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Thread: Remembering "Ram Air" and "WS6"...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    Remembering "Ram Air" and "WS6"...

    ?WS-6? and ?Ram Air? are hallowed codes among the Pontiac faithful. A Trans-Am or Firebird Formula equipped with these options can deliver ultra-violent horsepower levels and incredible handling tenacity.

    But first some history. ?WS-6? refers to the special handling package first developed by Pontiac engineer Herb Adams back in the mid-1970s. It first appeared as a regular production option in 1978 and included larger diameter front and rear anti-sway bars, different rate front coil springs and rear leaf springs, augmented by ?high effort? variable-ratio power steering.

    By 1979, the package came to include huge-for-the-era 15x8-inch ?snowflake? aluminum wheels and 4-wheel disc brakes ? making the Trans-Ams and Firebirds of the time among the best-handling (and best-stopping) American-built cars on the road, eclipsing even the Chevy Corvette in cornering ability as measured by lateral G-forces.

    The ?Ram-Air? legend goes back even further to the height of the musclecar period of the 1960s, when the famed high compression ?Ram Air II,? ?Ram Air III? and king-of-the-hill ?Ram Air IV? 400 cubic-inch liter Pontiac V-8s were breathing the ?fire? into 1967-1970 Firebirds.

    Tragically, Pontiac ceased building its own engines by 1981, switching to Chevy power as GM "corporatized" its drivetrains. But the WS6 and Ram Air options continued through the third generation (1982-1993) and fourth generation (1994-2002) F-cars before GM pulled the plug.

    In all likelihood, the coming '09 Camaro will have some kind of ultra-performance handling/braking option. But since the Firebird won't be resuscitated alongside the Camaro, WS6 and Ram Air have become items for the history books... .

  2. #2

    Re: Remembering "Ram Air" and "WS6"...

    When we were doing our dyno runs, a guy came in with a fourth-gen Firebird WS6. He came in to get some race gas. Not sure why, looked like he drove it on the street. It looked and sounded fairly stock.

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