If there is such a thing as a true multitalented hot rod, then maybe it belongs to Brett Evans. His Pontiac has been to the Hot Rod Pump Gas Drags, the World Street Challenge, runs True Street at the NMCA/NMRA Superbowl in Joliet, does the Run Through the Hills at Pigeon Forge, and long-legs out in nowhere, Nevada, at the Silver State Challenge. As you can see, the car hooks in a straight line and conquers bends in the road with the same grit and integrity.
His 1970 Esprit (actually an ersatz Trans Am) was built to do all of these competitions and do them well. It runs low, low 9s at nearly a buck-fifty, and although there is no other instrumented data to present, we're confident that it's prime meat for all those games, designed to run hard and run responsibly. It's not like Brett's never fooled with the combination, either. He's always looking for a better way to build the things that matter.
The most attractive aspect of this F-body is its all-Pontiac driveline. More expensive to build than the all-too-common Chevy big-block, it certainly maintains brand loyalty and could be considered a rarity in these times. Brett went through a couple of Mazda pickups, a '90 notchback Mustang, a '65 Mustang fastback, and a '73 Camaro before glomming the Esprit. He learned from the experiences.
The Mustang was such a basket case that he was bound to correct its complete lack of structural integrity. It taught Brett that it's better to begin with a solid core than have to rebuild the entire car. He found this example local, more or less, and it already had acquired the T/A fenders and rear spoiler. Nearly two years ago, he paid $8,500 for it and drove his Pontiac home.
Now you don't do something crazy like put an 850hp motor in a stock chassis and expect it to do anything but kill you. You gotta add tendon and sinew to the 'rails, and you need some deep rims and humungous sticky rubber all the way around. Figure that the tires give the F-body more than half of its handling power because for all its roadworthiness and the dynamite hiding in the chassis, Brett has made only basic changes to it.
Since the T/A eats up SCCA events as part of its diet, a rollcage (also certified to NHRA 8.50) was required. Jim Hallowell Custom Fabrication did it with the specified DOM mild .125-inch wall tubing. While he was welding, Hallowell added a chrome-moly 2x3 crossmember, and front and rear driveshaft safety loops. Brett fitted the original clip with Global West upper and lower tubular control arms, QA1 adjustable coilover shock absorbers (450 lb/in), and an Addco 1.25-inch-diameter antisway bar. The spindles and steering assembly are stock. Before turning to the rear of the car, he installed Baer 13-inch discs.
The rolling stock gets a little confusing because Bret has more than one setup, depending on the chore at hand. The street/road race package is comprised of 18x9.5 CCW forged rims with 275/35ZR18 Toyo RA1s (25.6 inches tall) at the front, and 18x12 CCW wheels with whopping 335/30ZR18 RA1s (25.9 inches tall) at the rear. The Poncho's drag race suit includes 15x7 Billet Specialties hoops with the appropriate M/T ET fronts backed by Billet Specialties 15x12s carrying 325/50 M/T ET Street Radials
History has proven that the rear of the vehicle doesn't need much improvement, either. Brett made and fabbed a 1.25-inch chrome-moly Watt's link outfitted with spherical rod ends to center the fabbed 9-inch housing (58 inches flange to flange), and he hung the member with unlikely (we thought they were only for straight-line performance) CalTracs split leaf springs. He got the springs well inside the framerails with Afco front mounts and Afco slider mounts at the rear. "They have multiple functions," said Brett. "They help the car with solid mounting that won't flex, keep the spring from rolling, and afford a convenient way of mounting the leaves rather than running offset hangers." These changes have made a rear antisway bar superfluous.
He wanted a hefty positive wheel offset to go with those steamroller rear tires, too, so this meant bigger, eager wheeltubs. He split the wells and added a 4-inch section to the middle to expand the caverns and accommodate the bulk. As a precaution, he screwed mastodon 5/8-inch studs in the axle flanges. To fit the wheels to them, he had to countersink the holes 1 3/4 inches to accept the Howe Stock-car-style double-acorn nuts. The way the CalTracs tailor the car's reaction, the 4,100-pounder peels off 60-foot times in the low 1.30s.
