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1992 Formula Firehawk

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As the years have gone by when many people, even car enthusiasts hear the name "Firehawk" it brings to mind the image of a red 4th generation f-body modified by SLP. Firehawks are among the most collectible of all Firebirds and arguably the fastest. What many people do not realize is that the first Firehawk available was actually a 1992 model and its the fastest, rarest and most valuable of any GM/SLP collaboration ever built.

In 1991-1992 to get one of these cars, you would visit a Pontiac dealer with a $5000 deposit and order a Firebird Formula with option code "b4u", a completely factory regular formula model car was then sent to SLP and modified for a hefty price tag of $39,995 base price, fully optioned as much as $51,989. What on earth would you be paying Corvette money for on a F-body?... The baddest machine available other than a ZR-1 and even that would be up for debate.

The Firehawks were only available for order in red (4 were produced in other colors) and SLP originally intended to make 250 of them. Only 27 were ever ordered and only 25 actually got produced. Out of those 25 many share completely unique option combinations.

First and foremost this car was about uncompromised brutal performance. The OEM Formula drivetrain was completely removed and replaced with a fully forged and tuned 4 Bolt 350ci engine that made 350hp and 390tq. Even LS1 based Firehawks produced 10 years later didn't make this much power. Further adding to the legend, two Firehawks were given an all aluminum 366ci "super duty" engine that made 375hp and 400tq. The intakes manifolds on these cars are perhaps the most recognizable part used in the engine. The TPI engines of the time were well known for good low end torque but most tuners never really found a way to get much more out of them. Many regard the TPI system as a failed and design flawed system. SLP developed a HIGHLY effective T-Ram intake manifold, simply adding this one part to any 85-92 otherwise stock Tuned Port engine adds an honest 45hp. Stainless steel headers dual catalytic converters, and performance exhaust were all standard. It was backed by a ZF 6-speed manual straight from the Corvette. The rear end also featured a Dana 44, by far the strongest ever used in an F-body.

Engine modifications were not the only part of a what made a Firehawk unique. The interior featured a different center console from other Firebirds to accommodate the 6 speed manual. Optional Recaro seats were available for $995 each, the drivers side was standard with the $9995 Competition Option. The competition option included 13in Brembo front brakes (the same used on a F-40 Ferrari), upgraded bushings, 6 point roll bar, 5-point harness, aluminum hood, and a deleted back seat. For an additional $175 you could get a 5 point harness to scare the crap out of your passenger as well. Some were even ordered with a fuel cell, 12 point cage, and a driveshaft loop.

Suspension was very similar to the the factory 1LE package used on a select amount of F-body cars from 89-92. Corvette brakes, higher spring rates, and Koni Shocks. The wheels were also upgraded to Ronal 17x9.5" aluminum wheels equipped with the P275/40ZR17 tires.

On the outside they didn't differ much from a normal Firebird Formula, the biggest changes were the larger 17in wheels and the Firehawk logo on the doors, interestingly enough not all of them had this due to an ongoing legal battle over use of the name with Firestone.

Of course the price tag was high and the hardware used was impressive, but what did all the money really buy you in terms of performance? It produced 0-60 times of 4.6 seconds, quarter miles of 13.2 seconds (some owners have reported high 12s), lateral Gs of .94 on the skidpad, top speed of over 160mph, fully emissions legal, GM retained warranty, and even impressive fuel economy of 16/25mpg. Not completely far off what a fully loaded 2011 Camaro SS produces!

How has time treated these cars? Very well, due to the price of them and the type of buyer almost all have been kept in extremely good condition and due to the instant rarity almost 20 years ago these cars stand to be the most valuable Firebirds ever produced outside of the original Trans Am and the SD-455 cars of the early 70s. Only once every few years does one change hands and everytime one does the price goes up. The legacy of this car is that quite possibly its the rarest, fastest Pontiacs (and all of GM for that matter) ever made.

The SLP T-Ram intake manifold used on the 92 Firehawk is also another legend all its own, due to the amount of demand SLP anticipated and then did not have a few hundred of these manifolds were available and its become one of the single most sought after parts for a 3rd gen F-body. Due to a fire SLP claimed it no longer had the tooling to produce more of them. These now go for a very large sum of money around hot rodders.

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