LS1TECH - Camaro and Firebird Forum Discussion

LS1TECH - Camaro and Firebird Forum Discussion (
-   Drag Racing Tech (
-   -   1995 Firebird 4.8L Street/Strip Turbo Project (

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:15 PM

1995 Firebird 4.8L Street/Strip Turbo Project
10 Attachment(s)
In the Winter of 2007, I decided that I wanted to purchase another Firebird to build into a Street/Strip car. Something that was a little more of a dedicated race car than my 2000 Trans Am. In March of 2007, I found a 1995 Firebird V6 car on Ebay for $1,000. It had over 157,000 miles on it, still ran, was a hardtop & came with a rebuilt title. Since I knew I was going to be gutting the car, this was the perfect candidate. The car was in the Louisville, KY, area, so I got in touch with a transporter service to pick up and deliver the car to me in Central Indiana. For just over $200.00, they picked up the car and delivered it straight to my house on March 23, 2007. The delivery driver unloaded the car, and I drove it to the entrance of the alley behind my house where it died on me. The battery was not holding a charge just like the delivery driver said, but I thought maybe it would have just enough juice to get it into my driveway. Luckily, a couple of my neighbors came over and helped me push it the 50 feet I lacked from making it to the driveway. That is the last time the car ran under its own power until November 2010.

The car was originally sold new at a Ed Martin Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Carmel, IN. Somewhere along the way in its early life, it was wrecked & received the salvaged title. It also made its way out of state to Kentucky where the person I bought it from had owned it for the previous ten years. When they purchased the car, it only had 5,240 miles on it and already had the wrecked salvage title. They used it as their daily driver & as a maid service vehicle. The decals were still on the doors when I bought the car. The interior was in great shape, but it had an overpowering clean smell to it. Both airbags had previously deployed, and were never replaced. I assume they were never replaced after the first crash that deemed the car salvaged.

Photo #1-3 & 6: These are the photographs that the previous owner had posted in the ebay auction for the car.

Photo #5: The evening of March 23, 2007, when the car arrived at my house.

Photo #6: The photo on the auction was "Tweety Bird floor mat free". Not sure why they sent them along with the car (see more on that later on).

Photo #7: I took this photo the morning after the car arrived at my house.

Photo #8: Obviously a red Firebird was the source of the headlight after the accident.

Photo #9: The car spent part of its life as a maid service vehicle.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:16 PM

5 Attachment(s)
More photos from the car's arrival....

The car was assembled on the St. Therese, Quebec, Canada, assembly line on August 8, 1994.

Photo #1: I know...I know...the first thing you see in this photo are those ghastly Tweetie Bird floor mats.

Photo #2: Deployed airbag "reinsertion" into the steering wheel by a previous owner.

Photo #4 & 5: The transformation from plain ol' "Firebird" to Firebird "Trans Am" begins....

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:19 PM

10 Attachment(s)
The first major change I made to the car was to convert it to a 98-02 "Trans Am". I never was a fan of the front end styling on the 93-37 Firebirds & Formulas, so
I knew even before the car arrived at my house that the front end was going to be swapped. I sourced all of the components used on Ebay except for the front
bumper cover. I tried several salvage yards & got the same answer as well. Nobody had any used front bumper covers because if you think about it that's usually
what gets destroyed on the car in a wreck. So, I coughed up the dough and bought a new one from GM. The front driver's-side fender & both headlights came off of a
base Firebird. I know this because I had to drill the holes in the fender for the ground effects. The hood was a used on that I bought online (and later replaced with
the original one from my 2000 Trans Am). The passenger-side fender was a taiwan knock-off, and it fits like crap. The front license plate cover & ground effects
came from a silver Trans Am, and the rear bumper cover came from a Pewter WS6 Trans Am. I bought both LS-era honeycomb tailights from two separate sellers on
ebay. The plastic fender vents and "Trans Am" door emblems were new GM pieces.

I was able to reuse the plastic wheel well liners & the plastic under the front bumper cover after redrilling new mounting holes. A few of the body panel mounting
brackets were reusuable, but all the other brackets I sourced new from GM.

I was able to find a buyer for the factory 1995 Firebird front end through Ebay, and even threw in the back bumper cover. He drove up from Southern Indiana & met me
halfway to pick it up.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:21 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More front-end conversion pics...

One of the hardest things to get right was the alignment between the hood and the two headlight doors. It was a very time-consuming process.

Photo #5: The packaging did an excellent job of hiding a hood that was in poor shape. In December 2010, I ordered a flat extended pin-on hood from VFN Fiberglass. I already had deleted the wipers when the cowl was trimmed, so this will make a sleek appearance.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:23 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Front end conversion pics continued....

Photo #1: Deleted the antenna hole while I was at it.

