In the last installment I left it hanging with trying to source a speedometer gear wheel. The good news is we were able to obtain one thanks to the generosity of a Fiero community member. The bad news is I broke my collarbone which delayed this write up. So, with that out of the way, here is part four in which we get the Fiero more functional and on the road.
An issue we had noticed on the Fiero that needed sorting was the reverse lights did not function correctly. Both bulbs were burnt out so were replaced them, but now the lights only came on if you held the shifter in place. Even with reverse gear selected, if you took your hand off the shifter the lights went out. This sounded like the switch inside the shifter needed adjustment to me. Above, you can see the arm that needs to push on the black switch but it did not get pushed in far enough. Unfortunately the adjustment screws were at the end of their range but a thin washer placed on the contact plate of the arm solved the issue. A free repair is my favorite type of repair.
It was filthy inside the shifter and we managed to retrieve $6.37 in there, with the newest coin dating from 2008. This made the repair not a free one but the rarest of ones; a moneymaking repair. I think I have a new favorite repair. There was also a 64MB MicroSD card, which gave me visions of it containing a treasure trove of photos of the Fiero from the previous owner. After a little snooping around I determined it came out of a Blackberry judging by the directory structure but sadly did not have any older photos of the car or anything interesting on it.
After a few false starts including an incorrect and expensive web order that turned out to be the incorrect gear, I posted a message on a Fiero forum looking for the speedometer gear wheel. Tony, who runs the Calgary Fieros mailing list, let me know he had one. We eagerly drove up to see him, and he not only gifted my son the gear wheel but gave us a tour of his two extremely nice Fieros.
Once home we quickly installed the gear wheel and once again the Fiero had a functioning speedometer. My son could stop using a speedometer app on his phone, which had been attached to the windshield via a suction cup cell phone holder (apparently designed to hold your phone in the shower!).
Not surprisingly for a car that had sat a long time, once he started driving it the car began leaking. The worst offender was from the oil pressure sender. There are three different units for the V6 engine in 1985 for reasons only a long retired GM engineer could explain. Two cost almost nothing and one was quite pricey. His was, of course, the more expensive three-wire version but after a few (many) scratched knuckles and swear words, it was replaced. The oil leak was slowed from a torrent to a trickle. While in there I noticed the heat shield above it was not attached properly. Probably because it involved a good amount of arm contortions to get the bolt in while holding the shield in place. As a reward, the annoying exhaust rattle on cold start up was no more.
Another annoyance to be sorted out was the car did not come with a driver’s side exterior lock. This meant every time he drove the car, he had to first unlock the passenger side, then reach over to unlock the driver’s side. Do-able, but gets old fast. I was able to order a new lock fairly cheaply, but we were missing a few bits of the hardware to connect the lock to the rod in the door. Another Fiero owner to the rescue who had a couple parts cars as well as engine swapped Fiero (a larger V6, maybe supercharged I cannot recall now). He was good enough to give us the required door hardware as well as a ride for my son in a legitimately fast Fiero.
From the condition of the door paper I suspect this one had never been apart before.
A lot of owners suggest taking the outer door skin off to get the lock back together. My son managed to assemble it all without doing that, which was a relief as there were a few plastic bolts to take off in that case that looked rather delicate.
My son had hoped to take his car to a few car shows this year but almost everything this summer had been cancelled due to the pandemic. One such cancelled event was the annual Street Wheeler’s Friday night cruise. Hundreds of classic cars fill the streets of Lethbridge on a controlled cruise. A large number of classic and special interest vehicles showed up regardless for an unofficial cruise night. We headed down to participate, as it is pretty easy to social distance in one’s car.
Another such mostly cancelled event was the Great Beater Challenge, which we have competed in every year up until now. The main event was canceled but there was a single day mini-GBC that we drove the Fiero to the start line for. As previously mentioned, I had broken my collarbone in three places a few weeks earlier in a minor motorbike crash. As a result, I had to get a metal plate and twelve screws put in, and so did not feel up to a full day drive in the Fiero. We joined the small group for a short distance before heading back.
So far, my son has been driving the Fiero almost daily with only a few issues (knock on wood). It has been a good car for him thus far and has proved to be a great learning opportunity as well. The only slight bummer has been fuel consumption and a small-ish gas tank. Overall, a pretty darn cool first car with lots of sweat equity into it.