Welcome to the first post in Forgotten Future, my ongoing series where I look at cars that almost made it to production, but didn’t. Because of the lead times involved in bringing a car to production (three years or more), manufacturers often invest significant resources into a new car doing design and prototypes, and then for whatever reason (often due to circumstances beyond their control) decide to cancel it. First up – Pontiac’s prototype for the 1989 or 1990 Fiero (sources vary as to what year this would have actually appeared).
Pontiac killed the Fiero after the 1988 model year (ironically after finally fixing many of the flaws that plagued earlier models). Already in the works at the time they pulled the plug was a significant refresh for the 1989 or 1990 model year. Below are some pictures I found online, as well as from my private collection of this prototype.
The quad popup headlights would eventually appear on the Trans Am, but they look so wrong on a Fiero…
The taillight treatment is very similar to what would eventually appear on the 1993 Firebird.
As you can see, many of the styling ideas presented here would eventually end up on the fourth-generation Firebird, which would come out in 1993.
Some of the prototypes appeared to have clear buttresses, like the one above. From this angle, it looks a bit like an Acura NSX. Note the hidden door release and functional side air intake.
The interior was less heavily reworked, but the gauge pods were more rounded and noticeably less bulky, in an effort to increase interior space.
The engine lineup was rumored to start with the High Output version of the then-new Quad 4 engine. The top engine, pictured above, would have been the LQ1 3.4 liter DOHC V6 (which first appeared in the 1991 Lumina Z34).
Fiero sales started out strong, with 136,840 sold in 1984, its first year. By 1988, sales had slumped 26,402, and according to Pontiac it was losing money on every one it sold, hence the reason for the Fiero’s demise.
So what do you think? Would this refresh have been enough to turn things around for the Fiero, or did Pontiac do the right thing?
Big Fiero fan and I think the new Fiero would have sold like hot cakes with resonable pricing but mostly at the expense of Camaro, Firebird and Corvette sales.
Its a nice looking car, but i see why it was nixed. Looks too similar to a trans am. .. And I think would no question hurt firebird et al tran am sales. I don’t think it would have hurt corvette sales though.
Too bad. I liked the Fiero. And typical GM – release a car with flaws that initially sells great, turn off the public and then discontinue it.
The prototype may have sold well. It looked nice, but I think the market for 2-seaters started dwindling somewhat in the early 90’s so it may have been best that GM didn’t move ahead with it.
I dated a girl in high school that had a brand new red ’85 her parents bought for her gradutation. It had no more than 200 miles on it and had a minor engine fire – we were driving and the toxic smell that car made was insane. She pulled over and smoke was billowing from the engine behind us. Needless to say the dealership fixed that car right. Even though we stopped dating I kept in touch with her for many years after, and she put a lot of miles on that car without so much as even a glitch.
The two-seat sports car market was excellent through the 90s. BMW, Porsche, and MB successfully introduced new small sports cars and the Miata was popular.
Exactly. I recall GM saying at the time that the Fiero was discontinued because of a softening market for 2-seaters. Hmmm, then why was GM bringing out the Reatta as the Fiero was being axed?
I doubt someone buying a Fiero was also looking at BMW, Porsche or MB.
Maybe not, Tom, but people in the 90s in general DID appear to have an interest in two-seaters. Those who might have bought a Fiero…did they simply disappear?
Miata took 2 seat market by storm, and would have beat Fiero handily
Fiero was a trendy, fad car, that had a bad reputation. Best to have killed it, wouldn’t have “comeback”.
Miata was a convertible. The others in a different class.
Look at the sales of the Fiero’s closest competitor, the MR2. The market was not healthy. Reatta was also in a completely different class and was intended as a halo car.
“Miata took 2 seat market by storm, and would have beat Fiero handily.”
But this excuses GM bailing out of competition instead of committing to making a better car. If Pontiac had kept the Fiero, adapted it to the market, and further improved it, it basically would have been the 2006 Solstice. And the Solstice might have been a better car than the Miata, instead of simply “pretty close to the Miata for an American car.”
