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1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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Old 02-23-2015, 10:25 PM   #1  
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1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

i've been working on a 1984 Trans Am for awhile and figured i should start a build thread at some point. it's slow go due to having kids, but things have been progressing over the past year. i always liked the body lines of the 3rd gen TAs. my overall plans are a 500-600HP turbo LQ4 with a 4L80E and all your other typical upgrades - suspension, brakes, rear end, paint, etc... will mainly be a street cruiser, but would like to go to the track and autocross a couple times. my goal is to have the car ready for the 50th anniversary of the f-body event in Detroit, MI 2017. two years seems like a long time, but i've already have this car for 7 years and haven't done much until recently. it'll be here before i know it.
i've been mainly accumulating parts the past couple years and slowly doing the bodywork with a friend of mine.
the first f-body i had was a 1984 Trans Am. bought it for $50 in 2001. i ended up restoring it, but i was always chasing issues from previous owners. here's some before and after pics.

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i sold that car in 2008 after buying a clean roller for $500. i figured it was a better starting point for a ground-up build, but then i got sidetracked with a 1972 Camaro project. sold the Camaro last summer and am using those funds to get back to work on the TA.
interior was worn & faded, but the body was pretty rust / rott free for being in WNY.

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Last edited by battmann; 02-24-2015 at 05:45 AM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:30 PM   #2  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

the first few things i did was install a non-A/C dash and clean up the floor.
to property switch to A/C delete, i had to cut a hole for the vent in the upper dash cowl on the driver side. i made a template of the vent from another 3rd gen, transferred it to the cowl and made the new hole with a cutoff wheel.

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next i prepped the interior side of the floor boards for paint. i scuffed everything up and had to patch two small areas. i also welded in two mounting brackets for the hatch door option that this car didn't have. i'm not very good at welding, but no one will see these areas so it was good practice. i painted the whole floor with Duplicolor truck bed coating. looks nice and should hold up well.

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Old 02-23-2015, 10:35 PM   #3  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

we started working on the removable body parts first - doors, hood, fenders, etc... unfortunately the driver door had a bad dent right down the middle. we got that straightened out though.

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front fenders were in really good shape.

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next was the main body of the car. i thought it was pretty straight and rust free, but we did find some hidden stuff - mainly near the rear wheel wells.

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Last edited by battmann; 02-23-2015 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:02 PM   #4  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

since my friend who's helping with the bodywork is an hour away, he said it would be easier if i brought the car to his garage. that was this past fall. now he's doing stuff in his spare time, but making great progress.

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he even flushed in the rear side marker lights and fender vents.

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doors looking good.

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sneak peak - i'm planning to install door handles from a 2011+ dodge charger, but still working on how to do it. i quickly mocked up a handle in a spare door, but the handle depth inside the door could be a problem. it might fit if i have a glass shop trim the bottom corner of the window though.

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Old 02-23-2015, 11:20 PM   #5  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

i had planned to do an LS1 swap on this car, but then started researching turbo LQ4 builds on LS1tech. as luck would have it, a family member bought a new truck last year and sold me his 2000 Chevy 2500 pickup for $2,000. the truck had 200K on it, the LQ4 engine and a 2WD 4L80E. i ended up keeping the engine, tranny and all wiring and then parting out the rest of the truck. i ended up making $2500 so far and still have some parts laying around to sell.

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i've been picking up engine parts the past few months on craigslist and LS1tech mostly. so far i have a complete LS6 intake & DBC TB, f-body front accessories, plastic LS1 gas tank, f-body oil pan, LS6 dual radiator fans, f-body engine harness & PCM and aluminum 317 heads (since my engine had the iron 317s).
still debating whether i want a machine shop to check the crank, pistons and rods or just buy new stuff. i don't have ton of money, but i also only want to build this thing once.
i'll be doing all the standard upgrades to the engine - cam, pushrods, 5315 morel lifters, pac 1218 springs, LS9 head gaskets, ARP bolts, blah blah... i think i'm going to get the denmah turbo kit. read all his stuff on LS1tech - very informative. going to try and build all the piping myself. will also be upgrading to dual in-tank walboro pumps. not sure about the wiring of everything yet. i hate wiring so i might just buy a pre-made harness.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:30 PM   #6  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

back to bodywork. next up was fixing the horrible fitment of the rear bumper. the bumper never lines up with the body lines. we'll fix that.

