A Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine system leads the charge and lines up the polished ancillaries via a Goodyear Gatorback belt, while an AutoRad core support, closeout panel, and aluminum radiator armed with dual Viper fans keep the engine temps in check.
After Dan worked his magic on the firewall, Mike Henn and Kevin Jenkins installed the engine, electrical, and plumbing. Dan massaged the inner fenders then doused the engine bay in Toyota Dark Gray metallic with satin finish. He tied in some tasty nuances including custom spark plug wire/puke tank brackets then inconspicuously relocated the coil packs to the firewall. DSE fender braces and Billet Specialties hood hinges complement the scene.
A Tremec TKO transmission and McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch ably handle shifting duties, while twist makes its way to a Spraker Racing-assembled Dana 12-bolt rearend housing and limited slip armed with 3.73 cogs.
With the "snowball effect" in full swing, Pete knew the modestly upgraded suspension was a less-than-stellar candidate to handle the car's newfound horsepower. Dan wrote the prescription for a Detroit Speed Inc, suspension setup and doctored in the healthy concoction. A DSE subframe was bolted in up front along with DSE's QUADRALink suspension system out back. Double adjustable JRi coilover shocks reside on all four corners. Baer six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors handle stopping duties up front while Baer four-piston grabbers and 13-inch rotors do diligence out back. While at it, Dan heated in a set of DSE subframe connectors to further stiffen the chassis. BFG KDW rubber (275/35-18 front, 335/30-18 rear) wrap around a set of Budnik Cobalt rims (18x10 front, 18x12 rear).
Drawing from the Pro Touring template, the interior is a stellar example of form and function featuring a custom production performed by Hot Rod Interiors by Chuck. The one-off door panels and carbon-fiber center console solidify the sporty/luxury motif commonly found in today's muscle car builds. Race-inspired black leather Recaro seats set the scene for the interior and the DSE rollbar offers additional safety and chassis stiffness. Reminiscent of a P-51 cockpit, the gauge panel is populated with a plethora of informants, including white-faced Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges and an LED shift light. A Flaming River polished steering column topped by a black leather wrapped Flaming River D steering wheel provides course navigation while a Vintage Air A/C system ensures a comfy captain's quarters.
Freeman's Car Stereo installed an Alpine CDA-9857 head unit, which conducts the tunes through a 1,200-watt amp and quad assemblage of flush-mounted speakers (MB Quart 5-inchers up front, and 6x9s in the rear).
With the NRE Alien intake's additional height requirements, an AMD 4-inch cowl hood was called upon to provide the necessary clearance. Dan modified the cowl opening for additional race flavor then aligned and fit it to perfection.
Although Pete admits to embarking on an unforeseen three-year journey of letdowns and buildups, it was a trip worth taking. "This car is now the perfect balance of performance and show quality in which I take great pride," said Pete. "It gets driven on a weekly basis, and also sees a good amount of track time."
To this day Pete claims the most memorable experience was testing the car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We got to spend half a day tuning the car's suspension on the big track and the infield road course. I never dreamed of having such an opportunity."
So what would he do different if given a second chance? "A few things come to mind," said Pete. "I'd start off with a car that wasn't quite so finished, hire an appraiser to look the car over, and next—and quite possibly most importantly—I'd tell my wife about purchasing the car before telling my daughter. Things just tend to work better that way."