Auto Meter Ultralite fuel...
Auto Meter Ultralite fuel pressure, nitrous pressure, and air/fuel ratio gauges are set into an A-pillar pod with a Raptor shift light above it.
When Tony Samsill of Flower Mound, Texas, first saw the '98 Pontiac Trans Am, he knew he wanted one of his very own. But more than patience and perseverance were needed; Tony had to grow up a little-literally-he was 12 years old! He recalls, "My neighbor bought a brand new '98 silver WS6 and when I saw it, I was beside myself. He took me for a ride in it about a year later and, after being scared to death by how fast it was, I decided I had to have one."
After reaching the driving age and whetting his appetite on his first GM ponycar, an '87 IROC-Z, Tony quickly graduated to a '96 WS6 black T-top T/A, followed by a red '97 WS6 convertible.
Three years later, Tony found this Trans Am. "I was at a dealer auction trying to buy inventory for the dealership I work for, and I happened to see what was soon to be my Trans Am, a '99," he told HPP. "Pewter was not my first color choice, nor was an automatic, but when it came through and I saw the price and how nice it was, I couldn't say 'no,' so I bought it. After seven years of waiting, I finally had the T/A that was reminiscent of the first Fourth-Gen I ever rode in. This one is a keeper."
When Tony bought this T/A, he got a lot more than sentiment. One model year prior to Samsill's Pontiac being built, GM made major revisions to the Fourth Generation Firebirds, including body enhancements, bigger brakes and, of course, the introduction of the LS1 engine.
The all-aluminum LS1 powerplant replaced the iron block LT1. Horsepower increased from 285 to 305 standard and from 305 to 320 for Ram Air Formulas and Trans Ams. Part of the Gen III family of engines, the LS1 was a brand new design that was developed with GM's sophisticated computer-modeling software.
It is comprised of a deep-skirt aluminum block with 6-bolt, cross-bolted main caps. Cast-in-place iron cylinder liners feature a bore of 3.90 inches and employ a cast nodular iron crank with undercut and rolled fillets and a stroke of 3.62 inches. The resulting displacement is 346 ci or 5.7 liters. Attached to the crank are powdered metal 6.1-inch connecting rods. The pistons are hypereutectic-cast aluminum flat-tops.
LS1 heads feature 2.00/1.55 valves, 1.7-ratio roller rockers and 66.67 cc combustion chambers. Compression is set to a 10.5:1 ratio and the cam features 198/209-degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.500/0.500 inch lift. The intake manifold is made from plastic to dissipate heat more quickly and a set of 28 lb/hr injectors provide the fuel. A throttle body and MAF supply the metered air for the sequential-port fuel injection system. Coil-near-plug ignition adds the spark.
Knowing that GM had already provided a great foundation for performance in his '99 T/A, Tony concentrated on bolt-ons and bolt-ins to add more.
Because Tony wanted the Trans Am to see stick action, he immediately had Real Performance Motorsports (RPM) of Lewisville, Texas, remove the 4L60E trans and replace it with a T56 from an '00 T/A. RPM then added its custom grind RPM 4 cam with 232/236-degrees duration and 0.595/0.601-inch lift, and a discretely hidden NOS setup good for a 100hp shot of juice.
This T/A is lowered 2.75 inches...
This T/A is lowered 2.75 inches from its stock ride height, thanks to an Eibach Sportline spring kit.
Here are the only visible...
Here are the only visible underhood clues that this Trans Am is packing a 100 shot nitrous system-two nozzles on the flanks of the SLP airbox and an NOS call-out decal.
A stout cam, worked heads...
A stout cam, worked heads and free-flowing exhaust allow this 5.7L LS1 to produce 438 hp at the rear wheels on RPM's chassis dyno. If that's not enough, then comes the nitrous to add 98 more horsepower. Custom fuel rail covers add a bit of show to the go.
Before Tony purchased this Trans Am, its previous owner installed a Ram Air-style hood and Hooker 1.75-inch long-tube headers, a 3-inch steel X-type crossover, dual Moroso Spiral Flow mufflers, and 3-inch pipes that dump before the rear axle.
