The Pontiac Firebird arrived on the automotive scene in 1967, shortly after the Chevrolet Camaro, whose GM F-Body structure it shared. The two continued to parallel each other until both were discontinued in 2002.
Arguably, the most famous Firebird of them all was the 1977 Trans Am that starred with Burt Reynolds in the movie Smokey and the Bandit. But the one most coveted by true aficionados of the brand was the 1973-75 Trans Am Super Duty SD 455 – powered by a monstrous 455 cubic-inch (7.4-litre) V-8 engine.
Sadly, for Trans Am enthusiasts, when the Camaro was resurrected as an all-new model in 2010, there was no corresponding Firebird to accompany it, as the Pontiac brand itself was already on the chopping block.
Now, however, the Trans Am is back – not from General Motors and without the Pontiac or Firebird labels. But it’s true to both the spirit and look of its Trans Am forebears, “screaming-chicken” hood graphics and all.
Best of all, it comes in modern-day SD-455 Super Duty guise, with a supercharged 7.4-litre engine said to develop 1,000 horsepower – more than three times the output of the original – and 1,046 lb-ft of ground-shaking torque!
It’s the product of a company called Trans Am Worldwide, based in Tallahassee, Florida, which showed off the new models at the New York International Auto Show in April.
While the new Trans Am is based on the 2017 Camaro and its all-new Alpha architecture, it’s as different from the Chevy model as were its Firebird predecessors. A unique front clip – hood, fenders, fascia and all – is formed of carbon-fibre, as are the deck-lid and spoiler and various other trim bits, giving it an unmistakable Trans Am look.
The interior, too, has a retro-Trans Am appearance, including its shifter (Hurst, with a manual transmission) and gauges.
Mechanical upgrades include ceramic coated headers and 3-inch exhaust pipes, Brembo Monoblock six-piston brake calipers, three-piece, 10-spoke Crawler race wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires – 285/30/R20 in front, 305/30/R20in the rear – and heavy-duty everything.
For those who want the look but not the over-the-top performance of the SD 455, there’s also an Outlaw Edition model that makes do with a supercharged 6.2-litre GM LT1 engine, rated at ‘just’ 602 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque.
More information on both models is available from Trans Am Worldwide.