The fourth-generation Firebird amplified the aerodynamic styling initiated by the previous generation. While the live rear axle and floorpan aft of the front seats remained largely the same, ninety percent of the Firebird's parts were all-new. Overall, the styling of the Firebird more strongly reflected the Banshee IV concept car than the 1991 "facelift" did. As with the Camaro, major improvements included standard dual airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, 16-inch wheels, rack-and-pinion power steering, short/long-arm front suspension, and several non-rusting composite body panels. Throughout its fourth generation, trim levels included V6-powered Firebird, and V8-powered Formula and Trans Am. The T5 five-speed manual transmission was standard with the V6s, as was the Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual for the V8s. A four-speed automatic was optional for both, featuring built-in electronic controls beginning in 1994.
1994–1997 Trans Am Convertible
1996 Firebird Formula with functional "Ram Air" hood
The 1999 30th Anniversary Trans Am
Joe Aquilante on the front stretch of Pocono Raceway 1999, to become SCCA National Champ in T-1
From 1993 until 1995 (1995 non-California cars), Firebirds received a 160 hp (120 kW) 3.4 L V6, an enhanced version of the third-generation's 3.1 L V6. Beginning mid-year 1995 onward, a Series II 3.8 L V6 with 200 hp (150 kW) became the Firebird's sole engine. From 1993 to 1997, sole engine for the Formula and Trans Am was the 5.7 L LT1 V8, essentially identical to the LT1 in the C4 Corvette except for more flow-restrictive intake and exhaust systems. Steering wheel audio controls were included with optional uplevel cassette or compact disc stereo systems. Beginning with 1994 model year cars, "Delco 2001"-series stereo systems replaced the previous Delco units.:898 This revised series, also introduced for other Pontiac car lines, featured ergonomically-designed control panels with larger buttons and an optional seven-band graphic equalizer. 1994 also marked the first model year the fourth-generation convertible was available; every Firebird (and Camaro) convertible featured a glass rear window with a built-in electric defroster. The 1995 models were the same as those of previous years, but traction control (ASR: Acceleration Slip Regulation) was now available for LT1 Firebirds, controllable by a switch on the console. The steering wheel in all Firebirds was also changed; its optional built-in audio controls were more closely grouped on each side. The "Trans Am GT" trim level was dropped this year from the lineup after its model year run in 1994. For 1995, all Trans Ams received the 155-mph speedometer and Z-rated tires. 1995 was also the first year of the vented version of the Opti-Spark distributor on LT1 F-cars, addressing a common mechanical fault with the unit. The 'Transmission Perform' button was available only in the 1994 and 1995 Formula and Trans Am. This option was stopped for the 1996 and later models, but the connections remain for 1996 and 1997 Formula and Trans Am. While 1995 cars still used the OBD-I (On-Board Diagnostic) computer system (the last year of F-body to use OBD-I), a majority of them had OBD-II connector ports under the dash.
Firebird performance levels improved for 1996, with the establishment of the stronger 200-hp 3.8 L V6 as the new base engine, and the power rating of the LT1 increased to 285 for 1996, due to its new dual catalytic-converter exhaust system. 1996 was also the first model year of the OBD-II computer system. Optional performance enhancements were available for each Firebird trim level; the Y87 Performance packages for V6s added mechanical features of the V8 setups, such as four-wheel disc brakes, faster-response steering, limited-slip rear differential, and dual tailpipes.:904 For Formulas and Trans Ams, functional dual-inlet "Ram Air" hoods returned as part of the WS6 performance package. The optional package boosted rated horsepower from 285 to 305, and torque from 325 lb·ft to 335. Also included were 17" x 9" wheels with 275/40ZR17 tires, suspension improvements, oval dual tailpipe tips, and a WS6 badge. Bilstein shocks were a further option with the package. The 1997 model year introduced standard air conditioning, daytime running lamps (utilizing the front turn signal lamps), digital odometers, and optional 500-watt Monsoon cassette or compact disc stereo systems to all Firebird trim levels.:907 For V6 Firebirds, a W68 Sport Appearance Package was also introduced as a counterpart to the Camaro RS trim level. The WS6 "Ram Air" performance package was now also an option for the Formula and Trans Am convertibles, although these convertibles did not receive the 17-inch wheel-and-tire combination. There were 41 Formula convertibles and 463 Trans Am convertibles produced from 1996 to 1997 with the WS6 package.