This incredible Trans Am uses a custom drivetrain with parts from Nissan’s GT-R sports cars.
As Ken Block’s lead mechanic since 2005, Gregg Hamilton spends most of his time making trying to ensure that all of Ken’s motorsport-related activities go without issue, whether it’s filming for Hoonigan or competing in rally racing. Though such a responsibility certainly carries plenty of pressure, Hamilton has an extensive background in rally racing and about 30 years of experience as a mechanic, so he’s a great fit for the role.
In his free time, Hamilton has quite an affinity for the Pontiac Trans Am. In 2015, his Trans Am received a feature from Speedhunters and became quite a hit amongst enthusiasts. Larry Chen, a Los Angeles-based automotive photographer who captured the vehicle, notes how the vehicle immediately went viral due to its modernized look and powerplant – this Trans Am featured a twin-turbocharged 5.3-liter Chevrolet V8 engine and a 6-speed ZF transmission from a Corvette.
Hamilton also always wanted an early Firebird model and pulled the trigger on a roughed-up ’71 Trans Am after finding it on Craigslist. After traveling out to a field in Sandy Valley, Nevada to retrieve it, Hamilton immediately got to work on a powerful Firebird that he could drive without worrying about the cosmetics of the vehicle. “You get tired of looking after paint,” Hamilton said. “It’s just nice to not to have to care about the outside and focus on the mechanical side of it.”
The final product is an extensively modified Trans Am that he calls the “Formula 400 R,” a crazy build consisting of meticulous engineering and fabrication, plus a good handful of junkyard parts. However, it’s ready for both the street (it has functioning heat and air conditioning) and the track (it also has a 10-point roll cage).
Under the hood, you’ll find a 5.3-liter Chevrolet truck motor, which Hamilton found in a junkyard. The engine now has an upgraded crank, rods and heads, which certainly help equip it for the massive Weiand supercharger.
The V8 engine pairs to a custom AWD system that uses a smorgasbord of Nissan parts: the all-wheel-drive system is Nissan’s ATTESA (an acronym for Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain) with an aftermarket control unit, the transmission and center differential is from an R32 Skyline GT-R, the front differential is the rear differential from an Infiniti Q45, and the rear differential is from a 300ZX. Despite the Nissan-oriented driveline, the suspension is mostly modified Corvette bits, and the brakes are from a 2008 Corvette Z06.
People say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this video must be worth a million: it’s the only way to accurately capture the hard work went into this build. Give it a watch, and observe how wild this all-wheel-drive Trans-Am truly is.