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Old 01-06-2013   #1
StellarTracks
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Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA



The Firebird Trans Am GTA, a brilliant style achievement, excluding the '91 and '92 model years, and the principle reason I adore this sleek and captivating vehicle, and why I will acquire one for my distinct pleasure, presents important choices to the buyer. First is the T-Top car structurally unsound and unreliable as to leaking? I am certain that a 5.7L is the only choice, would anyone venture to assert that there are noticable differences in performance from an '87-88, an '89, or a '90 L98. The '89 also eliminated the cold start injector, does that mater? The '87 did not use a serpentine belt system, does that matter? As the '90 model year incorporated increased compression, up to 9.7:1 from 9.3, added lighter wieght aluminum pistons, and a supposedly improved speed density metering induction control, it would seem it is the optimal model year. Is the L98 an appropriate design for use with a supercharger? Next the larger rear brakes on the '89-'92, are they significantly better? Also I like the rear shoulder belts first installed in 1989.
I would by an overview of these facts choose an '89 or a '90, however most '89s came with T-Tops, and were built with a high number of Grey Interiors, a colour I hate. The '87s came with the Bright Red and Black combination, very nice; and the '88s came with Flame Red and Black. Reds with Grey? The guys at Pontiac who made that decision, I am feeling that regret for you. The Beautiful White Car with Grey Interior?, never Black, ever. So most '89s came with Tops and few '90 hardtop 5.7s, and many with less than optimal colour combinations who can answer my question, the optimal GTA?
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Old 01-06-2013   #2
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

To each his own.
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Old 01-06-2013   #3
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

I think the perfect GTA is a Red one with a tan interior, not leather, Digital Dash, Radio control steering wheel, L98 and as for the T-tops, that's your decision. They look cool but 95% of them leak eventually, I've also heard that they aren't as strong as the hardtop cars but unless your going to do some serious modifications and go racing I don't think its a big deal.

besides all that, I think the Optimal GTA is actually a TTA.
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Old 01-06-2013   #4
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

I wld not discount a 305/t5 as they have very close performance to a the 5.7 and are rare and more fun to drive. but hey. that's me.
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Old 01-07-2013   #5
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1badGTA View Post
I wld not discount a 305/t5 as they have very close performance to a the 5.7 and are rare and more fun to drive. but hey. that's me.
I love the way you think!! There isn't a very large performance difference, gas mileage is probably slightly better, and I went from an automatic Mitsubishi Eclipse (which I grew to despise shortly after I got it) and got a 5 speed 87 GTA and I'm not sure I'll ever go back to an automatic.
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Old 01-07-2013   #6
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

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Originally Posted by newGTAowner View Post
I love the way you think!! There isn't a very large performance difference, gas mileage is probably slightly better, and I went from an automatic Mitsubishi Eclipse (which I grew to despise shortly after I got it) and got a 5 speed 87 GTA and I'm not sure I'll ever go back to an automatic.
They way I drive it? LOL I am unsure of gas mileage difference as its too much fun to put it through the gears
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Old 01-07-2013   #7
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Not that a 91/92 owner's opinion is gonna matter lol, but I hope you find what you're looking for.
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Old 01-07-2013   #8
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Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Thanks for the responses. Yes I think that though a leather interior may look better, the cloth seats really are more comfortable and far more durable. Some other Important points to consider: Is the Digital Dash reliable? I know some GM cars from that era that had electronic instrumentation that became dysfunctional and eventually failed. Anyone have a Digital Dash crash on them? Also is the readout fully visable in the daylight? Is it susceptible to cold temperatures?
The airbag in the 1990, is it reasonble to expect it to be operable 22 years later? Back to T-Tops if they have leaked what's the collective experience as to new seals fixing the problem? Does replacing the Lexan Tops with glass improve structural rigidity or reduce the incidence of leaking? And subframe connectors, what are the pros and cons of installing them? Anyone have enough experience with them to claim one brand to be superior, or one to be ineffectual? And finally has anyone tried using a 3.42 final drive ratio in an L98/700R4? Please Advise.
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Old 01-07-2013   #9
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

There are many choices for these 3rd gens (power, style, color), since they were made over the 10 yr span, obviuosly they got better as they got older.

I had an 84 TA way back, great car when newish, I liked that style vs the 91/92 so I stuck w/ a 89, even though the hoods and nose was different from the 84. I had/have Ttops in both, no leaks, but you have the maintain the rubber in good condition. Lexan tops are lighter but will crack over time, I like the glass.

Leather vs Cloth - no brainer, I'm upgrading to leather very soon.
No matter what they are fun to own, drive and work on, I get alot of satisfaction doing just that.

BTW, the naked chick in your advatar - is that you ?
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Old 01-07-2013   #10
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

As long as you help me pay the Alimony ... Darling

We'll already have a white/beechwood/Ttop/5.7 ... got one.(Leather is on order)
It'll be the nicest one in trailer park ....LOL - yee haa

OH well it was fun, chicks like that don't go for old Trans Ams - too funny.
Lexus/Mercedes/Porsche ... etc for her.
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Old 01-07-2013   #11
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Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Yes well that Chick is Class A but given the proper guidance I'm sure she could come to appreciate the, pronounce it correctly my pet, Firebird Trans Am GTA. Taking a look at your pictures I see the steering wheel has had some aggressive use, now does that T-Top body frame twist and rattle to annoyance or not? And where in New Jersey are you, it is my True Home State?
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Old 01-07-2013   #12
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

This was a florida car, sun and/or sunscreen perhaps wore the wheel.

In the process right now restoring the wheel with the Leatherique Kit.
I'm waiting for it to warm up this weekend to apply the dye. Pictures to follow.

Ttop twist ? - nope not really, only when I have her up on 2 wheels, LOL.

Love to cruise w/tops out, great fun.


Live in South Jersey -Glou County.
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Old 01-08-2013   #13
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Answers to your question.
T-Roofs are not structurally unsound. The entire unibody is structurally unsound. Hard tops even get stress fractures in the A-Pillars from engine torque and body flex. I have stress fractures on mine.

Add sub frame connectors and the t-roof will be fine, the hard top will be fine.

305+5 speed is just as fast as the 350.
Serpentine belt vs V-Belt, preference. Vbelt has 3 or 4 belts, serpentine has 1.

350+700R4 and 3.45 9bolt is the "best factory" final drive for acceleration and top end speed while maintaining a semblance of gas mileage.

Cold start injector vs batch fire during cold start. They do the same thing. 89 code improved driveability on a few factors. The 89 is slightly better on startup than the 87 and 88.

You will notice a slight performance increase on the 90 when it swapped to speed density. Speed density is "easier" to tune but harder to tune properly when it comes to modifications.
MAF is slightly more difficult to tune but easier to tune properly when it comes to modifications. On MAF systems, air in determines fuel injector pulse width. On SD systems, fuel injector pulse width is independently controlled/modified based on some convoluted mathematical formula.

Digital dash is fine if you leave it alone. If you start wiggling things and moving things, ie: bulbs burnt out, don't expect it to work without a fight unless you're really lucky. The dash frame plastics are somewhat fragile after all these years. Cold does not bother them other than they are a little laggy when updating speed really fast. The display has trouble showing speeds when accelerating fast anyhow. The display is fine in daylight.

The airbag will probably kill you. Hooray gen 1 airbags...

Subframe connectors, no specific brand are better than another, they all do the same thing. Competition Engineering bolt ons are beefy 1/8" box steel frames but require exhaust modifications to ensure ground and exhaust clearance.

New seals and either lexan or glass are fine for curing leaky t-roofs. However subframes should go with them...

Recommend you go with an 89 or 90 since it has most of the options you like.

Nice pic, however is this the place to have an avatar/posting of nude pictures?
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Old 01-08-2013   #14
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GTA Year: 1989
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Looks like I missed the avatar!

