2001 Firebird: Pontiac Enhances Its Modern Muscle Car Legacy
DETROIT – For over three decades, Firebird has defined high-powered driving excitement. Year after year, it has consistently delivered power to spare and a sleek design that looks good whether moving or standing still.
Pontiac's muscle car brand carries that tradition into the 2001 model year with improvements to the Gen III engine on the Formula and Trans Am, shock enhancements, and changes to the interior and exterior color schemes.
"Firebird's bold, aggressive styling and modern muscle car performance and handling have always appealed to the traditional driving enthusiast," said Jim Murray, Firebird brand manager. "The improvements to the Gen III engine, plus interior and exterior enhancements, will serve to emphasize the 2001 Firebird's longstanding position in the performance car marketplace."
The legendary lineup starts with Firebird Coupe and Convertible. An alluring exterior is standard equipment, starting with a hidden headlamp design, neatly integrated fog lamps, and fender-mounted air extractors, and continuing with the sleek, aerodynamically shaped body. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, cruise control, a fold-down rear seat, and a center console with an auxiliary power outlet and dual cupholders.
Firebird Convertible adds a standard uplevel Monsoon sound system with CD player and eight optimally placed speakers for high-powered audio, even with the top down. The convertible also features a six-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant radio controls, remote keyless entry, alarm and power door locks, windows, outside mirrors and radio antenna.
Firebird Formula Coupe appointments include low-profile Z-speed-rated tires, Silver 16-inch (406 mm) five-spoke sport wheels, and a performance-oriented suspension. It also includes a 10-speaker version of the Monsoon CD audio system.
The ultimate expression of Firebird muscle, Trans Am, is offered in both coupe and convertible editions. Standard equipment includes removable roof panels, leather seat surfaces and an uplevel rear spoiler for the coupe.
Other changes include replacing the exterior color Bright Silver Metallic with the new, eye-catching hue Sunset Orange Metallic. A new interior leather color, Camel Accent, has also been added.
The aforementioned 5.7-liter V8 Gen III LS1 engine, standard on the Formula and Trans Am, gets a new camshaft, new intake manifold and has eliminated the external EGR for 2001. That results in power: five more horsepower and five extra foot-pounds of torque. Formula and Trans Am drivers get 310 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 340 lb.-ft. (461 Nm) of torque at 4000 rpm. Trans Am drivers opting for Ram Air will enjoy 325 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. (475 Nm) of torque at 4000 rpm.
To make the ride even better for those on the inside, shock absorbers have been re-valved to improve ride isolation and shake on all models.
Firebird and Firebird Convertible are amply powered by a 3800 V6 engine that delivers 200 horsepower and 225 lb.-ft. (305 Nm) of torque, coupled with a five-speed manual or available four-speed automatic.
Formula and Trans Am sizzle with a 310-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 LS1 married to a four-speed automatic transmission. A slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission is also available at no extra charge. An optional Hurst shifter is available on models equipped with the six-speed transmission.
Performance Packages Offer More Muscle:
Firebird offers performance-related upgrades to suit a wide variety of driving enthusiast's tastes. The 3800 V6 Performance Package combines wider P235/55R16 touring tires with a Torsen II limited-slip differential, uplevel steering, dual exhaust outlets, and a 3.42:1 axle ratio that's available only with the automatic transmission.
Firebird Trans Am coupe and convertible models equipped with Pontiac's exclusive WS6 Ram Air Performance and Handling Package benefit from functional air scoops, ram-air induction, dual outlet exhaust, a power-steering cooler and a suspension specifically tuned for maximum handling performance. The package also sports P275/40ZR17 performance radials mounted to 9x17-inch (229 mm X 432 mm) rim, highly polished alloy wheels featuring a five-spoke spoke design – a design that shows off Firebird's powerful brake hardware.
Both Firebird engines comply with stringent nationwide LEV standards. The 5.7-liter V8 features an Air Injection Reaction system, cast-iron exhaust manifolds, and a throttle linkage that provides a progressive launch response on the manual six-speed transmission.
Resilient, Aerodynamic Exterior:
Firebird's distinctive exterior needs no introduction. To help keep it looking as good as possible, exterior panels are engineered to resist dents and dings. Hood and rear quarter panels are made of two-sided galvanized steel, while doors, hatch, roof, fenders, and fascias are formed from composite material. These composite panels are impervious to rust or corrosion, and they're lightweight – a contributor to better fuel economy.
A Sports Appearance Package offered for Firebird and Firebird convertible includes dual exhaust outlets, a distinctive chin spoiler, rocker panel extensions and a deeper rear valance.
Firebird's high performance is not limited to its engine compartment – it's also found in the wide selection of audio systems available. Base equipment for the Firebird Coupe is a Delco 2001 Series electronically tuned radio with AM/FM stereo and CD. Features include a seven-band graphic equalizer, four speakers, clock, and touch controls for seek, search and replay.
Both the Firebird and Trans Am convertibles feature a standard Monsoon Series radio boasting the above features plus 500 watts of peak power playing through eight optimally-placed speakers. A similar system with 10 speakers is standard in Formula and Trans Am coupes, and optional in the Firebird coupe. The 500-watt Monsoon system can be ordered with auto-reverse cassette instead of CD in all Firebird models.
Sound security comes in the form of a TheftLock™ feature that's included with all of the above radio systems. A trunk-mounted 12-disc CD player is available as a stand-alone option on all models.
Performance, Safety and Security:
Firebird knows that driving safety is just as important as driving excitement. That's why Firebirds feature safety-cage construction and side-door beams. Manual lap/shoulder safety belts and driver's and passenger's frontal impact air bags work together to help protect those up front, while two rear compartment child safety seat top tether anchors help to keep little enthusiasts-in-training safer in back.
Crash-avoidance features include standard four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution and ABS, brake/transmission shift interlock, automatic daytime running lamps, fog lamps, tires with built-in wear indicators, and available traction control – to name a few.
Security is handled by the standard PASSKey® II theft-deterrent system. PASSKey has proven to be especially effective at thwarting thieves. Lacking the proper key, it's virtually impossible to start the engine and drive away the car with this system. Available remote keyless entry and an audible theft-deterrent system also help keep people and property secure.
The 2001 Firebird remains true to its heritage while taking performance to new levels. Firebird: The muscle car lives.
Story by Pontiac