Project vehicles have this habit of never being finished. You might think a vehicle is done, but then you find something that needs to be changed, or you decide it’s time to update another part of the build. Jim Miller’s 1981 Pontiac Trans Am has been through a couple of builds, but its current phase is the most radical and eye-catching yet.
Jim got his first taste of the automotive world when he started building model cars as a kid. He would go to the hobby shop and find a kit that caught his attention and find ways to custom build it. Jim’s father was also into cars, so he was constantly around anything with an engine and tires.
It shouldn’t be a shock that Jim opened his own shop, Miller & Son Collision, where he works with is son Jimmy, and the rest of his family restoring vehicles. Working on cars is a true passion for Jim and the fact he gets to do it with his son each day is very special to him. Besides this Trans Am, Jim and Jimmy also built Tim Stengel’s wicked 1951 Pro Street Chevy truck.
Smokey & The Bandit inspired an entire generation of people to want to drive a fast Pontiac Trans Am. Well, Jim was also bit by the Bandit bug, hence why he purchased a 1981 Trans Am.
“I have owned this car since 1994 and I built it the first time before my son Jimmy was even born. It had a PlayStation in it, some TVs, and we cut the roof out to make it a T-top car. The car had a 455 cubic-inch Pontiac engine in it and a four-speed transmission that was kept in place for over 18 years. It was a fun build and I enjoyed driving the car,” Jim says.
Jim decided that he wanted to change the car up and it turned into a father-and-son project. The goal was to update the Trans Am and make it drive as good as it looked. So, over the next five years, Jim and Jimmy worked after hours in the shop when all the work on customer’s cars was complete.
“Well, my son kept finding parts for us to use for the build. So, he kept writing checks that I had to ask my wife if we could afford. We got some sponsors on board with the build and that really helped us take the project to the next level. Once you start using the high-end products, you need to go all the way so everything will jive together and look right,” Jim says.
The first thing you notice about the Trans Am is the Sweet and Sour paint from Modern Classikk that Jim sprayed on the car. After your eyes have adjusted to the paint’s radiant glow, you’ll see all of the custom body modifications that the Miller’s made to the Pontiac. The doors have been raised, there are custom rocker panels, custom splitters at both ends of the car, and a handmade spoiler as well.
Jim’s Trans Am is more than just a pretty face, there’s plenty of power under the hood of the Pontiac. An LSX376-B15 crate engine that’s got a Magnuson TVS2650 supercharger bolted to the top powers the Trans Am. Behind the boosted LS mill you’ll find a TREMEC Super Magnum six-speed transmission. A Tanks Inc. fuel tank is home to the Walbro fuel pump that feeds the engine plenty of fuel.
Under the Trans Am, you’ll find a full Ridetech suspension system and air ride components. The OEM brakes were thrown away and replaced with a big brake package from Wilwood. Boze forged aluminum wheels can be found at each corner of the Trans Am and really add to the Trans Am’s look.
The initial interior rendering was done by Travis Highlander at Highlander Concept Rendering Service. After Jim approved the final design, Upholstery Unlimited went to work turning the rendering into a functional interior. Too Fast Garage took care of making sure the roll cage was installed properly and hidden as much as possible.
Jim and Jimmy Miller made the most out of the opportunity to work together on this project. The Trans Am is a reflection of their attention to detail and desire to modernize a vehicle. This is one Pontiac that photos really don’t do it any justice.