The 1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was the performance model of the Firebird line of cars produced by the Pontiac Division of General Motors. The 1983 model was part of the 1982 to 1992 third generation Firebirds that shared more mechanical components with their sibling, the Camaro, than previous generations. In 1983, the Firebird was no longer equipped with Pontiac engines, but with Chevy powerplants.
The Pontiac Firebird debuted in 1967 alongside the Camaro. The Firebird Trans Am appeared in 1969 and continued until the Firebird ended production in 2002. The second generation Firebird’s lifespan was especially lengthy, running from 1970 to 1981, and was long in the tooth by the time Pontiac management decided on a body change, according to Transamworld.com and Edmunds.com. To trim production costs, however, more than 60 percent of the components were shared with the Chevy Camaro, which distanced the Firebird from is roots and led to its gradual loss of its own identity.
The Trans Am
The Trans Am was the top level model of the Firebird line. There was also the base Firebird and the mid-level Firebird S/E. The Trans Am was once all about performance, but by 1983 Pontiac focused on body construction and handling and ignored power. The main characteristics that differentiated the third generation Pontiac Firebirds from previous models were the extreme 60-degree slope of the windshield, the all-glass hatchback and the pop-up headlamps. The all-new 1982 Firebird got off to a quick start with a total of 116,364 produced, including 52,962 Trans Ams. Sales fell off in 1983 with a total of 74,884 Firebirds produced, including 31,930 Trans Ams.
Under the Hood
Looking under the 1983 Trans Am’s hood was not a pretty sight. Gone was the big Pontiac 200-horsepower 6.6-liter V-8 found in second generation Trans Ams, and in its place was Chevy's 180- or 190-horsepower 5.5-liter V-8. The saving grace was the 190-hp version, with the in-house identification of L69, that came with a four-barrel carburetor.
Highly sought among collectors is the Trans Am Daytona Edition. The 1983 Trans Am was selected as the pace car for the Daytona 500. Only 2,500 1983 Daytona Editions were produced. The Daytona Edition was equipped with full body ground-effect skirts, molded plastic panels replacing traditional front bumper grilles, special "Trans Am" script on the right panel, a charcoal-and-white paint scheme, Recaro leather seats, interior leather accents, backlit red gauges and “Daytona 500” graphics. It was powered by the fuel-injected or carbureted 5.5-liter V-8.
Performance and Popularity
The 1983 Trans Am helped revive the Firebird line. Buyers had come to expect that they were getting less bang for the buck in terms of power, but the fresh body styling and solid handling on the corners and the open highway allowed the 1983 Trans Am to post solid sales numbers. The trend continued through the mid-1980s when Firebird sales began to fall and Trans Am numbers dropped like a rock. By 1992, the last year of the third generation Trans Am, less than 1,000 Trans Am coupes were sold.
Body Differences Between a Firebird & a Trans Am
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L69 H.O. Engine Specs
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1979 Pontiac Trans-Am Specs
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