The TarHeel Tigers Photo Shoot by linzhengnd




                                              July 2011
                                    Monthly Newsletter of the

                   TarHeel Tigers Pontiac Club
                       Raleigh Chapter of the GTO Association of America
                        Raleigh Chapter of National Firebird and Trans Am Club

         Visit our Web Page at

           Next Meeting: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
                At Auto Performance Center
                  922 US Highway 70, Garner, NC 27529

         The TarHeel Tigers Photo Shoot
        President’s Message                     (Steve Veatch)________________________________
                                                                               The Fall Charlotte Auto is Aug
                                          The Tri Power Nationals in           26-28, several club members
                                          Norwalk, OH is Aug 5-7. While        will be there as always, stop by
                                          it is a drive to get there, if you   their booths to rest your feet &
                                          only do one show a year it's         cool off. Always tons of cars &
                                          one worth going to. With close       parts to see there.
Hi guys,                                  to 500 show cars, 300+ swap
It's definitely pool & boating            meet vendors & drag racing all       Stay cool everyone & I hope to
weather in our region right now!          weekend..........ALL PONTIAC         be back in town for
With 100 degree+ temps,                   of course.....a great time is        September's meeting.
Pontiac owners that did not get           certainly guaranteed!!
the AC option checked at order                                                 Steve
time (like my TA!) will usually let       The Classics At The Capital
our cars set thru these months            show in downtown Raleigh Aug
since sticking to your vinyl seat         19-21 & David H has reserved
is not a good thing.                      spaces for club members who
                                          wanted to go. There may still be
                                          room available, check with
Some upcoming shows of                    David if you wanted to
interest to all of us are as              participate.

          Editor’s Note               (Jerry Hazi)_______________________________________________

Hey Everyone,
Just want to remind everyone
about the Ames Pontiac
Nationals coming up on August
5 thru 7 at Summit Motorsports
Part , Norwalk, Ohio
Thank Jerry

       ROSTER UPDATE___________________________________________
Updated e-mail addresses: Please e-mail new addresses to Sheila Ward, Steve Veatch, Jerry Hazi, or David Hinnant Thanks!
Printed copies of the THT membership roster and copies of the Newsletters are now available at the meetings.
           MINUTES                          ______________________________________
July, 2011 Meeting                               to have the meeting at                                but Saturday the weather was
We held our monthly club                         AppleBee’s. Good decision.                            nice. Beech Bend Park was a
meeting at AppleBee’s                                                                                  great location to have the show.
16 Members attended.                              We talked about the up-coming                        Plenty of shade and a nice drag
                                                 shows that we plan to                                 racing track. Overall it was a
                                                 participate in. Norwalk and the                       good show with lots of quality
                                                 Raleigh Classic at the Capital.                       vehicles.
                                                 We currently have 18 members
                                                 signed up, so get the car out and                     Thanks Jerry
                                                 join in on the fun.
We would like to thank all the
                                                 I talked about my trip to
club members who attended and
                                                 Bowling Green, Kentucky for
new member Ken Nagey of
                                                 the POCI show. The rain kept
Wake Forest.
                                                 some of the nice cars in their
Since it was over 100 degrees
                                                 haulers on Thursday and Friday,
an executive decision was made
REGULAR MEETINGS are held on the first Tuesday of each month, from 6:30 to 8:30pm at Auto
Performance Center, 922 Hwy 70, Garner West. SPECIAL MEETINGS are held periodically. Check the cover of
this newsletter; visit our website, or call/e-mail an officer for next month's meeting location.

