It was arranged for myself and my partner to go to Grand Touring Garage to see the 1970 MustangTrans-Cammer, winner of the SEMA GT Award for 2009. The day started early for us, 5am. The weather had been record cold for almost a week before the visit. The night before the trip an ice storm hit Oregon’s Western Region, and the road conditions were treacherous still. We allowed plenty of time for the 110-mile journey. We drove carefully and arrived at the designated time. Nothing was going to prevent us from viewing this world-class machine. When we arrived at the beautiful shop, we were greeted by J.D., one of the techs who had helped build this wondrous car. Shortly we were introduced To Phil Koenen and his wife Gail, owners of Grand Touring Garage. We were taken into the shop to view the Trans-Cammer. When I first viewed the car, it nearly made me gasp. The car has a perfect stance and looks very purposeful. It sits very low to the ground, 4.5" of clearance, and the roof line is only 48" tall, 3" lower than stock. Very reminiscent of the original Trans- Am Road Racing cars, but with decidedly modern style updates as well.
The Trans-Cammer’s foundation is a set of Art Morrison chassis rails made with rectangular2 x 4, .120 steel. The body has been channeled over the frame rails. The car also sports a full roll cage that extends into the engine compartment and trunk and has removable door bars that lock with aircraft pins, Thechassis was designed by Grand Touring Garage and built from .120 wall 4130 Chromoly tubing by Fast Eddie, Orange, CA. Engine setback is 9", and is behind the front axle, helping the car achieve F/R 52%/48% weight balance. To accommodate this, the firewall has been recessed and the fresh air cowl vent panel was removed. This necessitated the lengthened carbon fiber cowl induction styled hood. Continuing back from the recessed firewall is a custom aerodynamically flat underside floor and transmission tunnel, rear seat area and deck panels. The trunk floor is also custom and holds a fuel cell.
The motor is a 1965 Ford 427 SOHC. When located it was determined this engine was NOS (new old stock) and had never been run. It was sent to be inspected and the appropriate changes made to it by Bud Gilbert at G-Force Racing Engines in Paso Robles, CA. The Engine produces 600 HP @6800 RPM SAE NET and 525 FT. LBS. @ 5500 RPM SAE NET on 91 octane pump gas. It has JE Pistons with 9.5:1 Compression ratio, Manley Rods, a Ford Crankshaft, and Mooneyes / Ford Camshafts. Timing chain gears, valvetrain, chain, and cover are all Ford. Cylinder heads are cast iron Ford Hemispherical with stainless steel Ferrara valves. The engine is fueled by dual 780cfm Holley 4 barrels on an aluminum Ford intake manifold. These are fed by a Holley Red fuel pump and a Holley adjustable fuel pump regulator from the 22 gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell.
Ignition is by a Ford distributor witha Crane Electronic conversion and a Jacobs coil. Exhaust exits via headers by Keith Hickson of Aliso Veijo, CA into stainless steel rocker panel exhausts by Grand Touring Garage. A Ron Davis stepped 4-core aluminum radiator cools the engine. Mounted to this are dual 11.5" Spal Electric fans. Grand Touring Garage designed and built the stainless steel overflow and surge tanks. It also has dual Setrab oil coolers, and power steering cooler. It is equipped with a 3 gallon Aviad dry-sump located behind the right front wheel well. Transferring power is an 11" steel flywheel and full McLeod clutch, into a Tremec TKO 600 5-Speed. Gear Ratios: 2.87/1.89/1.28/1.00/0.64.
The 3" Powertrain Industries driveshaft leads to a Mittler Bros. Grand National type full floater housing. The hubs/axles are Mittler Bros. and the nodular iron Ford 9" is from Strange Engineering. The gear set is Richmond and is a 4.10 ratio positraction.
Front Suspension consists of 4130 Chromoly upper and lower unequal length A-arms by Fast Eddie, with 2" drop Ford spindles. The shocks are Penske and springs are 500# Hyperco. Sway bar is 1 1/4" hollow Chromoly with aluminum arms by Speedway Engineering. Rack and pinion steering unit is from Woodward Steering Components and has a 2.36 ratio. Lock-to-Lock is 2 turns.
Rear suspension is a 1-1/4" x .120 wall 4130 Chromoly tubing triangulated 4-bar by Fast Eddie. All front and rear suspension A-arms and links were patterned on custom jigs built from the Art Morrison stainless steel suspension components that were originally supplied with the Art Morrison full rolling chassis. Stainless steel components are prettier, 4130 Chromoly components are stronger, and more durable. The rear end is supported by 500# Hyperco springs with Penske shocks. Rear sway bar is 7/8" hollow 4130 Chromoly with aluminum bars ends by Speedway Engineering.
Brake and clutch master cylinders and remote reservoirs are CNC with Wilwood pedals. It is equipped with an adjustable Wilwood proportioning valve. All hard lines are stainless steel as are the braided lines. Gas pedal is a Neal unit.
Front calipers are 6 piston Baer with 14.75" cross-drilled and vented Baer rotors and hats. Rear calipers are currently 6 piston Baer with 13.0" cross-drilled and vented rotors and hats. Rear calipers will be changed to 2 piston Baer calipers with a provision for an e-brake, since the car was originally designedto have 70% front and 30% rear braking under normal driving conditions. All wheel studs and lug nuts are from ARP.
