To fully appreciate Kevin Brueggeman's '89 Firebird Formula, it is important to step back in time to remember where this car came from. In 1989, Motorola introduced the first "pocket sized cellular telephone," a device that boasted an eight-character dot-matrix display and promised to revolutionize the world. It was also the year of the Game Boy, a personal 8-bit video game platform with "cutting-edge" graphics, the first ever full-length episode of The Simpsons, the first episode of Seinfeld, and the launch of the first GPS satellite, which were then only used for scientific and military operations. More importantly, 1989 was the year Kevin turned 16 and the year he got his first car, a brand-new Firebird Formula 350, a gift from his loving parents. Fast forward 21 years and we have the iPhone, a device much smaller than that first Motorola, capable of streaming the The Simpsons 456th episode while downloading a Game Boy emulator app and Facebooking your current location to all of your friends in real time. Yeah, times have changed and most of us look back on those things as just a distant memory. But what if you could take a classic icon of the past and put a new spin on it? Kevin Brueggeman and the masters at Hawks Third Generation decided to do just that and the results are incredible.
"My car is 'the one that never got away.' It was a full bolt-on car in high school and I had a 383 built in '93." Unfortunately it wasn't long after building his engine that life got in the way of Kevin's project and, like most of us, midway through college he ran out of both time and money. "The car sat for eight or nine years. I was pressured to sell it a few times and I had to move it from one garage to another for a few years." In 2004, after graduating college and getting some money saved up, Kevin finally managed to start back on his first love, getting it back up and running, but never to the same standard he seemed to remember from back in the day. "I started looking at new muscle cars but decided to spend the money on my Formula instead. I had seen a few well-built third-gens done by Bruce at Hawks Third Generation. After a couple of phone calls, I shipped the car to them." And believe it or not, Kevin didn't once visit the Hawks facility until the day he came to pick up the car!
According to Steven Woods of Hawks, "the car ran pretty well when it got to our shop but Kevin really wanted to build something special. We started by removing the 383 and transmission and, with Kevin's permission, selling most of the parts to help fund the rest of his build." With the car torn down, the Hawks crew started with the undercarriage, prepping it for a modern LS1 powerplant and T56 transmission. "At first we were just going to yank the 383 and install an LS1, but that plan changed as we got further along in the build." What started as a stock LS1 quickly turned into a Magnuson-supercharged LS1, an engine capable of producing well over 500-rear-wheel horsepower. Before sliding the new engine into the engine bay, the crew at Hawks began prepping the chassis for its new heart, starting with modifying the existing K-member to fit the LS1 and a new A/C compressor. With the hard parts complete, the crew began swapping over the fuel system, adding a Racetronix fuel pump kit and wiring harness along with a Hawks proprietary fuel regulator system, which would allow for a factory-style install of the new engine. As for the LS1 itself, it was left relatively untouched, although a new boost-friendly camshaft as well as a ported and polished throttle body did manage to find their way onto the supercharged engine before the final install. Once in place, Hawks slid a pair of its own 1.75-inch long-tube headers, which couple to a custom 4-inch single exhaust for a stealthy look and a menacing sound.