   President          VP &Car Show Chair      Scrap Book Editor          Web Page Editor           Newsletter              Treasurer

 Steve Veatch            David Hinnant               Butch Powell                Ross Merle                Jerry Hazi              Sheila Ward

CLUB T-SHIRTS/_WINDOW STICKERS_______________________
                                               Contact Chris Hastings at: 919-                     TarHeel Tigers Club T-shirts:
                                               876-3874 or                        $12.00, Heather gray w/ silk-
                                               Window Stickers                                     screened tiger head logo;
                                                                                                   Men’s sizes M - XXXL.
                                                                                                   Contact Steve Veatch at:
        T-Shirts        Window Stickers                                                  

SEMA ACTION NETWORK____________________________________
The SEMA Action Network is a nationwide partnership of car clubs, and individual enthusiasts (like you)
who work together to impact legislation that affects car and truck hobbyists of all kinds. By joining the
SAN you will receive up-to-date alerts on hobby-related legislation in your state and across the country.
MEMBER’S SERVICES________________________________________
Anderson Creek Auto Sales & Salvage                                         Bobby Tomlinson           (910) 893-8835
Auto Performance Center                                                     Steve & Sheila Ward       (919) 772-5957
Dustin’s Ceramic Tile / Pencil Drawing of Your Car                          Dustin Tart               (919) 366-3311
Patio Enclosures Inc of Raleigh                                             Bill Karras               (919) 467-2846
Pontiac Tri-Powers Rebuilt                                                  Gary Anderson             (919) 848-1928
Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.                                               Butch Powell              (910) 893-4450
Just Music! DJ Service                                                      Ross Merle                (919) 621-9262
N.C. Auto Appraisal                                                         Brian Manning             (919) 606-6720
Leith of Wendell Chrysler Dodge Jeep                                        Jerry Hazi                (919) 366-7000
Personal Security Storage Inc., 1101 Trinity Rd, Raleigh, NC                Cary Kasdorf               (919)851-8585
Hendrick Buick Pontiac GMC                                                  Tommy Laakso                (919)380-8267

SERVICES Etc. (Non-Members)_______________________________
Butler Performance (Pontiac performance service & parts) (866)762-7527
Pontiac Historic Services (document your Pontiac)  (586)781-5164
Colors On Parade (Paint Repair on Classic Vehicles)     (919)971-5158
Manual Transmission Sales & Service                        Dennis Maroudas             (606)237-6648
Pontiac GTO and Firebird T-shirts, etc.                   (800)558-2550
Fleszar Insurance Services Inc, Raleigh NC                 Specialty Auto Insurance     (919)787-7305
Frank’s Pontiac Parts                             (760)361-3242
NPD National Parts Depot                          (Charlotte) (800)368-6451
Fuquay Storage, LLC (storage for boats, campers, jet skis & cars)                       (919)577-0237
Automotive Touch Up Paint                                (800)225-2855
Pontiac Performance Years, Classic Pontiac Parts    (267)638-3500
Tayloe’s Paintless Dent Repair                                                          (919)275-4292

Send your ads to Jerry Hazi     Ads run for three months unless renewed.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect those of
TarHeel Tigers Pontiac Club Officers or Members. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of Statements made

CARS FOR SALE_______________________________________________
1967 Pontiac Has                 consider reasonable partial trades. Lowered asking price
P/S, P/drums, A/C, a 400 with factory exhaust and intake            Wilson, NC.
manifolds dated to 1974. Rallye II's and new tires. Car is very                                                11/01/2010
straight and clean. Paint could use some detailing but looks
great 20/20. Interior is nice with just a couple small seam
splits in the drivers bucket. Has a TH350 and center console
correct for this transmission. Bucket seats, The car looks
original to the casual observer but there are a few giveaways
like the modern alternator that indicate the swap. The package
tray was not cut for 6 x 9's, nor was the dash for a modern
radio. I paid $16K for it back in '9/07 and I'd like to get close
to that. I have more pics for those that are interested. I will
1979 SE Trans Am. Black with 81510 miles. PHS Documented 79 Y84, 403 SE car. As far as I know
engine and transmission are original. Comes with GM T-Top bags, TH350 transmission, 3.08 or 3.23 rear
axle, 4 wheel disc brakes, ws6 performance package, black hobnail custom interior, rear defroster, power
windows and door locks, cruise control, body moldings, heavy duty battery, lamp group option, super
3cooling radiator and tilt wheel. Comes with two noses, original and a red one. It does not have all the
A/C parts and will need exhaust. Call Brian Robbins at 757-660-3037 or E-mail,
Asking $5000.00 11/01/2010

