The Trans Am had some visible changes made in 1998 with a new front fascia containing four pop up head lights. The most significant of a number of smaller changes is an addition of a small block V8 to the line-up. There were only 255 Formula Firebird’s assembled in 1998. Another rarely seen item is a factory paint color “Bright Metallic Purple” which was quickly discontinued but not before ten coupes and two convertibles left the factory in that color.
The 1999 Firebird turns 30 with a special anniversary edition otherwise the line only receives cosmetic changes but with an increase in the color options available. The basic Formula and Trans Am models came with a four speed automatic transmission but offer a six speed manual with a Hurst shift kit as an option. Most of the Firebird s with a V6 and all models equipped with a V8 have Torson II slip reduction rear axle with traction control as an option.
All the models come with the “Electronic Brake Force Distribution” (EBD) system and anti-lock brakes by Bosch for improved stopping power as standard equipment. Also standard equipment is a “Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM) used to measure speed, rpm, throttle position, and brake use in the 5 seconds preceding air bag deployment. With the basic package the Firebird coupe is heavily insulated for better acoustics; also included with most models are; dual air bags, air conditioning, black fixed antenna, and a Delco AM/FM – ETR radio with cassette player complete with a seven band graphic equalizer. The sound system also has touch control, auto replay with a search feature, theft lock, clock, and is wired to add a DVD if desired, all connected to a four coaxial speaker system.
So you can listen to the music in comfort while you do your commute there are fully reclining bucket seats with four way manual adjustment – oh yes and there is a folding rear seat to hold two kids. The driver also has cruise control on the sporty tilt steering wheel with an adjustable steering column. The dash board has an electronic analog read out speedometer with odometer, tachometer, with coolant temperature, oil pressure, voltmeter and LED trip odometer. All of the readouts and gauges are covered by solar ray tinted glass covers. To round out the driver accessories are electric rear and side widow defoggers, right and left hand sport exterior door mounted mirrors, a day/night rear view with two map lights, as well as two sun visor mounted vanity mirrors.
An optional choice are the UPC – MM5 five speed manual or an optional automatic transmission with a shift interlock system either one come with four wheel power ABS disc brakes and speed rated 16” touring tires mounted on bright silver five spoke cast aluminum rims. An optional engine available in 1999 is the UPC – L35-3800 Series II – SFI – V6.
From 1998 to 2002 the appearance and mechanically changed slightly. The engine offers had the addition of an all aluminum 5.7 L V8 which produces 305 hp (227 kW) at 5,200 rpm or the Ram Air WS-6 version in the 2001-2002 models which produces up to 325 hp. All the V8 models had the LS6 intake manifold with a high performance clutch. A Firehawk model produced by SLP sold through dealerships could be equipped with an optional Blackwing intake manifold put out 330 hp in the earlier models but the 2002 Blackwing equipped Firehawk put out 345 hp. Any Firebird with the basic V6 engine will produce 205 hp (153 kW).