Audio Installs: Featuring . . .
Gary Biggs - 1982 Buick Regal
- The 11th Hour -
Story from Auto Sound & Security June Issue cover story
Story by: Tim Kelly
Photos: John Skalicky
It's probably a good thing Biggs' daytime job is head installer at Car Toys in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has built many a winning show car over his ten years of car audio installation, including Frank Rogeou's, Rob Rice's, and Jeff Maeda's, all IASCA and USAC World Champions.
When asked why he competes with an older car, Biggs' logic resounds with quintessential audiophile logic. "Back in the late '80s when I was getting into car audio, The Speaker Works in California had this Buick Regal and they were unbeatable. Then when Richard Clark bought it, he was just as unbeatable. That's when I figured there must be something to having a Buick Regal because two different guys kicked so much butt. Since I couldn't afford a Grand National, I did the next best thing and just bought a regular Buick."
So began his quest. He originally bought the car in 1990 and took a few years to get it to the point where it had won its class at the '99 IASCA Finals. He still wanted more though. Pushed by his teammates in the Kicker Competition Group, he took all his nights and weekends and totally rebuilt the Buick.
To get the car ready for show, Biggs removed the body from the chassis and started work there. With the body off he also had the chance to detach the suspension. Everything was then moved to a sandblasting room to get years of grease and grime removed.
Fitting a set of Firestone air bags for the suspension required notching and welding the frame. That work completed, Carefree Highway Trucking Paint and Body administered the paint, decorating the frame a bright orange and hitting it with a apple candy clearcoat to really make it pop. The body then got the same orange as the base coat but received a tangerine candy clearcoat instead, giving the car its distinct color. Custom pinstriping by Gary from Hang Loose Art was added as the finishing touch.
"The only thing that wasn't painted on the car was the fuel and brake lines, which I personally hand polished," Biggs says with a grin.
Even though the body had received generous amounts of TLC, Biggs was far from finished. "The interior has many mods, some of which I must keep secret," explains Biggs. The ones he could tell us about include coating all the metal surfaces with Dynamat Xtreme to damp any resonating panels and covering the backside of the interior plastic panels with fiberglass and lead shot to make them more solid.
Turning his energy toward the dash, Biggs installed a sub enclosure where the heater core used to be. The rear of the enclosure was formed using a beach ball so none of the interior walls of the box would be parallel. Using the beach ball as a plug is two inches of fiberglass. The front panel is flat and made from two panels of HDF (High Density Fiberboard), bolted to the metal of the car with 16 T-bolts. It's big, round and heavy, estimated to be around 50 pounds ... all that for a single Kicker L7 10-inch sub.
Biggs next removed the fuse panel from under the dash. Making use of that space is a pair of Kicker custom-built prototype component speakers, a 5.25-inch mid and 1-inch dome tweeter that are currently only available to KCG members.
"I think Kicker will build them for [everyone] sometime in the future, but for right now only us serious competitors get them, and good thing, because they sound great," Biggs relates.
The kickpanels themselves received a front panel of .75-inch HDF, then .25-inch aluminum and another .75-inch HDF panel. "That way I can really mount the speakers into something solid," Biggs reveals.
To replace the factory electrical system, Biggs mounted a Haywire kit in the rear quarter panel of the Buick. All the power for the car was also switched to the back. One big piece of Hooker Audio 1/0 power cable connects the StreetWires 200-amp alternator to a pair of Optima batteries mounted upside down in a special tray in front of the rear bumper. For extra points, Biggs imported orange Optimas from Japan.
This generation of Regal comes with a fairly broad and flat dash, significantly upgraded with Dakota Digital gauges and further modified to glow red. In front of the driver is the display for the Sony XES-P1, the brains of the system. The P1 doesn't have a red display, but thanks to some more of Biggs' handiwork it does now.
To control the system Biggs installed duplicate controls for the P1 into the steering wheel. Duplicate controls were also built into a stock Delco head unit; basically just a gutted dummy unit, it's modified to control volume, track and power.
Instead of a rearview mirror, there is a Pioneer AVD-505 5.5-inch monitor. This screen is connected to a Q-PC mobile computer system, a full-fledged computer built for mobile applications. It's mounted under the rear seat and allows Gary to use navigation or watch a DVD. The video is connected to the Pioneer screen and the audio is plugged into the auxiliary input of the Sony XES-P1.
Moving to the rear of the passenger compartment and under the seat, the lower portion has been rebuilt using wood and steel tube to build a frame. In the center of the equipment array is the P1's brain module, mounted upside-down so you can see its guts. On the passenger side is the Q-PC, which is typically never seen, and in front of that is the face of the Sony 10-disc changer, making it easy to load CD magazines. On the driver's side is a pair of Rane ME-30 equalizers and a single AC-23 crossover, visible but protected by a piece of Plexi'. Behind the rear seatback are three 12-inch L7s for SPL, each with its own one-cubic foot enclosure and Kicker ZR240 amplifier.
Biggs' crowning achievement is his amp tub. "I did something that very few, if any, guys are doing for mounting their amplifiers," he admits. "Basically, I made this big tub, all from a single piece of fiberglass that is both the support for the amps and the top plate. It flows in a big half moon shape and looks really awesome because it's painted to match the car."
The tub holds three handmade, one-off power distribution blocks from StreetWires, upgraded with bright orange LEDs that glow when the fuse is good. They are connected to five Hooker Audio one-farad caps that are linked to a total of five Kicker ZR240 amplifiers, one each for the tweeters, mids, the sub up front, the three L7 12-inchers and the fifth one for rear fill that Gary has yet to add.
The final pieces of equipment that you don't see are a pair of AudioControl EQTs. These one-third octave equalizers are mounted under the front seats, one used for RTA scoring and the other for SPL. The idea is that the Rane equalizers are for sound quality only; they take hours of setting to get them tuned correctly. So for RTA and SPL, Gary hits the bypass buttons and the AudioControls take over.
Just like at the Oscars, Biggs has a huge list of people to thank: Stillwater Designs, Viper Machines, Colorado Customs, Southeast Auto Trim, Mat Works, Rob Rice, Steve Chambers, Ray Proctor, Brad Grandclair, Michael Brahman, Andy Kramarczuk, Chris Kiser, Chad Rice, David Grim, Greg Davis and lots more.
Qualifying for both the USAC and the IASCA Finals was work enough, but getting there proved to be almost as hard. He was so close to the wire for the IASCA Finals that he missed the competitors' meeting because he was still driving to the event. Good thing the Finals were in Oklahoma. His results there were tough to swallow, however - he lost first place by one point.
The USAC Finals in Kansas City three weeks later gave him a little more time to polish. The extra time appeared to work because he won his 1-600 Expert class.
Now Biggs is on to more of his customers' competition cars and some additional tweaks to his own. He's thinking about re-mounting the Q-PC, some new door panels, maybe even a new dash. Honestly though, he's won twice now with slightly different versions of the Buick -- why change it again?