It helps you appreciate how revolutionary the car really was.
Too often we fail to remember or learn (depending on how old you are) the true importance of certain classic muscle cars. There have been many revolutionary models out there, but one of the most impactful was the 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. It was a dramatic reworking of a classic and helped to re-establish American muscle culture at a time it was admittedly struggling. It’s no small wonder why KITT from Knight Rider was a third-gen Trans Am, the car was that inspiring.
You can watch the MotorWeekreview of the ’82 Trans Am, which is accompanying this article. It’s a nice glimpse of how professional reviewers regarded the car back in the day. They first acknowledge Pontiac’s heritage, which included the brand sitting at the forefront of the muscle car glory days back in the late 60s and early 70s.
From there is an acknowledgment the Trans Am shared many parts as well as a platform with the Chevy Camaro Z28. But they didn’t drive or feel like the same car, thanks to Pontiac’s willingness to tune and configure the different components in a unique way. In fact, MotorWeek praises it as the best-handling car made in America.
While the 1982 model year marked the introduction of a new, very different generation for the Trans Am, it was in 1985 when a big leap forward was made by Pontiac. Multi-port EFI allowed the muscle car to punch past 200-horsepower. Just two years later, the 350 dropped as well as the GTA package. This is where the Trans Am yet again was regarded as the ultimate bad boy car.
Pontiac wasn’t done pushing the third-gen F-body to new heights. The ’89 20th Anniversary model really punched things up with the turbo 3.8-liter V6, officially making it the most powerful Trans Am model since the ’74 Super Duty 455.
Today, we’re seeing the values of these third-gen Pontiac Trans Ams going up pretty steadily. There’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to rise for some time, thanks to their representing a return to form for American muscle.