Firebird » Chris's 2001 TA Mods

Accusump Pre-Oiler/Reservoir // Turn Signal Vent Lights // Neon Ram Air //
Side Facing Fog Lights // SLP Fan Switch // SLP Strut Tower Brace //
Keyless Entry 1-Button // TSP Airlid // CG-Lock Seatbelt Enhancer //
Spohn SFCs // SPL Loudmouth 2 Exhaust // KONI Shocks //
Custom Fiberglass Brake Ducts // Strano 35mm Sway Bar // Brake Vacuum Reservoir //
Stainless Steel Brake Lines // PIAA 510 Driving Lights // Eaton LSD Diff //
Sparco Race Seat // Rebuildable Front Wheel Hubs //

(clicking on a picture will open up a large version in a new window)

Accusump Engine Pre-Oiler

I wanted my car to have a long life, and engine wear is probably the #1 killer, plus I am going to winter store my car, and not drive it on rainy days or other bad weather, so when I do start it after an extended time I want to have it be fully lubed, no metal to metal contact.To that end, I got an engine pre-oiler by Canton Industries. It's a big reservoir that is pressurized. The craftsmen across town at installed it for me.

It's wired up so that when the ignition is put to the RUN position the valve opens and oil flows out. Before starting, I turn the key to RUN, wait a couple seconds, watch the pressure guage go to normal (40psi), then turn it over. Oooh it sounds so much smoother on starting now. And wear is reduced almost 100%! When the car is running, the normal engine operations provides oil pressure, and the excess oil is pushed back into the tank. When the engine is shut off, the valve is closed, saving the 40psi in the tank for next time it starts up. The sump valve can be disabled for service or other stuff that needs the ignition in run position by taking out the fuse.

accusump mounted in front of engine, near fans

oil line plumbs into oil filter pickup



view of sump underneath

oil line

oil line

electrical line routing

mouting brackets

guage on pump



Here is the parts list for the Accusump as its installed on my car:

22-566 Canton oil-filter pickup adapter
23-960 Canton oil line fitting (2)
23-910 Canton oil line fitting (2)
23-905 Canton high pressure oil hose
24-006 Canton 3-qt Accusump
24-271 Canton electric control valve
24-200a Canton mounting clamps
brackets made out of 5/16+ aluminum,
various wires, looms, connectors, etc.

Turn Signals/Turn Signal Vent Mod

Important note: When doing this modification to your car, READ THIS ENTIRE section describing the wiring of the lighting system. It is not a simple splice-in job. See this section regarding control modules.

For the turn signals, I wanted something either cool or factory looking. I had seen a Gen4 Mk2 Trans Am making a turn before I bought mine, and noticed the main turn signals were mostly facing front. There are 2 small markers also, but not nearly as noticeable. Bad for safety I thought. When I got mine, I saw the fender vents on the front were pretty empty behind them. When I started this project I found out for sure they are completely worthless. They have no functionality at all. Neither do the holes on the front end under the turn signals. My choices were blue neon, same as I was planning for the Ram Air, or turn signal orange. After some deliberation and Photoshopping™ I decided turn signal amber would certainly look more stock and be less, well, police noticeable.

Put the car up on jacks in the front. Remove the plastic triangular cover under the corner of the front nose. Then remove the inner fender lining. There are some standard hex head metal screws, and some retarded plastic philips head rivets. I ended up chewing up 2 of those to get them out. Who in the world thought a PLASTIC screw head would ever hold up to more than 1 application? Lowes has them available, as well as probably your good auto parts store. You will gain access to the inner fender where the fake air extractors are. It is a big gaping hole.

There is about 4 inches of clearance behind the top hole, about 5 on the lower hole. My selection of good turn signal was limited by that depth. I thought it would be easy to find, but no GM car has a good bulb based housing with light fitting less than 6" deep. I decided on the "lens" type of bulb for a couple reasons. 1. To look like the TA's stock turn signals, clear with an amber bulb. 2. A clear housing will let me change the color of bulb (not that I ever would). 3. A better overall illumination. Bolt on small signals like I saw at AutoZone (for trucks and trailers etc.) could not produce a good spread pattern. 4. I wanted them to illuminate just like the turn signals, with low beams for parking lights and high light output for turn blinkers.

inside of fender

turn signal and air intake on nose

I got some turn signals at a junkyard. My Cavalier had nicely shaped lights, so I found a set of those. An Oldsmobile donated the other lights. The plug for the bulb themselves were way to long. They come straight out of the housing. So I found some bulb sockets on a couple of Ford SUV trucks. All 4 use 3157 type bulbs. They are a perpendicular shape and work almost perfect. They almost fit into the lenses. I Dremel drilled out the slots on the lenses slightly. On one set of sockets I had to decrease the outer depth of the locking prongs because they wouldn't fit inside of the lenses. I took out the bulb from the car, and cut the socket off, and made a Y splice with the same hi and low leads for the new turn signals.

turn signal lenses

hole for bulb

before and after

Ford 3157 socket


TA blub with power take off Y-splice

Once the lenses and sockets were done, I moved to the mounting brackets. I used some small brass strips to make a sample housing. Brass was cheap and very easy to bend and drill. I had to try several bends and mounting points. Once my shape and position was defined, I used thicker aluminum stock to build the bracket. I cut pieces of 12, 13, and 14 inches, and bent them offset to make the lenses line up best with the vent ports on the car. Small sheet metal screws went into the plastic lenses themselves. As long as you are careful and don't overtighten them, they are OK. The bottom bracket is a U shape, and I used sheet metal nuts on them to hold them down. To mount the bracket to the car, I drilled into the bottom of the fender and side skirting, and used a long screw with washer on the bottom. I also cut a short piece and secured the top of the bracket assembly using the fender's screw.

lights with brass experimental mounting

lights with aluminum brackets

you can see the offset needed

lights mounted in fender

bottom mount in body

top mount using fender screw

lights and wiring

light diagram

Even with using the flat Ford bulb sockets, I was still very tight on room. If I need to change a bulb, the whole assembly must be removed.

