Things we really liked about the car were its in-your-face, no-holds-barred attitude; purpose-built functionality; and pure Pontiac power. Things we didn't like so much were the Spartan racing interior and relatively harsh ride, even though that's to be expected of a car built more as a race car than a street car. This isn't to say the Trans Am isn't streetable. The fact that Brandon and his team logged over 9,000 miles testing and competing in the One Lap is proof that this is no finicky race car. With strong showings in the Dragstrip, Autocross, and Craftsmanship portions of the test, it all came down to the Ride & Drive, but the stiff ride and relatively unfriendly interior (climbing over the rollbar was an ordeal for several of us lard-assed writers) proved to be the Trans Am's undoing. Still, the 0.8-point margin between this car and the Second place Camaro is the closest in RSE history, and Brandon might have won the competition if the judges had less-sensitive rear ends.
This car has the vibe of a vintage Trans-Am series race car, which Brandon says was his vision when he started the project, and it was a truly worthy competitor. -Matt King
Basic SpecsEngine: 440ci Pontiac V-8 (400 block with 421 crank), 6.700-inch rods, 9.8:1 compression, Accusump oiling systemHeads: Edelbrock Performer aluminumInduction: Edelbrock Performer RPM manifold with 930-cfm Holley HP series carbCamshaft: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, 230/229 degrees at 0.050 with 0.510/0.510-inch liftTransmission: Stock Borg-Warner Super T10 manual four-speedRearend: Stock GM 8.5-inch 10-bolt with 3.08:1 gears and Ford 9-inch housing ends with bolt-in axles and TA Performance girdleFront suspension: Custom upper control arms, with 1.25-inch-drop springs, 1.3-inch sway bar, and Koni shocks, custom 11/42-inch-drop solid-aluminum subframe bushingsRear suspension: Global West 1-inch-drop Cat-5 leaf springs with spherical bushings, 1-inch sway barFront brakes: 13-inch Coleman rotors with Wilwood GNIII six-piston staggered-bore calipers on modified Global West Cat-5 spindles with cooling ducts; '02 F-body master cylinder with '79 Trans Am WS-6 power boosterRear brakes: 12.5-inch rotors with Wilwood four-piston Superlite IIA calipersWheels and Tires: custom Weld Racing 17x9.5 forged aluminum wheels with P275/40R17 Michelins, front; custom Weld Racing 17x9.5-inch forged aluminum wheels with P275/40ZR17 Michelins, rear