Showing posts with label LS1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LS1. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Pontiac Firehawk Third and Forth-Generation: Which One To Buy

2021 Pontiac Firehawk

I think most automobile enthusiasts would agree that very few vehicles from the mid-'70s to the late '80s could be considered high-performance vehicles. Between higher-priced fuel due to oil shortages, the EPA clamp-down in search of better emissions, and sky-rocketing insurance rates, there was just no market for higher-performing cars, especially with the US bouncing in and out of recessions. 

But still, in the ‘80s, there were some well-performing cars that gave us gearheads some hope for a change—a light at the end of the tunnel that would get us out of an era that produced mostly disappointing sports cars and sad muscle car attempts. 

So when did the tides start to change for the high-performance automobile industry? 

Buick Grand National

It is tough to pinpoint when or where, but there are a few vehicles like the Buick Grand National, GMC Syclone and Typhoon, prototype 454 Corvette ZR-2, and some other impressive attempts to revive the high-performance auto industry. 

One very important contribution to the reviving process was the creation of the Pontiac Firehawk. Let’s take a look at how these cool cars got their start, what made them awesome, and how they evolved. 

92 Pontiac Firehawk

The 1991 and 1992 Pontiac Firehawk 

When Pontiac was ready to give their sports car a boost in the right direction, they looked to the SLP company. Starting in 1987, SLP has been a huge contributor to high-performance parts for vehicles of all kinds. 

Pontiac just didn’t place some of the SLP high-performance parts on the soon-to-be Firehawk, instead, the two companies joined together to create a new performance RPO code name B4U or better known as the Pontiac Firehawk. 

Built off the Firebird trim package, this Pontiac received an L98 350 V8 engine that pumped out 360 horsepower 390 lb.-ft. of torque thanks mostly to upgraded pistons, intake, exhaust, and a set of well-ported heads.

Other upgrades included:

  • C4 Corvette ZF 6-speed manual transmission 
  • Aluminum driveshaft
  • Limited-slip differential 
  • 275/40-17 tires

Firehawk $9,000 option
  • Recaro front seats
  • Aluminum hood
  • Roll Cage
  • Five-point harnesses 
  • Stiffer bushings for the rear control arms
  • Brembo® brakes
  • Optional fuel cell

Performance Results 

There are no official times that any one source can tie down as a positive, but an easy 13-second quarter-mile time at 106 mph seems to be about on target with its 4.6 seconds 0-60 mph times.  


Production Numbers

Between the ‘91 and '92 third-generation Firehawks, a total of 25 were built. The first eight Firehawks were built as 1991 Pontiac Firehawks, and the last 17 were built as 1992 Firehawks. 

Fourth-Generation: Pontiac Firehawk 1993

93 Pontiac Firehawk

The first Firehawks were so well-received there was no doubt Pontiac was going to carry the nameplate over to the fourth-generation Firebirds. Unfortunately, these Firehawks would receive fewer upgrades from the original ‘93 Firebird Formula. Most people believe it was to not take too much away from the new-generation look and drivetrain. 

Fourth-Generation Firehawk Upgrades

With both Camaro Z28 and Firebird Formula now receiving the new LT1 that Corvette started using just one year earlier, more power became a little bit more achievable. In stock form, the 5.7-liter LT1 engine would make 275 horsepower. With some special Firehawk tuning, the LT1’s power was boosted to 300 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque. 


Other Upgrades Included: 

  • Lightweight composite hood with functional CAI ram air
  • Firehawk graphics
  • Stainless exhaust tips
  • 17-inch x 8-½-inch aluminum alloy wheels
  • P275/40ZR17 Firestone Firehawk tires
  • 201 Firehawks produced in 1993 with the RPO code of R6V

1994 Pontiac Firehawk 

1994 Firehawk

These fourth-gen Firehawks would get an increase of 15 horsepower and an increase of 5 lb.-ft. of torque from the previous year. The increase was achieved thanks to a 3-inch dual system with a less restrictive muffler. You were also able to option up a Level II Bilstein suspension package for some great handling attributes and better launches. 

1995 Pontiac Firehawk

95 Pontiac Firehawk Convertible

Although mostly unchanged from the previous year, Pontiac did make a move that made the Firehawk more desirable to a wider audience. For the first time, a Firehawk buyer had the option of purchasing one in a convertible configuration. In fact, 102 convertibles were said to be built for ‘95. Unfortunately, although the convertible Firehawk received all the other performance upgrades as the other Firehawks, they were unable to be ordered with the Level II Bilstein Sport Suspension. 

1996 Pontiac Firehawk 

1996 Pontiac Firehawk

1996 was a low production year for the Firehawk due to the interest that SLP found in the WS6 Ram Air Pontiacs and Camaro SS. Only 41 were produced, but the nice thing was that the Firehawk performance package ended up costing less than it did the previous year. 

1997 Pontiac Firehawk 

97 Pontiac Fire Hawk

1997 was another special year for the Firehawks. Although it is unknown how many were produced, 29 were produced with a Corvette LT4 engine. Since in ‘97, Corvette had moved on to the new and improved LS1 engine, there were extra LT4 engines left over. Some of those engines went into the ‘97 Camaro SS SLP Edition, and the others went into the Firehawk. Other than the bigger engine package, not much changed from ‘96 to the ‘97 for the Firehawk.  

LT4 engine


Some More Upgrades Through The Fourth-Generation Years That Could Be Order Depending On Year And Configuration Were:

  • Engine Oil Cooler Package
  • Performance Lubricants Package with synthetic rear axle lube, semi-synthetic power steering fluid, and premium quality synthetic media engine oil filter
  • Torsen Limited Slip Differential (includes Performance Lubricants Package)
  • SLP Hurst short throw shifter with H-shift knob
  • American Racing Equipment chrome-plated aluminum wheels
  • LT4 Engine Upgrade (only for ‘97) 

1998 Pontiac Firehawk 


No Firehawks were made in anticipation of a big entrance for ‘99.

