Great Goat: Gary Cygan

Great Goat: Gary Cygan’s Twin-Turbo 1970 GTO

Pontiac owners are a proud group of individuals that love the brand’s heritage. There are plenty of hardcore Pontiac racers out there that still go fast with poncho-based parts, and Gary Cygan is one of those racers, and his twin-turbo 1970 GTO is a Pontiac-powered beast.

Cygan has been involved with cars since he was young; the first car he ever owned was a 1955 Chevy that he purchased when he was 15 years old. Cygan, with the help of his father, rebuilt the old Chevy into one nice ride…a little too nice in fact. The car was just a little too clean for Cygan to drive to his job at a local grocery store, so it was replaced by his first 1970 GTO.

Cygan used the GTO as his winter beater, and eventually turned it into a street/strip car that went to car shows on occasion. Since Cygan is like most gearheads, he can’t leave anything alone, and he wanted to turn his GTO into more of a racecar. After doing some thinking, Cygan decided to go a different route for his build.

“I wanted to go faster and was going to build a big engine for the GTO, but it was 3,800 pounds, so I decided to build a totally different chassis that was better for racing. I had a 1970 GTO Ram Air III that I literally dragged out of a swamp, so I cut the roof off, and boxed it up with a set of new-old-stock quarters, and steel rocker panels. I had Garret Race Cars build the chassis and hang the body,” Cygan says.

Originally, Cygan built the car to be a Pro Stock-style GTO. The car was a lot of fun for Cygan to drive since it would run low 7-seconds repeatedly like a bracket car. To this day, the GTO is still the seventh quickest naturally-aspirated Pontiac in the world. Cygan had a lot of fun with the GTO when it was all-motor, but once again he decided it was time to mess with the car and go even faster.

“I wanted the challenge of putting twin turbos on it, and it made the perfect testbed for my engine dyno shop, Cygan Speed Engineering. It took me about two years to get everything done on the car. I’ve done all the work on the car myself, including paint, outside of the chassis,” Cygan states.

The GTO is currently powered by a 481 cubic-inch Pontiac-based engine that uses an Indian Adventures II solid aluminum block as its base. Cygan built the rotating assembly around a Bryant crankshaft, GRP connecting rods, and CP Carrillo pistons that rotate on a set of King Engine Bearings. The engine’s top end features a set of billet symmetrical port cylinder heads from Visner Engine Development, a Visner billet intake manifold, camshaft from Bullet Racing Cams, Accufab throttle body, and Atomizer injectors. Cygan tunes the engine himself with a Holley Dominator ECU.

Cygan rows his own gears through a Liberty Gears five-speed transmission and Quick Drive combination. Horsepower is applied through the Fab 9 rearend through a set of Strange Engineering axles that rotate the Mickey Thompson slicks.

“The GTO will remain a slick-tire car for the foreseeable future since that’s what I’m used to. The car keeps me busy while rowing gears and I like it that way. Pontiacs are some of the best-looking cars ever made, so I don’t see myself changing what I run anytime soon. My favorite part about this car is it uses a traditional Pontiac engine and is dimensionally the same as an OEM 1970 GTO,” Cygan explains.

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Any project like Cygan’s GTO takes time and assistance to finish. Thankfully for Cygan, he’s got a great group of people that have helped him create such an amazing Pontiac.

“I need to thank my wife Leanne, who has put up with a lot and helps with the car. I also need to thank Dave Fox, Bruce Wilson, Jon Anderson, Mike Krchnak, Butch Stock, and many others who have helped with the car and racing over the years,” Cygan says.

Gary Cygan’s GTO has all the ingredients of a cool doorslammer: it’s fast, has the perfect stance, and just looks good. Cygan’s choice to keep the car Pontiac-powered takes that cool factor up another few notches, along with the clutch pedal he gets to manipulate. There’s a good chance that Cygan’s GTO is the coolest one you’ll ever see at the track.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
Read My Articles

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