Versus the competiton:
Breathtaking styling. Ugh!
Sheet metal that`s a work of art. Eeoooww!
The Pontiac Trans Am is one great-looking machine, especially the droptop we tested.
But while admiring this piece of Motown metal, be prepared for a touch of discomfort. The Trans Am is a two-pillow performance coupe, and you must supply the duck down or foam rubber.
A stiff sports suspension complements the 5-liter, 205-horsepower, tuned port-injected V-8. You`ll be whisked from the light at stopwatch-quality speed, but you won`t be cradled over the bumps and tar strips in the road. A ride in the Trans Am will make you appreciate the fate of a beach ball.
The sports suspension hugs the road. It holds you firmly in your seat and fights sway or lean (both the car`s and yours) when you enter and exit the tightest bends in the road like a slingshot. The price you pay for responsive handling in the corners and turns is a roller-coaster ride when the road is straight.
Then, too, the interior of a Trans Am must have been designed by the person who coined the term “petite,“ a polite way of reminding us that hips grow much faster than hair. With the Trans Am convertible, you have a gorgeous hunk of hardware that does little in the way of providing room or comfort.
When the top goes down, however, most of the annoyances don`t seem as troublesome. You`ll still be bent, spindled and subject to a host of gyrations, but the pleasure of open-top motoring will make you less critical of the hardships.
The top is a manual job that requires only undoing the fasteners above the windshield and pushing a button along the rear seat ledge to unhook the rear plastic window and raise the plastic tonneau. The top hides under the tonneau to provide a neat and clean appearance.
The only trouble we had with the cover was that it proved finnicky at times and required more than one push of the button beforeit would open. Once when it did pop up, it did so with enough force that it could have left an indelible impression on any on looker`s chin.
Pontiac offers three convertibles-the Sunbird, Firebird and Trans Am. Sunbird sales are expected to reach 18,000 units in 1991, up from 14,000 last year, and Firebird/Trans Am will be limited to 2,000 units combined.
Though some outside customizers have transformed Firebird coupes into ragtops over the years, Pontiac hasn`t had one of its own in a couple of decades.
The Firebird convertible starts at $19,628. It comes with a 3.1-liter, 140-h.p. V-6 teamed with 4-speed automatic. A 170-h.p. 5-liter throttle-body injected V-8 teamed with 5-speed or automatic is optional.
The Trans Am convertible we drove starts at $22,980. A 205-h.p. tuned port-injected 5-liter V-8 with 5-speed is standard; a 4-speed automatic is a $515 option. The EPA rating is only 16 m.p.g. city/26 m.p.g. highway.
Both convertible s have a standard aero appearance package that includes fog lights and brake-cooling ducts on the front fascia and rocker extensions. The Trans Am adds functional hood louvers and air extractors.
Standard equipment on our test car included power brakes and steering, rally-tuned suspension, limited slip differential, tilt wheel, reclining bucket seats, side-window defoggers, dual body-colored sport mirrors, air conditioning, P215/60R16 radial tires, fold-down rear seat (best left folded down for stowage, because it`s too tight for humans), front and rear floor mats and driver-side air bag.
Our test car came with a value option package consisting of power door locks and windows, bodyside moldings, power mirrors and cruise control. The package usually runs $866 but was discounted to $366.
Individual options included front leather seats for $780; P245/50ZR16 16- inch radials with aluminum wheels and the special handling package for $313; and an upgraded AM-FM stereo with cassette, clock and dual front and rear speakers for $150.
Anti-lock brakes are not offered.
The sticker totaled $25,079 and included a $490 freight charge.
Pontiac comes out with the long-awaited successor to the Firebird for the 1993 model year. A convertible is supposed to stay in the lineup. We hope at that time as much attention will have gone into room, comfort and pleasant ride as into the sheet metal. ABS will be available in the new model, along with traction control.
Pontiac officials said the restyled 1993 model will focus more on comfort and a firm but less harsh suspension.
“Let`s face it,“ one source said, “the current body has been around since 1982 and needed some work. We were able to do more structurally for 1993.“
In addition to new sheet metal, the 1993 Firebird line will sport a new base engine, a 200-h.p., 3.4-liter V-6. Pontiac also is working on a variety of new engines for the future, including a revamped 5.7-liter V-8 that, in prototype form, generates 325 h.p.