Considering that the 1983 Firebird appeared barely half a year after launch, it showed a surprising number of technical improvements. A new integral-rail shift mechanism replaced the cable linkage on the four-speed manual gearbox. Even better, new close-ratio five-speed (overdrive) manual shift became standard for the S/E and Trans Am. Chevrolet's 2.8-liter V-6 again powered the S/E, but it was now the H.O. (High-Output) version-an engine not offered in the equivalent Camaro Berlinetta. Also new: a four-speed overdrive automatic transmission. More than half of the 74,884 cars built were V-8 powered.
Two special-edition Trans Ams appeared in 1983: a black Recaro coupe and a Daytona 500 Anniversary model in white/charcoal. Late in the model year, Pontiac announced a high-output 5.0-liter V-8 option for the Trans Am, packing 190 horses and 240 pounds/feet of torque.
Through most of the Eighties, annual styling changes were slight; and many of those affected Trans Ams alone. Among the most notable was the grille-less "bottom-breather" nose installed for 1984. Trans Am's "Cross-Fire" V-8 faded away, replaced by the 190-bhp carbureted version.
A new aero option package, including rear wing, could give Trans Ams the look of the Recaro special-edition. A few such doodads made sense for owners who wanted to accentuate their Firebird's sleek lines.
A 15th anniversary Trans Am came only in white, with blue trim and aero skirting. High-Performance Pontiac magazine compared it to "The Judge" in appearance, but complained of its stiff suspension, stalling engine, fuel starvation, loose gearshift, and wheel hop. Pontiac claimed that a Trans Am with H.O. engine could hit 60 in seven seconds, but test figures ran closer to eight.
Firebirds seemed to be finding their niche again, as 128,304 rolled off the line for '84-the high point of the third generation. Trans Ams continued to sell well, but were beaten by the base model.
Three seasons into the new Firebird, Pontiac decided it was time for a facelift. Read about it on the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
- Firebird Reviews by Consumer Guide
- Muscle Cars