I spliced the wiring harness into the same wires as run to the main turn signals. For every wiring harness on the car, I used 18 guage wire (16 would also work well) and male-female insulated disconnects. I feel every part needs to be able to be removed, and the original wiring kept intact. To that end, every power take off (except for the neon, which runs on a cigarette lighter line) has a Y-splice used to get power. I used about 40 sets of disconnects for the projects as a whole. I also wire loomed every significant length of wire, and taped it to look as it would out of the factory. If I could have found GM style weatherpak plugs that had the connections I needed, I would have used them!

spliced in wires

another view

lights test before flasher

Here are the finished turn signal lights! The pictures aren't the best. Every part needed testing before final reassembly. I ran the new turn signal wires up into the engine bay area through a small gap that was by the top of the fender. The looms run down top of the wheel well, then back through another gap to the front of the nose and original turn signals.

lights on! better view, no flash

inside of fender view

heavy duty flasher unit

Click to watch

Once I was done with all my other mods for the season, I fired up the car and tested out the turn signals. UH OH! The signals were barely blinking, and blinking very fast. Looking at the signals themselves, I could hardly see the illumination. I did some research, and after some testing, I deduced that that the turn signal flasher unit was to blame.

Quick tech topic: Turn signal flashers work on heat and electricity. The current is sent to the flasher, and a metal strip heats up after a moment. The hot metal bends, then bends to make contact with the other electrode, and the current goes into the light. After a moment, the resistor metal cools enough to snap away from the electrode, breaking the electric current to the light. And the cycle repeats.

My turn signals, now with 3 times as many bulbs as before, was heating and expelling the current at 3 times the normal rate, hence the short light cycle. My simple solution, is to get a heavy duty signal flasher. They are electronic, meaning they don't rely on an element heating to a certain point to switch on, and they are usually rated for trailer towing and for about 4-10 lights, maybe 20 amps. I got one for about $9 at the local auto parts store. Replacement took only a couple minutes under the steering column.

Important Wiring Information!

After testing with the car running I started blowing the 10 amp "Guages" fuse repeatedly. By adding the lights directly into the the wiring of the regular turn signals and parking lights, I overloaded the system. The lights DO NOT run on a "regular" wiring scheme. They are controlled by a computer (the Body Control Module, or BCM) and draw power at a very specific rate. Adding the lights in overloaded the computer system of the car, which also was running the guages, and other systems.

I added a relay to control the activation of the parking lights and the turn signals. A relay draws minimal power, so it will not overload the BCM computer. I tapped the positive side of the parking (side marker) lights for the signal to the relay for the parking light, and I tapped off of the blue wire in the turn signals for the signal to the relay for the new side marker turn signals.

Check your service manual for a complete description and diagram of all the systems that the BCM controls. Generally, it's all the lighting systems and interior electrical functions of the car. So add mods at your own risk. Below are two images that give a view of the fuse I was blowing, and the items controlled by the BCM, and then the diagram of how I wired in the new relay system.

relay I used

general BCM diagram

relay to lights diagram

New Weatherpak Connections (July 04)

After driving my car a while, and in a rainstorm that was *really* bad, I had my lights die. The crimp on connections got water inside them and started to corrode quickly. For weeks I had some of the lights out. I found a source for cheap water proof Weatherpak connectors, and also decided to solder them for extra security.

List of parts I used from Waytek Wire (

38045 3-prong male connector body
38044 3-prong female connector body
39000 cable seals for 16 guage wire
39010 cavity plug for unused ports in a connector
30034 male pin to crimp
30035 female pin
75281 large relay connector
31073 1/4in relay terminals
also a pin removal tool

I purchased a crimping tool from NAPA for about $23. Waytek sells the professional stripper/crimper for $90 and up. The NAPA one only crimps on the wire contact, it doesn't do the cable seals, so I used a regular wire crimper to carefully finish the job on the seal.

