Before you buy a 1996–2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6, here’s what to look for


Although it charged out of the gate with great looks and some potent engine options, like the 325-horsepower 400-cu-inch Ram Air V-8, the Pontiac Firebird always seemed to play second fiddle to its more GM pony car stablemate, the Chevrolet Camaro. The flamboyant 1969 Trans Am began to change things at the end of the first-generation’s production, although even as the second-generation upped the power and cubes, no amount of hood scoops, shaker or otherwise, could draw buyers in like the Bow Tie brand.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/11/13/pontiac-trans-am-ws6-buyers-guide


Ok, for starters the Firehawk was rated higher hp and torque than WS6 in all years of production, and was slightly quicker. SLP was responsible for WS6 hoods and air boxes in 96-97, then ASC got the contract for the 99-02. The reason that SS was faster, was because it probably had the SLP TOTL exhaust. These cars don’t rust behind the rear wheels, because they have plastic bumpers. They rust in front of the rear wheels (behind the doors) and in the wheel wells themselves. The 99s did not have a single exhaust pipe, they always has a dual outlet muffler (only the SLP TOTL exited on one side, but still 2 pipes).


I can vouch for that I have 1987 WS6 LG1 formula valued by Hagerty @ $21,300 in showroom condition. Never raced a cobra so cant say. Very quick car at high end over 123mph and the suspension is amazing very tight doesn’t sway. I won 3rd place at a car show, 2nd went to cobra and 1st went to Roadster. Looking to sell anyone interested?


also fyi there are no modifications on formula all original,


I think that the author pretty much summed it up without getting too pedantic. He did say that the Firehawk was similar, but still a totally different car.

Out of the two, I know I’d much rather have the 'hawk.


I know individual tastes vary, but I think that is a remarkably unattractive vehicle.


The Pontiac looked cool. But a bit much for my old fart self. I bought a 2000 SS 6 speed. God I loved that car.
I installed most of the basic bolt ons. Rear wheel horsepower was exactly 320. Same as the BHP advertised.1/4 time was 13.01. With more 6 speed practice it would have gone well below 13. Or a much younger driver haha.

One day on the turnpike with no other cars I hit 145 and it was still pulling hard. I ran out of room with cars ahead.

Great couple of cars!


It was 1998 that had the single exhaust. It was a 3" single left exit. That exhaust was also the base SS exhaust and was only used for one year like the article says, 1998. The TTOL exhaust was also never on the LS1s and only on the LT1 Firehawks and SSs, not WS6s.

The episode of the review they referenced was on YouTube at one point though I don’t know if it still is. The SS was faster because it was lighter than the T/A. The Formula is more comparable to the Camaro in weight since the T/As were heavier. One thing that are not mentioned is ALL LS1 T/A coupes were T-Tops.
Also, there were magazine articles back in the day that had these running 12.9s in the 1/4 and when dynoed, they were putting down 300+ hp to the ground bone stock.


Real world data. Sold my 1996 WS6 Formula 6spd with 26k miles this past May. It was all original and in like new condition. It was bright red with no T-tops. Bought it for $13K back in 2003 from original owner. He also had 3 1LE cars from various years but wouldn’t part with any. Consigned the car for sale and got the $15K I wanted. Don’t know what the consigner actually sold it for but it’s usually 10% or higher. Will miss that car but had to downsize. Only have 1 Pontiac left and I will never sell my 1970 Trans Am.


yeah , this was overall a good article but a bit more attention could have been given to the Firehawks. I have a Firehawk convertible, pretty rare and they are the highest selling of the 4th gens from what Ive seen currently


I actually think that the Firehawk would be better addressed in a separate article. I think that to properly give the attention to the model, it would’ve taken away from the main focus of the article.


Try not to be a disrespectful idiot when writing about cars. It’s not a “screaming chicken”, it’s a phoenix, but you can call it a phoenix, a bird, or a firebird. Anyone who uses the other term doesn’t understand Firebird history, doesn’t care, or is making fun of the car.


Your passion is inspirational, but as a hardcore Poncho fan, I find nothing derogatory about the term “screaming chicken” in fact I find it endearing. IMHO, calling someone an idiot over that is a toe across the line.


Great, I stand by my statements.


It’s a mistake for “hardcore” Poncho fans to find this term endearing because that can likely only happen if that Poncho fan is not spending enough time around “hardcore” fans of other brands. If he/she were, it would be plainly obvious that the term in question was started by ‘other’ than Poncho fans, is promoted by those non-Poncho fans as a derogatory term, and has been since the 70’s. The fact that many Poncho fans did not notice this and also picked up the use of the term as an endearing descriptor within their Pontiac circles just shows they really didn’t understand what else was going on around them at the time. And, it shows that even in the 70’s Poncho fans didn’t know the true name of the bird, and unknowingly allowed the term to infiltrate their own fan groups. I know, I was there. Owning T/As with the hood Phoenix from the 70’s through today, I can’t count how many hundreds or thousands of times I’ve heard the derogatory term used by non-Poncho fans in a negative and insulting way. Intent is everything. If so-called true or hardcore Poncho fans also use the term, they are only fueling the negatively. They may as well join the bow-tie crowd full-time. Unlike many “hardcore” Poncho (or any make for that matter) fans, I own multiple cars from numerous makes and have love and respect for all of them. The additional perspective I gain from spending quality time with many different make-based groups, allows me to easily see how those different groups “see” the others. The fact is, the fast majority of Chevy fans only hang out with Chevy people, same goes for Pontiac, Ford, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Buick, BMW, etc., etc., the point is unless you have one or more of each of the makes and spend a lot of time with each group you may not fully understand how they feel about other cars and the ways in which they make fun of other cars. “Screaming Chicken” is not a term of admiration, it’s a cut. Most Poncho fans may not understand it fully, at let it fly, but it is meant as an insult. I post similar statements in many Pontiac forums and clubs, so I know there are a good number of “hardcore” Poncho fans who agree.


Agreed MisterTorgue, This is a very well written article and calling the author an idiot, because of the “screaming chicken” reference, just shows his own ignorance. I’m a big trans am fan and I call the phoenix a screaming chicken. Gary Lisk uses the term on his second generation trans am source page. Gary clearly has the utmost respect for the trans am as well.


Mario- I understand there are many T/A fans who use the term, included well respected ones. That doesn’t make any of my statements or the true history of the term less accurate. As I said, anyone who uses the term, no matter how “hardcore” they are or how well-respected they are, doesn’t understand the history of the term. That’s ignorance.


I understand where you’re coming from. It makes sense. But I still think that calling the author ignorant is a bit unfair. You gotta remember, this is a buyers guide. They’re writing to a far less pedantic audience than the die hard T/A fan. The hardcore T/A fan already knows everything contained in the article and doesn’t need all that information or advice on how to buy one. Not worth the argument if you ask me.


If the author (or anyone reading this) reconsiders next time and uses a different term, it’s worth it to me. Besides, Scott has no business writing articles about cars he doesn’t respect or understand.


By calling someone an idiot undercuts everything you have just stated in your lengthy diatribe. It’s ok to disagree or have matters of opinion but try putting your thoughts across in a respectful manner, you will accomplish more. Furthermore I have never heard anyone who used the term “Screaming Chicken” to use it in a Derogatory way.