Seeking Elusive Third-Gen Parts
I have been a reader of your magazine for the last two years or so, and I'm currently looking for body restoration/modification parts for my baby, an '87 Trans Am. There was some minor front end damage to this car when I got it, and the only pieces I can't find are the front skirts that run along the fenders in front of the tires and below the turn signals. If you have any information on where I can find these elusive pieces, or even an aftermarket reproduction that would fit, I would be forever grateful. Thanks for making a great magazine, and I hope you guys keep it up forever. Andrew Ledford Via Internet
Melvin Benzaquen responds:
Thanks for the support. We always appreciate compliments from our readers. I did some looking around myself and couldn't find any lower, outer spoiler extensions currently reproduced. They're hard to find since they have a couple of things going against them: They were on the lowest point of the front and were always subject to damage when parking against curbs and hitting potholes and the like; also, they are made of urethane, which gets brittle with age.
There are a couple of places that deal with used Third-Gen F-body cars such as your Trans Am, including Hawks Third-Gen Parts [201 Noble Rd., Easley, SC 29640, (864) 855-2694] and F-Body Motorsports [8702 Statesville Rd., Charlotte, NC 28269, (704) 494-0005].
I also did some poking around on the Internet. Posting your parts needs on an online forum like www.ThirdGen.org can be helpful as many of the people who frequent the boards have a Pontiac like yours or know of sources for used parts. Also, contact sellers on auction sites such as eBay who are selling any parts for your car. They may have what you're looking for even though it isn't listed, or they may know where you can find them.
Networking is the best way to find those difficult parts. It may take time, but I'm sure they're out there somewhere. Good luck.
I enjoyed your June '06 "Street-Lethal Shootout" article. Anytime I can read about a 231 supercharged GTP, I get all giddy inside!
While most people don't consider it a musclecar, my '04 GTP is a devil in a silver dress. I ran my best e.t. of 13.6 at 104.9 mph, and that's with a not-so-hot 60-foot time of 2.117. I'm quite proud of that, but as with most Pontiac owners, I feel it's just not fast enough!
The combo I'm running now consists of a K&N Aircharger, a 3.25-inch pulley, MSD blaster coils, new plug wires, new spark plugs, a Comp Cam L67 cam, Flowmaster mufflers, a reprogrammed PCM by Digital Horsepower, and my exhaust is sans catalytic converter. (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!)
I want to be the first guy in my town to have a 12-second 3800 front-driver and still use it as a daily driver. What are your recommendations? I'm thinking headers, a 3-inch pulley, and an intercooler. Matthew Via Internet
I recommend a set of sticky tires if 12s are your goal! You should have more than enough power right now with a proper tune to crack off a 12-second run, as evidenced by your prior trap speeds. A set of Mickey Thompson ET Streets or other equally sticky drag tire should get you into the 12s without any issues. Good luck!
I've been saving for a Fourth-Gen F-body for five years, and I'm finally ready to take the plunge. I want to buy a Firebird and build it up to run high 11s. I have a budget of $13,000 including the cost of the car.
Is it better to take advantage of the super-low prices of LT1-powered cars and then put the real money into the mods to reach my goal, or should I start with the more expensive LS1-powered car and have less money left over for mods? And which mods would be most effective for whichever engine you choose from a performance and cost standpoint? Al Johnson Forked River, NJ
Given the fact that only one model year can separate an LT1-powered Firebird from an LS1 car, I would choose the older version. But when beginning any project, other factors, such as the condition of the car, options, and so on, have a huge influence on the decision.
Before I get the entire LS1 contingent circled around me, here's the reason behind my logic: Both are great engines, with the advantage going to the LS-series due to advancements in engineering and GM's commitment to pushrod powerplants. However, the LT1 offers many advantages since it can be considered something of a hybrid: an older, basic design with a modern cooling and ignition system. The benefits of this are cheaper parts; a sturdy and easy-to-work-on, cast-iron cylinder block; and for most enthusiasts, a certain level of familiarity. All are important to anyone on a tight budget. In contrast, the LS1 is probably the most advanced pushrod engine in the world.
When looking for an LT1 car, try to find a MAF-equipped model instead of a first-year ('93) speed-density version. The advantage, albeit a slight one, is that MAF systems are more friendly to modifications than a MAP sensor.
Regardless of which car you choose, if you plan on doing most of the labor yourself, an 11-second timeslip should fit into your budget. Have the LT1 heads mildly ported (it's less costly than buying new aftermarket castings), and get a good valve job to pick up 20-30 cfm over stock. Additionally, install a good street/strip cam. If you buy an automatic-equipped LT1, use a cam in the range of 210-215-degrees duration on the intake and 220-225-degrees exhaust with lift around 0.500-inch. With a stick car, you can go into the low 220s on the intake and 230s on the exhaust. The LSA for either cam should be 112-114 degrees. For an automatic, a converter that is about 500 rpm looser than stock, such as a Corvette LT1 converter that will flash to approximately 2,200 rpm, will work well to improve low-end performance without sacrificing too much mileage.
Bolt on a set of headers with 1.625-inch or 1.75-inch primaries and a free-flowing exhaust, swap in a set of 3.70:1 gears and sticky tires, and reach your goal with traction and learning how to drive the car. Regardless of which car you buy, keep us informed of the progress. And never forget, have fun building it!
Could I Have A V-8 For My Gtp?
I have an '04 GTP. Is the new 5300 V-8 and PCM a direct bolt-in replacement for my 3800, or do I need to replace the whole driveline? I know the new Grand Prix GXP is the same as the '04 and '05 GTP, but I want to know if I have to replace all the wiring as well as the drivetrain components or if it will just slide in. Or will I be better off putting my cash toward making my 3800 breathe fire? Pete Via Internet
The 5300 isn't a direct bolt-in for a few reasons. First, the wiring harness obviously needs to be changed. Next, the LS4 ECM doesn't have any provision for transmission controls, hence the use of a TCM in the LS4 W-bodies. I think it's a wiser investment to upgrade your 3800. Parts are readily available from companies such as ZZPerformance (www.zzperformance.com) that allow you to make even more power than a modded LS4 can make right now.
If you decide to undertake the LS4 swap, I recommend stopping at ClubGP.com and checking out the 5.3L/GXP forums as a starting point. There's a lot of useful information there.