What is the hottest build of SEMA 2023? Based on what I’ve seen so far, this has to be the tube-frame 1973 Pontiac Trans Am “Hammerhead” built by Horizon Motorsports, which sits in the Vibrant Performance booth. And that’s because we’re looking at a time attack/hillclimb monster with downforce to match the 2,000 hp of its twin-turbo V8!
This reinvented 1973 Trans Am was built by top-tier racing mechanic Russel Cameron and his son Cavan, who work under their Indiana-based Horizon Motorsport label. And while there are many ways to help classic muscle cars deal with their cornering phobia, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more efficient vision, let alone execute it.
For one, the classic F-body has been cut up and modded in unimaginable ways, all with the purpose of fitting on top of the custom tube chassis. The project features aerodynamic elements designed with help from Venus Aerospace, a startup concerned with making one-hour global transport happen. So now you know why there’s a massive diffuser, whose deep underbody side is pierced by the exhaust tips.
IndyCar hardware for this 1973 Pontiac Trans Am
The weight distribution has been greatly improved compared to the factory setup. And that’s because the rear holds an IndyCar Xtrac six-speed transmission—borrowed from the car that won the championship sometime in the early 2000s, the gearbox is now pneumatically shifted via paddles.
The rear suspension, which essentially hangs off the gearbox features a cantilever setup, as dictated by the tube chassis. However, this is an aero car suspension setup. It involves two shicks and a third device (aka heave spring). The shocks handle low-speed corners where not even the heavy aero can produce enough downforce, providing mechanical grip. The third device comes into action when both shocks aim to compress, entering the stage for more serious downforce.
Another IndyCar-inspired piece of tech involves the five-point adjustable anti-roll bars (via blades).
Twin Garrett G35-900 turbochargers also hang out the back, with the turbo piping running through the middle of the motorsport-style cabin stripped-out cabin, which does have its fair share of Dynamat insulation.
Hey, SEMA 2023, here’s a 2,000 hp LSR V8 that can rev to 9,000 rpm for you
The tube-frame 1973 Pontic Trans Am Hammerhead’s turbos work with a 9.000 rpm-capable LSR V8 that Late Model Engines built for well over 1,800 hp (this is the wheel horsepower, which means the unit should be capable of 2,000 hp at the crank). The oiling system mixes a dry sump with multiple pickups, a heavy-duty cooler, and a filter that sits in the back.
The engine, which is mated to that IndyCar gearbox via a Corvette torque tube, sits closer to the center of the vehicle than normal (this is a front-mid-engined Pontiac Trans Am). The V8 can be removed through the bottom of the vehicle for perfect access—the team can perform motorsport-like mechanical work outside the vehicle.
Burnt Bronze. This color is used for the 1973 Pontiac Trans Am’s tubular chassis and Forgeline wheels, a custom version of the wheels currently used by Trans Am race cars. As for the shade of grey covering the vehicle, this has been previewed via complex 3D renderings coming from Timothy Adry Emmanuel (aka adry53customs), an artist whose work I and Mihnea published on tons of occasions (here’s his V8-swapped 2024 Dodge Charger).
The wheels are shod in Michelin racing slicks for extreme stopwatch shenanigans. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if the SEMA debut isn’t followed by heavy racing activity in 2024, Pikes Peak included. As for the price, the builders list this as a “black check” project, so I’m thinking well above $500,000.
Of course, demo runs should work just as well, since Horizon Motorsports‘ 2,000 hp tube-frame 1973 Pontiac Trans Am is a two-seater.