LSA-Powered Trans Am Takes On $330,000 Ferrari 488 Pista

While a third-gen Pontiac Trans-Am might not be on everyone’s top 10 list of cars to own, if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, this car more than likely hits a soft spot in your heart. Granted, I always thought the third-gen Camaro was the better car of the two, but I remember watching the hit TV show Knight Rider and thinking how cool the all-black Pontiac was. Sure, the hit show starring David Hasselhoff was pretty cheesy, to say the least, but the car, known as KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), was the real star of this show. And if we were going to build a modern-day KITT car, we would take notes from the guys over at Heatwave Visual and their LSA-powered Pontiac GTA.

In the Hoonigans This Vs. That video, the guys line up a third-gen Pontiac Trans Am GTA and a 2020 Ferrari 488 Pista in a drag race. In 1988 these cars were outfitted with either a 305 or 350 cubic-inch engine. But even with the larger engine, performance was not impressive back then, especially when compared by today’s standards. The Tuned Port Injection (TPI) Chevrolet 350 engine cranked out 225 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. Luckily, the GTA in the video has an LS engine swap and a supercharger but would it be a close race? 

Heatwave Trans Am Specs:

  • Full Detroit Speed Suspension, front and rear, with JRI adjustable coil-overs
  • Hawks Reinforced 8.8 Rear End
  • Gen V 14″ Brembo brakes
  • Hydroboost Braking system
  • Borla XR1 3.5″ Exhaust system
  • GM LSA, with Lingenfelter GT14 cam
  • McLeod RXT Clutch
  • TR6060 6 speed trans
  • Rotiform LHR 10.5×18 wheels
  • Falken 315 30/R18 on all 4 corners
  • Heat Shield Products throughout

Even though the Pontiac now housed a supercharged LS3 cranking out 610 horsepower with a 6-speed sequential shifted T56 transmission, the question was, would it be enough? The Pista makes 730 horsepower with a 7-speed transmission and has a 350-pound weight advantage. And while we were hoping that the GTA had a “turbo boost button” to overtake the $330,000 supercar, it didn’t happen. The Ferrari had every advantage on its side for this match-up and quickly walked away from our childhood hero even with a bad start during the first race.

The drivers decided to do a LeMans-style start for the second and third races, which proved to be entertaining. This start required both drivers to sprint to their cars, jump in, start the car, and then race. Even though Justin pulled a Dukes of Hazzard maneuver to get in the car quicker than Alex could, he took off in second gear roasting the tires. It didn’t take long for the supercar to catch the GTA for a second time. 

The final race was even worse for Justin and the GTA than the other two. Alex managed to get into the Ferrari quicker and was three car lengths out in front of the GTA before Justin could get the wheels rolling. Even though we were hoping for a David and Goliath finish, the GTA couldn’t get it done. But regardless of the results, the LS-powered GTA was sure fun to watch as it smoked the tires, trying its hardest to get the win. 

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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