The 1966 GTO was finally ready to hit the road. We bled the Wilwood brakes, had all the fluids topped off, the ride height set, and it was time to take to the streets. Our goal was to build a car that handled flat in the corners, made lots of power, and was comfortable to drive, and the '66 GTO scored in all departments. Check it out!

 

In this installment, the 1966 GTO's L92 V8 finally comes to life! Once we had our Magnaflow exhaust system connected to the polished ceramic Hooker LS1 A-Body swap headers, we topped off the fluids with Royal Purple Synthetic Engine Oil, MAX ATF Transmission fluid, and Purple Ice radiator additive. We didn't want to risk anything, and the protection of Royal Purple against heat, friction, wear, and moisture gave us peace of mind. Plus the reduced friction frees up power. We run Royal Purple in every car we build and drive. But the real challenge was finding the little electrical gremlin that kept the MAST -powered ignition system from firing. It was our fault, and when we fixed it, it came to life in the push of a start button. The GTO runs and sounds fantastic!

 

We're skipping ahead a little to post real-time coverage of the GTO build... right now, we're getting the car ready for its first drive on the 2008 Hot Rod Power Tour, and we've got 18 days to make this car a driver! We'll be posting all the detailed install videos of each component we used on the car when they're completed, but we thought a quick nightly update would be cool to share the daily progress up to the first drive. This go-around, the car will be a complete driver with a "temporary" paint scheme, as we don't have time to completely replace the quarters and trunk floor, but we'll hit that stuff after the Tour. However, the chassis and driveline should be nearly completed for the shakedown on the road!

Transplanting a modern engine into an older car presents many challenges, one being the engine management system and gauge panel display. We chose to run a Mast Motorsports M90 ECM for a variety of reasons. Mast has been a leader in the GenIV engine family for some time, and they retail a whole line of ready-to-run high performance crate engines ranging up to 700 Horsepower, and when controlled by their M90 ECM, they are completely street drivable. We used the M90 ECM, a Mast harness, and their drive-by-wire throttle pedal in our GTO. The M90 features complete tunability, wideband O2 feedback, and knock sensor feedback to let high performance engines run on pump gas without issue. The L92 V8 engine uses electronic sensors on the block for vital functions, and the info is all sent to the Mast Motorsports M90 Engine Management system just as it would be in the 2007 GMC Yukon the in which engine was originally installed. The M90 features CAN network connectivity, which allows it to pass data from the ECM to other devices. Watch the video and read on how the we used very trick Mast CAN Network gauges to monitor the GTO's vitals in a clean, simple manner.

 

We were looking for cool way to finish off the Magnaflow exhaust kit we got from YearOne on the GTO, and noticed that the factory reverse lights would make a nice exit point to run the pipes through the bumper. Scott Guhene made it happen, and it looks slick.

 

The GTO came to us in primer, but we didn't want it to hit the streets on the Hot Rod Power Tour in boring light gray. So the decision was made to shoot the car with a fun 2-tone paint scheme of charcoal and Scarlet red in PPG basecoat to give the car an aggressive, satin look. Other materials used include lots of 3M tape and mask paper. Someday the car will receive some new bodywork and a more complete paint job, but this is the deal for now.

 

This car is going to be driven ALOT, so it had to be comfortable... check out how Nick Doerr adapted some 2005 GTO seats to the '66 and how they remained fully operational.

 

Assembling the Currie 9+ rear axle assembly for our 1966 Pontiac GTO project.

 

The chassis is finished, and the time came to drop the body back on the frame. Things are lookin' good. The Air Ride system allows this car to sit low! Here's a short video update of how the body re-install process went.

 

Installing the rear Air Ride Technologies Street Challenge rear suspension system and Currie 9+ rear axle housing on the 1966 GTO.

 

Catching up on some of the install videos on the GTO... here's the Air Ride MuscleBar sway bars and PosiLinks articulating end links on the GTO's front suspension. The links are cool, they keep the bar rigid but also prevent binding. These are 2 key elements making an air-equipped car handle well, but they will also work on traditionally sprung cars.

 

This GTO is going to be driven hard, so the suspension system needs to be up for the task of not only handling well, but it also needs to have a smooth ride. To accomplish this double-duty trick, we chose to install an Air Ride Technologies Street Challenge System. We saw this system in action on a '66 Chevelle on an autocross track and couldn't believe the performance... flat cornering, predictible handling, and a smooth ride all in one. The Street Challenge System containes everything you need to transform your car's ride and handling, complete with upper and lower Strong Arm control arms front and rear, tall spindles, Shock Wave air spring / double adjustable shock combination units, Muscle Bar sway bars, Posi Link endlinks, AirPod self-contained compressor / controller / air tank, Level Pro ride height sensors and control unit, keyfob remotes, air lines, and more. This time, we're installing the front suspension components.

 

Part of our 1966 GTO's plan includes a killer suspension system and a beefed-up chassis to support it, so we disassembled the stock stuff, popped the body off the frame, and went to town. First, the GTO's skeleton was media blasted clean of all rust, scale, and old paint. Next, we fabbed up some supports and TIG welded in some plate steel to box up the originally open frame rails for strength. Then we began to test fit the Air Ride Technologies Street Challenge suspension system... more on this later, but it's the key to making this old Goat handle like a new 'Vette!

 

Just when you think you've got a simple solution, here comes another curve ball. We noticed that we had tight hood clearance on the GTO's L92 V8, mostly because of the truck-style high-mount alternator. We thought we could throw on a set of factory Camaro style brackets to lower the alternator, and slam the hood. Not so fast. The L92 is a Variable Valve Timing engine, which means it has an additional 3/4 inch of meat on the front of the timing cover. This area hides the cam phaser, the hardware that rotates the camshaft to provide the cool VVT action. It also means that low-mount aftermarket or F body brackets won't fit. After some research, we found that the guys at Mast Motorsports had the L92 figured out and suggested we use Camaro brackets and make some spacers... check out the fix.