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Conversion kits will roll out

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Conversion kits will roll out

Two aftermarket firms to offer packages molding Camaros into Pontiac Firebird

Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News

The fact that General Motors Co. has discontinued the Firebird model -- not to mention the entire Pontiac brand -- doesn't mean you can't have a new car that looks like a contemporary interpretation of the iconic vehicle.

This summer, two aftermarket companies plan to offer conversion kits that turn the new Chevrolet Camaro into what appears to be a Pontiac Firebird. Those companies are Lingenfelter Performance Engineering of Decatur, Ind., and the Trans Am Depot of Tallahassee, Fla.

Both companies tested reaction at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show last fall, and both were encouraged enough by that reaction to tool up for production.

Tod Warmack of the Trans Am Depot said four people immediately commissioned one-off versions of the Depot's Phoenix T/A, which was inspired by the 1977-78 Trans Am.

Warmack, who founded the Depot with his brother, Scott, and Jim Dowling to do restoration and sales of second-generation Trans Ams, said creating the four custom vehicles provided an opportunity to explore some tweaks to the conversion kit design. He said tooling should be complete by the end of April, with production beginning this summer.

Target pricing for a kit that will include front and rear fascias that transform the Camaro into a Trans Am, as well as a kit to lower the car's ride height, is around $27,000.

Warmack added that the Trans Am Depot has secured licensing rights from the Sports Car Club of America to use the Trans Am name on the car, just like Pontiac used to do. Pontiac named the car for the club's Trans Am racing series. Tentative plans call for the Camaro conversion to be badged as the Phoenix Trans Am.

The Lingenfelter T/A was inspired by the early '70s Pontiac F-body coupe.

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering was founded by engineer and drag racer John Lingenfelter, well-known for high-performance parts and vehicles. When Lingenfelter died after a crash at a drag strip, a customer and distant cousin, Ken Lingenfelter, bought the company.

Lingenfelter will offer full and base kits.

With the base kit, you get your Camaro back with the Lingenfelter T/A body kit that includes a hood with shaker scoop, front fascia with custom head lamps, grille and turn signals, an extractor scoop on the front fenders, a wheel flair on the rear quarter panels, and rear body panel extensions that add 4 inches of length, including a "wrapped down stand-up spoiler" and custom tail lamp housings.

With the full kit, you get your car back with the body components and a completely new custom paint job, custom retro interior, revised suspension and wheels, and a 655-horsepower, 455-cubic-inch Lingenfelter-massaged V8 engine.

Pricing has yet to be established.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100401/AUTO03/4010350/1148/auto01/Conversion-kits-will-roll-out#ixzz0jr0Cb3tH

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