Niles man’s custom Pontiac makes magazine’s cover

Published 12:58 pm Thursday, August 14, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Dan Baber of Niles has always been interested in cars.
But perhaps the 33-year-old accountant didn't expect High Performance Pontiac, a nationally-distributed magazine for Pontiac fans, to take interest in his car, a 1999 black Pontiac nicknamed "Raptor."
Little less, perhaps, did he expect his car to end up on the front page of the magazine's 2003 October issue, which is currently available in stores across the country.
Baber said one of his friends, who knew the Pontiac magazine's editor, told the editor about the car.
It didn't take long before the editor contacted Baber and set up an appointment to come and have a look at the Pontiac.
The editor also wrote an article that detailed the many modifications made to the car, Baber said.
But Baber, who started with a new car and stripped it down; along the way adding custom features to make it stand out, is not one of those guys who fixes up a car only to have it stand in the garage.
He drives it during spring, summer and autumn, and also when it rains. "We would probably do pretty well at shows, but I like driving the car so much," he said.
Which is why he races the 550 horsepower, nitro kit equipped power house at racetracks and drag strips.
The car, however, is also suited for normal driving on regular roads. Baber said his next race will be at the annual gathering in Indianapolis, which is a gathering for Trans-Am and Camero fans from all over the country. Baber said he has spent thousands of hours getting the car to where it is today.
Some of the work has been done to make the car look pretty, but some of the work has also been done to make the car faster. "We've pretty much pulled every horsepower we could out of it," Baber said.
The 100 per cent self taught mechanic has broken a few original parts, such as the rear axel, due to the high powered engine. No surprise knowing that he adds 150 horsepowers to the engine's already existing 550 when he ignites the car's nitro kit.
Which also explains why he has replaced original parts with more high end performance parts.
Baber, who used to fix up and sell vehicles when he was younger, however, is rarely alone when he works on his car. Tyler, Baber's son, takes a great interest in what his dad does. "It's just a good way for us to spend time together," Baber said.
He said Tyler travels with him to races and other places they go, such as Chicago, Ill. and Ohio.
Tyler, although still a few years away from the legal driving age, said he enjoys spending time with his dad.
He knows what his favorite thing about being around his dad's car is.