2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 - Cam-Only Rocket
This is a discussion on 2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 - Cam-Only Rocket within the Firebird / WS6 forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; 2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 - Cam-Only Rocket In the heyday of the musclecar, Goats and Birds equipped with Ram ...
09-29-2007, 06:50 AM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 1999
- San Diego, Ca
- 383 Procharged & N20 Vert
2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 - Cam-Only Rocket
2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 - Cam-Only Rocket
In the heyday of the musclecar, Goats and Birds equipped with Ram Air powerplants literally flew off the dealer lots and onto dragstrips and street-racing venues across the country. Tuners and hobbyists alike routinely messaged the cylinder heads to raise compression, installed a lumpy 31/44 racing cam, and bolted on a set of headers and performance mufflers to extract every ounce of the engine's potential.
The decade and technology may have changed, but hobbyists continue to employ the same tried-and-true tricks. An example is James Drumm of Lewisville, Texas, and his '00 WS6 T/A. With 450 rwhp and show-quality paint and detailing, this T/A is an accurate representation of what can be accomplished with careful research and a commitment to detail.
According to James, "My father instilled the love of sports cars in me at an early age and reveled in test driving the hottest factory offerings. When I was approaching 16, we shopped around for an F-body, and my heart was set on a '96 Camaro Z28. Ultimately, there was no way to afford the car, but dad surprised me by purchasing an immaculate, black '87 IROC-Z four days after my birthday. I instantly fell in love and drove the car believing it was fast and great-looking to boot.
"Around 1998, I stopped at a light beside a black '98 WS6 T/A. When the light turned green, I got a slight jump on him, but not for long. He powered past me, taillights receding into the clear night. I was envious-the T/A was so explosive. It reminded me of the Pontiac commercials where the black T/A eats the car at a red light. I knew at that time that I would own one, but it wasn't until 2003 when I was able to complete college and achieve some financial stability that I could begin the hunt for the car.
"In October of 2003-almost one month into a search for a well-maintained T/A that would fit my budget-I happened upon a local eBay listing for a Navy Blue Metallic '00 WS6 model. After e-mailing the owner, he graciously agreed to allow me and my father to see the car in person. As soon as the Pontiac was fired up and backed out of his garage, I knew this was the one for me. The combination of the gorgeous Navy Blue paint and the chrome ROH rims entranced me. It took almost a full month to work out all of the paperwork, but the night that I finally picked up the T/A was special-this was the first vehicle that I had purchased on my own."
Engine And Drivetrain
Although it was mostly original except for the wheels and an after-cat exhaust, the owner had blown up the stock 5.7L engine and replaced it with a slightly used factory 6.0 engine featuring an iron block.
"In large part, the car was being sold in order to pay the debts incurred in completing the repairs," according to James. "After driving it stock for a while, the initial changes to the engine included the normal LS1 bolt-on items such as a Whisper lid, a K&N air filter, and a ported Shaner S3 throttle body. Things changed dramatically when I upgraded the LS1 intake manifold to a better-flowing LS6. After installing a used LS6 manifold, which I painted metallic silver to match the air lid, the engine developed a miss.
The car was transported to Real Performance Motorsports (RPM) where it was discovered that the back of the manifold was cracked, allowing air to enter the rear runners and ultimately causing cylinders No. 5 and 7 to lean out and eat their respective pistons. With the engine needing repair, I consulted with Brian and Keith Lohse regarding upgrades to maximize the horsepower on a budget. As RPM had completed several F-bodies in 'cam-only' configuration that put out close to 450 rwhp, that became the goal."
To that end, the cylinder heads were removed and sent to CNC Cylinder Heads of Pinellas Park, Florida, for reworking. By angle-milling the heads 0.050, compression was raised from the stock 9.5:1 up to 10.5:1. Stock 2.00/1.55 valves were removed, and CNC performed a multi-angle valve job, leaving the runners and combustion chambers stock.
To reach the targeted horsepower goals, an aggressive RPM 6 hydraulic-roller camshaft was chosen with 244/248-degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.612/0.615 lift on a 114-degree LSA. The cam was installed advanced two degrees. Manley dual valvesprings, titanium retainers, and hardened pushrods work in concert with GM 1.7:1-ratio roller rockers to actuate the valvetrain.
