Third Generation:




1981 Pontiac Trans Am 5.0 Liter - Glimpse into the Future

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Editor's Note: This article was originally written by Firebird Nest's writer Pete Dunton for the Old Car Memories online magazine - oldcarmemories.com in October 2012.

At the beginning of the 1981 model year, the Trans Am was entering into its thirteen year of production and its twelfth year on GM's second generation F-body platform. The Trans Am had been successfully updated every few years during the second generation's twelve years and even though the basics were still the same since 1970, it looked a lot different by 1981 due to the modern front-end and rear-end styling which had been introduced for the 1979 model year. However by 1981 the Trans Am was really showing its age, most cars underwent massive shrinkage during the 1970s however the Trans Am was left untouched. By 1981 it was a heavy full-size 2+2 sport coupe with a curb weight of around 3,500 lbs which was way out of touch with the 1980s which demanded smaller, lighter, and more efficient cars.

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1980 Pontiac Trans Am - CID Down, Advertising Way Up


It was no secret that GM's F-body platform was getting long in the tooth by the late 1970s having been around since the 1970 model year. Fortunately Pontiac didn't get the memo and just kept improving on its Trans Am which was built on the F-body platform. Buyers liked what Pontiac offered and 116,535 Trans Ams were produced for the 1979 model year - by far the best year of Trans Am sales. For 1980, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and emissions regulations had been kicked up a notch, so the big cubic inches were gone.

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1975 Pontiac Trans Am (L75) 455 H.O. - the King Returns?


Editor's Note: This article was originally written by Firebird Nest's writer Pete Dunton for another publication in Fall of 2007.

Automotive history as it has been written, 1975 will never be known as a banner year for muscle cars. The GTO, Chevelle SS, Challenger, and Cuda were among some of the most famous muscle car names to bite the dust by 1975. In 1975 the only Mopar muscle car names that remained (had become Chrysler Cordoba clones) - the Plymouth Road Runner and Dodge Charger, which had sadly become underpowered luxury barges with pillowy seats. Ford had completely given up, the Mustang by 1975 was know as the Mustang II and based on the Ford Pinto platform. Though it was a sales success it was as far from a muscle car as a car could venture. The availability of only 4 and 6 cylinder motors for the 1975 Mustang II, was a big reminder of this fact. The Torino had also grown to almost Thunderbird proportions however it still packed a V8 under the hood. Sadly the Torino's largest displacement V8 was a 351 Cleveland that was very light on the horses. AMC was also out of the muscle car business by 1975.

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1974 Trans Am - Eat, Drink, and Be Merry


1974 was a very important year for the Trans Am, it was a linchpin year. The 1974 Trans Am would straddle the brash original era muscle car era and the upcoming modern era of strict emissions controls which also included the push towards fuel efficiency. By 1974 the original muscle car era was over, most automakers had thrown in the towel by 1973. Pontiac was continuing on with the business as usual attitude of producing the Trans Am as if the original muscle car era was still going strong. Pontiac had standard a 400 CID V8 while most of the others were at 350 CID or less. Unfortunately the smack-down of new emissions controls on all 1975 American built cars was going to heavily drop horsepower down the ravine. 1974 would be the last year of the fun times for awhile. Granted high compression motors had bit the dust by the 1972 model year due to the introduction of unleaded fuel, but 1975 would make 1972 seem like good times. In the meantime for Pontiac's Trans Am, it was eat, drink, and be merry.

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