1983 Pontiac Trans Am: WS6 Surprise

1983 Pontiac Trans Am

Firebirds and Camaros from the early ’80s don’t generally get my blood pumping. These cars were victim of the Malaise era, where cost-cutting and desperate attempts at fuel economy ruled the day. However, even in this darkness there were a few flickers of light, including a variant of the Trans Am I never knew existed in this generation – the WS6, like this example here on eBay where bidding is at $8K with the reserve unmet. It wasn’t a huge deal, as the package consisted of 4-wheel disc brakes and a 3.73 rear end with positraction, but at least it had some substance as opposed to many of GM’s special editions that consisted merely of window dressing and distinctive badges. This manual-transmission example is said to have less than 6,000 miles, making it nearly new – perfect for re-living your youth. Any takers?


  1. Steve

    That’s actually a really rare car. It’s a late build car because it has the L69 in it. It also has a manual and a 3.73 gear to boot. It’s the fastest (maybe you can crack a 14 with it) TA available in 1983. IMO the early third gens have more character than the later ones because they weren’t option “package” cars like the later ones. If you look at early third gens you will find a lot of odd ball combos. That’s an awesome find.

    • Van

      I actually have a black and gold with tan int 83 ws6 automatic trans am. Needs a little work to finish it.. it’s a one owner barn find with 88 thousand miles on it.

  2. Charles

    Nice 83!

  3. Randy

    5.0 engine, that should not surprise me, but it does. I hated when the feds got involved with automotive manufacturing. I remember when you could just about get any engine in any mopar product in the 60’s and early 70’s

    • Rolly Doucet

      When the feds got involved with auto manufacturing, is when the imports got a leg up. The rest is history. Thanks feds…….NOT!

  4. SoCal Car Guy

    Being the best of the worst isn’t much of a recommendation, is it?

    • Tom

      Well, if one is a fan of redlettermedia.com, then their Best of The Worst is a hilarious and most entertaining series.

  5. OhU8one2

    This is when GM really hit the skid’s, styling was a miss,power number’s down, BUT, it is a Pontiac,V-8,manual trans,great rear gear’s, 4 wheel disc,still I never got excited! This car is really going to need some money,time and patience to get it right. Is it just me or I must be blind,cause I still haven’t seen anywhere on the window sticker the “WS6” option. I know it was back in the 70’s,but NOT sure later on? I’m gonna pass on this one. Too bad it’s not a “Macho T/A”!

    • Mitchell G Member

      Well, if you were to get technical it’s actually powered by a Chevy 305, not a Pontiac v8

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Agreed… I see WS4 (Trans AM) on the ID plate. I wonder if the build sheet is still in the car? Weren’t those commonly put under the rear seat? Or, a shot of the RPO sticker would also show that option if the car has it.

      I started to cough about the car maybe having another 100K, but it really does not look that way. I could be made to believe that it really does just have the 6K

      I really wonder what the back story is on the car, and why the first owner never really drove it. This seller… If cashing in after a decade was the goal, why not store the car properly? Not too costly to prep a car for long-term sleeping, and that would have made it much easier to awaken. Covers are not expensive either. I just don’t get the fascination with dust!

      Like 1
  6. Dave

    To me I wouldn’t care what kind of drive train was in it !! all these third gen camaros/firebirds IMO sucked !! The styling was ugly, the interior was ugly, just plane UGLY !! they started on a steep decent into uglyville in 1982 !!

  7. Tom S.

    The cassette player has AUTO REVERSE! Someone should snap this up quick.

  8. Charles

    No RPO stickers until 1984. Build sheets are usually stuck under one of the seats in the springs.

    The third gen models were better balanced than eariler models. Weight was decreased and the co-efficient drag was the least of any car built up until that time. The cars were designed to slip through the air with ease, and made extensive use of a wind tunnel for design of the body shape, mirrors, and spoiler. The cars handle like they are on rails and are ruggedly built. The hatchback design lent the cars to be more practical then eariler models. Pontiac’s original intent was to install a Turbo charged Pontiac engine in these cars, but the Pontiac engine would not meet emissions standards for the day. The corporate GM 305 (Chevy) engine would meet current standards, and the managment at GM chose that engine for the V8 option.

    WS4 is the base suspension code. WS6 is an added option. WS6 and WS7 cars will list WS4 on the window sticker as base, with WS6 or WS7 listed as an option. The window sticker list this car as having the performance suspension option.

    The 215 65 R 15 tire size indicates that the car is a WS6 or a WS7. That is assuming that the wheels are original to this car. WS4 cars came with 14 inch wheels.

    Rear disc brakes are WS6 only. WS7 cars have rear drum brakes. All models have front disc brakes.

