Background – Trans Am

This is my first post detailing the progress of my resto-mod ‘81 Trans Am. I’ll try to keep the blog updated each week as much as possible. First a little background on the car. I bought the car around 2001 for about $2500. I was lucky enough to find a Y84 Special Edition Trans Am (or Bandit Edition as some call it).  The car originally came from Florida and wasn’t in bad shape but not great either.  It had been painted within the last decade or so with a budget paint job.  The paint was faded and all original decals gone, except for some remnants which had started to bleed back through.  After a little exhaust work from a local shop, the clogged cat was replaced and ran decently for a couple of years. It suffered from leaky t-tops as most older Trans Ams do. All that water did a number on the interior over the years. With musky old car smell and tattered seats I didn’t have much money so I drove the car as is, even as my daily driver for about 6 months when my main car died. In ’05 I decided to move away from my hometown to finish my degree in Mechanical Engineering. The car sat idle and forgotten for the next two years.

Early 2007, since college was out of the way and I could now afford to sink a little money into the car, I decided to spruce things up a bit. I bought new carpet and some vinyl dye so I could replace the struggling interior. When the carpet was pulled back and interior pieces removed it was evident that those leaky t-tops had ran a toll on patches of the floor pan. Although, in comparison the car was in better shape than most of the ones I’ve seen of that year. The rust in the floor pan was minor but I couldn’t bring myself to ignore this so it had to be fixed. What started out as some minor cosmetic fixes has snowballed into a full blown restoration. The following documents this progress.


Most all work on the car is on Saturdays from about 8:30 to around 3:00. Most of the bodywork has been completed on the body shell and can be seen in the gallery page. There were some areas mainly in the t-tops that needed some sheet metal replacement. For this I bought a metal shrinker/stretcher from Harbor Freight to do all the shaping. It cost about $100 but was priceless for these sections. This was my first experience with this tool and was actually pretty easy.

Next, attention was focused on the underbody. The rear differential and all rear suspension parts were removed for sandblasting and painting. Leaf springs, sway bars, calipers were all cleaned and painted. Calipers were painted with Duplicolor’s high temp black and rotors were trimmed in silver. All rubber bushings were replaced with Prothane polyeurethane material from While this work was being completed, I had a local machinist rebuild my rearend. I replaced the old 3.08 gears with Motive Gear’s performance 3.73’s. Soon the rearend was finished, cleaned again and put in final paint. All suspension parts including the rearend and any rust areas were treated with Eastwood’s two-part Rust Converter and Rust Ecapsulator. After rust treatment, the underbody and suspension parts were coated with SEM’s gloss black Rust-Shield. Stock shocks were replaced with KYB gas-a-just shocks.

On 10/18/08 all parts were back together. The car was then jacked up and the subframe was removed for cleaning. For the next couple of weeks, the front half of the underbody and firewall will be prepped for paint.

The Future:

The car originally came with a lazy 301 and an automatic transmission. The engine will be replaced with an older 400 block with a set of ported #16 heads. The transmission will be brought up to date with a Tremec TKO 600 5 speed from Old outdated gauges will be renewed with aftermarket Autometer gauges which will be set into the YearOne engine turned dash bezel offered as part of their Burt Reynold’s edition Trans Ams.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment