1972 Pontiac Firebird ‘Code Red’

Filed in Pontiac Firebird, Pro Tour by on January 22, 2016 • views: 581;

To think that this car was built by an average guy and his friends in a garage is mind blowing. It’s pro level from top to bottom, it’s amazingly well sorted, and it kicks ass in a straight line AND on an autocross course.
This is owner/builder Bob Bertelsen’s third award winning car. Each build gets progressively harder, and it’s obvious that Bob pushes his skills and try’s new techniques.

Bob hired veteran hot rod designer Jason Rushforth to draw up a set of blueprints for his new project car. After a grueling two-year build process, the final result is every bit as nice as prevailing stereotypes might suggest, and Bob’s Trans Am is one impressive specimen of homebuilt engineering. It boasts a 575hp LS small-block, variable valve timing, a paddle-shifted 4L80E overdrive, a hydroformed Detroit Speed front subframe assembly, a four-link rear suspension, six-piston Baer clamps, and fat 345/30R19 rear meats. Maxing out the Pro Touring theme is a Vintage Air A/C system, power everything, and a Kenwood stereo with integrated GPS navigation.

Virtually every body part has been modified in some way or form. Out back, Bob shortened the rear bumper 4 inches and recessed it into the quarter-panel. He then built a custom taillight panel from 3/16-inch steel to streamline the light lenses. Beneath the bumper, the quarter-panels have been extended into a handbuilt roll pan that sits closer to the ground than the stock piece, and also houses the exhaust tips. Likewise, the rocker panels have been rolled to cover up the factory pinch welds. In an effort to replace the factory rear spoiler with something less gaudy, Bob fabbed a one-off piece from 18-gauge steel. “I pictured what a Firebird would look like if GM were to build one today, and tried to create it out of sheetmetal,” he says. “My goal was to make the Trans Am look sleeker and more modern by smoothing out the car’s lines, but I also wanted the aesthetic changes to be completely functional. I tried to make the body panels look more streamlined and elegant with changes that were both subtle yet noticeable.”

Bob’s ability to shape custom sheetmetal is just one of his myriad skills, and he’s learned a thing or two about fiberglass fabrication over the years as well. To give his bird a custom beak, Bob started out with an aftermarket fiberglass front nose and filled in the vent openings. The bottom of the nose then got hacked off and reshaped with a custom fiberglass spoiler, foglight openings, and brake ducts. The one-off hood met a similar fate. It started out as a fiberglass aftermarket unit, which Bob immediately cut a pair of vents into. By positioning them right behind the cooling fans, they help extract heat from the engine compartment. The finished product is a rather complex panel with smoothly flowing contours that looks factory. Bob estimates that he spent 100 hours on the hood alone, but that wasn’t the most difficult piece of fiberglass to fabricate. “I noticed that the Ringbrothers and Troy Trepanier were putting bellypans on a lot of their cars, and I really liked the way they covered up the gas tank and made the bottom of the car look so clean. I wanted to put one on my Trans Am, but I had no idea how to make it,” he says. “I first made a mold of the bellypan out of wood, then I took it to a local guy who makes fiberglass animals for miniature golf courses. He said he was way too busy to take on a project like mine, but he agreed to let me use his equipment for $50. I learned a ton from hanging around his shop, and that gave me the experience I needed to fabricate the nose and hood of my Tran Am out of fiberglass as well.”


  • 1972 Pontiac Trans Am


  • Type: GM L99 small-block
  • Block: factory block bored to 4.070 inches
  • Oiling: Melling oil pump, factory GM pan
  • Rotating assembly: Callies 4.000-inch forged
  • crank and 6.125-inch steel rods; Mahle 11.2:1 pistons
  • Cylinder heads: factory L99/LS3 aluminum castings with Mast 1.290-inch beehive valvesprings
  • Camshaft: Mast 230/237-at-.050 hydraulic roller, .588/.607-inch lift, 111-degree LSA
  • Valvetrain: Mast cam phaser restrictors; stock lifters and rockers
  • Induction: GM L99/LS3 intake manifold and throttle body
  • Ignition: stock coils, MSD spark plug wires
  • Fuel system: custom tank, Aeromotive pump and regulator
  • Exhaust: Sanderson 1.75-inch headers, custom 2.5-inch H-pipe, dual Flowmaster mufflers
  • Cooling: stock water pump, custom shroud; Flex-A-Lite radiator and dual electric fans
  • Output: 575 hp at 6,300 rpm and 540 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm
  • Built by: Mast Motorsports


  • Transmission: Bowler 4L80E trans and 2,200-stall converter; Cadillac DTS shifter
  • Rear axle: Chassisworks 9-inch rearend with Moser 31-spline axles and 3.25:1 gears


  • Front suspension: DSE front subframe assembly, control arms, coilovers, and sway bar
  • Rear suspension: DSE four-link and coilovers
  • Brakes: Baer 14-inch discs with six-piston calipers, front; Baer 13-inch discs with six-piston calipers, rear

Wheels & Tires:

  • Wheels: Rushforth Night Train 19×10, front; 19×12, rear
  • Tires: Nitto Invo 275/30R19, front; 345/30R19, rear


Comments are closed.