The Blackbird: John Klahn’s 2002 Boosted Pontiac Trans-Am WS6

Most of the automotive enthusiasts that we have known are willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of the car scene. Some work multiple jobs, some live in tiny apartments, and others even got rid of their significant other because they could afford to do both. But what causes us to love the automobile so much that we would alter our lifestyle just for a car? Is it the speed we experience, the freedom that it offers, an anticipated outlet at the end of a long workday? It could be a combination of any of these ideas or many more.

For John Klahn, owner of King Klahn E-Juice, you might say that his passion for cars stemmed directly from his childhood. At an early age, John was busy building models of cars and World War II planes. His Grandmother worked at Allison building aircraft engines during the war and at the time was helping assemble the legendary P-38 Lightning and the P-61 Black Widow. She would bring him models of these nostalgic planes and John would go to work. One day his Grandmother brought home something a little different than a standard model — instead of a car or a plane she brought home the “Invisible V8.”

This V8 scale model allows you to build a scale engine utilizing most of the components present in a real one. The biggest difference is this model offers a clear block so you can see all of the internal components working in the engine as you spin the crank. For John, “turning an explosion into moving parts” was an interest. As the years went by, John continued working on projects and loved the challenge of trying to figure out how things operated which ultimately led him to cars.

So how did John end up with a Pontiac Trans-Am WS6?  John states, “Being a kid in the ’80s and watching shows like Knight Rider, Smokey and the Bandit, and a few others got me interested in Firebirds. I don’t know why, but they have always been my favorite.” This combined with the fact that the 2002 Trans-Am WS6 is an awesome looking machine and that it has overwhelming support from the automotive aftermarket makes for a solid choice. John looked for well over a year before he ran across the WS6 in 2013. The car was located in Atlanta, and it was a one owner vehicle that was owned and driven by a lady. John states, “This is my third F-body, and I won’t get rid of this one. I have been using it to teach my sons how to work on vehicles. It’s nice to be able to show them how everything while we upgrade the parts.”

The WS6 quickly went under the knife and received a multitude of high-performance aftermarket parts. The engine consists of a 2004 LQ4 6.0-liter iron block with a stock bore and stroke. John did choose to replace the crankshaft with a Callies Compstar and used a set of K1 Technologies rods to connect the Wiesco 11.3:1 forged pistons. The factory oil pump was scrapped and replaced with a Melling high-volume oil pump, and an Improved Racing oil pan baffle was added to aid the car with oiling in the corners. The cam of choice was a Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) Comp Cams LS3 cam designed for the use of forced induction. The 243 Stage 3 heads were also built by BTR which includes Ferrea intake and exhaust valves and stock rocker arms.

The WS6 has dual Walbro 450 pumps, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, and 88-pound Deatschwerks injectors housed in a Fuel Air Spark Technologies (FAST) 92 intake manifold with a Nick Williams 92mm throttle body. A ProCharger P1-SC-1 keeps the engine force-fed at 10-pounds of boost but not before pushing the charge through a Mishimoto front mount intercooler and the Lingenfelter 4-inch MAF sensor. The exhaust gasses exit the scene via a complete 2.5-inch Hooker Blackheart exhaust system. Matt Sandford of Skye Performance in Smyrna, Tennessee went to work on the stock ECU and handled all of the tuning duties for the LQ4. The most recent dyno number collected from the WS6 was 757 horsepower and 615 lb-ft of torque.

This is a throwback to the poem the Ravenby Edger Allen Poe since the Blackbird ceased to exist after 2002, hence “Nevermore.”

The transmission was completely gone through and built by Hall Meade of Hendersonville, Tennessee. An MGW racing short-throw shifter is utilized in the T56 for precision gear changes, and a triple-disc Monster Clutch Company unit makes sure to hold all of the boosted power. The rear end consists of a bulletproof Midwest Chassis Fab 9-inch with 4.11 gears, 35-spline Moser axles, and a Detroit TruTrac posi unit.

John called upon UMI Performance for all of his suspension needs using the companies upper and lower control arms, swaybar, k-member, and subframe connectors. Viking Performance double-adjustable shocks on the front and rear of the car make sure that John has enough tune-ability for even the roughest tracks. Other suspension modifications include an MWC adjustable torque arm and a BMR Suspension adjustable Panhard bar.

The stock brakes were deemed good enough for the rear of the car while C5 brakes were used up front. John’s Pontiac can take on several responsibilities during an outing. The car not only gets used for autocross, but it also sees its fair share of passes at the drag strip. For autocross, a set of 18×11 Forgestar F14 Bronze Burst wheels are used on both the front and the rear of the car in conjunction with a set of BF Goodrich Rival S 315’s on all fours. For drag racing, John uses a set of Forgestar F14’s in Racing Gold wrapped with Mickey Thompson tires.

John’s best 1/4-mile to date is an 11.2-second ET at 130.80 mph. He admits he is still figuring out how to launch the car properly and the WS6 will be a mid-ten-second ride just by getting the 60-foot time where it should be.

If you want to see John’s WS6 in action, be sure you’re at LS Fest. John says, “My favorite event of the year is LS Fest. It’s my little Super Bowl that I get to take three days off of work to go race against the fastest guys in the country. In 2014 I placed one spot above Mike Dusold and two spots above Ken Thwaits for the 3S challenge.” If you’re not familiar with these guys, they have each won Optima’s Street Car Challenge; this is no small feat especially from a street car.

John says, “I would like to thank my smoking hot wife Misty, who busts my balls about my car, but ultimately understands that it is my outlet. Misty says she hates it, but I think she’s just mad that she doesn’t have a CTS-V yet.” He also wants to thank Tim Emberton, Josh Cooper, Matt Sanford, Taylor Curtis, and Ty Cobb Photography.

We look forward to seeing John and his ’02 WS6 at LS Fest battling it out again this year in Bowling Green. The only question we have is, will Misty be driving a CTS-V there? We hope so!

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
Read My Articles

Late Model LS Power in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from LSX Magazine, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
LSX Magazine NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

We'll send you the most interesting LSX Magazine articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

LSX Magazine NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Corvette Enthusiasts

Performance Driving

Engine Tech

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Corvette Enthusiasts
  • Performance Driving
  • Engine Tech

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading