My Pontiac Trans AmPurchased new in 1988, this car has been the platform used in an attempt to GoMoreFast for over 20 years.
The initial attempts to increase the power were limited to simple modifications. The aftermarket provided a performance air filter, slightly better flowing exhaust, underdrive pulleys, and an early "tuned" computer chip.
Once bitten by the speed bug, more aftermarket parts found their way bolted on to the car. A larger throttle-body injection unit, intake manifold, ignition box and headers. While the power was slowly increasing, the car was still no match for it's nemesis, the Ford Mustang 5.0.
Equipped with only the dismal late-1980's 150hp* rated 305TBI (throttle-body injection) engine, and an array of simple bolt-ons, the car was still not fast. In fact, it really wasn't even quick. So, the next modification was the first major attempt to GoMoreFast. The car received a centrifugal supercharger. At 5.5psi of boost, the car was now finally beginning to feel quick.
At over 146,000 miles, on the original slipping clutch, open 3.08 gear rear end, some really hard compound tires; I finally managed to run some mid-14 second passes at just over 97 mph in the quarter-mile. With 2.4x second 60 foot times, and spinning the tires well in to the top of second gear, I was traction-limited, but the clutch was not going to hold anymore traction.
After the odometer turned 154,000 miles, I sat one night contemplating the future of the car. At this point, most friends had been selling their fast cars. I did not want to sell the car since I still liked it. I had the option of going through and replacing/rebuilding the stock parts. Maybe a 350ci TBI engine to replace the 305ci engine as an upgrade. That could be good for some more power I thought, as I then remembered the factory T5 transmission was not rated for more than 295ft lbs of torque. So, I would be looking at a transmission rebuild with the new engine. The 3.08 gear open rear-end would have been better with a locking differential of some sort. It was beginning to look like an all-or-nothing type of rebuild.
The car sat barely driven, it's duty as a daily driver now over. It's powertrain fate not yet determined, I found several companies and manufacturers began make parts which just seemed destined for this car. GM Performance Parts had a Ram Jet 350 crate motor complete with a multi-port fuel injection. Tremec had their TR-3550 TKO manual transmission with a healthy torque capacity rating. And Moser Engineering was building bolt-in Ford 9 inch style rear ends for the third generation F-body. A seemingly simple swap, small block to small block, manual transmission to manual transmission, and factory 7.5 inch rear end to strong 9 inch style rear end; how difficult could all that be, I pondered.
So, in the pursuit to GoMoreFast, a complete powertrain swap was embarked upon. The main goal was to have a fast, stock-appearing car optimized for the drag strip, but built clean enough that it could pass for something that might have been built at the factory.
*From memory, the original rating of the 1988 and 1989 L03 TBI engines was 150 hp/240 ft lbs torque. In 1990, the engine was up rated to 170 hp/255 ft lbs with no stated changes. The 1988 L03 TBI was rated at 5 hp more than the 1987 LG4 145hp rating. While I remember this to be true, I can not find any documentation to confirm these facts. Most Internet searching contradicts these values. At these horsepower levels, being 5 hp or 20 hp different does not really matter, however, it is a technical note I wish to present.