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Top : Firehawk : Articles : Individually Written Articles :
Breathe Easy in '96

BY: Wynand DePuy .mil

It's not a surprise that cold air induction is a hot topic when it comes to GM's new F-body car line. A unique look, increased horsepower, and limited production numbers increase the appeal of Firebirds and Camaros with a "ram air" option. There are four '96 model F-body cold air induction options available to entice F-body buyers. The Comp T/A, Firehawk, Z/28 SS, and WS6 packages are outlined below.

SLP Engineering's 1995 Comp T/A was created in coordination with BFGoodrich's silver anniversary. The 300 horsepower Trans Am is silver with a dark gray stripe (similar to the blue stripe of the '94 anniversary T/A) and graphite leather interior. Although 200 units were slated to be made, the 72 1995 Trans Am units still outnumber the handful of Firehawks made with Trans Am equipment in 1993-94. The remaining Comp T/As will be produced in the '96 model year with some of the same changes seen on the Firehawk ... and carrying a lower $4599 MSRP.

As with all of SLP's ram air conversions, the R6V Comp T/A package requires that QLC tires and performance axle while traction control and 1LE options are not available. The 1995 Comp T/A option included the WS6-style composite hood with cold air induction system. The 17"x9" aluminum wheels were identical to the '95 Firehawk's wheels, but the Comp T/A used 275/40ZR17 BFG Comp T/A ZR tires. The package also included dual cast aluminum exhaust tips, Hurst 6-speed shifter, 32mm front stabilizer bar, stiffer track bar bushings, Mobil 1 synthetics, numbered dash plaque with matching key fobs, and embroidered floor mats. The hardtop 6-speed Comp T/A came standard with the Bilstein shocks, progressive springs, and stiffer rear control arm bushings. The sport suspension was an option on the hardtop automatic Comp T/A.

Contrary to some rumors, the Firehawk package is back for '96. Scheduled for 500 units, it carries a lower $4599 price and a standard 310 horsepower. The composite hood, cold air induction, and Firehawk SZ tires remain unchanged from '95. The horsepower rating is obtained with standard internally polished exhaust manifolds and catalyst-back exhaust system; down pipes are not changed in the dual catalyst 1996 exhaust system. Also included in the package are a 32mm front stabilizer bar and stiffer track bar bushings (not on convertibles), synthetic engine oil, numbered dash plaque with matching key fobs, and 3-D Firehawk graphics instead of 2-D decals. The new wheels are the same size as last year's, but are now a more open design with straight spokes, similar to OZ's MonteCarlo wheels. Each '96 wheel has "Firehawk" on one spoke. Firehawks will no longer flaunt the horsepower ratings on their hoods.

The sport suspension with Bilstein shocks, progressive springs, and stiffer rear control arm bushings is a $999 option on hardtop Firehawks. Other options include a $349 Hurst 6-speed shifter, $99 embroidered floor mats, $159 silver car cover with Firehawk logo, $395 T43 Trans Am uplevel rear spoiler, and $79 synthetic lubricants package. The $999 Torsen differential with aluminum cover includes the synthetic lube package. A spare set of 17" wheels with BFG R1 racing tires can be ordered for $1899. Early reports mentioned that fog lights may become an option. Unlike the other three ram air choices, the '96 Firehawk is available in any of its base model's colors except blue-green chameleon.

SLP has entered the Chevrolet market with its SS package for the 1996 Z/28. This is not a limited production option, but SLP expects to convert 3000 to 3500 Z/28s. Option code R7T requires QLC tires and performance axle, but can not include 1LE or traction control. Color choices are limited to white, black, bright red, teal, and polo green. The $3999 SS option can be ordered on a coupe, T-top, or convertible Z/28. The base 305 horsepower package includes composite hood with a cold air induction system above the intake manifold, 17"x9" ZR-1 style 5-spoke wheels, 275/40ZR17 BFG Comp T/A tires (16"x8" wheels and 245 tires on convertibles), revised rear spoiler, internally polished exhaust manifolds, synthetic engine oil, 32mm front stabilizer bar and stiffer track bar bushings (not on conv), 3-D SS graphics in place of the Z/28 graphics, and a numbered dash plaque with matching key fobs.

A $499 optional catalyst-back exhaust system raises the rated horsepower to 310. Other options include the $999 sport suspension with Bilstein shocks, sport springs, and stiffer rear control arm bushings, a $999 optional Torsen differential with aluminum cover, $349 for a Hurst 6-speed shifter, a $159 silver car cover with the SS logo, $99 embroidered floor mats, and a $79 lubricants package with a synthetic engine oil filter, synthetic rear axle lube, and semi-synthetic PS fluid. An extra $1899 will get a spare set of SS wheels and four BFG R1 racing tires sent to your dealer.

Pontiac has decided for it's first ram air car of the computer age to be built on the Firebird platform. The WS6 Ram Air performance and handling package is similar to the Firehawk, but has some subtle differences. Pontiac's WS6 hood, like SLP's Comp T/A, has a straight line from the leading edge back to the air intake; the Firehawk's hood has a ledge in front of each intake. The WS6's air filter is smaller than the Firehawk's Corvette sized filter. The WS6 is a Pontiac package that SLP has been contracted to assemble, while the Firehawk is an SLP package that can be ordered and serviced through your local Pontiac dealer. Unlike the Firehawk, the WS6 package can be applied to a Formula or a Trans Am.

Pontiac's WS6 package is available on Formulas and Trans Ams, hardtops and T-tops, but not convertibles. There is no set production limit, roughly 2500 of the 305 horsepower Firebirds are expected to be built in white, black, bright red, silver and dark green. The $2995 WS6 package consists of a composite hood with cold air induction, 17"x9"5-spoke wheels of the same design as the base 16" wheels, 275/40ZR17 Goodyear GS-C tires, WS6 graphics on each wheel center cap and below the right tail light, a single cast aluminum exhaust tip on each side, and suspension changes that include a 32mm front stabilizer bar, stiffer bushings in the rear control arms and track bar, specific springs (rear are progressive rate), and specific shocks.

The $1199 '96 Formula 1LE package will require the WS6 components and add Koni shocks and probably larger front brakes. A possible race version of the 1LE will remind you of an 'R' version of the Blue Oval pony car.


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