Brett Beasley's 1995 Trans Am
Brett had wanted an F-body ever since he started driving. But for this Trans Am project, he spent two years building the LT1 engine right, before he ever had the car to put it in.
"I decided to build the engine first, because I knew that it was going to take a while to get the parts together and get all the work done," Brett starts. "My goal was a high-compression, naturally aspirated motor that put out over 400 rear-wheel horsepower."
And just like he thought, having the LT1 block machined correctly "took forever." When all of the parts were purchased and the block was machined, Beasley had Tick Performance in Mount Airy, NC, assemble the short-block. Jonathan at Tick worked with Brett to iron out all of the LT1's details—and then it was time to build.
The LT1 block had been bored .060-over, to 4.060-inches, and upgraded from 2-bolt mains to a 4-bolt setup. Tick installed Eagle's 3.75-inch forged crank that, combined with the bigger bore, resulted in 388 cubic-inches. Eagle H-Beam rods and forged Wiseco pistons completed the rotating assembly. The short-block build "Couldn't have gone smoother," says Brett. "Jonathan and the whole crew were great to work with, kept me in the loop the whole time, and were fair and honest. I couldn't have asked for better service or a better job."
With the short-block done, Beasley turned to an old friend to handle the rest of the project. "I've known Adam at ARH Designs for 15 years, since high school. Going to him was a no-brainer as he does quality work. And before it was over, he'd touched every part on that car." At ARH, a Comp Cams bumpstick was matched with a set of ported, polished, and milled aluminum LT1 heads. The hogged-out castings simultaneously flow mad air, and help give the LT1 a whopping 12.5 to 1 compression ratio. Comp 1.6 rockers, an Advanced Induction manifold, and a 58mm Edelbrock throttle body round out the air mods; a new Opti, coil, box, wires, and plugs add some much-needed spark; and 39-pound injectors provide the fuel. A Melling oil pump and Canton pan keeping the mechanicals lubed up.
When the LT1 was fully assembled, Brett was finally ready to find a car to put it in. And who would have guessed that the recipient of that meticulously built engine had been sitting in a muddy yard for a year? After seeing this clean '95 Trans Am in person, not us. But apparently, the previous owner did lots of detailing and never drove it in the rain. According to Brett, "Even though it was just sitting and the engine was blown up, it was a really straight car with only 120,000 miles. I took a U-Haul trailer five hours to Virginia and picked it up for two grand cash. I replaced the hood and did a lot of cleaning, but it turned out good."
ARH got to work on the TA; once the engine bay was painted, the engine was dropped in. A six-speed trans, SPEC Stage 4 clutch, LS1 F-body driveshaft, and a 9-inch were installed. A high-flow fuel pump went in, a full exhaust system went on. Suspension improvements include lowering springs, 32mm front/21mm rear swaybars, and Corvette C5 rims wearing beefy Goodyears.
The TA was together—it was tune time. So Brett got with PCMforless of NC, who gave him a starter tune. After 500 miles, the TA was strapped down to PCMforless of NC's dyno. "Alvin did a great job with the tune. The car went from just under 400, to 442 rear-wheel horses and 450 lb-ft of torque when he was done. He wanted to get every bit of power out of it just like I did, and wouldn't quit ‘till he knew he got it all."
Brett tells us that despite the power, "I'm more into the looks of my car," and we can't blame him. A WS6 hood, the CETA rear bumper mod, and PPG paint consisting of 3 coats of base/2 coats of clear have given this once-abandoned F-body a shiny new lease on life.
While Beasley is still in the process of hooking up a custom wet 150-shot of nitrous—"Just something to get me up in the 550-rear-wheel horsepower range if I need it."—overall, he's very satisfied with how far his project has come. "I always wanted an F-body. Fast-forward 14 years later, I have a bad ass one. I love the slick, low look, and smooth front end going into a nice big wing in back. To me, there isn't another car out there that looks meaner coming down the road."
And he's very glad that he stayed the course when times got tough. "A couple times there, I almost wanted to sell everything and just say F it. But my buddy Ricky always talked me out of it, and told me ‘Just think about what you will have when it's done.' I'm glad I stuck with it!"
Data FileCAR: 1995 Trans Am
OWNER: Brett Beasley
BLOCK: LT1, 388 cid
COMPRESSION RATIO: 12.5:1
HEADS: LT1, ported and polished by LKN Speed, 1.94 intake, 1.56 exhaust valves
CAM: Comp Cams hydraulic, custom specs
ROCKER ARMS: Comp Cams, 1.6:1
PISTONS: Wiseco Pro Tru, forged
RINGS: Plasma moly
CRANKSHAFT: Eagle, forged 3.75-inch
RODS: Eagle H-Beam, 6-inch
THROTTLE BODY: Edelbrock 58mm
FUEL INJECTORS: Ford Racing 39 lb/hr
FUEL PUMP: Walbro 255lph
IGNITION: Delco Opti, MSD coil, box and wires, NGK plugs
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Stock,tuned by PCMforless of NC
POWER ADDER: Custom wet single-stage nitrous system, 150hp
EXHAUST SYSTEM: Hedman 1.75-inch headers, 3-inch SLP Loud Mouth, 4-inch dual tips
CLUTCH: Spec Stage 4
DRIVESHAFT: F-body aluminum/upgraded U-joints
FRONT SUSPENSION: Stock shocks, 2-inch lowering springs, 32mm swaybar
REAR SUSPENSION: Metco lower control arms, Competition Engineering adjustable drag shocks, QA1 1-inch lowering springs, 21mm swaybar, stock Panhard bar
REAR END: Quick Performance 9-inch, 3.90 gear, 31-spline Moser axles, Detroit Locker
BRAKES: Stock calipers, drilled and slotted rotors
WHEELS: C5 17x8.5 front, 18x9.5 rear
FRONT TIRES: Goodyear Eagle GT 255/40/17
REAR TIRES: Goodyear Eagle F1 285/40/18
HP/TQ: 442/450 (on motor)
Rick Bodziony's 1995 Camaro
In 2001, Cornelius, Rick Bodziony got this 1995 Camaro as a high school graduation present. It only had 38,000 miles on the clock, and had never been driven in the rain. Showing respect for the pristine F-body, Rick kept it stock for a few years. Any guesses about what happened next? It became a car show trailer queen. No people, this isn't a Mustang magazine. Rick modded the crap out of it? That's more like it.
