1981 Pontiac TransAm WS6

     I'm not even sure where to start with this one. This is a project that I've had for something like 5 years now, and most times, it feels like i'm farther away than I was when I first started. It's been through quite a lot, and stayed with me through 3 moves. It's had many different motors in it, but it's never actually run! Follow through it's progress (or regression) below...

UPDATE - I am sad to say, but I've put my Trans Am up for sale. My wife is pregnant, and at the time of writing this, I have 7 cars and a golf cart. I decided that I needed to reduce my expenditures and simplify my life some. I put my 81 Trans Am up for sale, and my 84 Porsche 944. The TransAm sold on eBay for $495, and was picked up on August 7th. I couldn't be happier though, because I know it's going to go to a "good home". The guys that picked it up were excited to have a new project and will do (more than likely) a much better job than I, and hopefully put this car back on the road! I will archive my own work, and continue to add pictures as I receive them from the new owners.

- Checking it out, and leaving a deposit on 02/02/02.

I've been itching for a RWD V8 Coupe ever since I had my 82 TransAm hauled off. I actually found this TransAm when I went looking for an 82. For whatever the reason, the Auto Trader Online would not accept cars (at that time) any older than 1982. Since he could not advertise his 81 TransAm anywhere other than the classic car trader, he decided to list it as an 82. When I looked at the pictures he had online, I was more than estatic that it was an 81. These types of cars weren't commonly traded on eBay at that time, and people were paying literally thousands and thousands of dollars for rusted out shells of 2nd generation Firebirds and TransAms. Imagine my elation when he told me that he only wanted $700 for the car with the 455 Pontiac in it. The motor looked too nasty and beat up to really be a Pontiac 455 (especially since it originally came with a 301), so I offered him $500 for it without the motor, and he accepted. Actually, I think that was his offer. Below are some of the pictures that I took when I came to inspect the car for the first time. I told him that I would get the money, but gave him a set of brand new 2nd gen floor pans as payment for him to hold the car for me until I came back to buy it. I snapped a few pictures to send to my uncle for him to look it over for me.

- Towed it home to the apartment.

I've got the car home (well... at my apartment). Now that I have it here, I'm able to give it a much better inspection. It looks like this car did have a bit more rust than I bargined for. I guess I didn't really pay attention when I first looked at it. However, it's all aesthetic rust since the structural parts of the car (which normally rust badly) are not affected. Really, the car is compeltely rust-free underneath. You can definitely tell this is a Florda car (that sat under a tree).

- Thanks Dad!!!

Cameron Cove apartments wasn't 100% thrilled with the idea of me having both my 1976 Camaro and my 81 TransAm (both non running) in their parking lot. So, I did the only thing I could do... ask my dad if I can keep it at his house. My dad reluctantly agreed. I think I remember promsing it would only be in there for about 1 month. I had intended to put the motor from the Camaro in there, and get it running. However, what started the day with me simply deciding to change out the wiper blades, turned into a complete subfram-off restoration (which who knows how long it will take). Here is the car sitting in my dad's garage. I've wasted no time at all tearing it apart.

- Test fitting the 350 from the Camaro

Having just pulled the 350 4-bolt from my 76 Camaro (which will be gone before the next post), I test fit it to see what it's clearances are, and if theres anything that I'll need to do before I start restoring the subframe. I'd rather do any cutting now while it's dirty, than after I've cleaned and painted the sub frame. My new hoist easily lifts the motor over the used core support I got from the junk yard.

- The ENTIRE suspension is rebuilt, and motor installed!

A good month has passed since the last post. The Camaro is gone, and I've cleaned up and installed the motor. I've taken the time to completely rebuild the ENTIRE front suspension, including springs, bushings, ball joints, brakes, brake lines, calipers, rotors, hubs, bearings, etc. I've sanded down every single piece and painted it as well. No use doing a job if you're not going to do it right. It's also worth noting that I replaced all of the subframe bolts and bushings with polyeurothane. Not a single "cage nut" broke free. Gotta love Florida cars...

- I've got a new garage!!!

It's been almost a year, and not much has happened. I just moved into a new house, and now have a 2 car garage of my own. I've parked the T/A next to my 73 VW Bus. There's so much to do, I'll have to put this project on hold.

- Welding, and more welding, 2 years pass...

     Well, I did say this was a long term project, and it certainly is. I was given a Lincoln Electric MIG welder (with flux core) for my birthday a couple of years ago from my aunt and uncle. It's really really helped me out. Honestly, I would not be able to restore this car without it. You cannot restore a car on a budget if you do not know how to weld, it just can't be done. In the past 2 years that have passed, I've managed to repair a good deal of rust on the car. i've replaced one of the patch panels in the rear drivers side. It's really not bad. As it is my first real metal repair, the quality isn't as good as i would hope, but I seem to be getting much better as things go one. I've completely repaired the trunk surround.

- An Oldsmobile 455 big block?

     I know that I already have a motor, but I scored big time on a solid 1969 Oldsmobile 455ci big block. It's complete with everything. The brackets, the water pump, the alternator, the exhuast manifolds, everything. I couldn't ask for much more... and all for $300. It was quite a drive (from Valdosta, Georgia) but I was able to haul it down with my Harbor Freight trailer and my 2002 Crown Victoria. I snapped a few pictures, loaded it into the garage, and went to bed.

- What kind of 455 big block?