61-66 Tri-power set-ups or carbs, any cond. Gary Anderson 919/848-1928, (ongoing)

Hood w/scoops & front fenders for a 71-72 GTO. Also looking for 70 Lemans body parts & options. Thanks!
Please contact Steve @ (ongoing)

PARTS/MISC FOR SALE___________________________________
We’ll transfer any photo onto a coffee mug, mouse pad, car tag, T-shirt, name tag, or plaque. We also have
world famous tiger tails, ears, and key chains. Call 828/241-4947 or email, or visit TarHeel Tigers member prices: 11oz mug $10.00, 15oz mug $12.00, mouse pad
$12.00      Rex Bumgarner, 4928 Northcrest St., Claremont, NC 28610

GTO apparel – Mad House High Performance Apparel:, 1-262-389-7617
Custom art work or club logo. Ultimate GTO Store, center for GTO merchandise.

For Sale: Complete pair of 1966 GTO front seats, black with manual adjust. Some small cracks, one hole on
upper shoulder, $500 for pair. 1967 GTO/LeMans/Tempest radiator support $75.00 GM A-Bodies P-1060 frt.
Shocks, still in GM boxes. $20.00 per pair. Raleigh, NC. 919-841-0458 Can email photos of any item if
needed. Tim Wagner

Pontiac Parts for sale: Mostly 2nd Generation Firebird/Trans Am Parts. Mike Montague 919-518-1905

 AUTO EVENTS WEBSITES                              _____________________________
PLEASE notify editor of any errors, changes, or additions.     Show Flyers may be available on our web site.
Verify BEFORE you make the trip.

Hubcap Café: Area’s car shows -
Car Show News & Classic Auto Events -
Carsolina – Car Shows and calendar of events -
Trans Am’s web site with a forum, shows & events -
2004-2006 GTO web site & forum –
Pontiac Bonneville –
Trans Am web site –
North Carolina Events –
CAR SHOWS_ 2011__                            Being Attended by THT Members:______

 August 5-7 Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio
 August 19-21 Carolina Classics at the Capital, Downtown Raleigh
            THT has a side street reserved. $20.00 per vehicle for the weekend. Contact: David Hinnant.
 August 25-28 Food Lion Auto Fair, Charlotte Motor Speedway
 August 26-28 Trans Am Nationals, Dayton Ohio
 September 17 Clayton Harvest/Music Festival Classic Car and Truck show
 September 17 Youngsville Fall Festival Car Show
 September 24 Corinth Holders High School, Car/Motorcycle fundraiser show, 1475 W Market, Smithfield
 October 14-16 Henderson, 10th Annual Show, Shine, Shag & Dine / East Coast Drag Hall of Fame week
 October 28-30 Goodguys Rod & Custom Association 18th Southeastern Nationals, Charlotte
 November 11-13 Carolina Collector Auto Fest, Raleigh Fairgrounds
 November 19 2011 Reunion Cruise at Grill 57

