Right now, there are probably those of you in the know who are understandably scratching your head at the sight of the car on these pages. To the rest of you, it's just like any other '01 Sunset Orange Formula convertible. And that's exactly where you're wrong.
For starters, GM never produced a Formula convertible during the LS1 era, as they were only available as a hardtop coupe or T-top after the 1997 model year. Secondly, the Firehawk badge on the front bumper under the lip of the WS6 hood was applied later, after this car's rebuild. So by now you're probably trying to figure out what you're looking at in front of you. To answer those questions, you must first read on.
Being the owner and founder of Hawk's Third-Gen Performance for nearly the last twenty years, Bruce Hawkins has a whole host of parts (both new and used) and donor cars at his disposal. Starting out as your average Joe looking for more performance from his '82 Z28, today he can effectively build an entire 3rd- or 4th-Gen F-body (or twelve) from scratch using the donors he has at his facility. What he wanted was an LS-powered Formula convertible, however, with the coveted and now classic (too soon?) 1998-2002 styling. Since GM never actually built such an animal, Bruce had to create his own. Believe it or not, this car started out in life as a black 2000 Trans Am WS6 droptop, and since it had been previously wrecked, Bruce saw it as a perfect opportunity to create a very unique twist on the Firebird.
The first and most obvious task was replacing many of the Trans Am's body panels; such as the front and rear bumpers, and removing the side rocker panels. As all of you F-body gurus know, the Formula shared the same body as the standard V-6 Firebird; including the front and rear fasicas and the complete lack of side rocker panels; ala' ground effects. Then came a fresh coat of Sunset Orange Metallic (SOM) – probably the most adored of all 4th-Generation F-body hues. While SOM might not be on the top of everyone's list, there's no denying the significant "pop" that the metallic orange paint exudes under pretty much any kind of light you throw at it.
Bruce Hawkins Gives a WS6 T/A Convertible a Second Lease on Life
Since Bruce was already planning on making tons of reliable, but sreetable, horsepower, the original LS1 was removed and put on a shelf, while a 2004-spec LQ4 short block went in it's place. Starting with an already proven formula (see what we did there?), the LQ4 bottom end was topped off with a pair of AFR 225 heads that Hawkins himself ported for increased performance. Then a Hawks custom-grind camshaft specifically ground for boosted applications was slid into the block.
Not satisfied with a simple "head and cam" car, Bruce topped it off with a Roots-style Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger. What's that you say, a Roots-style blower doesn't fit under the cowl of a 4th-Gen? Au contrair, mon amie. Bruce went the extra mile, did his research, and fabricated what he needed to in order to fit the killer blower into place without making the car look like a hack-job built by some teenaged newb. And yes, the car does have functioning air conditioning and windshield wipers – it's a fully streetable and street legal machine. But he didn't stop there, oh no.
As Bruce tells us, he wanted the car to function 100%, just as it did the day it rolled off the assembly line. The only difference was that he wanted twice the power of the original LS1. So along with the Maggie-blown LQ4, ported 225 heads, and the custom blower bumpstick, he added American Racing 1.75-inch diameter long-tube headers, a custom y-pipe with a cutout, and a 3-inch chambered exhaust to help expel the gases quickly, not to mention, add a killer soundtrack to the car's menacing appearance. He also installed a set of Granatelli coil packs and 8.5mm wires, since he initially experienced a misfire with the OEM components. To get additional power over the standard Maggie setup, Bruce installed an 8-rib, 10% underdrive pulley, a 3.5-inch upper blower pulley, and "the largest intercooler that Magnuson makes," as he put it.