Herb Adams is the father of the Fire Am. He was an
engineer with Pontiac during the 60s and help develop the handling
package that would later be installed on the car that would become the
Trans Am. In 1977 he was asked by Pontiac to build a special Trans Am
while living within two requirements: 1) Any modifications made had to
be modifications that an assembly line could replicate and 2) the car
had to capable of handling racing duties and still be streetable at the
same time. Pontiac intended to evaluate the finished product and put the
changes it liked into future production models. The project was named
Fire-Am for Firebird-American. The public reaction to the project was
enough that Herb decided to make all the modifications he developed
available to the public through a company he would start called VSE,
Very Special Equipment, in Pebble Beach, California. Herb offered the
parts required to make a Fire-Am only, choosing not to offer an
installation service. In order to get one you had to buy or already own
a production model Trans Am and then purchase some or all of the pieces.
The owner was also left with making the modifications on their own or
hiring a professional to do it for them.
Its truly an honor to feature this car on my site. I watched this car undergo an incredible restoration over at Trans Am Country for the better part of 6 months. The restoration, performed by Jason Daughtery from Transformation Restorations, was tracked in the very popular forums over at TAC, something I had never seen before and a testament to the quality of work the individual performing the restoration was willing to perform. The owners are Mike and Peggy Kosar. I had the chance to meet them both at the 2006 Trans Am Nationals, held every year in August in Dayton, Ohio. The Fire Am was there on display fresh off the restoration and this Trans Am will truly take your breath away. Its an incredible car with an incredible history and what was even more gratifying is that I got an opportunity to take these pictures myself.
As I mentioned the car was shown at the 2006 Trans Am Nationals. Mike received the High Performance Pontiac Editor's Choice Award and 2nd in class. The car is incredibly rare and unique and Mike was one of the nicest people I have ever met. I hope you enjoy these pics. Mike writes:
"The car shown here is a complete 1977 Stage I Fire-Am with some stage II and III parts built by Mike Kozar utilizing many of Herb Adam's components. The TA started life from the factory as a Special Edition black and gold Y82 “Bandit” Trans Am. The Fire Am conversion took place in 1981. This TA got the full suspension kit which included Herb Adams/Moroso 3 way adjustable shocks, larger front and rear sway bars with heim joint linkage and poly-graphite bushings. It features a lowered suspension, retaining factory 15x8 WS6 snowflake wheels shod with P255 60R-15 Goodyear Eagle 1 radials, and sub-frame connectors. Further suspension modifications included cutting the stock front coil springs half a coil and moving the entire front sub-frame assembly up 1 inch. This final modification lowered the front of the car further without limiting travel. The leaf springs in the rear were lowered by moving them upward 3/4" through the use of a specially manufactured bracket.
Also included is a relocated battery for better weight distribution, solid bushing A-arms, aluminum body mount bushings, and front structure kit. The steering features a constant 12:1 ratio gearbox. The clutch linkage for the Hurst 4 speed utilizes a rod end link for smooth operation. Some of the emissions gear was removed and the scoop was opened up and made functional. A worked Pontiac 400 W72 engine breathes through a re-jetted factory Q-Jet carb and exhales through factory Ram Air headers coupled to a 2.5 inch diameter Pypes dual exhaust with an X-crossover.
The car received a full frame-off restoration in 2005 courtesy of Jason Daugherty. All the SE pin striping and the hood featuring the “Bionic Firebird” are painted. Reflective Fire Am graphics on the sail panels, fenders and in the rear finish the scheme.
Flowfit seats in cloth material provide additional support in the interior. The dash highlites include 160 mph speedometer and 8k tach with white gage faces illuminated with blue LED’s."
I don't remember where or when I came across this picture but I had it in the
'78 lots for a while and I believe it was one of the first images on the site
when the site was started back in 1997. Eventually Wayne Stegmiller wrote in and
cleared up some of the mystery about the origins of this car. It turned out it
was a 1 of 8 built by Herb Adams for SCCA racing. Considering that Herb went on
the create his company VSE and the Fire-Ams that would be the product of that
company after this short-lived endeavor for Pontiac I thought it was appropriate
to place the car here in the Fire Am lots.