CRUISE-INS           (April through October)   ________________________________
PLEASE notify editor of any errors, changes, or additions.       Verify BEFORE you drive!!!
                                      1st Friday - N rain date 2nd
Thursdays – High Point NC –           Friday (April – October),
National Home Furnishings             Henderson NC, 6-9pm at Roses        4th Saturday – Sonic Cruise In,
6:30pm ‘til? 1628 Main Street,        parking lot.                        Zebulon, 4:00 on. Starting
½ mile north of Business 85 on                                            March 26,2011
Highway 311. Info: 336/882-           3rd Friday – (April –Sept) 4pm
8809.                                 Creedmoor Cruise-In. Andy’s         2nd Sat. – Wakefield ATV,
                                      Hwy. 56 Food Lion parking lot       April-Oct. Wake Forest.
Fridays – Greensboro NC –
Sonic Drive-in 6:30pm ‘til?            rd
                                                                          2nd Sat. (March – Oct) Tar
3932 W. Market Street. (Mar 5         3 Fridays – Fuquay-Varina           River Cruizers, Wimpy’s
                                      Downtown Cruise-In. 5 to 9pm
– Oct 29) Info: Doug Seawell                                              Restaurant, Henderson
                                      April 15, 2011 www.Fuquay-
336/ 698-0597               
                                                                          4th Sat. New Cruise, High
Fridays – Hope Mills, Hosted          1st Saturday – Char-Grill           Park Bar-Grill, in-side belt line,
by Cape Fear Classics,                4621 Atlantic Ave., Raleigh         625 W Whitaker Mill Rd.,
Smithfield BBQ, Fayetteville          4:00pm, Music & food.               Raleigh, starting April 27

Thursdays – DQ Grill & Chill.         2nd Sunday – Hooter’s of            4th Saturdays – JR’s Discount
5260 New Bern, Raleigh                                                    Outlet Cruise-in, Burlington.
                                      Burlington, Ext. 141 of I-85        March – Oct. 5 to 9pm.
                                      12:00 to 5:00                       Ronnie Ingle @ 336-6

1st Saturday – Zaxby’s on
Highway 70 before Clayton. 3:00     Grill 57 is back: 3rd
to ?, DJ and free food to car
owners attenting.                   Saturday of the month.
TEST & TUNE__DRAGSTRIPS______________________________
Coastal Plains Dragway    (IHRA ¼ Mile), 4744 Richlands Highway, Jacksonville, NC 28541 910-347-2200
Dunn-Benson Dragstrip     (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 555 Dragstrip Road, Benson, NC 27504,          919-894-1662
Farmington Dragway        (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 2992 Hwy. 801 North, Mocksville, NC 27028,     336-399-6122
Fayetteville Drag Strip    (IHRA ¼ mile), 4480 Doc Bennett Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28306    910-484-3677
Mooresville Dragway        (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 865 Wilkinson Road, Mooresville, NC 28115     704-663-4685
Piedmont Dragway           (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 6750 Holts Store Road, Julian, NC 27283        336-449-7411
Rockingham Dragway         (IHRA ¼ Mile), 2153 US Hwy 1 North, Rockingham, NC 28379 910-582-3400 
Roxboro Motorsports         (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 1452 Thomas Store Road, Timberlake. NC 27583 336-364-3724
Virginia Motorsports       (NHRA ¼ mile), 8018 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, VA 23803 804-862-3174
Zmax Dragway                (NHRA ¼ mile), 5555 Concord Pkwy. South, Concord, NC 28027 1-800-455-3267

OLD MAGAZINES & BLUE JEANS___________________________
If you have old jeans and/or auto magazines (magazines suitable for our troops to read), please bring them
to the monthly meetings. Thanks you …..Mike Schneider

CURRENT AUTOMOTIVE NEWS___________________________

(Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the June 1998 issue of Motor Trend and has been
republished as part of our Pontiac tribute)

It was just about 25 years ago that the classic muscle car era ended. Though the Arab Oil Scam (sorry,
Embargo) was raging, and 5-mph safety bumpers had already appeared, we still had big-block V-8s,
close-ratio manual transmissions, and thirsty four-barrel carbs. It was also about 25 years ago that I was
a car-crazed American youth, locked and loaded for my very first driver's license. And I wanted a Pontiac
Trans Am 455 H.O. Bad. Unfortunately, my dream -- and everyone else's -- was over by 1975. American
carmakers checked out of the horsepower hotel for the next eight to 10 years. Somehow, the Pontiac
Firebird, Chevrolet Camaro, and Ford Mustang survived. Oh, it came close a few times, as all three flirted
with extinction, or castration, into smaller, front-wheel-drive packages. But among them, the Firebird
Trans Am has remained the Rock of Ages in Pontiac's performance lineup. Now, as the Trans Am nears its
30th birthday, we feel it's time to pit the newest iteration of the nasty 'Bird against two of the early go-
fast greats.