Year by year, the Solstice sold about as well as the Miata in the US, which is probably the best anyone could want. It didn’t get crushed like the two-seat Capri.
In its best year, the Miata has never sold as many units in the US as Fiero’s worst year except the lame duck ’88s.
There is no good angle of it here but it looks more like the clear “buttresses” on the gray car were perhaps a large clear hatch covering the engine and trunk area. Just like the NSX I guess.
Overall it does look more Firebird than Fiero, or at least exactly how i would picture a mid-engine Firebird of that era to look.
Eh, Fiero was fairly DOA, at least on the West Coast. MR2 walked all over it, although I imagine it was viewed different in the Mid-West.
Fiero came out on top in this ’88 comparison:
“Came out on top?” Umm; the MR2 sparked it in every objective aspect of the test except braking. The only thing they said in the end was that they’d pick the Fiero for the long haul/daily driver was because it was a bit quieter, less demanding on the race course, and of course cheaper. But those first two qualities are quite subjective, and they clearly said that their various drivers had divergent opinions on that.
But they bemoaned the fact that it had taken Pontiac four years to get the Fiero right. Which of course explains why the Fiero was in terminal decline by 1988.
The MR2 (and others) had been spanking the Fiero for those critical first three years, when the Fiero was grossly underdeveloped and not competitive.
15.4@87 vs 15.7@90 1/4 mile. And they state “slightly lower” corning limits on the Fiero. The MR2 certainly didn’t walk away with anything or dominate any area.
Yes the overall result was subjective, as are most reviews, since specs alone almost never tell the whole story. But the point of posting that video was to show that, at least by that point, it was very much a competitive car. And remember it also took Toyota that long to give the MR2 decent power.
They certainly nailed the last 2 lines.
Ok. I’ll change my comment to this: The MR2 didn’t “spank” the Fiero, it just plain killed it. 1988 was the Fiero’s last year; its many improvements came way too late, and barely 26k were sold, and Pontiac pulled the plug. And the MR2? It stayed around for quite some time yet.
End of the MR2 – Fiero comparisons. The true winner was all-too obvious.
Paul, I always enjoy reading your GM-bashing bias. Since sales numbers were very similar on both cars, why do you see more Fieros still on the road, than you do MR2s?
Well, probably because they suffer a lot of transmission failures, the engines have lots of problems with failing sensors. Meaning, they aren’t as reliable as people think, simply because it is a foreign car.
Now, let’s look at the Fiero. It came with a gutless, but RELIABLE Iron Duke in 1984. 1985-up had the optional 2.8L V-6, from the RELIABLE Chevy 60° V-6 engine family.
Transmission options were the THM-125C, which was a heavy duty transmission, or you could get 4-speed/5-speed manual, depending on the year.
And I am sure you will cite the recall for engine fires, well let’s look at how many actually caught fire……
Somebody actually found the exact numbers for that.
As quoted: “As far as the “fire” history, out of 370,168 Fieros built there were 260 cases reported of fires (0.07%).”
The percentage of Fieros, that caught on fire, is less than the legal BAC limit for Ohio Drunk Driving Laws. Not exactly a huge problem…….
But, I know Fiero/GM haters always want to refer to the reputation of them being death traps, that catch on fire.
I had a 1984 Pontiac Fiero SE, with the Iron Duke. Never got low on oil. Never threw the connecting rods outside the block. Funny, maintaining the proper oil level seemed to stave off the “known” problem.
There were bad connecting rods sent, from Saginaw, in the 1984 models. But, that was the only year, and only a limited number of Fieros had that problem, and even the Dukes with bad rods would run without issues, provided that the owner performed the scheduled maintenance.
“…it just plain killed it”
Ha, that’s funny, but I don’t think it holds up. From what I can find MR2 North American sales dropped 50% in 1987 and almost another 50% in 1988. It rebounded to 1987 levels in 1990 with the next generation and then dropped off again.
Even with the extended run there weren’t even half as many MR2s sold as Fieros. Profits may be another story.
I believe not doing another generation was more suicide than a result of competition. It started out so badly the name was a liability and the market didn’t justify another one. In any case, I think it would be hard to argue the MR2 was the reason this prototype never made production.
Much as we might love them, I think we all have a tendency to read too much into quarter-mile times. I strongly doubt I could tell 0.3 of a second difference, unless I was actually in one of the two cars, and they were racing side by side. As an outright statistic it has value, but in the real world, not so much.
Fiero production dropped by almost half in 1987 as well and almost half again for 1988, just like the MR2 in this market. Clearly MR2 didn’t just drop due to people choosing the Fiero instead, looks more like both were affected by a mature market for the product.
However, as opposed to Fiero, MR2 was successfully sold worldwide and did surprisingly well in some relatively small markets.
1/4 mile times that close are irrelevant and not noticeable to a regular consumer. What is noticeable is the smoothness and quality feel of the Toyota engine and transmission as opposed to the Iron Duke in the Fiero.
The 4cyl in the MR2 felt like plenty of power and was certainly on par for the times and weight of the car. The later supercharged version was more powerful but not necessarily needed. The same engine was used earlier (and then concurrently) in the AE-86 Corolla GT-S.
I’m going to venture that a lot of Fiero sales were to people that never tried the Toyota or lived somewhere that driving a Toyota was not acceptable. Having driven both at the time, it was no contest (to me).
GM sold over 370,000 Fieros, in just 5 years.
The Toyota MR2 didn’t even break 300,000 total production, in its ENTIRE LIFESPAN at Toyota, across the ENTIRE WORLD.
Once again, facts dispute all the GM haters.
The Toyota MR2 might have beaten a Fiero, by 0.3 secs, in the 1/4-mile, but looks to me like GM still outsold them.
The Fiero had the great advantage of not having any visible rustable areas. MR2s around here basically came pre rusted and I haven’t seen one in years them having been returned to nature as it were. There are still Fieros kicking around because the bodies are durable (and their parts bin nature means parts are plentiful).
In the Mid West Fiero became a HS grad present, to be disposed of in a year or two.
I think the 2 seater market in the US has always been of limited size. Not only would a new Fiero have competed with a new MR2, the Miata hit our shores in 1989 and likely would have sucked a lot of oxygen from that market. I don’t think a revised Fiero would have done substantially better than the later 1st gen versions did.
Fuel prices were down so the “good gas fun mileage commuter car” market had dwindled to near nothing. I think there were too many other good options then.
I think the miata being introduced a year later of which gm certainly knew about had a lot to do with it as well. Let alone the mr2. Besides… It looked exactly like a firebird. I wud have axed it too.. It would have hurt gm”s bottom line to continue.
A forgotten point was that GM was getting ready to debut the Geo Storm, which this car greatly resembles, at about the same time. The Geo Storm was less expensive to build, much lower warranty costs, a (very tiny) backseat, and sold for slightly less than the Fiero. The Storm was popular although they have largely disappeared and I know at least two people who had one. What with the Grand Am, Saturn SC, sporty versions of the Calais/Achieva, Cavalier Z24, Beretta, Storm, and lower line versions of the Camaro/Firebird all populating the lower priced coupe market within GM, it was hard to see GM making a good business case for a revamped Fiero.
Shame, though, as the Fiero certainly was good looking and had a lot of potential, and as has been stated, really had the guts and handling to go with the looks in its last year. One of the few cars from GM in those years that incited lust. I wanted one in high school so badly. Another should have been from GM.
The Storm was an Izuzu, which means GM did not really build them. The GM hallmark of homegrown craptastic small cars may have had more of an impact on sales rather than anything else. A lot of folks understood Geo cars to be captive imports, and thus possibly reliable and reasonably well built, unlike the homegrown Cavalier and the like.