The Glasstek hood (supported by Ring Brothers billet hinges) and shaker scoop top the bumptious, juice-snorting 541-inch engine. Just getting that arrangement mounted and functioning was an epic. "With the Dominator and the Victor Jr., I wanted the shaker to look right. I was going to bend a piece of aluminum or sheetmetal and use it as a base for the carburetor, but in order to drop it down far enough, it was going to be in the way of the fogger lines, and it was going to be a bizarre bend, not just a 90-degree, but a gradual slope. I could see myself doing a half dozen of these before I got it right. Then, I thought if I had something that would slide in and out once I had the scoop where I wanted it in reference to the fogger lines, and how far the scoop was sticking out of the hood, I could just drill through the solid stock and the tube, and put a pin in it.
"When I'm at the track, I pull four pins, and do a quick jet change. I welded four aluminum tubes to some 1/16-inch sheet, then I epoxied it to the fiberglass scoop. To attach these to the motor, I used a piece of 1/4-inch plate with aluminum tubing to attach to the valve cover bolts. I'm sure there are a thousand better ways to do this, but it functions." Brett supported the power delivery with a March serpentine accessory drive, a Canton Accusump 3-quart oiling system (protects against dry starts and keeps oil pressure constant during high lateral-g movement), Howe double-pass aluminum radiator, Earl's braided lines, and a KRC NASCAR-style power steering pump.
The original scheme included a 14.2:1 compression ratio, but that wouldn't work with the Pump Gas Drags rules. "I was going to experiment with water injection to shunt detonation, but then thought it would be easier to swap out the pistons for a 10.5:1 ratio, so I don't know how much power it makes on a dynamometer, but with the lower compression ratio, it runs 9.50s on pump gas and has been as quick as 9.11 at 149 with a pump/race-gas recipe."
Let's hear it for brand loyalty....
Let's hear it for brand loyalty. Instead of the usual 540 Chevy, this babe's got a 541 Pontiac in the cradle that's made nearly 860 hp.
But for the Kirkey seats, Simpson harnesses, and opening up the dash to accommodate the Auto Meter Monster tach, speedometer, and ancillaries, the Esprit is basically stock inside. Hytech in Columbia, Missouri, did up the rear seats to match the sparse Kirkey coverings, and Brett finished off the rest of the dusky interior. He left the exterior work and paint to "Bull" at Creative Customs in St. Louis. Bull blew on the DuPont white, and complemented the whale with a Year One '70 T/A sticker kit as well as the appropriate trim.
A true triple-threat (street, road race, and drag race) machine, the Pontiac employs the Gear Vendors over/under at the dragstrip, as well as a muscle relaxant on the open road. "My shift pattern is Low gear to Second gear, then to Second Overdrive, and finally to Third. I enable the GV by stepping on the headlight dimmer switch."
As easy as stepping on a cockroach.
A big Auto Meter tach and...
A big Auto Meter tach and speedometer dominate the instrument panel. As a hardcore road racer, the Pontiac carries on with Kirkey seats, Simpson safety harnesses, and a cage certified to 8.50 NHRA, as well as being legal for SCCA high jinks.
The simple, yet quite effective...
The simple, yet quite effective setup includes CalTracs springs and bars. A homemade Watt's link centers the axle. Besides the rollcage, the car is stiffened further with a custom 2x3 crossmember.
The brawny body is accentuated...
The brawny body is accentuated by brawnier Complete Custom Wheels (CCW) and 30-series Toyo rubber all the way around. Year One body accents, trim pieces, and grille inserts make it look right.
The 'Bird is a Trans Am clone,...
The 'Bird is a Trans Am clone, so it had to have a semblance of the factory shaker hood. No mean feat for Evans, who made his own cold-air intake system.