Some info on WP terminals and Waytek: "Weatherpak" terminals are produced by only a couple companies and aren't usually stocked at your local parts shop. Advanced Auto is starting to sell some that are fully assembled, but selection is awful, NAPA sells them but have really high minimum orders. There are actually several types of WP connectors. There are Metri-Pack 280, Metri-Pack 150, and Weatherpak (sometimes spelled with or without the C, Weatherpack). Waytek will send you a nice paper catalog you can look at, or they have the whole thing online as PDFs as well. They require a minimum order of $35 or they charge an extra $5 handling, and you have to order at least $5 (or 100 pieces) worth of 1 item. My order came to about $55 plus the NAPA tool.

y splice

wiring with relay plug

old corroded crimp on wires

to attach new, strip wire

attach silicon seals

NAPA crimper

M & F contacts

connectors and plastic housings

crimp on

solder for permanent contact



Neon Lights in the Ram Air

I grew up with Knight Rider, so I really had a hard time resisting to do this one. But red is illegal, like way illegal to have on your car (at least while moving) so I chose blue. I had seen other TA's and seen pics of people who had done it, but with only small LED bulbs and stuff that hardly seemed to light up at all. They looked bad. I needed to have lots of light being emitted from my RA. I saw a forum post of another guy who did it the right way. Neon bulbs reflecting light off of the internal baffle in the front of the RA intake. Ingenious. Thanks to Russel Fulks for the great instruction. I will use some of his instructions and add to it with my experience.

I also chose to illuminate the "lower" portion of the RA intake, which isn't an intake at all, just another slot.


Stuff you will need:

6" cold cathode bulbs (available in several colors including blue and UV). I used 2 complete sets, 4 bulbs total.

GM/Pontiac switch #10195570, about $18 at

New bezel plate to cut up, GM part #10411283, about $4

18 or 16 guage wire, red and black

lots of male-female disconnects (but Weatherpak connectors are better, see more below)

2" wide aluminum tape (NOT duct tape, but reflective REAL metal tape)

cable ties, probably black

1/4" black hex head screws

1/4" wire clips (or 3/8")

wire loom, 1/4", probably available at a hardware store or auto parts store by the foot



Take your bezel plate and mark out where you need to cut. You need a hole just a little bigger than 1/2" by 1-1/8". I needed to mount 2 switches. One for neon, one for fog lights. I think there may be enough space to mount 3 switches, if you were to trim the outer trim ring from the one of the switches itself. There is a small nub on the switch main housing, so chop it off too. Also, you guessed it, use a wire cutter to cut the wire connector off. The GM switch is a marvel of engineering, with led lights for both the operational light and dash lights.

Here is a description of all the wire's functions:

black: ground
grey: dash illumination LED
yellow: power in (positive)
brown: power out (positive)
purple: switch on indicator LED

Remove your shifter cover to gain access to the cigarette lighter wires. Tap in, or just cut off the connector if you are going to eliminate the cig lighter like I did. DO NOT CUT the cig lighter wires AT THE SAME TIME because the wires are always hot, even with key off, a metal wire snip will cause a short circuit. Cut one at a time. Attach your wire taps or disconnects. I have traction contol, and that switch has the other line you will need to illuminate the switch along with your dash lights. If you don't have TCS, you can find another wire, or you can forego having the switches light up at night.

bezel with cutouts

switches and Y-splices

rear of switches, what a mess!

looks like standard GM issue!

cig lighter wires and TCS wires

wires I needed for neon and fog lights and SLP fan switch

assembled in shifter housing

final mount in car


My power routing of the swtich goes like this.

black- attach to black wire of cig lighter, your ground
grey- attach to a wire tap onto grey wire of TCS switch, this is dash illumination power
yellow- attach to cig lighter orange wire, your main positive power source
brown- attach this wire to the wire that will go into the positive lead of the neon power converter (or your other light)
purple- tap this into the brown wire, it will turn on the indicator when you flip the switch to on

The power converter has 2 leads, pos and neg. I attached the pos wire to the lead that came from the brown wire from the switch, and the neg lead I connected to the neg of the cig lighter, but any ground lead would work just as well.

In order to route everything the "right" way, you will need to do some work. Remove the kick flap underneath of the glove box. 2 big plastic push in pins hold it up and 1 funky metal tab holds the front. Remove the side sill trim and the passenger footwell trim. 4 screws along the bottom is all that holds it. I found one of the screws tough to get at, third one back required the seat to be moved forward all the way and use a long screwdriver. Go to the engine compartment and remove the engine computer. A 7mm driver does the 2 connectors, and a 10mm removes the mounting. Be VERY careful, there are 2 small and soft rubber gaskets that go around the terminal blocks. Mine became dislodged from their position on the computer, and I pinched one the first time I reinstalled the connections. If they become dislodged on reassembly, try a tiny bit of gel type superglue to hold them in place. The engine computer could come out without unscrewing it, but it really needs to come out with the mounting to get access to the grommet. Cut a small hole in the grommet to fish your wires through. I was also adding SLP's fan switch, which had a very large connector on it, and I had to cut a bigger hole. You will also see a white wire, that is my wire to the fog light relay switch. The grommet is **very elastic, so it will accept pretty big packages through it and retain its shape. Inside the car, fish your wire through and over to the center console.

engine computer

taking computer apart

computer and bracket

grommet behind computer

grommet with wires

passenger compart. with wires

wires and Y-splices



After running the wires through the grommet, I made yet another Y splice, so I had power to the lower neon and the upper neon. I took my wires, loomed them, and then taped them in place on the underside of the hood. I drilled holes very carefully so as not to hit the upper portion of the hood. I ran the loomed wire so it looked like a stock sort of wiring job, and so it was not too close to hot elements or would be crushed. I used the 1/4" clips to secure the loom. Since the loom was bigger than the interior size of the clips, and I couldn't screw through both sides of the clip, I cut one side of the clip end off, and I could then pull the clip open and catch the loom in it. It's a very snug fit now, so the loom won't be sliding around.