How the Legend Began

The Trans Am moniker debuted in 1969, aboard the nose of the first-generation Firebird. The model was
christened after the Sports Car Club of America's successful racing series of the same name, though the
SCCA actually spelled it "Trans-Am." The ironic part about it was that the SCCA's Trans-Am racing class
maintained a 5.0-liter (302-cubic-inch) maximum displacement rule, and the new Pontiac Trans Am came
only with the 400-cubic-inch V-8 (about 6.6 liters). Pontiac was in the process of developing a 5.0-liter
racing engine option for the topline Firebird, but it never flew (pun intended). Ironically, the original Trans
Am wasn't eligible to race in the series that gave it its name.

The Pontiac Trans Am's equipment and appearance package was simple, but ultimately brilliant. The
aforementioned Pontiac 400s came in 335-horsepower Ram Air III (some base engine, huh?) and 345-
horsepower Ram Air IV form, backed by the buyer's choice of a three-speed manual, four-speed manual,
or three-speed Turbo 400 automatic. The sole exterior color combination was Cameo White with blue

And talk about mixing form and function: The hood scoops actually worked (a dramatic departure from the
typical phony fitments), ducting cold air into a hungry Rochester four-barrel carb. The front fender side
scoops worked, purging the engine compartment of unwanted heat. The optional hood tach worked,
letting the driver keep an eye on soaring revs and the road at the same time. And it all looked deliriously

There were also suspension upgrades and a set of those Pontiac five-spokish stamped-steel wheels that
still look great today. It seemed that a whole new type of musclecar had been born.

When GM brought out its second-generation F-body cars as late-introduction '70 models, their styling
simply set autodom ablaze. At the time, MT's A.B. Shuman wrote, "It's unmistakably a Pontiac, yet it's
totally different. So different, in fact, that there are virtually no pieces inside, outside, or underneath,
which are carryovers from the '67-'69 Firebirds. It's a completely new car." True enough: Besides the
killer look, the new Firebirds got redesigned suspensions, higher standard equipment levels, and even
stouter powertrains.

But, oh, that new Trans Am. From the functional reverse hood scoop, front air dam, and shiny dual
exhaust outlets to that exotic simulated engine-turned dashboard fascia, these early second-gen Trans Am
screamed speed at the top of their lungs.

More cubic inches were offered, too. Though several 400-cubic-inch V-8s were available that first year, the
Trans Am engine roster was streamlined for '71. But that single offering was a good one: the 335-
horsepower 455 H.O.-the king of the ponycar hill. The 455s would carry the Trans Am for the next few
model years, culminating in the ultimate fire-breathing SD 455-powered version of '73. Though the SD
was rated at only 310 of the new, but fundamentally more accurate, SAE net horsepower, some within
Pontiac say that figure was more than a little conservative. Whatever the actual output, an SD was good
for mid-13-second quarter-mile times, and 103-104-mph trap speeds in the process. A Nasty 'Bird, to be
Compared to the '69 T/A, the second-generation F-Bird handled better, rode smoother, went faster, and
had looks to die for. A true intimidator.

Fast forward to 1999. The Trans Am lives, but how does it stack up to its forbears from days gone by?
Does the new car really deserve the name, and reputation, cast by Ram Air IVs and 455 H.O.s of a quarter
century ago? Can a fuel-injected, airbagged, CD-changer-packing, 350-cube-Chevy-engined Pontiac
measure up to the tire-smoking Woodward-Avenue-eating hardware -- or at least the memory of it -- that
was available over two decades ago?

