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Northern Exposure '03

Car Craft's Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota

Photography by The Car Craft Staff

Tina Grohmann

'87 Fiero

"The oil pump went out in the four-cylinder." That was the answer we got when we asked Minnesota's Tina Grohmann why she decided to install a Chevy 383 in the back of her Fiero. Actually, she went on to explain that this is her second mid-engined Pontiac, the first having met its demise thanks to a particularly harsh railroad crossing. The small-block is mated to a stock five-speed manual transaxle via an adapter from V-8 Archie; the setup fits together beautifully, though keeping the driveline alive has been tricky. "This clutch is custom-made--the last one was high-performance but didn't last, and don't even ask me about the other transaxles." Though this trans is still breathing, another is on the way with cryogenically treated innards so Tina won't have to be so cautious. "I love catching Second gear--I really can't baby it for very long."

Randy Atwood

'95 Impala SS

Many enthusiasts laden with family members to haul around found Chevy's Impala SS to be the perfect combination of hot rod and family truckster in the mid-'90s, but the big B-bodies do have their limitations, at least in stock form. Randy Atwood of Zimmerman, Minnesota, was addicted to open road course track events, and sitting on the sidelines was not an option. The solution was to convert the big Imp to a manual trans--specifically, a T56 six-speed. Using a conversion kit from B-Body Performance, Randy installed a Camaro T56, swapped the rear gears to 4.10s, and reassigned the factory automatic-trans cooler to chill the power-steering fluid. The trans swap and some mild suspension upgrades enable the fullsize Chevy to hang with the F-cars all the way around the famous Road America course.

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