1987 Pontiac Trans Am GTA - Photo by Jmilky1
In 1987, domestic automakers were still trying to recover from the darkest depths of the Dark Ages of Horsepower, and performance numbers were only beginning to climb back to acceptable levels. The third-generation Pontiac Firebird GTA was a step in the right direction, using a variant of the Corvette’s L98 5.7-liter small block featuring tuned-port fuel injection, gaining back power while meeting emissions standards in the process. The only substantive difference between the Corvette and the GTA is that the Firebird uses iron heads, making it nominally heavier. The horsepower figure isn’t as impressive on its own, but the L98 produces copious amounts of torque: 315 ft-lbs. at 3,200 RPM, which gives this Firebird the kind of seat-of-the-pants thrust that muscle cars have been historically known for. The motor isn’t the only goodie the GTA enjoys; this Firebird comes fully equipped with a body-colored aero kit, gold cross-lace pattern alloys, and the highly competent WS6 high-performance suspension option. Thankfully, though, the GTA does without the huge hood graphics of Firebirds of yore, instead opting for a more subtle look as the flagship Pontiac.