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bumper removed and epoxied to hold the cuts open.

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then mounted to hold it in position. now it fits like it should.

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Old 02-23-2015, 11:36 PM   #7  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

rear bumper is almost done. the ends fit smoothly with the quarter panels now.

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i also started fabricating an electric fuel door. i had a spare locking fuel door assembly without the thumb latch. i figured i could remove the lock, fill the hole and then mount some kind of popper on the door. smoothing the door was easy. finding a way to make it pop open was much harder. i got a fuel door assembly with an actuator from a VW jetta in the local junkyard. the latch part on the back of the jetta door was removed and grafted onto the TA door. still trying to mock up the actuator. the latch part definitely works, but the release may end up being something else.

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Old 02-24-2015, 02:20 PM   #8  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Some great fab/body work!
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:49 PM   #9  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

This should be a fun build!!

Looks good so far!

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Old 02-28-2015, 08:16 PM   #10  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Looking good so far!
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:20 PM   #11  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Lookin good ****
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Old 03-04-2015, 05:37 AM   #12  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Nice progress so far.
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Old 03-10-2015, 01:16 PM   #13  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Subscribed! Very nice work! How did you smooth the marker lights and fender vents? I have an 83 I'm starting on body work. Those are some of the things I was unsure about how to do it properly.
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Old 03-12-2015, 07:42 AM   #14  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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Subscribed! Very nice work! How did you smooth the marker lights and fender vents? I have an 83 I'm starting on body work. Those are some of the things I was unsure about how to do it properly.
the marker lights and vents were installed using 3M panel bond on both sides. after that sets, you can do the body work to blend the body lines.
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Old 03-12-2015, 07:44 AM   #15  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

i started a separate engine build thread on LS1tech. i'm hoping to get some input on my planned setup:
http://ls1tech.com/forums/forced-ind...ut-please.html
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Old 03-12-2015, 08:07 AM   #16  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Cool build! Subd.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:58 AM   #17  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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the marker lights and vents were installed using 3M panel bond on both sides. after that sets, you can do the body work to blend the body lines.


I know that the vender vent gaps are pretty big, did you use anything special to fill those with? Thanks
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:53 AM   #18  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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I know that the vender vent gaps are pretty big, did you use anything special to fill those with? Thanks
i just filled the gap with panel bond and made it flush with the fender. after that a skim coat of body filler. i'm hoping i won't get any cracks down the road. the best way to do it would be to have a fender vent fabricated out of metal and then weld it on, but i don't have the skills or money to pay for that to happen.
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Old 03-16-2015, 06:57 PM   #19  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

rear bumper is done and in black primer.

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Old 03-16-2015, 07:07 PM   #20  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

i'll be installing the factory 1984 aeropackage ground effects on this car. the bumper i'm using is in great shape, but did not have these GFX. i bought the correct bumper with the GFX years ago so i'm using that bumper as a template to transfer the mounting holes i need onto the good bumper.
the stock mounting brackets and hardware was totally rotted. we used flat steel and welded threaded rod to make new hardware brackets. then it was painted to prevent new rust. it turned out really well. the GFX still have a little waviness to them that we'll have to try and straighten out better.

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Old 03-16-2015, 07:24 PM   #21  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

my friend also worked on the electric fuel door some more and got it working. i don't know all the details of how he did it yet, but i'll be going there this weekend to check it out. apparently he used a Cadillac STS release.

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door latches disassembled, cleaned and reassembled.

