'96 Firebird Formula - "Lethal 'N Lovin' it"

Andrew George's 1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula Homepage

"Lethal 'n lovin' it"

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The 1996 F-bodies come from GM with 285 horsepower and 325 ft-lbs of neck-snapping torque! 1996 F-body specifications

But I, as any true muscle car enthusiast, had to modify it. The SOTP (Seat of the pants) ratings are based on a 1-10 scale from a 1 being "did it do anything? Yes!.. no... hmmm" to a 10 being "OHMYGOSH hold on!!"

My modifications thus far are:

Escort Solo V cordless radar detector.

Laser-Gaurd front license plate cover.

Do I really need to explain why these modifications were purchased? ;)

Computer Assisted Gear Selection (CAGS) disable.

This modification was done to disable the aggravating forced first to fourth shift, when under light throttle. For information on doing this for yourself click HERE

Custom exhaust system.

SOTP rating = 2.5
This modification was done to give the beast an appropriate growl. This system yielded a smooth, powerful, LOUD exhaust note, without any noticeable loss of low RPM torque. Most of the SOTP gain is attributed to the sound.

Click HERE and HERE for sounds of this system on the powerful LT1.

Hypertech 160 degree Powerstat.

SOTP rating = 1.5
This modifications was done to prevent the drastic timing retard that is a result of the knock sensor, reading detonation when the engine temps soar, retarding the ignition timing as a safety measure; killing performance. Cooler intake air temperatures as a result of this mod, also promotes performance. This mod works great unless you are sitting in traffic or at lights on hot days. The gain is negated in these instances.

Mobil 1 synthetic oil.

SOTP rating = .5
This modification was done as it has been proven to allow an engine to run more efficienly, therefore lengthening the life of the engine. It also is responsible for a 1-2% increase in horsepower.

PF35L synthetic oil filter.

SOTP rating = .5
This modification was done because the stock filter (PF25), is very small and only filters to about 20 microns. The PF35L because of its synthetic filter element is able to filter down to about 10 microns. It also has more than double the filtering capacity.


SOTP rating = 6
This modification was done because the stock intake ducting/airbox is very restrictive. This system is not only less restrictive but also pulls in cooler air by being isolated from the engine. One of the auto rags dynoed the F.I.P.K for 19 rear wheel horsepower. Believe me you can FEEL the difference!

Black (ABS) wheel center caps.

This modification was done because I liked how the black center contrasts with the aluminum wheel and how the caps are able to be seen when the wheel is spinning.

Painted brake calipers red.

This modification was done because I liked how the Porsche 911 turbo and Carerra 4s calipers look. The color matches the car and looks cool through the 5 spoke wheels. When the wheel is spinning you can see the calipers distinctly.

At this point I had my car dynoed on a chassis dynanometer. These modifications yielded 260.2 hp and 293.2 ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheels. Utilizing the universal 18% loss correction factor this yielded 317 hp and 357.5 ft-lbs of torque at the engine. Click HERE for the actual graph.

At this point the car has run a best of 98.9 MPH in the 1320. The ETs have all been somewhere in the 14s as traction is a problem for my novice feet. With a good 60 ft on street tires (2.0) the afforementioned MPH is hgh enough for about a 13.6-13.7.

Hypertech Power Programmer Plus

SOTP rating = 3.5
This modification was done first of all because it reprograms the computer fan control, causing the electric fans to kick on in accordance with my 160 degree thermostat. The temperature gauge never rises above 180 degrees; the needle usually hovers slightly above the 160 degree mark. Even in traffic. The power programmer also installs more agressive fuel and ignition curves into the computer; promoting more performance. I don't know what the deal is, but my car seems to run rougher with the "power tuning" installed. However without the tuning installed, probably due to the readjusted fans and a cooler motor, my car can now smoke it's tires about anywhere in first or second gear on humid 93 degree days.

GM 4.10 ring and pinion gears.

SOTP rating = 8
This modification was done because like most other car enthusiasts, I enjoy the feel of being pressed to the back of the seat under acceleration. This modification more than doubled the effect! I can now chrip the tires in fourth gear! Doesn't seem like those two little things would do much eh? I recalibrated the speedometer and raised the redline to 6000 RPM per the HPP+.

Mass Airflow Sensor screen removal

SOTP rating = 1
This modification was done as I have heard that the screen is a restriction to flow from the various auto rags and the f-body list. I was bored, it was easy, so I did it ;-). I really didn't expect to feel a difference and was not surprised. Maybe a slight improvement in throttle response; but that is usually what enthusiast's minds force them to say in rationalization for the wasted time and money ;-).

