$10K Drag Shootout 3: Revealing The Cars

This season of the $10K Drag Shootout presented by Lucas Oil, the Horsepower Wars staff has gone out of their way to ensure that each of the four build vehicles available to the teams has comparable characteristics, both during the build and on the track. Don’t forget, each of these vehicles presents their own set of challenges because they were purchased in varying conditions from just about anywhere we could find including scrap yards, backyards, and used car lots.

First up, a 1996 Ford Mustang V6 — easy to find parts for, nimble, and equipped with a four-link rear suspension with a solid axle. It shouldn’t be too hard to swap anything into this platform, and space is there for a power adder of your choice. SN95 Mustangs have a slighter longer wheelbase and a little more weight than its Fox predecessor. Not a slam dunk winner, but the teams are gonna’ want this one.


Next up, a 1999 Pontiac Firebird — a V6, not the LS1 — with power steering, short/long-arm front suspension, and a torque arm rear suspension. The complicated rear suspension makes fitting an affordable and durable rearend a challenge, as does the limited underhood space. Considering this chassis was designed to fit an LS engine, and it’s what won last year’s competition, that may be the popular engine choice. A mix of plastic and SMC body parts make the fourth-gen Firebird reasonably light, especially with the creative use of a Sawzall.

Returning from last year’s available car line-up is a 1984 Chevrolet S-10 shortbed. We aren’t likely to see any big-block swaps in 10 days’ time, and engine bay space is at a premium, but it’s the one pickup small enough to hang lock-in-step with a car, and with plenty of aftermarket support. Will a team that selects the S-10 stick with a leaf spring rear suspension or fab a four-link? Only time will tell. There’s a reason the first-gen S-10 and its cousin, the GMC Sonoma, are the most common pickup found on a dragstrip, and one of the four teams is going to have to prove why.


Last, but certainly not least, we have a 1979 Chevrolet El Camino with the optional 305ci small-block V8. The ’79 is a fifth-generation (G-body), and was the first of the El Caminos to get a chassis that wasn’t shared with any other Chevy’s at the time. It had an extra inch added to the wheelbase (117 inches total) — making this the longest wheelbase of the available cars by at least 10 inches. Like all G-bodies it has a four-link rear suspension and room to fit a big-block, which makes it a popular choice for drag racing. As the eldest of the group, it comes with quite a bit of “character.”

1996 Ford Mustang

Engine and Transmission: 3.8L V6 and AODE 4-speed automatic transmission 

Rearend: 7.5-inch

Brakes: Factory disc front and rear

Modifications: None, 100% stock

Damage: The vehicle does not seem to have any damage except for some paint chipping and door alignment.


1999 Pontiac Firebird

Engine and Transmission: 3.8L V6 and 5-spd manual transmission

Rearend: 7.5-inch 10-bolt

Brakes: Factory disc front and rear

Modifications: None, 100% stock

Damage: The vehicle does not have any significant damage.


1984 Chevrolet S10 Pickup, Shortbed

“Roller” with no motor or transmission.

Rearend: 7.5-inch 10-bolt

Brakes: Factory disc front, factory drum rear

Modifications: 100% stock, other than shaved tailgate handle

Damage: The vehicle appears to have no significant damage. Brakes are disconnected. The front windshield is cracked. The driver side window is not in the track, or the track is broken.


1979 Chevrolet El Camino

Engine and Transmission: 305ci V8 and 3-speed automatic TH350 transmission

Rearend: 10-bolt

Brakes: Factory disc front and rear

Modifications: 100% stock, other than some D-rings added to the truck bed

Damage: There isn’t any significant damage to this vehicle.

Which team will get which vehicle? How will their selection determine the engine and power adder combination they ultimately go with? What challenges will the teams encounter as they take on the unforgiving No Prep track surface? Make sure you tune in this fall as the teams go head-to-head in the $10K Drag Shootout 3, only at HorsepowerWars.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for behind the scenes content!

Horsepower Wars Season 3 and the $10K Drag Shootout will be made possible by its title sponsor Lucas Oil as well as ARP, B&M, BMR Suspension, COMP Cams, Dyna-Batt, E3 Spark Plugs, Holley, Hurst, Impact Racing, Kooks Custom Headers, MAHLE Motorsports, Mickey Thompson Tires, Moroso, Moser Engineering, Proform Parts, PRW Industries, QA1, Renegade, Ron Francis Wiring, Spicer, Summit Racing, Total Seal, Tuff Stuff, Victor Reinz, Weld Racing, and more.

About the author

Amanda Bourne

Amanda got her start in the industry as a car photographer and eventually started managing performance shops where she developed an obsession for old-school JDM. A firm believer in "built not bought" and always driving as fast as you can.
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