On motor, the T/A is a high-10-second piece with a trap speed of 126 mph. On a 200hp shot
If you’re reading this magazine, then you’re probably the kind of person who laughs maniacally when you hit the gas pedal. It’s that type of mental disposition that must be reached before you can truly appreciate John Adams’ Trans Am and why he built it. In his own words, “I wanted to build a 9-second street car that could and has embarrassed trailer queens.” If you’re hooked, read on.
John Adams Jr. was raised by his mother, Siu, and his father, John Adams Sr., and from a very early age, John Sr. exposed his son to hot rods and musclecars, which turned him into a true gearhead. “My father would take me to car shows, and I would always be in the garage when he was working on one of his many projects,” he recalls.
When John was about to graduate from the University of Florida in 1999, the only thing on his mind was a Trans Am. He fell in love twice that year—first with his girlfriend and now wife, Jill, and second with the LS1-powered Bird that he was racing and modding in his mind as he daydreamed in class.
John sacrificed his lightweight LS1 in favor of the robust, wallet-friendly LQ9 iron-block
After finals and graduation, John went to a Pontiac dealership and purchased a new ’99 T/A—black with Dark Graphite interior and a six-speed. He began with bolt-ons—an LS6 intake manifold, Whisper intake lid, Hooker 1.75-inch primary headers, and 3-inch SLP exhaust with quad tips. He started racing it in Gainesville and took it with him to law school in Kansas, where he would delve even deeper into the LS1 scene.
Then he got into nitrous. Starting with smaller shots, his addiction eventually got the best of him, and he broke the T56 input shaft and the rearend at the same time. After the driveline was annihilated, he swapped the console and trans for a 4L60E automatic and bolted in a 12-bolt. The car became more consistent and reliable, and his short times dropped to 1.37 with a 10.80 e.t. at 122 mph on the bottle and 1.52 with an 11.59 e.t. at 115 mph without.
The quick 60-foot times had a lot to do with John’s terrific chassis setup. Strange single-adjustable drag shocks with hypercoil springs up front and Lakewood adjustable rear shocks grant the ability to dial in the car for any track condition. Up front are lightweight BMR upper and lower control arms; out back, BMR subframe connectors, adjustable torque arm, lower control arms, and drag swaybar all contribute to the straight-line stability. Inside, a Wolfe six-point rollbar was welded in, and an Impact Racing harness secures John in the factory seat.
After the first signs of the 4L60E’s failure, John took the car to Transmission Physicians, a defunct Tampa performance shop. There, Fernando Rosales and Chris Mowris surgically cut the transmission tunnel and modified the center console to accept a Turbo 400 with a Hurst Pistol Grip shifter and a Fuddle Racing converter. They built the 400 to hold extreme power levels, and installed a reverse-manual valvebody and transbrake at John’s request. An MSD 2 Step was also installed to control the rpm off the transbrake.
A Strange S60 rear- differential assembly with 3.73 gears and a spool replaced the 12-bolt, and the axle tubes were narrowed 6 inches to accept deep-dish wheels. A set of ultra-light Weld Aluma Stars—15x3.5 with a 2.25-inch backspacing up front and 15x10s with a 5-inch backspace in the rear—changed the attitude of the Pontiac. The front tires are Kumho 165 radials; the backs are Mickey Thompson drag radials measuring 325/50R15.
The ’99 LS1 began showing signs of the repeated track abuse, so John called Texas Speed and Performance for a 404ci LQ9 stroked short-block and the company’s newest set of CNC-ported PRC 215cc LS6 heads. Inside the 4.010-inch-bore iron-block, TSP installed a set of custom Diamond pistons specifically for nitrous. They’re connected to the Compstar 4.00-inch-stroke crank with a set of 6.125-inch Compstar rods, with final compression coming out to approximately12:1. “The car will run on pump gas, but I splash 110 into the tank before I race, and the standalone fuel system hooked up to the wet kit uses race gas only,” he tells us.