Pro Street! OK, not quite, but Jim Lauer had one once and you can see its influence. Back in the Pro Street days, Jim showed up at the Car Craft Summer cruise with a Vermillion Red 750hp 6-71 blown big-block in a '86 GTA. Yeah, it was the metaphor with an engine that looked like it was dipped in candle wax sticking way out of the hood and giant M/T balonies hangin' off a coilover four-link. It was nice. What set it apart from the rest of the crowd was the lack of wheelie bars, no graphics, and a subtle interior that looked like it would be comfy to drive. That's what we were looking for at the time, and Jim got it right, so we handed him a trophy.
Now, Jim has embraced the turbo as the topical power-adder and toned down the vibe. The new combination is more than Pro Street in a way that allowed Jim to drive the car to shows all summer on pump gas, including a return to the Car Craft Summer Nats. His Buick makes 850 hp and is in the 9s.
You'll ask, "Why not 1,000 hp? "The engine was new so we didn't want to push it too hard on the dyno," he said. That was the answer that veiled his real feeling that if the car can run in the 8s, he doesn't care what the numbers are. He wanted what we want, an 8-second race car that looks as nice as any show car and can sneak up on the big-inch motor guys that are driving around on the street. He's willing to push this car there. He believes this combination has what it takes.
Car Craft Q&A
Car Craft: With 850 at the wheel, is this thing streetable?
Jim Lauer: Because it's a turbo car, I can get away with running 93 octane on the street if I stay off the gas because it only has 9.0:1 compression. As far as being streetable, I broke them loose and got sideways on the freeway once. I'm sure the people in the car next to me didn't appreciate it. But my friend behind me did-it left a pair of stripes.
CC: What were some problems you ran into running 25 pounds of boost?
JL: The Stage II block has 14 head bolts on each side, so it is designed for boost. The stock T-Types will run 20 pounds no problem. The fuel system is the key: If it can keep up, then you can go to 35 pounds.
CC: Why did you use the Neill Chance Bolt-Together converter?
JL: They're very cool. I couldn't get any rpm out of a standard stall on the track because the big turbo doesn't spool. The Neill Chance converter can be tuned with shims in increments of 300 rpm, so I was able to custom tune the launch at the racetrack.
Car: '87 Buick T-Type
Owner: Jim Lauer
Power: 850 hp at 7,000 with 25 pounds boost
Engine: 276ci Buick Stage II V-6
Crankshaft: Scat billet V-6, 3.50-inch stroke
Rods: Carrillo steel
Pistons: JE Pistons 9.0:1, 0.020 over
Heads: Buick Motorsports Stage II aluminum
Induction: Hogan's Racing Manifolds' Buick V-6
Camshaft: Comp Cams dual-pattern hydraulic roller, 0.666/0.652 lift, 257/256 duration at 0.050
Turbo: Precision Turbo PT88
Fuel system: F.A.S.T fuel management with wide-band O2, 160-lb/hr injectors
Transmission: Reverse pattern TH400, trans-brake, B&M Pro Ratchet
Rearend: Ford 9-inch, Mark Williams 35-spline axles, Pro Gear 3.73:1
Front suspension: 2-inch drop spindles, Competition Engineering three-way adjustable shocks
Rear suspension: Ladder-bar suspension, Koni shocks, frame narrowed 4 inches and powdercoated charcoal
Wheels and tires: Weld Alumastars 15x8/15x10, Mickey Thompson Pro rears 29x12.5x15
Body mods: Rear floorboards moved up and forward 111/42 inch.
Paint: Undercarriage painted with basecoat and clearcoat, '97 GM Silver Mist Metallic by Mark Katalin
Interior: Auto Meter gauges, Charcoal leather with trim dyed to match
Cost to build: $75,000