Learning To Fly: 2001 Pontiac Trans Am WS6

The band Pink Floyd may be an acquired taste for some, and for me it was played incessantly by a college roommate until I acquired that taste, but the lyrics on many of their songs have a way of staying with you.  On the album A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which said roommate played until he wore out the CD player, the song Learning to Fly has stuck with me.  The song is said to be a reflection on either David Gilmour’s passion for his hobby of flying or the feeling that comes with experiencing something new.  While I don’t have the rock star money to purchase my own Learjet, craigslist occasionally offers a four wheeled rocket ship in case I want to fly a little closer to the ground.  Take for example this 2001 Pontiac Trans Am with the WS6 performance package found on craigslist in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  While the $12,000 price may already be sky high to some readers, this pugnacious Poncho has a few go fast goodies tucked under the hood to make you forget all about the price when you mash the go pedal.

As a WS6 car, it already has some important options.  Most obvious of these is the functional Ram Air hood and the 17′ wheels and tires (not on this car, but hopefully kept).  Other improvements included increased cooling, a less restrictive exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension.  Considering that these were cars that could do 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, and were electronically limited to 160 mph, these were nice options to have when it was time for take off.

The owner of this Trans Am, which has just 73,500 miles on the odometer has gone all Emeril in kicking this red rocket ship up a notch.  The original motor was pulled and completely re-done, adding a Texas Speed cam, titanium valve springs and retainers, and a 150 shot NSX wet system nitrous kit (I think the seller means a system from either Nitrous Express or Nitrous Oxide Systems).  A set of long tube stainless steel headers and a full 3″ Magna Flow exhaust help the engine breathe.  On a dyno run, the car produced 450 horsepower at the rear wheels, and 600 horsepower on nitrous.  According to the seller, tuning the car on the dyno was the only time the nitrous system was used.

Inside, we can see that the seller’s claims that the car has 73,500 miles and has been garage kept look to be true.  The leather power seats and the similarly wrapped steering wheel look factory new.  Of course, a car this expensive when sold has all the luxury touches such as cruise control, air conditioning, a stereo with an equalizer and steering wheel controls, and both power windows and locks.  The shifter and clutch pedal are for the six speed transmission and the beefed up clutch and pressure plate.  To top it all off, that little red button on the shifter activates the nitrous system.

Under the hood, the snaked up nitrous hoses are the biggest clue that things are a bit hotter than stock.  Everything else looks well kept and clean, albeit very cramped.  I would imagine that some maintenance tasks require a tiny bit of dexterity.  A Tick Performance clutch master cylinder has been added to the car as well, with the reservoir hiding to the right of the brake master cylinder on the cowl.  Speaking of brakes, the rotors have been drilled and slotted in case you need to slow this beast down in a hurry.  From there, those rotors have a set of Race Star wheels bolted to them, with Goodyears on the front and Mickey Thompson ET Street tires on the back to get all that horsepower to the ground.

I guess you have to look at this one as a quick way to get some serious street performance by writing a check and turning a key.  Some of the newer Camaros, Corvettes, and Mustangs can equal or maybe even surpass the performance of this car, but the price tag would be much higher.  I will defer to the readers for their opinion as to how much the seller has spent in upgrading this Trans Am, and if the modifications will be reliable.  To me, this looks like a cheap way to fly.  I just wonder if the seller found a way to rid the car of the 160 mph electronic limiter…



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  1. Redwagon

    Does anyone really believe that the NOS was used only once on the dyno? I think not.

    • Jeffro

      I’m sure he only used nitrous when on his way to the grocery store or to church.

    • Andy

      73,00 miles and the motor was completely redone? Nitrous only used once?

      Sounds like a politician campaigning…

  2. Steve R

    I’d rather have one that hasn’t had Ricky Racer messing with it. The nitrous is one modification too many, in my mind that actually devalues the car. It screams, I’ve been beat on, probably with no mercy.

    Steve R

    • stp

      You mean the car? Or the owner?

    • Buick Fan

      It screams – from the factory! Leave ’em alone. Losing a second in the 1/4 mile at the expense of drive-ability, longevity, value is not for me, but If you get your kicks at the dragstrip…that’s totally understandable.

