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LS1-Powered 1984 Pontiac Trans Am - Richter Scale Road Ripper

This is a discussion on LS1-Powered 1984 Pontiac Trans Am - Richter Scale Road Ripper within the GTO forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; LS1-Powered 1984 Pontiac Trans Am - Richter Scale Road Ripper When Wade Flannery of Paris, Kentucky, received an '84 Trans ...

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    LS1-Powered 1984 Pontiac Trans Am - Richter Scale Road Ripper
    When Wade Flannery of Paris, Kentucky, received an '84 Trans Am as a high school graduation present in 2003, he had no idea that it was destined to beat out other Firebirds and Trans Ams at the 2007 Trans Am Nationals for Best of Show, but it did. "I have always wanted to build cars, and this is my first," the 21-year-old tells HPP. "But more than that, I wanted a magazine car. I thought that by bringing my Trans Am to the Trans Am Nationals, I could share my dream with others."
    Since an '84 Trans Am is an unlikely candidate for Best of Show at the T/A Nationals, how did a freshman to the hobby accomplish such a feat? "I've always worked on cars, even when I was little," Flannery says. "At 12, I helped my dad with a '91 Chevy Silverado show truck. At 15, I modified a '91 Camaro Z-28. At 18, I was ready to tackle a Trans Am and build the show car I could be proud of."
    Finding the project was Flannery's first step, and he had help from Darrell, his father. "We took off one day to go check out a Trans Am we were told about, and we found it in the country sitting in front of a trailer. It turns out it was an '84 Trans Am with a five-speed. I was excited and knew it would be my project because I wanted a true T/A manual-shift car to start with," Flannery says.
    "Like many early year Third-Gens, my '84 Trans Am was neglected," he remembers. "The body looked solid, but the interior was trashed. It was all broken apart, and sported an early '80s Camaro steering wheel. The seats had covers on them, hiding the shredded factory cloth. There was no radio, heater, A/C or shifter boot."
    If the interior wasn't bad enough-and it was-Flannery was taken aback when he lifted the Trans Am hood and saw purposeful abuse. "The engine compartment looked as if it had been on fire. Wires were cut and missing. Oil and grease were everywhere.
    "But as bad as it appeared, the car had potential. It had three things I was looking for: It was a T/A, it could be driven home, and it was cheap-$800."
    Without a second thought, Flannery accepted the Trans Am from his parents in as-is condition, with the understanding that it was up to him to customize it himself. Dad wasn't going to do the work for him. "Do something with the car or get it out of the way," Flannery recalls his father saying to him. With two years of limited resources and his driveway as his only workspace, Flannery worked on the project occasionally. But when his family built a new garage, picking up the pace on the Trans Am became an easier prospect. With enthusiasm, he embarked on a two-year customizing project that would involve 1,800 hours and a complete transformation of his Third-Gen T/A.
    First, Flannery took the body down to bare metal. "I did it by hand and took off every last bolt," he says. "I shaved the door handles and rear markers, and fitted a Fourth-Gen-style rear wing. Then I cut out the rust and welded in patch panels. I spent months smoothing out the engine bay's weld seams. The rest was basic body work: fill, sand, block-sand, and prime."
    Once he was satisfied that he had a straight body, Flannery outsourced the paintwork on the Trans Am to an outside firm. He designed the graphics and chose PPG brand paints, however. Three coats of primer were applied, followed by one coat of Crystal Black base. Then came two coats of Star Fire base, two coats of Liquid Metal Aluminum for the graphics, one coat of Crystal Black to create a two-tone, four coats of Oh So Sexy Candy Red and three coats of clear.
    When determining the drivetrain config-uration, Flannery went back to his inspiration-a '92 Firebird he saw at Hawks Third Generation. "I ordered a Tubular K-member like I saw in the company's show car," he says, "and I asked Bruce at Hawks how he had done similar conversions."
    The drivetrain for the '84 came complete from a wrecked '98 T/A. It features the LS1 cast aluminum block with 6-bolt, cross-bolted main caps and a 3.9x3.62 bore/stroke. A GM nodular iron crankshaft, powdered metal steel connecting rods and hypereutectic aluminum pistons make up the rotating assembly. A ported oil pump from SLP provides high pressure and high volume oil delivery. The heads are No. 853s that were milled 0.008 by Back's Cylinder Head Services of Lexington, Kentucky, to ensure a flat surface and raise the compression ratio to 11:1. That's slightly higher than the factory compression of 10.25:1, while still allowing the Trans Am to drink premium pump gas.
    Comp pushrods activate GM 1.7-ratio rockers that compress Patriot Dual Gold springs to open and close GM 2.00/1.55 valves. The valvetrain is directed by an LG Motorsports G5X2 roller cam with 232/240-degrees duration, 0.595/0.608 lift and a 112-degree LSA.
