Pontiac Firebird Trans AM Mods, Performance Upgrades & Gallery
At the dawn of the pony car era, most American carmakers tried to make their own pony cars to compete with the Ford Mustang and at least replicate its success. And Pontiac was no exception – back in 1967 they introduced the Firebird built off the same platform as the most successful Mustang’s competitor, the Chevy Camaro. However, Pontiac’s model offered distinctive styling and overall looked more streamlined, plus some other equipment differences were made too. The base power mill was a 3.8 L I6 capable of delivering 165 hp and only 2-door body styles were available (coupe and convertible). Already potent and well performing by itself, the Firebird also had a special upgraded package, the Trans Am. Unveiled in 1969, it was named after a popular American racing series and was sold in limited numbers. For the first model year, only less than 700 units were sold.
The full name of the package was the “Trans Am performance and appearance package” and the model truly offered the features its nameplate implied, including a more potent engine, styling improvements, handling, braking and a range of upgrades. The Trans Am earned popularity pretty fast and has become an integral part of the lineup in almost no time. So, when the second generation of the Firebird hit the road, the Trans Am variant was also there. This time, it came as a coupe only, just like the entire Firebird series, but offered other distinctive features. There were new for the model colors, again more potent engines and even some special versions, like the Trans Am 10th anniversary edition launched in 1979.
In 1982, the third-gen Firebird saw the world with the Trans Am again being the line-topping version. The vehicle underwent a complete redesign and now offered a range of breakthrough novelties – it came with a pair of concealed pop-up headlights that were first for the cars using F-body platform and steepest for GM models windshield. Plus, because of the demands of post-oil crisis times, the model also offered excellent fuel efficiency apart from outstanding acceleration, handling, aerodynamics and overall performance. Again, a range of special Trans Am versions like GTA, 15th and 20th Anniversary editions were unveiled too.
The fourth generation of the Firebird entered the market in 1993. Even though the model still offered the aerodynamic styling similar to the preceding version, about 90 percent of its components were all-new. Convertibles were available again and the sole engine offering was a 5.7 L V8 almost identical to the engine of the Chevy Corvette. For the 1998 model year, the lineup was refreshed and the Trans Am received a new power unit – it also was a 5.7 L V8, but now borrowed from the next, C5 version of the Vette. In 2002, the Firebird as well as its special version the Trans Am were discontinued with no vehicle considered a direct successor.