wire from grommet up to hood

wire run up hood

hood wire into RA intake



Out front, remove the Ram Air grilles. Clean the baffle well. Use several pieces of aluminum tape to cover the entire front baffle. You will need several pieces to get inside of the many corners. I also removed my rear air baffle,as it restricts horsepower. It also makes the installation of this stuff A LOT easier. Unless you drive often in very rainy conditions, you can remove the rear baffle. There are a good number of people who remove the fronts ones too. I wanted to have the lower holes of the RA nose light up, so I covered the entire lower part of the hood with aluminum tape.

power converter in plastic tomb

start of aluminum taping

aluminum tape on nose

alum tape in nostril

alum tape in nostril

power converter and a bulb

side of nose diagram



The power converters with the neon kit I got have 2 holes on tangs on either end. There is also a hole in the front of the hood at the tip where I inserted one of the 1/4" self tapping screws. I drilled a hold about 2.75" down from that to attach another screw and the other end of the power converter. A word about the converters- I got a bad one with my first kit, so I pulled it apart. The entire internal assembly is embedded in plastic. It is almost completely water-proof, but not 100%. I recommend putting some caulking around the wire entry/exit points. I ended up needing a new converter because one got burned from water I think. I also put one inside a waterproof box, the lower lights burned out on me once.

On the end of my neon tubes, I dremeled out a slot on the top corners of the plastic ends. I used black plastic zip ties to hold the neon tubes down, so the notches would keep them from shifting sideways.

To mount the tubes in the RA nose, I just experimented, used some sticky tack, and when I had a good reflective position, drilled 2 holes really carefully. I had a test power source hooked up so I could test the reflective quality of different positions. Position is important, so set up a test lead and try it before commiting to a final mounting point. I looped the zip ties around, and zip down! I suggest that you test out your wiring at points along construction, and don't put all the pieces back in until you do.

notice the 2 screws that hold in the power converter

power converter way up in the front of the tip of the hood, as seen from back of RA box



For the lower neon, I had to get underneath of the bumper cover. There are only 3 push in rivets holding the very front section on, but to lift it up sufficiently, I had to raise up the headlights. TIP- put the headlights up all the way, then put the motor covers back on by inserting them from underneath the headlight mounting. The reason for putting them under the cover as opposed to as far back as possible is that the hood release latch comes right down behind the nose plastic. Anything not under the nose would be smashed by the latch when the hood is put down.

At first I mounted bulbs from a different brand in the bottom, a 4" bulb, but when I was done it was a *slightly different shade of blue, so I went back to the 6" bulb, though it was hard to fit in. I had to dremel as much off the plastic end of the bulb as I could, and angle it also, and dremel off an angle from the other end. It fits, but very snugly! I also drilled out a small hole in the front fiber-plastic nose piece to run the wire in a more out-of-sight way.

nose mounting

zip ties for nose mouting

light being positioned to mount

mouting about done

6" bulb after extensive grinding

6" bulb after extensive grinding

top of nose diagram



After a bit of clean-up, wire looming, wire taping, and such, I tested and found my 4" bulbs were a different color. So I dremeled and luckily fit in the 6" bulbs, which were then the correct shade.

GOOD matching color lights now

matching lights test

final neon matching lights! :-)

left switch is for fog lights, right switch is for neon

another nice pic

SLP Fan Switch

The SLP fan switch comes with its own directions, but there are some tips I can give about it. Installation was simultaneous with my neon lights, since the wire were run at the same time. I wanted to put the fan switch in the position that the cigarette lighter was. The hardest part of that was finding a suitable size hole plug. The cig lighter is difficult remove from the center console, I had to cut parts of it with a tin snips and bend it up. I don't smoke, and there is another 12v power outlet to use still in the car. I first searched for a plastic part to plug the hole, that would also fit the SLP switch and nut. What I could get was either too small, or not quite big enough to fit in the cig lighter hold, and too deep for the thread of the fan switch. I settled on a metal hold plug. I drilled out a hole to start, then used a dremel to enlarge the hole without bending up the plug like a big drill bit would. I had to flatten some of the tangs because they were too big to all fit in the hole. I rebent 3 of them to use to clamp it down in the hole. Once it fit well, I painted it with krylon black texture paint. That looks almost exactly like the plastic finish in the car! I got ahead of myself and mounted the fan switch in the metal boot and clamped it into the center console. But I had the switch upside-down! I had to remove the metal cover, since the nut SLP supplies is a one way type. Then I could not get the entire mount to fit snugly again, so I ended up gluing the mouting in. It looks like 99% stock!

C100 block is one farthest front

metal hole plug with pilot hole

SLP nut test fitted

painted and test fit

switch mounted

switch mounted

looks like factory, eh?

rear of switch when glued in

SLP harness installed

wires I needed for neon and fog lights and SLP fan switch


SLP Strut Tower Bar

 I moved the SLP strut tower bar (2 point mount) from my 93 to my 01 TA. It's simple and on my 93 seemed effective at adding some stiffness and quicker turn in, plus less wiggle over bumps in the road.