  3. Blueprint

    Hood is long enough for a V-16!

  4. dan

    all these guys list there fast cars………..no et: times,LOL
    likely a 15sec slug…..

    • Steve R

      I have a couple of friends that bracket race their basically stock LS-1 F-bodies. Like clockwork a stock automatic equipped Camaro/Firebird will run 13.20’s, 12.60’s with a converter change and DOT soft compound tires. Stick shift cars are less predictable, their performance is based on the driver.

      The farther away you get from stock you get the less predictable these cars become, I’ve seen more than a few with blowers, turbos or heads and cam that are actually slower than stock.

      Steve R

      Like 1
      • Sheldon Braffman

        My 1994 750 Honda Magna V4 Motorcycle does the 1/4 in 12.7 at 137 mph. With 101 bhp and 535 lbs wet. The power to weight ratio would blow this Bird away.

      • Nova Scotian

        Yea hi Sheldon…your motorcycle is faster than this rig…I’m sure it is. Lots of motorcycles would be. Why the odd comparisons? Like comparing a bow rider to an ocean liner. Sure you can outrun me. But ya’ ever been out to sea Sheldon?…
        It’s a whole ‘nother experience…

  5. Miguel

    The front bumper on this car is interesting to me. I am looking at a car here in Mexico that is a 1995 model, I know the factory didn’t make ram air cars that year, that has a similar style bumper. I haven’t seen anything similar on google.

    • Nathaniel Fuller

      They did make a factory Ram Air in 1995 but 1995 to 1997 had a smaller single row of nostriles. It didn’t look anything like that picture. I once owned a factory 97 Ram AIr convertible. It was a rare car but they do exist.

    • Andre

      The front fascia was redesigned in ‘98, that’s why it’s different than the ‘95.

      As the former owner of an ‘01 Camaro SS I can attest these were quick in stock form, and to be treated respectfully.. they’d bite back.

      • Steve R

        The scoops and how they are integrated into the front bumper is similar to the 1998 and newer Ram Air Firebirds. Prior to 1998 the scoops were pushed back from the leading edge of the hood and did not have channels protruding into the bumper. A quick search of Google images will make the differences apparent.

        This might be an aftermarket hood and front bumper. I think I saw hoods and bumpers similar to this advertised in High Performance after the redesign in 1998.

        Steve R

      • Miguel

        I think the car looks great with the mixture of the ’95 style hood and the ’98 style front bumper.

        I am trying to get the time to go buy the car. It is all the way down south in the country.

        It is also a 6 speed which makes it a little more fun.

  6. Buick Fan

    Jeff: Love the Pink Floyd connection…learning to fly is an awesome tune, best played LOUD!

  7. elrod

    Love Pontiacs! The mods devalue the car IMHO. These “go fast” cars end up being a nightmare with drivability issues and breaking parts. A clean LS swap with a current motor and leaving the rest alone would have been so much cleaner and not destroyed the car. Such is the fate of many pony cars…

  8. Ryan f

    The Pink Floyd reference is about the only thing great on this post in my opinion

  9. Troy s

    Modern day screamer, hard to believe 2001 was 16 years ago, so this is actually an old car now, dang. Never a fan of NOS.

  10. Sukey

    Used nitrous once 😀
    Exploded on dyno😱
    Never touched red button again 🙈

  11. Rube Goldberg Member

    Pink Floyd, in my opinion, is the best rock group ever. David Gilmore’s reference to “Learning to fly” was when he took over as the bands leader when Roger Waters quit. I normally like Firebird’s, but this is the most unusual front end of them all. I didn’t care for it. Still, for a 2001, probably the sportiest car you could buy. Pontiac had such nice interiors.


    Nice car man, 6 spd screamer

  13. DrinkinGasoline

    If the T-Bird had a “Beak”, then this has a “Snotty Boar’s Snout”.
    Someone give it a tissue…..eeeww.

  14. Tom S.

    The front bumper is a different shade of red from the fenders and hood. Carfax?

    • Miguel

      The car is 16 years old and plastic fades at a different rate than metal does.

  15. Pa Tina

    I would fix it up to have smoke come out of it’s nostrils.Staggeringly ugly in every possible way. Pontiac deserved to go out of business.

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