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  1. #1
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    Default Hell On Wheels: GATA! -1979 10th Anniv. Trans Am

    Hey ya'll,
    Long time reader, and have finally registered myself and getting started posting as I am finally starting my resto-mod project of my dreams! I am going for a moderate pro-touring build, but still keeping it streetable and able to hold some of its value.

    Quick background:
    Since I was a little kid, as long as I can remember, I've wanted a 1979 Trans Am. Seeing Smokey and the Bandit with dad only made this craving worse. I got my first set of wrenches when I was 12 and it's been down hill since then. My first real project was a 1996 BMW that I blew the motor to pieces in. I pulled it into my family garage and for 6 months we rebuilt the motor from the ground up to a decent performance motor, and the suspension got only the best of the best parts that money could buy. The car was a dream on the AutoX track! I sold that car upon finding my dream car, a 1979 Anniversary Trans Am. It's rusted, and 3-tone primer gray. But it's a 100% original, numbers matched car, although it is the less desirable 403. I couldn't pass it up and me and dad drove up to N. GA to pick this car up. I've driven it around every now and then with the tops down just to have some fun, but not much else. I am a full time college student with a job, and have been putting money away for 2 years now to start this build, and it's finally time! I moved into an off campus house with a nice sized work shed that will be the base for this operation, and I couldn't be more excited.

    As for the name of the build, I fought with myself long and hard trying to come up with the perfect name for this restoration...and finally settled with "GATA" as I feel it's appropriate for this build and what I'm going after...and if you don't know where GATA comes from, you went to the wrong school! (Or got a beating by the right one!)

    I want to keep some originality about this car, and the nice thing is it already has the WS6 handling package.

    My goal: A car I can drive on the street, enjoy south GA back roads, windy mountain roads, Autocross, daily drive, and take to the drag strip. I'd also like to keep the originality of this collectible, rare Bird.

    The first step is going to be to get it into the workshop once I get all my Jeep parts moved out and sold. We're starting with a complete tear down. I'm going to strip the interior, front body panels, motor/trans and sub frame all to start. First order of business is the suspension and subframe. We'll be using the Eastwood frame restoration paint and sealant on the subframe to clean it up, and through all the research and phone calls I've made, the final decision on suspension is Pro Touring F Body's Comp kit with solid mounts and the connecting rails. It's already got 4 wheels discs, but I'm also thinking of upgrading to drilled/slotted rotors with bigger calipers from SSBC possibly.

    I also have no intention of going Fuel Injected (I know going injected is a big part of pro touring...) I love the feel, and fun of driving a car with a big fat carb sitting on top of a built motor...nothing ever feels as good as those secondary's opening up on a straight shot down a flat road.

    I'll be moving the Trans Am into the work shop in no more than a week from today, and will be keeping this thread updated through the entire tear down process coming up.

    I know how much everyone loves pictures, so here we go!

    The BMW:

    BMW 2 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    This was with the coils spun all the way down, and it handled great once I tuned it correctly this low!


    Slammed by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    And here is the GATA build starting point:




    TATA 1 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    TATA 4 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    TATA Int. 1 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    And the heart of the beast!


    TATA Motor 1 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    I'm going to do what most frown upon and say can't be done, but we're rebuilding this "useless" 403 up and making a great motor out of it. They bore on these motors are ridiculous, and with the right components can SAFELY make great torque.



    A few more random shots for ya'll:


    In my dads garage before I brought it down to mine:


    Front by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    And I'll end it with my favorite angle of these 2nd Gen TA's:


    TATA 2 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr




    I've been sitting on this car and project for 2 years now, working harder than I've ever worked for anything in my life and can finally start on it and see my dream car take shape. Starting this thread is kind of my first step towards it and am glad to be part of the family!

    -JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)


  2. #2
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    Mar 2012
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    Statesboro, GA
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    I was finally able to snag my girlfriends camera and get some pictures of the progress:

    Stripped out most of the interior, will be finishing that up this weekend

    Back

    StrippedRear by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Front:

    Stripped Interior by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Started to work on the front end also so I can get ready to pull the 403 out:

    Started here


    Engine Bay by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Got it down to:


    Front by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Then stripped to the core support, but broke too many of those rusted metal clips and hit a stand still for the evening at about midnight:


    FrontStripped2 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    I'm still working on getting the fenders and good off, then the rest of the core support. Also got to get the rest of the interior taken care of.

    I'm planning on towing it to the paint/body/restoration shop in about 2 weeks to do all the body work. While it's there I'm going to have the TH350 rebuilt, and start tearing down the motor. I'm at a stand still on the motor though. The shop can do Crate motors, installed for 3,000ish. So I might go with this option instead of putting the 403 back in, but keeping the 403 to maintain originality. It's all up to the wallet.

    I'll post more pictures after tonights work. Thanks for looking!

    Input is MORE than welcome!

