D-Train by Mike
The story of this Formula, nicknamed D-Train, is not the sort that you typically read in The Eagle. I have not owned the car since new; it has not been modified to any great degree; I didn't really know what I was buying (a WS-6?) in January 2000. Rather, it's a story of wanting and finding a late model F-body and then the steady development of a love affair with a terrific car.
In November 1999, I decided that I would make the investment in a performance muscle car to use during the warm weather months here in upstate NY. I had no real druthers---Camaro, Mustang, Firebird---it didn't really matter. I DID, however, want to buy a value, that is, a good looking, well-maintained, convertible or T-top'ed , V-8-powered vehicle at the best priced I could find.
After two months of scanning the used car magazines and similar websites, I located two F-bodies in the Philadelphia area, about 4.5 hours from my home in Ithaca. The cars were being offered through Autobytel.com. My daughter and I left for Philly on a Friday afternoon, staying the night just outside of the city. Early the next morning, we looked at a somewhat worn, black 1996 Camaro that was in a dealer's repair shop with its dashboard disassembled; couldn't test drive it. We moved along to look at the other car at a Pontiac dealer nearby.
Talk about love at first sight! The 5-year-old Formula, in just-waxed and detailed conditioned, was sitting in the Pontiac dealers' new car showroom, looking spectacular. I noticed the WS-6 badge on the rear, the 6-speed stick, and the Ram-Air decal on the hood, but didn't really know enough about the rarity of these features on a Formula. All I knew was that the car was gorgeous, had only 27,000 miles, drove like a stallion chomping at the bit, and was very affordable--especially when a $500 discount from Autobytel was factored in. I signed the papers.
Amazingly, when I talked to the saleswoman about coming https://fochal.com/forms/fborder.htm in a week in a rental car to pick up the Formula and drive it https://fochal.com/forms/fborder.htm home, she offered to have it driven to my house 200 miles away for me for just $110 dollars. I jumped at that offer.
In late January 2000, D-Train (named by my daughter in honor of QB Donovan McNabb, her favorite NFL player and, like the car, a Philly treasure) was delivered to my driveway in snow-bound Ithaca NY----and quickly slid off the driveway onto the snow-packed lawn. The summertime Dunlop SP8000 tires could not handle the cold and ice. Before I even officially owned her, the car had to be winched by AAA https://fochal.com/forms/fborder.htm onto the driveway. From there, she went into storage until April 1.
The car needed new front brakes and repair of the infamous LT1 leaking intake manifold gasket during the first week of driving. I successfully negotiated splitting the costs of these repairs with the Philly dealer.
My goal is to tweak the car only in very minor ways. For example, I've gone to a Dynomax Super Turbo muffler and tailpipes (a very deep, deltic tone!), a throttle body air charger (foil), replacing the accordion-style rubber TB air nozzle (boot) to reduce turbulence, and by-passing the TB coolant system. I've gone over to BF Goodrich Trans Am kwds tires (275/40-17), and can't believe how good these ultra high performance all-season tires are, both in terms of performance and ride. I may be done with making any other mods to this car.
The car is extremely fast, but I don't race her, and don't go looking for off-the-line prey. But she's not a Sunday driver either. I try to seize the moments at least once a day on some of the empty rural roads near Ithaca....you know, just to burn the carbon out! She's also drop-dead-red gorgeous; I shown her at many car shows in the region.
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