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1. Tell us the story behind your ride. What made you pick this particular one? Where did you find it? To put it simply, this is my car soul mate. I will sell every other thing I own before I will sell this car. It was purpose-built not to be a crazy horsepower monster, but instead to be a balanced performer. It was built so that I can take it straight from the drag strip to a road course and then to an autocross, change nothing, and have it perform well at each place. It wasn't build to be the fastest in any one location, but to outperform most cars overall. About 6 months out of school, I was making enough money to afford a decent car payment. I've always been a fan of cars that were different than the norm. So, I created a list of muscle cars that sounded interesting and started narrowing it down with test drives. Once I reached the GTO, I stopped looking. I had test driven a couple autos, because I didn't know how to drive a stick. I told the salesman that I wasn't going to buy the car, but if they happened to find a black, manual GTO with under 40k miles to call me. About 3 weeks later they did, with exactly what I wanted. I went on a test drive (or better to say a test ride) the next day, and after the salesman did a quick 3rd gear pull, I knew I was done looking. A couple days later I brought in some family to help me look it over before buying it, bought it, then had a cousin drive it home for me. This was my opportunity to have a fast car, and learn to drive a stick finally. Since then, I've ditched all my autos and exclusively drive stick cars. 2. Describe the modifications you have made. Where did you start, what’s the most recent mod and what motivated it? I drove the car as it was for a couple years. Early on, I had some big issues with the chrome flaking off the wheels (it came with the chrome plated wheels option from the factory). Otherwise, the car was great. I started watching a bunch of YouTube videos to start planning what I was going to do to the car. I calculated out the costs and worked on a budget and a plan of attack. I planned it out about 5 years in advance. The first mod, of course, was the stereotypical K&N CAI and catback exhaust. After getting those, I got the vanity plate, Mean GTO, with the knowledge that it would someday live up to the name. At the time, it was not deserving of the name. After that, the next stage was cam, exhaust, tune, and short throw shifter. That was the most significant of the mods I made. It COMPLETELY changed how the car acted. It screamed at wide open and definitely was deserving of the name Mean GTO. Countless people have come up to me since then and said "That car sounds mean", all without seeing the plate first. The next mod series was brakes, wheels, and tires. Finding good looking staggered wheels was a challenge. I spent hours upon hours looking for a clean 18" 5-spoke that had the right width and offset. I settled on my Lorenzo wheels, but will probably try to find something better the next time around. Rivets on wheels look tacky to me, so I've never been 100% committed to my wheels' aesthetics. The next stage was the big one, suspension and supercharger. I added upgraded bushings all around, coilovers, sway bars, and subframe connectors. The blower itself cost half as much as I originally bought the car for, so that was a tough pill to swallow. The 140 horsepower it added, however, was very fun. There was a definite kick in the pants that showed up after it was installed. After all this work was done, and the car reached what I consider the "done" state, some needle bearings out of the valvetrain decided to take a trip through the engine, chewing up the cam and crank journals. This lead to a complete engine rebuild last year and an upgrade to a blower cam. Since then, I've had a number of issues pop up in the transmission and rear end, leading to a lot more time parked than I'd like. The next phase is to get the car back to 100% so that I can start taking it back to some tracks. 3. Of all the mods you’ve made, which do you think offers the biggest bang for the buck? Without a doubt, the cam upgrade was the best bang for the buck. It changed the car to sound like a monster and it added about 80 wheel horsepower, in conjunction with the exhaust mods. That's the first mod I will do on any car that I'm looking to feel a power increase. 4. How did you go about selecting the specific parts for this build? Any installation tips to share? I did most of my shopping on YouTube. I watched lots of dyno passes, watched lots of comparison videos, and quite a few drag racing videos. I also spent a lot of time reading in the forums for other GTO owners experiences with specific mods. When it comes to these cars, nothing is cheap. If the GTO is something you're wanting, be prepared to pay for it. I could easily have a 9 second car with the same amount of money put into a mustang, and I'm still in the mid-11s to low-12s in the quarter. 5. What’s been the biggest challenge with this build? The blower has been the seemingly biggest challenge with this build. Once I had it installed, everything has been going downhill in rapid fashion. At the first available test and tune day after the blower install, I threw some drag radials on and tried to make a pass. The first real pass attempt resulted in a pretzelled driveshaft. After fixing that, I made another attempt and ended up shearing off one axle stub and warping the other, killing the center section in the process. I replaced and upgraded all those components, then the engine chewed up the camshaft. I fixed that, then the transmission chewed up second gear. And that's where I sit currently, with a car that runs and drives, but that can't be raced because of second gear. 6. What are you planning next? The next plan is to get the car back to 100%. I've been fighting a losing battle with breakages these past two years, so my primary focus is getting the car back to its full strength so that all the upgrades we've put in will actually last me. Once that happens, I'll be taking a trip to the local road course so that I can fulfill my long-time dream of driving on an actual race track.
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