Casper the not-so-friendly 780+hp Pontiac G8host
Just a string of bad luck or a haunted powerhouse? You Decide…
Every car builder since the dawn of the hot rod era has, in one way or another, been plagued by nagging issues, mechanical gremlins, or in some cases, catastrophic failure. It’s an often painful part of the process and something you eventually come to terms with if you’ve been at it long enough. For Amanda Rust, this 2009 Pontiac G8 GT serves as her first official build and with it came enough unwanted supernatural activity that her and her children deemed the car haunted, making its nickname “Casper” even more fitting.
Back in 2019, Amanda’s husband bought her this G8 as an 11th wedding anniversary gift. Just the second owners, the car was relatively stock, save for a few simple bolt-ons. More than enough to keep her happy behind the wheel, the car was the perfect fit for her, and things were going great…right up until Amanda’s sedan, just 9 days old, was rear ended while she waited at a red light.
Hold on, it gets worse.
Can’t Catch A Break
Due to the highly publicized GM shutdowns that took place at that time, the repairs would take months to complete. After a lengthy wait, the car was finally back home safe and sound and where it belonged, right before mother nature stepped in. When a tornado made its way through Amanda’s neighborhood, it decided to lift and drop an engine stand right on top of the G8’s hood.
Some would see this as a major setback, but Amanda saw it as an opportunity to make some changes, starting with a lightweight Maverick Man carbon fiber cowl hood rather than another factory piece weighing in at almost double the weight.
The direct replacement panel shaves weight and offers rear venting from its 4-in. raised center portion.
Along with the hood damage, the front bumper and headlights took a hit and needed replacement so a set of LED DRL headlights were ordered
along with modern Maverick Man Exclusive LED taillights with sequential turn signals
and a satin black roof spoiler.
On a roll, Amanda added an upturned trunk spoiler along with a sleek front splitter with matching side diffusers to balance out the updates and a complete Holden black window molding swap to rid the G8 of its factory chrome strips.
The initial list of mods would help set her car apart from the crowd and Amanda explains that aesthetic changes were really all she had planned in the beginning. That all changed, however, on July 8th of last year when her father suddenly passed away. With a whole new outlook, a plan of action was put together and in October of 2020, Amanda pulled the engine and put some time into some serious upgrades with guidance from her husband, Richard and some help from her daughter Peyton.
A learning process, she was able to get the engine project completed and reinstalled just 2 months later.
The first thing you’ll notice when the hood is popped is a Modern Airflow Dynamics ported LSA supercharger with teal powder coat.
A 5-in. intake, LS7 MAF, and 102mm Nick Williams throttle body are on duty for the cold side.
American Racing long tube headers and full exhaust with X-pipe that lead to dual SOLO axle backs take care of spent gases. What you can’t see is the Frankenstein Stage 1 port work and valvetrain that support a Speed Asylum custom cam set up. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find an Alkycontrol methanol kit and a flex-fuel sensor on board.
On December 31st, Casper was fired up once again and, as Amanda puts it, “brought back from the dead.” At the tuning hands of Adam Cooper and an HP Tuners unit, Amanda’s G8 put down 786hp with 780 lb.-ft. of torque at 17 psi.
To help put that power to the pavement, a set of Hoosier DR2 are wrapped around Forgestar F14 that have been given the teal treatment to match the supercharger.
More Power, More Problems
That jump in power is substantial and with that additional grunt often comes a trail of broken parts and Casper has certainly had its fair share. Amanda adds, “Since completing the car I’ve had to pull the transmission twice to be rebuilt and then to replace the rear planetary.
I’ve gone through 2 convertors, and I blew out the stock rear end, so I had to upgrade that and replace the axles.”
Perhaps this G8 GT isn’t haunted, but you can’t deny that it was dealt some tough breaks, especially early on. Regardless of that, Amanda worked her way through the struggles and put together an impressive build that she proudly performed most of the work on, and there’s more in store. Since that initial dyno session, she’s upgraded the transmission and is now using E85, to which her tuner estimates should put her well over 850hp when she hits the rollers again.
More importantly, her first big build has been a source of connection to her late father.
She adds, “My Dad was a car guy so naturally,
I was a car girl....
... Building this car was my way of being with my Dad.”
Car 2009 Pontiac G8 GT
Owner Amanda Rust
Engine L76 block; Frankenstein Stage 1 porting, valvetrain; Speed Asylum custom cam grind; Fore Innovations 450 lph fuel pump x2; Vaporworx controller; Flex-fuel sensor; Alky Control Methanol kit w/5 nozzles (1 pre-blower, 4 post-blower); ported LSA supercharger by Modern Airflow Dynamics; GripTec 2.50 upper pulley; ATI 9.17 lower pulley; 5-in. intake; LS7 MAF; Nick Williams 102mm throttle body; American Racing long tube 1 7/8-in. headers, full exhaust with x-pipe, Solo axle backs;
Power 786hp/780 lb.-ft. tq. on 93 octane, 17 psi
Drivetrain Adam Cooper Built 6L80 “Beast”, 3.27 rear differential; DriveShaft Shop 1-pc. carbon fiber driveshaft
Braking David DiMaio CTS-V1 Brembo front calipers; R1 Concept rotors, pads
Wheels & Tires Forgestar F14 17x10 +44 rear, 18x8 +15 front; 235/40 front, Hoosier DR2 274/40 rear
Electronics HP Tuners programmer tuned by Adam Cooper; AEM failsafe gauge
Thank you Richard Rust, my husband for guiding me during my first build, Adam Cooper, our neighbors and friends for lending a hand when we needed help or tools, my daughters Peyton (12) and Faith (5) for putting up with their mom building a car and always helping me, especially at the track.
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Author -> Staff
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