For 1989, Pontiac’s premium performer, the Firebird, continued its more-than-two-decades heritage of high-powered excitement.
From performance machine enthusiasts to sporty car buyers looking for trademark styling, the Firebird offered a complete range of power and price.
Again there were four regular models:
Trans Am GTA
There was also a special limited-edition 25th Anniversary “Indy Pace Car” version of the GTA with a high-output V-6 pirated from the Buick GNX.
All Firebirds came with V-8s and the base model also came with a V-6 for entry-level sports car buyers.
Multec fuel injectors were added to 1989 engines for more reliability and less susceptibility to fuel fouling.
The self-adjusting rear disc brakes were completely revised with a new caliper and rotor design.
Pass Key anti-theft protection, previously standard only on the GTA, became standard on all Firebirds.
An electronically coded resistor embedded in the ignition key activated a control module in the ignition loc, which determined when the anti-theft vehicle start-up system should be activated. GM noted that the system had been successful in reducing Corvette thefts by 40 percent and said that it should be helpful in holding down Firebird owners’ insurance premiums.
Door glass seals were improved for better sealing and less wind noise.
The entire Firebird line also got clearcoat paint over the base color for a long-lasting high gloss finish. New in the color lineup was Bright Blue Metallic.
Standard equipment across the entire 1989 Firebird lineup included three-point lap and shoulder belts for rear seat occupants.
Available options now offered across the F-car line included:
a variety of radios
an all-new compact digital disc player with the Delco II theft deterrent system that rendered the unit inoperative if power were interrupted
The lowest-priced Firebird was the base model with a standard 2.8-liter V-6 and five-speed manual transmission.
For 1989, V-6s received the FE1 suspension package with 30mm front and 18mm rear anti-roll bars.
Added standard equipment for V-8 models included a Trans Am-style F41 suspension and air conditioning.
The base Firebird carried the same exterior striping package as the Formula.
The Formula Firebird was aimed at buyers interested in high-performance “street machines” and was designed to provide maximum “oomph” for a minimum price. This package provided the Trans Am engine which had a 10-hp boost in power due to the use of a new dual catalytic converter low-back-pressure exhaust system. Pontiac claimed this equated to a two-second to three-second cut in the 0-to-60 mph acceleration times.
Also standard on Formula:
WS6 suspension and tire package
a revised exterior graphics package with narrower body side stripes
The Trans Am had
a standard 5.0-liter TBI 170-hp V-8 engine
five-speed manual transmission
F41 underpinnings with 34mm front and 23mm rear anti-roll bars and recalibrated springs and shocks
Firestone Firehawk GTX tires
15 x 7-in. cast aluminum wheels
The Trans Am GTA was described as the “ultimate Firebird”; but that title really belonged to (even though it wasn’t in 1989) was the Trans Am GTA.
It had a 5.7-liter 235-hp 235-hp TPI V-8 borrowed from the Corvette; plus five-speed manual transmission; a limited-slip differential; the WS6 performance suspension with 36mm front and 24mm rear anti-roll bars; deflected-disc gas-filled shocks and struts; 16-in. lightweight cross-laced aluminum wheels; Z-rated Goodyear tires; cloth articulating bucket seats; air conditioning; cruise control; power windows; power door locks; a power antenna; an AM/FM cassette radio with graphic equalizer; and redundant radio controls on the steering wheel hub.
Also included on the GTA notchback were 45/55 split folding rear seats with integral headrests.
Leather bucket seats with increased thigh support and inflatable lumbar and side bolsters were optional.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first Firebird Trans Am, a special series of 1,500 20th Anniversary Trans Ams was produced.
These cars were above the level of the GTA model and were really the “ultimate” Trans Ams of this year.
Power was provided by a 3.8-liter turbocharged V-6 that developed 250 hp.
It was coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission and limited-slip rear axle.
All 20th Anniversary Trans Ams were painted White and had Camel colored interiors.
Externally, the GTA emblem on the nose was changed to a special “20th Anniversary” insignia.
A similar cloisonné emblem could be found on the sail panels.
“Turbo Trans Am” emblems on the front fenders replaced the standard GTA script in the same location.
Also included with this model:
a larger, baffled, competition-type 18-gal. fuel tank