    -JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  3. #3
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    Feb 2005
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    Sydney, Australia
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    Great project. TATA's are a really nice car and fully loaded.
    Check in at www.realoldspower.com for some tech tips on improving the 403. Unlike a lot of 2nd gen owners, I have respect for the 403 as its not a real big heavy engine for the cubes.....some better heads and some attention to the bottom end and they are a good engine choice. Don't let someone talk you into a SBC crate engine...theres a lot of little changes to the engine bay required to run a SBC in a Trans Am, I'd stick with the Olds. Spend some money on good parts for the TH350, and it'll live quite happily behind the 403.
    Good luck.
    Regards,
    Leigh

    Sydney, Australia
    1971 Firebird 455

    http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Project/page27

  4. #4
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    Mar 2012
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    Statesboro, GA
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeighP View Post
    Great project. TATA's are a really nice car and fully loaded.
    Check in at www.realoldspower.com for some tech tips on improving the 403. Unlike a lot of 2nd gen owners, I have respect for the 403 as its not a real big heavy engine for the cubes.....some better heads and some attention to the bottom end and they are a good engine choice. Don't let someone talk you into a SBC crate engine...theres a lot of little changes to the engine bay required to run a SBC in a Trans Am, I'd stick with the Olds. Spend some money on good parts for the TH350, and it'll live quite happily behind the 403.
    Good luck.
    I recognize your name, are you over on 78ta? Also, I wouldn't go with a SBC, I don't want a chevy motor, I'd go with a 400 or 455 Poncho crate. But Odds are I'm going to put some good work into that 403, the bore and stroke of this engine is phenomenal. I was thinking upping the compression with some KB pistons, overbore .030, and building up the valve train and porting and polishing the heads up.
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  5. #5
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    After a very long day in the office, my boss and I both managed to wiggle some time away from our girlfriends and make our way out to my workshop. Here's what progress we've made tonight. It's coming right along!


    Front 3 5.3.12 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    The next few days will be devoted strictly to cleaning up and getting all my save-able parts labeled and stored.

    Hope you guys are enjoying my build as much as I am!
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  6. #6
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    Always fun taking them apart...even better when they're going back together all clean and painted. yeah, I post sometimes on 78ta...more often on TAC.
    I don't know that I'd spend time/money on the 403 heads...I seem to recall that there are better (earlier) 350 heads to use that will also up your compression....or Edelbrock is doing alloys now, too.
    Regards,
    Leigh

    Sydney, Australia
    1971 Firebird 455

    http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Project/page27

  7. #7
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    There were so many rusted on retaining clips, and so much rust in the fenders and hood, it took us a whole case of Budwiser, a deadblow hammer, and a lot of perseverance to get all that old metal off. Looking forward to the clean stuff.

    In ya'lls opinion, would you do all the suspension work while the car is at the point it's at, or wait for it to come back from the paint/body shop?
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  8. #8
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    Feb 2007
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    Mock up as much as you can before you paint!
    Brandon Slater

    1979 Z28
    1972 Nova
    2014 Silverado

  9. #9
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    Mar 2012
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    Statesboro, GA
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    Yeah, I was thinking about putting all the Pro-Touring F-Body stuff on before sending it to paint/body. It just seems easier with all the stuff out of the way. Will have more updates tonight! Things are moving quickly.
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  10. #10
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    I built all the mechanicals and suspension before it went to paint. My shop took care to mask the underside and the engine bay while spraying anything. Worked well for me, I didn't like the idea of doing all the heavy work around new paint.
    Regards,
    Leigh

    Sydney, Australia
    1971 Firebird 455

    http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Project/page27

  11. #11
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    Mar 2012
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    Statesboro, GA
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    Leigh,
    they're doing the subframe/underside/firewall and engine bay all for me as it needed new metal and wheel wells all the way around. I think I am going to go ahead and call Dave this week and get my suspension stuff in. It just seems easier.
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  12. #12
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    Mar 2012
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    Now that I've got all the suspension stuff figured out, it was time to move on to the powerplant of the beast, the original numbers matched Olds 403.

    I spoke with my engine builder, and a 403 custom cam grinder guru today and got everything mapped out for the build:

    As far as the build goes, this is what I've pieced together:
    Main girdle on the bottom
    New oil pan
    High flow water pump (already running an upgraded radiator)
    Bore over .024 => 407ci
    KB +6 Pistons
    0 Deck the block
    BBO 445 Ga heads with the big valves (These huge bore blocks love them)
    1.6 Comp Cam Rollers
    Custom Grind Roller Cam => .544, 224/228, 110
    The cam is a roller tappet setup, so roller tappet lifters
    Rebuild Quadrajet
    Hotter distributor
    Headers/exhaust (Dougs and Pypes)

    This build was predicted to do exactly what I wanted, huge torque numbers. Should easily push 500 ft/lbs at ~450hp.

    Not bad for a "Smog 403 with a weak bottom end." This motor should fly!

    Thanks for following, I got the original motor and tranny pulled finally, my girlfriend took her camera back, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to grace y'all with some new pictures!

    JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  13. #13
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    Good sounding specs....cams actually pretty similar to the one in my 455. Girdle is good insurance for the windowed mains.
    Only comment I'd venture is as long as the KB pistons are forged, thats cool...the KB hypereutectic's had/have a rep for tearing the top ring land off ....some debate over whether thats because of the wrong ring gaps...but still, its a reputation.
    Should rev nicely....
    Regards,
    Leigh

    Sydney, Australia
    1971 Firebird 455

    http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Project/page27

  14. #14
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    Liberal, KS
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    Good project. You'll need to get rid of the 2.73 rear end that's in the car for the engine to do any good. I'd go right to a 3.42. This will allow you to upgrade the transmission later on and not change rear gears again. You can easily put a 2004R in there or go to a T56. You'll suck the gas down with the TH350 for now though, trust me. The 403 has gotten a lot of attention from enthusiasts over the last few years. There are a number of packages that perform quite well. This includes using the existing 4A heads that should be on the motor. Your combo should work great too. Glad you're putting the girdle on the engine. You'll need that for sure.

    Good luck and keep the pictures coming.
    Trey

    "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
    ~ Jon Hammond

    1979 WS6 Trans Am stock LT1/T56 drive train out of my Formula. BMW M-parallel rims. C5/C6 brakes

    build thread http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...ghlight=begins

  15. #15
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    That car is going to look great! I love that interior, it looks like set up a bat mobile would have

  16. #16
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    Mar 2012
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    Glad you guys are following! Here's a bit more to add on to the story:

    So I got the engine and transmission pulled out, without any help or a balance bar. It was a PITA and real hot in South GA, but I got it right out after a little love. Here's a shot of the empty space:


    Engine Pulled 1 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Looks so lonely! Can't wait to get the fresh built, 500 ft/lb torque monster back in there.

    A shot of the original transmission and intake manifold (I'm going to clean up that intake so I've still got all the original stuff what folks ask)


    Intake and Trans by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Engine on the stand, all accessories, valve covers, valley pans etc removed:


    Engine.Intake Off 2 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Had a little "help" tonight with pulling some of the head bolts from the girlfriend, she's not bad with a wrench! :


    Rebekah 1 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Finally off, flipped the motor over, and went to work on the underside. We got all but 2 pistons out before calling it an early night:


    Crank and Pistons by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Lots of good work on the motor got knocked out, the tear down is almost done! After this evening, this is where the project sits as of now. I'm still piecing all my new engine components together and ordered my new custom grind roller cam setup this afternoon.

    I'll have more updates tomorrow night when I get the rest torn down, thanks for following the build!

    JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  17. #17
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    Quick teaser for you guys, I walked out of my work shop this evening and there was a nice package sitting on my door step:


    Roller Tip by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    Roller Lifters by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    Roller Lifter by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    These are some NICE pieces! Can't wait to get the camshaft in now.

    That is all for now,

    JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  18. #18
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    You said you were going with Pypes exhaust, which mufflers? I have the Race-Pros on my Lemans an they drone like crazy.
    John McLoughlin
    1970 Pontiac Lemans
    http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...-Lemans-Update

  19. #19
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    Well, today and tonight have been somewhat depressing but also joyful! Spent the first half of the day on the phone with the shop making sure they had room for me. Spent the second half tracking down a trailer (Sometimes living in a small town sucks), and the third half getting the Trans Am ready to roll, and loaded up. Here it is 1 AM and it's finally all loaded up. My barn is empty, and the Trans Am will be leaving my possession for the first time since I drove it 400 miles from North GA over 3 years ago. I guess it's great that it's finally going! Just sad to not see it out front anymore.

    Anyway, enough of my blabbing, here's some pictures!

    Forgot I took the interior out...and we needed a driver, so this was the best we could come up with ,here's my fraternity brother and roommate "driving."


    JB Driving by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Got it up on the trailer!


    Car on Trailer 4 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Me and one of my childhood best friends, my "little brother" in our fraternity, and favorite buddy to work on cars with. We've been working on cars since 17 years old with our first rides and he's helped me with this car every step of the way (I'm the SHORT one by the way):


    Car Me and Jon by MercurioJJ, on Flickr


    And off we go!


    Car on Trailer 2 by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    Here's the barn...empty. It's bitter sweet! Time to start building that monster 403.


    Empty Barn by MercurioJJ, on Flickr

    I'm headed on a 300 mile journey to the restoration shop tomorrow morning bright and early. I'll have TONS of pictures, they've always got cool stuff in there. See ya'll tomorrow, hope you enjoy!

    JJ
    Hell On Wheels: GATA! Build Thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/showthrea...Anniv-Trans-Am
    -JJ
    1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am- Restoration in progress
    1991 All Original Jeep Grand Cherokee, 410,000 miles and counting! (DD/Parts mobile)

  20. #20
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    looks like a lot of fun, and a cool project too

    www.RnDFabrication.com
    Custom Radiators, Valve Covers and Overflow Tanks
    Project Sabre




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