Winner Speed-Stop
1977 Pontiac Trans Am

We'll never tire of stories about hot rodders hanging onto their first cars despite what life throws their way, then revisiting them years later to rebuild them as the car they always wished it could have been. This slick silver 1977 Trans Am was Travis Hartwell's very first car, and by his own admission he was quite hard on it through his years of high school driving. But weren't we all?

When it came time to go off to college, the TA went into storage as Hartwell moved forward and worked on building his future. About 10 years later when life had become more stable again, he pulled the TA out and began a very long, slow restoration on it. Hartwell wanted to keep the vintage 1970s feel of the TA, but class it up with more of a modern flair. Hartwell kept the body stock, but opted for a clean silver that was a special order Mazda Miata color and paired it with a slightly darker shade to create the hood bird. The final effect is a ghost image of the bird that is one of the best modernizations of that iconic logo that we've ever seen.

Stock performance was pretty lackluster in 1977 on all fronts. To make the TA more capable of running with modern muscle, Hartwell enlisted Schumaker Performance in Greenwood, Illinois, to build a stout, but easily driveable, 540hp 468ci Pontiac. Hartwell wanted to return to the days of driving his TA hard, but with more of an emphasis on corner carving, so chassis and suspension wise he looked to Pro Touring F-Body for their competition-level bolt-on springs, control arms, and chassis bracing. With so much more potential on hand, Hartwell began autocrossing it. He keeps it a family activity as much as possible though; "The way the car sits now I can pile my family in and go to shows with my wife and two kids in car seats in the back, Hartwell told us. "Then we unpack, beat on the car, and go home."

1977 Pontiac Trans Am
Travis Hartwell
Greenwood, IN

Type: 468ci Pontiac by Schumaker Performance, 540 hp, 600 lb-ft of torque Rotating assembly: Ohio Crankshaft stoker kit
Cylinder heads: Edelbrock Performer aluminum
Induction: Pro Systems carb on Edelbrock Performer intake
Exhaust: cast-iron manifolds with custom exhaust
Ignition: Davis Unified Ignition (DUI) HEI

Transmission: 700-R4 four-speed automatic overdrive
Rearend: .75-inch narrowed Moser 12-bolt with 3.73 gears and Eaton Truetrac diff

Front suspension: Pro Touring F-Body (PTFB) tubular control arms, tall ball joints, sway bar, and Competition springs with Viking adjustable shocks
Rear suspension: PTFB Competition leaf springs with Viking adjustable shocks
Steering: stock rebuild
Brakes: SSBC stock replacement front, 1993 Camaro swap rear
Chassis: PTFB G-Brace
Wheels & tires: 18x8 and 18x10 Rushforth Rated X with 245/40 and 284/40 Nitto NT555

¼-mile Drag (best): 12.458 at 110.05 mph
⅛-mile Speed-Stop (avg.): 8.985 seconds
Autocross (avg.): 49.896 seconds
Overall score: 96.569