1973 Trans Am Fifth Time's The Charm
This black beauty is actually James Contos' fifth second-gen TA, but only his first real hot rod. Previously, he either didn't have the money, or the TA was just too rare and original for a Pontiac purist to modify. But when he found this TA a couple of years ago that had already begun the transformation into a touring machine, he knew he'd finally found the one to have fun with.

When the Trans Am arrived, it needed a little TLC; it had overheating issues, and some paint problems that needed to be addressed if it was going to compete in car shows. That's when Dave Hall and his crew at Restore a Muscle Car came in. RMC handles all muscle-era cars, but their real forte is TAs. These guys live and breathe Pontiacs-they even organize the annual Bandit Run that commemorates the ultimate cross-country Trans Am trip from the original Smokey and the Bandit. This author even ran with the boys from Texarkana to Atlanta on the inaugural run in 2007.

Originally, Contos approached Hall for a "light" mechanical and aesthetic freshen up and repair of a few questionable mods. But after visiting the RMC facilities in Lincoln, NE and seeing the incredible TAs hanging around, including the awesome Burt Reynolds Edition, Contos began to get ideas. He had visions of finally building the ultimate TA that he had always dreamed about. A "light" freshening quickly progressed into a full frame-off rotisserie restoration with all the right parts to create a true Pro Touring car including suspension upgrades from Pro Touring F-Body and Detroit Speed and Engineering and a Butler-built 642hp 535ci Pontiac powerplant.

Contos' direction changed as well; rather than car shows, he's getting hooked on track events. So far he's only made it to a few events, but he says that everywhere the car goes it gets a ton of attention. "You see Camaros and Mustangs everywhere, but these old Birds are pretty rare, so people are excited to see them."

By The Numbers
'73 Trans Am
James Contos; Fort Collins, CO
Overall Finishing Position: 39 out of 55

Type: 535ci Pontiac
Block: Butler Performance
Oiling: Melling M54F oil pump blueprinted by Butler Performance with Canton 15-450 pan
Rotating assembly: Butler Performance 4340 forged crank, Eagle H-beam rods, Ross/Butler 10.9:1 pistons
Cylinder heads: Edelbrock RPM ported by Butler Performance
Camshaft: COMP Cam, .600 lift, 254/258 duration at .050
Valvetrain: Scorpion 1.65 rockers with Lunati springs
Induction: Edelbrock Victor intake with Holley 950-cfm double-pumper carb
Exhaust: custom tri-Y headers by Tribal Tubes, 3.5-inch oval pipes, Spintech mufflers
Fuel system: Aeromotive electric fuel pump and regulator, Robb MC
  sending unit/pick-up, custom gas tank
Ignition: MSD Pro-Billet distributor, Blaster 2 coil and wires
Cooling: Be Cool Cross Flow radiator, Jeg's dual 12-inch electric fans, FlowKooler water pump
Output: 462 hp at 6,000 rpm to the wheels with 449.7 lb-ft of torque
Built by: Restore a Muscle Car
Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 by American Powertrain with cryogenically hardened dual base-welded 26-spline input shaft, cryogenically hardened 4616 chromalloy gears and shafts, cryogenically hardened one-piece countershaft, polished synchros, cryogenically hardened steel forks
Rearend: Moser 33-spine axles with Moser limited-slip diff
Front suspension: Pro-Touring F-body control arms and spindles with QA1 shocks
Rear suspension: Detroit Speed and Engineering QuadraLink
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers on 14- and 12.5-inch rotors
Wheels: 18x10 and 18x12 Rushworth Nightrain
Tires: 275/35R18 and 335/30R18 RA1