Say hello to the Black Bird.
Both Pontiac and its legendary Firebird Trans Am are no more. They've been gone for several years now and many longtime enthusiasts still have not forgiven GM for eliminating the "excitement brand." In the end, however, it was probably for the best. For the last several years of its life, Pontiac models were largely badge-engineered Chevys with often times way too much body cladding. The sole exceptions were the Pontiac G8 and GTO, a rebadged Holden Commodore and Monaro, respectively, and the Opel-based Solstice. All three were too little too late.
Despite everything, Firebird fans remained extremely loyal even as it was discontinued in 2002. Yep, it's been 18 years now, if you can believe it. And for that final model year, Pontiac offered the Collector's Edition Trans Am, powered by a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine. It wasn't a bad way to go out, but it could have been better. And fortunately, that's where Marietta, Georgia-based GMMG comes into the picture.
This outfit was basically an aftermarket tuner run by a guy named Matt Murphy whose previous work saw him as a regional manager for SLP (Street Legal Performance) Engineering. Although Murphy was a Chevrolet Camaro guy, he certainly knew his way around Firebirds just fine. And then Carl Black from Carl Black Automotive gave him a call. In 2001, Black's Pontiac dealership managed to sell 80 factory-built Ram Air Firebirds. He also previously sold several SLP Firehawk Trans Am muscle cars.
Smelling opportunity, Black figured there was a small but anxious market for an even better Firebird send-off than what Pontiac was offering. GMMG was hired for the task. Working with both the Camaro and Firebird teams at GM, GMMG wanted to create a car that still stayed within GM's warranty requirements.
The resulting modifications included improvements on both the induction and exhaust sides, adjusted fuel and spark timing, Eibach lowering springs up front, dimpled brake rotors, 17-inch wheels, and hooded racing stripes. As a finishing touch, the team also swapped out the factory emblems in place of Black Bird badges. Output from the LS1 V8 came to a stout 380 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque; great numbers for 2002. Buyers could choose between a Tremec six-speed manual or an automated four-speed slushbox. Hurst shifters were also used. All in, the WS6 Black Bird with Ram Air was capable of doing 12-second quarter-mile times at about 110 mph.
The price at the time came to $39,980, compared to the stock Firebird WS6's original $31,250 price tag.
There was also an optional Phase II performance upgrade for a new total of 435 hp for another $9,620. Only eight examples were built, and No. five happens to be for sale on Craigslist right now. And yes, this one has the far more desirable six-speed. If that wasn't enough, this T-top Blackbird Trans Am has just over 14,000 miles and appears to be in overall excellent condition. The seller adds that everything works as it should, including the fantastic pop-up headlights.
For any Pontiac Firebird fan seeking something truly special, look no further.