    The steering wheel on this car is not original to this car. 83 models have a larger cap that holds the horn button, and has fake torx head screws that appear to hold the spokes on. It is not uncommon for the sponge rubber coating on the steering wheel to deterorate and fall appart. This wheel is from a later model car and the leather covering is aftermarket.

    Getting this puppy back on the road will cost a bundle. I own an original 82 WS7 TA with 24K actual miles on it and an original 86 WS6 with 30K actual miles on it. Both cars are well documented and I am the second owner on each car. The 82 had sat a while in a garage when I got it. The first owner started the car weekly and drove it a little. It ran when I got it, but had a lot of mechanical issues.

    Last summer we replaced the original tires, re-worked the brakes, changed all of the rubber hoses and belts. The AC compressor had a leaking front seal, and all of the AC hoses were leaking where the hoses are swedged onto the fittings. The evaporator had a small leak which is common on these cars. The power window motors were almost siezed up. I could go on but you get the idea. By the time we got the mechanical issues straightened out on the car, I had invested 6K in addition to the cost of purchase. The car looks new with it’s original paint and original interior are still shiny and perfect. The car is road ready, and could be safely dirven accross the country without fear at this time. It is still in stock condiiton, and still very much original, but with necessary maintianance items taken care of, so yes it is a survivor. The car has earned several first place awards so far.

    As for third gen collectability, the cars are starting to gain in popularity and in value. The 305 engine is dependable, but is not a performance engine. What does lend to this model’s popularity is that the cars are the perfect platform for an LS swap. There are lots of 80’s Camaros and Firebirds around with 500 to 600 HP engines in place of the V6 and 305’s they were born with.

    This car is unique and to the right person will be a good investment. I have never personally seen an 83 with a 3:73 gear, although they exist. The five speed trans is not spectacular, but the car being born with a manual trans is. If this car truely has less then 6K miles on it, it should be preserved in as built condiiton. As for myself, I would have to see it in person to decide if I believe that the mileage is truly 6K or 106K. It could be a well maintained 106K mile car, as the five digit speedo will not indicate. The 82 models came with a six digit odometer, but the 83’s came with a 5 digit verson.

    The value of this car is debatable, but as an unknown I would be temped to take a chance on the car if the price were around 6 to 7K. There are too many unknowns for anything more. If the car were turn key 10 to 12 K would not be out of line. Hagery places values in the 12K range, but that is assuming that the car is in running/driving condition.

    Either way, I would love to add this one to my collection, however our finances are still reeling from my cancer treatment in 2014, and the wife says that I have enough toys already. I will enjoy watching the progress and hope to be able to follow up as the new owner takes possession of the car.

    Like 1
  9. Charles

    The window sticker shows the performance suspension option. WS4 is the base suspension. All Firebirds have WS4 listed as a base level, and if equiped, either WS6 or WS7 as an option. Often the actual RPO codes WS6-7 are not listed per say, but it will read Performance Suspension on the window sticker. Rear disk brakes were only included on WS6 cars. WS7 cars are identical to WS6 equiped cars except the WS7 cars have rear drum brakes. WS6 and WS7 cars both have 15 inch wheels, and use a 215-65R 15 tire. WS4 cars use a 14 inch wheel and tire.

    RPO stickers were not included until 1984. Build sheets are usually found under one of the seats stuck between the seat springs and the foam.

  10. Charles

    A 3:73 gear ratio makes this a rare car. The five speed makes it more desirable. The diff is probably a GM 10 bolt, which in this varation is stout enough for the 145 HP corporate 305 V8, but not stout enough to stand any HP upgrades to the engine. The manual trans is a plus, however again it was sized for the factory engine. These cars are gaining in popularity. The cars are better balanced than eariler models, and weigh about 700 lbs less then a second gen. The suspension is superior to anything built before, and the cars handle like they are on rails. Traction is good due to the improved weight balance. The co-efficient drag on this model was the lowest of any car built to date, and set the standard for cars today. A hatchback made the car more practical than predicessors. The cooperate GM small block V8 made the car easily upgradable to any number of small block Chevy engines, including the LS engines of today.

  11. Charles

    Low mileage original examples are starting to command a premium price. Most thirdgen cars have been extensively modified, and original examples are becoming scarce. Pontiac produced 44K examples of the TA in 1983, however the cars were commonly thought of as throw-aways for many years and many have been run into the ground. Hagerty lists a car with the mileage claimed on this car and equiped such as this as 12 to 14K in running/driving condition.

  12. Charles

    I have a couple of questions regarding this car.

    1) The steering wheel is from a later model car. The 83 steering wheel has a larger center cap housing that has fake tork head screws that appear to thread into the spokes. This wheel does not have that feature. This wheel looks like a wheel from an 85 or 86 that has been recovered in leather. This in itself does not concern me, as the fake leather covers on the steering wheels which are made of sponge rubber are prone to dry rot and fall apart.