In order to find out, we rounded up one of the more interesting, and theoretically one of the best
performing, Firebirds you can get these days -- the SLP Firehawk Trans Am. In case you're not familiar
with SLP Engineering, the company, formed in 1987 by racer/hot rodder Ed Hamburger, might be
considered a "factory tuner," not unlike AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. SLP builds its own Firehawk cars, in
addition to developing and producing the Camaro SS for Chevrolet and the '96-'97 WS6 Ram Air Firebirds.
First sold in '92, the Firehawk treatment has generally consisted of improved intake and exhaust systems,
more aggressive rolling stock, and the like. These are cost-effective performance packages that Pontiac
couldn't feasibly develop and certify itself for small-volume production. Therefore, as the Firebird Trans
Am and Formula received its substantial redo -- including the addition of the 305-horsepower, Corvette-
based LS1 alloy V-8 -- for '98, so will the Firehawks.

Well, let me add a disclaimer: There will be no '98 SLP Firehawks, per se. As SLP had to retool for both a
revised Camaro SS and its own Firehawk Firebirds, the company recently elected to finish up the SS, and
deliver it as the '98 model; it will bring out the Firehawk later this year as a '99. Our estimation is that SLP
chose to get the Camaro SS job done and out the door, as Pontiac has now taken WS6 production in
house -- so that division already has its own top level 'Bird -- whereas Chevy still relies on SLP for its
ultimate Camaro.

Traditionally, Firehawks have been based only on the Formula model. Not anymore, because the Firehawk
treatment can now be had on either a Formula or a Trans Am. You also have your choice of coupe or
convertible. SLP also goes a step further in differentiating its models from the standard Pontiac versions
by doing away with the hideaway headlamps. In their place is a set of glinting, glaring composite light
clusters that are each about 5.5 pounds lighter than the popup units they replace. And they look
sensational. The new hood, still a front-breathing Ram Air unit, has fewer (but larger) intake holes than
does the Pontiac hood -- to our eyes, a nicer look, too.

Other mods that make a Firehawk out of a Firebird are a stainless steel, cat-back dual exhaust system,
17x9.0-inch alloy wheels, gummy Firestone Firehawk SZ50 275/40ZR17 radials, and, of course, SLP's cold
Ram Air intake system. There is also a host of options, such as a Hurst shifter and chrome wheels, as seen
on our bright red test car. A word about this particular machine: It's only the second new-spec Firehawk
Trans Am built, and at the time of our test and photo session, the configuration for the Ram Air system
had not been finalized. Thus, this car has a standard, non-cold-air intake; we have every reason to believe
that production versions' numbers will be even quicker than those we obtained from this hand-built
Once it's all said and done, the SLP upgrades make for 327 horsepower, a nifty 22 more ponies than found
under the hood of a standard LS1-powered Firebird or Camaro. And you can order a Firehawk from any
Pontiac dealer.

You may ask: Why did we choose the semi-factory, semi-aftermarket SLP Firehawk to compare against
the two vintage 'Birds? Fair question, as there was no such thing as an SLP back then. Two main reasons:
(1) It gave us an opportunity to be the first to test an exciting future model, and (2) We recently tested a
'98 Formula ("Horsepower War," Feb. '98), which would have delivered substantially the same
performance as a '98 Trans Am-and we owe you more than a rehash.

And what of our two classic T/As? The owner of this pristine, low-mileage, first-year '69 is no stranger to
the Pontiac faithful; he being Jim Wangers, the ad exec who, along with John DeLorean, cooked up the
original Pontiac GTO scheme for '64 and launched the midsize musclecar phenomenon. Jim owns a passel
of hot hardware, but this exceptionally original Ram Air III coupe is certainly one of the most prized birds
in Wangers' nest.

The equally white-and-blue '71 Trans Am 455 H.O. belongs to Michael Pohl; he and his wife are Firebirders
to the end, with a total of five of them in the family. It, too, has been restored to quite original specs,
though with a few minor enhancements: headers (covered by the original exhaust manifold shielding --
very stealthy), Rhodes lifters, and modern radial tires, but little that would make it noticeably quicker than
a period-correct '71.

