Here’s my Turbo Trans Am at...
Here’s my Turbo Trans Am at National Trail Raceway after unloading it from the trailer. Yjan Larsson, seen walking behind my car, flew in all the way from Europe for the event.
On the weekend of July 30-31, 2011, Buick Performance Group (BPG) and www.turbotransam.com
hosted the first ever ’89 Turbo Trans Am (TTA) 20th Anniversary Pace Car reunion. (A total of 1,550 of these Buick turbo, V-6-powered Trans Ams were manufactured as limited editions commemorating an ’89 Turbo Trans Am 20th Anniversary car pacing the 73rd Annual Indianapolis 500.) The event took place at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio. (Three car shows actually co-existed at the same site that weekend—Buick Performance Group, T-Type Reunion, and ours—but each was segregated.)
A total of 57 ’89 Turbo Trans Ams and their owners showed up for the reunion, coming from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Ocala, Florida. One Turbo Trans Am owner (sans car) even flew in from Europe.
On the evening of Thursday, July 28, 2011, two days prior to the official start of the reunion, a dozen TTAs showed up at a local eatery for an informal get together.
Scott Kelley and I pose in...
Scott Kelley and I pose in front of some of the Turbo Trans Ams lined up in the staging lanes at National Trail Raceway.
The next day, it was a sight to see all the TTAs cruising around nearby Heath, Ohio, and owners detailing their cars at the local self-serve car washes, hotel parking lots, and in the pit area at the track. That afternoon, many owners showed up with their cars at the track for a photo op in the Jegs trackside suite, and to test and tune their TTAs.
From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, over 50 TTAs showed off their code-40 White exteriors and Camel leather or cloth interiors at the car show. There were some rarities on site too, including two hardtop, cloth-interior TTAs; and one-of-three of the actual Indianapolis 500 Turbo Trans Am pace cars. At 2 p.m. at the track’s staging lanes, we re-created the famous photo of the TTAs taken at Indy prior to the race on May 28, 1989.
Afterwards, the event-goers met again in the Jegs suite for a series of informative seminars from the men most responsible for the 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am.
Bill Owen was Buick’s senior manufacturing engineer in Engine Testing. He took cylinder heads intended for ’86-’87 Buick front-wheel-drive V-6 engines and put them on the Grand National V-6 so that the resulting long-block fitted with the turbo could fit in the 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am engine bay. His engineering contributions to the TTA also included the design of its engine’s exhaust manifolds, upgrading its block with a cross-drilled crank and vehicle-specific deeper-dish pistons, utilizing the Buick GNX intercooler, and a vehicle-specific torque arm.
My Turbo Trans Am is bone-stock,...
My Turbo Trans Am is bone-stock, including the engine bay, which houses a 3.8L Buick (code-SG1) turbo powerplant.
Scott Kelly, Engineering Liaison of Prototype Automotive Services (PAS), was instrumental in the development and production of the TTA. Scott served as the go-between for PAS and General Motors throughout the program and was responsible for the all of the Trans Ams used during the month of May 1989, including the three actual pace cars. After the TTA program, Scott worked as the Service and Warranty administrator for the TTA, GMC Syclone and Typhoon, Sonoma GT, and natural-gas-powered trucks, which PAS produced until 1994.
My Turbo Trans Am’s cabin...
My Turbo Trans Am’s cabin still has the pre-delivery plastic on the stereo, as shown here. The only mod from stock is a Scanmaster, which monitors the engine’s vitals.
Here are the Turbo Trans Ams...
Here are the Turbo Trans Ams lined up to re-create the photo taken at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1989. I’m all the way in the back of the line in the blue shirt, taking a photo.
Shown from left are me; Scott...
Shown from left are me; Scott Kelly’s daughter, Victoria; Scott Kelly; and Chris Kober (the founder of www.turbotransam.com).