Who: Grant Craft
What: '65 Pontiac Tempest
Where: Hong Kong, China
Suspension: We'll start here since the Schwartz Performance chassis is the foundation. The chassis that Schwartz sells is a combination round and rectangle tubing chassis that not only radically increases torsional stiffness but also reduces weight. In the front, the system integrates power rack-and-pinion steering along with tubular upper and lower unequal-length control arms that connect with large, Teflon-lined QA1 spherical bearings that help connect the arms to a pair of custom-forged Schwartz aluminum spindles. The front springs are also QA1 pieces at 400 pounds per inch and damped by a pair of Bilstein coilover shocks. The front sway bar is a 1-inch tubular model that ties to a pair of aluminum arms that connects to the lower control arms. The rear suspension is a variation of the factory A-body four-link rear trailing arm suspension. These links are custom tubing arms mounted with QA1 spherical bearings and locate the custom aluminum centersection rear axle assembly with 300-pound-per-inch QA1 springs and Bilstein shocks.
Engine: The current engine began life as a 6.2L LS9 supercharged short-block with a 4.060-inch bore and 3.62-inch stroke using the factory forged-steel crank, K1 connecting rods, and Wiseco pistons and rings, along with a 211/230 degrees at 0.050 factory LS7 hydraulic roller cam with 0.580-inch lift. Completing the engine is a set of LS3 rectangle-port cylinder heads, a 90mm GM cable-actuated throttle body, and an NOS nitrous system with a 100hp jetting. The factory computer enjoys a Schwartz Performance tweak, while the exhaust is plumbed with a set of Schwartz custom-built 1 7/8-inch headers with a 3-inch collector and Magnaflow stainless mufflers. Keeping the engine in the right temperature range is a Be Cool aluminum radiator and twin electric fans.
Transmission: The Tremec TKO-600 five-speed overdrive trans is a great compromise between strength and weight since it is significantly lighter than the larger T56 six-speed. The LS9 short-block required a custom 9-bolt LS-style flywheel to allow bolting up a McLeod single-disc clutch assembly. Muscle Up out of Janesville, Wisconsin, supplied the driveshaft that connects the trans to a Dana 60 with 3.55:1 gears and a limited slip.
Brakes: Monster 14-inch Baer rotors work with a set of Baer Monoblock six-piston front brakes with the same size rear rotors and Baer six-piston Pro Plus calipers on the rear. These monster calipers are commanded by a factory iron master cylinder.
Wheels/Tires: Jeff says he normally specs a 345/30R19 tire for these A-body cars for the rear, but he found a company called XXR that offered a set of 18x9-inch wheels for an excellent price, so he ordered four and had Weldcraft Wheels in Plymouth, Michigan, widen out the rears to 13 inches. That then required a set of BFGoodrich 275/35R18 KDW II tires for the front and wider 335/30R18 KDW IIs for the rear. He ran these same BFGs on the road course at the Motor State Challenge.
Bodywork: This is where the simplicity of the car takes the forefront. The Texas car had some rust issues but nothing a new trunk and floor couldn't fix. "This wasn't as difficult as it sounds," Jeff says. "The floor reinforcement panels were still in good shape." After the floor was in, they cleaned up some minor rust in the quarter-panels and did some minor panel straightening with the body finished. Jeff's crew then shot the car with DP-40 primer and left it just like you see it here. The only other work was a 2-inch mini-tub job in the rear to accommodate larger rear tires. Jeff says the company will have a budget mini-tub kit for A-body cars available soon based on his experience in adding room for fatter tires.
Interior: The seats are inexpensive eBay specials along with the Simpson four-point harnesses, while a Flaming River steering column feeds steering input through a Grant wheel. All that's left is the Auto Meter tach, speedo, gauges, and a rollcage, leaving not much else to talk about. Just envision a B-17 bomber cockpit.
Weight: Despite the lack of creature comforts, the polycarbonate side windows, and the all-aluminum engine, the rest of the Tempest is all steel except for the fiberglass bumpers, which is one reason Jeff was a little disappointed by the car's 3,250-pound weight without driver.
Crew: Jeff wants to thank owner Grant Craft, the Schwartz Performance crew, and Walter Goto for the cool Temptress logo.