Two new replacement GM pistons and rings were sourced, and all of the stock pistons were flycut to retain adequate piston to valve clearance. After utilizing a new set of GM head gaskets, the long-block was reassembled and topped off with a replacement SLP LS6 intake manifold. The stock fuel pump was retained, but in order to provide adequate fuel for the hungry cylinders, a larger set of Ford SVO 30-pound fuel injectors were utilized. A Whisper lid pulls in cold air via an owner-completed free ram-air mod before flowing through a K&N air filter to the stock LS1 MAF and Shaner S3 throttle body.
An SLP 160-degree thermostat working in conjunction with the stock radiator keeps the motor cool in the hot Texas sun, while an ASP underdrive crank pulley frees up some additional power. Stock coils send juice via MSD 8.5mm plug wires to a set of cooler heat-range NGK TR-6 plugs.
Mean-spirited exhaust sounds are courtesy of a custom "off-road" setup that features Kooks stainless 1-7/8-inch long-tube headers and 3-inch X-pipe that flow through a 3-inch true-dual exhaust system fabricated by RPM. Twin 3-inch Moroso Spiral Flow mufflers attach to the duals (no catalytic converters), while turnout pipes just aft of the rear housing dump expelled gases.
RPM's Brian Lohse tuned the T/A using HP Tuners software on both the chassis dyno and street to achieve maximum power while still providing excellent idle characteristics and crisp transitions off-idle to full throttle. Large-duration LS1 cams are notorious for loading up at idle, but the combination of the custom cam profile and expert tuning allow the engine to perform flawlessly.
Power To The Pavement
A Spec Stage IV clutch and billet-steel flywheel transfer the power through the venerable T56 manual transmission, shifted by a B&M Ripper shifter. An aluminum driveshaft delivers it to a 10-bolt rearend fortified by Texas Drivetrain Performance. GM 4.10 gears provide the torque multiplication, while a TA Performance rearend girdle cover increases fluid capacity and helps keep ring-gear deflection to a minimum.
Eibach Pro lowering springs at each corner drop the car to the pavement and provide a perfect stance when combined with ROH RT chrome-alloy wheels that measure 18x9 inches front and 18x10 in the rear. Out back, the street tires are ZR-rated 295/35ZR18 Pirelli P-Zero radials, while Toyo Proxes T1-S checking in at 275/35ZR18 are up front. Stock WS6-spec shocks work in concert with a full complement of BMR suspension products including lower control arms, lower control-arm relocation brackets, an adjustable torque arm, and an adjustable panhard bar. All aftermarket suspension components utilize spherical rod-ends to maximize control.
Stock WS6-specification stabilizer bars are retained and upgraded with Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings, which enables the WS6 to turn on a dime and cut up corners with aplomb. Braking prowess is attributed to stock brakes with calipers-powdercoated Navy Blue Metallic-working in concert with RaceTrek cross-drilled and slotted rotors and Axxis Metal Masters pads.
F-body enthusiasm has spanned 30 years and continues to gain momentum despite the fateful elimination of our beloved Firebird after the '02 model year. Although enthusiasts are waiting for the Bird to emerge from the sun in a blaze of glory for a fifth generation, it hasn't stopped the twenty-something generation from purchasing and modifying Fourth-Gen Birds for power and style.
According to James, "For the first year after owning the T/A, I spent my time upgrading its appearance, performed a few bolt-on modifications, and dropped in an audio system that would rock. Once complete, it was coincidental that the cracked manifold ended up damaging pistons as I was actively planning to enhance the power to take the T/A to an elevated performance level.
With the engine complete and tuned, the power comes on in brutal fashion and pulls hard all the way to redline. Combine that with the changes made to the suspension to allow the T/A to handle better, and it's a blast to drive on the street."
In the heyday of the musclecar, roller cams and engines producing 450 rwhp were reserved for racecars. It's good to know that modern technology has allowed the average enthusiast to build racecar power while maintaining modern creature comforts in a distinct package.
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