Army Vet and avid DIY’er lands firmly in the 9s with so much more in store.
Back in 2015, this originally red 2009 Pontiac G8 GT was purchased with the intention of adding a few aesthetic changes and calling it a day. And for a while, that was enough to keep Nicholas Zulim happy with his purchase.
Today, things have changed dramatically with this car now belting out over 1,000hp and Nicholas full of knowledge that’s he picked up over the last 7 years, which has helped catapult the car to E.T.s that threaten the top 10 fastest G8s in the country.
It didn’t happen overnight but gradually over the years as he did his research online the way most of us do, relying on digital tools like YouTube and social media outlets. There were also friends to pose questions to and perhaps the best resource an enthusiast could ask for; a father that works as a mechanic with plenty of valuable insight to share.
In 2017 he got the idea to pick up a Magnuson 2300 supercharger kit and with the help of his brother, installed it themselves. He notes, “over this time, I learned a lot from the G8 community and found that the DOD was a common failure point and needed to be deleted before it was too late.” Out came the L76 to drop off to a machine shop for new bearings, proper boring, as well as some port work.
Rather than having the engine reassembled by someone else, Nicholas thought it would be the ideal time to take a deep dive into the platform to better understand it, get his hands dirty, and save some money at the same time. Completely assembling the longblock himself, adding a BTR stage 2 cam, and moving up to an 8-rib set up with pulley upgrades to increase boost, the rebuild was a success and back on the road.
“It was still my daily driver and I decided I wanted to start drag racing also,” Nicholas adds. “First time down the track I was running low 10s.” Moving into the 10s after building his very first engine is a huge leap, but it wasn’t enough.
He went on to buy an LSX376-B15 GM crate motor but used the knowledge gained from the original engine to completely tear it down. “I wanted to upgrade the pistons and rods because I wanted all the boost.”
A TH400 was introduced along with a Cartuning Performance turbo kit, while the FBE motor and blower was offered up in exchange for a custom roll cage as Nicholas was confident he’d be headed into the 9s soon. To get there, he opted for Holley’s Terminator X Max but did his homework on how to incorporate it and the factory ECU so that every original component would still work as it should, while having the tuning and capability of the Max.
“The G8 platform was a little different so it took some trial and error, but I was able to accomplish this, and not only did I learn A LOT during the process, but it gave me the knowledge and ability to help others that wanted to do the same swap.” Just a year into the most aggressive set up Nicholas had applied to his G8 up to that point and he was ready to move on. “In 2021 I decided I wasn’t a fan of turbo lag and not having the ability to perform preventive maintenance with ease so again the setup was changed.
Taking another leap forward meant more research and this time it led him to John Dell. Nicholas recalls, “I didn’t want to be like all the other Prochargers with belt slips, etc., so I got in contact with John who has a badass crank drive F1X Procharger set up and I knew that was the way to go.” With John’s help, the F1X Procharger and The Supercharger Store Crank Drive system were brought in to revamp the power plant once more.
Additional support comes by way of a Molnar H-beam billet rod and Mahle PowerPak piston combo, LSA crank, and a custom grind on the Asylum Motorsports cam. Kooks 2-in. longtube headers lead to a 3-in. X-pipe exhaust that exits through a pair of Magnaflow mufflers.
To address cooling, Nicholas again took matters into his own hands, adding “I came up with the idea of cutting out the middle of the cold case aluminum radiator to create a dual radiator set up. So far, it’s been keeping it cool with the help of dual Spal fans on each side.
Beyond the power production, this G8 looks the part, fitted with a Maverick Man Carbon Fiber Cowl hood that grants plenty of clearance for the high-powered heart, shaves considerable weight, and looks good doing both.
Look closer and you’ll notice the American flag displayed across the raised portion of the hood,
as well as the rear c-pillar windows, both of which proudly represent Nicholas’ service with the U.S. Army.
Out back, a parachute is mounted just under a drag wing that was started by a shop but not finished, so Nicholas took it upon himself to make things right.
