(first posted 10/10/2013) The real test of a great company is the ability to precisely define the vision for its products and then execute it with the least possible deviation. This is precisely why GM failed; over and over it promised brilliant sparkling Futurama-brand diamonds but delivered coal; never more so than with the 1984 Fiero. What started out as a vision for a high-tech mid-engine sports car with an alloy V6 ended up as an utterly confused and profoundly compromised vehicle, one that positively bristled with bad execution. After five long years of fixes, it finally got close to its original vision. Which of course was the cue for GM to kill it.
Pontiac had been pining for its own sports car since the sixties, when Pete Estes and John DeLorean shepherded the 1964 XP-833 Banshee to near-production readiness. It was built on a cut-down 1964 A-Body frame and running gear, with a fiberglass body and featured the new SOHC Sprint 230 inch six. But the Banshee was considered too threatening to the Corvette, especially so since there was also a roadster version prototype with a 326 V8. And where a Pontiac 326 fits, a 421 fits equally well. Sorry John; we’re not going there… Except to recycle the idea in 8/10 scale for the Opel GT.
The idea didn’t never fully went away though, despite the resistance from the 14th floor. In 1978, it reappeared in the vision of a mid-engined sports car, with a high-winding alloy V6 and proper suspension, as conceived by Hulki Aldikacti, head of Pontiac’s Advanced Engineering group. But it would have run into the same objections, and now there were CAFE requirements as well. So the Fiero was pitched as a high-efficiency commuter car. And the 14th floor bit, but with a very meager $410 million budget, including production tooling. That was the seed of the Fiero’s undoing right there. If you’re going to commit to a new car, don’t do it half-assed.
To keep costs down, the Fiero essentially became a kit car. Its innovative space frame and unstressed plastic body panels were a creative solution, and made the Fiero the darling of the plastic surgery business. But wherever else possible, existing components and assemblies were begged and borrowed, like the front suspension straight out of the Chevette.
GM’s FWD X and J-cars offered the prospect of dropping their whole front suspension/drive train assembly in its new location. Even the steering tie rods were retained, attached rigidly of course. Too bad GM didn’t get really adventurous and offer rear wheel steering on the Fiero. Maybe just as well. But the front-turned-rear suspension never worked very well back there. And the Chevette front suspension wasn’t exactly the cat’s meow either.
The original idea was to use the SOHC 1.8 Brazilian-built Opel-designed four as used in some of the J-cars for maximum efficiency, as well as for its relatively smooth running characteristics. But as the Fiero development progressed (despite the 14th floor pressing the red Stop light a few times along the way), the CAFE regs were not looking so onerous. That, combined with increases in the Fiero’s weight necessitated an increase in power….so what did they reach for? A turbo or HO version of the SOHC 1.8? Nope; the unloved Iron Duke 2.5 four, an engine as agricultural as ever was built in the modern era was given the job of powering the Excitement Division’s new
sports commuter car.
It made all of 92 hp @ 4000 rpm. How’s that for getting the juices flowing? Unfortunately, the Iron Duke brought some serious shortcomings to the Fiero, beyond its modest output and crappy sounds. It leaked oil from the valve cover gasket, which dripped on the exhaust manifold and caused some fires. But the more common reason for a growing rash of fiery Fieros was the result of a mind-bogglingly stupid decision: not enough engine oil capacity.
Three quarts; that’s all it had. Which is one quart less than the same beloved Iron Duke four held as installed in the millions of other GM sedans. Now the usual thing to do when installing an engine from a staid sedan into sports car capable of generating high cornering G-forces (if not during acceleration) is to increase its oil capacity, for rather obvious reasons. The fact that GM sent the Fiero out into the big mean world where folks don’t check their oil very often with a reduced oil capacity of three quarts tells you something about GM that is truly scary. I know it seems like a small detail, but what other car company in the world would have done this? And why?
The results were predictable, especially when it coincided with crappy connecting rods in the Iron Duke: oil gets low, con rod gives and talks a walk through the side of the block, and what little oil is left finds its way onto the hot exhaust manifold. But in typical GM fashion, it got right on it: Not. GM offered repairs to burned cars (when possible), but resisted a recall. It finally succumbed in 1987, which included retro-fitting a special oversize oil filter that increased capacity to four quarts (along with a re-calibrated dip stick). How hard was that? But a timely recall would have been bad publicity for their new baby.
Speaking of other companies, Honda unleashed its own “commuter/sporty” two seater in 1983, the CRX. It went about it in a very different way, but the result was a much more complete and satisfying car, as well as a faster one, even if it didn’t have the Fiero’s dramatic looks. It certainly didn’t have the Fiero’s heavy, unassisted steering, despite being FWD. And it most certainly didn’t have its numerous teething problems, fires, and other reliability issues. The CRX was just more fun to drive all-round, never mind own. Mid-engine and all, the Fiero arrived very much compromised by its borrowed suspension, uninspiring steering, so-so brakes and other developmental disabilities.
And then a year later along came the Toyota MR2, which was exactly what the Fiero should have been: a brilliant go-cart for the street, with a superb little DOHC engine, slick 5 speed stick, perfect reliability. great fuel economy, and…plenty of oil capacity. Those damned Japanese; they really knew how to rub salt in the wounds and spoil GM’s party, over and over and over……
Right about now Fiero lovers are boiling over, desperate to point out that their plastic fantastic lover outsold both the CRX and MR2. Of course it did! But that’s a reflection of Americans’ well-known (and never ending) willingness to suspend objectivity for… Excitement! It’s a well-known phenomenon that was repeated with so many new GM cars during the non-golden era: lots of PR buildup, fluff advance reviews from well-fed and entertained “journalists”, sales have a great first year (the Citation sold 800k in its first year), and then watch the slow-motion train wreck unfold as the thrill quickly wears off. Engine fires are quite exciting, but even they get old after the first couple of hundred.
The CRX and MR2 are the perfect examples of why GM lost such mammoth market share in the eighties. Both of them were absolutely perfect (or as close as any car ever came to being so at the time) right out of the box, unlike any GM car during the long slide downhill. No need for telling folks that big improvements were just around the corner….honest…we’re going to make the Fiero into a reliable Ferrari-killer yet….just wait a bit longer…one more year…please…hang in there…hello; is anyone out there still listening?
Improvements came along like the slow drip of an IV. The 2.8 L V6 arrived in 1985. An Isuzu-designed five-speed became available for the iron Duke the same year. The V6 would have to wait until 1986 for its five-speed. What’s the big deal about these dammed five speeds anyway? Just because Toyota had been offering them on just about every one of its vehicles since the mid seventies certainly didn’t mean anything to GM. Until it got caught with its pants down, once again.
The best thing about the Fiero’s space frame was how easy it was to change out the plastic panels. Pontiac started that early on, and every year saw some new visual changes to keep the excitement up. The biggest one was the flying buttress roof, that came in 1986.
An outfit called Corporate Concepts saw the real potential of the Fiero, and ran with it. Their “Mera” 308-wanna be was offered only through Pontiac dealers, even with genuine Italian Cromodora wheels. But only 247 were sold before a lawsuit from Ferrari ended that gambit. But the Mera only opened the floodgates, and the Fiero has to be the most “kitted” car in modern history, except the VW Beetle, of course.
And for its final outing in 1988, the Fiero even got a whole new suspension, front and rear! Wow; what a way to bow out, just when it was getting close to what poor Hulki Aldikacti had in mind from the beginning. Maybe in a couple more years, the Fiero might have finally had DOHC heads and an alloy engine block….
It was not to be. From the very healthy 136k sold in 1984, sales melted away each year. And only 26,402 true believers were still around in 1988 to buy the best Fiero by far.
But loyal Fiero fans abound, and why not? There’s something about an underdog that brings out…fanaticism; even to the point of mounting a vintage chrome Pontiac emblem on the Fiero’s dirt-cheap steering wheel. Now that’s true brand loyalty.
GM’s Lego-school of interior design didn’t age well, or for that matter, didn’t look so hot from the get-go. You get what you budget for. And GM hamstrung the Fiero from the get-go with an unrealistic development and production budget. Given that the Fiero sold fairly well in its first couple of years, we can assume that GM didn’t actually lose money on the Fiero project.
But it takes more than not losing money to sustain a company for the long haul, and the Fiero was just another vehicle with which to burn folks on the GM experience.
Well, at least Pontiac got the sports car bug out of its system with the Fiero, realizing once and for all that hastily-developed right-brain fart sports cars were just not conducive to its long-term success. Oh, wait a minute…
I like the Banshee a lot what a shame it never happened,maybe Pontiac would still be here if it was made.The red Fiero is a nice looker,why did they scrap it just as it got right?In the 70s Honda had a best selling great bike with the 400/4 so they scrapped it after 3 years!What makes them do things like that?