Photo #8: That little black plastic vent piece got tossed in the trash....weight reduction.

Photo #10: The pewter metallic rear bumper cover came off of a WS6 Trans Am. I know this because the residue from the WS6 emblem was still on the bumper cover.

For the record, I think the stock Firebird wheels that came on the car look horrible. I have never liked them. (Summer 2015: Sat the wheels/tires out for the "alley rats" to pick up.)

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:24 PM

5 Attachment(s)
The last of the front end conversion pics...

Photo #1: The only new body panel that I bought was the front bumper cover. It came in the big box. Hell, I ordered and paid for it a day before the car arrived at the house. The GM part number is #12335523 and cost me $481.63.

Photo #2: This package leaves little to the imagination....maybe a fender perhaps?

Photo #3 & 4: I drilled holes in the rocker panel for the Trans Am ground effects. Before pushing the clips into the body, I applied silicone to help hold them and seal up the bare metal. I still ended up drilling through the front of the ground effects in a couple of places in order to get a better fit. Then I just applied bondo over the screw heads.

Photo #5: The "Trans Am" door emblems were new GM pieces that I purchased on ebay.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:27 PM

10 Attachment(s)
While I gathered the many new parts I would be installing on the car, I also began removing & reselling parts that I would
no longer need for the project. I did the major interior gutting in May 2007. My town has an annual "city wide clean up"
in May of each year, and that's the time to get rid of all the stuff that you can't sit out at the curb for regular trash pick up.
The seats were still in good shape, but their size, weight & shape detracted from me attempting to sell them on the internet.
This was either before Craigslist became big or before I'd heard of it, or I might have tried to sell them there. Anyway, they
went out with the trash. The carpeting had that overpowering cleaner smell & had been damp near the driver's-side window
due to a poor-fitting seal, so that got tosses too. This was also a fantastic time to gut the dash of all the HVAC components,
airbag components & all the associated wiring that I would no longer be needing. It's amazing how much stuff can be tossed
from these cars. I filled up the bed of my truck with all of it. What's crazy is this still isn't all of the stuff that I'll be removing
from the car.

I know you're wondering, and the answer is YES! The Tweety Bird floor mats got tossed too.

Photo #1: Almost all the yellow in the photo is air bag wiring that got tossed.

Photo #7: There is certainly a lot of stuff related to the HVAC.

MONEY SAVING TIP: If I had known at the time, I wouldn't have thrown all of the wiring away. Later on in the build, I discovered a nearby scrap place that would purchase the wiring. I know I've gotten over $20 back from the wiring that I have taken to them for scrap. I know it's not a lot, but every little bit helps when you're on a budget.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:30 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More interior gutting...

Photo #1: I sold the factory center console either on here or ebay.

Photo #7-10: All stuff that got tossed.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:31 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Last of the interior gutting pics...

Photo #1: Both the radio and HVAC were sold on ebay. If I remember correctly, they both went overseas.

Photo #2: HVAC ducting from behind the dash. It went in the trash.

Photo #3: A box full of HVAC components from behind the dash that also got tossed.

Photo #4: Everything that is sitting on the ground in this photo went to the trash.

Photo #5: I made a scrap run to a scrap place nearby my work, and netted $90.00 for all of the stuff shown in the photo plus the V6 engine & transmission. I had over 500 pounds of stuff.

Photo #6-8: I'm thinking this stuff along with photo #5 might have went to the landfill rather than the scrap place. The reason I say that is because I remember hauling the steel gas tank to the city wide clean-up, and I left it on top of the pile in plain site. They didn't question it, so I got to toss it.

Photo #9: The interior trim for the hatch. I kept it around for a very long time & tried a few times to sell it. After being unsuccessful at doing that, I tossed it out during a cleaning episode in the house :)

Photo #10: The air box & ducting, the belt tensioner & the throttle body were all sold off of the V6 on ebay.

Money Saving Tip: Keep anything that you can't resell that happens to be metal. I'm sure you can find a nearby scrap place in your area. The one I go to isn't close to home, but isn't too far from work. I load up the truck and haul it with me on my way to work, and then stop by the scrap place on my way home. I threw away a lot of metal that I could have sold for scrap....Live and learn as they say.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:35 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Since I'm doing this build thread a few years after the build started, I will apologize in advance for anything that is out of order chronologically. I
took the time to photograph all the progress, but didn't really jot down the dates on everything I did. Some of it I remember, and some of it I

Since I knew I was going to be redoing a lot of the suspension components, I contacted Ryan at UMI Performance. He set me up with almost
everything I needed for the project. Subframe connecters with integrated body mount torque arm, panhard bar, lower control arms, upper A-arms &
even valve cover spacers (more on that later). At the time of this install, they didn't offer a drag bar. Therefore, my drag bar is a BMR piece that I bought
used on ls1tech. Since I was swapping for V8 power and not using a modern transmission, I went with the body-mounted torque arm. At this
time I was considering going with a basic Chevy 350. Later you'll see I thought better of it and went with an LS powerplant.