Let's Burn Rubber

We might as well get the "what'll she do?" questions out of the way right now. The slowest of these cars is
fast, and the fastest of them is really fast. Wangers' collection manager, Ed Dufrene, an experienced drag
racer, predicted the early 'Bird should have no trouble making it into the high 14s in complete street trim
and on its nearly 30-year-old bias-ply tires that have less stick than a Teflon frying pan coated with WD-

True enough, as our best time for the '69 T/A was a traction-limited 6.5-second 0-60-mph clocking and a
quarter-mile best of 14.9 at 97.4 mph. Watching this classic musclebird fly through the traps was a kick,
its little beak pointed toward the horizon, the tail end hunkering down over the rear suspension, all 3900
pounds punching a fat hole in the atmosphere.

Hearing a big-cube Poncho at full throttle is one of those awe-inspiring sounds that ranks up there with
Stan Getz playing the tenor sax, a 16-ounce filet mignon sizzling on a Ruth's Chris grille, or Michelle
Pfeiffer whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Without getting into the "best musclecar engine of all time"
debate, this mondo-motored Pontiac delivers a slightly cammy exhaust rumble that lands on the ear with
sweetness and depth. Add to it the sound of the 850cfm four-barrel sucking great gobs of air through the
hood scoop, and you've got an inspired definition of aural sex.
Launching the 455-cube '71 was a bit easier than with the Wangers machine, due to improved traction
provided by its more sophisticated chassis and '90s technology tires. You'd expect there to be no
substitute for cubic inches, and there isn't: 0-60 mph came up in 5.4 seconds, and the best quarter-mile
run terminated in 13.8 seconds at a '98 Corvette-challenging 105.6 mph.

When it came to the SLP Firehawk, something went wrong with our cubic-inches-are-king analogy. The
LS1 measures right under 350 cubic inches, just enough to qualify it for duty in the mid-pack Formula 350
model back in '69 or '71. But bedecked with the latest engine-management technology, backed by a Borg-
Warner T-56 six-speed manual transmission, and working through an architecturally similar (though
obviously 25 years more modern) suspension, the LS1 proved to be the Little Engine That Could. Zero to
60 came up in a flamethrowing 5.1 seconds, with a best quarter-mile run of 13.6 seconds at 104.5 mph.
With the production Ram Air system in place, the 'Hawk would probably nip into the fours on a 0-60 mph
and knock another tenth or two off the quarter mile.

But to focus only on numbers would be to miss the experience of piloting a classic musclecar -- or a new
one, for that matter. Drive one after the other, as we did and the '69 feels ancient, though certainly
pleasant, powerful, and balanced. Interior details are clean and unfettered, with nary an airbag nor
cupholder in sight. The Firebird dash layout is almost identical to that of the '69 Camaro, and seat travel is
quite limited for taller drivers. But the feature that most easily places this first Trans Am as a product of
the '60s is the radio. These days, an AM/FM/cassette stereo sound system with CD changer, 200 watts of
power, and a half dozen speakers is commonplace. The T/A makes do with a simple Delco AM unit,
distorting through a single, dash-mounted speaker. Hey, at least it has pushbuttons.

You may think "pleasant" an inappropriate descriptor for one of '69's hottest cars, but as mentioned,
that's the adjective that best describes driving Wangers' low-mileage T/A. It's not scary-fast, but it steps
out smartly, with the non-computerized, non-overdrive automatic's ratios being amazingly well matched
to the engine's power curve. It spins the tires at the slightest provocation, and cornering limits are mighty
low by today's standards. But you still want to take it out, mash the throttle, and prowl Main Street in
search of burger joints that serve good chocolate malts. Time-warp reality check: The Beatles were still
together when this car was made.