This prototype just looks too much like a Firebird for my tastes. The original Fiero had a look, not to everyone’s taste, but it worked for my eyes.
The Geo Storm was styled like a mini-Camaro (at least to my eyes). So it seems like something GM put some effort into, rather than just grabbing a random Izuzu model.
There is a good reason for this; it’s rumored the initial Saturn design proposals were given to Isuzu by GM because they royally pissed off Giugiaro by altering his final designs for the first FWD Gemini series without his knowledge prior to launch. GM apparently altered the side sculpting character line to somthing he found so offensive in relation to his vision, he refused to work further with GM whatsoever and blacklisted them. If you look at the original Saturn sedan proposal and the second generation FWD Gemini sedan (Stylus to us North Americans) it’s painfully obvious. He refused to even agnowledge his involvement with those cars until 15+ odd years after they debuted.
Geo storm was a nice car. If I remember some if not all had “suspension by lotus”.
Having owned a Fiero, this car just isn’t tidy enough. Way too long. But I appreciate the interior. Would be interesting to see if they could draw inspiration from the jetboats of the era.
It does look somewhat long/wide for a compact like the Fiero, though perhaps they wanted it to grow a bit? I also see cues from the Banshee and other concepts of the time. And of course a lot of these things would debut on the Firebird.
All things considered I think it’s a good looker, and dynamically would have been a contender. Would it have sold? And at a profit? Now that’s the better question. The arrival of the Storm would have undoubtedly made it an even tougher sell, though the Storm GSi would have been handily stomped by a Fiero with that V6.
Good point about the Storm and all the other sporty FWD coupes GM had as well as the F-Bodies. Even discounting internal competition it would’ve had a tough fight for a small pie with the gen 2 MR2 and the Miata.
We all know that if GM had gone ahead with it they would have found some way to terminally screw it up. It’s what they do.
Headlights are already on the way to DS status.
That entire car would have been a DS had they released it looking like that.
If you would have asked me to guess what car that was I would have said it was a Nissan 240SX with some kind of body kit installed.
So the two proposed engines are two well know head gasket eaters?
But wait… you can buy a kit to install a Northstar into a Fiero. What could possibly go wrong?
And you can put a 3800 V6 (either naturally aspirated or supercharged) into a Fiero. That’s the engine swap a smart man would do.
Yup. The 240HP supercharged 3800 is the way to go – the supercharger doesn’t take much additional space in the engine bay as it sits about as high as the standard intake manifold on the normally-aspirated versions. Pulleys stick out slightly farther on the end due to two serpentine drive belts instead of the usual one.
The Northstar engine is YUUUUUGGGGEEEE! My dad had one in his Seville STS. I can’t even imagine how they get it to fit in a Fiero, and once in, working on it would be unthinkable.
High Output Quad 4 engines were actually prone to cracked cylinder heads, not head gasket failure. Water pump failures were often misdiagnosed as a blown head gasket, due to the bearing failure allowing the coolant to mix with the oil, as there was no weep hole on the pump assembly.
I have owned 3 Quad engines. I will never buy another one, that is for sure. Water pump failure resulted in a $3,500 repair bill for a Jasper reman Quad OHC, in my 1993 Grand Am. I later sold the car, with only 12,000 miles on the new engine.
And after an hour of searching for any information on the LQ1 engine, there are NO CREDIBLE sources to cite the LQ1 had known issues with head gasket failure.
In fact, many of their failures were related to the timing belt not being replaced every 60,000 miles, per the factory maintenance schedule.
My uncle and a former coworker both owned the 3.4L DOHC. Both had a 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible. My uncle still drives his, after buying it on a salvage title, almost 15 years ago.
