"Where Turbo is King...
...until 1LE and Firehawk!"
1982 Trans Am
In 1982 the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am platform was radically restyled for the first time in over a decade. The big emphasis was now focused on Aerodynamics, boasts of a low coefficient of drag (CD), and traction adhesion nearing 1g (or G-force). The 1983 through 1986 Firebird models did not change radically from the original 1982 platform, instead, they were systematically refined to improve performance and handling. Included in this transition was the availability of a corporate (Chevrolet 5.0 / 5.7) engine utilizing Throttle Body Injection (starting @150 bhp), that replaced the discontinued Pontiac engine family. The 1987 - 1988 models were infused with more, much needed, horsepower to match Pontiac's performance marketing image. After all, as Jim Wangers - Pontiac's senior ad man has stated, there was a Blue Oval pony car that was out- performing and out-selling Pontiac's bread and butter performer, using Pontiac's own GTO formula for success against them.
15th Anniversary Trans Am
It was 1984 and Pontiac recognized the Trans Amís 15th Anniversary by releasing a special Trans Am that was white with blue stripes, blue Trans Am decals and a blue "Venetian blind" decal on the offset hood bulge. The car also had a multi-tone gray interior that had Recaro seats, a white leather wrapped steering wheel , shifter knob and parking brake handle. T-tops were also standard on the package as were white aluminum wheels. The cars were powered by the 190 hp 5.0 liter "corporate" V-8 and a 5 speed manual transmission. Pontiac built approximately 1500 15th Anniversary Trans Ams. 1984 Anniversary TA.
Click thumb images below for Eddie Barra's Beautiful 1984 "Wretched Excess" Show car:
20th Anniversary Trans Am
1989 was the year Pontiac released the 20th Anniversary Trans Am. It was a GTA model powered by the conservatively rated 245 hp Buick built 3.8 liter turbo V6 with special Pontiac heads and tuning, mated to a 4 speed overdrive automatic.
Capable of 150 mph from the factory, this special T/A was the first production auto to pace the Indy 500 that was not modified to meet the rigors of bringing the Indy racers up to speed. The car was white with gold GTA wheels and gold Turbo Trans Am fender insignia. It had specific 20th anniversary badges on the nose and sail panels and Indy 500 insignia on the bottom of the front fenders. Some cars were delivered with Indy 500 pace car decals on the doors. The others received their decal package in the rear hatch back area for later installation if desired. They all came with a camel interior. The rarest being the T-top delete hardtops. Of those, 24 received leather interiors and the remaining 15 hardtops were in leather. Pontiac built approximately 1550 20th Anniversary Turbo Pace Car Trans Ams. Many collectors consider this special Trans Am to be the high water mark of the 3rd generation Firebirds and Trans Ams.
Visit the TACHREV Turbo Town page.
1990 - 92 Firebird & Trans Am
In 1990 it was a hard act to follow the performance footsteps of the '89 Turbo T/A's fame and glory. Coupling this with the fact that Pontiac actually shortened the production year for 1990 anticipating many changes that were in store for the 1991 models. In fact, in the Third Edition of John A. Gunnell's "Illustrated Firebird Buyers Guide" he states..."The 1990 Firebirds were enjoyable, but hardly collectible." OK now, before all of you proud owners of these fine Firebirds get up in arms let's point out a unique milestone option that started with the '90 Firebirds...and that would be the introduction of the 1LE Performance Option. This Firebird Performance Option (also available in the Camaro) was intended as GM's reentry into the Showroom Stock factory racing in SCCA, IMSA, and GM Canada racing programs . The cars were only available in a "stripped" configuration minus creature comforts such as: Radio, air conditioning, power windows/locks, sound deadening & insulation. Maximum performance with this model was achieved with the 5.0 liter 5-speed, G80 limited slip rear end, J65 four-wheel disc brakes, KC4 oil cooler, QLC 16 inch tires, N10 dual converter exhaust system, with the "GENERAL" adding the 3:42 rear axle ratio, aluminum drive shaft, 18 gallon fuel tank, Corvette heavy duty front and rear brakes, WS6 suspension and special valved shocks. Oh yeah, that IMSA racing program that I mentioned was known as the "Firehawk" series. Firehawk Firebird - ever heard of one?
1991 was the year of many improvements and changes for the Firebird, Formula, and Trans Am. Pontiac issued press kits for the '91's December 26, 1990 and the first production '91's were built in the Van Nuys, CA plant in February of 1991. The new nose was the return of the "Mean Look" Endura nose reminiscent of the 1977-78 nose treatment. Restyled front, side and rear spoilers were also part of the look for this 3rd Generation transition model Trans Am and Firebird. T-Tops could not be ordered with the 5.7 V-8 GTA or Firebird. The factory Firebird Convertible also returned after a long absence for '91.
1992 was the final 3rd Generation model Firebird that utilized many unseen build improvements such as improved structural adhesives, body panel fit and finish, reinforced structure for rigidity, and silicone impregnated weather striping. GM continued to make a big deal out of the effects of engine torque on the Firebird structure and would not allow 5.7 liter V-8 Firebirds to be ordered with T-Tops, or a manual transmission. 1992 was the dawn of the return of real performance with the introduction of SLP's Formula Firehawk with only 250 slated for production (and believe it or not at least one Convertible Firehawk was produced - and GM was worried about body torque?). Street and competition versions were available. The race version was given a ZF Corvette 6-speed transmission with computer assist, 3.54:1 Dana 44 rear axle, 16 pound flywheel, heavy duty 4-bolt main engine block, with forged crank, Ed Pink rods, roller cam, aluminum heads with stainless valves, Ray Falconer designed port injection intake manifold, stainless steel headers & exhaust with dual cats, special Ronal Wheels, Firestone Firehawk 257/40ZR17 tires, specific suspension springs, bushings, and shocks designed for competition rounded out the SLP Formula Firehawk. At $39,995 these were Rare Birds indeed. The cars were numbered 1-26 for the hardtops (number 18 & number 25 were never built) and the convertible numbered 27. Again - it is reported that SLP only built 25 Firehawk's in 1992.
Click thumb images below for 1992 Firehawk:
Click here for: The 1992 1LE Trans Am that was never intended to be sold to the public
The Formula Firebird was Pontiac's hot ticket for budget performance, and the answer to Ford's very successful Mustang 5.0 LX Notch back coupe. Finally starting in 1987 and continuing through 1992, GM and Pontiac were starting to recover from their performance drought and loss to Ford's 5.0 Mustang Fox Chassis dominance. After all, as Jim Wangers - Pontiac's senior ad man has stated, there was a Blue Oval pony car that was out- performing and out-selling Pontiac's bread and butter performer, using Pontiac's own GTO formula for success against them. Pontiac recovered on the street and track with the infusion of real performance, power and competition versions of the 3rd generation Firebird Formula.
Click below for more 3rd Gen Firebirds