Back in the days of LS1 F-Body production, MotorWeek got the scoop on the comparison between a 1969 Pontiac Trans Am and a 1999 30th-Anniversary Trans Am. Obviously, the eye candy in the video makes it worth a gander, but it’s also interesting to look back on the video 17 years later. It gives us some insight on how we saw cars in the late-90s, and how much it’s changed.
In 1999, we didn’t really expect the 30th-Anniversary Edition Trans Am to be the last [actual] Anniversary Trans Am made. Sure, rumors were starting to brew about the discontinuation of the F-Body, but we all thought ‘it could never happen,’ not to our beloved cars. Never could we have thought that in 2016, not only would the Firebird/Trans Am be obsolete, but the entire Pontiac brand would be wiped off the map for some years now.
Let’s put that depressing fact aside and go back to happier times. MotorWeek was able to pull out a very well-maintained 1969 Trans Am to compare it to the ‘new’ (at the time) 1999 Anniversary Trans Am. We all know the colors by now, the pearl white with blue stripes, but it’s still cool to see the classic and modern cars sharing the same space. MotorWeek points out that the 1969 was made before the times of aerodynamics and crumple-zoned bumpers. The appearances, while starkly different in some ways, were the least different things about the cars. Everything else couldn’t be more different.
The 1969 packs a carb’ed L74 400 cu. in. V8 under the hood that makes 355hp, in sixties horsepower terms. These cars would get either a 4-speed manual, or 3-speed auto. The 1999 Trans Am had the fuel-injected LS1, 346 cu. in. V8, rated at a more accurate 320hp. These got the 4L60E 4-speed automatic or T-56 6-speed manual.
Now, here’s where the video got a little side eye from your author (probably you too if you own an LS1 F-Body) — it’s quoted as reaching 60mph in 5.8 seconds and ‘roars’ through the 1/4-mile at 14.6 seconds. Those numbers are more like 5.2/13.4 to 13.8, conservatively. I can agree with their assessment that the throttle response is exceptional, every LS1 F-Body I’ve driven has a very sensitive pedal (Although MotorWeek has a knack for simply mashing the gas to the floor on launch, on unprepared surfaces without much finesse. -Ed.).
They quote the ’69 as reaching 60mph in 6.4 seconds and running a 14.7-second quarter-mile. This seems a little off as well, but without a really good source, we’ll let them have it. Handling is where the comparison showed the 1969’s age. The ’99 was quite nimble in comparison, it also had a much better stopping ability. That’s what three decades of development will provide.
The older model scored a few points for having a more open interior, and enough room in the back for two adults to seat comfortably. Then it kind of lost them by having a substandard dash/control panel, and the lack of comfortable, passenger hugging seats.
The comparison wasn’t really fair to either car. It’s not an apples-to-apples look, each car is wonderful for different reasons. It would be a seriously hard choice between the two, if money and collector’s value/rareness weren’t in play.
MotorWeek ends the video with the haunting note that it was time to get a 1999 Anniversary model, because there wouldn’t be another one for at least five years (it didn’t even make it that long), if ever, and now we know there never was another Anniversary Trans Am after that.
Elizabeth is a hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!