The package wasn’t popular, because the 4T60-E transmission couldn’t handle the engine power(similarly to the Buick 3800 Series 1/2 engines), and it was a rather expensive for a miserable engine, that even the best mechanics couldn’t stand working on. All of the GM 60° V-6 engines, which includes the LQ1, have a well-known reputation for their reliability, especially the LH0 3.1L cast-iron RWD and FWD aluminum head engines. I have seen plenty of 60° V-6s last well over 200,000 miles, and some getting over 300,000 before the transmission finally gave out. Even pulled a 2.8L V-6, out of a 1987 Cavaloer Z-24, that had a robust 284,000+ miles. Car was wrecked, but turned the key and it fired right up.
And the LQ1 featured the EXACT same crankshaft and connecting rod designs, as the OHV engines, including an auxiliary shaft(where the camshaft would be on the OHV engines), for driving the oil pump. It was actually a rather inexpensive way, to churn out an additional 60hp, from the base model OHV engines.
But, unless you can find something to prove they were prone to head gasket failures(without citing GM Dex-Cool, because every mechanic already knows that Death-Kill eats head gaskets on ANY GM engines, especially Catera 3.0L boat anchors and Northstar scrap heaps), your statement is without merit.
I realize there are a lot of GM-bashers, on this site, but if you are going to bash the company, at least get your facts straight.
High Output Quad 4 engines were actually prone to cracked cylinder heads, not head gasket failure
In fact, many of their failures were related to the timing belt not being replaced every 60,000 miles, per the factory maintenance schedule.
But, unless you can find something to prove they were prone to head gasket failures(without citing GM Dex-Cool, because every mechanic already knows that Death-Kill eats head gaskets on ANY GM engines
What in the HELL did I just read? So unless one prayed to the Holy Saint of Shop Manuals for Depraved Engine Saints your gonna end up SOL? You did a great job to exemplify exactly why people think 1980’s GM was beyond reprieve.
What you are reading is actual facts, about both engines that you commented on.
The LQ1, when PROPERLY MAINTAINED by the vehicle owner, is a very dependable engine.
There are certainly reasons to hate any automaker, and the Quad 4 was definitely a reason to hate GM. It is not about praying to some auto mechanic god, and getting lucky.
Your statement was cynical and inaccurate. I corrected it. End of story.
I knew 3 people with DOHC HO 3.4 ltr engines during the time period it was in production. One of them was my Uncle Tim who had a 35th anniversary Cutlass Supreme convertible. All of them developed headgasket issues.
While that’s no “Consumer Reports” that is certainly enough data for me.
Was it a 1996 model year?
Cynical? Fair enough.
Quoting your own observations as inaccurate? Well if you say so.
One Cutlass Supreme sedan from approximately 1992 (gentleman was a GM Defiance Foundry employee and always had vehicles dealer maintained.) One was a 1994 Pontiac Grand Prix couple owned from new by the father of a classmate (replaced a 1987 Olds 442, the gentleman liked his sporty coupes.) Uncle Tim had a Cutlass Convertible but I’m having trouble finding a source online for the exact production years of the convertible, I know his was considered to be an “anniversary edition” and had special badges. He bought it gently used, low mile. Very babied by him – he always had a “fun car”. He replaced it with a 3800 powered W-body Monte Carlo SS.
All three developed head gasket issues.
I like the design of the concept–I think it would have been a nice look for the late 80s/early 90s and would have matched-up well against the 2nd generation MR2. How it would have sold is another question–most buyers in the small sporty segments wanted a token back seat (even if never used), both for added practicality as well as potential insurance savings (IIRC, it was less costly at the time to insure a 4-seater than a 2-seater sporty car). The Miata’s arrival also would have severely crimped this Fiero’s potential.
Still, I am somewhat surprised they didn’t proceed, since GM was too clueless back then to properly calculate market potential for 2-seaters–why else would you have the Corvette, Allante and Reatta all going after the minuscule “premium” 2-seater market?
Hmmm. , nothing is better than the original. This prototype just mucks up styling by adding “moar” of everything.
It seems as if that’s the irresistible impulse when automotive designers try to “improve” something.
Examples: Late 80s Thunderbird and Cougar, Saturn ION, mid size cars, compacts.