The '71 Trans Am looks and feels more the part of a pavement-eating musclecar with flair. The interior
ensconces you, the seating position is low, and your eyes are filled with businesslike gauges and that
wonderful fake engine-turned aluminum-looking dash that's equal parts Pontiac and Bugatti. Beyond it is
that simply too-cool hood scoop, the one that actually mounts to the air cleaner, sticks up through the
hood, and shakes like hell when you goose the gas pedal. The tunes have improved, too, as a then-new,
then-trick, eight-track tape deck now augments the AM radio (but with only a single front and rear
In our original road tests, MT's editors commented on how much better the new-for-'7011/42 Firebirds
rode and handled as compared to their predecessors, and that conclusion still holds true. Cornering limits
are higher, as you'd expect, and there's less float and body roll. Ride quality and braking also move up a
step with the '71, though it has a heavier feel. But the best part is pointing it straight and snapping open
those slightly-too-large vacuum secondaries. As I said, that sound, Stan, the steak, Michelle...

The SLP Firehawk may be the most refined F-machine ever. Much of that feel and performance comes
from the revisions made to the '98 models, and the rest comes from the SLP upgrades. The exhaust sound
is still American V-8, but tempered with a richness and sophistication offered up by the new LS1. The new
car, in stick-shift form, offers as many gear ratios as the other two put together, though sixth is an almost
needlessly tall overdrive. The leather seats are comfy enough for long trips, through rear seat legroom is
still about worthless. Oh, yeah, and the sound system rocks!

More polish or no, have no fear that the newest 'Bird has become soft: This car flat honks. The alloy V-8 is
reviver than ever before, and the six-speed, especially with the Hurst stick, is a joy to row. Handling? How
about 0.91 g on the skidpad, a number even racing versions of the older machines would have a tough
time matching. It would also be no contest ion the braking category, given the Firehawk's four-wheel discs
with ABS and sticky 275 cross-section Firestones that help it anchor from 60 in just 115 feet.

Styling is, of course, a question of personal taste. And the tastes, trends, and indeed production
constraints of 1969 certainly were different from what they'll be in 1999. The '69 set the tone for all Trans
Ams to follow, and today's viewer has to appreciate the simple-yet-effective, functional touches that set it
apart from garden-variety Firebirds. The new SLP drew fave raves from MT's office personnel and
boulevard onlookers, as well, many of whom were yet to be born in 1969. But in the end, it was the '71
that stole the hearts of the MT test staff: coiled aggression in a combination that speaks of both power
and balance, a timeless design.

For all their differences, for all the change and evolution that's occurred in 30 years' time, for better and
for worse, these hot 'Birds clearly came from the same Pontiac nest. They are classic examples of the
front-engine, rear-drive, honest-to-overhead-valve muscle machines as only America could build them.

                          '69 Trans Am                       '71 Trans Am 455 H.O. '99 SLP Firehawk Trans Am
Engine type               90-degree V-8 OHV, 2 valves/cyl.   90 degree V-8 OHV, 2 valves/cyl.   90-degree V-8

Displacement, ci/cc       400/6550                           455/7451                           346/5700

Horsepower, hp @ rpm*     335 @ 5000                         335 @ 4800                         327 @ 5200

Torque, lb-ft @ rpm*      430 @ 3400                         480 @ 3600                         335 @ 4000

Wheelbase, in./mm         108.0/2743                         108.0/2743                         101.1/2568

Track, f/r, in./mm        60.0/60.0 / 1524/1524              61.6/60.3 / 1565/1532              60.7/60.6 / 1542/1539

Length, in./mm            191.6/4867                         191.6/4867                         197.0/5004

Height, in./mm            49.6/1260                          50.4/1280                          52.0/1321

Curb weight               3900 lb (est.)                     4050 lb (est.)                     3470 lb (est.)

0-60 mph                  6.5 sec                            5.4 sec                            5.1 sec

Quarter mile              14.9 sec @ 97.4 mph                13.8 sec @ 105.6 mph               13.6 sec @ 104.5 mph

Price new                 $4900 (est.)                       $5750 (est.)                       $31,845 (est.)

Estimated current value   $15,000                            $15,000                            $31,845

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GOLDSTON CRUZ-N   Nice country drive.   86 Cars

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