Photo #3: This literally scared the crap out of me. While compressing the spring, it made a sudden move and ended up being very close to slipping out of
the spring compressor. Not only was I worried for my own safety, but this is a few feet from where my '00 Trans Am is parked. Luckily, it didn't and I was
able to swap out the springs. The springs are used Eibach pieces that I bought on ebay. Might have been due to the low-buck Harbor Freight compressor that
I bought for this project. Later I needed one of the threaded rods for another project, so the rest of it hit the scrap pile.

Photo #8: This is a used RPO J65 10 bolt that I bought in July 2009. It's got 3.73 gears in it, and the previous owner had it gone through for his 2001 Trans Am Drag Car.
It was too good a deal to pass up, so flame me for keeping a 10 bolt in it if you want. The factory 93-97 RPO J41 rear end out of the car was just an open rear end....I don't
wanna do no one wheel peel! :)

Photo #9: This photo shows the ground clearance difference between my stock height '00 Trans Am versus the '95 with the Eibach springs.

Photo #10: As of December 2010, this is a current photo of my rear suspension.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:37 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More suspension pics...

The rear transmission mount bracket (V6 one shown in photo #10 below) that I used for the TH400 Transmission is just a factory LT1-era T-56 transmission bracket. Other than the 1" spacer that I welded onto it, the mounting hole lines up perfectly with the TH400. I sourced this bracket used on ebay.

Photo #7 & 8: I needed these Adjustable UMI Performance Upper A-Arms to correct the camber on the car. The factory adjustment "slots" on the lower A-arm bolts were not enough to correct the severe toe out.

Photo #8: The car still had the factory upper ball joints which are riveted on. The upper A-arm and factory ball joint had so much rust on them that there was no way they were going to come off without a fight. I deemed it not worth it, and picked up a new set of upper ball joints at a nearby O'Reilly Auto Parts. Factory A-Arms will probably be tossed for scrap.

Photo #9: The thought occurred to me while installing the subframe connectors that I might run into alignment issues regarding the bolt holes. With the car having been in a wreck well before I bought it, I thought I might have difficulty somewhere during the subframe connector install. Luckily, no major issues to report.

UMI Performance parts list:

#2310-R: 93-02 GM F-Body Upper Front A-Arms (Rod Ends)-Red
#2302: 93-02 GM F-Body Upper A-Arm Hardware Kit
#2016: 82-02 GM F-Body Single Adjustable Lower Control Arms
#2023-R: 82-02 GM F-Body Tubular Double Adjustable Chrome Moly Panhard Bar-Red
#3003: 82-02 GM F-Body Rear Torque Arm Bolts
#2203-R: 93-02 GM F-Body Tunnel Mounted Torque Arm-LT Headers w/ Loop-Red
#2011: 82-02 GM F-Body Lower Control Arm Relocation Brackets (Weld In)-Moser
#2004-R: 93-02 GM F-Body 3-Point Subframe Connectors-Bolt-In-Red
#2111: 1999-2004 LS1/LS6 1/2" Aluminum Valve Cover Spacers

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:39 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Last of the suspension pics...

Photo #5: The stock shocks were a huge treat to remove. One side came out like a breeze, but the other side was pure hell. The nut was fused to the shaft on the shock, and the shaft was turning instead of the nut when I put a wrench to it. I tried clamping vise grips onto the shock shaft without much success at first, but once the shaft started getting chewed up from the vise grips they started to bite. I still ended up using a reciprocating saw to cut the shaft. That was the only way to free the shock from the car.

I have the Competition Engineering 3 Way Adjustable Drag Shocks set on the 50/50 setting. After researching the subject on here, that was the hands-down preferred setting.

Photo #10: This is a good shot of the UMI Performance body-mounted torque arm mount. Just to the right of it in the photo is the driveshaft loop.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:42 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Just some random bodywork shots. I'm by no means a pro at it, but this "low-budget" build allowed me to practice the techniques.

Photo #2 & 6: The passenger-side fender was a Taiwan knock-off. You definitely get what you pay for as it fit like crap compared to the used OEM driver's-side

Photo #4 & 5: I trimmed the cowl back to the windshield to make working on the engine a little easier. It was also very helpful when I dropped the engine
in the car.

Photo #8-10: I deleted the factory gas access door on the driver's-side quarter panel. Fuel is now put in by popping the hatch and accessing the fuel cell.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:43 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More bodywork pics....