Just under the sleek drag wing are LED taillights with integrated sequential turn signals. The Maverick Man exclusives add a little more flash to the all-business G8’s rear end.
The hood and wing’s black touches are contrasted against the custom orange finish that is actually Plasti-dip applied by, you guessed it, Nicholas himself.
He also hydro-dipped some choice interior pieces
that play nicely with the custom orange accents of his Braum Racing seats
and any powder coating you see applied to parts on this car, with the exception of the K-member, were done by Nicholas as well.
The guy that just wanted a few simple cosmetic changes to his car 7 years ago is garnering the sort of skills to make himself a one-stop shop.
All the changes and hours of work paid dividends when the car’s 3rd outing netted a blisteringly quick 9.16 @151mph, landing firmly in the 11th spot on the list of fastest G8s in the nation.
There’s still work to do, and Nicholas has already pivoted toward more improvements, including the addition of Holley’s Dominator EFI and a list of upgrades in the works.
He adds, “The ultimate goals are listing on the top 5 and still being able to drive the car on the street…TRUE street car!”
Nicholas Zulim’s 2009 Pontiac G8 GT
Instagram handle: @boosted_lsx_g8
Engine Mods LSX376-B15 GM crate motor; BMR solid motor mounts; LSA crank; Mahle PowerPak 9:1 pistons; Molnar H-beam billet rods; Asylum Motorsports custom cam; BTR .660 dual spring kit, titanium retainers, V2 truinnion kit; F1X Procharger; The Supercharger Store gear drive; Procharger Pro Race blow-off valve; Kooks longtube headers, X-pipe exhaust; Magnaflow mufflers; Snake Performance 102mm DBW throttle body; Shearer Fab low profile HiRam A2W intercooler; Myles Rollings intake piping fabrication; Holley Performance LS3 lo-ram base, fuel rail, regulator; Walbro 525lph fuel pumps 2x; Scram Speed fuel filter; Bosch 210 injectors; custom fabricated cold-case aluminum radiators x2; trunk mounted ice tank; Improved Racing crank scraper and windage tray kit, racing oil pan baffle; Clear View filtration oil filter relocation kit; powder coated components
Power Output Estimated at 1,000+
Drivetrain custom TH400 built by Mark Morgan; M&M air shifter; ATI Performance flywheel, converter; ZL1 Camaro rear cradle and diff, 3.23 gears; custom driveshaft
Suspension Blue Line Performance AFCO double-adjustable front struts with AFCO springs mounted to JCR custom upper strut mounts; custom Strange Engineering rear coilovers w/Landrum springs; BMR Suspension Xtreme anti-roll bar for 5th gen. Camaro; offset diff bushings; custom roll cage by Jason Gwaltney; custom tubular K-member
Braking AeroSpace Components discs, front and rear Drag Race Brake kits
Wheels/Tires Front: Weld Racing AlumaStar Front Runners 17x4.5/2.25 BS; Rear: Weld Racing S71 bead lock 15-in.; Front MT Sportsman 27x6.00; Rear: MT ET Street Radial Pro 275/60
Inside Braum Racing seats with custom orange stitching, racing harnesses; HSV steering wheel, billet paddle shifters for trans-brake; hydro-dip interior components
Thanks Shout out to the G8 Community overall. There is too many to name who have helped me out over the last 5 years. I have gained a lot of knowledge over the years from them. Shout out to my father for spreading his knowledge on the engine building, my buddy Mark Morgan for building me a stout TH400, and Jason Gwaltney for knocking out the custom roll cage in a little over a week and any other custom work I need done including the custom radiators idea I csme up with in my head and belly pan. And last but not least want to give special thanks to my wife for letting me spend countless hours in the garage. If it wasn’t for her, the G8 would not be where it is today. Not once has she complained about all the time I spent in the garage or money spent and we all know that adds up fast.
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Author -> Staff
Photographer -> 3PS Media - @3psmedia