Images are from the brochure collection of Hemmings Motor News, courtesy of Bruce Zahor.
Consider the state of the American performance car at the turn of the century. Dodge’s V-10-powered Viper was the horsepower champion at 450, with the limited-production Ford Mustang Cobra R’s 385 hp second, and Chevy’s regular production Corvette’s coming in a distant third at 345 hp. Nineteen years ago, 300 hp was a pretty high bar, and there weren’t many domestic cars that could ante up: Cadillac’s Northstar V-8 made just that; Chevrolet’s Camaro SS claimed 320, the same figure Ford’s Mustang Cobra was said to make (but was famously disputed) the year prior.
There was no dispute over the 320-hp Firebird Formula and Trans Am sharing the WS6 Ram Air package. While these models were notably facelifted for 1998, Pontiac’s still-slinky fourth-generation F-body was in its eighth (!!) model year for 2000. Carried over in a good way was that RPO WS6 Ram Air package, optional since 1996. This added 15 horsepower and 10 lb-ft of torque to the Corvette-derived aluminum LS1 V-8’s 305 hp/335 lb-ft by better breathing through the hood-ducted air intake; also part of this package were numerous upgraded suspension components and 17 x 9-inch alloys with Z-rated performance tires.
This top-of-the-line Trans Am was powerful enough that Pontiac marketers felt justifiably proud to look back 31 years to the original 1969 Trans Am in this brochure, a car that still cuts a mean figure. Of course, they’d done this in more blatant form with the blue-on-white 1994 Trans Am GTA 25th Anniversary Edition and 1999 30th Anniversary Edition.
The aerodynamic body shape and up-to-date braking and suspension components were called out on the pages promoting the standard Firebird, which was motivated by GM’s ubiquitous Series II “3800” 3.8-liter V-6, here making 200 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. This model could be tricked out with a Sport Appearance package and 3800 V6 Performance package to add some style and snort.
The attractive, low-production convertible variant remained available in Firebird and Trans Am trims, while the T-top Hatch Roof was available for Firebird and Formula coupes, and standard on Trans Ams.
The 2+2 interior sported a full complement of gauges, standard leather upholstery on Trans Ams, and a choice of five AM/FM/CD stereo systems.
A unique aspect of this brochure was its calendar page, showing highlighted dates representing 2000’s appearances of Firebird-based drag racers and circle-track NASCAR racers. Indeed, this Pontiac’s involvement in competition was stressed throughout the publication, bestowing upon the street car a genuine “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” halo.
Around 32,000 examples were built for 2000, but sadly, the Firebird, Formula, and Trans Am would disappear altogether after 2002, their slot in Pontiac’s lineup taken by the controversial Aztek. And while the Camaro would be reborn for 2010, the demise of GM’s Pontiac Motor Division meant this fourth-generation Firebird was the model’s swan song.
Have you ever driven a fourth-gen Firebird?
Excuse the limitations of our scanner, and click on the brochure images below to enlarge.