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04 SHOP TALK What did you drive in how school, and how did it shape you as an enthusiast? 08 HORSEPOWER! Supercharged Ford 5.2L makes 900hp at 9,000 rpm.


Not technically a widebody, but “Fender Flared” doesn’t sound as cool on the cover. Photo by Paul Dimalanta.


58 KRASS & BERNIE More-door trendsetters.


10 SPEED PARTS: SEMA 2017! New and hot parts for 2018! 16 BOSS OF THE BARN Part 6: Deciphering and rebuilding the engine in this barn-find 1969 Boss 429.

60 CIVIL BRUTE Matt Farah’s 1988 Mustang is a refined canyon-carver.

24 THE IRON MAIDEN Part 2: Making 457 hp with a budget 6.0L engine. 32 STOP, BUMP, AND ROLL CONTROL Improving the braking, ride, and handling qualities of a 1999 Trans Am with stock-appearing bolt-ons. 42 ASK ANYTHING We’re here to help you not break your brakes.



66 JUNKYARD CRAWL Roadside Runner in New Jersey. 68 WHERE’S THE FUN? Readers’ rides, plus the Motor Trend OnDemand schedule. 74 REAR VIEW Jerry Titus and the road-racing Shelby Mustangs.


48 THIS GUY’S GARAGE Peter Fink shows us around his American Muscle Car Museum in Omaha. 52 PROJECT CAR UPDATE The House of Muscle’s 1972 Monte Carlo gets a new engine.




HIGH SCHOOL CARS hat did you drive in high school? Whatever it was, that car definitely influenced your tastes as an automotive enthusiast. My first car was a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis that I bought for $400 from my grandfather. I’m not quite sure what that says about me. Thinking back, it says a lot. It says I didn’t have much money to spend, but that I wanted a V8. It also says that I like fullsized cars and vacuum-operated headlight doors, but those criteria can be chalked up to personality quirks more than anything else. The V8 engine and rear-wheel drive are what’s important here. I liked that car a lot. It had a 400M with a two-barrel carburetor and a C6 transmission. It had an 8-track player, power antenna, and a gaudy, red-velour interior that was more comfortable than the couches my parents had at home. The plush ride and one-finger power steering made it an effortless cruiser, but too many northeast Ohio winters had taken their



toll on the chassis. The brakes failed a few months after purchasing the car, and the brake lines weren’t the only components that had been ravaged by rust. The rusted-out frame was a more serious matter; a fatal diagnosis that was way above my skills and funds to fix at the time. It was a sad day at the McGann household when the Grand Marquis went to the junkyard. Not everyone was sad to see it go. As a funny aside, the police showed up at our house one day after I returned home from high school. They said a neighbor had called, concerned that a suspicious car had pulled into our driveway. The car was my Mercury, of course, and was described to the police as “not a car the McGanns would drive.” That neighbor wasn’t among the mourners the day that car got scrapped. This month’s cover features Matt Farah’s Fox-body Mustang. The culmination of a several-year build process, it’s the Mustang Matt had wanted to build when he was in high school. This is a sentiment I’ve heard time and

again throughout my years with Car Craft. Most of the people whose cars I’ve photographed and written about in my career are the vision of what they wanted their first car to be. You’d think by now I’d have gotten tired of hearing this theme over and over, but on the contrary, I’m always struck by how personal these peoples’ stories are and how interesting it is to see what it is that has motivated them all these years. Matt’s case is especially enlightening because he is able to review all kinds of cars for his YouTube channel, The Smoking Tire. So here’s a guy who gets to drive Ferraris and Porsches, but builds a 1988 Mustang with fender flares, independent rear suspension, and 295-series tires on all four corners. The cars we build truly are extensions of our personality. They represent what we seek in the driving experience, coupled with the constraints of what we can afford and have the skill and knowledge to build—a rolling tribute to us, for better or worse. —John McGann



Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. Š 2018 GEICO

CARCRAFT.COM EDITORIAL Network Content Director Douglas R. Glad Editor John McGann Managing Editor Phil McRae Contributors Paul Dimalanta, Mark Ehlen, Steve Magnante, Rocky Rotella, Jason Sands, Jeff Smith, George Trosley ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Art Director Roberta Conroy ON THE WEB SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Email, call 800/800-4681 (386/447-6385, international), or write to Car Craft, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Please include name, address, and phone number on any inquiries. For change of address, six weeks’ notice required. Send old as well as new address to Car Craft, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235.

Occasionally our subscriber list is made available to reputable firms offering goods and services we believe would be of interest to our readers. If you prefer to be excluded, please send your current address label and a note requesting to be excluded from these promotions to TEN: Publishing Media, LLC, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 Attn.: Privacy Coordinator. Canada Post: Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to IMEX Global Solutions, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. Reprints: For high-quality custom reprints and eprints, please contact The YGS Group at 800/290-5460 or Back issues: To order back issues, visit Any submissions or contributions from readers shall be subject to and governed by TEN: Publishing Media’s User Content Submission Terms and Conditions, which are posted at: submissions/. ADVERTISING INFORMATION Please call Car Craft Advertising Department at 310/531-9183. Related publications include Classic Trucks, Hot Rod, Hot Rod Deluxe, Mopar Muscle, Muscle Car Review, and Street Rodder. Copyright 2018 by TEN: Publishing Media, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

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Michael Ayers / Chico, CA One of the rarest modified engines we’ve seen lately is this Mustang Shelby GT350 engine, which was topped with a black-on-black centrifugal supercharger. As Ford enthusiasts know, the GT350 engine isn’t a 5.0L Coyote engine, it’s a flat-plane crank 5.2L that’s capable of 8,000-rpm engine speeds. In stock form, Motor Trend tested the 526hp 2017 GT350R at 12.2 at 119 mph in the quarter-mile. That’s pretty quick, but if you’re Michael Ayers from Chico, California, that’s not quick enough. To turn the wick up on the GT350 engine, Mike turned to Steve Ellis at Paramount Speed in Chico. Steve knew the 11:1 engine was pretty stout in naturally aspirated trim, so the only way to increase power would be to add boost and set the car to run on E85 fuel. To boost the torque on this high-rpm engine, Steve overdrove the blower hard, then uses a Turbosmart wastegate and boost controller to regulate the boost levels, depending on the engine’s rpm and gear. The end result of this innovative thinking was a huge boost in performance, as the GT350R ran a 10.82 at a massive 137 mph, making it currently the quickest and fastest supercharged GT350, as far as we know.

GT350s come with a twin-pump setup from the factory, so all Steve needed was a JMS FuelMAX fuel-pump voltage booster that increases voltage to the pump to deliver the increased volume of fuel for the switch to E85. They installed bigger 1,000cc fuel injectors from Injector Dynamics to feed this thirsty Ford.

By Jason Sands / Photo: Jason Sands

CONTROLS It’s hard to see, but there’s a Turbosmart wastegate hidden in the intake tract. The wastegate and an electronic boost controller allow Steve to modulate boost without changing pulley sizes for a variety of track conditions and situations.


DRIVELINE The road-race–inspired Mustang needed some modification to launch at the dragstrip without wheelhop, so Steve added a BMR rear cradle, vertical links, and a set of 305-series Mickey Thompson drag radials. The factory clutch also hated the newfound power, so a Spec Racing twin disc picks up the slack and makes sure all the Shelby’s power gets to the ground.

SUPERCHARGER The supercharger is a self-contained (no oil lines) P-1 from ProCharger, set to run at slightly over the maximum recommended compressor speed. The engine is so efficient that the intercooled setup only makes around 7 psi of boost at peak engine speeds.

ROTATING ASSEMBLY The 5.2L engine is more stock than you might think. Steve added new oil-pump gears, a crank sprocket from Texas Speed Syndicate, Shelby Mike Racing timing-chain tensioners, and an Innovators West balancer that’s part of the supercharger kit. For a while, they spun it to 9,000 rpm, but had to keep tightening the crank pulley, so they settled on a safer 8,300-rpm shift point.


SPEED PARTS CAR CRAFT’S PICKS FROM THE 2017 SEMA SHOW NEW GEN III HEMI CYLINDER HEADS What it is: Edelbrock’s new Performer RPM cylinder heads will bolt on to 2003-and-later Gen III Hemi engines. Why you care: Highlights include 73cc CNC-machined combustion chambers, 202cc intake runners, and high-quality A356 heat-treated aluminum-alloy construction. The 2.165-inch intake valves will flow a ton of air, and the rocker bosses are reinforced to handle greater spring pressure. The heads utilize the 5.7L Eagle intake and exhaust port locations and will accept Eagle and later intake and exhaust manifolds. Learn more: Edelbrock; 310/781-2222;

MLS GASKETS FOR PERFORMANCE ENGINES What it is: Fel-Pro has a new line of multi-layer steel cylinder head gaskets for all of the modern performance V8 engines. Why you care: Whether you’ve got a new Hemi, Coyote, or LS/LT engine, Fel-Pro has products to seal it up. Fel-Pro’s new MLS head gaskets are composed of four or five stainless-steel layers, sealing beads around the combustion chambers and water passages, and a polymer coating that seals surface imperfections of up to 60Ra. Learn More: Fel-Pro;


PRECISE CLUTCH ALIGNMENT TOOL What it is: McLeod’s steel pilot tool for clutch disc assembly. Why you care: We’ve all used those plastic clutch alignment tools; they work well, but tend to sag or droop with the weight of the clutch disc on them. McLeod offers these steel alignment tools that fit precisely in the pilot bushing and won’t sag when the clutch is assembled. Learn more: McLeod Racing; 714/630-2764;


What it is: GC Cooling’s new Smart Fan. Why you care: This is a self-contained, pulse-width-modulated fan controller and motor housed in a single unit. There are several benefits to running PWM fans. For one, the soft-start feature eliminates the power spike and excessive load on the alternator that occurs when a highamp fan motor is switched on. What makes this unit from GC Cooling “smart” is that it’s all housed in a single unit, making installation simple. It needs battery power, switched power, ground, and the input from a coolant temperature sensor, and it takes over from there. The fan is programmed to run at 50 percent when the coolant temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fan speed will gradually increase to full as coolant reaches 200 degrees. Smart Fan control is available on any GC Cooling fan package for an additional $75 fee. Learn more: GC Cooling; 515/645-5908;


COILOVER CONVERSION FOR GM B-BODY CARS What it is: QA1’s complete suspension and coilover conversion kit for fullsized GM cars from 1978–1996. Why you care: We suspect this generation of cars will become more a more popular platform for the low-buck, DIY enthusiast. They’re generally good-looking cars, especially the first few years of the “aero” Caprices and the later 1994–1996 Impala SS. QA1 recently introduced a coilover conversion for these cars, allowing you to build a handling machine out of these big barges! We got ahead of the curve on this product and recently completed an install on a six-speed-swapped Impala SS at Three Pedals in Sterling, Virginia. Look for that article in an upcoming issue. Learn more: QA1; 800/721-7761;







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SPEED PARTS CUSTOM PEDALS, CONVENTIONAL SETUP What it is: Wilwood’s new Tandem Brake and Clutch Master Cylinder Pedal Assembly. Why you care: At some point, you may be somewhere in your build where you need to install a custom set of pedals. This is especially true in the case of hydraulic clutch conversions. This new kit from Wilwood makes the job a bit easier by eliminating the balance bar on most dual master cylinder brake pedal applications. The brake pedal on this new kit actuates a single two-circuit master cylinder with an easy-toadjust proportioning valve. Learn more: Wilwood; 805/388-1188;

Recognized as the best-looking centrifugal supercharger on the market.


