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2000 Pontiac Trans Am - Obsessive Compulsive

Justin Cesler May 3, 2012
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The sound. The sound coming from Rob Barney’s WS6 was like few things we’d heard before. It didn’t come from one area, as a car should, instead it just came from everywhere. Everywhere I tell ya’. Down low, there was the familiar rumble of a big camshaft, with a deep bass note reverberating off the ground, bouncing off distant buildings, causing a general ruckus that only a purpose-built beast is capable of. Above that ruckus, above all of the calamity we’re accustomed to, there was another sound, a sound that more closely resembled an F16 Fighting Falcon jet turbine engine than anything we’ve heard coming from an F-body in a long time, although even a fighter jet may have been more silent in operation. The insane sound of air being compressed and vented was something we’ll never forget about this nasty ‘00 WS6 and in that regard, it seems we’re not alone.

"I have to say the thing I love the most now is the look you get when pulling up to places and stop lights from people at the amazing sound the F-1A ProCharger makes..." It’s awesome, no doubt, but that’s not the only reason Rob is here. "Well, this build started when I was headed back from the Trans Am Nationals in August of 2010 and literally 2-miles from my house. My brother Andrew was next to me on the highway with a couple of Trans Ams in tow and I decided to show off a bit. The car was just a heads/cam car that made 450-rwhp at the time. It was tuned by a pretty well known tuner a few months prior which in the end sealed the fate of the car. He had put too much timing in it, and the ability of the knock sensors to sense knock and pull timing had also been removed. I decide to downshift to 3rd, took it to 6,700 rpm, shifted to 4th then at about 5,000 rpm it let loose. The engine made a horrendous backfire and started running horrible. I looked down and had good oil pressure, so I limped it home with my brother in tow. We both got out of our cars and he asked what had happened, laughingly I looked at him and said, ‘I think it blew up!’"

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Yep, Rob blew it up all right, managing to destroy a piston (cylinder 7, surprise, surprise) and the block, cracking it straight down the water jacket. "The block was done for, so I began to search and think about what I wanted to do..." Enter "Nasty" Nate Corwin, Rob’s old accomplice and builder of choice, who would be tasked with taking this build to the next level. After what we could only imagine were some lively planning sessions, the pair came out with a plan that would include an insane supercharger package and, of course, a built motor. "Nate told me that the only way he was putting a ProCharger on the car was if we designed it and modified it to fit a true 4-inch intake off the blower to not restrict it. I told him let’s do it, and so the build began." Now, if you’re thinking that 25-year old Rob Barney just dropped his pride and joy off for a shop to build it for him, you’re dead wrong. "I told Nate that he was not in it alone and that I was going to help with the whole build."

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To start, the entire front of the ‘bird was removed; torn down to the front frame rails, so that the pair could get to work and really perfect each and every part of the build. The A/C was eliminated, the front frame rails tweaked, the radiator support cut, chopped, and welded to perfection, the lower support relocated 3-inches forward while the upper was moved 2-inches to make room for the new supercharger. In addition to the serious cutting and welding, Rob and Nasty were also focused on keeping everything clean and almost no area forward of the firewall escaped their attention. "With all of the welding done in the engine bay, I called up my friend Tim Kiefer to paint it so it would be finished off with an amazing paint job." And while the pair of "obsessive compulsive" maniacs were hard at work prepping the WS6 to a show quality, the engine was also starting to come together across the country, all the way down in Houston, Texas.

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Being that Rob had to start from scratch on the short-block, he turned to the one and only Late Model Engines (LME), a group who should need no introduction, but if you’re not already familiar, they are known for building some of the best LS engines in the country and that’s exactly why Rob chose them for his project. Starting with a brand new 6.0-liter iron block from GM, the crew at LME got to work, boring the cylinders to 4.005-inches and filling those holes with Wiseco pistons and Callies Compstar I-beam connecting rods. Down low, Callies again, this time with a stock stroke (3.625-inch) Compstar crankshaft to keep everything spinning safely. With the short-block complete, LME sent the engine back to Rob, where he entrusted friend Joe Haines to finish the bullet. Using Rob’s old Dart 225cc cylinder heads, which had been heavily ported by Al Keller at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), Joe began building out the long-block, sliding a Crane Cams-cut hydraulic roller camshaft between the cylinders and rounding out the induction with a FAST 92mm intake, which was also hand-ported by Al at LPE. Kooks 1.875-inch long-tube headers move exhaust out, which were setup to meet Rob’s existing GMMG cat-back, the 3-inch tube set responsible for almost 90-percent of Rob’s stoplight presence.

