1978 Trans Am Presto Chango!
The killer gold Trans Am you see before you is not the car the Optima officials at the Optima Street Car Faceoff at Road America saw blasting around those pucker-inducing curves. No, this one is much better. The car they saw was the previous incarnation of Telly Violetto's favorite gold Trans Am that he's owned since he was 16. Violetto rolled in with a good looking, but mostly stock car sporting little in the way of suspension upgrades. Despite that, he proceeded to drive the TA as hard as it would allow and had a great time. The officials were so impressed that they awarded him the Spirit of the Event award, providing his golden ticket to SEMA and the OUSCI.
Blown away, Violetto knew he had to seize the opportunity and turn the Trans Am into the car of his dreams. After the Faceoff at Road America, he took it home and completely disassembled it, starting over from scratch. The chassis was stiffened with subframe connectors and the rear was mini-tubbed to make room for more meat. All of the stock suspension was tossed in favor of a new front subframe and rear torque arm assembly from Jake's Rod Shop.
He didn't stop there, though; Violetto knew reducing weight was the best way to make the most of the new suspension, so he began eighty-sixing the unnecessary creature comforts. All power accessories, the radio, and the A/C got the axe. To help the front-to-rear weight bias, the stock steel fenders were swapped with carbon-fiber versions and the hood was replaced with a lightweight fiberglass piece. Even the driveline got a full makeover with a stroked LS3 and Jerico four-speed. In essence, Violetto just reinforced the "Spirit" award by proving how badly he wanted to be a real competitor.
Believe it or not, Violetto had everything back together in four months and showed up at the OUSCI loaded for bear. Sadly, after all that work he was out of the competition early with driveshaft and torque arm breakage during a lap on the Spring Mountain road course. No harm was done (other than perhaps to Violetto's ego), and the TA came out unscathed. We're sure we'll be seeing Violetto's Trans Am at more events again soon.
By The Numbers
'78 Pontiac Trans Am
Telly Violetto; Montello, WI
Overall Finishing Position: 39 out of 55