It’s a long running tradition.
This Fiero, with the 240hp LQ1 engine, was capable of outperforming the Chevrolet Corvette. This car would have definitely revitalized Pontiac, but we all know how the 14th floor felt about ANY marque beating the Corvette in performance.
If anyone is unfamiliar with what GM does to vehicles, that can beat the Corvette, I suggest looking up the Buick GNX…..
Great write up, and photos, Tom.
Looking forward to seeing what other prototypes may have been out there, from around the world.
The GNX was based on a then 10 year old mid size car whose platform mates were discontinued. Buick was heading to cushy cars by 1988, GNX was a “last ride” before G body died off.
Would have still flopped, looks like a HS Shop class project. Fiero was out of style by ’88, a trendy car who’s day was past. No doubt due to quality, but name was toast.
As quoted: “No car among any of its brands can have performance greater than that of the vaunted Corvette. It is an approach that has killed many cars through the years.”
“Pontiac set about creating the XP-883 concept. It was a small two-seater with a long, flowing hood and short rear deck. Among the group of concepts crafted, two drivable prototypes emerged. One had a straight six while the other featured a V8. The six-cylinder model weighed only 2,200 pounds. It sounded like an ideal sports car. Around the same time, the third-generation Corvette was under development (the Corvette Mako Shark concept came out in 1961), and if DeLorean had his way, the XP-883, which they called Banshee, would have outperformed the Corvette. It would have has just as much power with the V8, but weighed less. This did not sit well with GM brass, which instructed DeLorean to cease all work on the car.”
And further, the Fiero is mentioned: “The eventual Pontiac Fiero of the 1980s was originally planned with a V6, which would have given it performance rivaling the contemporary ‘Vette. Instead, the Fiero debuted with a 2.5-liter I4 making a paltry 92 hp. It would eventually get a V6, but the damage had been done to the car’s image.”
Now, onto the GNX…..
As quoted: “The base Grand National hit 245 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque, and the GNX pumped out a mighty 276 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. This netted the GNX a 0-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a 1/4-mile time of 13.5 seconds. The Base grand Natty cleared the quarter in 14.23 seconds. Both numbers simply embarrassed the 1987 Corvette, as if Buick sucker-punched “The American Sports Car” in the gut as it was shown the door..”
Funny how the Grand National was axed, that same year……
The Grand National was axed that same year because the RWD Regal went away, not because it dared outperform the ‘Vette. Unless you’re asserting that there would have been an ’88 RWD Regal/GN if it hadn’t “crossed the line” with the ‘Vette. I suppose that could be plausible given that the RWD G Monte Carlo and Cutlass Supreme both stuck around for ’88. But I’ve never heard anything to back that up.
Apparently, you failed to read the article, or how the original Fiero design could outperform a Corvette. This is why GM strapped a tight budget, which required cheapening the car with Chevette front suspension, and Citation(X-Body) rear suspension.
GM was not happy, when the Fiero was named the Official Indianapolis 500 pace car, in 1984. It beat the 1984 Corvette, for the honor of leading the driver’s, on race day.
All the original designs were not added, until the final production year of 1988. All 5 years too late, after the dogged 92hp Iron Duke left many sports car fans in disappointment.
There are plenty of GM haters, on here. The GM fanboys, like myself, know the horrible truth to why the Corvette is never outperformed by other models and divisions.
I have owned every marque, manufactured by GM NA, EXCEPT Geo and Cadillac(and no desire to ever own a vehicle from either marque, either).
The Regal Grand National and GNX were breaking low 14s/high 13s, in the 1980s. GM wouldn’t get a Chevrolet Corvette to do this, for at least another 5 years, with the 32-valve, DOHC 5.7L V-8, LT5 engine(an engine that was notorious for issues with overheating, and made its peak torque just 200rpms before its peak HP, making for the most narrow possible powerband on any engine I have ever seen and/or built).
