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 http://www.tarheeltigers.org
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)_______________________________________________
Just want to remind everyone
about the Ames Pontiac
Nationals coming up on August
5 thru 7 at Summit Motorsports
Part , Norwalk, Ohio
Updated e-mail addresses: Please e-mail new addresses to Sheila Ward WARD_922@bellsouth.net, Steve Veatch
email@example.com, Jerry Hazi firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Hinnant email@example.com. Thanks!
Printed copies of the THT membership roster and copies of the Newsletters are now available at the meetings.
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org WARD_922@bellsouth.net
CLUB T-SHIRTS/_WINDOW STICKERS_______________________
Contact Chris Hastings at: 919- TarHeel Tigers Club T-shirts:
876-3874 or email@example.com $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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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) www.butlerperformance.com (866)762-7527
Pontiac Historic Services (document your Pontiac) http://www.phs-online.com (586)781-5164
Colors On Parade (Paint Repair on Classic Vehicles) www.autopaintinaday.com (919)971-5158
Manual Transmission Sales & Service Dennis Maroudas (606)237-6648
Pontiac GTO and Firebird T-shirts, etc. www.pontiacmall.com (800)558-2550
Fleszar Insurance Services Inc, Raleigh NC Specialty Auto Insurance (919)787-7305
Frank’s Pontiac Parts www.frankspontiacparts.com (760)361-3242
NPD National Parts Depot www.npdlink.com (Charlotte) (800)368-6451
Fuquay Storage, LLC (storage for boats, campers, jet skis & cars) (919)577-0237
Automotive Touch Up Paint www.paintscratch.com (800)225-2855
Pontiac Performance Years, Classic Pontiac Parts www.performanceyears.com (267)638-3500
Tayloe’s Paintless Dent Repair (919)275-4292
Send your ads to Jerry Hazi email@example.com. 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 LeMansfirstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com
Asking $5000.00 11/01/2010
61-66 Tri-power set-ups or carbs, any cond. Gary Anderson 919/848-1928, firstname.lastname@example.org (ongoing)
Hood w/scoops & front fenders for a 71-72 GTO. Also looking for 70 Lemans body parts & options. Thanks!
Please contact Steve @ email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit
http://www.tigermadness.com/. 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: www.madhousemarketing.com, 1-262-389-7617
Custom art work or club logo. Ultimate GTO Store, www.ultimategto.com 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 email@example.com
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 - http://www.hubcapcafe.com/calendar/north-carolina.htm
Car Show News & Classic Auto Events - http://www.carshownews.com/national/NC.htm
Carsolina – Car Shows and calendar of events - www.carsolina.com
Trans Am’s web site with a forum, shows & events - www.transamcountry.com
2004-2006 GTO web site & forum – www.LS1GTO.com
Pontiac Bonneville – www.bonnevilleforum.com
Trans Am web site – www.78ta.com
North Carolina Events – www.oldride.com/events/northcarolina
CAR SHOWS_ 2011__ Being Attended by THT Members:______
August 5-7 Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio www.pontiacnationals.com
August 19-21 Carolina Classics at the Capital, Downtown Raleigh wwwclassicsatthecapital.com
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 www.78ta.com/nats/index.html
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 varinadowntown.com
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 coastalplainsraceway.com
Dunn-Benson Dragstrip (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 555 Dragstrip Road, Benson, NC 27504, 919-894-1662 dunnbensondragstrip.com
Farmington Dragway (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 2992 Hwy. 801 North, Mocksville, NC 27028, 336-399-6122 farmingtondragway.net
Fayetteville Drag Strip (IHRA ¼ mile), 4480 Doc Bennett Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28306 910-484-3677 fayettevillemotorsportspark.com
Mooresville Dragway (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 865 Wilkinson Road, Mooresville, NC 28115 704-663-4685 mooresvilledragway.com
Piedmont Dragway (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 6750 Holts Store Road, Julian, NC 27283 336-449-7411 piedmontdragway.com
Rockingham Dragway (IHRA ¼ Mile), 2153 US Hwy 1 North, Rockingham, NC 28379 910-582-3400 rockinghamdragway.com
Roxboro Motorsports (IHRA 1/8 Mile), 1452 Thomas Store Road, Timberlake. NC 27583 336-364-3724 roxboromotorsports.com
Virginia Motorsports (NHRA ¼ mile), 8018 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, VA 23803 804-862-3174 virginiamotorsports.com
Zmax Dragway (NHRA ¼ mile), 5555 Concord Pkwy. South, Concord, NC 28027 1-800-455-3267 charlottemotorspeedway.com
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-
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
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
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
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
POCI CAR SHOW: BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY
GOLDSTON CRUZ-N Nice country drive. 86 Cars