Grand Touring Garage of North Bend, Oregon is famous for a wide spectrum of automotive creations that have been featured in every major automotive magazine and garnered honors from Amelia Island to Pebble Beach. None, however, have made the splash caused by the 1970 Mustang known as “Trans Cammer”, a fusion of the Pro Touring genre with pure race car construction practice and Concours-quality detailing that rocked the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and prompted visiting judge Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo video driving game, to award it with Best Hot Rod and Best of Show laurels. Even more significantly, Mr. Yamauchi conferred virtual immortality on the car by including it in the latest version of his world-famous game, GT5.
Following his firm’s standard practice, Grand Touring Garage’s Philip Koenen set out a list of objectives to guide the creation of Trans Cammer, which started as a clean 1970 Mustang Mach 1. In Koenen’s words, the main goals were "to create a vehicle that is instantly recognizable yet different, incorporate some of the best features found on the original Trans-Am road racing automobiles utilizing state-of-the-art components and construction techniques, and select a unique and revered engine as the driving force. We designed and engineered the vehicle to not only perform as a street-legal automobile but one that is also capable of competing in open road race-type events and at tracks like Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, Sears Point, and Willow Springs."
While others have taken the same approach, the Trans Cammer stands alone in the quality of its execution. At first blush it would seem that the centerpiece of the car is its 1965 factory-issue 427 CI SOHC engine, whose impressive 600 horses are the result of its virtually factory-stock specification. But closer scrutiny soon reveals that there is much more to excite the senses and send pulses racing.
It begins in the car’s very foundation, which comprises a custom frame incorporating GTG-designed 4130 chrome-moly front and rear clips tied together by Art Morrison 2x4 outboard frame rails. The racing-inspired front suspension incorporates chrome-moly control arms by Fast Eddie’s (who also produced the chassis clips), 2-inch-drop Ford spindles, a Speedway Engineering sway bar and Woodward rack-and-pinion steering. The rear setup is likewise competition-grade throughout, with a Strange Engineering NASCAR-spec full-floating Ford 9-inch rear axle housing sporting a Richmond 4.10 Positraction unit and Fast Eddie’s triangulated four-link attachments; Hyperco springs and Penske shocks are used all around along with huge ventilated Baer disc brakes, unique GTG-designed billet aluminum wheels and B.F. Goodrich G-Force radials.
Thirty six major modifications were made to the body alone, leaving almost nothing untouched. Channeled over the Morrison frame rails, it features a carbon fiber hood, mirrors and front splitter, quick release fiberglass front fenders, narrowed bumpers, brilliantly integrated side exhaust behind stainless steel rocker panels, NACA duct rear brake cooling scoops and unique LED front and rear lighting. Modern aero technology has been implemented below decks in the car’s smoothed belly pans and rear carbon fiber outlet strakes, which are complemented by the Gurney flap topping the rear spoiler for added downforce.
Functionality and finish define the Trans Cammer’s accommodations. Full rollcage protection, Autometer gauges in an aluminum dash, a Momo wheel on an Ididit tilt column and Cobra seats provide an all-business environment, with heat insulation by Thornton Upholstery of Santa Ana, CA for added comfort. All other necessary controls, including American Auto Wire switches for the starter, electrical cut-off, lights, windows, wipers, fuel pump, ventilation, and fire control are close at hand on the custom fabricated console, which also presents the driver with a short throw shifter for the Tremec 5-speed transmission.
Persistent attention to detail is obvious throughout the Trans Cammer, but the real wonder is found in the driving, which in the right conditions on a closed track reveals the ultimate capabilities engineered into this fantastic machine.
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