Price as tested:
1991 Corvette ZR-1 – $58,995
1987 Regal GNX – $16,617
Not exactly rocket science, why GM nixed them, in 1987.
The Regal received a body change and was converted to FWD. However, G-bodies from other divisions were still produced, but coincidently, none of them could beat a Corvette……
Hmmm……males you wonder WHY the best performing model of the bunch was axed, while the sluggish gas guzzlers were still being produced…….
How is that “haters” are biased and untrustworthy, but the words of a “fanboy” are to be taken as reliable?
Probably because I can post FACTS to support my claim, and you can’t.
In any effective debate between opposing sides of a topic, the burden of proof lies within the person making the claim.
And the facts show that GM sold more Fieros, in just 5 years, than Toyota sold MR2s in like 15 years.
It would be interesting to compare Fiero sales with GM f-body sales over the same time frame. I suspect that GM was primarily concerned with inter-division cannibalization than anything else with a new, ‘good’ Fiero and the ultimate reason it was killed. While there was some overlap between the f-body and Corvette, buyers were still relatively mutually exclusive. Not sure the same could be said with a second generation Fiero.
That’s how it came into being in the first place, the whole ‘commuter car’ ruse that meant it wouldn’t get into any other GM markets. Once the Fiero’s issues started being sorted out, it could easily have been seen as a competitor for the sales of GM’s other sporty cars.
Always preferred the Fiat X1/9… even an older one.
My first thought was to answer your last-sentence question with a question of my own: when did GM in that era ever do the right thing? Might be a bit unkind though.
I think it’s a sort of shame that the Fiero was axed when it was. There was just so much incompetence in planning and execution. Cheaped out to the max, which ruined it’s reputation right off the bat. When introduced, it didn’t have much competition, but once it was getting established, just the internal GM/GM Captive Imports alone were formidable. Not necessarily formidable due to excellence, but sheer numbers alone.
I have to agree with others, nothing is allowed to compete directly with the Corvette. We saw what happened to John DeLorean’s mid 1960’s Banshee, like Icarus flying too close to the Corvette sun. If the new Fiero were to have a performance envelope close to the Corvette, much less the F-bodies, what was the point?
I drove several V6 1988 Fieros. I drove a couple of them while evaluating them as used car trade ins at the Toyota dealership. People would come in wanting to drive the second gen MR2, and would want to trade their Fiero. The normally aspirated MR2 wasn’t bad, but the turbo was the one to get.
But, the turbo MR2 bumped up against the naturally aspirated Supra and the turbo Celica; like others mentioned, you could insure a four-place cheaper than any two seater. I sold more Celicas than I did MR2s. The V6 Fieros were good for what they were, especially the 1988’s. Too bad their run was so short.
It had a LEGGO dash like other G.M. products had.BIG turn off for me.
Not my taste either.
Near as I can figure GM’s American design staff in those days seemed to have some kind of defiantly weird Modern Art-ish mindset, but they were trying to sell to a clientele that expected the Old Masters.
“Because of the lead times involve in bringing a car to production (three years or more), manufacturers often invest significant resources into a new car doing design and prototypes, and then for whatever reason (often due to circumstances beyond their control) decide to cancel it”
Well, that happens at a certain point of the program where the numbers get crunched before giving the final ‘go’. If the business case is not there, it is game over
The car as pictured still needed some work. It looks like the studio or management had yet to agree between the buttress or the glass lift gate
This looks like is a heavy rework of the (then) existing platform. Since the Fiero body structure was a rollcage with attached (non-stressed) plastic panels, this could be done at relatively ‘low cost’.
My simple definition of the 1988 Formula (the one I have owned since 1993 shown below) is a “street legal go-kart.”
Auto manufacturers always seem to feel the need to make the subsequent generations of cars bigger. Although I have never driven the 2nd gen Fiero prototype, just looking at it makes me think the overall “fun” factor would be reduced.
I still love the looks of these, and yours is a nice example. I was curious what those are going for these days, and it looks like even 100K examples are around $15K…much more than comparable MR2s. It surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t have because if you put the arguments above aside, it’s still a lot better looking than the MR2 and was a more memorable car historically.