"This is the first hot rod that is built the way I want," Rick explains. "I started with the bolt-ons, and after awhile that is never enough." Once he tired of mild mods, Bodziony had Tick Performance put together a budget-built 355. With mildly ported stock heads, it put down a respectable 379 rear-wheel horses. But that just wasn't good enough for a guy who "Wanted to have one of the baddest LT-powered nitrous Camaros around." So Ricky got with Jonathan and Johnny of Tick Performance, and the trio put a game plan together: This new LT engine would be high-compression and nitrous-fed. The preliminary power goal was 650 horses at the tire.
"I bought this motor from a guy in Kentucky. I took it down to a short-block because it was a solid roller with LT4 heads, and I wanted to make it my own combo. So basically we left the short-block and started from there." Just like Brett's engine, the short-block had a 4-bolt conversion, and a 4.060-inch bore and 3.75-inch forged crank for 388 cubes. Forged Eagle H-beam rods, and SRP pistons wearing Hellfire rings gapped for a 250-shot, complete the beefy bottom-end.
Tick Performance got to work finishing Rick's engine. A Tick-spec Comp Cams bumpstick was inserted, and it sends orders up to AFR 227 heads wearing offset 1.6-ratio rockers. The compression ratio, at 11:1, seems downright reasonable, before you consider the massive shot of juice planned. An LT4 intake manifold and 58mm throttle body were dropped on to let those big heads take deep breaths. And topping off the bottom, there's a Melling oil pump and a Canton oil pan.
For hotter spark, Rick upgraded to LS-style truck coils, with NGK plugs creating the spark. And to make sure he had more than enough fuel for this juiced engine, Rick added 44-pound Racetronix injectors and a bigger fuel pump. A full exhaust upgrade included headers, a custom X-pipe, and Boom Tube exhaust.
A full complement of UMI and QA1 suspension pieces were also bolted up, and huge 32mm front/25mm rear swaybars were added. 18 by 9.5-inch C5 rims wearing 275mm meats complete the handling upgrades.
Much like his buddy Brett's car, Rick's drivetrain also included the six-speed manual with Pro-5.0 shifter, SPEC's Stage 4 clutch, a bigger driveshaft, and a 9-inch rear end. But unlike his buddy's car, Rick strapped on the go-juice immediately: A two-stage wet system that's set at 250 horses, and a stand-alone fuel tank filled with high-octane C16 for when the nitrous is flowing. Bodziony turned to Alvin at PCMforless of NC to wire the system—and he went one step further by having Alvin swap out his stock PCM for a "411" PCM with a speed density conversion (using the EFI Connection 24x kit).
"Alvin was adamant about the 411 swap because of the tuning capabilities," Rick says. "When it was all done, I couldn't have been happier with it!" When the revitalized Camaro finally hit the PCMforless dyno, it squeezed out nearly 700 horses, and 690 pound-feet of torque at the wheels. "Tuning went well and it stayed together, so that's good," Rick laughs. "I'm running an FJO two-stage controller and bringing both stages in quickly. I haven't tested it on the track yet, but I will in the near future."
All in all, Rick is pretty pleased with the way things turned out. "I'm really happy with the way the Camaro is now," Bodziony says. "This was my first sports car, it was a high school graduation present that my dad cosigned for, and it's been an addiction ever since. I like the setup now—of course, we always want to go faster so who knows..."
Data FileCAR: 1995 Camaro
OWNER: Rick Bodziony
BLOCK: LT1, 388 cid
COMPRESSION RATIO: 11:1
HEADS: Airflow Research 227cc LT4, 2.10 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
CAM: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, custom specs by Tick Performance
ROCKER ARMS: Harland Sharp, 1.6:1
PISTONS: SRP, forged
RINGS: Sealed Power Hellfire
CRANKSHAFT: Eagle, forged 3.75-inch
RODS: Eagle H-Beam, 5.7-inch
THROTTLE BODY: Holley 58mm
FUEL INJECTORS: Racetronix 44 lb/hr
FUEL PUMP: Walbro 255lph
IGNITION: LS truck coil-near-plug, NGK 9 plugs
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: LS1 "411" speed density PCM, tuned by PCM of NC
POWER ADDER: Wet two-stage nitrous system, FJO controller, 250hp
EXHAUST SYSTEM: Hooker 1.75-inch headers, custom X-pipe, 3-inch Boom Tube exhaust
CLUTCH: Spec Stage 4
DRIVESHAFT: 3.5-inch, steel
FRONT SUSPENSION: UMI tubular upper and lower control arms, 32mm swaybar, QA1 single-adjustable coilovers
REAR SUSPENSION: UMI control arms, torque arm, Panhard bar and 25mm swaybar, QA1 single-adjustable shocks, BMR subframe connectors
REAR END: Moser 9-inch, 4.11 gears, 31-spline Moser axles, TrueTrac limited slip
BRAKES: C5 with two-piece rotors front, stock rear
WHEELS: C5 18x9.5 front and rear
FRONT TIRES: Riken Raptor 275/35/18
REAR TIRES: Riken Raptor 275/35/18
FUEL: 93-octane + C16 for nitrous enrichment