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Firebird Trans Am
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  Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1969
Numbers built:697
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 02, 2005
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the launch of the Ford Mustang in 1964 a new class of vehicles was created; the 'Pony Cars.' Coincidently these new cars fitted perfectly in a racing class for affordable and 'compact' cars. Until the Mustang joined in, the series was not very exciting. By the end of the 1960s the championship was known as the Trans Am challenge and was hugely popular with both the crowds and the manufacturers. Both General Motors and Chrysler had joined in and launched Pony Cars of their own.

Together with Chevrolet's Camaro, Pontiac launched the Firebird in 1967. Both cars were virtually identical, except for the front facia and trim levels. The car followed the design standards set by the Mustang, with a fairly compact body, independent front suspension and a live rear axle. To homologate the Camaro for the Trans Am championship the Z28 5 litre car was constructed, which joined Ford's Mustang Boss 302. Claiming that Camaros and Firebirds were almost identical, GM received homologation for the Firebird as well. It was in everybody's best interest to have as many manufacturers as possible participate.

To celebrate the Firebird's entry in the Trans Am championship a special commemorative version was constructed. Every 'Firebird Trans Am' was livered in white with two blue racing stripes. Unlike the Z28 and Boss 302, the Trans Am was not a homologation special, with its 6.5 litre engine. Equipped with the RAM cold air induction setup, the big V8 engine produced around 335 bhp and almost 600 Nm torque. At the end of 1969, a new generation of the Firebird was unveiled, which also meant the end of the first Firebird Trans Am.

With only 697 examples produced, the 1969 Firebird Trans Am is relatively rare. In recent years prices for muscle and pony cars have surged to stunning levels, with the 'baby boomers' buying back the cars they had in their teens. Special editions like the Trans Am shift hands for money previously only coughed up for European exotics.

Featured is a highly original example preserved by General Motors in their newly opened Heritage Center.

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  Article Image gallery (6) Specifications