Car Feature: Formula for Competition

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photos by: Brandon Burrell

Bruce Hawkins’ own Firehawk Competition Package Tribute is the Rarest of the Rare

Over the last couple of years, third-gen F-bodies have been coming into their own in regard to increasing value, demand and restoration. Those who grew up with them or have owned them when they were new are now finding themselves either restoring them, or building these cars to a level never before seen.

Of course, then you have guys like Bruce Hawkins who never quite gave up on the third-gens in the first place. In fact he’s been so passionate about them, that he started a nice little business dedicated to these cars called, Hawks Motorsports. Offering a full array of restoration and performance parts for guys like you and I, he’s managed to amass quite a little collection of F-bodies, ranging from 1982-2002.

One particular standout, is this ’92 Formula that Bruce has built into a Firehawk Competition Package tribute car — that’s been taken to the next level. Just in case you’re out of the loop, the third-gen SLP Engineering Firehawks first went into production in 1991, and ran through the ’92 model year for a total of 25 cars being produced.

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Of those 25, eleven were Competition Package cars that featured a 6-point roll cage, Simpson harness belts, driver’s side Recaro seat (passenger side was available for extra cost), 13-inch Brembo brakes and a C4 ZR-1 spec ZF 6-speed transmission, along with an available aluminum 366 cubic-inch engine.

Bruce has owned early Firehawks in the past, but the trouble was, they’re now to rare and collectible¬†to modify and thrash these days so he decided to build the next best thing. This way if the car gets damaged, it’s not an ultra-rare Firehawk that gets the brunt of the attack.

Under the hood, Bruce rightfully decided to stick with a SBC mill, rather than go LSX. On the face of things, it could generate a few eye-rolls from our readers, but Bruce felt that it would take away from the car being a proper tribute. We agree, and basically every detail of this car is on point.

Starting with the iron block L98 block, the 350 cubic-inches have been bumped up to 383 thanks to an Eagle stroker crank, and forged MAHLE pistons. Scat I-beam connecting roads connect the crank to the pistons, solidifying the short block for the abuse and sheer power that Bruce had planned for it.

When it came to assembling the long-block, Bruce decided upon a hydraulic ZZX camshaft with a 240/240 duration, 560/560 lift and a 112 LSA. Paired with a set of aluminum Dart Pro-1 Platinum castings stuffed with Dart/Manley 2.02 intake vales, 1.20 exhaust values and COMP Ultra-Mag 1.6 rocker arms.

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Sitting between the two Dart heads is an aluminum¬†TPiS Mini-Ram intake manifold, that’s fed air through a TPiS 58mm throttle body and a K&N filter with custom inlet. The MAF sensor has been ditched entirely, and the ECU features a speed density¬†tune through a custom Hawks TPI chip, which Bruce calibrated¬†himself on his in-house Dynojet.

Of course, before he could get any real numbers, Hawks Motorsports installed a complete MSD ignition system, that includes an ignition box, coil, distributor and plug wires, that feed into the engine with a set of NGK plugs. The fuel system was improved upon, using a Walbro 255 pump, hot wire it, and a Hawks adjustable regulator that was set at 43.5-psi.hawksredfirehawk-12

The stroker small-block pushes its spent fumes through Hawks/Stainless Works 1-3/4 inch diameter, stainless steel long-tube headers, a custom 2.5- to Р4-inch Y-pipe, 3-inch diameter tubing an SLP TOTL and a QTP electric cutout.

The rumble emitting from the pipes is mazing, and provide an impressive soundtrack when Bruce lays down an equally impressive 440hp/420 lb-ft. (at the wheels), or 530hp/490 lb-ft. (at the crank) for those of you who speak in engine dyno.

A Tremec TK600 6-speed send the power to a Dana 44 rearend with 4.10 gears, stock axles and a stock-style Eaton spool, via, a stock Firehawk aluminum driveshaft.

Power notwithstanding, the Firehawk has some mouthwatering hardware bolted underneath, including, Detroit Speed lower control arms in the front, matching DSE lower control arms out back , JRi double-adjustable shocks/struts all the way around, DSE springs (front and rear), sway bars, Panhard bar and a stock torque arm. A set of UMI subframe connectors tighten up the flimsy unibody chassis, too.

To say that this suspension combination works around corners would be an understatement, but it’s just the prescription that Bruce wanted; precise handling, a taught frame and the ability to adjust the suspension for the road or track surfaces. Ronal R15 17-inch rollers wrapped in Nitto NT05 rubber help dramatically, too, and for obvious reasons, look right at home on the Firehawk tribute car. While the original Competition Hawk had Brembo brakes, Bruce decided upon Baer for his tribute car, as the Track kit offered the perfect balance of price, performance and long-term functionality he was looking for.

The exterior and interior are largely standard-issuer ’92 Firehawk, with the only exception being the Competition Package roll cage, Simpson harnesses and Momo steering wheel. By the time you read this, a set of ’92-era Recaro SRD racing seats will be in place, adding comfort, style and support to the Firebird’s cockpit, while at the same time, staying period correct to the car.

The overall result is an except tribute car that just about any F-body enthusiast would love to own, including your author. Powerful, fun to drive and a blast to throw into the corners, we think Bruce’s Hawk tribute car is the perfect balance of exclusivity and raw performance. Now if we can just get Project Redrum finished up!

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TECH SHEET:

  • CAR:¬†1992 Firebird Firehawk (Competition Package)
  • OWNER:¬†Bruce Hawkins
  • ENGINE BLOCK:¬†L98; iron (bored and stroked to 383 ci.)
  • CRANKSHAFT:¬†Eagle
  • PISTONS:¬†MAHLE; forged
  • CONNECTING RODS:¬†Scat; I-beam
  • CAMSHAFT:¬†ZZX; hydraulic, 240/240 duration, 560/560 lift, 112 LSA
  • CYLINDER HEADS:¬†Dart; Pro-1 Platinum (aluminum)
  • ROCKER ARMS: COMP Ultra Mag (1.6 ratio)
  • COMPRESSION RATIO: 11.0:1
  • INDUCTION:¬†TPiS Mini-Ram intake manifold, 58mm throttle body, K&N filter with custom inlet
  • IGNITION:¬†MSD coil, ignition, distributor, spark plug wires, NGK plugs
  • EXHAUST:¬†Hawks/Stainless Works; 1-3/4 inch diameter, stainless steel long-tube headers, custom 2.5- to – 4-inch Y-pipe, 3-inch diameter tubing, SLP TOTL, QTP cutout
  • FUEL DELIVERY: Walbro 255¬†pump, hot wire it, Hawks adjustable regulator, 43.5-psi.
  • OILING:¬†Melling M55 pump, stock pan
  • TUNING: Stock 7730 ECU; speed density, tuned by Hawks Motorsports
  • TRANSMISSION: Tremec TKO600
  • CLUTCH: RAM Powergrip HD, billet steel flywheel
  • DRIVESHAFT:¬†Stock aluminum
  • REAREND:¬†Dana 44; 4.10 gears, stock axles, stock-style Eaton spool
  • SUSPENSION:¬†Detroit Speed lower control arms (front), DSE lower control arms (rear), JRi double adjustable¬†shocks/struts (front and rear), DSE springs (front and rear), sway bars, Panhard bar, stock torque arm
  • CHASSIS MODS: UMI subframe connectors
  • BRAKES:¬†Baer; Track 13-inch (front and rear)
  • WHEELS:¬†Ronal; R15, 17×9.5 (front and rear)
  • TIRES:¬†Nitto; NT05 275/40/17
  • HP/TQ.: 440/420 (at the wheels) 530/490 (at the crank)

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