This late-model classic was an All-American Street Fighter, using top Corvette tech to take on the likes of Porsche, Lotus, and Ferrari.
The annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) has become the foremost stage for showcasing the classic muscle cars that rumbled out of Detroit to dominate the streets of the 1960s and 1970s.
Yet, as the show, held in Rosemont, Illinois, grows and evolves, it’s welcoming later-model performance cars that connect with and excite younger enthusiasts. One of those this year was an extremely well-preserved 1992 Firebird Formula Firehawk.
It’s a retro star showcasing the spunk, tenacity, and laser-focus emphasis Pontiac kept on serving up driving fun. Using top Corvette tech, Ferrari F40 brakes, and track-tested components, the Firehawk was a Firebird dialed all the way up, meant to take on Europe’s best with no care for refinement. It was raucous and all about high intensity.
Beyond this example’s pristine low-mileage condition, the red-hot passion of its owner, Bruce Hawkins, made it the clear choice to be awarded my Celebrity Pick.
The Hawk’s Nest: Fueling the Fire
Bruce is no stranger to the 3rd-gen era of the Pontiac Firebird (produced from 1982 through 1992). His love is traced to his launching Hawks Motorsports in 1999.
Based in Easley, South Carolina, the business has maintained their exclusive focus on these model years, developing a strong reputation for sourcing all the necessary parts and components along with completing full-blown custom builds for such clients as NASCAR driver, Jason Keller, and University of Virginia football coach, Tony Elliott.
Bruce and his team not only understand this F-body platform but thoroughly embrace it, pushing its go-fast abilities to the limit.
Hot and Heavy: Ten-Fold
As Bruce explains, the original Firehawk played a pivotal role in his journey into the exciting world of high-performance vehicles. “I’ve always been drawn to low-production sports cars," shared the enthusiast. "That’s why I started my business, but it was daunting as a young man to launch the new venture. When I had grown enough and acquired the funds to buy my first, it made me feel accomplished. It was the justification I needed to believe I was becoming someone in the industry and that the future was bright."
That initial Firehawk acquisition in March of 2000 (car #24) marked the beginning of a deep-seated passion that has only intensified.
"From there, that love led to acquiring nine others with each reminding me of the feeling I had when becoming that first car’s caretaker," reflected Bruce. Today, he’s the largest collector of the rare bird, owning ten examples.
Car #19: Igniting the Passion
The vehicle showcased at MCACN, car #19, joined his collection in June 2019 and stands as his lowest mileage example with only 62 miles on the odometer.
It was discovered in Arkansas and took six months of persistence to convince the prior and extremely protective original owner to sell. “He had just come out of the Air Force and wanted to kick off retirement with a special gift,’ explains Bruce. “He headed to his local dealer, Sidney Moncrief Pontiac, and bought it."
Over the years, the military vet was diligent in pulling the classic out every so often to wash it and then carefully pull it back inside.
Despite Bruce's effort, the wait was undeniably worthwhile. “My son, Tyler, and I embarked on a three-day road trip to retrieve it,' recalled Bruce. 'It was a lot of happy miles together. Any father knows that time spent bonding with their kids is special—I had those moments with my dad and my first Firehawk, and it’s those kinds of memories that withstand the test of time."
Phoenix Rising: Continuation Series
Beyond his deep appreciation for the Firehawk's past, Bruce is forging a new path and carrying the model’s legacy into the future. During the show, his team made a significant announcement, unveiling a pilot car for their own limited edition run of 1992 Firehawk Continuation Series vehicles.
Only 25 will be built (plus 3 pilot cars), offering three performance stages, including a top-tier fire-breathing 1,200-horsepower option.
“The Firehawk had such an influence on me and represented the pinnacle performance for the era,’ said Bruce. “I wanted to pay homage to where it’s come from but add my own Hawks Motorsports flair. Pontiac built excitement and I wanted to show that we can, too.”
About the 1992 Pontiac Firebird Firehawk by SLP
The Firebird Formula Firehawk was offered in 1991 by Street Legal Performance in celebration of the Firebird’s 25th anniversary. A planned run of 250 units fell short with just 25 vehicles being created, costing $39,999.
Under the hood was a heavily modified 350ci V8 (rated at 350hp/390-lb-ft) – a big upgrade over the stock 350 V8’s 240hp rating. Other upgrades included a six-speed manual transmission from the Corvette ZR-1, Corvette disc brakes, a special Dana 44 limited slip axle, and a stainless-steel exhaust system. The package was designated by the Special Order Code of RPO B4U. The car boasted a 0 to 60mph time of 4.2 seconds, a ¼-mile time of 13.2 seconds at 107 mph, and a top speed of 160mph.
A Competition Option, costing $9,995, replaced the standard 1LE brakes with 4-piston Brembo front calipers and cross-drilled rotors – the same components used on the Ferrari F-40. It also brought a rear seat delete, a 6-point roll bar, a lightweight hood, a Recaro driver’s seat, and a Simpson 5-point harness.
Upfitting occurred at SLP Engineering’s Tom’s River, New Jersey facility in July of 1991.
The Firehawk legacy continued with a revived package in 1993 and the debut of the Firebird model’s fourth generation, lasting until 2002.
Check out the 1992 Firehawk's original promotional videos below.