SLP. Those three little letters are like magic to many Camaro and Firebird fans. Nestled in Toms River, New Jersey, Street Legal Performance knew how to manufacture horsepower – horsepower that met emissions regulations in all 50 states. That was enough to get SLP parts available through GM Performance Parts and able to be dealer-installed. Then in 1991, an option box popped up at the local Pontiac dealer: B4U.
Checking off B4U did a few things. First of all it assured that you would have the most expensive Firebird ever created, boosting the base price of a Formula to $39,995. Big bucks now, and even bigger in 1991.
SLP basically wanted to build a race car in street clothing. At the money end, a heart consisting of a Super Duty 350 small block V-8. Heavy hitters need heavy equipment and the engine was tuned for the job; 4-bolt main, forged steel crankshaft, 1053 alloy forged steel connecting rods, lightweight aluminum pistons, steel billet hydraulic roller cam, high output aluminum cylinder heads with stainless valves, high flow Tuned Port Injection (TPI) intake manifold and stainless steel tubular exhaust manifolds and dual cat exhaust. And that?s just the engine.
SLP slipped in the Corvette?s ZF six-speed trans (a $6,000 part in and of itself) connected to the Dana 44 limited slip rear with an aluminum driveshaft. The 1LE brake system was installed (1LE was basically the police package which had beefier brakes) along with 17x9.5 inch aluminum wheels. These goodies pushed the Formula to a 4.6 0-60 time. But if that wasn?t enough for you, SLP made available for a scant $9,995 more a Competition Package.
The Comp Pack upgraded the brakes to the same front Brembos that stopped the Ferrari F40; cross-drilled 13.0 x 1.3 inch discs, a rollbar, Recaro racing seats and five-point Simpson racing harness, aluminum hood and deletion of the rear seat, truly making this a street-legal race car.
Outside, the Firehawk looked like other 1992 Formulas with exception of the larger wheels/tires and Firehawk branding on the rear bumper and door.
As it turned out, the ?limited? 250 unit production run was ambitious by about 225 cars. Only 25 ?Hawks were ever built (some early units were registered as 1991?s). SLP was only to build the cars, taking liberties from Henry Ford, in ?any color you want, as long as it?s red.? But at the end, 21 were red and four broke the rules: 1 aqua, 1 white, 1 blue and 1 green. Out of the 25, 11 had the competition package, 3 were outfitted with an aluminum block engine, 1 had t-tops and the last one built was actually a Trans Am convertible. Price was truly a factor in this cars success.
SLP didn?t let that stop them. They tweaked the package for 1993, which heralded an all new body and engine for the Firebird, making it more affordable and adding the famous hood scoops. Soon SLP ventured onto the SS Camaro and history was made.
SLP lost their most famous donor when the F-Bodies were discontinued in 2002, but they continued the business with aftermarket parts for the twins, as well as making dealer-available packages for W-Bodied cars (Monte Carlo, Impala, Grand Prix and Regal) GM trucks (Blazer and S10), GTO and some Ford work (Mustang, Ranger). It was an ambitious project that won acclaim when the ?every-man? could afford one. Many a shredded tire wish that never SLP persevered.
Some Firehawk links:
Firehawk Owner?s Site
Street Legal Performance- SLP