Since ancient times, till today, all generations, all artists have their preferable materials that they carved into life. Marble, for example was Michelangelo`s choice.
Travertine was adored by the Romans. Ken Ramey chose a material which is very harder to shape from stone, but blocks of lodged aluminum represents none of a match to his CNC five-axis machines, lathes and mills mastery. Ken has an experience of more than four decades, so he can carve anything you can and even can`t imagine -from cover valves to caliper brakes and handle shifters —out of billet which was what he had done while carving his beautiful 1968 Pontiac Firebird into life.
Although Ken`s skilled work will not demand such global recognition as the Colosseum or David, and if a man comes to the trouble of insignificant engine parts as logde exhaust hangers, envious looks from his colleagues Hot-Rodders are inevitable.
When such amount of devotion and attention is invested in the most important and irrelevant parts, there`s no chance that the rest of the car will disappoint. And actually it does not. Praising all that lodge is a LS packing power Firebird, enhanced sheetmetal stacked with an aluminum suspension and six forward gears. Apparently mechanics build not just cool cars but some killer cars as well.
Check out the photos!
Being a great machinist he is, he must work his talents someplace and earn his bread. He works at Wilwood as a R&D engineer, where in his 26-year working experience he played an essential role, upholding up the firm`s automated manufacturing abilities. Don`t be surprised if the brakes on your very own hot rod are designed precisely by him. Since he was an adolescent he has been working on building cars in machine shops and since, which traced his path into building his own fastback 1970 Mustang.
Although many good memories were made in the Mustang, time did its deed and now it lacks plenty of the modern specs that Ken looked for in a street ride. As Ken recalls the car didn`t ride very smoothly and it had none air conditioning whatsoever, so his spouse didn`t like going out in it during night time. So, he sold it an Australian guy and commenced searching for a new project car. Building a Firebird was the furthest thing from Ken`s mind. Initially, he planed to build a Ford coupe 1940 or perhaps a Ford truck from 1956. Then he found out about a Firebird that was on sale, owned by an ex Wilwood engineer. When he went on to take a look at it, the car had been in pieces and stored for 14 years. So he collected everything and began working with it immediately.
Ken bought the Firebird not in order to fulfill a long-lasting dream like a Pontiac fanatic but as an opportunist, the plan for the Firebird was putting it back together and selling it. That all changed when Ken saw a Pro Touring style built 1968 Pontiac Firebird at the JCG Customs and Restoration. The car looked amazing, which made Kevin fall in love with the Fire Bird immediately and deeply. He wasn`t planning anything at the time, but he sure knew that he wanted a modern, nice looking car, that will be a cozy place to be in, down the road at any distance. As Pro Touring was acquiring popularity at the time, he made a decision to take the car in that direction, and all things snowballed from there. His knowledge in engineering and machining very much helpful at the first stages of the project, cause he knew what he exactly wanted from a car, regarding the looks and performance as well. He had a pretty clear vision.
In addition, Ken drafted a sketching in his mind, and afterwards he entrusted Cris Gonzalez from JCG to put his vision in metal parts. Luckily, the body which had no rust on it was ready for the JCG crew guys straight way. While the modds on the metal were individually subtle, the effect they had together was much more enlightning. The tweaks that were most notable are quarter-panels and fenders which had been placed along the arches of the wheel. Hand-made inner fenders gives more space for bigger tires and for a smoother look the driprails have been shaved. In addition for a tighter fit the bumpers were flush-mounted, and the exhaust system in the back buldged through a hand-made valance panel. Adding visual muscle there are the front and rear spoilers made out of carbon fiber, while the credit for painting the body in silver and black goes to Jerry Cransler.
Ken did not pay as much attention on the appearance as he did on the performance abilities. He chose the Firebird`s mechanics really carefuly. He suspended the F-body with an front clip by Art Morrison which includes better framerails, Corvette C6 spindles and control arms made out of aluminum. In the back, there is three-link Art Morisson suspension accompanied by a Watt`s Ford 9-inch lateral control backend assembly. A wide range of adjustability is enabled at each corner and the Firebird was also equipped with Forgeline RB3 18 inch front rims and 19 inch rear rims.
Regarding all the work that has been put into building the Firebird`s highly sophisticated chassie, an old type of carburetor just wasn`t an option. Deciding to use LS power engine was not much of a hard choise for Ken, since it had all the specs he wanted which included low mass, power, reliability and fuel economy. He found a damaged 2006 GTO and got himself a decent mileage LS2 machine with a T56 Tremec transmission and placed them in the Firebird. To complete the swap, he had to make a hand-made crossmember and motor parts out of lodge, and afterwards he produced a set of hand-made headers. The engine was completely stock apart from some components, which doesn`t have to represent a bad thing.
Regarding the fact that Ken did everything to complete the paint and the body, also the insides, there are handful of custom machined parts he has created and built alone.