1989 marked the Trans Am’s 20th exciting year. To celebrate the occasion, Pontiac developed the 20th Anniversary Trans Am. This was all white Trans Am was chosen to pace the 73rd Indianapolis 500 Race, marking the third appearance by Pontiac at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1980. This car proudly met all demanding Indianapolis Pace Car requirements without any mechanical or technical modifications.
The 3.8 liter SFI fuel injected V-6, with its turbocharger and intercooler, stands on the cutting edge of engine technology. With its computer-controlled Garrett turbocharger set at a maximum boost of 16.5 psi, this THM 200-4R four speed automatic transmission-equipped V6 develops 250 horsepower at 4400 rpm and a maximum torque of 345 ft lbs.
Each 20th Anniversary Trans Am is equipped with a special heavy-duty brake system. It also has a specially designed fuel tank derived from IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) Showroom Stock Competition. Inside the fuel tank is a baffle surrounding the fuel pump during the sharp turns. All in all, the 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am embodies the Pontiac slogan “We Build Excitement.”
So here is some info on my 1989 pace car prototype. I purchased the car back in 1995 form a muscle car broker in White Bear Lake, Minnesota (Wally McCarthy’s Pontiac Superstore); at the time I had no idea what I purchased. The used car salesman named Ira did tell me a short story about the car. When I found the loose piece, I also found a packet with a lot of info on the car. The original bill of sale (from Pontiac Motor Division), an insurance binder (a liability policy for this car alone, for one million dollars), the owner’s manual, etc. I was surprised to see that it started like as a V-8 car. After a little investigating, I did contact someone who actually worked at PAS, Inc., when the cars were modified for Pontiac. He checked the VIN and told me that the one I purchases is one of the pre-production Pilot cars. He also told me that PAS had held onto two of the cars, a hardtop with leather and t-top with cloth (my car).
There are several other items that are different on this car when you compare it to cars that were sold to the public. It never got the upgraded 3-inch drive shaft, the e prom chip has a hand written decal on it stating that it is a prototype chip, or it designates that it was to be installed in the pre-production cars. It also has a very high rear end ratio: 3.23 to one. I would love to see where the top end is on this car! I did do a Carfax report on it and the first sale indeed was in Troy, Michigan. But it says that a duplicate title was issued in May of 1994. This is the first official title issued to the car. I hope this helps you. I do have a verification from “Pontiac Historical Services” that my car is # 4 of five pre-production Pilot cars.
A little history on the pace car legacy. Indy always gets three Pilot cars, one for the race, one as a backup in case of a crash and one for the Indy Motor Museum. A few years back, on the way to the GS Nationals, my brother and I stopped in at the museum as tourists (a must see for any car guy or gal). I talked to one of the employees and found out that if you ask, and tell them you have a pace car, they will actually take you to the archives and let you sell all the photos of the race, festivities, etc. for that particular year. How cool is that! I have heard you can now see all they have online.