What comes first, the driver’s license, or the car? In Joe Truman’s case, a bone-stock 1980 Pontiac Firebird wrapped its talons around his heart before he could (legally) drive. Not long before earning his license, Joe realized that the combination of his heavy right foot and the car’s performance and ability to attract authorities was a dangerous mix. He said farewell to his daily driver dreams. Enter the quintessential story of a guy moving through life as a busy adult, juggling a business and family. He parked the car for many years but never lost faith in his goal to drive it. Really drive it.
When the time came, Joe called on All Speed Customs of Muskegon Heights, Michigan, to give his first love the special treatment it deserved, with a nod of admiration toward the pro-touring style. The shop’s team efforts brought the Firebird into the modern era by molding the car around their vision of sleek factory body lines influenced by today’s cutting-edge supercars.
It all began with a vision.
The All Speed team built everything entirely in-house, from the custom body and paint, to the full interior, power train and suspension. When the car rolled out of the shop, the Firebird’s stance paired with its intense halo stare resembled that of a hawk stalking its prey.
Clearly, All Speed Customs didn’t build this vehicle to be a trailer queen. “We designed and built the car to perform as well as it looks,” shop owner Brian Moat said. “The team spent a lot of time to ensure that every part works together seamlessly, without losing sight of optimum performance.”
The All Speed team cut, welded and shaped the entire steel and aluminum body by hand. No detail was overlooked. Custom work included the widened front and rear fenders, a functional low-profile cowl induction hood, and an aluminum front splitter, rear spoiler, side skirts and air-splicing rear diffuser panel.
They formed the aluminum T-tops using an English wheel. Utilizing the factory seal and latching system achieved perfect fit and functionality. Once the team perfected the bodywork, they sprayed House of Kolor’s White base coat, which makes the Pearl Green mid-coat and the grey and green accents pop.
We would’ve never guessed it without opening the door, but the custom interior hides a full chromoly roll cage. This ensures Joe’s safety whether he’s on the road or tearing up the track.
All Speed designed the door panels, dash and custom full-length center console in their upholstery room. They wrapped the interior, including the Recaro seats, in grey and black Relicate Leather and Alcantara to coincide with the exterior colors. Painted accents, neon green stitching and LED accent lighting attract the eye and tie it all together.
Matching Dakota Digital gauges keep the driver in the know. The Firebird also offers several creature comforts, such as Restomod Air climate control, a Pioneer stereo system, and Electric Life power windows and door locks.
Under the hood is where the heart is.
Enough of the beauty, let’s get to the beast. Brian popped the hood to reveal a matching grey and green accented engine bay. Our eyes widened as we planted them on the GM Supercharged LT4 engine sitting atop the Detroit Speed Hydroformed subframe.
A Lingenfelter upgrade kit gives the bird 720-hp, plenty of force to take flight. An Autorad aluminum radiator and heat exchanger with electric fans keep it cool, pull after pull. Shifting the six-speed Tremec T6060 manual transmission and hitting the gas sends power through a Moser Engineering 9-inch rear axle with Detroit Trutrac posi 3.55:1 gears, which enhances traction and handling. A Detroit Speed Quadralink rear suspension and Penske double-adjustable coil-over shocks on all fours further refine the car’s pavement-hugging capabilities.
A Wilwood tandem master cylinder and Hydroboost power assist supply aggressive braking power. The car stops on a dime. When the driver pushes the brake pedal down, Wilwood Aero calipers clamp around 14-inch rotors. Matte grey Forgeline AL303 wheels hide the super-stopper setup, all wrapped with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport tires. For a proper stance, the rear wheels are 20-by-12-inches, and 19-by-9-inch wheels were placed in front.
Driven, not trailered.
The build’s success is apparent, as are the fine-tuned skills of the ASC team. They completed the Firebird in time to compete in SEMA’s 2019 Battle of the Builders. Countless admirers stopped by the Lingenfelter Performance to see it up close and personal. Joe is understandably elated to race his new old car in pro-touring events and during local track days. During the summer driving season, Joe will be pounding pavement in the Firebird around Michigan’s curvy roads. You’ll hear the car before its seen.