If anyone has any further information to offer on these special TAs or has pictures of them to add to the site please contact me via e-mail.
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.
These are photos of Herb Adams himself driving one of his Fire Ams in a
road racing competition. I don't know which race it was or how he did. If
anyone has any info about these pics or the race send me an email:
firstname.lastname@example.org (remove the "1"
Cam Roberson writes in and provides the following:
"He raced it at the 24-hour race at Daytona, where the car had run 19 hours at more than 150 MPH but it then broke down. but it was an impressive showing considering had been driven to the race from Michigan."
John Hoffman writes in and provides the following:
"The pics of the Fire Am were taken at the 24 hrs of Daytona in '79. The car was driven to the race from Michigan and finished the race. I'm not sure where it placed. The same car was entered in the Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Race (Also known as the Cannonball Run) later the same year. It was plagued by mechanical problems and didn't finish. I'm sure you could round up all the particulars. Pretty cool stuff huh?"
While both accounts above are accurate in that this car was raced at the 24 Hours of Daytona its obvious these pictures were not taken at the track so if anyone knows where this racing was conducted let me know!!
Thanks to Steve Chin who took these photos for allowing us to display them. He originally posted them on his own website located here.
|This is an ad taken from the December 1979 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. The basic intent of the ad was to make these cars known to the public and to advertise the fact that the Fire-Am was now publicly available through Pontiac dealer showrooms. The VSE (Very Special Equipment) package was offered initially as an upgrade package through Herb Adams own company. Beginning sometime around the publication of this magazine Herb entered into an agreement with the Michigan based company Cars & Concepts to build Fire-Ams for Pontiac by installing the VSE package before delivery to the dealer. A situation similar to Pontiacs recent arrangements with SLP.|
These pics are shots from the May 1978 Motor Trend. They feature a
1976 Trans Am that has been converted to a Fire-Am. I believe 1976 was the
first year the Fire-Ams were produced. These early modified units would
lead to the production units in 1978 and 1979. The Trans Am pictured was a
complete Fire-Am built by Herb Adams and was provided to Motor Trend for
evaluation. It featured Corbeau racing seats, a chrome roll bar, 180
degree headers, a single 3" exhaust that exited in front of the right
rear wheel, a battery re-located to the trunk, and a Holley Dominator
carburetor, intake manifold and fuel pump. One of the more interesting
modifications to the car was the installation of an aluminum tank in the
vacated spot left by the battery that formed a dry sump system, which is
an external container that takes over oil storage duties from the oil
pan. A belt connected to the crankshaft pulley drove the pump. The
system was installed to prevent oil starvation during prolonged hard
cornering, a problem Motor Trend describes as, "a weak point in the
TA engine that needed to be corrected to allow the engine to survive the
stresses of competition."
All the emissions gear was removed from this TA and the scoop was opened up and made functional. This TA also got the full suspension kit which included Koni shocks, larger front and rear sway bars, machined steel bushings, and 15x8 wheels shod with HR 60x15 Goodyear GT radials. Further suspension modifications included cutting the stock front coil springs half a coil and moving the entire front sub-frame assembly up 1"! This final modification lowered the front of the car further without limiting travel but did require modification of the fender whells to achieve proper tire clearance. The leaf springs in the rear were lowered by moving them upward 3/4" through the use of a specially manufactured bracket. Finally the braking system was modified to improve cooling and stock equipment was replaced with full metallic racing linings.
Thanks to Steve Robertson for providing me with a scan of this article and identifying it!!
Pat Gibbons recently acquired this amazingly rare Fire Am and is planning a
restoration for it. Pat writes:
"Here are some pics of my Fire-Am. I just bought it off my uncle a few weeks ago. Its in a very early stage of restoration. I don't know too much about this car except for its very rare. If you have any more info about this car please email me back. This is what I do know about it:
-403ci with a TH400
-The hood scoop is opened up
-Chrome Roll Cage
-Recaro Racing seats
-15x8 Honeycomb wheels
I do have everything to put this car back together to make it completely original. If you know anywhere I can get a new hood bird for this car PLEASE email me back!! I hope to have it on the road by summer of 2003."
Pat if you see this, I no longer have a valid e-mail address for you!!! Please contact me.