I don’t care who you are or how old you are, if you’ve ever seen a properly built “Bandit-style” Trans Am, it’s likely one of your favorite cars out there. Our whole crew was jealous of Nick Wiegand at this year’s Sick Week drag-and-drive competition, as Nick showed up in Florida with a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that was just built beautifully, and featured a twin-turbo 461 cubic inch Pontiac engine under the wing-adorned hood.
We got some time to speak with Nick during day two of Sick Week at Bradenton Motorsports Park – that was after we got done drooling over the car. “I get that a lot,” Wiegand admits. “The car belonged to a friend of ours. We had it at our house to paint it and put a motor in it for over 10 years. Unfortunately, our friend passed away and we were able to take over ownership of the vehicle. I’ve had a childhood dream of building a Bandit Trans Am, so we had the opportunity and took it.”
That build took Weigand and his dad about two years to finish. They were trying to make it to Drag Week 2020, but when the event got canceled, they were able to calm down and focus on readying the car for Drag Week ‘21.
“That was its first debut, but it wasn’t in the black and gold trim,” Wiegand says. “It was just primer black, and it only made it to the second day. Last year, we didn’t do anything with it, but this year, we decided to take it to Sick Week.”
Nick was competing in the Pro DYO (Dial Your Own) class. As such, Nick had to get as close to his first-day pass as possible in an effort to have the smallest average spread for the week. His day-one pass at Orlando Speedworld was an 8.610.
The Trans Am’s engine and transmission setup was pretty much the same today as it was a couple years ago, according to Nick, but in that time the paint and bodywork has been completed.
“We did everything ourselves,” he says. “My dad did the body and paint. I did all the stickers and the fabrication from front to back. We built the motor. We built the trans. We built the rear end. Everything from front to back we did.”
Wiegand also stayed true to the Trans Am by putting a Pontiac engine under the hood. “The engine is a stock Pontiac 400 block and we added a Crower billet crank that is older than dirt,” he says. “The crank has been in many bracket cars and it’s working strong in this engine now. We got some Edelbrock heads that are CNC ported from a guy up in Canada. Nothing else in the engine is really that special. I built the intake for it, and it has a couple of BS Racing 78mm billet turbos.”
According to Nick, he was running about 22-lbs. of boost during Sick Week, but he’s had it as high as 26-lbs. Nick said he didn’t really want to go much further than that on the stock block in an effort to keep it alive.
While Nick has done a Drag Week event in the past, it was his first time at Sick Week, so his expectations were to just finish the event.
“I just want to make it through,” he admits. “My first event with this car, which was the only one, I only made it to day two before I had a lifter failure. I really just want to finish the week on a good note. That’s the only expectation I have.
“For my class, I need to average the number that I ran on day one, which was an 8.61. I just ran an 8.60 with a 3. I need to run a little bit slower than .61 to average it out to be a little better by the end of the week. So far, we’re on track and we’ll keep going with it like that.”
On the street, the car performs great, according to Nick. It’s got a 4L80E transmission in it with lock up and overdrive, which lets him cruise down the highway. As for horsepower out on the track, Nick hasn’t had the Pontiac on a dyno, but doing some calculations, he says the twin-turbo 461 cid engine should be making in the neighborhood of 1,150 horsepower.
“It’s not a lot, but it’s enough,” Wiegand says. “It’s not a light car either.”
Over the course of five days at Sick Week, Nick ran an 8.610 at 158mph at Orlando, an 8.603 at 159 mph at Bradenton, an 8.569 at 160 mph at SGMP, an 8.570 at 159 mph at Gainesville, and an 8.562 at 160 mph in Orlando for an average of 8.582 at 159 mph. Those times gave Nick a spread of .048, which was good enough for third place in the Pro DYO class.
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade1, Elring – Das Original and NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].