Well, the Fiero was losing money (the warranty claims cost them quite a bit) and Pontiac anticipated losing a lot more if it continued. They projected that the bottom was going to fall out of the sporty coupe market in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash, which turned out to be more or less true. The MX-5 did well because it was a return to the traditional sports car formula with Japanese reliability and an aggressive price, but a lot of sports coupes and hot hatches withered on the vine. The MR2, for instance, really struggled badly in the ’90s and the CRX tried to reinvent itself with mixed results.
Even if the Fiero had been a really brilliant car out of the box, I think it would have had a tough time had it continued much past ’88.
After 5 A/C compressors, 3 engine control computers, 2 engine fires and 1 new engine (cracked block) plus all the stuff I forgot oh yeah, all this happened before the cars second birthday and about 95 percent was covered under warranty, the dealer had a policy of a free rental if repairs took overnight. I almost started to like the Grand ams they were loaning. For the new long block service I drove their Grand am for 3 weeks. Finally a district manager looked at the car and I was offered a gm buy back on any gm car from a gm dealer. I found a 1973 Camaro type LT. Never gave me any trouble.
GM? Well, mostly hubris of a cynical stripe, but Paul has framed out the why of such goings-on time and again, so no need to rehash that. As for Honda…again, hubris, though the cause is harder to pinpoint. Cocksurety when it comes to engineering? Boredom? I say that account the 400/4 being just one of many enigmas to appear in their line-up.
Enclosed disc brakes on the VT250 (and some of the 750s offered elsewhere)…the CX500 Turbo(!!!)…four-wheel steering on certain Preludes…linked brakes on a bus of a bike that really needed maximum rider input (CBR1000F)…the Ridgeline…reverting to chain-driven cams (VFR)…and so on.
Just because one CAN do something doesn’t mean they should.
Thanks both,I only saw one Fiero in the UK parked up at a show and heard a guy in a GTO T shirt telling his kids it wasn’t a “real” Pontiac
Here’s a “real” Lamborghini Diablo.
Let’s not forget Hondamatic on the CB750 and 450. They are even doing automatics now, a DSG set-up.
I admire any person or company that tries new stuff. Honda was always good at that. GM was at one time, too.
The CB400F was not a big seller back in its day because, like anything Honda motorcycles brings out that’s neat, they were trying to amortize the tooling within the first six months (or so it seemed) and the bike was overpriced. Considering how cheaply you could buy a CB360 twin back then, the 400 was something like about 50% more expensive.
Yes, they’re two really different bikes (I know, I was riding a caffed CB350K3 back then and had friends with CB400F’s), but there wasn’t that big a cafe racer market at the time. Despite all the predictions that cafe racers were the next big thing, and lots of companies started producing kit, the ’70’s cafe movement bombed. Big time. Like, it only finally caught on the way it was ‘supposed’ to in the past three years.
Plus, Americans like BIG bikes. 400’s? That’s a beginner’s bike.
The huge numbers you see still on the street is proof of just how much that bike was loved. It’s probably the single most restored (in terms of proportion of original production) vintage motorcycle out there.
Now that you mention it, I recall reading somewhere the fact that the 400/4 did not sell well in the States sounded its death knell. Agreed, not a ‘big bike’ by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been my understanding that the CB350K was a much bigger seller here than overseas.
If you interested teh Bansee is for sale at Napoli Classic Cars in Milford CT..asking price is $750,000.00.
It’s even better looking in person..
The Banshee had a cuzzy in the land of OZ or it could have been the same concept car powered by a triple sidedraft Holden 6 lifted from the XU1 Torana, it never saw production but it looked cool.
GM really stumbles with new designs where Toyota just does it and it works, they fitted a Corona engine to their MR2 along with a hairdryer and it went great, those guys really know how to shuffle a parts list and build something good, GM NA build a good motor at Chevrolet and virtually nothing else. Whoops read further it definitely isnt the samw concept car GMH conjured up their own.
The irony is that over the years there have been some quite good vehicles developed on the “corporate kit car” plan. The main difference, as far as I can see, is that they didn’t suffer the same level of overarching organization ambivalence that the Fiero did.
