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Year-to-year Trans Am WS6 changes
From 1997–2002, RPO WS6 was available on the Trans Am and Formula coupes and convertibles. In 1996, however, it became available mid-year and was only offered on the coupes. It added the Ram Air intake and hood; firmer springs, shocks, and bushings; a larger 32mm front sway bar and 19mm rear sway bar; a firmer transmission mount; silver 17×8-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels; and 275/40ZR17 Goodyears. In 1997, the wheels were polished along with the exhaust tips.
In 1998, along with the engine swap, the Trans Ams and Formulas got a retuned suspension for a slightly smoother ride and larger brake rotors. All Firebirds got a facelift with new noses and rear bumpers. The Trans Am’s new front bumper featured four headlamps and two small grille openings, which sat just below the now larger twin hood scoops on the WS6 cars. The result is an alien-esque mug that drew sneers at the time. Also questionable in 1998 was WS6’s single exhaust pipe, a gaff that was fixed a year later.
To celebrate the Trans Ams 30th anniversary, Pontiac offered special white and blue editions in 1999. The 2000 model year was the last for the WS6 package on the slow-selling Formula, and in 2001 there was a new five-spoke wheel design. In 2002, knowing the Firebird’s end was near, Pontiac offered the Collectors Edition Trans Am, which was yellow.
Buyers should also realize that the WS6 is different than the ILE road racing homologation package that first became available on the Formula in 1997. Although the two did share some components, and ILE cars required adding the WS6 package, the ILE package included additional hardware. Firehawks were also a similar, but different bird.
If you want to save money, then the Firebird Formula is the way to go
If you don’t care as much about the top-end power that the Trans Am produced, then you can try and find yourself a Firebird Formula trim of the same generation. The Formula trim level came with the same pop-up headlights, flared fenders, and aggressive hood as its Trans Am stablemate, but it lacked the aero package and dual exhaust tips. That being said, the most important part was that it still housed the same potent V8 and transmission as its Trans Am older brother.
Fortunately, while the Formula trim level is a rarer find nowadays, you can still find them selling for around $12,000 to $15,000, as opposed to the higher $20,000 price tag like the Trans Am. Judging by today’s market, it looks like the Firebird (in general) has long been overlooked by car enthusiasts and the general public.
What theyre selling for
The current value of 1996 and ’97 WS6 Pontiacs is about $12,000. More people want the 1998 and later cars with the more desirable LS engine. However, the average price of a ’98 Trans Am Coupe only jumps to $13,000. The surprise is the average price of the 1998 convertibles, which is $20,100.
WS6 Trans Am convertibles from 1999–2002 cost about $1000 more, with the average price of #1-condition (Concours) cars nearly reaching $35,000. Cars with the six-speed cost about 10-percent more, and coupes are 10-percent more valuable without T-tops. Formulas cost about the same despite their much lower production numbers. It’s also surprising that Trans Ams and Formulas without the WS6 option don’t cost radically less, with the difference often being about $3000–$5000.
The 1999 30th Anniversary Edition models are very popular, averaging $19,200 for coupes and more than $23,000 for convertibles, with the best examples touching $40,000. That’s about $10,000 more than they cost three years ago. The 2002 Collector’s Editions are also worth something, averaging $17,500 for the coupes and more than $19,000 for the convertibles, but those prices are flat lately.
Overall prices of #1-condition examples have risen about 50 percent in the last three years, while #2 (Excellent) and #3 (Good) cars are up about 20 percent. Buyers on tighter budgets will be glad to know that you can still find #4-condition (Fair) cars out there for less than $10,000, but it’s not as easy as it once was.