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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2004

The Beginning

This 1997 started life as a Formula Trans Am trim and was in the hands of a Hispanic that ghetto lowered it, put flashers and underbody neons on it and a SLP Ram Air hood with an SLP LM1. My father and I have known about this car for a long time as the second owner was his secretary. Her husband added an OE LT1 Ram Air box and he was very meticulous so it's remained extremely clean. They ended up selling it to my father and he brought it home.

When my dad pulled up I thought he got it for me as we talked about it before. Well, he did, but for right now he said I wasn't mature enough, I was only 16. He was right as I'm still 12 mentally! Man was I still bummed. He still let me drive it from time to time and I always spent a day out of my weekend to wash it. This car was literally love at first site. My father drove it for a couple years but he got sick of it as he drives, to this day, 45 miles one way to work. The MPG, SLP LM1 drone, and ride quality with those nasty springs made him lose interest rather quickly. I ended up selling my Grand Am and gave him the money for it, it has been my only car since 2004.

Between my father and I, at this point in it's life the exterior basically looked the same as it does now, the neons and flashers are gone, brought it back to stock height with Beltstein shocks and springs, added Infinity speakers, MTX molded box to fit in storage area and Amplifier for the sub and rear speakers:



1984 Corvette (Dad) 1966 Mustang (Mom) 1997 Trans Am (Me)
 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Mid 2009

The Real Beginning

After years of saying, "I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna do that!" I finally committed to what I've said for years. I bought Pacesetter headers / ORY / ARP pack from Summit. I also did a full tune with new wires, plugs, water pump, opti, Nitto 555Rs in the rear and maybe a couple of other things. I also got the car dyno tuned. With this setup the car finished the Dyno @ 280 rwhp and ended up running a breathtaking 13.7 down the 1/4 mile! This was the real beginning.









The Old:



The New:



 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Early 2010

Wanting More Go

I basically continued with a new Yukon Dura-Grip Carrier and 3.73s on my anemic 10 bolt. I Was then having wheel hop issues and launch issues so I then ordered UMI's full catalog offerings and bought some Strange things. This ended up taking the car to a neck snapping 13.3!















 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Late 2010

Death of an LT1

Around December time the head gasket blew on the highway. My dad had to come tow the car back home to Detroit from Kalamazoo. The car ended up hydro-locking which broke the starter casing. It sounded like there was massive damage in the engine, we had no idea what it was at the time. He gave me my bicycle as kind of a joke... But I had to use it sometimes.



Made it home to Detroit!

 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Early 2011

Resurrection

It was time to put it back together and since the top end was going to be completely off why not put a cam in it? I went with the XFI268, a fairly good cam for a stock bottom end. I also had the engine builder, Jack, do his competition valve grind on the heads. This made a very good refresh for the LT1 engine.





This broken starter was the cause of our scary mechanic noise.











What did it sound like now?



How did it perform? Ask this AMS tuned 450 awhp Evo X:

 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Spring 2011

Dyno Day

I came back to Detroit to get the car Dynoed and tuned. I wanted to make sure everything was right and nice. I went to change the oil and what did I find? Glitter with very little oil is what it looked like. How could this have happened? Well, Jack the engine builder, decided it would be wise to put cheap springs for the XFI cam. This was a huge mistake as all the inner dampers broke, every sing one. There was no performance change nor any noise to find out this happened. You either remove the valve covers and inspect or change the oil to find metal in the oil. My results were the later.

What happened next? Basically re-read the above post but with a lot more anger. Jack bought all the parts to do the build again, I was the labor. We were hoping the engine would be saved, sadly it wasn't. I started it up and instantly smelled oil. The engine was toast. I drove it burning about a qt of oil a week for the rest of the summer and was waiting for it to go, it never did. I decided, ef it, and took it to the track. What did it run with the XFI cam, burning oil and base tune? [email protected] mph, not bad.

Here are some pictures during that summer!











This is the last visual media of that set up with some tunnel blasting:

 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Fall 2011

We Have The Technology We Can Make It Better

I ended up planning on building an LT1 383. I found an LT1 out of the car on Craigslist for $150, I offered him $120 and he took it. There were no photos or anything like that so I figured it was the short block. Nope! It was the whole damn set up, wire harness, opti, computer, coil, intake, everything! I figured I was set, I got the new engine to work on while I can DD the dying engine... Nope! I was on the highway and the transmission let go and lost all gears. Welp, time to start the build then.

What ended up being done? Pretty much everything... I even replaced the horns. This was a 3 month process working 5 days a week 7am to 7pm. It started early October and I finished right before Christmas. It was a massive undertaking and I'm still working out the bugs to this day.

There are TONS of pictures as I documented the whole build so here is a link to my photobucket slideshow.

The Build

And here are some vidyas!



 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Spring / Summer 2012

Weird Life Stage

Well, Oregon is a dead end. Emily's job is god awful, to make a long story short the people here just don't work well with other people and "outsiders", thus, they don't treat us right at all. There are no jobs out here so I will be unemployed for six months. I did work at Oregon Raceway Park and also had some freelance Graphic Design jobs but nothing to start a solid career. Not good. We have made the decision to move back September 1st, yay and crap!