Fog Lights

Fog lights were wired up simultaneously with the neons also. All I needed was 1 positive power wire to the relay. The relay was grounded on the body post about 6" away from where it's mounted. The relay was mounted on the plastic housing where one of the fuse boxes sits. I ran the positive power from the batter terminal that connects to the fuse box.

fuse box on driver side of car

close up of relay

1 wire to connect from passenger compartment to relay

a view of main front member to mount light bracket onto

bottom of fog light bracker lower half

fog light behind the slot

bolt in the side of main frame rail

light mount assembled

fog light behind slot

full view of light and bracket

fog light in slot

let there be light!

beam pattern of fogs

Pilot brand fog lights

Its all on


I was originally planning on an L shape bracket for mounting the fog lights, to come down off of the main frame rail. Upon actually positioning a test bracket, I found that wasn't going to work. There is a dimple bend in the frame at the best place for the bracket. So plan B. From the bottom of the radiator support, up at an angle, gave good placement. I still used an L bracket to the frame rail, since there needs to be 2 support points to stop bouncing on the bracket. 3/16 aluminum is pretty flimsy with a 1.5 pound weight on the end of it.

I used a self tapping screw on the frame rail, and regular bolts for the lower bracket. I should have angled my lower bracet up more steeply, because when I reattached the air dam, it was a tight squeeze- the bracket interfered just a bit with the levelness of the part.


Keyless Entry 1-Button Cutout

I found this online, a friend in F-body figured out how to wire the keyless entry to open both doors with 1 press of the button, not needing a second press. This is from a post, but I don't know from where any more.

"For those of you who dont door locks is when you hit the unlock button on the remote once to unlock the drivers door and then hit it again to unlock the passenger door. These instruction are on how to bypass it so that both doors unlock on the first press. The second press of the button will now be an extra channel giving you the abitlity to control other options such as remote start, window roll down, turn on radio, whatever you can think of that needs a pulse to activate."

1. Look under the glove box. You will see a black panel that covers everything above it. There are two clips right at the base of the glovebox that holds the front side of the panel up. Remove these to clips so that the panels hangs down giving you access to the wires above it. You will also have to remove the kick panel trim by the door. 4 screws hold it in along the bottom of the door.

2. Look for a green plug. There will be five wires in it. -Orange/Black stripe -Red/black stripe -Grey/Black stripe -Tan -Grey

3. Unplug the harness. The female side is the bigger side and is light (brighter) green. The male side is the smaller side and is dark green (blue-green). You will be working with the female side.

4. Cut the grey/black stripe wire on the female side. Give yourself about 2 inches if you can to work with.

5. You should now have a short length of wire going back into the female plug and the other side goes back into the wiring of the car. Splice the side going back into the plug with the Tan wire. Your passenger side door actuator (grey wire) is now getting a lock or unlock signal at the same time as the driver's side (tan wire).

6. The wire that goes back into your car is now your extra channel on your alarm. Its is a 12V pulse.

"Most remote starts and window modules need just a pulse to activate. This will give it to you now from the factory alarm. Installation of these components would be done just as if there were an aftermarket alarm except that you would hook the trigger wire to the grey/black wire that is left over. Since doing mine originally Ive found that some cars just have a green plug going directly into the BCM. Wires are the same color. You just need to verify which side is the output to the locks with a voltmeter."

remote entry harness behind passenger foot/door trim

wire with modification done

close up of wire


Texas Speed & Performance High Flow Airlid

Since the texture of the lid, that my beautiful girlfriend gave me for Christmas, was like that of some old lady's dried out labia, I had to sand it down. I sanded forever, and when I was done it was smooth. I applied the new Ram Air sticker (UGH! $30 even from, then mounted the unit to the car. The bellows was sort of smashed in then because there was less space behind the MAF once mounted to the airlid. The first time I ran the car, it idled low, and got very low after a throttle blip. I was worried. But after stopping the engine, the next day when I ran it, idle was normal again. I think the computer had to recalibrate some stuff after being disconnected for a long time.


New Brake Discs

Like all late model F-bodies, my brakes were shimmying me out of my seat.I replaced the discs with replacement discs from Advance Auto. It was so straight-forward I won't go into great detail. But I will say that the bolts that hold on the caliper bracket MUST be replaced per the service manual. You need 2 for each side. Surprisingly, Advance didn't have 4 of them on hand, so pick them up before starting the job. Use hardened 10.9 metric 12mm x 1.75 x 40mm long bolts (black anodized). The parts guy at the local Pontiac place said that thier techs just add threadlocker and re-use the bolts, but the service manual is pretty adament about replacing them. They cost like $1 each, so why not?

grade 10 bolt

caliper off wheel

back of bracket

bracket off hub

CG-Lock Seatbelt Enhancer

CG-Lock is a seatbelt enhancement device. It more snugly locks the seatbelt part over the hips and keeps the driver from wiggling around when autocrossing, performance driving, or off-roading. The shoulder part of the seatbelt stays at regular tension. It is not a safety enhancement! But it does provide the benefits of a full harness without the installation, mess, and complexity!

The device can only go on seatbelts with a single pass-through of the belt through the latch. The CG-Lock clamps onto the back of the latch of the seltbelt. Ideally, it is designed that the tip of the "mouth" goes far enough on the latch that it wraps into the opening for the belt, and is super secure.

MY Firebird seatbelt latch (at least my year, 2001, but perhaps others and probably Camaro also) has a slight S bend it in. This means that the "mouth" can't go around the S bend, plus it is too short to make it to the belt opening. Ideally the seatbelt latch would not have the S curve. I DO NOT think that all F-bodies have this style, I have seen numerous cars and some have the S-bend type and some have the double-plastic boxed slider, my passenger side seat has this other style, in fact.

