- Engine: 454 cubic inch V8, 4-barrel carburetor
- Transmission: TH400 3-speed automatic
- Rear: Ford 9-inch, narrowed, 4.88 gears on Detroit Locker
- Mileage: 0 (since completion)
- Color: Lemon Ice with custom graphics
- Interior: Black and gray
- Wheels: Billet Specialties GTX20
- Tires: Front: 26x6x15 Rear: 31x18.5 Mickey Thompson SR
This 1986 Pontiac Grand Am is one of those rare opportunities that come along every so often here at RK Motors Charlotte. As many experienced hobbyists know, building a car yourself always, always, always costs more than buying someone else's finished project. And calling this car a 1986 Pontiac Grand Am is like calling the Mona Lisa a canvas—while technically correct, it's really missing the point. What this car is instead, is an ISCA contender that cost over $300,000 to build and took more than eight years to complete, so it's poised to start collecting trophies its first time out. Professionally built and finished throughout, this car is so highly detailed that you'll probably want to book an overnight stay here in town if you're coming in to look at it—there's just too much to see in one sitting.
As a ground-up build, there isn't much 1986 Pontiac left outside of the body shell and some of the interior bits. Otherwise, it's a full 2x3 mild steel chassis in the best custom fashion. The nose is a custom 1-piece fiberglass piece made expressly for this car that's held in place with 24K gold plated Dzus fasteners (including the rivets!). It incorporates stretched front fenders, but the look is so subtle you may miss it without another Grand Am parked next to this one. All the panels are held in place with stainless steel screws, and can be removed for full access to the engine and suspension. Out back, the rear quarter panels have been stretched to cover the positively massive tires. The doors are OEM, and there's no such thing as a car built by GM with doors that shut as solidly as they do on this yellow Pontiac. Thanks to the ultra-rigid chassis and incredible fit and finish, these doors open and close effortlessly and snap shut with precision. The paint and graphics are incredibly well done (as they should be on a car meant to compete at the very highest levels). The Lemon Ice base is joined by a graphics package composed of Summer Green, Big Band Blue, and Deep Rose, all buried under the clear for a seamless effect. The graphics extend into the door jambs, and if you look closely, even the door handles have been painted to invisibly blend into the color scheme, and I can't imagine how many hours just that single custom touch must have required. The glass is all OEM, too, as are all the handles, lenses and decals, invisibly blending the modifications with the stock pieces in the finest pro-street idiom.
Pull the front clip to reveal the heart of the beast along with a lot of beautifully built sheet metal packaging that is finished to the same incredibly high standards as the bodywork. The engine, although it says Pontiac on the valve covers, is a built LS6 Chevy big block packing 454 cubic inches. The heads are polished aluminum units, there's a custom high-lift camshaft in the center of the block, and a dominator carb up top, and a crank trigger system, which all adds up to approximately 600 horsepower. But again, as a show vehicle, it's the attention to detail and build quality that will really knock you out. Dig the fuel rails and lines feeding the carburetor. The intake manifold has been painstakingly smoothed and polished before being painted high gloss black to match the rest of the engine. The block was similarly prepped and smoothed for great looks. The valve covers are custom items with machined inserts, all the lines are polished stainless, and dig the one-off billet items throughout the engine bay. First, there's that fan shroud for the 3500 CFM electric cooling fan, complete with Pontiac emblem milled into its face—that piece alone took dozens of hours and thousands of dollars to fabricate. It cools a custom built Ron Davis aluminum radiator that has been fully polished and plumbed with hard lines for a catch can and overflow tank on the firewall. Then there's the alternator located down low and driven by a jack-shaft that is connected to the crank by a toothed belt, keeping the top of the engine bay nice and sanitary. The crank pulley is a chrome-plated Fluidampr unit, there's a billet timing cover, a high torque chrome plated mini-starter, and even the freeze plugs feature polished billet aluminum inserts.
The transmission is a built GM TH400 3-speed automatic, beefed up to handle life behind the nasty big block up front. There's a full manual valve body setup fed by a TCI 3800 RPM stall torque converter. The case has been fully polished and painted like the rest of the engine with a coat of mirror-like paint. The deep aluminum oil pan has been fully polished, and is held in place by stainless steel fasteners. It's all cooled by a big polished cooler fed by beautifully made hard lines. It twists a custom drive shaft attached to a narrowed and braced Strange 9-inch Ford rear end that has been molded and polished so it's completely seamless. A Mark Williams polished aluminum center section carries 4.88 gears on a Detroit Locker to put the power down reliably through 31-spline axles.