It’s true that being developed on a shoestring budget didn’t do Fiero any favors, but as GM has sometimes demonstrated, throwing money at something doesn’t necessarily improve it. You can accomplish great things on a modest budget, but it really helps if everyone is on the same page. Also, people are more willing to forgive a product’s flaws if it does at least some things brilliantly, even if it trips over itself in every other way.
Great point. GM spent an obscene amount on the W platform, for example. Differentiation was achieved where it added little value (for example, different switchgear for A/C controls, radio controls, etc.between divisions) but no differentiation where it did matter (all launched with the wheezy 2.8 V6). Then they compounded the error by blundering through their product and market planning. Questionable decisions abounded: Launch with coupes? And wait 2 years for the sedans when that was the core of the market? The dustbusters? No airbags until years after competitors? The results for amply funded GM projects during this era were just as bad (if not worse) than for projects where they didn’t provide enough.
I agree. Well researched and highly informative, as is his custom.
I’d say typical for a deadly sin of his. Lots of personal feeling thrown in to seem like fact, or subjective comments to seem like fact. Always a little spin. Using pictures to drive home his point of view.
Always a great read, just hard to stomach the spin put on it.
Do a counter-point, then. He’ll run it.
@Philhawk +1! What happened to the “lets not make this site a soap box for politics” mantra? I don’t mean politics per say but I think his personal agenda applies to it, in this case. I also think Paul does this to bring traffic to his site only to put his warped opinion on subjects he obviously knows not enough about. Here’s a new slant for you Paul. How about posting some decent pics of your supposedly DSes?( no not the Citreon) Everybody knows your modus operandi by now. To reinforce your slant of the subject DS by finding the biggest,most egregious POS you can find. I would think you could get your point across by posting pics of the really nice examples of said subject. If anything by doing so would drag the fanboyz in to defend the oposite side POV.
@MikeG “Do a counter-point, then. He’ll run it.” I seriously doubt it. I’ve got one for DS#1 almost ready to go if he does.
Oh and one more thing. 3.5 quarts oil capacity? Yes that is oil pan capacity. Throw in the oil filter and whatever can flow through the galley and you have something closer to 4.5 quarts. True capacity. Oh and if the IronDuke as installed in the Fiero was judged a failure just because the pan holds 3.5 quarts than you can throw every model of car that used the 87 and older 2.5 in that catagory too. Got any real figures on Fiero engine oil fires? Just what I thought. Quoting internet rumors. You never hear of engine fires caused by overheating in anything but Fiero but yet that exact same engine was installed in everything from compact RWD Monzas,3rd gen Camarobirds,1st gen S-10 trucks to FWD A/X/W-Bodies and not one mention, not one recall for that engine in anything but a Fiero. Besides,pull up any of your beloved Japanese 4 cylinder and you will see that the oil capacity isn’t that much more than the IronDuke.
Stachel: Regarding pictures: I took that criticism to heart and did exactly that. Did you not notice the gold Fiero that I used numerous times along with the white one? Those were the totality of the two early Fieros that I have found on the street, which is where I shoot my cars. And I also shot the later Fiero with the fastback roof in the article. Did you see that one? Who has their blinders on?
BTW, I don’t go to car shows…the site is called Curbside Classics.
Yes; we always welcome submissions, with all different points of view. You’ve been intimating a submission for about a year now; Put up or shut up.
The Fiero’s 2.5 engine had a total oil capacity (with filter) of 3.0 quarts. That’s a well documented fact.Because of numerous fires started by connecting rods going out from low oil levels, Pontiac finally issued a recall in 1987 (!), instructing Fiero owners to keep a closer eye on their oil levels and sending them to the dealer to install a much larger oil filter that would increase total capacity to 4.0 quarts, along with a new dipstick. Here’s the recall letter:
Dear Pontiac Owners:
As the owner of a 1985, 1986, or 1987 Pontiac Fiero equiped with a four cylinder (L4) 2.5L engine, Pontiac Division would like to provide you with an important service and with information concerning the proper maintenance of your vehicle.
During investigations of engine failure in 1984 Fieros, it became evident that there is a need to reemphasize the importance of proper engine oil maintenance. Operating your engine with low oil levels and/or deteriorated oil, may cause connecting rod failure and severe engine damage, which could result in an engine compartment fire.
