I've been a huge fan of Trans Ams for as long as I can remember. In the past 16 years, I've owned 14 different Firebirds, Formulas, and T/As, ranging from '68 to '99.
My favorite Birds are Fourth-Gens. Nothing matches their menacing style and musclecar feel when driving down the road. I own a '99 Trans Am that I drive during the summer months and display at local car shows. Since I couldn't bring myself to drive a normal car for my work commute when I replaced my daily-driver '95 Trans Am, I did it with another Fourth-Gen T/A.
I purchased my '96 Trans Am from a local dealer with 53,000 miles on it. It has the 285-horse LT1, 4L60-E automatic trans, and a 3.23 rear. It looked to be in great shape with nothing wrong except for a leaky water pump. The color-changing Mystic Teal paint pulled me in since I've always been a fan of chameleon-style paint jobs. After the test drive, I knew it was the perfect Bird to add to my garage.
Once I got the T/A home, I had to decide on upgrades to make it stand out from the crowd. The modification journey started under the hood to get a little extra power. I installed a Stage 2 cold-air intake, a throttle-body air foil, a Hypertech programmer, a B&M electronic shift kit, and a Flowmaster after-cat system. The exhaust gave the Bird a nice deep roar when accelerating, but nothing too obnoxious since the car was to be my daily driver.
The interior is dressed up with aftermarket Mystic Teal leather door-panel inserts and a triple-gauge pod with an oil temp, trans temp, and an Aeroforce Interceptor OBD-II scan gauge. Entertainment is delivered through a Pyle 6-inch, touch-screen DVD/CD player and hooked to a rear-view camera.
Deciding on appearance modifications required a lot of thought. I started by adding 30th-anniversary-style side feathers, Trans Am door decals, LT1 rocker-panel decals, and the rear-filler-panel bird-all in Satin Silver. I also installed a set of Corvette Z06 18x9 wheels wrapped in Dunlop Sport 8000E 265/35ZR18 tires for a slightly more modern look. Behind the Z06 wheels are slotted and cross-drilled rotors with Hawk HPS ceramic pads to handle sudden braking during rush-hour traffic.
All of the mods gave my '96 Trans Am great handling, power, and a stunning stance, but I felt it still needed something more to complete its custom look. An idea came to me when I saw the new Fifth-Gen concept Trans Ams. I've always loved Shaker hoods on my Second-Gen Birds, so I obtained one from a '78 Trans Am that was modified by a friend for a previous project. He opened the back and rounded out the corners to give it its own identity. After taking measurements and making a template, my father-in-law cut the hole in the hood; then we fabricated mounting brackets to attach the scoop to the engine. It was painted in Satin Silver to make it stand out, and some modified Collector Edition-style hood flames were added.
In the two years of owning my '96 T/A, it has accumulated 20,000 miles and gone on over a dozen family vacations. It's been a great addition to my F-body line up and makes my commute to work a pleasure, blending modern performance with a touch of nostalgic styling.
Driving around town and seeing the Shaker scoop shake takes me back to the old days when Second-Gens ruled my driveway, and whenever the driving situation arises that requires me to floor it, seeing the Shaker scoop torque over still puts a smile on my face.
My Pontiac and Me spotlights reader experiences with their own Pontiacs in their own words. To be considered for publication, submit several high-quality color photos (if digital, each photo must be larger than 1 megabyte in JPG format-no other formats, please), your own Pontiac story (typed, approximately 500 words), your name, address, and telephone number to:
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My Pontiac and Me
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