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This Pontiac Trans Am SEMA Build Is Actually Capable of Taking Mom For a Ride

Although it may look like many other SEMA projects built just make a unique appearance on the show floor, this Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is a bit different. It comes with two racing seats even though the motor protrudes inside the cabin like an iceberg below the water surface. It's also capable of taking “mom, dad, or girlfriend” out for a spin - one at a time and only if they have the proper gear, that is.
Pontiac Trans Am 2018 SEMA custom build on Hoonigan AutoFocus 46 photos
Photo: Hoonigan AutoFocus/YouTube
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Pontiac’s Trans Am specialty package for the Firebird has gone down in history for its timeless association with Burt Reynolds and the Smokey and the Bandit movie series, but it’s also a great architecture for anyone looking to start a custom build project.

A sibling to the renowned Camaro, the Firebird allows owners to create something that’s a bit different from the “run-of-the-mill” Mustang/Charger/Camaro triumvirate. And Riley Stair’s Trans Am certainly makes the case for the Firebird being something else.

This custom-built Trans Am was the showstopper during the 2018 edition of SEMA; Larry Chen, the host of the Hoonigan AutoFocus channel on YouTube even mentions he wasn’t even able to get close enough to properly see the car back then.

Now, he does get the chance to spend some time up close and personal with the Trans Am, as well as its builder, and find out what has changed in the meantime. Quite a lot, it turns out, with the incredible build now sporting around 808-wheel horsepower (and something like 1,000 at the crank) and being capable of revving to 10k rpm.

And these aren’t even the best parts, because there’s so much going on with this continuously evolving build that we decided to break it down in chapters for you. We start with the first background explanations from the 2:10-minute mark, as the Trans Am acts as a personal business card type of car; it's not just a show car, it’s a performance ride that was built with road racing influence.

It's important to note the fact this is a drivable Trans Am, one that eats “a ton” of methanol. That is also why Chen didn’t showcase a ride-along – he jumped in for like 100 feet and started crying, but not because of joy. Instead, anyone sitting in the passenger seat needs a nitro mask, comes the explanation from the 32:57 mark.

Back to the Trans Am business, you can find out from the 7:50 mark how much of the donor car has remained original (aside from the door handles, taillights, or the rear bumper). Then, from the 10:45 mark, there’s an extensive look under the hood before finally reaching the interior at the 18:20 mark and checking out how much of the trunk is left after installing the custom fuel cell (25:35).

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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