My first CG-Lock that was sent was their "normal" version. It could clamp onto the back of the seatbelt latch, but since it didn't go into the belt slot, only the very tips of the CG were clamping. Though I tightened the screws pretty far, there was still play in the CG if I wiggled it, and I was uncomfortable with the fact the screws didn't go down all the way, leaving the possibility that the screws could bend, something get stuck in the opening, it could become loose, etc.

They sent me 2 other styles. The one was the same, but it had some "teeth" cut into the tips of the mouth. I like teeth, but ultimately it wasn't good enough to overcome the large gap that occurs with the curved mouth.

The "flat" style worked much better. The flatness of the mouth meant that the screws could go farther into the other side of the clamp. So, I had more surface area to contact the seatbelt latch. I could really tighten the screws far, and then the CG seemed much more secure. I couldn't wiggle it or pull it off like the curved ones. Also, the CG has some lines cut into the mouth, going perpendicular to the direction of the belt. They are helpful but I think that they should be deeper or more aggressive.

If you are going to order a CG-Lock for your F-body, and your seatbelt has an S-curve, you should specify that you want the 'flat' style and your seatbelt has an S curve (if it does, that is!). CG-Lock is recommended by Chris!

seatbelt with S-curve

Flat CG Lock attached

attached to belt

Spohn Weld In Sub-Frame Connectors

Spohn units were chosen because their shop is literally 10 minutes away from me, plus they are good quality and fit up into the body and do not compromise ground clearance. Clearance is important for me, I have a steep driveway with a bump at the curb/sidewalk. I went to CSE Auto near Philly to have them put in. They have a drive on lift and a lot of experience with welding. Their shop had several race cars in states of repair and manufacture. The install took nearly all day, but is professional and looks great. They had to of course grind the powdercoat off, and grind the undercoat off the frame. On the driver side they had to pound in a small section that was causing some obstruction with the SFC braket, and then also make a small L bracket to fill in where there was a gap next to the body rail. They undercoated the rails and welds very well.

The car seems a bit more solid now, not as much flex of bumps. But honestly the improvement is not very noticeable. If you are just a normal driver, you have to be very aware how your car reacts over bumps and corners and do a comparison immediately when you get in it after putting SFCs in. I even have a hard time telling much difference at autocross.

rear at LCA mounts

putting it up

driver front

weld and undercoat

SLP Loudmouth 2 Exhaust

Sound clips at, here is a before and after sound clip (mp3) of my car.

I got the Loudmouth 2 system with Y pipe. The y pipe is very smooth, no kinks and no constrictions. The fit to the cats/manifolds was pretty good. The LM2 system comes in a bunch of pieces. Intermediate pipe, muffler, straight pipe, over-axle-plus-exhaust-outlet-y, and driver side outlet extension. To get the stock system off and have enough room we had to take the panhard bar off the bracket so the axle could hang down just a bit more. It probably wasn't necessary but we cut the stock pipe close to the muffler, but in retrospect, could have cut it closer to the axle to give more room to drop the old pipe. The new system is sort of a pain to put in because there are too many loose pieces you have to align at one time. The y pipe (to the manifolds/cats) was tightened up first. Then the rest of the system was put up. The muffler part is between 2 pipes that have no secure mounting. So it wobbles around without some tension. We were also trying to eyeball the exhaust tips and the outlet y pipe which also werent super solid, being in 2 pieces also. It was just a bunch of trial and error to get it to look right, fit right, and meet up where it was supposed to. At the over axle area it was a tight fit and the pipe is real close to the body, but doesnt actually make contact. Like I said, so many pieces, so hard to line up all at once.

TIP: Put the car down on the ground and check the exact placement of the tips from your normal viewing angle. Up in the air it just is too hard. Also the tips can go pretty far under the bumper and still be OK, dont let them hang out real far and look dumb.

I used Hedman Hedders exhaust tip #17205 for my tips, I think they are a good variant of dual tips plus have a slight rolled tip to look sort of like the stock units.

The sound is great now, much throatier and louder. Im sure I picked up a couple HP, its very unrestricted now. But the one issue I have is at 2000 to 2500rpm. At that rev range, on gas, it drones a lot and is very loud in an annoying way. If I am cruising off the gas, its fine, or going up through the rev range its sort of OK cause about 2500 its just plain loud and wonderful sounding. At idle its just as quiet as stock. A great improvement overall.

nice tips!

LM2 system

SLP y pipe

tough to line up

KONI Adjustable Shock Absorbers

Because I participate in Autocrossing, I needed a better handling car. Well even if I didn't, I would want a better handling TA. To be truthful, on the limit, the car can be a little scary when the body rolls around all. To be honest some of it is the sway bar, but replacing the shocks has been the best improvement to handling I have made.

On a 'fun drive' up some mountain roads with a friend, last year I had a little trouble keeping up with his '93 MR2. Around the bends and hairpins he just snuck away from me, but I could always catch up in the straights. But this year when I had the Koni's on, I could clearly match his speed in any corner and in fact felt I was faster and could have passed him (but we were on regular roads and he was leading the way on our trip).

