t-tops, along with a leather or cloth interior option.

Pontiac did not offer a factory convertible Turbo Trans Am, but one was created for Jeff Beitzel the President of PAS, a custom car production company. The car is unique in that its origins were shared with other custom-made vehicles that PAS were involved with building such as the Syclone, the Typhoon, and the ASC-built GNX. The world's only rag-top Turbo Trans Am has changed hands several times and is presently owned by a wealthy Mexican oil baron who loves Pontiacs.

With Pontiac's 20 great years of Trans Am success, the Turbo Trans Am would be rewarded by being named the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500. 

So just what kind of performance stats can this Turbo Trans Am produce? You can expect 0-60 times of 4.6 seconds while stopping the ¼ mile clocks at an average of 13.4 seconds, and if you keep going with your foot on the gas, you will reach a top speed of 162 mph. But just like the Buicks, the possibilities of much faster times and better performance is completely feasible with affordable upgrades and the correct tuning.

Completing the 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am Package

To complete the package, the Turbo Trans Am would come with a 200-4R 4-speed transmission with a lock-up converter. Four-wheel disc brakes and dual piston aluminum calipers with vented rotors were also installed. The Trans Am suspension includes front MacPherson struts and a limited slip rear live axle with front and rear torque sway bars – meaning not only does it go fast in a straight line, but it also hugs the corners as good as any other American sports car.

The sticker price for this Turbo Trans Am was around $32,000. Nowadays, depending on condition and how many miles are racked up on one, you can find them for sale anywhere from $12,000-$45,000 give or take. This car is definitely an American classic and if you're lucky enough to own one, it would definitely be in your best interest to take care of it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

1966 Big Block Corvette: The First of Its Kind

Image result for 1966 big block corvette

Back in 1966, Chevrolet decided to get innovated and give the public something they have been craving – a small sports car with a huge motor. The Corvette was elected to take the upgrade that started a revolution of cars that would be labeled "Muscle Cars". Chevrolet created a feasible 427 cubic-inch motor for the Vette by taking the already powerful 396 cubic-inch motor that the Corvette was already using and machining the bore and stretching the stroke of the engine to a much larger 427 cubic-inches.

Related image
Big Block Hood

These 427 Corvette motors were available in two versions: the 390-hp L36 and 425-hp L72. Both engines were available choices given to consumers when ordering a Vette, and both engines performed sensationally depending on what kind of fun you were looking for. The lower output L36 motor would cost you about an extra $185.00, where the higher output L72 motor would set you back about $350.00.

The extra cost for the L72 would get you a better-structured motor that included four bolt mains, impact extruded aluminum pistons, a very aggressive camshaft, a Holly 780 CFM carburetor attached to an aluminum intake and a free-flowing exhaust. With the purchase of the L72, you would also get a K66 transistorized ignition to help complement the other higher output parts. Although the L72 was rated at a massive 425-hp, it was a well-known fact the actual horsepower output was well above that publicized rating. The reason for Chevrolet's deception on horsepower numbers was to avoid unwanted backlash from the safety legislation.

The big-block Chevrolet motors were a tight fit for the Corvette, and the power-to-weight ratio was very pleasing for speed freaks. Chevrolet would spend about six more years using a big-block powerplant with balls before going with low-output engines altogether. After 1972, the change to bring about more fuel-efficient cars would change what kind of powerplants all muscle cars would receive and would eventually spawn the end of an era, the "Muscle Car Era."

Small-block 350's de-tuned and ready to do poor performance was what the American car enthusiast would have to put up with for power through the 70's and 80's. In the early 90's, change for more power started up again and, since then, there hasn't been much reason to complain. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How Much Horsepower is Too Much Horsepower?

Anyone who has ever had an infatuation with power created by combustion engines will tell you, “you can never make enough horsepower”. But in a day-and-age where technology takes us to astronomical power levels, it seems like that thought process may not be so true anymore. With big cubic-inch LS motors that already can take in mass amounts of air before slapping on twin-turbo or supercharged systems, the amount of power that is popping up on all kinds of average daily cruisers, begs the questions, is there really a need for all that horsepower?

500 Horsepower Before 1990
Sure, 500-hp has been possible since guys started taking apart engines and putting them back together with the whole intent to go faster. But before the 90's, 500-hp in a daily cruiser – in a 1985 Corvette, Camaro, Mustang – please. Not to say that it has never happened, but for the most part, that kind of horsepower was reserved for track use, short drives to the car show, or for trailer queens – not for vehicles that could go back-and-forth to work every day and then hop on the expressway and drive across country at will.

In Today's Time – 500 Horsepower – Just A Drop In The Bucket
Not to mention that finding a sports car right off the showroom floor with over 500-hp is as easy as going to your local dealership, but purchasing one under 500-hp and having a performance shop do some add-ons correctly with a correct tune to get 500-hp is just another day at the shop.

Some of the Corvettes and Camaros, Hellcats from the Plymouth/Mopar divisions and of course the many forms of Mustang that we see today can easily make 500-hp. Even Cadillac and many other unexpected auto divisions have poured more horsepower into their vehicles than one could have ever imaged in the mid-80's – early 90's. If you would have told me back then that there would be a four-cylinder twin-turbo Camaro that would keep up with a 90's LT-1 Camaro, and a six-cylinder Camaro that would leave a LT-1 in its dust, I would have laughed.

Well maybe not. My Dad was a Buick guy and I attended many Buick events in the early 90's where V-6 turbo Buicks were pulling the wheels off the ground and turning in 10-sec time-slips. But try explaining that to a Fox-Body Mustang lover back in those days. A 5.0 Ford Mustang was the fastest vehicle to every grace the pavement – back then – according to them.

How Much Horsepower Is Too Much
Realistically, when you are trying to find out how much an engine or a certain engine setup can put out, then there is never too much. But when you are making a decision of what kind of money you have to spend, what kind of power you are realistically going to need or use, and how complicated you want it to be to tune, drive comfortably and for that matter of fact, understand it, there may be a level of too much.

Sure, it's great to sit at the car show or the drag strip and say “yep, my baby puts out 1,200 ponies”, but when a brand new sports car pulls up next to you at the light – quiet and stock looking – and he takes off like a rocketship, and your loud, monster setup is gasping for mass amounts of air while standing still trying to find just a little bit of traction – that's just embarrassing.

How Much Horsepower Is Just Enough
Just like most things in life – to each is own. The perfect amount of horsepower to me would be being able to use and have fun with every bit of horsepower that I paid for. Sure, have there been times where I have wanted more horsepower for some of my vehicles? Absolutely, but I also like to eat as well. Having an extra boatload of horsepower under my foot that I'll never use while telling my girlfriend that we can't go and grab something to eat because my bank account is empty, doesn't' sound so cool.