There is a really weird oiling issue with this new motor. It developed on the way to Oregon near the end of the trip. Basically, once the engine was warm including the oil it will drop from 60psi to 50psi going WOT when it goes above 4,500 rpms. Odd and not very settling to the stomach. I'm hoping it's the oil pump and not something extremely major with the bottom end. I have investigated a little bit but with no flat ground and no real tools I haven't gotten far. Basically the car has been fairly inactive since we arrived in Oregon.

To make things worse I went out for a drive and ran into a local with a brand spanking new Green w/ Black pinstriped 392 Challenger... We had a little go from a 20 mph roll. I put roughly 4 cars on him in 2nd gear when I lost my 3rd and OD. He ended up passing by me with me frowning and waving goodbye. Of course now he is telling everyone we never raced *rolls eyes*. So, thankfully, there is an LT1 enthusiast / Mechanic / Trans builder 4 hours up north that is actually picking the car up tomorrow to fix the trans and hopefully nail down any further issues I have this car. I already went to visit him and check out his shop, he has a VERY nice 1996 LT1 Camaro that he is in the process of building a very nice 392.
 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Late July 2012

Familiar Sight

Dynamic396 who I met on this site picked up the car today to bring back home with him to fix the trans and diagnose a couple of other issues. I'm excited for him to check it out and he's excited as well to work on something unique and fun. Thanks to sites like these for finding such a great person and a very good new friend. I can't thank him enough for trailering it all the way from Moro, OR to Spokane, WA... A 300 mile journey one way! Luckily for both of us he was coming this way anyway.

This is a familiar sight for me :(







 

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I'll feel a whole lot better about ripping on it when it has all 4 of it's gears...!! :)

My neighbor is in love with it, though. EVERY time I start it up to move it, he comes over. And I do mean EVERY time!! I'd be a liar, though, if I said that I didn't enjoy hearing it run, too. Sounds mean...!
 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
lol, is it the same neighbor who let you use the trailer? He can totally buy it for a price :p

You and him will forget about it when yours is up and running anyway, haha.
 

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Spelling Bee winnah!
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5,018 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Late August to Early October 2012

Back to Michigan and More Heartbreak

I got the car back and noticed some odds and ends that were weird with the shifting. Dynamic396 was more than willing to help out and make sure everything was right before we left on our big journey home. Emily and I were planning on staying with him and his family for a night to say our goodbyes anyway.

In the mean time I got to the first car show of the season, rofl. It was very tiny but I would say I had the best late model vehicle there, if not one of the top 3 in the small showing. I would say there were only a couple dozen cars that showed up. Here is a photo of me and the car in Oregon before people were showing up!


35 mph winds = funny hair

Next big step was moving from Oregon back to Michigan... Yay. Dynamic396 checked my transmission which was shifting well. We narrowed down the problem to tuning. The computer seems to not be applying enough pressure to the trans. He was also nice enough to check over the GTP and even did the work on an oil change, lol. We hung out in his awesome back yard with a fire and some beers. Then the morning came and it was time for the huge trip.

The first hick-up was at the end of Montana. I know I didn't torque spec the brake caliper mount and I paid for it. The bolt backed out and when I hit the brakes the caliper would slam up into the wheel, awesome. We had to pull over and call AAA. Got it towed to the shop only a 1/4 mile away and they did it on the spot in 110* weather. Cost me $50, not bad! We also found out that my allignment got out of whack and my passenger front tire (the one on the ground) was extremely worn and I had 1,500 miles to go! Everyone at the shop said I was screwed and wouldn't make it... I did... Just in time because going to my father's shop it went flat. I had to pull over and fill it up and made the rest of the journey. I lost 20 psi in 30 miles, rofl.


Look at the tire on the ground, no tread on the bottom side

The next hick-up was the heart breaker for many people. We got to Chicago and had to go through the loop in rush hour. I was impressed with my engine and everything staying cool but my head wasn't. I thought I had enough gasoline but I was dropping to E quickly. Finally the traffic cleared and I began to accelerate. The transmission grabbed 1st - 2nd - 3rd and then dropped 3rd... You gotta be kidding... Long story short it had a mind of it's own but I was able to limp it back to Detroit.

I then went to the shop that aligned it. I told them that I think the control arm bolts were not torqued to spec and loosened up. They said no I probably hit a pot hole... Yeah whatever, so they did give me $20 off, wooooooo! I also had the summer tires put on up front, finally! When I picked the car up the mechanic says to me, "I tightened up the bolts as best I could." Uhhhh... Great... I got it to the shop down the road and decided I would torque them to spec myself. NONE of them were tight enough. I hate when people mess up, know they messed up, won't take responsibility and then when they "fix it" it's not right again and they know you're going to inspect it. Two of the bolts were off really bad, one at 80 lbs and another at 60 lbs. Grrrr.

What is awesome is when I got it to Holland both Jerry/Mike and Dynamic396 are great guys and are collaborating with each other to figure out why this trans is burning the 3-4 pack just on highway duties. Well, last week Jerry/Mike were getting ready to put the trans back in and bring it to the tuner when they saw that my Vigilante torque converter's hub was cracked from the pump down... Now they had to send it out back to Precision Industries to get warrantied... Sigh, another week down :(

Now I'm collaborating with two trans guys, a tuner and PI to fix this problem *sigh*
 
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