Mark Doyal's's 1979 Trans Am
(In His own Words)
The car and I have a long history. I bought it brand new in Nov. 1978. It went thru various stages of modifications, all streetable, ending with the old RAIV alum rod motor. In 1986 I thought I was getting married (didn't), I owned a new vette, and didn't think I needed my T/A anymore, so I sold it. I always regretted doing that. I've owned several high performance cars since that time, mostly vettes, and one ZR1. But I never had as much fun as I did in the T/A. Last summer I decided to see if I could find it. It didn't take too long, since it had only changed hands one other time since I sold it. The guy I had originally sold it to had pulled the RAIV out, installed it in another car, and replaced it with a 70 455. He later sold it, and that owner, who was in the Marines, didn't drive it much and kept it in storage.
When he got out of the Marines, he drove it a bit, but spun a rod bearing. He removed the engine and had a local machine shop rebuild it. However, he never had the money to pay the bill, so the engine sat for over 2 years. The car was under a tarp in this guys yard. We made a deal, basically I paid the machine shop bill and got the car for almost nothing (about $2400 total). I towed it to my parentís house in the country, and used their barn as the place to rebuild it. Everything mechanical was replaced of refurbished and painted. I wasn't sure what to do about an engine, most everyone is into max cubes, but I remembered how much fun a 400 was and that I favored a power band that didn't drop off at 5500rpm. When I saw that you had a set of #722's for sale, I decided to stay with a 400 engine. I had heard on Classical Pontiac about you and SD Performance, and that you were famous for your head porting skills. After talking to Will Baker, and discussing what I wanted from this engine with you, SD Performance became my choice for the entire engine. I frankly was concerned that few machine shops had the skill necessary to build a Pontiac anymore, and I wanted to go with someone that could be trusted.
The engine is everything I wanted. It is as smooth as a jet turbine, and pulls like one to the rev limiter if I want it to (which is set at 7k). As you know, I'm an airline pilot, so I know what I'm talking about! It is very streetable, and runs perfect on 93 octane, without even the slightest pinging. Most people are shocked that a pump fuel 400 can make this kind of power. You cannot find a higher quality engine build anywhere. I don't remember if I told you, but it ran the 12.91 at 114.8 mph after driving it 90 miles, in the Texas heat. It has new Pirelli radials, no traction bars or devices of any kind. Just pulled thru tech, on to the starting line and hit it. I'm pretty sure that there is a couple more mph in it still, once I decide to run a drag oriented tire.