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2002 Pontiac Trans Am - Miami Vice

Cruising South Beach In An Ultra-Rare 600+HP Drop-Top TA

Justin Cesler Sep 1, 2009
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Driving through South Beach, it seems easy to become numb to the plethora of "me too," six-figure supercars. After hearing "Hey, did you see that Ferrari?" and "Wow, look at that Lambo!" for the twentieth time, it almost became mundane. It was in this moment of supercar boredom that I first saw Alcides Martinez's '02 Trans Am and I was immediately reminded what it means to be truly unique. You see, anyone can go out and lease an Italian supercar and feel special, right up until another one pulls next to them at a stoplight. To really stand out, you have to dedicate yourself to a project, make it your own and build it for yourself, instead of for the masses. For Alcides, this Trans Am is more than just another car, it is an expression of himself and his goals. "I wanted to be unique, so I made it my goal to have a built motor, turbocharged, full street, full accessory, 1-of-9 Maple Red Metallic 2002 Trans Am."

Of course, the first step was to find the right car and for Alcides that meant waiting. "I was obsessed with the LS1 Trans Ams. It started when I worked at a local Pontiac dealer as a salesman. Though I drove them often, they represented to me both the car I wanted and also the car I couldn't have, since I couldn't afford one." After years of hard work, Alcides was finally able to buy his 2002 Trans Am, which "was a great personal achievement in my mid-20s. I was looking for an '02 WS6, but this car was a much better deal. I did not want a convertible at the time but I am very happy that I bought it now. However, I almost immediately wanted it to be faster." And so, like many others before him, the quest for horsepower began.

Starting in the engine bay, as air is sucked into the Turbonetics T-76 GTQ turbocharger, it is quickly compressed to 16 pounds of boost and sent through a custom-fabricated front-mount intercooler. As the air is mechanically chilled, Alcides is also chemically cooling it, using a Snow Stage 2 progressive methanol injection system. This Snow meth kit keeps everything safe on pump gas and allows the car to make 611 rear-wheel horsepower during everyday abuse. Directly after the Methanol nozzle is the stock LS6 throttle body, which opens to allow the mixture to enter a stock LS6 intake manifold. Sitting atop the manifold is a set of Mototron 60-pound injectors wedged in a pair of Aeromotive fuel rails and fed by twin, in-tank Walbro fuel pumps.

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Of course, with this much boost on tap, Alcides has rebuilt the bottom end of his LS1 using a set of Mahle -15cc dished pistons wrapped in a Mahle ring set. In charge of transferring power to the LS6 crankshaft is a set of Cat Power 6.125-inch H-beam rods, which make sure that everything stays where it belongs. Sitting just above the crankshaft is a Comp Cams 224/228 duration, 0.581/0.588-inch lift camshaft with a boost-friendly 116 LSA, which is turned by a Comp Cams Hi-Tech roller timing chain. A set of Thunder Racing 7.400-inch pushrods actuate the valves inside the LQ9 6.0L cylinder heads, which are clenched to the block using a set of ARP head studs.

As the engine consumes all of this air, it sends the spent gasses down a pair of Pro Turbo Systems tubular manifolds, past the turbocharger and out a 3-inch downpipe into a modified SLP Loudmouth exhaust. A Turbosmart Pro-Gate 38mm wastegate manages boost, taking instructions from a matching Turbosmart manual boost controller. All of the tuning is done using a stock PCM, which has been converted to run on speed density using a GM 2 bar map sensor. Masport Speed Shop of Boca Raton, FL, is in charge of tuning, and according to Aclides the car runs perfectly.

In order for the drivetrain to keep up with the engine, Alcides had Six Speeds Inc. build him a Stage IV T56, which is turned by a Textralia Exo-Skel twin-disc clutch. With the transmission in gear, power is transferred down a heavy-duty driveshaft, from Exotic Performance Plus, to a Moser 12-bolt stuffed with a 3.42 gear and 30-spline axles. Power is then sent to a pair of 275/40/17 Nitto drag radials, which are mounted on a set of gloss black, 17x9.5 Grand Sport replica wheels. "My suspension is also set up for great launches with minimal wheelspin. From Second gear onward, the gears come quick and the turbo is fully spooled by 3,500rpm." To accomplish this, Alcides selected some of the nicest parts BMR has to offer, including its Xtreme adjustable torque arm, welded subframe connectors, adjustable Panhard, and lower control arms. Ride height was determined by a set of BMR lowering springs, which are wrapped around a set of Koni single adjustable shocks. "With the BMR springs and Koni shocks, my car handles great for its size and weight." The only thing Alcides won't be doing is a cage, "My car is meant for fun on the street and it is not caged, nor will it be."

"My favorite part is the sound of the exhaust, the sound of the Turbosmart MegaSonic blow-off valve dumping boost and the acceleration and sounds with the top down." Driving around Miami with Alcides, it was refreshing to see people look through the sea of Porsches and notice this Maple Red Metallic Trans Am. Of course, while beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, speed is not. And in case any of the would-be "me-too" supercars want to find out what rare really sounds like; Alcides says he is always ready.

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