NGK TR5 spark plugs

SOTP rating = 1.5
This modification was done in anticipation of a nitrous oxide install. These plugs are of a colder range and come pregapped for nitrous at .039. I had an intermittent slight stumble at ~2000 RPM that was cured by the plugs. I attribute the stumbles to the fact that 7 of the 8 "100K mile" plugs I took out had the platinum discs missing causing a .60 plug gap. This was at only 23K miles btw ;-). On another note if you have never changed the plugs before on a late model f-body good luck! It is a severe PITA. If planning this send me an email, I have a few posts I saved from the f-body mailing list and a few bits of advice myself.

At this point the car has ran a best of 102.15 MPH in the 1/4 mile. Unfortuanately due to a combination of terrible factory tires (RSAs) and the same novice driving skill, the car still has not broken out of the 14s. With a good 60 ft on street tires [2.0], 102 MPH is high enough for about a 13.4.

N.O.S kit #5115

SOTP rating = 10
This modification was done because this beast of a car has caused me to develop an insatiable appetite for acceleration. Besides, what other modification has so many cool nicknames (nitrous boosters, the squeeze, da juice, throttle in a bottle, etc) ? In the first quick pre-Memphis '98 installation I installed the stock jets .042 N2O, and .059 fuel, which I later found out caused the car to run WAY rich because our 24lb injectors flow so much better than the puny Mustang 19lbs. This is the setup in the dyno results below. Since then I have completely hidden the system and per my f-pal Dave Wilson and the NOS techline's reccomendations, I upgraded the jets to .057 N2O, and .049 fuel. The results are amazing! With a quick jab of the throttle at ~40 mph in second gear, the beast went sideways!. I use a WOT switch, Hurst "Roll-control" switch mounted on the shifter, fuel psi safety, and last but not least the cool blue lighted main switch for activation. Click HERE for my N2O installation guide with some helpful pictures

At this point I had my car dynoed again on a chassis dynanometer. These modifications yielded 317.7 hp and 387.2 ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheels. Utilizing the universal 18% loss correction factor this yielded 387 hp and 472 ft-lbs of torque at the engine. Click HERE for the actual graph.

IAT sensor Relocation

SOTP rating = 1
This modification was done because I had heard that the sensor becomes heat-soaked from the heat from the intake manifold and gives erroneous readings to the computer causing it to run less efficiently. Thus causing poor mileage and lower performance. For instructions on how to do relocate the sensor yourself click HERE

1LE intake bellows

SOTP rating = 2
This modification was done primarily because in process of the first NOS install, I drilled a hole in the stock bellows. There was also discussion on the f-body list of the air silencer tube on the stock bellows causing a bit of turbulence and restricting flow. I think I did feel a slight gain. As a side bonus however, the 1LE bellows creates a more wicked intake note (which is why it recieves a 2 ;-) ).

Corvette fuel rail covers

This modification was done primarily to cover the fuel regulator tee and WOT switch wiring of the nitrous system. They were also done however as I think it makes the engine compartment look a LOT neater and more professional. What do you think? Click HERE for detailed instructions on how to install these on your f-body (ASR or not)

Retorqued Knock Sensor (14 ft-lbs)

SOTP rating = 6
This modification was done because there was discussion on the list of the knock sensors being overtightened from the factory and thus being oversensitive. The sensor had to be removed to drain the block during the intake manifold leak so I got the teflon paste out and torqued it back in there. I was a little skeptical at first but after driving the car let me tell you, it works! It pulls so much harder from 4800 - 6K now it feels great! It also no longer feels as though it has lost 40 hp when it is really hot and humid out and the engine gets hot.

Ported MAF

SOTP rating = 6.75
This modification was done because I had heard that the engine wasn't recieving the full gain of the cold air and other modifications because of the restriction of the MAF. So I got the coping saw out and the air grinder and ported it up nicely. The results were amazing, it pulls across the rpm band SO MUCH HARDER! It feels about the same as the 60 rwhp NOS shot now NA.

B&M Ripper Short Throw Shifter

This modification was done because I kept hearing claims like "I cannot believe the difference", or "why didn't I do it sooner". Well everyone was right! I am very impressed. I don't remember how the stock throws were but I think they are a little shorter now. Most of the cool factor is attributed to the spring loaded gates... it is virtually impossible to miss a shift now. I engine brake a lot more now just to click the shifter in each gear.

Mickey Thompson ET Street Cheater Slicks

This modification was done for obvious reasons. I was developing an allergy to gaseous vulcanized rubber... ;-). I bought them from a fellow F-pal and they came with Z28 SS rims... these wheels are sharp! If anyone has a line on two more 16 X 8 Z28 SS wheels, please send it my way.

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If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me.

1996 andrew.n.george@vanderbilt.edu

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