As recommended in your owners manual, it is important for you to check your engine oil level each time you fill your fuel tank. To help remind you to do this, take your Fiero to you Pontiac dealer. Your dealer will install a reminder label on your fuel filler door (near the gas cap). If necessary, your dealer can also show you how to properly check the engine oil level. This service will be performed at no charge to you.
Additionally, to help avoid a damaging low oil situation, your dealer will install a new recalibrated engine oil dipstick. This new dipstick, when used in conjunction with a newly recommended oil filter (AC Type PF-51 or equivalent), will provide for a four quart capacity in your engine rather than the previous three quart capacity.
Your Pontiac dealer will change the oil, install the new dipstick and the newly recommended oil filter, and update your owners manual specifications (Section 6) at no charge to you.
Following the recommended maintenance schedule, especially with regard to oil change intervals, will help ensure proper lubrication to your engine. You may want to follow Schedule I (shorter maintenance intervals) to be certain that you are changing you oil frequently enough. For example , if most of your driving consists of trips of only a few miles, you should be changing oil every 3,000 miles or three (3) months.
The enclosed owner reply card identifies your vehicle. Presentation of this card to your dealer will assist in performing the necessary service in the shortest possible time. If you have sold or traded your vehicle, please let us know by completing the postpaid reply card and returning it to us.
We suggest that you keep this letter with your owners manual as a reminder to you, and so that any subsequent owners may also benefit from this information.
We hope you understand that the action we are taking, along with the continued proper maintenance, will help assure continued satisfaction with your Fiero. We appreciate you assistance.
PONTIAC DIVISION General Motors Corporation
Does that confirm the oil capacity level for you adequately? As well as the issue regarding engine fires? Since you tend to have a problem with reading comprehension, let me repeat the two key sentences from that recall:
Operating your engine with low oil levels and/or deteriorated oil, may cause connecting rod failure and severe engine damage, which could result in an engine compartment fire.
This new dipstick, when used in conjunction with a newly recommended oil filter (AC Type PF-51 or equivalent), will provide for a four quart capacity in your engine rather than the previous three quart capacity.
So bring on the rebuttal already. But please have your facts verified first. Then add the opinions.
Lt.BrunoStachel: If Paul were as thin-skinned as you seem to be intoning this site would have folded in it’s first few weeks. Try him.
Yep: he did a counterpoint on the Matador not too long ago which I thought was very fair and unbiased. One thing we need to keep in mind is that this is Paul’s site after all. I’m sure some of the stuff that gets posted here irritates the piss out of him…
Sometimes I still have to check myself when some dipshit posts something about how much better his foreign whatchacallit is than what I personally own and enjoy. I have to remember that this isn’t my house: I don’t pay for it, maintain it, keep it clean, etc. and it sounds like that’s a battle in itself.
I’m preaching to myself also.
The only thing that irritates me is when folks make claims that they can’t back up. I love a spirited debate, but do your homework first.
CC is not here to just broadcast the party line. We’ve had a huge spectrum of opinions and posts, and they have very much expanded my horizons. I’m here to learn, not regurgitate an endlessly repeating script. But in order to learn, the information and opinions need to be more than hot air.
You should really check your facts, before you post anything about trashing GM. If you want to drive home your points, keep your bias at the door.
The fact that GM used the “typical nickel-and-dime” approach is true. Pontiac, like Buick, was producing a car that could potentially out perform GM’s coveted Corvette.
The oil capacity, as stated in my original 1984 Pontiac Fiero SE owner’s manual, was 4.0 quarts of oil. This placed the oil about 3/16″ ABOVE the “FULL” line.
The car featured a 46%/54% front/rear weight distribution ratio on 4 cylinders, I believe. This was unheard of, by most sports cars with front-engine, rear-drive.
The rear engine bay can literally accept just about ANY platform GM FWD drivetrain, including the Cadillac Northstar V-8, making this car a tuners dream come true.
Less than 1% of all Fieros produced, actually caught engine fire.
The valve cover gasket leaks happened on all year/model 2.5L IronDuke engines, due to the nickel-silicone used on the gasket, and is easily fixed within less than 1 hour of labor, and about $30 for a Fel-Pro PermaDry gasket(the same one I used on my 1991 Pontiac Grand Am Iron Duke, which no longer leaks a drop of oil despite being 26 years old and having over 137,000 miles on it).
A used Fiero is worth just as much, as the original owner would have paid for it in 1984, provided the owner has properly maintained it and not destroyed it.