    Flannery retained the stock MAF and 75mm throttle body. In the Fourth-Gen transplant's ignition system, spark travels from distributorless coil packs to Taylor 9mm wires and NGK TR55 plugs. Exhaust exits from Hawk's stainless steel long-tube headers, featuring 1 5/8-inch primaries and 2 1/2-inch collectors, and ends in 2 1/2-inch turndowns.
    Air is fed from a component-style custom air intake tube, supplied by Spectra Performance, and consists of a rubber 90-degree elbow, various tubes and reducers and a stainless steel cone air filter. "I like the modular components of this product because it allowed me to build the air intake system myself," Flannery says.
    Mounting a Fourth-Gen drivetrain into the Third-Gen was simple, according to Flannery. "The Hawks K-member is a great design. I lowered the LS1/T56 onto the K-member and bolted it into place. Then I raised the entire drivetrain underneath the '84 T/A and attached it to the unibody. Next, I bolted in a Spohn T56 crossmember with trans mount and safety loop and a Spohn adjustable torque arm-and the drivetrain was fully mounted and ready to wire."
    To efficiently deliver the power rearward, Flannery used a Spec Stage II single-disc clutch and steel flywheel. An aluminum Fourth-Gen driveshaft was employed and he installed a narrowed '98 T/A rear after adding Ford 9-inch housing ends, a Moser stud girdle, 4.10 gears to the stock limited-slip unit, and Moser 33-spline axles.
    The next step of the project was the fuel system, including minor modifications to a '98 T/A fuel tank. "I had to remove two inches from the neck of the tank and mount it back to its body with a rubber hose and clamps-it now fits perfectly in the '84." He also installed a Racetronix 255 lph electric fuel pump in place of the OE unit. Using the entire fuel system from the LS1 allowed Flannery to transplant the LS1 engine into the '84 T/A without much modification except for an "owner's choice" LS6 intake with stock 28-pound injectors. "I used a Corvette C5 fuel filter, which is integral with two fuel lines, a send and a return, and mounted it to the underside of the T/A near the framerails," he says. He ran a braided-steel AN fitting line underneath the Trans Am and forward to the engine's fuel rails. "The fuel system thinks that it's still functioning inside of a Fourth-Gen Trans Am. It can't tell the difference.
    "The only difficulty in this project was the '98 wiring harness," Flannery confides. "It was not a stand-alone. I was told by Hawks that they could edit the wiring harness to make it work. I integrated the edited wiring harness to the '91 dash and used a converter box from Hawks to modify the speedometer and tach signals into a format that is recognized by my speedo and tach." The harness sends/receives the signal from a '98 T/A ECM, which was custom tuned by Shocker Inc. Racing, of Lexington, Kentucky.
    Suspension And Rolling Stock
    For a ride the Third-Gen Trans Ams never came with, Flannery outfitted his T/A with the Air Ride Technologies' RidePROe2(r) (ARC4000e2) Compressor System to control the Cool Ride air springs at the four corners. It allows the T/A to lower its ride height and improve the ride quality and performance capabilities of the suspension-all at the flip of a switch. "I wanted the Trans Am to have a low stance. With Air Ride, I can raise the car to transport it, and lower it for shows. To top it all off, the Air Ride suspension gives the Pontiac an incredibly smooth ride. I never imagined a Trans Am could ride so nicely."
    UMI subframe connectors decrease body flex, and Energy Suspension urethane bushings limit deflection at the suspension attaching points.
    Custom wheels continue the radical theme of this '84 T/A: Boze ZE forged mesh with gunmetal finish and custom engraved center caps in 18x8 and 18x9.5 sizes are wrapped in BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDW 225/45ZR18 and Drag Radial 275/35R18 rubber.
    With success proven by his Best of Show trophy, Flannery comfortably looks back at the long road taken to get to Dayton, Ohio, and the Trans Am Nationals. "It took a lot of long nights, hard work, and money, but I achieved my goal. I have always liked Third-Gens, and I wanted to build one to show people that they can be made into nice cars and are not just junk.
    "I have learned so much through this build that will be very valuable. The most important thing is just how much work, time and money it takes to completely build a car yourself. I don't know if I will ever build one of this magnitude for myself again, or have the chance, but I have enjoyed it, the people that I have met, and the opportunities it has brought me. Not only did I build this car at a young age, but I did it going to college full-time in the morning and working a full-time second-shift job 10 hours each night. I am currently finishing up my second and third degrees. If I want to keep building Pontiacs like this, I need to stay on top of my education so I can afford this hobby."

    Photo Gallery: LS1-Powered 1984 Pontiac Trans Am - High Performance Pontiac Magazine

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    looks good

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