"We got the new motor from LME in the car and made the vehicle a rolling car again. We then trailered it back to Bill Davis to do all of the charge pipes, in which he did a fabulous job." Those charge pipes are key to this operation and they literally supply the engine with all of its required air. Four inches of tubing supply the F-1A ProCharger impeller with fresh air, which is then compressed to 15.5-psi before passing through a modified air-to-air intercooler and directly into the FAST 92mm throttle body and intake manifold. "We had some issues on what to do with the fog lights and so Nate set out and made a killer set of mounts, which we bolted directly to the intercooler itself. As for the intercooler, Bill Davis in Fort Wayne flipped the tanks on the intercooler and also made some tabs on it so we could mount the fog light brackets." While the car was in for charge pipe fab, Rob also tasked Bill with fabricating a slick new radiator shroud, which looks fantastic matched to the upper mount.

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With the project almost complete, it was back to Nasty Nate’s place, where Rob, Nate, and Joe plumbed the new fuel system, which consists of a Lonnies Performance "dual pumper kit" feeding a set of 83 lb/hr fuel injectors and a Fuelab EFI regulator. "Once Nate and I put everything back together, we added the new suspension." We could go into great detail here, but just imagine opening the BMR Suspension catalog and ordering it all. That’s essentially what Rob did and paired with a set of QA1 double adjustable shocks and springs (Eibach springs in the rear), Rob ended up with a killer stance, excellent handling, and enough adjustability to make it all hook up on the street. New CTS-V calipers were installed up front to help stop this monster, and the rolling stock was set off with a pair of gorgeous 19x9.5-inch CCW SP500 wheels up front and a pair of massive 19x11-inch rears wrapped in 305/30/19 Nitto Invo street tires. Finally, "we were ready to enlist Steve Williams AKA ‘Frost’ for his amazing tuning skills to get this thing up and running and everything working together."

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The result is what you see here, a gorgeous showstopper that drives like a dream and belts out more then 847-rear wheel horsepower. "Believe it or not the vehicle drives amazing. I figured going into this with the RXT twin clutch and the huge injectors that it would drive horribly. After we got it up and running with a few break-in miles the clutch got better and better. Once Steve got his touch on the tune it literally almost drove like stock. I was shocked. Simply amazing for it to drive the way it does and make 847-rear wheel horsepower." We can attest to both of those claims too, since we saw Rob’s TA gently maneuver around the event grounds with ease only to pull out onto the street and lay 800-feet worth of rubber without so much as a hiccup. Raw power aside, Rob even managed to go back to the Trans Am Nationals, where he destroyed his engine the year prior, and win the "Heavy Custom" class, which clearly validated all of the hard work he put into project, both in form and function. In the end, Rob built a car to be appreciated from every perspective, so take a chance to look it over; we promise you won’t forget this WS6 anytime soon.

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Car: 2000 Pontiac Trans Am WS6
Owner: Rob Barney
Block: LQ9, 370cid
Compression ratio: 9.65:1
Heads: Dart 225cc, ported by Al Keller at LPE, 2.08 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: Crane Cams hydraulic roller, 232/242 duration at .050, .624/.624 inch lift, 114+3 LSA
Rocker arms: Yella Terra, 1.7:1 ratio
Pistons: Wiseco, forged
Rings: Wiseco GFX
Crankshaft: Callies, forged
Rods: Callies, forged
Throttle body: FAST 92mm
Fuel injectors: 83 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Lonnies Performance, twin in-tank
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, Autolite plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Steve Williams of Tuned by Frost
power adder: ProCharger F-1A
boost: 15.5psi
intercooler: Custom air-to-air
Wastegate: ProCharger Race bypass
Exhaust system: Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, GMMG 3-inch Y-pipe, GMMG exhaust
Transmission: Stock T56
Clutch: Mcleod RXT twin-disc
Driveshaft: Stock, aluminum
Front suspension: BMR Suspension K-member, lower control arms, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, springs, stock sway bar
Rear suspension: UMI Suspension torque arm, BMR Suspension lower control arms, subframe connectors, adjustable Panhard bar, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, Eibach springs
Rear end: Stock GM 10-bolt, 4.10:1 Motive gear, 28-spline axles, posi
Brakes: CTS-V 4-piston front with C6 Z06 rotor, stock rear
Wheels: CCW SP500 19x9.5 front, 19x11 rear
Front tires: Nitto Invo, 275/30/19
Rear tires: Nitto Invo, 305/30/19
Fuel: 93-octane + Methanol injection
HP: 847