The Fiero has more of a “cult” behind it, than the Civic CRX or the Toyota MR2, with one enthusiast building a 1990 Pontiac Fiero prototype, outfitted with a 3.4L DOHC engine(VIN “X” on W-Body GMs), that had 240HP @ 6,000rpm, and would outperform the Corvette. GM declined their request to put the car into production.
Also, the factory 1984 owner’s manual state the Fiero engine output levels as:
91hp @ 4,400rpm
128 ft-lbs @ 2,800rpm
Pontiac did offer the parts to convert a stock Iron Duke, into the Super Duty engine.
Smokey Yunich created his 1984 Pontiac Fiero, to put out over 250hp and 240 ft-lbs, out of a STOCK 2.5L Duke, despite many builders claiming the crankshaft will not hold more than 150-160hp. It does 0-60 in under 7 secs, and averages OVER 50mpg, with simply a camshaft change and an induction system change to “Hot Vapor”. That car is able to pass emissions WITHOUT a catalytic converter or any form of electronic OBD-I diagnostics on it, a carburetor, and an HEI distributor ignition system.
I always love how you knock everything GM does, despite how many GM vehicles are often sought and built for racing applications, versus the foreign competitors..
There’s nothing I hate/get a kick out of more than baseless conspiracy theories, and the “Paul subliminally influences opinion against 20+ year old GM products by using pictures of shitty cars in order to advance his anti-American agenda” one is a real doozy. How many times has this been brought up and shot down already?
Don’t get me wrong, Paul puts a lot more work into this than he gets credit for. Like I’ve said before, if you sit back and read his stuff you’ll see his utter contempt for certain cars vs. his putting some of them on this strange imaginary pedestal. Its his article, its his web page, it’s all cool with me. I’d have an easier time keeping my mouth shut if his subjective views had any basis in him actually haven driven/owned or at least recently touched some of the cars he so clearly hates.
Plus then you get the supporters that have nothing bad to say about cars they don’t care for unless its a deadly sin article. It all goes back to the armchair enthusiasts. 🙂
Exactly, Phil. Why don’t you write up a rebuttal. You must have an opinion as to why GM allegedly had so many problems (or not) in the past. I’d be really interested to see your take on it.
That has got to be the junkiest Fiero I have ever seen. It appears to be an ’85 model. As a multiple Fiero owner (all years and transaxle combos), the ’84 is the the one to avoid. A few “high-mileage” coupes were built with a rare 3.32 ratio 4-speed but the rest had ridiculously low-geared transaxles: around 4:10.
The ’84 4-speed version turns 3000 RPM at 62mph; the automatic (even with lockup engaged) turns 3000K at an even more miserable 57-59mph. With a redline at 5000RPM, it makes for miserable highway driving. In ’87 GM finally changed the final drive ratios & gears in the THM125, allowing a more reasonable ~70mph @3000 rpm.
Still, GM couldn’t have picked a worse engine to put in this car. Agricultural is an excellent description of this engine: fine for a postal vehicle or FWD A-body; not so much in a “sports car”. The timing gears make a lot of noise and as stated earlier, major parts start breaking @5K rpm. And once the phenolic timing gear shears off a couple teeth, it’s over. The gear is pressed onto the cam making it impossible to replace the timing set without removing the engine to get the cam out.
The V6 cars are entirely different animals as long as they’re equipped with the 4-speed or 5-speed manuals. No vehicle I’ve ever owned was more fun to drive than a ragged out ’86 V6 4-speed SE car I had.
This V6 car has been the only car I’ve ever run flat-out at redline. I have no idea how fast I was going due to the 85mph speedometer but I held the 2.8L V6 at 6K rpm for nearly a minute on I20 in Birmingham one day, trying to catch a 5-liter Mustang like a fool. I actually got right at his back bumper when he finally nailed it — the coolest thing was hearing that 5.0 engine at WOT while seeing his car just barely easy away from me — he definitely had to work for it. I was going fast enough for the headlight doors to catch air, fly open, and flutter in the wind, if that gives you an idea.
I still find the non-fastback cars beautiful, although the color choices sucked: interior choices were either a shade of gray or beige…and most were red, silver, black, or white on the outside.
Gold was available in ’86-’87: the above car is a nice ’87 version. Ruby red (maroon) was available in ’87-’88 only and the two rarest colors are blue (’87) and yellow (’88)
Never liked the ’86-’88 GT bodystyle though.