    2) The five digit odometer could be 6K or it could be a well cared for 106K. In 1982 Firebirds had a six digit odometer, however in 83 Pontiac reverted to a five digit odometer. I believe that the six digit odometer returned in 1984, but could be mistaken.

    Even so, this car seems to be in original configuration, and appears to be in decent cosmetic condition. The car could be a nice collectable for the right person even if the mileage is 106K. If it is truly 6K, then it is a find.

    • Steve

      I believe that steering wheel went into production late 83. If memory serves correct both wheels were on the 83’s. That wheel was first available on the Daytona 500 TA’s. The big issue with the L69 was vapor lock and 1986 was the last year it was made on a handful of cars. IMO this car looks like it does have the mileage that it’s advertised at and whoever ordered it originally wanted the fastest TA available at the time because of the options it has. This is a real find.

  13. Charles

    HO engines were only built for a short time during 1983. There was an overheating issue that could not be corrected easily, and Pontiac canceled the engine early in the season. A true factory installed HO engine makes this car a collectable, as there were just a few hundred made.

  14. Charles

    When Pontiac redesigned the Firebird for 1982 their original intent was to install a Turbo Charged Pontiac engine in the car as an option. Thus the off-set hood scoop. As production dates approached, the Pontiac engine was unable to meet new emissions standards, so GM’s response was to use the small block Chevy V8 in all GM cars with the V8 option. This is not all bad, as the small block Chevy engine is a simple design, sturdy, and has lots of aftermarket support. For owners who wanted to modify their cars the sky was the limit. Granted there is not much one can do with a 305, however the fact that a 350 will bolt right in with no mods makes the cars a natural for a street or strip build.

  15. Charles

    I own two low mileage thirdgen cars. One is an original 1982 WS7 car with 24K actual miles on it. The car is very well documented, highly optioned and clean as a new one. I am the second owner. This car was kept in running condition, started regularly, but not driven much. The first owner did not drive the car much because of a quirky transmission, that I had rebuilt and works perfectly now. Last year, I decided to catch up the maintenance items that prevented the car from being driven safely on the highway. The original tires were replaced. We rebuilt the brakes which were not worn, but were spongy and the rubber parts were dry rotted. We replaced all of the rubber hoses, belts, and generally went over the car to bring it up to being road worthy. The car has won first place in its class in several shows over the last couple of years.

  16. Charles

    My other thirdgen is an all original 1986 WS6 with 30K actual miles in it. This car has the 305 TPI engine which develops 215 HP versus 145 when the engines were introduced four years eariler. In 1987 the L98 350 engine was offered in these cars and all V8’s had roller camshafts. The L98 cars are fast for the time and will regularly turn in a 14 second 1/4 mile in stock form. My 305 TPi car will do 15.3 on a regular basis. This car belonged to a family friend who bought it new. I have a massive amount of documentation for this car. When she passed away the family offered me first refusal on the car. Again this car is a survivor in the strickest sense. It currently has six first place awards and one second place.

  17. Charles

    I would love to add this 83 to my collection, however there are a couple of things standing in my way. First is that I am recovering from cancer treatment in 2014. I am doing well, back to work and feel good. Unfortunately, my finances took a hit. And then there is the wife. She thinks that I have enough toys…

    I hope that a buyer who will truely appreciate this car ends up buying it. It will be a treasure for the right person, and the car deserves to be preserved. It will be a lot more interesting if the seller will wash it and get it running. The whole covered with dust thing supposedly making a car more valuable is stupid.

  18. Alan (Michigan)

    Thanks for all of the information, Charles. Nice when someone with a lot of knowledge about a brand and vintage chimes in to clear up questions and add to everyone else’s understanding.

  19. Charles

    Thanks for the kind words Alan,

    I bought my first 1983 WS6 TA new in the fall of 1982. I was 26 years old. The car had the Cross Fire 305 V8, five speed, 3:23 gears, Bose stereo option, and T-tops.

    Like 1
    • Moparmann Member

      OOOHHH! That BLUE one…DROOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (c:

      • Charles

        Thanks Moparmann. That car has an unusual history. It was bought new at Harry’s on the Hill, Pontiac, Cadilliac in Asheville, NC by Amanda Crowe of Cherokee NC. Amanda was the premier native wood carver and teacher at the tribal high school for Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Amanda was reponsible for the re-introduction of the previously lost art of wood carving to the tribe. Her works are on display in museums all over the world. Amanda was also a gearhead and owned an eclectic group of cars. Her DD was an El Camino with a 383 stroker and a four speed. Amanda bought the TA as a Sunday afternoon cruiser, and it was a pampered toy. When I bought the car in 2006 it had 25K actual miles on it and had lived in Amanda’s basement it’s whole life. The car is a true Rez car. It is well known locally and is almost a celebrity in it’s own right. Take a look at the link.


  20. Charles


    an article in the Cherokee One Feather about the car

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