Travel with us now to a land where the traditional rules of hot-rodding are held in abeyance, where lionhearted beasts run wild in the streets, and feats of engineering alchemy breathe pulsing life into cold frameworks of gleaming steel.

Travel with us to the Technicolor dreamscape of west-central Florida, where one very special sedan defies conventional notions of four-door performance to reign supreme as the growling, scowling embodiment of modern Pontiac excitement.

Our tale's protagonist is one Bill Mitchem, a man whose search for a proper V-8 rear-driver ultimately found him alighting upon the made-in-Australia, recast-for-America Pontiac G8 GT. But unlike most fictional quests for hidden treasure, Mitchem's very real experience did not come complete with a fairy-tale ending.

"After owning [my first G8] for only 28 days, my son and I were hit by an F-150," says the 42-year-old realtor. "That totaled the car, but both of us were unhurt."

The incident only deepened Mitchem's appreciation for the Holden Commodore–based Poncho, and soon he was on the prowl for a replacement. In a happy coincidence, one of his fellow Florida G8 Car Club members was selling a Pacific Slate '09 GT model with only 32,000 miles on the clock, and it didn't take long for the two "G-Men" to ink a deal.

With G8 number two safely in his possession, Mitchem set about personalizing the as-yet unmodified car to suit his own unique tastes. Elevating the accelerative performance of the roughly two-ton sedan ranked among his top priorities, but Mitchem took a measured approach to the task from the outset.

"I built the car to handle the power, and then I added the power," he says.

The first part of that equation involved having fellow G8 enthusiast Chris Henry at CHenry Motorsports in Land o' Lakes, Florida, replace the vehicle's stock control arms, sway bars, and bushings with severe-duty hardware from BMR. Henry then yanked the G8's stock rearend in favor of a unit from a Fifth-Gen Camaro, a swap known to enhance both durability and—thanks to the F-Body's shorter, 3.27 gears—initial acceleration. Also helping to spur the portly Pontiac off the starting line is a Precision Industries Vigilante torque converter with an approximately 2,800-rpm stall speed.

While Mitchem had hoped to also install a full set of the Brembo brakes employed on the top-line G8 GXP, he quickly discovered that his custom wheels were not compatible with the GXP binders' mounting hardware. Faced with this limitation, Mitchem did the next best thing, installing the front GXP calipers and preserving the stock GT clampers out back, and fitting front and rear with cross-drilled Stoptech rotors. Since the former units do the bulk of the decelerative work on a front-engine vehicle, this seems like a smart compromise.

Having adequately fortified the G8's underpinnings, Mitchem was ready to focus his attention on the car's 6.0L L76 engine. Essentially an LS2 Corvette mill fitted with Active Fuel Management and an application-specific intake manifold, the GT-spec L76 makes an impressive 361 net horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque as delivered, enough to punt this zaftig zoomer through the quarter-mile in the high-13-second range.

Unsurprisingly Mitchem wanted more, so he enlisted the aid of Fasterproms, a highly regarded GM-tuning house based in the Tampa suburb of Lutz, Florida. Fasterproms principal Jeremy Formato performed a bit of binary black magic on the G8's factory PCM, and then meticulously ported the stock throttle body and intake. These small changes, allied with Kooks long-tube headers and a Pypes Violator exhaust system, nudged the chassis-dyno needle to an impressive 360 rwhp and 370 rwtq, or roughly 445/435 at the crank.

While pipping the 415-horse (net) GXP model in a dyno duel would have been enough for many, Mitchem had a rather more ambitious goal in mind for his GT: 11-second e.t.'s. After carefully weighing his options, he decided that a basic,125-horse plate nitrous system from Nitrous Outlet and installed by CHenry Motorsports would endow the car with just enough extra zip to hit his timeslip bogey. There were other, more practical, benefits as well.

"It's less complex and expensive than a supercharger," Mitchem notes, "and I can even get the bottle refilled at our local Pep Boys."

His power-adder selection proved sound when the car laid down an 11.97-second pass at 113.86 mph at Bradenton (FL) Motorsports Park earlier this year. Even more impressive, Mitchem managed this feat while running on Nitto NT555 street radials.

"People just can't believe that I ran a 1.68-second 60-foot time on those tires," he says, "but all the suspension mods really help get the car out of the hole."

If you've already scanned the accompanying photos and noticed that a few items appear out of place, give yourself a gold arrowhead. Like many of his G8 kith, Mitchem decided early on to treat his car to an appearance makeover, in part using bits liberated from the Holden and Pontiac parts binnacles. These included a full set of Commodore VE SS-V emblems for the fenders, along with chrome Holden trim for the trunk and a slatted GXP diffuser to spruce up the rear view.

Complementing the factory-sourced mods are a modest clutch of aftermarket enhancements, most notably LED lighting upgrades at each corner, stainless-mesh grilles for the nose, and polished 2 Crave wheels measuring 20x8 and 20x10 inches (front and rear, respectively). While these ministrations indisputably confer a distinctive look, they have had one unintended consequence.

"If you're in a hurry, it's the not the car you want to drive, because everybody wants to ask questions about it," Mitchem notes, though ones senses that this committed G8-er (he's the founder of the Florida G8 Car Club forum (www.FLG8CC.com) isn't too put off by the attention.

The car's "identity crisis," as Mitchem describes it, extends to the cabin, where a Holden steering-wheel emblem, shifter, and floor mats, have supplanted their OE (for the States, anyway) counterparts. Also of note is Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) triple gauge pod perched high atop the center stack. In addition to imparting a more purposeful look to the IP, the display furnishes info on engine parameters not included in the stock readout, including, most critically, air/fuel ratio.

While the logic behind performing a partial "Pontiacdectomy" on a G8 might be difficult to grasp for some, Mitchem notes that the conversion has earned him the admiration of many Holden enthusiasts back in kangaroo country.

"I'm a member of [Australia-based] Club VE, and the guys all seem honored that I built the car the way I did," he says. There's a practical benefit to this intercontinental alliance as well: "They've been working on this platform since 2006, so they're a wealth of information on what works and what doesn't."

In addition to its breakout performance at the dragstrip, Mitchem's "G-Ain't" has recently begun to earn plaudits on the show field, though it's worth noting that a few critics have been less than thrilled by the car's star turn.

"There were 38 G8s at the last Wide Track Warriors show in Orlando, and I took First Place in class," Mitchem says. "A few of the purists didn't seem too happy about that."

Critical razzes notwithstanding, it's clear that Bill has managed a rare feat of customizing wizardry, by smartly blending the best automotive attributes from the Land of Oz with the heart of a throwback American drag machine. Could there be a 10-second timeslip and more show trophies at the end of this particular rainbow? That seems like one wish with a very real chance of coming true.