At 6psi, expect an average of 40% gain over base power. Single TorqStorm supercharger kits flow sufficient air to support 700+HP on stock or mildly modified engines. And they excel with an extended boost range from 1,800 to 6,500 rpm – great low-end torque!

What it is: Moroso’s lift plate for LS and LT engines. Why you care: Because it’s so easy to remove the intake manifold from LS engines, it makes sense when removing or installing the engine to utilize a lift plate that attaches to the valley of the engine block. Moroso makes these lift plates from 3⁄16-inch steel, and they can support 1,000 pounds. Learn more: Moroso Performance Products; 203/453-6571;


for basic single kits, twin kit prices begin at $6950. Easy-to-bolt-on, TorqStorm superchargers are manufactured in the USA and include a limited lifetime warranty.


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What it is: Vintage Air’s billet pulleys for small-block Ford. Why you care: There are thousands of 289 and 302 engines powering our favorite Ford muscle cars, and as we enthusiasts all know, sometimes you have to mix and match accessories to get your car running. Vintage Air has these new double-groove crank and water-pump pulleys that can be difficult to find. They’re machined from billet and are hard-anodized for an OE look and years of service life. Learn more: Vintage Air; 800/862-6658;

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SPEED PARTS SPORT TRUCK AND SUV TIRES What it is: Toyo’s new Proxes ST III tires for sport trucks and SUVs. Why you care: Most of our readers have pickups or SUVs in addition to their muscle-car project, and Toyo continues to refine its Proxes ST line of tires for sport trucks. These are all-season tires that come with a 40,000-mile warranty. The aggressive tread pattern offers great dry road grip, but evacuates water efficiently in the rain. They are available in a variety of sizes for 17- to 24-inch wheels. We have a set on our Project Jake 1993 GMC Sierra and the ride is smooth and quiet, but offers a lot of bite in the corners. Learn more: Toyo Tires; 800/442-8696;

TH400 FOR BUICKS AND OLDSMOBILES What it is: B&M’s Street& Strip TH400 transmission. Why you care: Buick, Olds, and Pontiac fans, you know your engines make a lot of torque. If you’re shopping for a transmission, consider B&M’s TH400. They’re built with upgraded clutches, friction plates, and a recalibrated valve body and will handle 550 lb-ft of torque. An adaptor plate is available if you want to put this behind a Chevy engine, too. Learn more: B&M Racing & Performance; 707/544-4761;

CUSTOM DIGITAL DASH What it is: AEM’s new digital dash for carbureted cars. Why you care: Now carbureted cars can have a modern-looking digital dash with AEM’s new 22-sensor CAN Sensor module. It takes inputs from your engine sensors and plugs them into a CAN signal for the CD-7 digital dash. The module has four 0–5 volt inputs, four temperature inputs, fuel level and tach signal inputs, and four configurable analog inputs. If you need to monitor more inputs, you can daisy-chain modules together for more channels. Learn more: AEM Performance Electronics; 310/484-2322;


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By Mark Ehlen / Photos: Mark Ehlen and the MCR Staff

Deciphering and Rebuilding the Engine in this Barn-Find 1969 Boss 429

As you may recall from the beginning of this archaeological restoration, the history of this Boss 9 is known and documented from March 1973 until today. However, not much is known about the car from its original sale in Dallas to when it appeared at a Fort Worth, Texas, used-car lot for the paltry sum of $1,475. There have been some interesting clues about the car’s past. It had been repainted, even though the body was rust-free and nearly perfect. Exhaust cutouts had been installed in the factory pipes just after the stock manifolds. There were the remains of torched-off traction bars still bolted to the leaf springs, and significant rub marks were found inside both rear


This is how it came out of a North Dakota barn after nearly 40 years. The master cylinder had been removed by someone in a futile attempt to get the brakes to work, but other than that, this 429 doesn’t appear to have been touched since it was stashed away decades ago.

Bob Perkins, resident Ford authority at Perkins Restoration, confirmed that this is not the original Holley. A quick internet search of its part number indicates that this model, 3310 (probably a 750-cfm) was used on 1965–1970 Chevelles. One could imagine swapping out the manual-choke original for this electric-choke model, except there is no indication that the electric choke was ever hooked up.

Removing the valve covers revealed another clue. It’s hard to believe the car could have been sold at the dealer like this—only running on seven cylinders. Was this why it was parked so long ago?

What’s going on here? Was a casting flaw fixed at the factory before the engine was assembled or is this some racing damage that was repaired?

With the engine and transmission out of the car, MCR and Perkins were able to check all the numbers, codes, and markings and confirm that this is the factory-installed engine. With the exception of the odd blue paint on the intake manifold, it looks like an intact survivor.

wheelwells. Though not completely conclusive, all this suggests that this car was more than just a daily driver. How much more is what the staff at Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is hoping to find out as they deconstruct its engine, searching for anything that may reveal more of this Boss’ secret past. There are a few things that MCR does know for certain: This is a numbers-matching car with its original engine, transmission, and rearend still with it. Aside from the missing air cleaner and smog pump, this 429 appears to be intact. The Holley carb is not the factory version, but it’s from the right time period. One hint that this engine may have been out of the car at least once is the incorrectly painted intake manifold. Clearly, the evidence—even though it’s mostly circumstantial at this point— suggests at least some heavy-duty street action. That’s not hard to imagine, as that was why many of these types of cars were purchased in the first place. What further clues will be revealed as MCR goes layer by layer into the core of this 429? Follow along as Muscle Car Restorations and Advanced Engine Concepts examine the clues.

This is why you never try to start an engine that has been sitting for this long. Clearly, some water/antifreeze has leaked into this cylinder. What sort of dama ge could this do if you got it running?

The correct code for 1969 Boss cylinder heads is C9AEA. The D0AE-A A code indicates that this is 1970 head, so at least this has been replaced. This really wouldn’t be expected on a roughly 27,000-mile, normally driven car. Could it be a factory warranty replacement? Or was it something more drastic?



Left: At the very least, pull and clean the oil pan. You wouldn’t want this goo pumped through any engine, let alone something this rare.

Finally, now we have conclusive evidence that the engine has been rebuilt once before. It’s long been standard machining practice to mark crankshafts with the amount they have been ground. In this case, this crank is 0.010-inch under. There is no way that a 27,000-mile car needs a crank ground under normal service. This thing has seen some hard use.

Further proof of the crank being 0.010-inch under. It’s interesting that the bearings came from Ford. The first two digits, “C9,” indicate a 1969 manufacture date. Was this warranty work performed by the dealer? The camshaft turned out to be from Crane, so now there is no doubt that someone attempted to increase the power. What they did with that extra power is still a mystery.


HANDS ON After testing, that crank was found to be cracked beyond repair (another indication of extreme use), so another factory Boss crank was located. Advanced Engine Concepts set the trust bearing clearance at 0.006 inch.

New 0.060-inch over stock-style pistons were installed on the original rods as they were found. No reconditioning was needed. The ring gaps were set at 0.024 and 0.026 inches.

It is also recommended to run a small bead of RTV around the entire perimeter of the head to seal out any contaminates.

Another oddity about Boss 9 heads is that there is a pair of 0.006-inch brass shims that need to be in place under both bottom corners. If you didn’t know these were there, they could easily be lost during disassembly.

There are a surprising number of stamps and markings on these engines. Perkins was invaluable to MCR in helping get these all back where they belong. 20 CAR CRAFT JUNE 2018

Boss 9s don’t use a conventional head gasket. Rather, brass O-rings are carefully tapped into groves cut into the heads around each chamber. Rubber O-rings provide the necessary seal around the water passages. RTV silicone is used on both sides of the O-rings and on the head-bolt threads and both sides of their washers to prevent leaks. It is essential that the heads are perfectly flat, so AEC did a 0.004-inch cleanup cut just to be sure.

Building Great Times Together For 50 years, Summit Racing Equipment has been by your side, helping you feel the thrill of an engine roaring to life and the rush of cruising Main Street in your customized classic. Buckle up. Let’s go!

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HANDS ON This snorkel-type air cleaner is unique to Boss 429s, and they’re very rare. Fortunately, Perkins was able to locate an exact reproduction from Dead Nuts On in Fresno, California.


Advanced Engine Concepts; 920/294-0474 Muscle Car Restorations; 715/834-2223; Perkins Restoration; 920/696-3788; Below: The engine is finally back where it belongs and is in factory-fresh condition. Aldridge Motorsports and Engineering provided the correct Holley carburetor, and the sequence number “29” on the top of the firewall was applied by Kar Kraft.


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IRON MAIDEN, PART 2 We Make 457 HP With a Budget 6.0L Engine By Jeff Smith / Photos: Jeff Smith

When we left our intrepid Iron Maiden in Part 1, we shook the all-stock parts tree to make enough power to get your attention. No one expects an old iron head 6.0L to make 430 hp with nearly the same amount of torque. Imagine how much work you’d have to do to a 355ci small-block Chevy to make that number; it would be difficult without porting the stock heads and adding a big cam. And we’re just getting limbered up. To review, we ended Part 1 with a mild Maiden makeover using a stock LS6 camshaft, an equally stock LS6 intake and throttle-body, and shorty headers. That doesn’t sound like much, but it paid off with 430 hp and 435 lb-ft of torque.

With a little bump from a set of ported aluminum heads, we’re about to push this Iron Maiden up past 450 hp. Westech’s Troy Goldie helped us swap on the stock LS1 heads on Iron Maiden.


For our first head swap, we thought adding compression might help power throughout the rpm curve, so we chose a set of stock aluminum LS1 heads with about a 5cc smaller chamber and slightly better flow numbers. These were completely stock heads right down to the valvesprings.

Right: The stock aluminum 5.7L 853 castings use the same 2.00/1.55 valve sizes as the 6.0L versions, but have a smaller 67cc chamber versus the stock 6.0L 71cc chambers. Adding the 5.7L heads pushed the compression from 9.5:1 to 9.85:1.

