'81 FirebirdFull-Throttle T/AThe late-second-generation Firebird wasn't exactly known for its high-performance handling characteristics. Jeff Schwartz of Schwartz Extreme Performance saw that as an opportunity. Schwartz Performance has more than just gotten their feet wet in Pro Touring-style builds; they incorporate high-tech suspension and high-powered motors into everything they touch. This would prove to give this 'Bird a new life style.
Schwartz started with the frame. Since nearly all the suspension characteristics are cemented by the frame's design, it would have to be improved. They constructed an entirely new frame, bumper to bumper, from 2x3-inch DOM tubing with 2-inch round tubing for bracing. This gave them the platform they needed to give the car the suspension geometry they desired. The suspension features tubular upper and lower control arms and Air Ride ShockWaves in the front, paired with a four-link-style rear suspension. Despite the increased strength, the overall vehicle weight was reduced by 60 pounds with the new frame and suspension. Schwartz Extreme Performance offers this frame in a number of arrangements. Upon completion, this car will serve as the demo for their tubular frame.
They wanted a motor that would have torn the factory frame apart. Without a doubt, the LS-series engine is the best thing for reliable, light-weight power. Instead of going with a crate option, Schwartz built a 6.9-liter LS9 mixed with LS7 parts to withstand the twin turbo punishment he will inflict. Obviously, the transmission would have to take the abuse as well, so a Bowler-built 4L85E will back it, controlled by column-mounted paddle shifters for that race feel.
The body and paint would not be as outspoken as the suspension and drivetrain. They decided to do subtle body modifications that only a Pontiac purest would notice right away. While other shops use white paint to hide bad bodywork, Schwartz uses it to give a high-quality clean look that is timeless.
By The Numbers1981 Pontiac FirebirdJeff Schwartz, 39 * Crystal Lake, ILPerformance: 1,500 horsepower