It has been nearly 20 years since the last Pontiac Trans Am rolled off the production line, but it went out on a high note. Powered by the landmark LS1 V-8 engine, which delivered 325 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque in that final year, its performance bettered its original muscle car-era predecessors.
It could run from 0 to 60 mph in a blink over 5 seconds and blow through the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds. That was a shade quicker than the vaunted SD-455 models and nearly a half-second down the strip faster than a 1970 Trans Am powered by the high-compression Ram Air IV engine. In every measure, the Trans Am was at the top of its game and the WS6 package, which had specific suspension and exhaust features, was the pinnacle of performance from the factory.
But here’s the thing: Comparatively few people took notice in 2002. There were several unique models that year, including the commemorative Collector Edition and the Firehawk, all competing for attention. When they finally shut down the Quebec assembly line, only 8,162 WS6 coupes were produced. In 1979, for example, Pontiac produced more than 117,000 Trans Am coupes—a car that took about 2 seconds longer to traverse the quarter-mile.