In this video by MotorWeek, they take us back to the final year of the ’80s with the 20th-Anniversary ’89 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am. Known simply as the TTA in car circles, MW gives us this awesome throwback of a road test with the 20th-ann TTA back in when it was brand new.
While the TTA appears to resemble Pontiac’s top-of-the-line GTA model, it has many different features. One big difference between the two is the powerplant. Instead of the 5.7-L V8 engine used in the GTA models, the 20th-anniversary TA was given a turbocharged 3.8L V-6 found in the Buick Grand National but with new heads, pistons, oil cooler and much larger intercooler. While these mods were mostly installed for reliability and packaging reasons, it definitely didn’t hurt the performance department. The turbo V-6 spins out an underrated 250 horsepower and 348 lb-ft. of torque.
If you pay attention to the details, it’s easy to spot a TTA over the normal GTA that its based upon. Details such as a 20th-anniversary emblem on the nose, “TURBO Trans Am” badges on the fenders, Indianapolis 500 logos on rocker extensions and the “TURBO” callout on the rear valance panel between the taillights and above the bird. Other goodies included T-tops and leather seats on most of the 1,555 examples, although 50 were ordered as hardtops and only two convertible versions were produced.
The car was only available in a white exterior, camel-colored interior and with the 2004R 4-speed automatic. Door decals were available depicting the “Official Pace Car 73rd Indianapolis 500 – May 28, 1989” callouts which was an owner-installed option, but many opted to do so. We feel that the car is cool enough without the Pace Car decal. There is hardly a difference in the interior from the GTA except for the addition of a turbo boost gauge.
In regards to performance, this turbo’d six reaches 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds and dominates the quarter-mile in 13.3 at over 100 mph. This particular tester apparently wasn’t running as well as it should have, clocking a 14.2-seconds at 96 miles per hour in the 1320.’ Braking from 60 miles per hour is reached in 137 feet with four-wheel disc brakes. In their testing, Motorweek claimed that turbo lag and heavy vibrations were made known during hard acceleration. While most car buyers who opted for a TTA probably didn’t get it for good EPA, the car provided its owner with economy 16 city and 24 highway.
According to the video, the car gripped much like a Corvette with crisp, positive power steering on the twisty Georgia road course. From a performance standpoint, it was said to be much like the Chevy Corvette L98 but costs less and is much more unique (normally faster, too -Ed.). A cheaper option would be the Dodge Daytona, but the 20th-anniversary TA is much more exclusive, more powerful, and in our opinion, a heckuva-lot cooler! The 20th-ann TA started out at about $29,000.
Amie became a fan of fine machinery as a kid thanks to her dad; a pilot and professional skydiver, and was always there to help tinker around on Cessnas and old Chevys. Amie has been writing in the automotive field for years on all makes and models.