Building the Foundation: Project Redrum Gets Strange

photos by: the author

With Over 700 hp Planned for Project Redrum, the OEM 10-Bolt Just Won’t Cut It

Some say we’re crazy and others think we should have focused our efforts elsewhere, but when it comes to our ’84 Trans Am, Project Redrum, we’re simply head over heels in love. With a ratty paint finish and a factory drive line that’s best reserved for the scrap heap, on the face of it, they’re probably right.

However, our inner gearhead persuaded us otherwise, and we ultimately elected on going with a large-bore LS3, 6-speed transmission and ultimately, boost. Now anyone who’s ever had the opportunity to infuse real power numbers into an early third-gen F-body will tell you, the factory 10-bolt rear ends can’t handle huge amounts of power and torque.

Typically, the 300 horsepower level is their breaking point, literally, and considering a 416 LS3 with boost is quite capable of making a bit more than that, it was obvious that we’d have to seriously step it up out back. Enter Strange Engineering.

Providing us with multiple ways to fortify the driven axles, Strange’s own Glenn Cope suggested their Dana-based S60 for our build. It’s available as a bolt-in piece, that’s capable of handling just about as much power and abuse as we can throw at it.

Generally, most enthusiasts wait until their rearend actually grenades before they upgrade, but we know better — and chose to rather save ourselves the embarrassment and inconvenience.

Of course, we wanted to ensure we were ordering the right combination of parts, and we felt uncomfortable relying on the old driveshaft. In addition, the design of the S60 differed quite a bit from the old 10-bolt, meaning that the OEM driveshaft was too long for the OEM 5-speed that was still in place during the time of the install.

Here’s what Redrum looked like underneath when we first picked it up — clean, save for the suspension, rearend and exhaust. The good news is, we’re throwing everything covered in rust into the scrap pile. The stock 10-bolt being among them.

 

Before we could even get into removing the factory rearend, we first had to pull the exhaust, sway bar, lower control arms and Panhard bar. Being the Southwest car that it is, the parts came off fairly easily. All it took was some elbow grease, WD40 and a power drill.

Our S60 rearend was built exclusively for our project car, so we spec’d 3.73 gears to give us the right combination of acceleration, top end and streetability. We could have just as easily went with a 4.10 gear set, but considering our engine displacement and low-end torque from the blower, it didn’t make much sense to do so.

In addition, this car will be on road courses and small autocross tracks alike, as well as the occasional jaunt on the dragstrip, so we’re looking for that perfect balance in off-the-line acceleration.

Strange S60 1982-92 F-body Features: 

  • S60 housing with F-Body mounts installed – H60GFME
  • 35 spline Alloy Axle Package – P3502 / P3504
  • 4 3/4″ bolt circle
  • Choice of wheel stud kit – A1035 / A1025 / A1026
  • 35-spline helical gear differential – D3523 / D3533 / D3534
  • Selection of gear ratio (3.54 / 3.73 / 4.10 / 4.30 / 4.56 / 4.88 / 5.13 / 5.38)
  • S-Series pinion yoke – U1600
  • Pinion yoke u-bolt kit – U1610
  • Dana / Spicer steel cover – D3505
  • Extended sway bar link kit
  • Lucas oil package
  • Fully-crated – No extra charge

 

This was quite an exciting moment for us, after a few months of it collecting dust in the box (being sidelined by other projects, our ’84 Trans Am was finally getting a rear end worthy of our soon-to-be 700+ horsepower powerplant. Installing the S60 was much like removing the old 10-bolt, essentially reversing the steps. However, we won’t be reinstalling the 33-year old stock suspension or exhaust. If you pay close attention to the rear wheel wells, you can get a glimpse of the QA1 coil-overs. A complete BMR Suspension system would also go in place, but we’ll delve more into that at a later date. We’ll give you a quick sneak peek below, though.

 

Here’s the final product of the S60 installation. As you can see, there’s quite a lot of BMR Suspension hardware underneath there, be we’ll focus more on that at a later time in a separate segment. The great news is, we can now take great confidence ion knowing that our new rear axle will be able to handle as much action as we can throw at it, without leaving us broken down and stranded, either on a highway or on a race track. It’s certainly an investment for sure, but one that will save you plenty of time and headache later down the road.

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