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Last edited by battmann; 03-17-2015 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:36 PM   #22  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Who is going to fab the 80E crossmember?
I've been searching for months, can't find one for sale!
Wanna make an extra???
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:07 PM   #23  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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Who is going to fab the 80E crossmember?
I've been searching for months, can't find one for sale!
Wanna make an extra???
i plan to fab the crossmember myself. i had to fab one when i put a 4L80E in a 1972 Camaro i used to have so i'm pretty sure i'll be able to figure something out. i'm going to be using BMR's trak pak torque arm kit so i won't have to worry about connecting the torque arm to the tranny.
actually BMR used to make a 80E crossmember for third gens, but i just checked and they must not carry it anymore. i probably won't get to the engine & tranny mock-up until early summer. i'll post pics of what i come up with and can make another one to sell if you like it.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:21 PM   #24  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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i plan to fab the crossmember myself. i had to fab one when i put a 4L80E in a 1972 Camaro i used to have so i'm pretty sure i'll be able to figure something out. i'm going to be using BMR's trak pak torque arm kit so i won't have to worry about connecting the torque arm to the tranny.
actually BMR used to make a 80E crossmember for third gens, but i just checked and they must not carry it anymore. i probably won't get to the engine & tranny mock-up until early summer. i'll post pics of what i come up with and can make another one to sell if you like it.
If you build a nice, simple, quality 80E crossmember you could make a small fortune selling em. To most that's not what they're in it for, but if it helps support the addition why not? But I'll probably be interested come summer, as that's my next part of my build too. And that's a hard piece to come by.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:47 PM   #25  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

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i just filled the gap with panel bond and made it flush with the fender. after that a skim coat of body filler. i'm hoping i won't get any cracks down the road. the best way to do it would be to have a fender vent fabricated out of metal and then weld it on, but i don't have the skills or money to pay for that to happen.


I just bought some panel bond for another project, I like the look, so I will try it too.
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Old 03-17-2015, 04:42 AM   #26  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Nice thread. Subscribing!
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:02 PM   #27  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

worked on the car some more a couple weekends ago. unfortunately we didn't get too much done, but we did get the hood and fenders mounted on the car and aligned for blocking. the gaps look great and are about the width of a paint stir stick everywhere. my friend says he's going to try and fabricate the rear hood bulge trim piece out of metal so it can be welded on and smoothed. he said this piece can't be glued in with 3M panel bond because the heat from the engine and direct UV from the direct will eventually make it crack. hopefully he can fabricate this piece.

i also checked out the electric fuel door popper and i guess it's from a early 90s Cadillac Eldorado. the release works with a catch on the back of the fuel door. a car alarm hood sensor actually pops the fuel door out. the sensor is spring loaded and makes an alarm go off if your hood is opened, but in my application when you hit the release button the spring sensor pushes the fuel door open. pretty slick. there's also a cable emergency release on the assembly in case the thing fails.

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i also officially started my engine build. the LQ4 was completely torn down. everything inside looked great. cylinders weren't scratched and no bearings were burned up. some of the main bearings still had a sheen on them and this engine had 200K miles. i took the block, crank and heads to a local machine shop. they quoted me $300 to clean all the parts, check the parts for cracks and measure everything. if everything checks out then i'll probably bore the block 30 over, get a valve job done on the heads and start reassembling the engine. i'm still researching the parts i want, but hope to finalize that soon. it looks like i'll be putting all new stuff in the engine and only keeping the stock crank. it's a little more expensive, but i only want to put this thing together once. i'm not sure if i'll have the machine shop assemble the shortblock or if i'll do it myself. i'll have to see what they charge.
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Old 05-21-2015, 10:32 PM   #28  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

been awhile since i posted an update. haven't really done much on the car lately. i did purchase all my engine parts from Colorado Speed mid-April. i've received everything except the ARP head studs, rods and pistons. as soon as those parts come in, i'll be able to have the machine shop do all their work and assemble the short block for me.
also been selling extra stuff i have laying around so i can buy more parts. not sure what i should focus on getting next: fuel system, computer / wiring, rebuild the 4L80E or get the turbo kit.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:17 PM   #29  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

i finally received the rest of my engine parts last Thursday. Friday i took off of work and got all of the engine parts to the machine shop. i should have took pictures, but i'm never very good at remembering. engine should take about two weeks to machine and assemble. pretty much everything but the crank and valves will be new. i got all of the following:
  • LS2 head gaskets
  • LS2 timing chain & sprocket set
  • Morel lifters
  • 7.4" pushrods
  • Melling oil pump
  • Forged Scat H-beam rods
  • Weisco 4.030 forged pistons, -11 volume
  • stock rockers with Comp Cams trunion upgrade
  • .650" dual valve springs with titanium retainers
  • ARP head studs
  • ARP crank bolt
  • ARP main cap studs
  • custom cam


i also scored an AMAZING deal today. i found a bolt-in Ford 9" rear end for third-gen f-bodies locally on craigslist. rear is a professionally made product with Moser 31 spline axles and stock bolt pattern, new auburn posi unit, 4:11 gears and was all rebuilt with new parts this past fall. guy was asking $1250. these rears go for anywhere between $2500 and $3300. guy said he wanted to put his car back to stock and this rear was way overkill for the factory tuned port engine so he figured he'd sell it to help fund the restoration. he said he needed to get a stock rear end so i offered to give him mine plus cash and he agreed. ended up getting this differential for $1000 cash and my stock rear. i'll probably change the brakes over to LS1 or Corvette discs and install lower gears in it, but i'm pretty excited i found this locally.

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Old 06-02-2015, 11:08 AM   #30  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Sweet deal on that axle!
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:32 PM   #31  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

made some more progress recently. i had a local shop (Northeast Machine in Tonawanda, NY) do the machine work and assemble the short block for me. that got done a couple weeks ago. here's the finished product.

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last week i started assembling the rest of the engine at my friend's shop. he's an hour away from me so it's hard to get there. i got the block prepped & painted and then put the heads on. i'm using all ARP hardware to make sure this thing stays together. i tried putting the oil pan on, but it looks like the windage tray i got with some other parts is from a 5.3 engine and won't allow the f-body oil pickup tube to bolt on. just my luck.

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also made a little progress on the body. this Trans Am didn't come factory with the full ground effects so we had to weld on the correct rocker brackets to hold them on. luckily i saved these brackets from a car i parted out years ago.

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Last edited by battmann; 07-05-2015 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:37 AM   #32  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Coming along nicely! Cant wait to see future updates.
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Old 07-06-2015, 11:48 AM   #33  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Looking good clint
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Old 07-09-2015, 06:38 AM   #34  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

ordered my turbo kit yesterday. i had a $250 gift card i got from work that i forgot about so that helped offset the cost a little. i should receive everything in about a week or two.
i ended up getting this kit:
http://www.vsracing.net/catalog/prod...03008384cbc014

then i upgraded to this turbo:

http://www.vsracing.net/catalog/prod...386d44cd2ac694

also ordered v-band clamps & flanges for my truck exhaust manifolds and a turbo blanket:


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Old 09-19-2015, 10:42 PM   #35  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

been awhile since i posted progress pics. got the engine finally buttoned up last month. also received the VS racing GT45 80mm billet turbo kit.

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also won an ebay auction for a Pontiac arrow dealership sign. was $250 with shipping. the guts of the sign was missing, but i bought two $30 LED undercounter lights from Home Depot and got it working. looks awesome!

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Old 09-20-2015, 08:43 AM   #36  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Cool build & I like the light!
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:58 PM   #37  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurelyPMD View Post
Cool build & I like the light!
thanks.
i actually have a vintage, unused 1984 Trans Am billboard too. it's 8' high by 21' wide. got it off ebay years ago for $100. i need a bigger garage to display all this accumulated stuff.

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Last edited by battmann; 09-22-2015 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 09-27-2015, 05:16 AM   #38  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Gotta love the sign!
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Old 11-16-2015, 07:16 AM   #39  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

got a lot done this past weekend. engine and tranny went in. i used Spohn's LSX swap mounts and the engine sits about 1/4" low on the passenger side. i'll probably put shims between the engine mounts and block. 4L80E tranny fits good though. i had to cut an ear off of the driver side bell housing for it to fit. tranny only slightly hits the tunnel on the passenger side. i'll need to massage the tunnel slightly and it will be good. we the started to fabricate the 4L80E crossmember. seems like what we came up with will work. need to finish welding it and then paint it. i wanted to make sure the member allowed clearance to take the pan off for tranny servicing. installed some of the steering so it's easier to move the car around. also installed the subframe connectors, suspension and Ford 9" rear. i have koni yellows but don't want to put them in until after paint. still need to weld in the BMR trak pack torque arm. springs are Eibach pros. car sits high, but it's also pretty much gutted. hopefully it'll settle down once the car is back together (which is going to be awhile).