Photo #2: I decided to use the original hood that came off of my '00 Trans Am for this car. When the '00 Trans Am caught on fire, the hood was up. That still didn't keep it from scorching the paint on the hood and causing it to bubble up. I took it back down to bare metal, and fixed it with bondo.

Photo #5: The exterior door handles weren't yet body color in '95, so I primered over the black paint.

Photo #7: For the "finger hump" on the gas door, I cut a pie shape out of it. Then I hammered the hump flat & riveted it to the car after slathering the back with JB Weld.

Photo #8 & 9: Off comes "Firebird" and on goes "Trans Am".

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:46 PM

10 Attachment(s)
I did this paint job in March 2009. I wanted to do it before the bugs started reappearing for the year.
Plus, the temperatures are somewhat decent at this time of year....not too cold & not too hot.

In the July 2007 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, there is an article entitled "The $98 Paint Job". I had
forgotten about the article until being reminded of it in the April 2009 issue of Hot Rod.

Following the article, I sanded down the entire car with 300 grit sandpaper. Then it took three quarts
of Rustoleum Gloss White paint and Ace Hardware Mineral Spirits (paint thinner) to paint the car.
The Rustoleum was thinned down with about 40% Mineral Spirits, and that made the paint very thin.
The paint was applied with a 4" paint roller and high-density foam rollers. I used a new roller for each
coat of paint. For some of the hard to reach areas, I used small foam brushes. With the paint so thin,
it took six coats to finally get complete coverage. After every other coat, I wet-sanded the car with 500
grit sandpaper. The final wet-sanding of the car was done with 1500 grit.

I spray painted the door jambs, mirrors, side marker pockets, "Trans Am" script on the doors, "pontiac"
script on the rear bumper & the door handles with Wal-mart Color Place Gloss White spray paint. I will
also be painting the aluminum spoiler with the same white spray paint.

The rear CETA mod was painted with VHT Red Engine paint because I had it on hand from a previous

I had about $35.00 invested in the three quarts of paint and the jug of mineral spirits. Around twenty bucks
in the paint roller and foam rollers. The tape I bought on clearance at Meijer, so I probably had about five
bucks in tape. All the paper I used to mask off stuff were old Harbor Freight ads. I think the drop clothes
were about three bucks too (I cut one in half to lay underneath both sides of the car).

Prices for some of the supplies:

Foam Rollers $4.29 X 4 packages (8 rollers)--Meijer
300 Grit Sandpaper $4.99--Harbor Freight
500 Grit Sandpaper $2.59--Harbor Freight
1200 Grit Sandpaper $2.59--Harbor Freight
Foam Brushes $3.99--Harbor Freight
Disposable Paint Tray Liner $1.99 Harbor Freight
Disposable Paint Tray Liners $.99 X 3--Ace Hardware
120 oz jug of Ace Brand Paint Thinner (100% Mineral Spirits)--$8.49--Ace Hardware
Quart of Rustoleum Gloss White Paint $9.99--Ace Hardware
2 Quarts of Rustoleum Gloss White Paint $7.00 & change--Meijer
3M Polishing Compound $21.78--Napa
2 Rolls Masking Tape $.71 (clearance--regular $2.39)--Meijer

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:48 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More Rustoleum paint job pics....

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:50 PM

10 Attachment(s)
More paint job pics...

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:52 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Paint job continued...

Photo #3: Freshly wet-sanded & ready for polishing.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:55 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Continuation of paint job pics...

Photo #5, 5 & 10: There was some over spray and leakage behind the tape in some spots. Nothing that can't be touched up though.

Photo #8: You'll notice that I didn't paint the underside of the hood. I did that later on when I modified the underside of it. I kind of passed over that modification since I'm swapping the steel hood for a fiberglass VFN hood. Maybe I'll add a post later on of "past mods" that are no longer a part of the car.

y2k_ta 12-12-2010 01:57 PM

8 Attachment(s)
Last of the paint job pics...

Photo #1: Ok, so I didn't get the paint coverage done well in every area of the car. This area isn't too visible from a standing person's viewpoint, so it's not that big a deal to me. Besides, it's not a show car anyway.

Photo #2: There are a few paint dribbles like along the bottom of the headlight doors on a few other areas of the car. They aren't right in plain sight, so they're no biggy either.

Photo #4: The door handles and door locks were both black from the factory. I wanted body color door handles like the 98-02 'birds had, but didn't want to leave the door locks black (since the passenger-side lock was sprayed white during the accident repair). So, I just shot them with white spray paint too.

Photos #6 & 7: This issue of Hot Rod Magazine containing the "$98 Paint Job" article was the basis for my paint job.

Photo #8: Paint is polished and ready for decals.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:38 PM.

© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands