The story behind this one
After a rather disastrous one-and-half years with a certain blue 1992 Acura Integra GS winter car, I
decided it was time to get rid of it before it would end up costing me so much to maintain that I would
have to sell the GTA. At the time, I was also looking to make some changes in my life, and began
looking to buy a house and settle down. What better way to cement a decision like this than to
buy a new car?
So I looked into a brand new Acura Integra... something that would provide me with several years of
worry-free warrantied operation. My absolute insistence with having ABS on the car forced me to have to
consider the GS model for 1998, nothing cheaper. There were
a few details that made me hesitate before jumping into such a purchase:
Okay, I know it's a matter of personal taste, but I kept asking myself if I could really
feel good about spending that much money on a monthly basis for something I wouldn't really
enjoy looking at all that much. Even with the 'softening' of the front fascia on the Integras
for 1998, I just couldn't make myself fall in love with this car. For $32000, I joked to myself,
I could just run out and get one of those new Trans Ams...
- The car was pretty expensive (some $32000 or more for the GS-R model)
- I thought the car was butt ugly.
Whoops... that last comment got me thinking seriously about purchasing this car. I had spotted the
new styling in an issue of Car and Driver and they had nothing but good things to say about this
new updated-for-1998 car and its new all-aluminum powerplant. I found the styling of the new
front end quite appealing and decided to do some research about the feasibility of using
such a vehicle as a winter car (the option of using my GTA in the winter is just non-existent).
I obtained favorable feedback on living with such a car through our 4 month winters so I
approached a Pontiac dealership with which I had some considerable experience (the GTA was a
long-time client of their service department, which employed the only mechanics I trusted to
work on my car). I came to the dealership armed with as much info as possible, expecting
fierce negotiations. There were none.
I was presented with an offer I could not refuse. Many many thousands of dollars under MSRP.
For peace of mind, I also negotiated that they take my ailing Integra GS as a trade-in. Before
signing the deal, I returned home with my brochure to show my parents what was brewing.
My mother took one look at the black WS6 (RamAir) model depicted below and declared that it was "mean-looking". At this point, I began to consider bumping my order up to the more limited-edition
Ram Air WS6 model instead of the base Trans Am. The only problem was that no dealer was stocking
such a beast and I couldn't even have a look at one in person before ordering it. I did not realize
at the time that they were in fact modified about 5 minutes away from where I work (ASC set up a
shop there to do the cosmetic modifications for the WS6 from 1998 onwards). Nonetheless, I
took my chance and placed the order. The salesman noted that he was having difficulty placing
the order, but eventually it was accepted by GM on April 1st, 1998.
I didn't realize it at the time but the WS6 model for 1998 was only available in extremely
limited quantities. Being the first year that ASC was contracted to perform the cosmetic
upgrades on the new WS6 'Birds, there was supposedly a production cap of 2700 units. Word has
it that by the time the first WS6 was completed at the ASC shop in Montreal in February of 1998,
all 2700 units were already spoken for. I was completely oblivious to this in March of 1998 when
I attempted to place my order. Given the difficulties my dealer was having placing the order so
late, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a left-over 1997 Trans Am WS6.
Given reviews and articles on the 1998 Trans Am such as this one in High Performance Pontiac,
I decided to set aside the temptation to accept the 1997 car and told my dealer to keep
trying anyway. Luck was on my side, because given the demand for these cars in 1998, GM decided
to increase the allocated WS6 production for 1998 by another 300 units at the very end of March (making a total of
approximately 3000 WS6-equipped Trans Ams or Formulas for 1998). Of these extra 300, only 10
were to be allocated for Canadian sales... and the information I received was that I was number
8 out of those extra 10! Yes, Luck really was on my side this time...
Special side note:
Not all was hunky-dory with my decision to buy this car. Keep in mind I had never seen a WS6
in person, so when the first pictures starting hitting the Internet as owners received their
cars, I was horrified to see that:
I was quite tempted to contact my dealer and tell him to modify my order and remove the WS6
option, but I decided to stick with it nonetheless. I do not regret my decision.
- The car had a ONE-OUTLET exhaust system, yet the Trans Ams all came with a bumper with
cutouts for TWO exhaust outlets!
- The Ram Air hood looked almost TOO aggressive, being used to the smooth angular lines
of the GTA.
Note the date on those photos... my order was still not officially entered into the GM system because all cars were officially sold-out... so I felt I still had time to change the details on my original order. In the end, I'm glad I did not because the car looks SO much better in real life than in photos.