1999-2002 Pontiac Firehawk

1999 Pontiac Firehwawk

These generation Pontiac Firehawks would get the brand new Formula/Trans Am bodystyle. Outside of their Firehawk emblems and sometimes different rims, there was one sure way you could tell a Firehawk apart from a Pontiac Formula or Trans Am, and that was the Ram Air Induction. All Firehawks had a distinctive ram air with two solid hood scoops for the induction system, whereas the Formula and Trans Am ordered with the WS6 Ram Air package had a hood that looked like it had four air inlets. 

The big changes for the ‘99-’02 Firehawks were the horsepower, a selection of suspension upgrades, and the chance to finally get a Firehawk in a Trans Am trim. Thanks to the success of the LS1 engines, Firehawk Trans Ams were popping up all over the place, and they were mighty feared competitors on the streets. Horsepower changes for those years are as follows: 

  • 1999 - 327 horsepower
  • 2000 - 330 horsepower 
  • 2001 - 335 horsepower
  • 2022 - 345 horsepower  

99 Pontiac Firehawk Burnt Orange

As The F-bodies Fade Away  

It was sad to say goodbye to the F-bodies and Pontiacs in general. The Chevrolet Camaro came back to life, but it will soon disappear as well. It’s gems like these that need to be preserved, and although it's hard to find a Firehawk for a good price, they are still out there and probably worth the high price tag that car enthusiasts are asking. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Pontiac GTO: Years 2004-2005-2006


'70 GTO, Pontiac GTO

Muscle Car Pontiac GTOs of the '60s and '70s

When car enthusiasts hear the name Pontiac GTO, they most likely think of the GTOs from back in the '60s and '70s. You know, back when the cars had heavy steel bodies and big cubic-inch motors. 

It stands to reason why that is, for many years the GTOs were some of the most popular muscles cars that were being purchased in the '60s and '70s. But like with all of the other muscle cars of that time, the Pontiac GTO received the ax for more fuel-efficient vehicles. 

1971 was the last year for the Pontiac GTO Judge, and 1972 was the last you could buy a GTO with a real classic muscle car look. Although by 1971, GM had already started detuning their cars and running them as unleaded vehicles to comply with emissions, they still had the muscles car look until '73. 

73 GTO

The 1973 Pontiac GTO (above) brought about a new body style that just did not look good and wasn't popular back then and or now. Pontiac tried to revamp the old look for 1974 (below), but by then the muscle car era was over and so was the GTO vibe. 

1974 Pontiac GTO

21st Generation GTO

21st GTO

The Pontiac GTO was one of the lucky few muscle cars that got a chance to be reborn in the 21st century. For the years 2004, 2005, and 2006, Pontiac brought back the muscle car legend. With LS1 technology, a roomy interior, and a sporty exterior just like the old GTO, the new GTO was a great tribute to what the Pontiac GTO was and is still all about.

2005 Pontiac GTO

LS1 GTO Engine Bay

In 2004, the Pontiac GTO came with a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 rated at 350 horsepower and 365 ft.-lb. of torque. You could either order one with a 6-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. These days, being happy with a quarter-mile time of 14.3-14.0 flat doesn't sound too impressive, but 17 years ago, that was pretty good for a sedan. 

2005-2006 Pontiac GTO

2006 Pontiac GTO

For 2005 and 2006, the Pontiac GTO would keep the transmission options the same but get an engine upgrade. GM decided on putting a 
6.0-liter LS2 motor in the new-generation GOAT that produced 400 horsepower and 400 ft.-lb. of torque. This new setup managed to cut off about half of a second in quarter-mile time and even more if you had some aftermarket performance parts bolted on. Some mostly stock GTOs seen times slips that dropped into the low-13 second range. 

Lack Luster GTO Suspension

Poor 2004, 2005, and 2006 Pontiac GTO Suspension

Unfortunately, the 2004 Pontiac GTO suspension performance was found to be a little less than impressive. They had sluggish reflexes, excessive body roll, and weak brakes. When the sports sedan received the LS2 for the 2005-2006 models, the brakes got upgraded, but the GTO still suffered from a weak suspension. The good news is there are plenty of aftermarket bolt-on suspension parts that can easily be installed in your driveway over a weekend to help fix many of the suspension problems.

The GTO: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Front-End Ram Air Pontiac GTO

With the various amount of cool colors to shop for, an optional ram air hood that could have been ordered, 15 or 16-inch rims, and a standard retro-looking Pontiac split front grill, the GTO is a good-looking sedan that some might not even recognize as a modern muscle car. 

There is one downfall that turned many consumers off, and that was the price tag. Unfortunately, you could buy a Trans Am, Camaro Z28, or Mustang for the price of a brand new Pontiac GTO. 

Fifth Generation GTO vs Trans Am

One of the nice things about the Pontiac GTO is that if you are looking to buy one now, you should be able to find one for a good price. I've priced them anywhere from around $9,500-$20,000 - depending on mileage and shape - a far cry from the 30k price tag they originally came with. 

On the low end of the price range, most of the Pontiac GTOs had high mileage, but I would not let that deter anyone. Cars these days, if taken care of properly can last for a long time.

In the end, the 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO is a great buy for car enthusiasts that really like the technology of the LS1/LS2 motor. With all of the performance capabilities and aftermarket parts for LS engine setups, the GTO is a perfect car for someone who is looking for something that can be fast, but at the same time, reasonable and practical.