Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Engine type: pushrods 16 valves V-8
Displacement: 5.7L (5665cc)
Power: 305 bhp
Torque: 335 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6 speed manual
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1/4 mile: 13.9sec
Top Speed: 159 mph
It won't be hard to tell which Firebirds are the fast ones. The '98 Formulas and Trans Ams have now a new 305-bhp engine LS1 V-8 under their hoods. Incidentally, the hoods, front ends, fenders and headlamps of all Firebirds are also new this year. Power comes courtesy of the all-aluminium LS1, the new GM small-block V-8 that made its debut last year in the Corvette. Although a pushrod engine, the LS1 uses advanced technology for smoother power and high rpm capability, not to mention 20 bhp more than the old engine.
Pontiac assures that this new Trans Am will cost about the same as the past model. That means a likely base price of less than $24,000 -a terrific bargain for a good-handling speedster that can a Ferrari Daytona a run for its life. Think of the Trans Am's newfound civility as an unexpected dividend.
UPDATES: The Firebird and Camaro are going to end production for 99 or 2000.