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Sin City Sensation

A stunning, show winning "T/A" act you can't catch on the Las Vegas strip

Jesse L. Freeman, III Jul 21, 2004

In actuality, outside of these pages you'll be hard pressed to catch this Trans Am at all. You'll either have to find this gorgeous Bird at a stoplight or maybe at the dragstrip. Twenty-year-old UNLV college student Chase Johnson--sounds like a futuristic superhero spaceman doesn't it?--began his interest in cars when his older brother bought a '94 Z28.

Sadly, our hero Chase couldn't afford something as potent for a first car and had to settle for a '90 Nissan 240SX. "It got me from point A to point B, but wasn't too bad for a first vehicle. My obsession with cars began when I bought my first F-Body, a black, pristine 1995 Pontiac Trans Am. This is when I met David Parenti and he introduced me to the Las Vegas F-Body Association. At the time it was very small, but it has grown into probably the largest F-Body club west of the Mississippi."

As nice as the LT1 Bird was, the Las Vegas native always wanted an LS1 T/A--a far more fitting machine for the man known as Chase Johnson--business management major. Chase admits, "What I like most about the Trans Am is the bang for the buck value, and the highly aggressive stance and front end of the WS6." So when the timing and savings were right, a 'pre-owned' black '99 WS6 with a six-speed on the floor and only 12,000 miles on the clock was picked up in November 2001.

Then it began: the cravings. The wide-eyed monster to push the envelope just a little bit further. Being a member of LVFBODY greatly enhanced the F-body performance knowledge of Chase. Soon, Chase Johnson--captain of industry--picked up on the F-body lingo and began to comprehend how the performance machine we know as MUSCLECAR actually works. Using these highly refined skills he began to lay out his plans for more power and better handling.

LS1s are rather stout from the factory. Even so, Chase's relatively stock appearing engine bay hides modest improvements such as a ported throttle body and a gaseous steroid--nitrous. Handling and braking performance is like whoa with Baer GT+ 13-inch front rotors, Eibach Pro-Kit springs, QA1 12-way shocks, and BMR adjustable panhard bar, relocation brackets, lower control arms, and subframe connectors.

But then it happened. BAM! Some lowly scrub rear ends Chase Johnson--future businessman millionaire--one day on the way to school. Figuring that Lady Luck was smiling at him, CJ decided it was as good as any time to do something about that black paint. So the then-new Corvette Electron Blue Metallic was done by Falconi's Body Shop. Like deja vu, Chase was involved in another minor fender bender almost one year to the date. Recognizing the good fortune in getting front-end damage this time Chase shares, "This was also a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to get an awesome flame job. The custom job was done by Fantastic Finishes, then I came across a set of very expensive HRE wheels for a reasonable price, so I had to pick those up."

Admirable is Chase's attention to exterior detail by making this a distinctive T/A without being gaudy. Johnson has carefully selected his modifications rather than throwing every modification cliche at his ride. Massive 4-inch Big Wazoo polished stainless exhaust tips, blue 30th Anniversary T/A WS6 badges, and highly polished aluminum Pontiac inserts set it off in the rear. If you've spent any decent time in Las Vegas you know the sun is brutal on car interiors, hence, the limo-dark window tint.

Last but surely not least is the oomph-oomph! An ADS 1000-watt amp perched in a custom amp rack and ADS plexiglass cover keep the party going all night long. Viva Las Vegas! The system does its magic through a Zapco equalizer, ADS component speakers, a JL Audio 10-inch subwoofer and Stealthbox enclosure, Sony head unit and 10-disc CD changer. And for those thinking they can have this same ride using the five-finger discount, he's also got an alarm system with satellite paging technology.

At time of print, CJ has only racked up 43,000 miles on this gorgeous daily driver. With the anticipation of a Combination Motorsports Stage II heads and cam package, F.A.S.T. LSX intake and 9-inch Moser, this T/A will be an even harder act to follow.

9

Bright Lights, Big City...gone to Chase's head! On just motor, with the aid of factory 3.42 gears, the 3700-pound T/A can knock off 13.1 at 107mph at the Vegas Motor Speedway. Mix in some nitrous and he's accomplished a best of 12.4 at 117--at a 2200-foot elevation.

While not the brightest part of a fire's flame, blue is the hottest part and this '99 Firebird T/A proves it. Corvette Electron Blue Metallic and Ferrari Azzurro California Blue flames tastefully contrast the HPA Performance billet hood scoop inserts.

Save for the Sony stereo system, Chase and three passengers enjoy the factory creature comforts. Beneath the center console lies a Pro 5.0 shifter and ACPT carbon fiber driveshaft. Notice the thorough door jam repaint on this factory black T/A.

One day it's a Whisper lid, K&N filter, and free power mods. The next day it's a 100-shot TNT F1 nitrous kit, a slightly ported and smoothed throttle body, NGK TR6 plugs, an ASP underdrive crank pulley, a manual override switch for the fan, and a 160-degree thermostat. With the TTS long-tube headers, 2.5-inch Y-pipe, and cutout for interchanging with race pipes or cats, these mods are still good for 25mpg and a respectable 340rwhp and 355rwtq on motor alone. Opening the bottle of secret sauce catapulted those numbers to 450 and 480, respectively.

High roller bling-bling is courtesy of Afterthoughtsauto.com chrome dipped vent covers, Baer 13-inch rotors, and HRE 18s. To be specific he's sporting 547R 18x9.5-inch up front and 18x10.5-inch in the rear, wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sports, 275/35/18 and 295/35/18, respectively. These mods, in addition to the paint, were good enough to capture a 2nd Place win at the '02 SLP show and Best of Show at the '03 LVFBODY invasion.

Blue's Clues. What's low slung, gorgeous, fast and wears a pair of 4-inch Big Wazoos far better than any '90 Nissan 240SX?

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