This month, we’ll push a little harder to see how much power we can make while emphasizing usable torque and horsepower rather than chasing peak numbers. For those in the know, the LQ4 is the pedestrian version of the 6.0L truck family with only 9.5:1 static compression. It’s also common knowledge that compression adds power everywhere, so we thought a set of production aluminum heads with a smaller chamber would help. Frankly, this could have been a much more rewarding step if we’d not screwed up. In the Iron Maiden shop, we have an ever-growing pile of LS parts. So, of course, we grabbed the wrong set of heads when packing to go to Westech. What we had planned to test was a set of stock 4.8L/5.3L heads (casting numbers 706, 852, or 895) that offer a tiny 61cc chamber. Our Compression Lessons chart (page 26) illustrates how the compression would change with various heads. Unfortunately, we mistakenly installed a set of stock LS1 853 castings. These heads helped the power slightly, but not like we would have seen with a set of much tighter-chamber 4.8L/5.3L heads. Our fellow tech writer and dyno flogger Richard Holdener reports roughly a 15hp gain with stock 5.3L heads on a 6.0L. Our 5.7L head test bumped the average power by 9 hp, but lost a small amount of torque in the process. This is really budget stuff we’re doing, because 4.8L/5.3L heads are very easy to access. The 4.8L/5.3L results make sense because an increase of 1 full point in compression is worth roughly 4-percent power; at 430 hp, a 4-percent gain is 17 hp. On the Power Curve

chart, see Test 2, which peaked at 433 lb-ft of torque and 432 hp. The next plan was to evaluate how much that vaunted Trailblazer SS intake was worth over the LQ4 truck manifold. We’ve read some of Holdener’s testing on this intake and were impressed enough to see the results for ourselves. The book on the Trailblazer SS intake is that it makes more torque than the LQ4 intake and more horsepower than the low-profile LS6. The best part of this plan is that you can buy this new ACDelco intake from RockAuto for a mere $140. Granted, it’s a bare manifold, so we configured it with our stock 8.1L 30-lb/hr injectors and a very affordable Holley aluminum LS1 fuel rail assembly. This will require a separate aftermarket fuel pressure regulator. This intake also needs a fourbolt throttle-body. The only one available at the time of our test was a FAST 102mm version that we borrowed. Some may claim this larger version offers a slight power advantage, but at 430 hp, any advantage would be minimal. As an alternative, you could adapt a three-bolt throttle-body using an adapter made by ICT Billet that uses a 75mm through hole. We’ve included a part number in our parts list. The Trailblazer SS intake lived up to its hype, offering a major bump in the torque curve with an average torque gain across the entire rpm spread of 7 lb-ft over the truck intake, along with an 11hp peak-horsepower increase. The negatives are that this intake is just as tall and slightly wider than the LQ4

Sanding the head side of the washer with 60-grit prevents the washer from spinning. This sounds unreal, but if that washer spins and you keep pulling on the torque wrench, you will either destroy the bolt or, worse, pull the threads right out of the block.

WASHER TECH We ran into an issue when bolting on the heads that deserves attention. When torqueing the head studs, it felt like something was giving way—like a bolt was stripped— yet it wasn’t. It seems that it’s very easy for either a head bolt or stud washer to turn as opposed to remaining stationary under the bolt head. If the washer begins to turn as torque is applied, this essentially converts the washer into a bearing. Here’s the issue. Almost 50 percent of the torque applied to any bolt is used to overcome the friction between the underside of the bolt and the washer. If the washer spins, it reduces this friction and that additional torque is applied to the fastener. This is usually more than enough additional torque to either permanently elongate the bolt or pull threads out of the block. The problem stems from the really smooth surface of the head-bolt spot face on Coyote, LS, Ford EcoBoost, and even Chrysler Hemi engines. The combination of this smooth machining and the ARP washer can cause the washer to spin under load. This is especially prevalent if there is lube between the washer and the head. The fix is easy. ARP recommends sanding the head side of the washer with 60-grit sand paper for three or four strokes. That will help the washer grip the head. We tried this and it works very well; we were able to torque right up to the recommended 70 ft-lb with no problem. Swapping heads also meant adding new Fel-Pro MLS head gaskets to ensure we had optimal cylinder-pressure sealing clamped with ARP head studs. We could have used head bolts, but the studs make life easier on the threads in the block. The dished pistons reveal that this is an LQ4 truck engine.



Left: It’s worth noting that we continued to use the electric water pump on these tests, which was worth 9 hp at peak over a stock truck accessory drive.


CHAMBER SIZE 71cc 67cc 61cc 58cc

The real key to the power gain with the West Coast Racing–ported heads is the combination of more compression and better-performing exhaust ports.

When we swapped in the aluminum heads, we also added a set of Comp 0.080-inchwall-thickness pushrods along with a set of upgraded stock rockers with Comp’s high-performance trunnions. Both are really intended as durability improvements so we don’t worry about bent factory pushrods anymore.

COMPRESSION RATIO FOR LQ4 9.5:1 9.8:1 10.4:1 10.8:1

The final test was the combination of the ported heads with the LS6 intake, stock throttle-body, and the shorty headers. Dyno guru Steve Brulé pulled the handle and our iron lady pushed the torque up to 455 lb-ft and 457 hp.

Test 1 and Test 2 retained the stock truck intake manifold with the remaining tests employing this stock LS6 intake and 78mm throttle-body.

Below: If we plugged this 457hp Iron Maiden combo into our Orange Peel Chevelle with a TH350, mild converter, and 3.55:1 rear gears at around 3,500 pounds, the car could potentially run 12-teens at 113 mph. Not bad for an engine with a near-stock idle!


version, and it’s hardly a thing of beauty. But if this manifold will fit under the hood, it’s a star player in the power-per-dollar game. Next, we wanted to see how the LS6 intake would fare with this combination. This is a popular intake because it will fit under any hood line. We tested the LS6 intake with a stock 78mm throttle-body, and as you can see, the combination lost some low-speed torque compared to both the truck manifolds, but picked up the horsepower against the LQ4 intake—so the averages were very close. However, the Trailblazer SS intake was better than both the LQ4 truck and LS6 intakes. Our next step was where we anticipated we could pump up the power across the entire rpm curve. Previously, we mentioned how adding the 5.3L heads would bump the compression and power. We decided to take that one step further. In previous stories, we’ve had great luck with a set of 5.3L heads that were treated to CNC porting by Richard Reyman and his crew at West Coast Racing Cylinder Heads (WCRCH). The package starts by increasing the intake valve size from 1.89 to 2.00 inches and some CNC pocket porting, which improves the flow slightly. But the real gains are on the exhaust side. The accompanying flow graphs reveal how much the intake and exhaust ports improve with his help. We also had WCRCH mill the already small chambers to 58 cc, which bumped the compression up to 10.8:1. Combined with the fact that LS engines don’t need a lot of ignition timing anyway, this compression is still conservative enough to run on 91-octane fuel. As you can see from Test 5 in the Since the number came out so good, we decided to do a leak-down test and were pleasantly surprised at the roughly 12-percent number on cylinder 2. The other cylinders were similar. We never touched the rings or the cylinder walls, except to clean them.

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HANDS ON Power Chart and graph, the addition of these WCRCH-ported heads was worth some serious power across nearly the entire curve—especially above 4,000

rpm. We averaged the torque gain from 4,000 to 6,200 and came up with an average increase of 20 lb-ft. Any time you can bump the torque

that much across a 2,000-rpm band, that’s an outstanding way to help street performance. Peak-number improvements were

POWER CHART Test 1: Best power baseline from Part 1 (LS6 cam test)

RPM 2,600 2,800 3,000 3,200 3,400 3,600 3,800 4,000 4,200 4,400 4,600 4,800 5,000 5,200 5,400 5,600 5,800 6,000 6,200 AVG. PEAK

TQ1 352 360 376 382 389 400 412 419 426 430 432 435 435 426 416 403 388 — — 403.6 435

HP1 174 192 215 233 251 274 298 319 340 360 378 397 414 422 428 430 428 — — 325.7 430

Test 2: Add 5.7L LS1 aluminum heads w/ truck intake, shorty headers, LS6 cam TQ2 355 368 380 388 395 406 416 420 423 429 430 433 432 425 415 402 389 378 364 402.4 433

HP2 175 196 217 237 256 278 301 320 338 359 376 396 412 420 426 429 430 432 429 334.9 432

Test 3: Add Trailblazer SS intake manifold w/ 102mm throttlebody) TQ3 359 366 381 389 396 408 420 428 433 438 439 442 442 436 426 414 400 388 373 409.3 442

HP3 178 195 217 237 256 279 304 326 346 367 385 404 421 431 438 441 441 443 441 341.4 443

Test 4: Add LS6 intake manifold w/ 90mm throttlebody TQ4 353 362 378 386 391 402 412 419 423 429 433 435 434 427 416 404 389 378 364 402.0 435

HP4 175 193 216 235 253 275 298 319 338 360 379 397 413 423 428 431 429 432 430 334.8 431

Test5: Added CNC ported 5.3L heads, retained LS6 intake and cam TQ5 366 371 384 392 397 408 421 432 441 450 452 455 454 449 441 428 413 396 381 417.5 455

Note: The baseline test used here as Test 1 is Test 3 from Part 1 because it offered the best power numbers. The Test 4 results from Part 1 suffered from bent pushrods.


HP5 181 198 220 239 257 280 305 329 353 377 396 415 432 445 453 457 456 453 450 348.7 457

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FLOW TEST These graphs illustrate the flow increases from the WCRCH porting work on the 5.3L castings. As you can see, the major improvements occur on the exhaust side.

Stock Iron 6.0L vs. WCRCH Ported 5.3L Heads VALVE LIFT 6.0L 2.00” INTAKE PORTED 5.3L INT. 2.00” 6.0L 1.55” EXH. PORTED 5.3L EXH. 0.100 66 69 57 56 0.200 140 135 110 100 0.300 198 194 148 143 0.400 235 238 166 177 0.500 250 264 175 197 0.600 255 250 184 207 Note: These flow numbers are from WCRCH and were generated on a 3.78-inch bore. On a larger 4.00-inch bore engine, the flow numbers will improve slightly—especially at higher valve lifts. 1.89/1.55: Valve sizes for stock 5.3 heads 2.00/1.55: Valve sizes for stock LS1 and 6.0L LQ4 heads just as good with the WCRCH-ported 5.3L heads. Peak torque jumped from 435 to 455 lb-ft and from 431 to 457 hp—a solid 26 hp. Often, gains like these in peak power come at a loss of low-speed torque and driveability, but not here. These little heads that everyone else ignores also bumped the torque even at the lowest rpm we

tested. It’s hard to beat that. Remember that this final test is based on our 150,000-mile shortblock, LS6 intake, and equally stock LS6 camshaft. These are parts that other people discard, yet we’re now making 457 hp. This also means we’ve left a bunch more power on the table. The sharp ones among you are already

PARTS LIST DESCRIPTION Used LQ4 iron 6.0L Holley HP ECU Holley EFI harness for LS 24x/1x Holley harness for LS truck injectors Sniper fuel rail LS1 Summit shorty LS headers Stock LS6 camshaft AC Delco Trailblazer SS intake manifold ICT Billet 4- to 3-bolt throttle-body adapter AC Delco LS6 intake, used w/ TB Comp LS rocker trunnion upgrade kit Comp stock length Hi-Tech pushrods Comp beehive valvespring kit Fel-Pro head gasket, MLS, left Fel-Pro head gasket, MLS, right ARP head stud kit West Coast Racing 5.3L head CNC Hooker long-tube, 1.75-inch dia. headers Holley Sniper LS1 fuel rail assembly


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banging on your keyboards, “Shove a cam in it, bolt that Trailblazer intake back on it, and spin it up!” We’ve already done that. But like any good Hollywood serial script writer, we intend to leave you hanging. We can tease you a little with a hint that we’re going to stick in that bigger but stillmild cam, a set of long-tube headers, and that Trailblazer SS intake and bump the average torque by more than 40 lb-ft with similar numbers for average horsepower. If that doesn’t get your attention, you might want to check your pulse. Stay tuned—it’s about to really get fun!


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STOP, BUMP, AND ROLL CONTROL Improving the Braking, Ride, and Handling Qualities of a 1999 Trans Am With StockAppearing Bolt-Ons

By Rocky Rotella / Photos: Rocky Rotella

At first blush, one wouldn’t guess that our recently purchased 1999 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with the optional WS6 Ram Air and Handling Package has nearly 100,000 miles on its odometer. It was a two-owner vehicle we found on a local used-car lot that had been purchased at a dealer auction. The undercarriage cleanliness suggested it hadn’t seen the salty roads associated with Nebraska winters, and the overall condition of its exterior and interior says it was well cared for by a proud owner. So many Firebirds and Camaros of this era have been modified over the years. The addition of aftermarket intake and exhaust components, larger wheel and tire packages, high-end audio equipment, and suspension upgrades is commonplace. Not a single component had ever been replaced or modified on this Trans Am beyond the warranty repairs and general maintenance performed by the local GM dealer. The LS1 V8 underhood runs exceptionally well and its 4L60E automatic transmission operates as it should. Despite its originality and excellent operational condition, our Trans Am was due for a bit of routine maintenance. Its brakes pulsated during application at higher speeds, and the suspension wasn’t as taut as expected. A thorough inspection revealed nothing more than the need for new brakes and shocks. Since the two required a similar level of disassembly, particularly in the front suspension, it only made sense that we tackle both concurrently. Follow along as we accomplish that task without compromising the factory appearance.


FOURTH-GEN FIREBIRD BASICS GM’s fourth-generation F-car was the most refined version ever produced when introduced in 1993. Its thick front and rear sway bars, short- and long-arm (or SLA) front suspension, and positively located rear axle provided excellent ride and handling qualities. And it proved the perfect platform for future enhancements. In 1996, Pontiac released its WS6 package, which combined intake and exhaust modifications to boost engine output, 17x9-inch wheels and 275/40ZR17 tires, and a host of suspension upgrades to create a world-class performance vehicle. The F-car received a number of factory upgrades for the 1998 model year. The all-aluminum LS1 V8 replaced the venerable LT1, the exterior appearance was revised to inject modernity, and the basic antilock brake system was greatly improved to increase performance and service life. Four-wheel

disc brakes became standard equipment on all F-cars. Racy, cast-aluminum, dual-piston calipers replaced the cast-iron, single-piston units up front, and front and rear rotor diameter increased from 10.7 and 11.4 inches, respectively, to 12 inches all around.

BRAKE-COMPONENT CHOICES The abundance of new brake components for the 1998–2002 F-car covers the spectrum for all budgets and levels. Choices range from local parts-store house brands to high-end and/or oversized aftermarket components available through mail-order retailers or specialty manufacturers. Despite the overwhelming array of interesting options, we felt that since the performance of the factory-issued components was satisfactory and that OE fit and appearance were important factors in maintaining our Trans Am’s original appearance, we limited our search to high-quality stock replacements.

We replaced our 1999 Trans Am’s original brake rotors with Bosch’s QuietCast Premium Brake Rotors. The line boasts OE fit and function and includes an anti-corrosion coating to maintain a new appearance. Numbers 25010533 (front) and 25010591 (rear) fit all 1998–2002 Firebirds and Camaros and sell for roughly $200 per set of four.

Bosch’s QuietCast Premium Brake Pads deliver excellent quality at a reasonable price. The ceramic formulation extends rotor life, emits less brake dust, and provides excellent braking performance in all conditions. Numbers BC749 (front) and BC750 (rear) fit all 1998– 2002 Firebird and Camaros. A complete set sells for less than $100.


The Bilstein name is synonymous with top-quality suspension components. Its B6 series shock absorbers offer OE fit and are fully compatible with factory-installed coil springs to deliver stock appearance and ride height while improving function. Numbers 24-024068 (front) and 24-024075 (rear) fit all 1993–2002 Firebird and Camaro applications. A set sells for approximately $400.

1. We started with the rear shock absorbers first. We opened the rear hatch, folded the rear seatback, and used a large flat-blade screwdriver to unlock the quarter-turn screws that secure the rear side trim panels to the body. Once loose, they simply lifted up and out after disconnecting the speaker leads.

In a typical disc-brake system, the brake pads are located within the caliper body and float freely on either side of the rotor disc. As input pressure is applied to the brake pedal, one or more hydraulically actuated pistons within the caliper body compress the brake pads against the rotor surface. The brake pad creates friction against the spinning rotor, ultimately reducing vehicle speed. As miles accumulate, that friction—particularly when combined with an aggressive lining material—can permanently deform the rotor surface. For years, mechanics used a special brake lathe to resurface the rotor face and remove all traces of lateral runout during a brake job. Manufacturers published a minimum thickness specification, and only once that was exceeded,

was rotor replacement required. While that still remains an option today, the cost of producing rotors has become so competitive that it’s generally more cost effective to simply replace a rotor than resurface it. Our search for replacement rotors revealed a number of excellent option, and Bosch’s QuietCast Premium Brake Rotor interested us most. Not only does it meet or exceed OE quality, it receives Bosch’s proprietary Geomet coating—a form of zinc plating that prevents corrosion just like our Firebird’s original rotors. No other stockreplacement rotor we found possessed the feature that we felt was important in maintaining an attractive appearance with our Trans Am’s open-wheel design. A complete set of Bosch rotors

was on its way from our favorite mailorder supplier. Brake pads are made by bonding a frictional lining to a steel backing. Linings have been made from a variety of materials over the years, typically comprised of strands or particles embedded within a high-temperature resin. Regardless of composition, all brake pads emit dust as the lining wears during normal use. Not only does that dust create an unsightly appearance as it builds up on wheel surfaces, it can sometimes be caustic when servicing a vehicle’s braking system. Asbestos was a very popular lining material for many years. Its excellent heat-absorption and frictional qualities made it an obvious choice for highperformance applications. Growing



2 2. Folding the carpet forward exposed the upper shock-absorber mounting hardware. The factory used a piece of formed white foam over the stud to insulate and maintain the carpet’s shape. We pulled the foam plug and set it aside. An offset box-end wrench and small open-end wrench is one option for fastener removal, but a shockabsorber removal tool like that is available from high-end parts stores and greatly simplifies the task.


3. With the upper hardware removed, we moved beneath the Firebird and removed the rear shock-absorber retaining nut using a 21mm wrench and socket. Once loose, the shock absorber easily dropped down and out.

4. GM purchased



de Carbon and made it part of the Delco division in 1988. The brightorange shock absorbers were found on nearly all 1993–2002 Firebirds. Our Trans Am’s WS6spec units were its originals. They appeared to be in excellent shape, but we found them easily compressible, which suggested questionable effectiveness. GM has since been sold de Carbon, and the company seemingly no longer produces shock absorbers for domestic purchase.

concerns over the toxicity of asbestos dust forced brake manufactures to explore environmentally safer solutions. Non-asbestos organic (NAO) materials began surfacing during the late1960s. The environmentally friendly compound was softer and quieter, and generally easier on rotor surfaces, but wore quicker and required more frequent replacement. The organic lining wasn’t as effective as asbestos, however, and was susceptible to brake fade as heat built during aggressive maneuvers. A metallic lining had been the choice for heavy-duty truck and full-race applications where ultimate stopping power was required. The metallic compound dramatically improves performance, particularly in high-heat conditions, but its effectiveness is greatly degraded when cold. Additionally, the hard pad lining and high-frictional quality was noisy and very hard on rotor surfaces. Going into the 1970s, some brake manufactures began offering brake pads with linings that combined organic materials and metallic particles. These semi-metallic brake linings were an excellent compromise that delivered reasonable service life and excellent overall braking performance in myriad operating conditions. Semimetallic brake pads went on to become the norm with automakers and service stations alike well into the 1990s. Going into the 2000s, brake manufacturers began introducing new lining technology to consumers. Adding ceramic fibers to the high-temperature resin and metallic compound produced a lining that performed exceptionally well, was equally effective hot or cold, easier on rotor surfaces (extending their service life), and emitted lighter and finer dust that’s less likely to adhere to wheel surfaces. Because of these distinct advantages, it’s no surprise that ceramic pads have become the choice of many automakers today. GM had been using semi-metallic brake pads on its F-cars for several years. It issued TSB numbers 99-05023002A and 99-05-23-006 to dealership service staff in late-1999 that outlined procedural revisions when replacing noisy front and/or rear brake pads on F-cars produced between 1998 and midyear 2000. It seems that GM went from a semi-metallic lining to a ceramic lining in production at that point to reduce the risk of squeals and groans while stopping, and recommended the same to solve customer complaints.

We were convinced that a ceramic lining was right for us. While exploring brake-pad options, we found that Bosch offered its QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Pads with ceramic linings that meet or exceed OE performance criteria. It boasts a proprietary formulation of ceramic fibers, aluminum particles, and organic carriers. The lining is free of brass and copper, making it fully compatible with all current and future local and state laws. Bosch’s Molded Shim Technology combines steel and rubber backing shims that are permanently attached to the backing plate to increase durability and stability, and dampen noises. We added a set to our order and had everything on our doorstep in days.

SHOCK-ABSORBER CHOICES The front and rear shock absorbers that GM installed on its fourth-generation F-car were produced by de Carbon. The company was a hydraulic suspension system pioneer that reportedly developed the industry’s first monotube shock absorber nearly a century ago. The brand’s high-pressure monotube shocks, with their distinctive orange paint, became a mainstay in 1993– 2002 Firebird and Camaro applications with unique internal valving based on package requirements, and that includes those specific to WS6. While GM’s 1993–2002 F-car featured a typical coil-sprung rear axle with independent monotube shock absorbers on either end, its front suspension is often incorrectly referred to as a MacPherson Strut design. A strut assembly simplifies underbody packaging with a coil-spring and shockabsorber assembly that replaces the upper control arm and doubles as the steering pivot point in the front suspension. GM used the MacPherson strut in its third-generation F-car, but returned to traditional upper- and lower-control arms in SLA design for the fourth-gen for its smoother responsiveness and predictability when combined with high-pressure shock absorbers in performance applications. The 1993–2002 coil-spring-over-shock-absorber assembly (or simply “coilover”) has a single purpose: dampening. There are dozens of excellent shock absorbers available on today’s aftermarket that are expertly designed for use with modified F-car suspensions. Since maintaining OE fit and


The Young Racers’ Club is Presented Each Month by

June Sunoco Young Racers’ Club Winner:

Noah Korner Congratulations to Noah Korner of Canton, Connecticut – our Sunoco Race Fuels Young Racers Club Winner for the month of June! Noah will receive 55 gallons of fuel and a 5-gallon utility jug from Sunoco. He will also appear in the June 2018 issue of Car Crat. Take a few moments to read about Noah and his journey below. Canton, Connecticut native and Central Connecticut State University student Noah Korner began Quarter Midget racing in 2004. Ater stepping away from racing briefly during high school, Korner returned to the sport in 2015 in the ranks of Legends cars. Ater a year under his belt, Korner set the Legends scene on fire in 2016, winning 43 of 71 events he entered that year, with top-five finishes in all but 10 events he started. His skill for road course racing began to shine that year also. He finished the season with 17 victories in semi-pro level events on road courses. He won the Thompson (CT) Speedway MSD Legends Series championship on the road course boasting six feature wins. He also won the prestigious Loudon Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 2016 season also saw Korner win championships at Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway and the New London-Waterford (CT) Speedbowl. He finished the season as the INEX semi-pro oval national champion and runner-up in the road course national championship chase. He was also crowned the Connecticut semi-pro oval and road course champion. Overall, he was crowned as the INEX semi-pro national champion and touring series champion. He was also awarded a 2016 Bilstein Madonna Award during a ceremony at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The award – symbolic of racing excellence – has been awarded in the past to drivers such at Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki. In 2017, rather than focus on events close to home, Korner and his team set out to test their mettle at as many new tracks as possible around the country, and even internationally. They visited 17 tracks overall during the season. Korner once again shined on the road courses, finishing the year with five victories and 10 top-three finishes in 13 road course starts at the pro level including victories at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Winter Heat Series. That traveling theme also took Korner to his first Legends World Finals event at the 2.5-mile Botniaring Raceway road course in Finland, where he finished eighth. He also finished fourth in the national championship event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2017. Korner was the 2017 Connecticut oval and road course pro champion. Overall Korner finished 2017 third in the national INEX pro level standings for oval courses and fith overall at the pro level for road courses and was the touring series champion.

Racers between the ages of 14 and 24 can sign up to win, just like Noah, by sending us a message through the Car Crat Facebook page or sending an e-mail to our GM, John Viscardo at Please include a brief description like Noah’s and 2-3 photos. Please also provide a phone number and address so we can contact you if you are selected as a winner. Drivers who have already signed up do not need to re-enter. For more information on Sunoco Race Fuels, visit



5 6

11 9


7 appearance was paramount, we limited our search to replacements that met or exceeded the ride and handling qualities of our Trans Am’s original de Carbon units. There are only a handful of choices within those confines, and Bilstein’s B6-series was among them. Bilstein’s B6 series is compatible with factory-installed coil springs and leaves original ride height unaltered. It uses proprietary gas-pressure technology to deliver the ultimate in performance while providing excellent ride quality at a very reasonable price. Past experience told us that we needn’t look further. We added a set to our order.

INSTALLATION With all the new components on hand, we used a four-post lift for our install, but the same can be accomplished by securely supporting your vehicle on high-quality jackstands. Installing the new rotors and brake pads was straightforward, without any real surprises. In less than two hours, we removed and reinstalled all of the rear-end components and were ready to move on to the front. The Trans Am’s front suspension proved more complicated. Not only did we have to transfer the coil spring and associated hardware from the


5. After installing the supplied bushing on the Bilstein shock-absorber shaft, we positioned it into the floorpan well and poked it upward through the mounting hole. We then slowly compressed the shock absorber by hand until the lower bolt slipped into the rear-axle mounting bracket. The lower retaining nut was torqued to 66 lb-ft. We returned to the hatch well, installed the new upper bushing onto the protruding shaft, threaded on the retaining nut, and torqued it to 13 lb-ft using a 17mm socket and 5mm hex head wrench. The carpet and trim panels were replaced, and that portion of the job was complete. 6. The wheel and tire was removed using a 7⁄8-inch socket on the lug nuts to access the rear disc-brake components. A 12mm socket removed the rear caliper mounting pin bolts, while a 16mm open-end wrench prevented the caliper pins from spinning. The bolts were discarded. The caliper then simply lifted off. Use caution to never let the caliper dangle from the brake hose. We fashioned a wire hook from a coat hanger to suspend it from. Using a large C-clamp and an old brake pad, we slowly compressed the caliper piston until it was fully seated.

7. The existing brake pads were discarded and the rear caliper mounting bracket was removed using an 18mm socket. The rotor easily lifted off the axle hub, but stubborn examples may need persuasion with a larger hammer. We brushed away any dirt and dust that had accumulated on the parkingbrake shoe and checked its condition before installing the new Bosch QuietCast rotor onto the axle hub just like the original.


8. After thoroughly cleaning the rear caliper mounting bracket with brake cleaner and bristle brush, we reinstalled it onto the rear axle and torqued its fasteners to 72 lb-ft (see sidebar, page 40). The caliper contact points of the Bosch QuietCast brake pads were lubricated with the supplied grease and set into the caliper bracket. We made sure the brake-pad wear sensor was correctly positioned. It should be installed on the inboard side of the rotor and on the leading edge during forward rotation. The caliper was then installed using new caliper pin bolts, which were torqued to 23 lb-ft. The same procedure was replicated on the opposite side before moving onto the front. 9. The front coilover shock-absorber assembly is most accessible after the brake caliper and rotor have been removed. A 7⁄8inch socket was used to remove the wheel lug nuts, and the caliper pin bolts required a 12mm socket and 16mm wrench just like the rear. We lifted the front caliper away and suspended it using our wire hanger. We then used an old brake pad and C-clamp to slowly compress the front caliper’s dual pistons simultaneously. The front caliper mounting bracket bolts were removed using an 18mm socket and discarded. 10. Like the rear, the front brake rotor should simply lift off the wheel hub. We then inspected the hub’s condition, ensuring that it rotated smoothly and remained tight in all directions. Now is an opportune time to replace the hub if its condition is questionable in any way.

11. A 13mm socket and end wrench were used to remove the sway-bar endlinks. After nearly 100,000 miles, the fasteners on ours seemed permanently affixed. The stud literally snapped off after several turns. We sourced a replacement endlink from GM for reassembly.

12. The coilover shock-absorber assembly is retained on the upper end by fasteners located within the engine compartment. The left-hand side is a bit more challenging because it requires using a 15mm socket to remove the master cylinder from the brake booster to access the shock-absorber bolts, which require a 15mm socket and T-50 Torx bit. The right side was much simpler and required only 13- and 15mm sockets.

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13. We positioned a large hydraulic floor

13 14

jack beneath the lower ball joint and raised the lower control arm enough to slightly preload the shock-absorber assembly. We removed the cotter pin from the top balljoint stud in the upper control arm and used a 15mm wrench to loosen its nut, but left several threads engaged. We then used a large hammer to strike the side of the castiron knuckle, which promptly separated the tapered fit, but was kept from flying apart by the aforementioned slightly threaded nut.

14. We carefully lowered the floor jack enough to separate the steering knuckle and upper control arm. We then used a 13mm socket and 15mm wrench to remove the nuts and bolts that secured the coilover shockabsorber assembly to the lower control arm.


15. With all fasteners removed, we slowly lowered the floor jack to relax shockabsorber tension. The assembly then simply lifted out. The same procedure was replicated on the opposite side. 16. Despite the fact that our Firebird hadn’t been driven in snow and, given that the hardware on the left-hand shock-absorber shaft looked perfect, we expected the same on the right side. It wasn’t. We found it so severely rusted that even after days of soaking in penetrating oil, it had to be separated using a cut-off wheel.

17 17. From 1996 to midyear 2000, the optional WS6 package included 1LE-spec front coil springs. They gave way to standard Trans Am springs in the second half of the 2000 model year and remained until F-car production ended in 2002. Since our particular Trans Am was equipped with an excellent-performing spring from the factory, there wasn’t much need to consider an aftermarket replacement. We simply transferred our originals onto the Bilstein shock absorbers. A coil spring can be compressed for disassembly any number of ways, but its stored energy can inflict serious injury if it’s released haphazardly. Universal Steering in Omaha has a professional-grade Brannick compressor tool that safely and properly compressed the coil spring so we could remove the de Carbon shock absorber and install the Bilstein unit.




18. Any variance while assembling the new coilover spring and shock absorber could alter ride height and/or intended functionality. Before disassembling the originals, we carefully measured compressed spring height and replicated it exactly on the Bilstein unit. We also paid special attention to the alignment of shock-absorber body, coil spring, and upper spring mount and carefully replicated that on the replacements. We reused the original coil-spring seats, unique 1LE-spec coil springs, shaft cushion and dust-cover assembly, and upper shock mounts. Moog K6573 Spring Insulators were used in place of the discontinued GM pieces at top.

de Carbon shock absorbers to the Bilsteins, we could only assess the condition of the ancillary wear items once the suspension was completely disassembled. Sourcing additional components added to the downtime, but it also kept us from rushing and making mistakes. Once we collected everything needed and had the Bilstein shock absorbers loaded, we had our Trans Am’s front end reassembled in an afternoon. As soon as we backed our Trans Am out of the garage for the initial drive, we were pleased to find that it sat just as before. After a few low-speed stops to seat the new brakes and make sure the suspension was functioning properly, we headed out to the main streets for first impressions. We found that ride quality had noticeably improved. Road imperfections were less upsetting, and once we were able to reach higher speeds, roll control while cornering increased dramatically. Applying the brakes provided smooth and predictable performance without any pulling or shuddering. Success!

19. The corrosion found on the righthand shock-absorber shaft extended to the upper control arm mounting bracket (right). Layers of rusted metal flaked away with only a wire brush, and it was enough for us to question its durability. Hawk’s Motorsports in Easley, South Carolina, specializes in third- and fourth-gen Firebird parts and provided us with a used one in excellent condition for a reasonable price (left). We removed our original control arm and reinstalled it on the replacement bracket. The control-arm fasteners were torqued to 72 lb-ft using an 18mm socket and wrench.

20. With the coilover shock-absorber assembly ready to install, we placed it into position and carefully aligned the upper mounting studs with their openings in the wheelwell tower and lower end in the lower control arm slot. We then loosely installed the lower hardware and began slowly compressing the shock absorber using the floor jack under the lower ball joint. We aligned the upper ball-joint stud with the top flange of the steering knuckle and torqued that nut to 39 lb-ft and installed a new cotter pin. The shock-absorber fasteners in the lower control arm were torqued to 48 lb-ft. We torqued the bolts and screws in the engine compartment to 37 lb-ft and 32 lb-ft, respectively.




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SOURCING NEW CALIPER FASTENERS A little-known fact when performing a brake job is that, GM states in its service literature, the caliper pin and caliper mounting bracket fasteners should never be reused. As opposed to a torque-to-yield design where a fastener’s intended load can be applied only once, GM’s practice is more likely intended to prevent the possibility of thread damage or improper reinstallation by careless owners or technicians who could impede an otherwise-reusable fastener’s ability to maintain its intended clamping load in service. Serious injury or death could result should a brake-system failure occur. Bolt numbers 14067559 (front and rear caliper pin) and 18060356 (front caliper mounting bracket) for our 1999 Firebird were readily available from our local GM parts counter for a few dollars each, and they included a pre-applied locking compound on the threads. We torqued them to spec and all was well. The rear caliper mounting bracket bolt (10229606) proved a significant challenge, however. It seems that bolt had been discontinued by GM in 2009, and OE replacements aren’t available. The bolt’s specifications suggest it’s little more than a 10.9-grade, metric hex flange screw in M12x28x1.75 sizing with black-oxide coating. Without exact replacements available, we were left with two reasonable options to reinstall the rear caliper mounting brackets. We could source a similarly sized new bolt from a fastener retailer or reuse our Firebird’s originals. It seems that the closest 10.9-grade metric hex flange screw available is in 30mm length as opposed to the 28mm original, and a thin shim beneath the head could be used to take up the variance. After looking our originals over closely, they appeared to be in excellent condition. We decided to reuse them. In doing so, we first cleaned the threads with an appropriately sized die and carefully torqued them to recommended specification using an accurately calibrated torque wrench. Blue-thread locking compound is required in either instance. We haven’t had any issues reusing our Trans Am’s original rear caliper mounting bracket bolts so far, but we need to make clear that whatever path you decide to take with your project is at your own risk. Periodic inspection to ensure your safety is highly recommended.



23 21. If your original sway-bar endlink bushings are reusable, you won’t need to source a replacement, but we weren’t so lucky. New OE-replacement endlink kits are available from many sources, but GM still offered our Trans Am’s original. We ordered a pair of number 10221779 endlinks for about $20 each. Whether new or reused, the endlink fasteners were torqued to 17 lb-ft.

22. The new Bosch QuietCast Rotor was


CONCLUSION While installing new brakes and shock absorbers on your 1993–2002 F-car requires a methodical approach that should allow some downtime to source wear items and possibly outside assistance, the actual time we spent working on the Trans Am totaled less than a day. The effort produced notable improvements in braking and ride/handling quality when compared to the worn originals. Best of all, it made our Trans Am more pleasurable to drive and reaffirmed our belief the GM’s fourth-generation F-car remains one of the best performance values on the road today. Practically anytime hobbyists work on their vintage vehicles, replacement components are required. Oftentimes, you don’t know exactly what’s needed until well into the project. Depending on the vehicle’s age, GM may no longer offer new replacements. Fortunately, Moog produces a wide variety of OE-spec chassis components for 1998–2002 Firebirds and Camaros. They can be sourced quickly and easily through your local parts stores and fit and function like the original GM pieces. All four wheels and tires were installed and the lug nuts were torqued to 100 lb-ft. We lowered the Firebird onto the pavement, slowly pumped the brake pedal to pressurize the caliper pistons, and set out on an initial test drive. Bosch’s QuietCast ceramic pads are delivered oven-cured, which eliminates the need for burnishing. Instead, all that’s needed is a series of low-effort stops at speeds not exceeding 25 mph to seat the components correctly. We were pleased to find that the Bilstein stock absorbers didn’t affect ride height, but ride quality and handling in all types of driving conditions noticeably improved.

installed onto the wheel hub. We reused the original retaining clip on one stud to ensure the rotor remains in place during caliper installation. Like all Firebirds produced from 1996 onward, the Bosch unit was covered in an anti-corrosion coating. No preparation beyond wiping the contact surface with brake cleaner and lent-free shop rag to remove any contamination that occurred during install is required. The coating simply wears off the brake-pad contact surfaces during break-in. Like many brake manufacturers today, Bosch’s QuietCast rotors are considered disposable. The company does not recommend machining its rotors during future brake jobs. Instead, it recommends replacing with new as required.

23. We reinstalled the caliper mounting bracket and torqued its new fasteners to 74 lb-ft. Next, we set the Bosch QuietCast brake pads into place, but not before we used the supplied lubricant on the contact points and correctly positioned the wear sensor. The caliper was then installed and its new fasteners were torqued to 23 lb-ft.






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Performance brake pads are made with material that withstands higher temperatures without fade.

CONE-KILLING CAMARO Sam Withers; Hannibal, MO: As a longtime, Car Craft reader, I’m hoping you can help me sort out a simple question that’s driving me nuts. I have a 1999 Camaro SS with a six-speed transmission and Hugger Orange paint. As the third owner of the car, I’m really happy with the performance and the handling, but it needs a little help with the brakes. This is my daily driver, but I’ve taken it to the drags and recently competed in my first autocross. After a couple of hot practice laps, the car wouldn’t slow down quickly enough and I took out some cones. Some of the folks at the autocross said I need all-new brakes, but others said I could get way better stopping power with different pads at the cost of more noise and brake dust, which I don’t really want. After reading back issues of magazines, looking online, and reading the Camaro forums, I’m really confused. There are ceramic pads, carbon pads, semimetallic, colored pads, street/race pads, and serious race pads, and they


are all over the map price-wise, from $18 to $342! I’m not made of money, what is the right choice? Car Craft: Let’s see what we can do to improve the stopping power on that collectible Camaro while keeping you out of the poor house. First, the good news and the simple part of the answer: you will eventually end up with a high-quality ceramic pad. Now for the dose of reality: there is no unicorn brake pad that offers aggressive, no-fade stopping power with no dust and no noise at any price, let alone in the budget bin. While you didn’t specify what went wrong when you unintentionally went cone hunting, beyond a mechanical failure like a caliper mounting bolt breaking, there are really only two common forms of braking failure, and the difference is easy to diagnose. If your pedal sank to the floor and required cooldown time or pumping to recover some braking effectiveness, you likely boiled the brake fluid. If the

pedal stayed high and hard but the car wouldn’t slow, you likely experienced pad fade as the overheated binding materials and resins that hold the pad’s harder components together literally boil out the pad. This is known as outgassing, and the superheated material prevents the pad from fully engaging the rotor. You can confirm pad fade and outgassing by examining the pads after the event, and you’ll likely find cracking on the pad surface or even chunks of the pad material missing or deformed. If you ever tried to drive an original 1960s or 1970s muscle car hard with stock brakes, you’ll have experienced brake fade or what is actually pad fade. All factory cars are engineered to be able to panic-stop reasonably well at least once or twice, and as cars have gotten faster and heavier, the Detroit manufacturers have kept pace with at least that minimum standard. Beyond that, older factory brakes gave up the ghost pretty quickly. Your high-performance 1999 Camaro is far better at braking

ASK ANYTHING than its 1979 predecessor, but not nearly as good as a sixth-gen. To check for boiled fluid, bleed out some of the fluid from the caliper’s bleeder into a clear tube and catch cup as if you were bleeding the brakes. It will likely be dark and may smell burnt. Regardless of your new pad choice, this is a good time to flush out all the blackened fluid from the system with fresh new fluid from a sealed container until it runs clear and clean. For cars

that are driven hard, this is a good annual maintenance process, as boiled brake fluid will accelerate corrosion in the brake lines and generate air pockets much faster than fresh new fluid. As for the fluid, DOT 4 has a higher boiling point than DOT 3, but DOT 3 will hold up better if you don’t do the annual maintenance. If you progress to open-track events, you’ll want to replace the fluid before every event. As for picking your new pads, a

brake expert is going to walk you through how you use your car—how often you realistically autocross, drag race, or work the car hard on twisty roads—to confirm exactly which brake components you have behind the wheels. Many car crafters find that the “stock” car they bought has had cheaper parts installed over time, like remanufactured calipers, bargain-basement rotors, or even swaps to smaller brake components in a misguided effort to save weight or money. With that information, they’ll tell you that an aggressive pad will stop the car repeatedly without fade until you have pushed the brakes beyond their capacity to shed heat. Modern disc brakes convert the energy of the car’s moving mass into heat. That heat is properly absorbed into the rotor, not the caliper, and dissipated into the air. That is why simple brake ducts can really help lower brake temperatures. It is also why high-performance systems use thicker rotors and specify curved, directional vanes to further absorb and dissipate heat. Better-quality pads have more sophisticated backing-plate materials and thermal isolators on the back of the pads that help keep heat out of the calipers, therefore reducing pad temperatures. Better-quality pads for your application will have a higher mu factor or coefficient of friction. It also means the rotors will wear a little faster and, yes, you’ll have a bit more dust. Of the pad choices out there, the newest “carbon” pads are more expensive and will produce more dust. The term “semi-metallic” has become a broad catchall and won’t really help you decide. With an aggressive racing pad of any formulation, you will get squeal under some circumstances. The other alternative is a high-quality street pad like a Hawk HP+ or Baer Sport and then swap in a set of really aggressive autocross-specific pads like the Raybestos ST 38 for those occasional events. Just remember to bed each set in initially, according to the suppliers’ recommendation. Once that is done, you can swap pads back and forth without worry.

TURNED AROUND D. Morrison; Enterprise, AL: Both my 2008 Silverado and Marina Blue 1967 Chevelle 396 restomod need brakes, as the pads are getting thin and the rotors are no longer smooth. On one of the Chevelle forums, a guy I used to think knows what he’s talking about says nobody needs to turn rotors anymore. I like saving money, but that sounds wrong to me—what’s the real deal, CC? Car Craft: Yo, D, this is a great question and the answers contain some serious myth-busting and a 180-degree bootleg turn from the conventional wisdom. Hang on while we show how brake maintenance has moved into the 21st century and we save you time, money, and aggravation. Myth No. 1: When you get new drums or rotors, they need to be turned to ensure that they are straight and true. False! For decades, this was a way for less scrupulous shops to add labor charges to a brakereplacement job. For folks salvaging used parts for their hooptie, this may have made sense 30 years ago, especially for drum-brake applications, but for almost all vehicles sold with disc brakes in the U.S. in the last five decades, inexpensive new rotors make that choice unnecessary and risky. For both your Chevelle and your truck, you have lots of stock or upgraded rotor options, including slotted and cross-drilled rotors or even lighter, higher-performance, twopiece rotors with aluminum hats and cooling features associated with big-brake kits from the major U.S. suppliers. New rotors from reputable suppliers will be more dimensionally accurate than the turning equipment at most shops can achieve. One other fact to be aware of is that virtually all cast-iron brake rotors sold in the U.S. are poured overseas, primarily in China, India, and Malaysia. Cast iron continues to be the material of choice for brake rotors because it has far better heat-dissipation





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The rotor shown on the right was used in World Challenge racing on the Paul Brown–driven, championship-winning car in 2014. It is still usable as-is, despite how it may look compared to the new rotor.

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properties versus steel, stainless, or other alloys. More importantly, cast iron has the best coefficient of friction, known as mu factor in the brake industry. Environmental and other local restrictions have resulted in the closure of all the large-scale foundries in the USA, so even Detroit’s Big Three source rotors offshore. Myth No. 2: When performing a brake job on disk brakes, you must always turn the rotors. False! If the rotors are so worn or damaged that you would think you would need to turn them, they need to be replaced. This includes rotors with small cracks and moderate grooves. Simply put in new pads and drive easy for 100 miles and if high-performance driving or track use is part of the program, follow a normal pad bedding process with several sets of four progressively harder stops with cooldown periods in between ranging from 30 to 70 mph. The pads will quickly conform to the various ridges on the rotor—no machining necessary. You don’t need to replace the rotor unless a crack is fingernail thick. Well-used, cross-drilled rotors will always exhibit some hairline cracking around the holes. This is normal and does not warrant replacement. Myth No. 3: “My rotors are warped they need to be turned� or “I got new rotors off the internet and they were warped

out of the box!” False! What most people think is a warped rotor is actually caused by pad transfer. Pad transfer is a normal part of brake-system usage where a nearly invisible portion of pad material is transferred by heat to the rotor surface. This is called the transfer layer. However, when the operating temperatures exceed the pad’s design capabilities, excess material sticks to the rotor, creating pad deposits that cause pedal pulsation or even a vibration that is felt through the steering wheel. The best way to identify excessive pad transfer is that the pulsation varies with ambient temperature and speed. A truly warped rotor is extremely rare, but a rotor that has had excessive pad transfer over time can eventually have high and low spots, known as disk-thickness variation (DTV). Manufacturer specifications for DTV in new rotors are typically 0.0005 inch, far better than typical rotor-turning equipment can reliably achieve. The cure for pad transfer and that pulsating brake pedal is as easy as a new set of pads with a different formulation and using the proper pad-bedding process. Finally, on modern rotors with slots; if you still see slots, the rotor has plenty life left in it. After 0.100 of accumulated wear, it’s time for new ones. Maybe that guy on the Chevelle forum is still pretty sharp after all, right? He must read Car Craft.

MORE INFO Baer Brakes; 602/233-1411; TRZ Motorsports; 407/933-7385;

ASK ANYTHING— WE’VE GOT SOLUTIONS! Car Craft Mag 831 S. Douglas St. El Segundo, CA 90245

THIS GUY’S GARAGE Peter rescued this once-scorned 1963 splitwindow Corvette from certain doom. He sent it off to Factory Hot Rod in Cincinnati for a complete transformation. While the exterior is subtly modified, it features a 2014 Z06 drivetrain complete with engine, sixspeed manual transmission, and suspension. Peter says it’s quite fun and comfortable to drive.

Peter bought this 1970 Firebird Formula 400 at age 16, and he says it’s what started his love affair with cars. It’s equipped with a Pontiac 400ci V8, a four-speed manual transmission, and 4.11 rear gears. He raced it frequently back then and didn’t have the means to pay for repairs, so he learned to fix whatever he broke while racing. Eventually, he became a transmission technician at a local Chrysler dealership, and during his off time, he was part of the service manager’s private race team.

Anyone familiar with the restomod scene will immediately recognize the Ringbrothers’ 1969 Camaro, known as “Razor”; it’s powered by a modern ZL1 V8 that’s backed by a six-speed manual transmission. Peter saw it displayed at SEMA in 2010 and immediately fell in love with it. He was able to make it part of his collection in 2012, and it’s one of his favorite cars for carving cones at autocross events.

This 1971 Camaro was built by Jeff Richards and contains a GM LS3 V8 and a sixspeed manual transmission. The suspension is completely modified and the rear axle features in-board disc-brake rotors. Peter believes that his Super Camaro was Richards’ wildest build to date.


Peter’s 2013 Super Cobra Jet Mustang is equipped with a supercharged Coyote engine that generates more than 1,000 hp, and Peter says it’s capable of running the quarter-mile in 8.5 seconds. Understandably, this car isn’t street-legal and was only delivered with a bill of sale.

This 1967 Mustang was built in. The monster hood bulge hides a supercharged 4.6L Ford that generates about 720 hp. It’s backed by a sixspeed manual transmission, and the suspension and braking systems were upgraded accordingly.

Dodge’s factory drag car was the Challenger, and Peter’s 2011 model is powered by a V10 Viper engine. Rated around 950 hp, it also runs high 8s at the track. Most of the Drag Pak cars were white, but Peter says his may be the only one painted black.

Peter is in the transmission-repair business and built this 8-foot statue of Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie from used transmission components. The statue weighs around 2,000 pounds and is one of four similarly constructed figures on display in the museum. He said they draw much attention during charity events and tours.

This 2013 COPO Camaro is equipped with the all-aluminum, 427ci V8 that’s backed by a Powerglide transmission. The engine generates about 950 hp and this car makes 8.80-second passes at the track.

“Kona” was another Ringbrothers creation. The beautiful black 1967 Mustang is powered by a Roush-built Ford V8 with fuel injection and backed by a C4 automatic transmission. This replica of a 1937 Ford roadster is a kit car that caught Peter’s wife Carolyn’s eye at a Barrett-Jackson event a few years ago. It’s powered by a GM LS3 V8 backed by a 4L65E transmission. Peter says it rides and handles great with the air-ride suspension.

This 1950 Chevrolet fivewindow pickup truck sports a Z06 Corvette drivetrain. Peter says it’s very fun to drive and enjoys taking it on the highway. Peter says that Razor was such a popular show car upon its debut that Snap-on immortalized its image on a commemorative tool chest. A total of 250 were produced in the series.

PETER FINK / Omaha, NE In last month’s installment of This Guy’s Garage, we were introduced to Peter Fink and his American Muscle Car Museum. His display of vintage muscle cars is comprised of Detroit’s most exciting and desirable products. This month, we focus on the masterfully-finished restomod and Pro Touring portion of his collection. By Rocky Rotella / Photos: Rocky Rotella



PROJECT CAR UPDATE The House of Muscle’s 1972 Monte Carlo Gets a New Engine By John McGann / Photos: John McGann

You know Mike Musto as the host of The House of Muscle and his contributions to the Drive Network, and this was Mike’s daily driver: a 1972 Monte Carlo he found buried in the back of an A/C and radiator repair shop in San Raphael, California. It was in great shape, except for the fact that it burned oil like a diesel locomotive. We fixed that problem by removing the tired 350 from the car


and replaced it with a new SP383 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance. We also ditched the stock transmission for a new TH200 4R from Gearstar Performance, pairing it with a torque converter from Yank Performance. We are accompanying this build with a series of videos hosted on and on The House of Muscle’s YouTube channel. Be sure to check them out.

To establish a baseline, Mike ran the car down the dragstrip at Sonoma Raceway, where the worn-out 350 propelled the 3,600pound car to a languid 17.896 at 74.85 mph.



Here’s the mighty SP383 dropped into the Monte Carlo’s engine bay. It makes more than twice the power of the car’s original engine. It came to us complete with an intake manifold, water pump, HEI distributor, and balancer. The Monte Carlo’s 350 was painfully stock, right down to the points distributor and unmolested fuel line running to the Quadrajet carburetor. Suffering from poor ring seal after nearly 175,000 miles, it was worn out. We ran the Monte Carlo on a chassis dyno prior to the swap, and the 350 made 162 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque.

Our engine also came with one this optional high-torque starter from Chevrolet Performance.

Above: Because of the Monte Carlo’s huge front overhang, the engine hoist doesn’t reach to the center of the engine. We pulled it from the front of the cylinder heads and raised it high enough to manually lift the transmission tailshaft over the top of the radiator. Colin Sebern (left) and Jack Dick Customs owner Ben McCloy (right) helped muscle the combination out. Below: Mike Musto and Ben begin dressing the engine before installing it in the car. Note the Fast Burn heads, which are key to this engine’s efficient power production. At Westech, the engine impressed us with a stout 446 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque. The headers are from Patriot Exhaust, and they fit great.

Though a serpentine-belt kit (complete with accessories) is available from Chevrolet Performance, Mike decided to keep his stock R-12 system in tact. It works well, and he didn’t want to change it. As a result, we put a standard-rotation water pump on the engine and reinstalled the stock power-steering pump and a new 130-amp alternator.

We had to find a bracket to support the rear of the giant A/C compressor. Ben modified a cast-off alternator bracket to fit, attaching the engine side to a stand off one of the header bolts.



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We replaced the motor mounts and transmission mount with new ones from Energy Suspension. There’s no sense putting new components on old mounts.

Ben built a tidy dual-exhaust system with 2 1⁄4-inch stainless tubing and mufflers from MagnaFlow that followed the stock exhaust routing.

The Gearstar Performance TH200 4R fit the transmission tunnel perfectly. We were able to reuse the stock transmission crossmember, too. This is the Level 3 version, which will handle 500 lb-ft of torque. The converter is a 3,000-stall unit from Yank Performance.


Chevrolet Performance; Gearstar Performance Transmissions; 330/434-5216; Holley; 270/781-9741; Jack Dick Customs; Patriot Exhaust; 909/599-5955; Yank Performance; 775/826-9955;

You’ll notice Mike and Colin are installing oxygen sensors in the exhaust system that communicate with the new Holley Sniper EFI system we installed. Read about that in the next installment.

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As many of our readers probably know by now, Mike’s Monte Carlo was stolen about a month after we completed the swap. Car thieves are jerks, but we will finish out this series with the Monte Carlo and look forward to more collaboration with The House of Muscle.



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Matt Farah’s 1988 Mustang Is a Refined Canyon-Carver


hat do you get when you cross a Fox-body Mustang with an independent rear suspension, massive tires, a hard-charging 302, and a purpose-built attitude? Matt Farah’s Mustang, of course—and it’s brilliant. Matt is the charismatic host of The Smoking Tire podcast and YouTube show and is a hilariously affable dude who could probably charm the spare change off the vagrant


panhandling at your local freeway offramp. He grew up with friends who had Fox-body Mustangs and always wanted one, but the closest he got was a 1995 Mustang his safetyconscious mom steering him toward buying it because it had dual airbags and antilock brakes. This is the Mustang he wanted instead. It’s actually morphed into something beyond what the high

By John McGann /

McGann Photos: Paul Dimalanta and John

schooler in his past would have imagined. Though we’ve taken plenty of shots at fender flares and body kits in the past, understand that they’re on this car for a purpose. Matt’s Fox-body mustang is basically sitting on the suspension from a 2004 Mustang Cobra; that generation Mustang was about 3 inches wider at the wheel-mounting surface, so rather than shortening the axles and running wheels with lots of positive

offset, Matt doubled down, going wiiiiide on the wheels and housing them in carbon-fiber flares. The riveted-on shabby/ chic look is perfect for the car, and the result is a menacing appearance: low-slung, broad-shouldered, and ready to brawl. This car began life as a California Highway Patrol cruiser; it’s a stripper model with crank windows and no air conditioning. Matt bought it from a guy who ran out of funds



mid-build. The previous owner had just dropped in a fresh Ford Racing 302 crate engine. With the intention of making it a canyon-carver, Matt tapped Mustang wizards Maximum Motorsports for help in the suspension department. They bid a fond farewell to the solid rear axle and hello to the IRS Cobra components. The front suspension received the full Maximum Motorsports treatment as well, and Cobra disc brakes were added to each corner. Matt’s goal was to have the car he wanted in high school but make it drive like a modern GT, and though the build took several years with more than a few setbacks, he’s pleased with the results. You can tell he took a methodical approach in choosing and setting up the chassis. The car was corner-balanced to have equal weight distribution, race ready, with him in the driver’s seat. The car’s svelte 3,110 pounds with fluids and massive 295-series tires mean it can really hold a corner, and the relatively soft springs and shocks soak up bumps on the canyon roads,


keeping the car poised and planted in tight turns. The willing and revvy 302 sounds amazing zinging up to its redline as Matt rows the gears in the T5 transmission. Speaking from experience, this car rides every bit as good as

it looks, digging into corners with the exhaust crackling off the canyon walls. We wish more cars felt as pure and unpretentious as this one does. ➔ Headliner burned by hot shotgun barrels post shootout means this car saw some action.

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Can you place the 2nd row of photos dating back to 1983? Chisenhall, Keith Black, HotRod (Quinell), Granatelli, Al Sheib, SVS, Poteet put the correct name to the lower row of cars - names are out of order here.




