The Fire Am

If you have stumbled upon this article you must be asking yourself “What is a Fire Am?” and believe it or not that is a great question.  The answer…Its everything the Trans Am could have been and should have been.  In the height of the muscle car era GM was turning out some of the best performance cars this world has ever known.  A man by the name of Herb Adams was an automotive engineer and diehard racer and just happened to work for the GM Pontiac division.  His contributions led to the now infamous Super Duty 455 engine, as well as the Ram Air V program.  Perhaps his greatest contribution came after his official departure from Pontiac.  On a contractual endeavor Herb was brought in to conduct a performance handling exercise of sorts. In 1977 Herb and his newly founded company VSE (Very Special Equipment) built 8 race ready Trans Ams for Pontiacs IROC racing program.  The program did not succeed at that time, but the improvements made to those 8 Trans Ams were not lost.  Several of the key components went on to become the WS6 performance package in 1978.  The rest of the improvements were deemed unsuitable for a production car and VSE was granted permission to offer those components themselves and the Fire Am was born.

If your first question is “What is a Fire Am?” then your next question is probably “Why haven’t I heard about this before?”.   Keep in mind that all of this took place in the late 70’s.  Two guys by the name Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs had just started Apple computers and the internet wouldn’t be publicly accessed for another 20 years.  The only source for information was a periodical.  Even then our choices were slim with Thunder Am, Car Craft, Hot Rod and Car and Driver to name just a few.  Even though they did all cover the Fire Am on multiple occasions the VSE corporation stopped offering components in the mid 80’s.  VSE itself did not build a large number of Fire Ams or its camaro cousin the Cheverra, but anyone could build there own and the majority of them that exist today were built by the owners.  That being the case there are no production numbers available.

The VSE catalog was a great resource for parts and information.


No one will argue that the Trans Am is the epitome of what we all love about that era in automotive history with the huge hood bird decals and stylish lines, but the Fire Am took that heritage and took it to a whole new level.  Not just with performance, but handling as well.  It was a pro-touring movement before the word was mainstream.  There were three stages designed for Street, Autocross, and Road racing.  Here are some really nice examples of Fire Ams owned or restored by members in the TAC community.

Original equipment usually indicates a Firebirds true link to VSE, but for those of us that wanted a Fire Am of our own up until now our only option was newly designed components.  Thanks to Passion-Motors (formerly VSE) and NPD we can build an authentic Fire Am.  have teamed up to He was giventhat  Since the Firebirds inception in 1967 its name is synonymous with good looks and aggressive styling

This Fire Am can be seen at the NPD location in Florida.