Koni single adjustable shocks (part numbers: 8241-1139 (f) and 8241-1140 (r))

I purchased from, Sam Strano is an expert in F-bodies and big car handling upgrades. Talk to him and he will set you straight!

To put in my shocks I went to my friend and local SCCA supporter Rob at ProTune Performance. The rear shocks were a piece of cake, the inside mounting point is just behind the rear seat. There is a score mark on the carpeting behind the seat you just need to cut with a knife to get to the top of the shock. Remove the foam, undo the bolt, and redo the new bolts on the Koni's. When we removed the old shocks, I also removed the spring perches on the rears. I wanted to have a slightly lower rear end. The 98-02 TA's always looked like they were jacked up too much compared to the 93-97's. In fact they DO use different spring perches, the 93-97 is molded smaller and shorter by about 1/2 inch. I totally removed the perches to get about 1 full inch of drop, which evens up both wheel arches, at rest with no passengers. We put some 5/8 inch heater hose around the top coil of the spring to act as an insulator. We needed to use some WD-40 on the coil to slip the hose on more easily. Later on I decided to use the shorter perches, since when I sit in the car I get even more drop, and I want normal ride height to be at the right spot, not necessarily the height with no passengers.

The front shocks were a lot more difficult. Though it's technically possible to do it the way the instructions describe, it's not entirely easy. We had to: Remove my SLP strut tower brace; Remove the brake master cylinder from the brake booster and move slightly to the side (we did not take any lines off); Remove the steering knuckle; Disconnect the upper control arm ball joint; Remove the lower control arm ball joint; remove the upper A arm from the body; and then the shock mount points. Rob did not want to tinker with the sway bar links because they can be rusted and could snap or not go back together without new parts. The we compressed the spring and replaced the shock, and put it all back together. In hindsight, the upper A arms didn't really need to be taken off of the body, but to make thing easy, the hubs did need to be taken fully out of the way. The last tricky thing is to line up the adjusters in an appropriate place around the spring so you can adjust the shock easily.

I have my shocks adjusted to +2 sweeps in the front and 0 (full soft) in the rear (but I'm not proclaiming this setting is optimal for me or you). The handling is greatly improved for any bumpy road and especially for turns and cornering. I can attack corners a lot faster than before, especially on the street. In Autocross the difference with R tires does not seem quite as great, but is noticeable.

front shocks

need to remove to get to top a arm bolts

a arm off

front shock adjuster space is very tight!

Custom Fiberglass Brake Ducts + Wheel Ducting

I had the Severn brake duct kit for a year, which was an OK design but not the very best. It included a flat generic air intake duct, hose, and some very very nicely fabricated stainless steel air hose mounting brackets that bolt onto the wheel hub to direct airflow onto the brake disc. The size of those were 3 inch diameter. The 3 inch hose leaves no, zero, nada extra room when the wheel is turned all the way to lock. I burned through the hose with the tire, and the low hanging hose from my original install scraped on the ground. I decided to make my own.

I had the steel wheel mounts remade at 2.5 inches. They cost me $160. That size gave slightly more space for the steering arm nut. Using 2.5 inch hose will give just enough clearance at lock. Then I fabricated custom formed intake ducts. The ducts were designed to smoothly direct airflow to the hose. The cross sectional size of a 3 inch hose is 9.4 sq inches. The size of a 2.5 inch hose is 7.8 sq in, only 83 percent of the larger hose. To compensate, the intake of the fiberglass duct is approximately 3 by 7 inches, a total of 21 sq in. The airflow will speed up as its forced through and makeup for loss of size. The fiberglass duct connects to the front air dam, and exits just below the sway bar mount. The length of hose required to connect to the wheel is about 17 inches, and is held tight to the sway bar by a small spring around the bar and hose. At full wheel lock, there is approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space between wheel and hose.

Severn 3" duct

hanging low hose

intake on airdam

burned 3" hose

new duct on wheel

raw fiberglass ducts

hose on sway bar

under car view

painted ducts under car, no hoses

Strano 35mm Front Sway Bar (+22mm Rear)

Another great addition to handling was a larger front sway bar. The Strano custom-made bar has definitely helped keep the car a little flatter. The bar is made by Addco, and it 35mm, up from 32mm stock. It comes painted silver, with stiffer bushing, but needs to be lubed when it goes on.

I also bought the 22mm larger rear bar. The stock size was 19. This really has the effect of keeping the car flatter, which in reality means there is way more oversteer and tail-out action. For autocross it works really good, I can get a perfect amount of rotation when I need it. On public roads, I personally found it too slippery. I don’t want to slide out in a tight back road unexpectedly. I put the stock rear bar back on.

front sway bar with new bushing, blue hose is accusump line

sway bar by front wheel and ducts

Brake Vacuum Booster Reservoir & Check Valves

My TA has an usual condition, that when I am autocrossing and rev up or go fast, then quickly hit the brakes hard, I can lose all power brake assist. The brakes still work, but there is no ‘power’ so I have to press the pedal as hard as I possibly can. I’ve heard of a couple other people with similar issues. It also can be a driving style issue, but I don’t think I am going to stop going fast, so to speak.

The design of the stock vacuum check valve is poor and is the culprit. It does not use a spring. It’s better suited to a horizontal installation because it’s just a flap. In its vertical orientation, it is possible for the valve to not close and for air to escape in the wrong direction, if the flow is decreased slowly. I changed the valve with a new one from GM. No change in performance.

