The year 2002 seems like a lifetime ago, and the world was certainly different; cars were lighter, less expensive and we were more impressed with half of the power output than what we have today. Back then 325-350hp was a lot, especially from a naturally-aspirated pushrod V8.
When GM first unleashed the LS1 in the 1997 Corvette, it set the world on fire. At first, there was some skepticism and some recoil from engine builders and tuners alike. The engine was all-new, there was virtually nothing available for it from the aftermarket, and you could forget about tuning it.
Thankfully, the aftermarket was quick to respond and look where we are today. Enthusiasts are not one building and tuning them, but they’re pulling them out of junkyards and donor vehicles on a regular basis to swap into older vehicles. If you need further proof, you should check out Holley’s LS Fest sometime.
Back to the story at hand; the Firebird and its bowtie cousin, the Camaro, received the LS1 powerplant in 1998. Although the engine that sat between its flanks quickly caught on, it didn’t do much for F-body sales, as they’ve dwindled to levels inconceivable just a decade earlier.
It’s been argued that the final iteration of the Pontiac Trans Am was the most aggressively styled, best-looking, and best all-around performer out of all of them. It provided 0-60 times in 5-seconds flat, ran low-13s in the quarter-mile and topped out at around 160mph. Toss in world-class reliability and nearly 30mpg on the highway, decent luxury amenities for the era, and a whole lot of character, and there’s little reason not to consider it a future classic.
Combustion Chamber’s Casey Porter takes us for a ride in a 2002 Trans Am WS6, titled to a Florida resident who has owned the car since brand new. Dubbed “The Last of the Breed” by many Firebird collectors, as well as the Morgan Designs fender badges, it’s a car that would certainly make you reconsider using it for its donor engine.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.