Whether you’re an old school purist, a late-model enthusiast, or a healthy mix of both, it’s becoming harder and harder to fathom that the last Firebird rolled off the assembly line over 11 years ago. While the late LS1-powered Pontiacs may not be the model most desired by all of our loyal readers, they were certainly some of the very last cars built with the same passion, energy, and excitement that Pontiac has always been known for.
Exclusive to the Fourth-Gen LS1-equipped SLP Firehawks, the Firehawk hood blends classic P
Though some Firebird models were more common than others, there were those rare Birds amongst the flock that will always be sought after. Take for example this mean and clean ’02 Firehawk owned by Kevin Hopel of Marrero, Louisiana.
Gorgeous in stock form, the last of the Firehawks seamlessly blended aggressive styling and attitude with a tasteful and classy demeanor. Add in a gorgeous set of aftermarket wheels, a splash of Sunset Orange Metallic (SOM) paint, and enough horsepower to turn rubber into smoke, and you’ve got a late-model Bird that screams, “AweSOMe.”
Funny enough, the owner of this rare Firehawk wasn’t even in the market for a car the first time he laid eyes on it. “I wasn’t even looking ... I found the car one day just looking on the Internet with no intentions of buying one. I’ve always been a big fan of the SOM Firehawks, so when I saw it, I had to have it.” No stranger to the F-body game, having owned a ’93 Formula Firebird and an ’01 Trans Am in the past, Kevin jumped into his new Hawk knowing exactly what the platform was capable of, although he still tried his best to pretend like he wasn’t going to modify the car. “Because it’s so rare and well maintained, my original plan was to do bolt-ons and maybe a small cam. Once I started modding the car, that soon went out the window …”
What you see today is the result of two year’s worth of time and effort, and it’s a package capable of running 11 seconds flat in the quarter-mile with 435 rwhp on tap.
Under the Firehawk hood sits a stock cubic-inch LS1, complete with the factory 62,000-mile rotating assembly, although that’s about it for stock parts in the engine bay. Up top, an aftermarket Fast Toys air lid feeds air into a Peak Performance ported FAST 92mm throttle body and into a custom painted and ported FAST 92mm LSXR intake manifold. From there, air travels into a set of Advance Induction ported 243-casting LS6 cylinder heads, which were opened up with 226cc intake runners and combustion-chamber work to drop compression but keep the engine pump-gas-friendly.
There is another 175-rwhp on tap that Kevin hasn’t used yet (at the track), courtesy of th
Those heads, which run a set of stock valves, are commanded by a custom hydraulic-roller camshaft cut by Engine Power Systems (EPS), which features 230/238 degrees of duration at 0.050, 0.600/0.600 inches of lift, and a 113-degree lobe separation angle. Aggressive, but still extremely street friendly, that custom camshaft perfectly times the delivery of the air/fuel mixture into the chamber, which is compressed, utilized, and eventually exhausted out a set of Kooks 1.875-inch long-tube headers and into a Kooks 3-inch dual-exhaust system. It sounds as good as you would imagine.
Of course, running 11 seconds flat on motor also requires a stout drivetrain, and Kevin’s Firehawk has been nicely appointed in all the right places. Backing the LS1 engine is a 4L60E transmission that was rebuilt by John Hebert in Belle Chase, Louisiana. Running a Yank SS3600 stall converter and big transmission cooler, Kevin’s Firehawk has a lot of “get up and go” off the line, which is further enhanced by a set of 3.73 rear gears stuffed inside the factory 7.5-inch 10-bolt rearend.
Now, all the power in the world would be nothing without some help from the suspension but, surprisingly, Kevin hasn’t done much to the Hawk to make it hook. SLP equipped this F-body with a set of Bilstein shocks from the factory and Kevin left them and the stock springs to keep the car riding smooth on the road. A set of BMR Suspension subframe connectors help stiffen the chassis, and its adjustable lower control arms help plant the massive 315/35/17-inch Mickey Thompson Drag Radial tires, which are wrapped around striking Billet Specialties wheels. That’s enough work to cut 1.62-second 60-foot times at the track, although Kevin is fully aware that the stock 10-bolt rear is on borrowed time.
The Hawk even utilizes the factory shifter to control the rebuilt 4L60-E transmission. Sim
If you’re riding in the back seat, you’ll always have a passenger. And this one won’t simp
This Hawk’s ebony interior is in mint condition and essentially stock. Sometimes, things j
When we say borrowed time, we mean it, because Kevin has yet to hit the Firehawk with the big power that’s plumbed into the intake tract thanks to the crew at Nitrous Outlet. That’s right, this Pontiac is setup to run upwards of 175 additional horsepower when the Nitrous Outlet EFI plate system is turned on. And that’s not even talking about this rare Bird’s new motor, a 416ci LS3 that Kevin hopes to have bolted between the framerails before the end of 2013.
For a car that he wasn’t even looking to buy, it sure seems like Kevin is “all in” with the Firehawk, but can you blame him? One look at the SOM paint, clean OEM ebony interior, and engine bay, and it’s hard not to want one for yourself.
Billet Specialties wheels give the Firehawk a modern appearance, and Kevin’s choice to run
Built off of an ’02 Firebird Formula, the Firehawk kicks everything up to the next level.
“The car gets a lot of attention when I bring it out to the dragstrip or to a local cruise night. I think the main reason is because of the color.” Well, we’re not sure it’s only the color, Kevin. The rest of the Firehawk is top notch, too, and it’s certainly an excellent representation of the passion and excitement that defines the Firehawk.