New Light Formula: This V6-swapped Trans Am Packs A Downsized Punch!


New Light Formula: This V6-swapped Trans Am Packs A Downsized Punch!

Like any other pony car, most of the buying public who had interest in the third-generation Pontiac Firebird ticked the box with the V8 option and went about their way. Anyone who bought a V6 model worth mentioning had to wait until 1989, when the Turbo Trans Am returned packing the turbo 3.8L V6 mill that was last seen in the Buick Grand National. Any other engine meant that you missed the point of the model line as a whole or you didn’t want to shell out the bones for the upgrade.

At first glance, this 1988 example looks like every used-car lot Trans Am circa 1996: lace wheels without the center caps, tint job, lowered. But underhood things get decidedly strange, because that is a V6 you are looking at, but it’s not the Buick mill. That’s a .060-over 4.3L unit like you’d find in a Chevrolet S-10, fitted up with a Holley four-barrel, an Erson cam, Bow Tie aluminum heads, and a lot of the comfy bits stripped out, as the car was being prepared to play as a dedicated track car before it went up for sale.

The engine is what makes this build. The 4.3L is a competent little mill, and can make grunt when called upon, so would a smaller engine have an effect on the driving sensation of the Trans Am? Or would you put this F-body back to proper form and give it the V8 that it needs?

RacingJunk.com link: 1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 


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11 thoughts on “New Light Formula: This V6-swapped Trans Am Packs A Downsized Punch!

  1. Dick Fitzwell

    This car sucks. It looks like Mickey Mouse and goofy put it together. Flex piping for the entire exhaust? Nice job guy

    Reply
  2. Brian Cooper

    I\’m not usually one to throw stones at someone\’s work, when my own work is usually sketchy as Hades.

    However, this one is a rolling shell. The engine is worthless, the interior is rough, and after looking at the battery box held in with expanding foam and a baby seat strap, (A BABY SEAT STRAP!!!!) I would look long and hard at every wire on the car.

    $6K is a lot of money for a shell. You should be able to find a 3rd gen that still had a small block in it for that kind of money.

    So the answer is no. Swapping a 4.3 is not a selling point. This is basically a shell of a 3rd gen that you won\’t have to push into the garage to start installing your engine, but with the added hassle of reworking EVERYTHING.

    Reply
  3. Jimmy

    Are you kidding me, but Reynolds would be rolling in his grave at this piece of crap, this guy must be on drugs, love the s10 shiftet

    Reply
  4. Andrew

    Thanks for the comments. Somebody noticed! My expertise is not fabrication. I started an engine project after quitting a high stress job with a long commute and needed time to concentrate on small things. The idea came from going GT1 racing in 1990, we (our little race team) realized we didn\’t have money to build a 600hp 310ci motor and upgrade to better brakes, fresh tires every race etc.. At the time you could take 250lbs off the car if you ran a v6 up to 275ci. Hell we couldn\’t afford that either, but I always wondered how it would have gone. Quite a few SCCA Trans Am and Gt1 races were won with this setup. Thanks for taking the time to look at the product of an old guy giving the dead horse of his youth one last kick.

    Reply

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