I found a company that custom makes check valves and has a good spring design. The only drawback is they are a straight through design, not a 90 degree bend like the stock unit. Just one check valve did not peform properly. I then added a vacuum reservoir tank, and a second check valve. The vacuum line from the engine connects to the tank, and has the first check valve inline. I found the 1.5 pound spring to be the correct pressure to eliminate almost all vacuum loss. The second check valve is inline from the reservoir to the brake booster. Its actually right on the booster. This valve is only 0.5 pound. It’s only there as a backup. This setup requires some more hoses and adds a couple pounds to the front, but is necessary if really want to stop.

Check valves from SMART PRODUCTS in California. Valve model number 305, with barbs and 5/8 inch hose size, in nylon, with 0.5 and 1.5 pound pressure. They may give you some ‘samples’ but after about 3 or 4 they really want you to buy some. Minimum order $50 and 3 of each item. Vacuum canister from Summit Racing. Plain black with a check valve (not used) and a 90 degree knuckle with barbs. I had to use a hose stepper to go from 3/8 hose (canister) to 5/8 hose (car vacuum system). I also ordered some hose connections with barbs from Advanced Auto, from Motormite “Help” line of products number 47091 and 47082, about $9 each. Hose clamps from the local hardware store.

Update: As of 2010 I have removed the canister. I am only using the check valves. Canister did not make any appreciable difference.

Summit Reservoir

booster and the new check valve and bypass

reservoir canister in nose ahead of left front wheel

Stainless Steel Brake Lines

From Strano's I also got a set of Stainless Steel brake lines, from Earl's. They are made nicely, and seemed easy enough to install, though it was a messy job. Honestly I did not feel any difference in brake pedal feel or brake action. But hopefully I never will, and they will be tough enough under all conditions.

dual brake channel lines at axle, from body to axle hard lines

brake line at rear axle

PIAA 510 Driving Lights

The same driving lights (PIAA 510 series) that I had on my 93 I have moved over to my 01 TA. The process was a little more troublesome than I had imagined. The light mounts on the 01 are difficult to remove, a process that requires first taking out the bulb completely, unbolting the housing, then rotating it and pulling it out from the front of the bumper. The bracket must be bent somewhat to accept the 510 driving lights, and again rotated oddly as you insert it back in. Tricky, but certainly do-able in a couple hours and with normal hand tools. This was one of the first things I had done.

Eaton Limited Slip Differential

From Strano's I also got new Eaton Differential in May 2010. The old diff was just spinning the rear wheel on power. The old differential was a Torsen, almos the same as a Torsen T2R. The way they are built is there are no replaceable parts. All the friction surfaces are just the metal of the housing and gear face themself. How odd I think! The Eaton is rebuildable, and of course worked properly from day 1. No more 1 whee burnout, just both wheels turning together out of corners. It definitely makes Autocross a lot better as I can put the power down in any corner and it will hook up and drive right out. Well if I put too much power in it will still spin/step out, but we all know that can happen with 325hp!

new diff city

installed, perfect gear wear pattern

Sparco Race Seat

From OG Racing in Virginia I finally got a real race seat! The Sparco EVO2 (or also called the L for Large). I had to sit in many of the seats at OG for a long time till I decided on this one. I bought the Sparco seat base to attach to the floor of the car, it was a totally simple bolt-in operation for that part. I got the sliders, so I can slide the seat back and get in a lot easier. When all installed, the new seat actually sits a bit higher than my old stock seat! If I took the sliders out it would be about 3/4 inch lower. Also, the seat base is a little high and could be made lower; I may do that over the winter. To mount the sliders I did have to drill another hole in the seat base. To get the seat in the lowest holes in the side brackets, I had to cut the bolts very short so they would not touch the seat itself. It was easy to do but only took a little time to measure and cut with a Dremel cutoff wheel.

In order to use the stock seat belts, I took off the CG Lock. It is mostly unnecessary now, the seat does all the holding in, laterally, so it's just a hassle and it sticks the end of the seat belt up too high over my hip, when the seatbelt is attached. But I did have to make some special brackets to hold the seatbelt in the right place. I have seen some other guys at autocross with zip ties or weird things to hold the belts in place. I had some stainless steel brackets made to replicate the stock seat brackets on the headrest. See the picture for how those work. It's important to note that the have to be positioned so the belt can slide freely through them, and the belt still goes mostly over your sternum (breast bone) for the belt to work right in case of a crash.

$750 of butt-holding security

Seat bottom bracket and sliders and side brackets

seat with seatbelt holder

front of seat with belt guide

Mike Minnear Front Hubs

Front hubs on F-bodies are self-contained, replaceable, but non-serviceable. You just take the old ones off, and put new ones on when they wear out. The stock units were the best units you'll ever have, no replacement set will last as long. If you autocross or road race, you can destroy a replacement set in 1 event I've been told. A guy in Colorado makes a set of rebuildable, race grade hubs. The stock units apparently have ball bearings and can not take a lot of side loading, ie cornering, and they wear out. The Minnear hubs have tapered bearings that can handle side loading and cornering much better. And can have new bearings put in when they wear out.

Install date: Fall 2009. Price: 750 for each hub!

new hub

installed hub

speed sensor inside hub