After enjoying the T/A for almost three years, Tony felt the need for more speed. Just after the HPP photo shoot, he added LS6 heads to the stock LS1 short-block. The heads were prepared by Pete Incaudo of VMAX Motorsports of Land O' Lakes, Florida, and are fully CNC-ported with custom hand work in the bowls, short-turn radius, floor and roof of the intake ports and floor of the exhaust ports. GM pushrods activate the factory roller rockers and compress Crane dual springs good for 0.650-inch lift. The heads are fitted with REV 2.055/1.600 valves. Pete Incaudo angle-milled the castings to a 59 cc chamber size to create an 11.2:1 compression ratio with the stock head gasket volume. On the flow bench, the heads flow 320 cfm on the intake, and 225 cfm on the exhaust. Pete tells HPP, "We expect about 440 rwhp from these LS6 heads on the stock LS1 bottom-end."
A stock 78mm throttle body and 75mm MAF feeds an LS6 intake manifold outfitted with Ford SVO 42 lb/hr injectors. Factory distributorless ignition sends a spark through stock wires to NGK Iridium TR-6 plugs. An SLP airbox with K&N filter provides cold air intake.
Tony tells HPP that he loves the design of the nitrous system in his T/A. "Everything is as hidden as we could make it. The solenoids are bolted to the radiator core support underneath the airbox assembly. All of the wires for the NOS system are completely hidden in the stock wiring harness loom. The only components visible to the eye are the two nozzles that go into the airbox and the full-throttle-controlled microswitch on the throttle body." To reap the most rewards from the combination, the factory ECU was custom-tuned by RPM Motorsports.
The rear inner fender well...
The rear inner fender well holds the NOS bottle. When the spare tire trim panel is in place, the bottle is completely hidden.
This Trans Am also sports...
This Trans Am also sports an '02 Collector Edition T/A-style blackout taillight filler panel and a CETA-only WS6 emblem. But it is not a factory WS6 car. The vanity plate offers a clue to the T/A's intentions.
Tony replaced the GM Delco...
Tony replaced the GM Delco Monsoon stereo with a Sony head unit featuring CD/MP3 that's wired through the factory Monsoon amp to Infinity Kappa Perfect speakers. The NOS activation switch was placed next to the factory's traction control switch.
A B&M Ripper Shifter directs the T56 transmission outfitted with an LS7 clutch, pressure plate and flywheel. The six-speed outputs the torque to a factory driveshaft and then to an original Torsen II limited-slip rearend housing 3.23 gears.
Desiring more than just straight-line prowess, Tony prescribed major modifications for the T/A's suspension as well, including Eibach Sportline springs all around with Stock deCarbon shocks up front and Gabriel Gas Magnums in back. BMR stabilizer bars (32mm in front and 21mm in rear), Prothane polyurethane bushings, a BMR relocation bracket with rear adjustable control arms, BMR subframe connectors and a Hotchkis panhard bar also aid in the quest for more precise handling.
It sounds like Tony built a ready-to-go T/A racer out of his pristine 109,000-mile stocker, but the owner tells us he has only been to the track once. "It's really not a track car," he says, "But I want it to act like one. I enjoy driving my 'track car' on the street and to shows, and doing my best to win trophies," Tony tells HPP. "Last year, we went out to a local car show, and of 130 entrants, I was fortunate to bring home 'Best of Show.' I was surprised and honored at how the T/A displayed." It seems that this F-body has come a long way from the dream of a 12-year-old boy.
Flashy modifications include...
Flashy modifications include a body-color-keyed console top, radio trim, instrument trim, A/C vent rings, and door handles and power seat trim. The headrests feature embroidery with black T/A lettering and a Screaming Chicken T/A logo. Billet aluminum doorsills were provided by Dynopro Auto. The work was performed by American Body Works of Lewisville, Texas.
This Trans Am sports an SLP...
This Trans Am sports an SLP H.O. "Ram Air" hood adorned with Ram Air callout stripes and a High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlight kit from Intense HID and sealed beam headlight housings from Eurolights. "They are 8000k color temperature bulbs so they have a nice bluish white tint to them," Tony says.
A Phoenix Gold 400-1 subwoofer...
A Phoenix Gold 400-1 subwoofer amp was installed in the hatch area and drives the Infinity Kappa Perfect subwoofer. A proud Tony tells us, "I enjoy the Infinity Kappa speakers immensely. With the subwoofer, they are the perfect replacement for the factory's Monsoon speakers."
Boyd Coddington 18x9.5-inch...
Boyd Coddington 18x9.5-inch Smoothie IIs are wrapped in BFG G-Force TA KDW 275/35ZR18 tires and stopped by stock GM brakes with upgraded drilled and slotted rotors.