The wheels were designed by Grand Touring Garage. The CNC machining of the wheels is by Panther Performance Products in Anaheim, CA. Rims and assembly are by Vaughn Wheels in Monrovia, CA. Wheel centers have been machined from 6061 aluminum billet, the wheel rims are T-6 aluminum. Front wheel size is 17x9.5, rear wheel size is 17x11. The wheel centers are powder coated Iron Metallic Gray. The wheel rims are Black hard anodized by Embee Plating in Santa Ana, CA.
Front tires are 275-40x17R- BF Goodrich KD-98Y, Rear tires are 315-35x17 BF Goodrich KD 102Y.
The interior is very much in the style of a race car, and is also of show quality. The meticulous attention to detail is evident everywhere in here as well. The dash is a custom aluminum unit by Fast Eddie. It contains a full array of Auto Meter liquid filled gauges. The GM style Ididit tilt steering column features a Momo wheel. The seats are Cobra Daytona Style, with upholstery supplied by Thornton Auto Upholstery in Santa Ana, CA. The seats have Simpson harnesses. The center console was designed and built by Grand Touring Garage and contains American Autowire switches for the Electric Life windows, starterbutton, fresh air fan, fuel pump, headlamp and windshield wiper. The transmission tunnel and inner firewall are covered with custom waffle pattern heat and sound insulation. The car also features a 3-nozzle position 10 lb. Halon fire system by Fire Bottle Systems, and dual master safety kill switches from Pegasus Racing. Rear view is via an HRP wide convex rear view mirror, and dual carbon fiber housing outside mirrors. Door panels are Ford style black, with carbon fiber lower panels.
Moving to the outside of this immaculately beautiful machine, very subtle, tasteful, custom styling cues abound. Starting at the front of the car, the front valance panel has front brake air scoops and oil cooler scoops integrated into the front valance. Below these scoops is a carbon fiber splitter. The front headlight housings feature integrated LED turn signals, and the right side bezel includes the occupant fresh air system duct. The headlamps are Cibie. The custom grille was designed by Grand Touring Garage, and is manufactured from water-jet cut aluminum sheet and powder coated the same color as the wheel centers. The front fenders are fiberglass and are quick-release for access to the dry sump reservoir on the passenger side, and braking components on the driver side. The louvered custom inner fender wells were designed and built by Grand Touring Garage. Behind the carbon fiber cowl induction style hood resides a custom single windshield wiper system. The body shell offers more custom innovations and styling cues. The drip rails have been removed, steel NACA ducts have been added to the rear quarter panels behind the doors, and the windshield has safety tabs. The back glass has safety straps. The doors have been smoothed and the stock door handles removed. In their place are incredibly trick billet door handles that match the contour of the upper doors. They are quite reminiscent of the style of Ferrari Dino door handles. The tail lamp panel features custom LED tail lamps and a flush-mounted faux gas filler cap. Above the rear panel, the trunk lid has a "Gurney Lip". Under the rear of the car is a set of carbon fiber rear strakes that function as a diffuser.
The fit and finish of this incredible car are almost beyond belief, and the car easily achieves the Project Objective:
"To create a vehicle that is instantly recognizable, yet different. To incorporate some of the best features found on the original Trans-Am Road Racing automobiles, utilizing State of the Art components and construction techniques. To select a unique and revered engine as the driving force."
Photos can hardly do this car justice. It is nearly impossible to describe the high level of design, craftsmanship and love of quality that this machine delivers to the enthusiast when viewing this car in person. The Trans-Cammer is a welcome addition to the Gran Turismo series, and a very worthy recipient of the high level of honor bestowed upon it by the creators of Gran Turismo. It is a Grand Touring Automobile in every sense of the term. I feel blessed to have witnessed this magnificent machine in person, and my thanks go out to the owners of Grand Touring Garage for allowing me to help present the car to all Gran Turismo fans. I would also like to thank Chris, Taka, Taku, and the PD team for allowing myself and my partner’s presence, coinciding with their data gathering session. It was an experience that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
Love the "CAUTION" tag on the throttle pedal lol.
Very nice, thanks for the story and pics.
Swerv, thank you for posting up your story of the great experience that you had. Could you please post the pic of you in the car, I'd love to see the grin on your face.
That caution tag was funny, lol.
Edit: you added the pics of yourself in the car, Thanks.
Kudos for sharing with us Swerv and a BIG kudo for Phil Koenen and wife Gail for allowing you access to that unbelievable machine.
So let me get this straight, your on a first name basis with the "boys" at PD now? I hope you got some of their phone numbers and addresses for future reference. Too bad you didn't think of bringing your "book" of tunes to be autographed by those guys, or did you???
Great article SWERV! You represented car fans and GT fans equally well! I appreciate both the detailed descriptions and the pictures. I can tell by the look on you face that you enjoyed the trip immensely. By the way who is the babe sitting in the car? She looks familiar!
PS: Is that a George Fulmer race car in the background?
Thanks Swerv! Nice story and pics. The builders did a number 1 job. The attention to detail , form and fit look to be second to none. Speakin of fit. You look like you fit real well in the **bleep**pit. Any chance of takin it out for hot laps? 77
That is the best part of it, We all get to take it out for hotlaps, sometime around Summer 2010. My first venture will be Nurburgring, I imagine. I am really looking forward to driving this car in Gran Turismo 5.