Still like the looks of my ’88 notchback coupe…and it is fun to drive, even with the iron duke and an automatic transmission…just my two cents.
The Fiero is one of Pontiac’s biggest sh@@ stains ever produced aside from the Aztec. It didn’t take Toyota very long to introduce the extremely high quality, beautifully engineered and built MR2. The quality and engineering of the Fiero is like a preschoolers scribbling on a freshly painted wall; the MR2 is like an original Monet masterpiece proudly displayed for its beauty and substance. Pontiac is dead, dead, dead. Toyota thrives!
Is that so?
Because total production numbers of the Pontiac Fiero for the 5 model years was over 300,000
Total production numbers for ALL 15 years of the Toyota MR2(which was sold in ALL countries around the WORLD): 293,847
Looks to me if GM had kept the Fiero for the same 15 years, in just the US alone, it still would have had decent sales.
I’m sure someone covered this and I just missed it… The Fiero is the go to platform for throwing a ground stomping powertrain in and doing it cheaply. You can stuff a big block into them up until 87 and a small block LS or smaller powerplant in 88. I don’t see a lot of Fiat’s, Toyota’s, doing that and not that many Miata’s either. I own two Miatas (95 M and 96) and they are great cornering cars, but I would never drop an LS in one. I have dropped LS engines in several 88 Fiero’s. I have a friend with a 400 in an 87 and we laugh all the way down the road doing wheel stands… There are a lot of LS4 drops going in these days too. The only car I personally like better stock is my 2001 S2000, but that’s a class above this group. Someone mentioned Solstice and I had a little chuckle… I sold my 63 340HP/327 Vette to by a GXP coupe in 2009. Best move in many years… the feel sitting in those two cars was almost identical… the way the hood looked out in front of you, the size of the cockpit, etc., but the Solstice handles way better obviously and with a factory chip I was at 300HP with great throttle response to boot. I smoked many a competitor’s ride easily, so again well above the MR2, Fiat class, and those can be had fairly cheap these days in drop-top.
What do these Pontiacs have in common? Well they’re kinda’ like a Jeep or a Camaro… abundant upgrade parts for cheap and unlimited potential that the common man can get into the joy of driving with. By the way… look at the SCCA racing stats for the years the Fiero was produced and you will see who totally dominated racing…
I’m not dogging Toyota and I’ve owned a few, including an 82 Supra (first true Supra year), 81 Celica GT, 91 LS400 (still own it)… all bought new. I love Toyota, but every car has it’s own special character… so I say go buy a mid-90’s RX if you are a stock person! All these cars are great rides, sad to see so much hating… I’ll drive them all.
I bought my Fiero SE V6 new in 85….Have owned it for 34 years…Rarely had any problems- The Fiero was the 1st US car that used TQM(The Quality control system an AMERICAN taught the Japanese in the 50s-60s)
Recently, I have installed a bigger engine block (3.4…160 hp/200 lb/ft) and 5 spd. and the 88 rear suspension and brakes all around. Also some body parts swapping. Car weighs 2600 lbs.
Ran against a former Miata racer who was in his S2000 in a parking lot Gymkhana….(My first) and beat his time. He was impressed with my Fiero.
Please read the road tests for the 85 GT in MT and R&T (Very positive)…Then read the C&D tests(Any year Fiero) and they are EXTREMELY negative….How much ad money was Toyota paying C&D?
You meant lumina z34. I had a 91-93 with the 5 spd and sunroof. The ltz was a second gen lumina. That 3.4 was a beast and a headache all at the same time. But, even if they limited power because they didn’t have a suitable transmission, it handily took out the sho in straight lines and curves, which was its purpose, as well as a police interceptor crown vic. That one was a step hill climb. The 5.0 crowny couldn’t keep up after the first couple gears. But then, it was automatic and not a high rever like the z34.