YearOne: The Right One

1973 Pontiac Trans Am

John Cunningham is another guy who can trace his TA devotion back to that infamous green car in McQ; ever since he saw that movie at a drive-in with his dad back in 1974, he’s been a second-gen F-body fanatic. And we do mean fanatic; John typically has a dozen in various states of project form around at any given time. He actually passed by this particular ’73 TA for roughly three years before finally stopping to check on it. Once he did, there was something about the Buccaneer Red, 74K original-mile, 455ci, four-speed, A/C package that spoke to him. This was a good car.

Four-speed cars are pretty rare, so at first John just wanted to restore it to stock and drive it. Then he decided to swap in a five-speed so he could run the Power Tour easier. Well, maybe a more modern engine too. And with that, the focus flipped 180 degrees into building a perfected version of the original car. Spurred on by his buddy Kevin King of YearOne, who had just bought his own ’73 to build the McQ car, parts started to arrive in droves.

All that changing direction stretched the time line out a few years, but with the help of the YearOne/Ghostworks crew, John’s TA was ready to roll with DSE suspension, a six-speed, and an Edelbrock-supercharged LS7 underhood. Of course, as a TA aficionado, John couldn’t ruin a rare car. He saved every original nut, bolt, and part, and no permanent changes were made—just in case he wanted it back to original. We don’t see that happening.

The finished car is just too nice and performs amazingly well while being absolutely civil. At MCOTY, the TA performed without a hitch, which is good because when John says that it was built to drive, he means it. After running hard at MCOTY, he and King hopped in their respective TAs and drove through the mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, then down through the Carolinas to YearOne headquarters in Braselton, Gerogia. John then drove another 500 miles back to his place in Kentucky. Now that’s a street car!

“…as a TA aficionado, John couldn’t ruin a rare car; he saved every original nut, bolt, and part, and no permanent changes were ...

By the Numbers

1973 Pontiac Firebird • John Cunningham; Mayfield, KY

Engine
Type: Chevrolet Performance LS7 crate engine
Rotating assembly: stock LS7
Cylinder Heads: stock LS7
Camshaft: stock LS7
Valvetrain: stock LS7
Induction: Edelbrock E-Force supercharger, custom air induction by YearOne/Ghostworks Garage
Exhaust: custom headers and exhaust by YearOne/Ghostworks Garage
Engine management/ignition: Chevrolet Performance ECU
Output: 570 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque at the wheels
Built by: Chevrolet Performance/YearOne

Drivetrain
Transmission: Tremec T56 Magnum with McCleod clutch
Rearend: 10-bolt with limited-slip diff and 3.23 gears

Chassis
Front suspension: DSE hydroformed subframe with tubular control arms, splined sway bar, Koni coilovers, and Eibach springs
Rear suspension: DSE QuadraLink with Koni coilovers and Eibach springs
Brakes: 14-inch rotors with Baer 6S 6-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & tires: 18x10 and 18x12 YearOne with 295/35 and 335/30 BFGoodrich KDW tires

Results

Drag average:12.686 seconds (12.675 at 116.42 mph best)
Speed/stop average:9.954 seconds (9.803 best)
Autocross average:58.210 seconds (57.317 best)
Overall score:80.840

Jon Clark’s Flat Bastard

1968 Plymouth Valiant

We couldn’t wait to see Jon Clark and Flat Bastard run the events at MCOTY; one, because it’s a badass offbeat car (and you know how we love those); two, because we already ran the story on it in our Oct. ’12 issue; and three, because we happen to have a ’68 Valiant of our own in the fleet. We’re not saying we invited Jon simply for the chance to go over Flat B with a fine-tooth comb in person for ideas, but we’re not saying that had nothing to do with it either!

Flat B was supposed to be a simple project for a simple car. Jon wanted to stay away from fabrication or high-end work and keep it like a garage-built car by using the best bolt-in suspension and parts available on a very pedestrian and affordable car.

True to plan, Flat B is mostly an everyday dude’s kind of car—except underhood. This is where things get a little hairy. Rather than a simple RB or Wedge, Jon went full kill and put together an aluminum World Products–based Wedge engine making a hair under 700 hp. But hey, it is a bolt-in!

The plans for driving it everywhere didn’t change though, so in preparation for bad mileage on long trips like Power Tour, a gigantic 32-gallon fuel cell was built. Of course at 6.2 pounds per gallon, a full 198-pound tank might help weight transfer off the line!

It had teething problems, but Flat B made it all the way through MCOTY until the very last run in the autocross, where electrical gremlins and issues with the throttle body hanging open caused Jon to DNF. Besides that, the only issue we saw was Flat B blow the tires off at the drop of a hat, requiring cautious throttling on the course. Jon’s Valiant—our only Mopar—had some tantalizingly brilliant moments. It posted—by a good margin—the shortest speed/stop time of any car (8.977 seconds), and had the second fastest trap speed (124.58 mph) of all the cars in the drag race. If the motor hadn’t quit before the final autocross lap, who knows how the tables would’ve turned.

Jon wasn’t upset and loved the experience: “I’m pulling g’s on the learning curve. To be able to do it with heavyweights in the industry was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.” Next he’ll be headed to Run Through the Hills as well as other events to continue sorting out issues and finding out where refinement is needed.

