From The Ashes


It was time to get the blog active again, and after finally settling down in Austin- my new home, it didn’t take long for me to join the local automotive forum. After a while I posted up that Gear-Trends was looking to do a feature- Manny, who goes by Fenix on the forums, was one of the first ones to reply to the thread- I had no idea how different this feature would have ended up going. Some owners develop a long lasting relationship with their car, they create memories they would never forget…but this story is something that transcends that of a automotive enthusiast.

Fenix Wreck Pictures

Almost two years ago this was the condition of the Trans-Am after a long night of partying and letting one of his friends take it out for a spin. After dismissing the ideas of torching the ride, forgetting all about it, and even applying some more physical damage to the car himself, he finally settled down and started to collect his thoughts. A friend of his that was there at the time finally told him that he would be able to repair everything “dont worry” – finally a sigh of relief. The next few months however would have made most men crawl into the fetal position in a dark corner and just give up, hell I wouldn’t blame you.

Top View

After dealing with the insurance company wanting to obviously total the ride, the search for parts began. A full 6 months went by before Manny was able to source a solid front clip and some “go-fast” parts which included a new cam and some shorty headers. Seeing as how the Trans-Am was still south of the border he had to drive 14 hours deep into Mexico passing multiple “risky” areas, jump from bus to bus to finally drop off the parts where the car sat- waiting to be reborn. Finally after 9 solid months, it was complete- body work was flawless, if you were to see this car in person you would have never imagined that THIS was the same car that was literally hugging a tree months ago. After spending what he did on the car new, which was pretty much what the repairs cost- you can see the bond already forming, once money doesn’t become an issue for someone you know this is more than “just a car”.


Finally able to enjoy the car Manny, his Father, and his Mother got in the car and headed out on the Mexico toll roads. As most mothers do she was in the back – probably freaking out at the speeds they were going, and as most fathers would- he was laughing at it all. Unfortunately just a short period after this, Mr. Contreras passed away of an already existing condition, which become too much to handle.

“I then took out my heartache on the car, in a good way. To not let anything stop me, and make my Dad proud with all this progress. To this day, I still talk to my dad in the ride and ask him if he enjoys all the mods and horsepower, I can hear him laugh when I race and smoke people. Some think that man and machine can’t connect, but they do, especially when a strong spiritual connection bonds you even more with your ride, as they do with me”

A car enthusiast can be defined as such ; Somebody who is obsessed with their car. Spending every free moment with it, cleaning it, loving it, dreaming about it. They either want to make it look as good as it can be, or getting it to go as fast as it can go. In any case a TRUE Automotive Enthusiast can be considered the highest form of “Car Guy” , but…is there something beyond that? I believe some people get pushed, sometimes by circumstances out of their control, into this higher level where a person and their car become connected. After reading over Mannys emails, and having him share this story with me- it is without a doubt in my mind that he is at that level now.



Manny C “FENIX” 2002 Pontiac Trans AM WS6

435hp n/a (dyno proven) – 500hp+ spraying

Performance :
LS1 Power Plant
TSP Pushrods
TSP LS6 Oil Pump
TSP Dual Valve Springs
TSP 5.3 CNC Ported Heads with Valve Job
LS2 Timing Chain
Built A4 Transmission-Planetary Gears
Corvetter Servo
Racing Clutch Packs
Beast Sunshell
High RPM Shift Kit
3800 Vigilante Stall
External Transmission Cooler – Smooth Below
SLP Air Lid
SLP Long Tube Headers
SLP 3” Off Road Y Pipe
Flowmasters Catback Exhaust
Debaffled Scoops
Throttle Body Bypass
Minor Weight Reduction
Nitrous Oxide

Cosmetics :
Complete Body and Paint Work
Pearl Silver w/Flat Black Racing Stripes

Interior :

Rollers :
WS6 wheels on Nittos 555r’s Drag radials

Stiff Stuff :
Frounders Performance Strut Shock Tower Brace
Frounders Performance Lower Control Arms
Founders Performance Panhard Bar
Performance Rear Shocks

Sounds :
Speaker Upgrade

Special Thanks :
Special Thanks: To eveyone involved in the rebuild of this beautiful machine, Family, friends, without them it would have been very difficult to bring it back to the States. And to my friend who never showed any weakness and piece by piece put it all together with limited resources down in Mexico.

Shout Outs: To the ENTIRE THIRDHONK.COM Gearhead Community, a few members of LS1Tech.com, my friends and loved ones.
Thank you all…


Photos & Story courtesy of : (Bobby Villarreal)