The chassis itself is made from 2x3 mild steel tubing, fully blueprinted and professionally engineered—this is not a backyard amateur build. All the joints are fully TIG welded and finished so the entire thing blends together seamlessly. The cage was designed to be subtle, and features round steel tubing (again all TIG welded) that follows the contours of the body and makes getting in and out of the car easy. Up front, the suspension is a custom strut setup with chrome plated struts, powder coated springs, and a rack-and-pinion steering setup. Tie rods are chrome with Teflon-lined heim joints for pinpoint accuracy. Out back, the narrowed rear is suspended on a custom 4-link setup featuring more powder coated springs backed by adjustable Koni shocks, a custom chrome wishbone, chromoly heim joints and a built-in driveshaft loop. The exhaust is 100% TIG welded (no clamps!), and Jet-Hot coated, including the Flowmaster mufflers. The net effect is a staggeringly beautiful assembly of parts that probably runs as great as it looks (if you have the guts to put this thing on the track).
Brakes are discs at all four corners, with polished stainless lines feeding billet calipers and cross drilled rotors. A proportioning valve has been added to balance the bias, and the master cylinder hides discreetly under the floors to keep the firewall super sanitary. Wheels are fully polished Billet Specialties GTX20s, 15x4s up front, with wide 15x14s out back featuring gigantic 31x18.50 Mickey Thompson SR tires. On this car, even the lug nuts are polished aluminum!
The interior is a fully finished driving environment, neither race car barren nor production car ordinary. All the sheet metal panels are 100% custom fabricated and painted like glass. For strength and decoration, everything has been bead rolled, and all the panels are fully removable for ease of service and access. The seats are Recaro Sportsters with 2-tone material, there's a custom headliner overhead featuring a billet dome lamp, and a Hurst pistol-grip shifter with custom cover plus a line lock control. The dash is mostly OEM, but has been stuffed full of Autometer American Muscle gauges. A custom tilt steering column carries a billet steering wheel, while a pair of fabricated brake and accelerator pedals take care of your feet. I'm especially digging the trick floor mats that are secured to the bare steel floors, creating a kind of minimalist look that is pure race car. The trunk has been finished in a similar way, and all you need to know about the craftsmanship that went into this car is visible in the beautifully made trunk hinges, which were fabricated from scratch. All the sheet metal in the trunk is, of course, painted to match the rest of the car, and there are access panels for all the areas underneath, including the custom aluminum fuel cell, power antenna, electric fuel pump and fuel filter, battery terminals, and kill switch. The wheel tubs were hand-fabricated and finished with polished stainless screws and nylocks holding it all together. As a final touch, the deck lid has a power release, just so you don't forget that this is a street car, not a full race piece.
This car is 100% street legal, and the builder went to great lengths to make sure that everything works, from the horn, to all the lights, to the wipers—heck, even the windshield washer nozzles are still fully functional. Some very big names have worked on this car, and it was finished by Smitty's Automotive, who has come within a whisker of the Ridler Award more than a few times. As I said, this is one of those rare opportunities to take someone else's hard work and cubic dollars and put them to work for yourself. You couldn't duplicate this car for three times the asking price, and it has been a work of love for more than 8 years. It's much too beautiful to drive, but it is exactly what you need to take home the biggest trophies at the highest levels. This car will never be duplicated, and the quality has to be seen to be believed. Don't look at it as a Grand Am, look at it as rolling art, because the guys who built it were artists of the highest caliber. Just because they chose to work in steel and fiberglass instead of plaster and watercolors doesn't mean they aren't just as talented. Book your hotel and spend a few days with this car and see if you don't agree. Call now!
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RK Motors, in my opinion, is the best place to find and buy your high quality dream car or next toy. Their inventory is full of high quality automobiles painstakingly preserved or restored the correct way at very fair prices. I throughly enjoy my automobiles purchased for RK Motors and my friendship with them. I would highly recommend them to anyone as i have to all of my friend, acquaintances and folks who have asked me for recommendations and advice.Mitchell W.