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Old 04-14-2016, 10:40 PM   #40  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

made a little more progress lately. we've been working on getting the hood straighter and installed some door handles I bought from Kindig-it Design. they look awesome! i was originally going to try and install handles from a 2011-2013 dodge charger, but the part inside the door is pretty bulky and they just don't fit.

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Old 04-15-2016, 02:43 AM   #41  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

How do those work? Do you push them in?
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:55 PM   #42  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Yes - you push on the rear of the handle and the front pivots out so you can garb it & open the door.
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Old 04-16-2016, 04:22 AM   #43  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Sounds nice!
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Old 01-28-2017, 11:04 PM   #44  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

time to update this thread. didn't realize how long it's been since i added to it. we've really just been slowly doing bodywork since my last post. pics below were from the end of summer 2016. car finally all in primer.

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Old 01-28-2017, 11:18 PM   #45  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

now for some major news! the car finally has some paint on it. my friend is finishing the bodywork and painting the car at his work: Mill-Stream Collision in Tonawanda, NY. they're doing an AMAZING job!
we're trying to go for a Foose inspired build. there's a lot of subtle modifications being done to the car. stuff most people wouldn't realize unless they are familiar with the third-gens:
  • Kindig-It handles
  • smoothed fender vents
  • smoothed rear side marker lights
  • flush fuel door with popper
  • closed in the battery tray area with panels - same for the driver side
  • removed the washer and radiator bottle mounts from the fender wells
  • removed the wire loom hole from the back of the PS strut tower
  • smoothing out the cowl area
  • smoothed fender wells
  • filled unused holes in the engine bay
  • fixed all panel gaps and urethane bumper fitment
that's all the exterior stuff for now. more to come later and lots more mods planned for the interior and front / rear lights.


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Last edited by battmann; 01-28-2017 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 02-05-2017, 04:18 PM   #46  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

went to check on the car yesterday and the body now has paint on it. bumpers and ground effects are next. the pictures don't do it justice. it looks awesome. we're going to hold off on the engine bay for now. we need to figure out where all the holes need to be for the wiring and turbo piping. after that we can pull the motor to paint the engine bay.

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Old 02-05-2017, 06:36 PM   #47  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

You paint those Kin dig it handles body color or black? I really want them for my second gen
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Old 02-05-2017, 07:07 PM   #48  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

They'll be body color.
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Old 03-05-2017, 03:42 PM   #49  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

update!?!?!
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Old 03-06-2017, 06:16 AM   #50  
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Re: 1984 Trans Am build thread - turbo LQ4 & 4L80E

Updates you want - updates you get! LOL

Two weekends ago we masked off the suspension and painted the undercarriage. I'll have to remove all the suspension later and paint some areas, but at least most of the underside has coverage now.

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i also had my friend add a fender well support on the driver side to match the passenger side one. i got the idea from the DSE build thread

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lastly was i saw a thread where gthmcty1 installed blinkers in his side mirrors . i thought it looked pretty cool so i started mocking up doing something similar on my mirrors. here's the shape i came up with.

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also ordered the CXRacing LS1 turbo kit. they're having a 10% off sale right now. all the pipes are pre-made which will save me a lot of time. so now i'll be selling the other kit i already bought last year.



biggest score was i picked up an original Mecham rear spoiler somewhat locally. guy actually saw my build thread on LS1tech and PMed me seeing if i was interested in buying it. needs some work, but it will look awesome.




next weekend i'm hoping to mock up the engine bay stuff and then pull the drivetrain to have the bay painted. it will be the same color as the body, but more eggshell sheen.

Last edited by battmann; 01-14-2018 at 08:52 AM.
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