Best Bang For Buck You Can Get
February 19, 2018
The 98-02 V8 Firebird and Trans Am are one of the best bang for your buck performance cars you can buy. They feature the LS1 engine, GM’s all new V8 engine design first appearing in the 1997 Corvette, to replace the ancient small block. Pair that with the also legendary T56 manual transmission and you are sitting in one of the highest power-to-cost ratio cars in the world.
My 2000 Firebird Trans Am has been nothing but fun. It’s fast, it’s reliable, and it gets pretty good Gas mileage! I get pretty close to, if not, 30 mpg on the PA turnpike. The interior isn’t the best, being that it’s all hard plastic it feels like sitting in a fisher-price toy. The seats are difficult to get comfortable in and I’m usually ready to find a place to stretch out after about 30 minutes of driving. The center console armrest hurts my elbow after a while because it’s hard plastic, and I started keeping a cloth rag in the console to put underneath my elbow.
Comfort wise it’s not the best, but if you’re looking for a luxurious ride, you are looking at the wrong car. The black interiors look pretty nice, but any other color interior just looks ugly and will forever have the “old” car look. T tops are nice in the warm weather but they’re a tradeoff. They leak in the rain, some are better than others. Even mine which has brand new seals will still drip if I’m sitting still in the rain.
Apart from all that, I love this car. They aren’t too loud stock, but they can sound insane depending on how aggressive of an exhaust you put on. The LS1 doesn’t quite have the deep grumble “gluglugluglugluglug” of the older small block, but it does have its own very distinct, more modern note. My car in bright red with an aggressive exhaust is definitely a head-turner.
These cars are super easy to work on and parts are not expensive at all. If you’re looking at a higher mileage one (90,000 miles and up) you may be looking at doing some light work like spark plugs or water pump or power steering hoses which tend to start leaking at this age.
Put some good name brand tires on these cars, at least 275 wide. Stock 245 wide tires are ok for a V6 but the V8 is a little overwhelming for them. Whether you have a V6 or V8, 275 wide tires are a must. They look much nicer and they benefit the whole car with improved handling and braking.
Overall I love this car and would definitely buy it again. And again. It’s hard to beat this much performance on such a low price. The mustangs weren’t able to surpass the horsepower of these things until 2011 (minus the cobra), which was 9 years after these were killed! Put a good radio in it, a nice exhaust, and cruise around in it, or throw a cam and heads at it and take it to the drag strip, or modify the suspension and turn it into an autocross monster. There is plenty of aftermarket to make this thing do whatever you want.