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TECH NOTES Who: Matt Farah Where: Venice, CA, which is technically a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles What: 1988 Ford Mustang Engine: The original 5.0 was replaced with a Ford Racing crate engine just prior to Matt purchasing the car. It makes 350 hp at the crank, thanks to a set of Ford’s efficient GT40 cylinder heads, a hydraulic roller cam, BBK headers, and a free-flowing Flowmaster exhaust system. An Edelbrock water pump, Mishimoto aluminum radiator, and Ford Contour electric fans keep the coolant temperatures in check. Transmission/Rearend: Tremec’s venerable T5 transmission is compact and lightweight, yet more than capable behind the small-block. Maximum Motorsports supplied the quadrant and clutch cable that actuates the Centerforce clutch, and a Ford Racing

aluminum driveshaft connects to a Cobra 8.8 centersection with a Torsen torque-biasing differential. Chassis/Suspension: Matt collaborated with Maximum Motorsports, installing its front K-member, A-arms, coilovers, and a steering rack from a 2004 Cobra. Maximum Motorsports also converted the car to the Cobra’s independent rear suspension, using its Grip Package, sway bars, heim-joint linkages, Eibach springs, and Maximum Motorsports coilovers. MM’s subframe connectors and roll bar help stiffen the chassis. The car will pull around 1.2 g on a skidpad, but in the real world, the resulting ride is utterly sublime through the mountain roads north of Los Angeles. Brakes: 2004 Mustang Cobra brakes are found on all four corners. The rotors are from Ford Racing and are gripped by Hawk HP Plus performance brake pads. The master cylinder is from a 1994 Mustang Cobra, and the brake hoses are from Maximum Motorsports. Wheels/Tires: 18x11-inch HRE RS105 wheels are on all four corners, wrapped in ultra-grippy 295/30ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Interior: Though you’d think it was polarizing, everyone seems to love the custom upholstery on the door panels and Recaro seats. Matt says the material came from Modern Fabrics; it’s designed for lawn furniture and was a

popular pattern in the 1970s. It was stitched into the car by Exoticar Inc. in West Los Angeles. A full set of AutoMeter gauges monitor the engine’s performance, and a Momo Prototipo steering wheel adds a touch of class. The basketball net cupholder is from a Mercedes G-wagon, because Matt needs his daily dose of coffee. To compensate for the lack of air conditioning, he wears a CoolShirt connected to a water tank in the trunk. Multimedia: Follow Matt in Instagram at thesmokingtire and The Smoking Tire on YouTube. He also contributes to the Drive Network and recently started a new podcast about watches called Watch and Listen.


JUNKYARD CRAWL Roadside Runner By Steve Magnante / Photos: Steve Magnante Last registered for street use in 1992, this debut-year 1968 Road Runner has its share of rust, but is certainly workable. The Road Runner’s unique VIN sequence starts with RM, making identification easy. Of the 44,598 built in 1968, 15,358 were pillar-less hardtops like this. The other 29,240 were pillar coupes. The Road Runner convertible body type didn’t arrive until 1969 and only lasted through 1970.


f you’re over the age of 50, you’ll remember seeing Road Runners like this 1968 hardtop in high school parking lots as winter beaters (in the Rust Belt) and as general daily drivers. Friday nights often found them loaded up with young bucks looking for action. With Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, Deep Purple, or The Who blasting from the AudioVox tape player and a set of 60- or (if you were serious) 50-series meats bolted to the rear drums, the Road Runner was one of America’s favorite low-buck muscle cars. They helped transform kids into local legends from coast to coast, sometimes for eluding the cops, other times for taking down trees. It was the 1970s, people!


Shared with the more expensive 440-powered (L code in fifth spot) GTX, Road Runners all came with this cool dual hump hood skin. The sinister matteblack inserts reveal engine size, either the standard 335hp 383 (H code ) or the Street Hemi (J code). The scoops were bogus until the 1969 arrival of the N96 Air Grabber (standard on Hemi, $55.3 0 extra on Road Runner and GTX). The four taper-seat, flathead Phillips screws holding the 383 insert to the beze l are very rare.

Left: Showing signs of a hasty resto (painted steering column, shock-absorber studs, and camber adjusters), the engine bay is still quite solid. We dig the manual brakes, steering and non-A/C on this low-optioned stripper. Check out the Hurst Line-Lock solenoid next to the master cylinder for easier burnouts.

First looks can be deceiving. What appears to be a rare one-piece American Racing Torq-Thrust magnesium wheel is an imposter. Note the unusually thick bead-totire distance. Steel pads are integrally cast into the 5 feet of the aluminum “spider,” allowing it to be welded to the steel hoop. Ironically, these wheels (often made by Rocket in the day) have become collectible and can be used as long as corrosion hasn’t weakened the union between the spider and hoop.

The beauty of the Road Runner recipe came from its baked-in, standard-issue, heavy-duty parts. While comparable GM and Ford muscle cars stopped—or tried to—with 9.5- or 10-inch drum brakes, the Runner’s huge 11x3-inch (11x2.5-inch rear) drum brakes came straight from Chrysler’s police-car/light-truck parts bin. While the Road Runner’s standard-issue 335hp 383 was on par with the competition’s base-level 390-, 396-, and 400-inchers, if you wanted a fourspeed under the floorboards of your SS396, 4-4-2, GS 400, or GTO, you coughed up a hefty $184.35. Not so with a Road Runner. Chrysler’s indestructible iron-case A833 four-speed was standard issue, with the crispshifting 727 Torqueflite available for a paltry $39.30. And, of course, there was that horn: meep-meep! We spotted this tired but save-able Beeper in the long-term storage lot next to George’s Garage in Cranbury, New Jersey. It’s likely this bit of prime muscle is safe from the crusher, but outdoor storage isn’t helping to preserve what’s left. Junkyard Crawl isn’t a classified ad service, but maybe somebody should Google the location and see if George wants to cut it loose.

Above: Inside, the stick-specific transmission-tunnel configuration is still pristine. Often, manual-transmission Road Runner shift humps get sliced open to accommodate in-line shifters. The absence of inner seat anchor pads and welded-on support bands tell us it was built with a bench seat and no center console.

GROOVY FACTOIDS The 225 Slant Six became the Road Runner’s standard engine in 1979. By that date, the host vehicle was the Plymouth Volare. It’s cousin, the Dodge Aspen R/T, was also offered with the Slant Six in 1979.

Here’s a 1968 Road Runner without the feathers. Its original buyer wanted the Road Runner’s mechanicals, but not its hood, horn, cartoon image, and stickers. This ultrarare 1968 Belvedere post sedan (VIN RL21H8G256608) was factory built with the 383 hi-po and four-speed stick. Though set up for drag racing when spotted at BarrettJackson’s 2017 Florida event, it deserves a stock restoration. It’s weird and cool!


WTF? (Where’s The Fun?)


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Who: Rick Krueger What: 1968 Ford Mustang Where: Lyons, KS Why: Rick’s Mustang is the product of an extensive, 10-year home restoration. We dig the 460 power, AOD transmission, and fat Mickey Thompson tires out back. There is plenty of custom work too, including one-piece glass in the doors, rollcage, and an S197 grille modified to fit the older car’s shape. Rick did all the work at home, except for the transmission build and paint job. Parked next to his wife’s 2006 Mustang, it shows two of the most iconic Mustang shapes throughout the generations.

PIG PEN 55 Who: Gary Cook What: 1955 Chevy Where: Salem, MO Why: We had to read his sentence twice—Gary says he bought this car in the 1980s for $25 out of a hog lot. We’re not sure what’s more surprising, the price or that it was stored in a pigpen! Either way, it goes to show that you can find a deal anywhere. Gary fixed the car up and had it on the road in 2015. The engine is a 383 backed by a TH200 4R transmission. We love the vibe and dare say he made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.


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WTF? HOT OFF THE PRESSES! Car Craft contributor and Pontiac fanatic/guru Rocky Rotella wrote a comprehensive book about Pontiac’s second-generation Firebird and Trans Am cars, and it has just been released. The book chronicles the history of the “other” F-car, from concept models through the end of its production in 1981. Typical of his work, this 220-page tome offers incredible detail of year-to-year changes and variations among the different models and trim options. He also worked closely with Pontiac engineers to provide firsthand information about the development and production of these iconic cars. This book is a must-have for the Pontiac enthusiast. Available from or by calling CarTech at 800/551-4754.


“I like smoking the tires on my 2010 Mustang.” —Jake Schriver, Festus, MO

➔SEND STUFF TO CAR CRAFT! We need more pictures of Burnouts, please. While you’re at it, send any of your compliments, complaints, random musings, or pet pictures to us. Here’s how: email: online:

social media: CarCraftMag mail: 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 disclaimer: If you can’t write a complete sentence, don’t worry, we will make your work comprehensible.

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CAR CRAFT (ISSN 0008-6010); June 2018, Vol. 66, No. 6. Copyright 2018 by TEN: Publishing Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Published monthly by TEN: Publishing Media, LLC, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to Car Craft, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Subscription rates for 1 year (12 issues): U.S., APO, FPO and U.S. Possessions $20.00. Canada $32.00. All other countries $44.00 (for surface mail postage). Payment in advance, U.S. funds only. For subscription inquiries please email carcraft@, call 800/800-7697 (386/447-6385, international), or write to Car Craft, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Six weeks’ notice is required to change a subscriber’s address. Please give both old and new addresses and label.

By Thomas Voehringer / Photos: Car Craft Archives

When the Ford Mustang was introduced, there was no shortage of exuberance from every racing discipline. While it showed up at nearly every racing event from dragstrips to salt flats, it was the road courses that would really pushed the brand. Jerry Titus, editor of Car Craft’s sister publication, Sport Car Graphic, was a hands-on guy and no stranger to the road-racing winner’s circle. Though he piloted Cheetahs, Elvas, and Porsches for years, his winning streak really picked up behind the wheel of Shelby-prepared Mustangs as part of the Terlingua Racing Team. In his second major event, the Sebring 4 Hour, he not only won but absolutely dominated the competition that included the Camaros of Dick Guldstrand and Mark Donohue and the Cougars of Parnelli Jones and Dan Gurney. Titus grabbed pole position and, once underway, relinquished the lead to Jones only while pitting. The Camaros and Cougars may have had the superstar drivers, but they lacked handling and/or durability. Carroll Shelby understood the Chevys had a horsepower advantage, which they would use in the straights, but foundered in the corners. The stiffer Shelby American Mustang suspension setup allowed Titus to enter and hold the corners at a higher speed. Most of the big-name drivers had dropped out before the finish. Donohue fought long and hard, running with no front brakes for most of the race. In doing so, he secured a solid Second Place, coming in more than 2 minutes after Titus crossed the finish line. Titus went on to more wins with Mustangs before moving to the Pontiac Firebird in 1969, when his winning streak all but ended.



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Registration â&#x20AC;¢ Test & Tune Atlanta Dragway Atlanta,GA

Day 1 Atlanta Dragway Atlanta,GA

Day 2 Darlington Dragway Darlington,SC

Day 3 zMAX Dragway Concord,NC

Day 4 BristolMotor Speedway Bristol,TN

Finals Day Atlanta Dragway Atlanta,GA


Phoenix, Arizona