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Pontiac Firebird



History

3rd Generation

1982-1992






Introduction: The third generation Firebird was all new in many ways from the previous generation. A full unibody hatchback body replaced the subframe construction of the second generation and the Firebird received all new sheetmetal that greatly differentiated it from the Camaro. However, under the skin, the Firebird was now even more like the Camaro, and would use GM corporate engines (which were really Chevy engines) instead of the previous Pontiac engines. A large part of its uniqueness was gone.


1982 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: The third generation Firebird was introduced in 1982 featuring all new sheetmetal. The front end sported hidden headlights and sleak styling. The model lineup was simplified to Base, luxury-oriented S/E and Trans Am. Base cars started with the obnoxiously loud, rough, and underpowered "Iron Duke" 2.5 liter OHV inline four cylinder engine rated at a truly pathetic 90 bhp. Most buyers wisely opted for either the S/E's standard 2.8 liter OHV V6 rated at a still-pathetic 105 bhp or one of the V8s. Optional in the Base and S/E models and standard in the Trans Am was a 5.0 liter (305 cid) V8 with four barrel carb rated at 145 bhp and which could be matched up to either a four-speed manual transmission or three-speed automatic. Optional in the Trans Am was the trouble-plagued "Cross-Fire Injection" version of the engine which used Throttle Body Injection to crank out 165 bhp, but it was only available with the automatic transmission. But the big news for Firebird fans was the debut of "Kitt", a talking Black Trans Am that could out-act David Hasselhoff on the hit TV show "Kight Ridder", which further increased the Firebird's popularity.

Production:
Engines: 2.5 liter I4 90 bhp. 2.8 liter V6 105 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. 5.0 liter ("Cross-Fire Injection) V8 165 bhp.
Performance:


1983 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: Not much changed visually for 1983, but under the hood, things were definitely improving. The S/E's V6 saw its output rise to 125 bhp and a five-speed manual was now available. A new "L69" 5.0 liter V8 with four barrel carb appeared mid-year with available five-speed manual rated at a somewhat respectable 190 bhp. A new four speed automatic transmission also was available.

Production:
Engines: 2.5 liter I4 90 bhp. 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. 5.0 liter ("Cross-Fire Injection) V8 165 bhp. L69 5.0 liter V8 190 bhp.
Performance:


1984 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: Not much changed for 1984 except for the expanded availability of the L69 engine and the discontinuation of the Cross-Fire Injection V8. A special white with blue trim 15th Anniversary Trans Am was offered that featured Recarro seats.

Production:
Engines: 2.5 liter I4 90 bhp. 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. L69 5.0 liter V8 190 bhp.
Performance:


1985 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: The 1985 Firebird featured a restyled nose, new taillights, and full rocker and quarter panel extensions on the Trans Am to give it a more aggressive appearance. The 5.0 liter V8 was now available with Tuned Port Injection (TPI) which allowed it to produce 205 bhp, although it could only be equiped with the four-speed automatic. A new WS6 suspension package was made available on the Trans Am, which also included 16-inch wheels with huge P245/50VR16 Goodyear "Gatorback" tires.

Production:
Engines: 2.5 liter I4 90 bhp. 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp.
Performance:


1986 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: An ugly Federally Mandated Center High Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL) installed in a blister atop the rear hatch's glass was the only real change for 1986.

Production:
Engines: 2.5 liter I4 90 bhp. 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp.
Performance:


1987 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: A new 5.7 liter (350 cid) V8 with Throttle Body Injection was the big news for 1987. Although rated at just 210 bhp (15 less than the Camaro due to a more restrictive intake), and only available with the four speed automatic transmission, the engine's high torque rating and flexibility made it the best engine ever yet installed in a 3rd generation Firebird. Furthermore, the 5.0 liter TPI engine was now available with a manual transmission. To further improve the Firebird, Pontiac eliminated the S/E model, the CHMSL bump (it was now incorporated into the spoiler), and the pathetic four cylinder engine. A new budget performance model, the Formula 305, joined the lineup as well as a new top of the line Trans Am called the GTA.

Production:
Engines: 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter V8 145 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance:


1988 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: There were a few changes for 1988 including a new steering wheel, new wheels for the Formulas, and new radios. The carbureted 5.0 V8 finally disappeared.

Production:
Engines: 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance:


1989 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: Pontiac created a special 20th Anniversary edition Trans Am for 1989 by raiding the Buick parts bin. Pontiac took the Buick turbo-charged 3.8 liter V6 (which had gained fame under the hoods of Buick Gran Nationals and GNX), modified the cylinder heads and turbo plumbing, and squeezed it into the Firebird engine bay and hooked it up to a mandatory four-speed automatic transmission. Pontiac conservatively rated the engine at 250 bhp, but most independent testers felt that it made more. This turbo charged beast was relatively easy to live with and truly fast. Furthermore, Trans Am GTAs could also be ordered with a notchback-style hatch, that gave the car the look of a coupe.

Production:
Engines: 2.8 liter V6 125 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance: 3.8/250: 1/4 mile in 14.2 seconds @ 97.8 mph.


1990 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: The Buick turbo-charged engine was dropped, so Firebirds reverted back to their regular engine choices. The base V6 was enlarged to 3.1 liters and rated at 135 bhp.

Production:
Engines: 3.1 liter V6 135 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance:


1991 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: A new nose was introduced for 1991; some thought it was ugly, others thought it made the Firebird more aggressive. The big news was the return of the convertible Firebird, the first since 1969. Everything else was carry over.

Production:
Engines: 3.1 liter V6 135 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 205 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance:


1992 Pontiac Firebird






Comments: There were only small changes for the 1992 Firebird, the last year of the 3rd generation. GM added some adhesive to the joints and panels of the car's structure to quiet squeaks and rattles, and the Performance Equipment Group boosted the TPI 5.7 liter V8 to 230 bhp.

Production:
Engines: 3.1 liter V6 135 bhp. 5.0 liter TPI V8 230 bhp. 5.7 liter TPI V8 210 bhp.
Performance:








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