Sporting all '76 circa outer metal, including license plates, Jerry's '76 T/A is a stunnin
"Aren't the Trans Ams better?" was the question that a 17-year-old Jerry Brushaber was posed by his father in 1976. Almost out of high school and given the option to go to college or get a new car, Jerry opted for something more instantly gratifying. Being the humble lad he was, Jerry originally sought a Formula from his local Pontiac dealer when the offer was put on the table. However, after dad's blessings, the hunt was on for this North Ridgeville, Ohio, resident. "I pretty much decided on the overall features [AM/FM radio, power steering and brakes] and color, and fortunately one was planned to be shipped within the next 2 weeks." Unfortunately they were NFL weeks, which stretched into 3 months before his Firethorn Red Trans Am showed up. Then, shortly after taking possession of it, a drunk driver badly damaged his new set of wheels (see sidebar).
An aluminum Ram Air IV intake of '69 vintage sits up top with the original Q-Jet from Jerr
Fast forwarding to 1977, Jerry had gotten married to Marian (his high school sweetheart) in the T/A, fought off the impulse to sell it and was beginning the obsession with-I mean collecting of-extra factory options such as an 8-track player, rear console, and tilt steering column. In 1981, a perfectly good '77 T/A was specifically purchased to pirate these goodies. "From this car I used the wiring harnesses, power door locks, power windows, power trunk, cruise box, rear window defogger, and courtesy lights." Not one to wait for the "right time" Jerry also confesses, "There was no saving of parts over the years. All parts were collected and installed during the same time. I also installed a functional flapper door [from Ames Performance], 304 stainless exhaust system [with a Borla 304 stainless muffler], including stainless splitters." A custom bracket was fabricated to accommodate the switch for the flapper door. Having collector car status means the T/A doesn't get a tailpipe sniff, so Jerry replaced the cat with a cheater pipe.
In 1994, a second garage was built to store the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am. Three years later, upon retiring as a union carpenter, Jerry started the restoration and modification with 31,000 miles registered on the odometer. The attention to detail is described in his own words: "The T/A was totally disassembled down to every bolt. Most of it was disassembled at home before trailering it down to Marvin's [Auto Restoration of Washington Court House, Ohio]. The entire car was stripped down to bare metal and even put on a [rotisserie] to strip the undercarriage." Almost every weather-exposed piece of metal was sent out for powder coating and into storage went the factory-issue 400ci engine/Turbo 350 trans combo.
Body color accented 15-inch Rally wheels compliment the classic Second-Gen Trans Am lines
Marvin, did the stripping, preparation, and painting himself. Five coats of PPG epoxy primer DP90lS and K36 were laid down and topped by 3 layers of PPG Deltron Universal basecoat. Only the 4 coats of top-level PPG 820 clearcoat were wet sanded with 1500-grit paper. PPG Deltron acrylic urethane covers the chassis. Jerry regularly visited the shop to assist throughout the process-as any true hobbyist would. Together they installed the Moroso subframe connectors and Polygraphite body mounts and they re-applied all of the decals from Stencils and Stripes adding a hood bird this time. All the windows were replaced with tinted glass.
During the 1998-99 season, the decision to go with more power meant, either tearing into an original low-mileage 400 or just getting a new engine. Jerry chose the latter. After contacting Jim Butler Performance, he became the very happy owner of a stout JBP-built '76 replacement block 455-punched .030 to 462 ci. Ready to drop in, the big-cube motor came chock full o' goodies like forged TRW pistons (PN 12359) wrapped in TRW street rings and Eagle H-beam connecting rods bolted to a stock crank. A Melling high-volume oil pump works from a stock oil pan to keep things well lubricated.
Sleep on its stock looks at your own risk because you'll frequently see this view of the n
Keeping this combination in harmony is a Fluidampr and True Roller double timing chain. Ultradyne got the nod to keep the valve timing in check with a cam directing roller tipped rocker arms via hydraulic lifters and hi-po push rods. The cam is a 280/288 H12 grind and features 223/231 degrees duration at .050 and .463/.485 lift. Up top, Butler street-ported and installed bronze valve guides in D-port 6X heads with new valve springs. An aluminum Ram Air IV intake of '69 vintage is bolted to the heads and supports the original Q-Jet from Jerry's 400 engine.
Stainless Works fabricated a Y-pipe to bolt up to '70 Ram Air III reproduction exhaust manifolds from Ram Air Restorations Enterprises. The 2-1/2 inch stainless exhaust from 1981 just needed steel wool scrubbing to liven things up. A Performance Distributor HEI fires up AC/Delco plugs (a hotter spec gapped at .060) and wires. A maximum timing advance of 34-35 degrees is dialed in.
Beauty is more than skin deep here. Every bolt was replaced with a stainless one. Though w
Fully loaded wasn't enough for Jerry. Winter of 2000 tinkering meant the 100-mph speedo ha
When pressed to share his favorite features in the body design, Jerry admits they are the