It took me years to find a blue one — by far my favorite Fiero color. I’d post a pic but my connection/computer is flaking out.
MEH on the vastly superior MR2.
GM seems to have something of an ability to make a crude car enjoyable. I test drove an ’05 MX-5 and an ’05 Solstice back to back . . . . . and bought the Solstice. Despite the shortcomings, I enjoyed the car a lot more.
I never would have expected that. The last new vehicle I looked at was a Saturn Sky Redline. It was a beautiful car to look at but I chickened out after listening to the sound of the ecotech engine..
Whatever breakthru tech was inside that ecotech we saw that badge attached to 3.8 V6s in Commodores they ran a bit smoother than the agricultural early efforts from Buick but still nothing wonderful.
yeah no Bryce…
The ecotech Junqueboi is talking about is direct injected and turbo. Not even close to the tech you saw in the 3.8. What you saw was the series II engine of the 3800.
As harsh as the Ecotech sounds, it seems to be plenty durable. I have seen one that actually failed…but driving it 7 miles on the highway with no coolant might have had something so do with that. (Not even duct tape can fix stupid!)
I knew you’d have some interesting insights to add about these. 🙂
I’m “that guy you can’t get away from” in this thread!
But the CRX and the MR2 were sooooooooooooooo much better, which is why I can still buy on new today in 2013…..wait, I can’t? They died not that long after the Fiero? Huh?
There were a couple of interesting interior options at first, there was a suede and lambswool upline seat option on the SE’s at first and the red and silver pace car seats too.
that MR2 certainly didn’t have a lego block looking interior either…oh wait..I mean…
Do you really think that’s worse than/equal to the interior of a Fiero?? Or are you just trying to be clever because you think the Lego brick comment was a criticism of anything vaguely square-ish?
how is it any better?
there is no way you can tell me materials are better when looking through 30 years of time.
The MR2 was discontinued after 1995, but Toyota tried reviving it for 2000 with the MR2 “Spyder”. It was supposed to attract younger buyers to Toyota. Unfortunately, with the market becoming saturated with more practical FWD/AWD sport compacts and the Miata already established, the new MR2 flopped.
By 2000 Boomers, still the biggest car-buying demographic, had moved on from sports cars and into family cars, which are now called “SUV’s” and the like. There was also a booming near-luxury business in cars like the GS300.
The youngest Boomer (depending how you count it) is now 50 or so and I am smack there. I would have bought a CRX or the like in 1988 (in fact I seriously considered it) but now, no way. I don’t want a tiny car where I sit on the road anymore.
Fact is, times and fashions change.
Actually the MR2 outlasted the Fiero for a good 17 years. You could buy a new MR2 in the USA until 2005(though there was a short break from sales in the USA from 96-99 before the 3rd gen bowed in). so the MR2 was sold for 3 generations through 21 years. I would say that made the MR2 a lot more successful(and by sales, reliability and longevity a better car then the Fiero)
No, it just shows that Toyota didn’t really learn what GM learned in 4 years…..no matter how “good” the MR2 was it still failed too.
The Mk 1 MR2 did pretty well here. The fact that the second-generation car didn’t had a lot more to do with the yen/dollar exchange rate, which kept pushing the price up (the same thing happened to British cars in the late ’70s) and the collapse of the sports coupe market in the ’90s. As mentioned, Pontiac saw the last one coming, which is part of the reason they decided to cut their losses.
the MR2 never sold better than the Fiero. The only reason it was still around was because it was sold globally, so it was not a big deal to import them to the US to sell less than 10K a year.
Longevity..not sure what you mean. You really don’t see either one of them around anymore, and all of the 1st gen MR’s have dissolved already.
Other than the 84 issue, the Fiero was pretty reliably and had a very good safety rating. “Better car” is a very subjective thing.
First and second gen MR2s are far from dissolved. They’re dearly coveted by tuners and drifters. There are a tremendous number out west.
As far as the failure of the MR2 Spyder, I think it failed on its own merits. Back when I was looking to replace my first Miata, I went gave the Spyder a try. The car had no storage other than a lunch sack-sized cubby inconveniently placed behind the passenger’s seat. It was stubby, unattractive, and for some reason my local dealerships all felt the need to tack on ludicrous mark-ups, as if there was a line around the block for those cars. The interior was just sad. I had no regrets about buying a special edition Miata with a six speed instead.
