It’s hard to look at a second-gen Firebird and not think of “Smokey and the Bandit.” While this car has been forever etched into our memories by the 1977 film, this car is so much more than a movie cliche.
When this car was new, people were worried about Vietnam War protests, the emerging counterculture movement, the start of punk rock, vehicle emissions laws, and The Man taking away their rights. With its Screaming Chicken logo on the hood and its utter lack of subtlety, the Firebird Trans Am is a middle-finger response to the social changes of the 1970s. As long as I’ve got my horsepower, you and your issues can sit on it and rotate!
This ’73 Firebird Trans Am was on display at the MSD Ignition booth at SEMA 2013. The car actually has two identities: the car I saw at SEMA, and its true identity. The SEMA car was covered in a flat pearl blue wrap and nicknamed “Tire Bird.” The real car is gloss white and nicknamed “KLRBRD.” Whatever its name, this is one impressive build.
This car belongs to Albert Melchoir of Toronto, Canada. He brought the car to West Bend Dyno Tuning in West Bend, Wisconsin where they transformed it into a pro-touring monster!
The heart of the car is a 416cid LS3 stroker engine from Wegner Motorsports that throws down 640 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque (it dynoed at 550 rwhp / 500 rwtq at the wheels). A Keisler T-56 transmission lets you row through the gears while a Ford 9″ rear end converts that power into motion.
It’s got plenty of other goodies like a Detroit Speed and Engineering suspension, big brakes from Wilwood, and a set of one-off 18×12 Rally II wheels from EVOD. However, there is more to this car than meets the eye. Many of the body panels including the hood, fenders, inner fender wells, front spoiler, and wheel arches have all been swapped out with lightweight carbon fiber. This gives the car a little weight advantage at the track – although you wouldn’t know it since everything is painted.
Any way you look at it, the Tire Bird/Killer Bird is one screaming awesome car.
Engine and Driveline
LS3 416ci Stroker (West Bend Dyno and Wegner Motorsports)
MSD throttle body
MSD atomic EFI
Wegner Motorsports accessory drive
Keisler T56 six-speed
Ford 9-inch rear end
Dynatech 3″ exhaust
Suspension, Brakes, and Wheels
Detroit Speed and Engineering tubular subframe
Ridetech triple adjustment coil overs
Wilwood 4-piston calipers (front and rear)
18×12″ EVOD Rally II wheels
BFGoodrich g-Force Rival tires
Body and Exterior
Carbon Kustoms carbon fiber hood, inner/outer fenders, front spoiler, wheel arches
Sparco 505 custom upholstered seats/interior
Gauges by Gauge Mark