Replaced my cracked/hazed lexan tops with glass but have not leak-tested them. Even with sub frame connectors the lexan tops still creaked and groaned. The glass tops are noticeably quieter and the car seems more solid with glass vs. lexan - or at least it sounds that way. I never had an issue with the rigidity of the car under hard acceleration prior to the SFC, but I don't beat on it. Prior to SFC, when turning into an angled, off-kilter driveway the car felt "creaky". More solid now, but I have also added other stuff (LCA, panhard, wonder bar, shocks/struts, poly bushings) that contribute to a more solid feel in combination with the SFC.
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Old 01-08-2013   #15
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Ahh bummer, the smokin hot naked girl is gone. I'm gonna miss her.
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Old 01-08-2013   #16
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Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Well it looks like making a nice point about the Value of Beauty to our Heart and Soul has been deleted, an overreach in this non-fornicator's sights. Such stellar embodiment is a primary inspiration and at the heart of God's Creative Gift; and certainly would be an enriching accoutrement for the front passenger seat of our Firebird Trans Am; a rarity in itself for nearly flawless aesthetics, complete in the GTA with its own jewelry. And, I am sorry to say you have blunted the impact of the hilarity stoked by my myself and 89JerseyGTA.

Thanks To merc3065 and others for your well informed contributions to my musings: Yes thank you, I'm overjoyed to hear boldly stated what I have long not wanted to admit, the 3rd Gens Unibody is a structural engineering mess. Your points regarding subframe connectors are well taken, and I'm glad to hear some sound experience in the use of glass tops.

I have understood that the 230 hp High Output LB9 is a great performer, but the reality of my driving temperment is that I would really only want to jam myself into the sport of shifting about 1/4 of the time. Plus I adore the easy thrust delivery of the torque multiplied automatic; and like their better durability.

I am glad to have an affirmation about the use of a 3.45/3.42 final drive ratio with the 700R4, I drove a 4th Gen with a manual and really loved that gearing.

Finally thanks for the intelligence regarding the Speed Density vs. Mass Air Flow; and about the Digital Dash. From an aesthetic point of view I think the Analog Gauges give a more linear, balanced, and masculine effect.

Let me add another question regarding the Suspension and Chassis. One assumes the Pontiac Engineers fitted the car with the LCAs, torque arm, panhard bar, and bushings, that they thought gave the car the right balance of grip, ride, and handling, and flex appropriate for the "Chassis". Would not adding in polyurethane bushings, tubular LCAs etc. just transfer more stress into the unibody and upset the general balance, and by the time of the GTA they had spent some time refining and tuning it. Comments? Refutations?
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Old 01-09-2013   #17
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Quote:
Originally Posted by StellarTracks View Post

Let me add another question regarding the Suspension and Chassis. One assumes the Pontiac Engineers fitted the car with the LCAs, torque arm, panhard bar, and bushings, that they thought gave the car the right balance of grip, ride, and handling, and flex appropriate for the "Chassis". Would not adding in polyurethane bushings, tubular LCAs etc. just transfer more stress into the unibody and upset the general balance, and by the time of the GTA they had spent some time refining and tuning it. Comments? Refutations?
That is an interesting point. However, my car was 18 years old when I acquired it. It still had original everything and 60k miles. I don't know how it handled and rode when new - I never drove a NEW 3rd gen GTA. When I started to replace components like shocks, bushings and end links it seemed like a good idea to upgrade to premium components. And, one thing leads to another. Maybe a NEW 3rd gen car would handle as well as mine does now, but I will never know. I do know that my car now feels more stable and planted and has had no adverse effect on the unibody that I am aware of. So, did it upset the balance? I'd say no, but that is in comparison to my starting point. I probably did not answer your question, but that is my experience.
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Old 01-09-2013   #18
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

89 IMO find one with T-tops and L98 pretty rare if i recall only year for that.
I got spoiled i have black with tan leather L98 and t-tops aluminum spare and a few others!
Not to mention the TTA came out when oh yeah 89!!
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Old 01-13-2013   #19
89JerseyGTA
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Hey Stellar,

I found your car for sale ... 21,000 miles/leather .... pretty nice looking, almost like your old advatar- LOL

http://jerseyshore.craigslist.org/cto/3531425614.html
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Previous cars
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78 Trans Am(84 to 86)
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Old 01-18-2013   #20
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Re: Prospective Owner, Choosing the Optimal GTA

Bump -Stellar Guy(girl ?) - where are you ? you are going to miss this awesome GTA ....
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