Early in 2008, Ray Sellner, an application engineer from Lebanon, Indiana, was in the market for a rear-wheel-drive V-8–powered sedan. A hot-rodder since his teenage years and the son of a mechanic, the detail-oriented and technically proficient Ray intended to build a precise and balanced all-around performer. As a self-proclaimed convert from the Ford camp, it would be the ’08 G8 GT that would lure him to the General.

Ray admits being a relative newcomer to the Pontiac party. He became familiar with late-model Ponchos by owning an ’05 G6 and an ’07 Solstice. Having got wind of the Aussie-built G8, the former Air Force munitions handler knew the car line would be the perfect base from where to start. Now all he had to do was find one.

After scouring the Internet, he located No. 334 of the first 888 ’08 G8s built. It would become his, with the honor of being the second G8 sold in the Indiana.

No. 344 rolled off of Holden’s Elizabethtown assembly line in Australia bathed in Liquid Red; the standard (for GT) 6.0L L76 corporate mill and 6L80-E six-speed automatic transmission; and the optional Premium and Sport packages, the latter including sport metallic pedals; 19-inch, machine-faced aluminum wheels; summer performance tires; and a leather-wrapped Sport steering wheel.

Ray had big plans for his G8, but he understood early on: “It’s all about the journey!” This would be his mantra over the next five years as he gradually and painstakingly modified his example of the last of Pontiac’s rear-wheel-drive rebels from the ground up.

Chassis and Suspension

After only a few months and 3,500 factory-fresh miles, Ray took his G8 to Reeves Pontiac in Greenwood, Indiana, for Pedders’ Street II suspension upgrade. The package consists of struts in front, shocks at the rear, and red urethane bushings throughout. Further chassis enhancements added during the trip include Pedders’ polished-aluminum strut-tower brace, 7.5-degrees adjustment to the front caster for blindingly quick turn-ins, and BMR trailing arms.

Ray sourced Brembo front four-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors from a ’10 SS Camaro, and bolted them up in anticipation of the stopping brawn he would need to command his soon-to-be-up-gunned Pontiac flagship to a halt. For track duty, an SJM line-lock was added to hold the G8 at the tree.

During the next four Indiana winters, mostly by way of his own labor, Ray’s G8 would greet each warm spring with new modifications, which slowly transformed it into the sensational street/strip machine it is today.

Engine and Drivetrain

After bagging the factory engine for safekeeping, Ray sourced a ’12 LS3 block to serve as his blank canvas. Wanting a 427 ci, he changed his mind after consulting the engine builders at Livernois Motorsports, who advised him that a 419ci mill was the way to go. That was achieved by boring the block to 4.081 inches, stuffing it with a Manley 4340-steel, 4-inch-stroke crank, Livernois aluminum pistons, and Manley H-beam rods, and balancing the rotating assembly to within 2 grams.

GM “821” heads were called into duty for this powerful build. They were ported/polished by Landspeed Development, and outfitted with ’07 C6 intake valves and Livernois dual 0.650-inch-lift springs. The top end was beefed up with chromoly pushrods and a Comp Cams trunion-bearing upgrade; the stock 1.7:1 rocker arms remain.

Orchestrating the valvetrain (and a menacing lope at idle) is a Comp Cams hydraulic-roller unit (235/247 duration at 0.050, 0.617/0.624-inch lift, 113- degree LSA). Lunati link bars (lifters) replace the power-on-demand stockers and operate in sync with the big stick to perpetuate the 11.4:1 compression ratio.

The fresh and fine 419 rumbles to life by way of a stock ignition assisted by Innovate Motorsports’ wide-band air-fuel ratio monitor. A Vararam cold-air intake breathes in deeply, routing incoming air through a ported OE throttle body, and then on to a ported FAST 102mm intake plenum. The tune is courtesy of Joseph Enrico in Lafayette, Indiana.

Spent fumes are expelled by way of American Racing coated stainless-steel headers (1.875-inch primaries/ 3-inch collectors), flowing through a 2.5-inch system and exiting the stock mufflers with a potent muscular note.

The factory automatic stayed put, but is now assisted by a 3,200-stall Circle D torque converter and B&M tranny cooler. The power assaults the asphalt through a ’10 Camaro SS rearend equipped with G-Force 1320 33-spline axles and Richmond 3.27 gears.

Over the past five years, Ray has driven his 50,000-mile G8 from his home in Indiana to Michigan and Ohio for work and pleasure. He loves getting the sedan out on the road where it can strut its stuff. “The acceleration is just brutal,” he says describing the thrashing his Pontiac sedan doled out to an overconfident AMG E-55 Benz.

He continues, “I’m just a 59-year-old kid now,” and playtime is cruising his modified G8 to many car-enthusiast events, including the Hot Rod Power Tour, Holley LS Fest, and of course, the Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals, “where it gets endless admiring looks.”

As a member of the Indy Goat Herd car club and a regional distributor of Holden performance accessories, Ray has become somewhat of an authority on the Aussie-built Pontiacs, and it shows in his meticulously crafted machine. Yet as commanding a presence the G8 displays on the street and at shows, it equally shines at the track. At the 2012 LSX Shootout held at Indianapolis Raceway Park last year, Ray ran an 11.35 at 120 mph off a 1.62 60-foot hole shot—taking home honors for the Fastest G8. That’s pretty impressive for a naturally aspirated fullsize sedan.

In the very near future, he will install a turbo onto his mighty 419 and aim for the low 10s. We wish him luck in his future endeavors and hope to see his fine 419 G8 leaving rubber through the heartland.