“I have always loved this body style,” Ron Frazier said of his 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM. “I wanted one in high school, my buddy had a Formula 400 back then and I have always thought this style was so much more attractive than the second gen Camaro.”
Frazier shared that the design had been on his mind for 30 years. His goal was to create something that would be enjoyable to drive. “I had been walking around Mecum Auctions Anaheim sale in 2012 when I saw it,” Frazier said, adding that he knew that he had to have it.
After Frazier received the car, it made its way to Burton’s Classics in Stanton, California and emerged four years later as the masterpiece Frazier always envisioned.
“You know its a cool thing when your sitting at a stop light and some guy pulls up next to you in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini and tells you that you have a nice car,” Frazier said.
FLEXING MODERN POWER
Focused on his goal, Frazier powered the Trans AM with a dry sump LS9 with upgraded Lingenfelter ZR1 supercharger pulleys.
“I’d like to think to some degree this is similar to a mid-engine car,” Frazier said. “On a mid-engine car, all the rotating assemblies are forward of the rear axle. With this, all the pistons sit behind the front axle of the car and the engine sits lower.
Frazier estimates the engine’s output is around 700 horsepower. It exhales through a set of full-length Hooker headers into the exhaust pipes which have been fabricated to flow up and over the top of the independent Heidts rear end, and finally out of the rear valence.
To manage and transfer all that power, Frazier installed a Tremec T56 6-speed transmission with a Hurst TKO transmission electronic speedometer and a McLeod RST street twin clutch. The driver rows gears via a Billett baseball bat shifter – a homage to Frazier’s baseball days in high school and his initial dreams of the car.
Built to be driven, the Trans AM utilizes a Heidts first-gen Camaro subframe in addition to an E-level Accuair air bag shock system. A front hub kit is used with a set of big Wilwood calipers mated to a 12.90-inch diameter vented rotor.
PERFORMANCE MEETS STYLE
Frazier’s initial vision for the car strikes the perfect balance of performance and style while it retains its original essence. Painted in Rossa Corsa, a stunning Ferrari red, the car grabs the attention of everyone that sees it.
One of Frazier’s favorite aspects of the car is the bodywork that has been performed. The body utilizes all of the original steel panels with fabrication work that achieves a “true widebody” stance. The modifications enhance the look and feel of the ‘70s muscle car while its void of the original plastic look.
The slight flair of the widebody is complemented by a 1969 Camaro rear bumper with exhaust tips poking through the rear splash pan. Additionally, Frazier modified the lower valance, side air scoops, rear spoiler, and the tail light panel for a flowing design.
Frazier also notes that the rear glass sits in a single pane window frame – he says it’s a deviation from stock.
SET APART FROM THE REST
Frazier added other details to enhance the look of the car such as a set of RingBrothers 1969 Camaro door handles, flush mount door locks, a custom front grille, and custom headlights.
“The original headlight was actually taken apart and the halo part of the light was integrated with the original dome, recovered, then set back in the car,” Frazier said. “I also love the custom billet gas filler.”
To fill the car with gas is as unique as the car itself. According to Frazier, each time he stops to refuel he has to open the trunk to unlock the gas cap. A custom made funnel is then inserted into the gas filler so that the pump never touches the car. This eliminates the risk of scratches or spilled gas.
“Everyone asks me where the gas cap came from,” he said. “I think what sets it apart is that it has the huge Pontiac logo on it.”
Completing the exterior look, Frazier created a set of custom wheels that captured the spirit of the original design. “A lot of work went into creating the wheels,” he said. “They are a three-piece wheel and are very similar to the original 1971-1972 design. I worked with MHT Wheels to modernize the original look in a way that allowed it to flow with the rest of my design. The center cap is thicker on these and they are made from billet where the original is made from pressed steel.”
CLASSIC LOOK WITH MODERN LUXURY
Inside, a Flaming River tilt steering column holds the stock steering wheel fitted with a billet horn cap and spoke bezels.
“The steering wheel is the only original part of the interior,” Frazier added. “I kind of took design cues from the original Ford GT40 from the 60’s. The turned steel was something the original dashboard had but all of the gauges are angled towards the driver like the GT40.”
Fraizer noted the dash uses custom one-off gauges created by Classic Instruments along with integrated vents from the 2005 Ford GT.
The car features a custom interior from Mattson’s with a custom console, Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum unit, and seats from a 2012 Mercedes covered in upholstery by Chepe that have been modified to fit in the Trans AM.
“I built this car wanting to drive it, so it drives great but I am not comfortable driving it,” Frazier said, adding that since the build was completed mid-2016, the car has racked up less than a thousand miles. “I absolutely love the car, but I am afraid to leave in the parking lot. It has so much custom work done to it and so many irreplaceable one-off parts, if something was to happen to it, it’s not a quick or easy fix like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini would be.”
Although Ferraris and Lamborghinis are eye-catchers to most people, Frazier’s 1973 Trans Am can clearly rival the lust of those Italian monikers. His balance of performance and unique design brought an often overlooked classic muscle car straight into the limelight.