“…Flat B is mostly an everyday dude’s kind of car—except underhood. This is where things get a little hairy.”

By the Numbers

1968 Plymouth Valiant • Jon Clark; Grosse Point Park, MI

Engine
Type: 528ci World Products Mopar aluminum block
Rotating assembly: forged crank and rods with 10.5:1 Diamond pistons
Cylinder heads: ported Edelbrock Victor Max Wedge with 2.20/1.80 valves
Camshaft: Ray Barton custom grind
Valvetrain: Crane 1.6 rockers
Induction: Edelbrock intake, Holley 2,000-cfm throttle body
Exhaust: TTI 2-inch headers, ARCA take-off side pipes
Engine management/ignition: Holley HP EFI with MSD ignition
Output: 688 hp at 6,300 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm
Built by: Ray Barton

Drivetrain
Transmission: American Powertrain Tremec T-6060 six-speed manual, Mean Street clutch
Rearend: Mopar 8.75-inch rear with Sure-Grip diff and 3.91 gears

Chassis
Front suspension: AlterKtion tubular K-member, AGR rack-and-pinion, QA1 coilovers, Reilly Motorsports spindles, and 1.5-inch sway bar
Rear suspension: Street Lynx four-link with QA1 coilovers
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch discs with 4-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & tires: 18x7 and 18x9 Forgeline with 225/40 and 275/35 Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 tires

Results

Drag average:12.663 seconds (12.283 at 124.58 mph best)
Speed/stop average:9.542 seconds (8.977 best)
Autocross average:DNF (54.252 best)
Overall score:DNF

Kevin Miller: Never Give Up

1969 Chevy Camaro

Kevin Miller’s ambitions for his ’69 Camaro project sound like so many others that we’ve heard: “I wanted to build a car that I could take to autocross and track events and be competitive, but I also wanted it to be a comfortable street car for local shows and cruise nights.” Who doesn’t want that, right? The difference here is that Kevin totally followed through on all fronts and built a car in his garage that works very well on all fronts and hits all the right style points as well. We liked it right away when we spotted him last year in Nashville, and at subsequent autocross events where we’ve crossed paths with Kevin and his Camaro.

The Camaro didn’t start out anywhere near this nice though; Kevin bought it from his stepdad back in 2007 as a shell in need of everything. Over the next three years, Kevin scrimped and saved every penny he could, short of neglecting bills, and spent every free minute wrenching on it. It took an immense amount of hard work and dedication, which Kevin credits his stepdad, Scott Mack, for helping him maintain. Scott has built several cars over the years and was currently finishing up a Penske/Donahue Sonoco Trans-Am Camaro clone as Kevin was starting his ’69. Having been through all the frustrations himself, Scott knew how to help keep Kevin on track building his dream car.

The Camaro’s debut actually came about on the autocross course at Goodguys in Kansas where even out of the box with no tuning it worked surprisingly well. At MCOTY, Kevin was looking very competitive right from the beginning with consistent 12.8 quarter-mile runs all the way through. He looked good in the speed/stop on his first run with a 9.52 as well, but the clutch went away on the second run, causing Kevin to DNF in the speed/stop event. That wasn’t going to stop him from doing his very best on the autocross portion though. With a push start from a friend, and only having Second gear, Kevin relied on skill and ended up posting the second fastest scored average of the day in the autocross. If not for a bad clutch, he might have finished in the top three. We don’t have a trophy for it, but we’d like to officially give Kevin the “Spirit of MCOTY” award for staying in and giving it his all.

“Kevin scrimped and saved every penny he could, short of neglecting bills, and spent every free minute wrenching on it.”

By the Numbers

1969 Chevy Camaro • Kevin Miller; Baldwin City, KS

Engine
Type: ’05 Cadillac CTS-V 5.7L GM LS6
Rotating assembly: stock LS6
Cylinder heads: stock LS6
Camshaft: COMP Cams XER 224/230 degrees duration at .050
Valvetrain: Trick Flow chrome-moly pushrods with lightweight retainers, COMP Cams LSX dual springs
Induction: stock LS6 with custom air induction
Exhaust: LS6 manifolds, custom exhaust with 40-Series Flowmaster mufflers
Ignition: GM LS6 ECU
Output: untested, 500 hp estimate
Built by: Chevrolet Performance/Kevin Miller

Drivetrain
Transmission: ’98 Camaro Tremec T56, Sachs clutch, Hurst shifter
Rearend: Ford 9-inch narrowed 2 inches with 3.89 gears

Chassis
Front suspension: RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers with 450-lb/in springs, Speedway Engineering 1.25-inch splined sway bar, Unisteer rack-and-pinion
Rear suspension: RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers with 225-lb/in springs, Vintage Racing and Performance 1-inch splined sway bar
Brakes: C6 Corvette Z51, front and rear
Wheels & tires: 18x11 and 18x12 Forgeline ZX3 with 285/30 and 335/30 BFGoodrich KDW tires

Results

Drag average:12.844 seconds (12.806 at 110.92 mph best)
Speed/stop average:DNF (9.520 best)
Autocross average:51.645 seconds (51.418 best)
Overall score:DNF