If there’s any one car that looks like a dragon, it’s the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6. The split grille looks like the massive snout of a fire breathing dragon. If you took the Firebird emblem as a dragon instead of a bird, this is exactly the car you would imagine a Firebird to be. Pontiac came out with the Firebird WS6 in 1998 and continued to produce it until 2002.
While the car was popular and highly sought after by any young kid who wanted a tire-shredding, rear-wheel-drive monster of a car. It was and will forever be overshadowed by the sports cars from other General Motor's brands like Chevrolet. However, it was a truly amazing car, and it deserves proper recognition.
What Made the Firebird Trans Am WS6 Special?
The best thing about the WS6 other than its outlandish styling was its 5.7-liter LS1 V8. Yep, this thing used the same engine as the Corvette, and it could be had with either an automatic or manual transmission. It made 320 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque, and it could shoot the rather large sports car from 0-60 in about five seconds. The vehicle also came with a sporty suspension that made it a very good road car. Pair all that with the deep rumble of the exhaust and the car was the immediate favorite of anyone who had something to prove and was too anti-mainstream to go with the Corvette or Camaro. The car was available in different forms over the course of its lifetime, including coupe, T-top, and convertible.
As time went on, tuners figured out how to get over 500 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque out of its big V8, giving the WS6 a special reputation in certain circles. While enthusiasts know all about this car, it’s the kind of vehicle that anyone can look at and tell it's fast. The vehicle was so over the top with its snouty nose and curvaceous fenders that even someone without any car knowledge knew it was something special.
Still, despite this, the WS6 hasn’t reached the level of respect that other General Motors cars have with the general public. Blame Pontiac’s marketing department if you will, but it was more General Motors as a whole failing to give Pontiac
Why It’s Worth Remembering
The WS6 is worth remembering because it’s a performance car that put out excellent numbers for the time and had some seriously eye-catching styling. It deserves some recognition because even today the car’s styling, sound, and power are enough to put a smile on any enthusiast or and child’s face. It’s the car that so many kids saw when they were young and thought, “That’s the car I want to own.”
It’s also worth remembering because Pontiac is worth remembering. Pontiac was in a weird place in the GM hierarchy. It was in many ways placed above Chevrolet on the prestige scale, but GM never let it reach the level that GMC, Buick, or Cadillac sits at. It was in some ways like Mercury, and like Ford’s mid-range brand, it got stuck rebadging a lot of Chevrolet’s cars with slightly better interiors, styling, and amenities. And, like Mercury, the parent company shut it down.
The WS6 was, however, special, but it still wasn't supposed to be better than Chevrolet's crown jewel, the Corvette. It took the Firebird name to a whole new level by reworking a Camaro body, putting the LS1 under the hood, and it gave Pontiac a car that could compete with the Corvette and the top tier Camaros. Pair that with the car’s unique styling and the venerable Firebird name and you had a car that was worthy of praise and still is.
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