     I wasted no time in identifying the block. Turns out, it's a 69 455 from a "Full Sized" Oldsmobile. It may not be a Hurst / Olds, but it's the next best thing. Basically, this motor is an "identical core" to what you would use when rebuilding a Hurst / Olds motor. It may not have the right numbers, but it's basically the same motor. The block is identical in every way, shape, and form... and the cyl heads are also the same casting. The difference is in the cam, the pistons, and the way the cyl head was prepped. The ports on the cyl head are identical to the H/O, but the valves that were installed on the H/O were larger. This is easily done on my cyl head, making it basically a H/O cyl head (there would be no other distinguishing marks to differentiate it. I'm pretty excited. With that, I've dissasembled the motor, and dropped it off at the machine shop.

- Out with the old...

     As I no longer need this Chevrolet 350 4-bolt, I had decided to give the motor to my friend Rob. He was planning on putting it in either his van, or his Buick Regal. The funny thing is, we found a 500 cubic inch Cadillac big block V8 at the junkyard not but 3 months later, and he no longer needed it either, so I ended up getting it back again. Just for the hell of it, I'm planning on rebuilding this 5.7 liter into a decent running Cross-Fire Injected motor. A lot of people say that you just can't produce a lot of power with a CFI V8, but let me see if I can prove them wrong. Not really sure what it will end up going in, but check out these pictures of the engine removal in the mean time.

- In with the new...

     Well, I just got back from the machine shop. Total cost of the motor (parts, labor, machining costs) came in around $3,200 bucks. It's a bit more than I really wanted to spend, but with the combination I have, people are figuring (compared to similar combos) That I should expect anywhere from 430-450hp and 550-600 ft-lbs of torque. To me, that's just absolutely sick. I've never owned a motor even remotely close to this powerful. 430 doesn't seem like a lot when newer 6 liter V8 cars now come with 400 standard (in the GTO, Corvette, etc...) but they still don't come close to 550 ft-lbs of torque! I'm really excited about this engine, Here are the specs:

- 1969 Oldsmobile 455 Big Block (69 "F" Block, F1 [High Nickle Content])
- 1969 Oldsmobile 455 "C" Large-Port Heads (2.07:1 Intake / 1.71:1 Exhaust Valves, Stainless Steel)
- 1970 Oldsmobile 455 HO Toronado "K" Intake (needed to clear the shaker on my T/A)
- TRW Forged Pistons .030 Overbore (w/ Chrome Moly rings)
- 1969 Hardened Crank / Forged Rods (Shot peened / polished)
- Joe Mondello JM-20-22 Camshaft (1400-5800 RPM Range, 0.496 In. Lift / 0.512 Exh. Lift)
- Crane 1.6:1 Roller Rockers
- Cloyes Tru-Roller Roller Timing Chain
- 1972 Rochester QuadraJet (Tuned for a 72 Olds 455)
- GM Performance Parts Hi-Volume Oil Pump
- Light bowling / port and polish

- Some welding and body repair...

     I was watching Muscle Car on Spike-TV, and I became motivated to work on my Trans Am. It's been a while since I've done any more body repair to the T/A, so I thought that's what I would spend today doing. Just to recap, the TransAm has a rotted out rear-valence, rusty A-pillar bases, a rusty trunk floor, rust holes at the base and corners of the rear window channel, as well as a rusty trunk surround. Although this sounds really bad, the rest of the car is 100% rust free. The floor boards are actually almost spotless, and there isn't even so much as surface rust underneath. I decided to work on the window surround. I had repaired the drivers side about 2 years ago, so I thought I'd do the passenger side today. I can definitely tell that i'm getting better at this, as the result is significantly better on the passenger side than it is on the drivers side. I may have to go back and touch up that side. You can see what the passenger side used to look like HERE.

I also managed to get the Olds 455 big block on it's stand. I started putting everything together when I realized that the intake manifold doesn't fit that well. Looks like the cyl heads were decked. I'm going to have to take the intake to the machine shop to have it worked...

- More work on the 455, and hit the junkyard!

     I did a bit more work on the Olds 455 today, and also visited the junkyard. There was a nearly complete 1966 Oldsmobile 425 Toronado. The Toronado has some great parts for my engine because it's really the only way I'll be able to stuff this into my Trans Am. The motor was basically complete minus the carb. I snagged all of the accessory brackets including the water pump, alternator, and A/C brackets. I also took the waterpump pulley, crank pulley, and the power steering pump and pulley. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take the alternator pulley, don't know what I was thinking! I'll post some pictures later when I get them cleaned up and installed on the motor, but right now, they are just dirty grimey brackets not worthy of a picture. Check out the old "50s" style valve covers I put together. There's a company that stamps these old school wire looms. I took a newer style valve cover, welded some upside down bolts to the top, and used the acorn nuts for the finished look. Not half bad if I do say so myself!

- Steering components installed.

     I didn't do much to the body of the Trans Am. Although, I cleaned up my garage pretty significantly. Part of this includes getting rid of all the spare and brand new parts I have laying around the garage. I literally have over $3,000 in brand new parts just sitting on the shelf in my garage, taking up space. So, I decided to install all the steering components on my 81 Trans Am. I got everything ready to install when I found out I was missing the inner tie-rods. Only way I was going to get them was to order them. None of the parts stores had them. I cleaned up the old inner tie rods, installed new rubber boots, and painted them. I installed a new pitman arm, a new idler arm, new outter tie-rods, new tie-rod sleeves, and a new center link. I've also decided that I'll be moving the Trans Am outside in the parking area I built. I'll be moving the 87 Fiero into the garage in it's place. This will save me about $1200 a year in car insurance. I'll also have more room to finish up the body work on the Trans Am.