The problem with the MR-2 Spyder was that is looked like a Chinese knock off of a Boxster, they styling really did it no favors.
For what it’s worth I see a couple of MR2s with Vt plates every year. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a Fiero. I really enjoyed my MR2, comfortable, economical, and on snowy or gravel roads you could steer with either your hands or feet. It was starting to show some rust* before I sold it but it’s amazing that the plastic Fiero looked better but seemed to disappear from below just as fast (based on my bosses example when I was still in MN).
*At the second to last inspection before I sold it I was required to fix some rust holes in the trunk to keep CO out of the passenger compartment, never mind the engine was between the trunk and passengers.
The MR2 was built for 20 years after the Fiero was killed. (It ran until 2007, US sales ended after 2005.)
I missed Toyota going bankrupt and being bailed out,
just when was that?
JB, What makes the white one appear to be an ’85 and not an ’84? I had the impression that that steering wheel might have supported it being an ’84. But maybe it was used in ’85 too.
That steering wheel was actually used from ’84-’86 on the base models. What steers me away 🙂 from this being an ’84 on the inside is the gray headlight switch (the ’84 models had black interior switches).
My external tipoff is the rear decklid & engine vents. The ’84 model decklid had one central engine vent in a flat black panel where you see the gentle bulge on the fine gold example above. The two black corner fillers were solid and not vented on the ’84.
The mesh you see on Hot Team’s taillights is actually the inner grid out of those ’85-’88 engine vents…which the ’84 model didn’t have. I’m not sure what the owner was after aesthetically here. Perhaps he/she/it was attempting to mimic the one cool feature of the ’86-’88 GT fastback: the “PONTIAC” letters between the taillights illuminated along with the taillights like the later Sunfires did…although the Fiero’s lighting is larger and much more noticeable at night.
Yes, I believe it’s at 120-125 mph that the headlight doors flop open. This was through one exhaustive test run on the Garden State Parkway in NJ many years ago. Later on it seems Nascar employed this trick in some hood and roof panels on their car of tomorrow. Air brakes!
The subject car is an abomination. But the owner is one who has a sense of history what with the full size Pontiac emblem glued on the steering wheel center. The rear letters spelling out F I E R O are a nod towards the 86 to 88 GT, which featured P O N T I A C in red lights at night when the lights are energized. Perhaps these letters are 3M Reflective Tape letters?
The 4 cylinder Fiero may very well be a Deadly Sin. But as Junqueboi states, the V6 is an entirely different beast. The V6 GT was the car that probably worried some Corvette people, siphoning sales. It was also the car that probably caught a surprised Mustang GT and Porsche 944 buyer back in the day.
The problem is (as usual, GM!) that the Fiero SHOULD have been great, even with the small budget. The parts were there, and they even built prototypes that were far superior. While by no means a Formula One design, the Chevette’s front suspension was actually a decent design. (There is a reason they have a cult following among Mini-Stock circle track racers.) The Buick 3.8 V6 fit, and made (IIRC) 170HP in the contemporary Tuned Port trim. There were at least two prototypes built with TURBOCHARGED V6’s, basically, the 1985 Grand National’s hot-air” non-intercooled 3800. The Bowling Green Mafia found out, and had a (predictable) conniption.
I enjoyed reading the article. I agree with the remarks of the Iron Duke being underpowered. I bought a 1987 S-10 pickup, my first new vehicle, with the 2.5 and a 5 speed manual gearbox. The truck would barely do over 60 on the highway, on a flat grade, no power steering, no a/c to lug it down, either. Most disappointing experience with an engine/transmission combo I ever had.
My first year in college, which was 1985, my best buddy had an 85 Honda Civic CRX HF. His roommate had an 85 FIero 2M4. I got to drive both.
The Fiero: Middle of the night, I-70 between Columbia, MO and Terre Haute, IN. What a dreadful, dreadful driving experience. I couldn’t lean the seat back far enough to be comfortable. The gas pedal seemed unhinged; it pivoted forward and backward on its post, making it hard to hold it in place. And the car was noisy and had very little power. The only redeeming quality was the speakers in each headrest, which sounded pretty good. But still, when we reached home I got out of that car and never, ever wanted back in.
The Civic CRX: My friend used to boast about how the car was a lot more powerful than its 37 (I think) HP engine would suggest. And he was right, but all is relative: I drove a Renault Alliance, the slowest car on the planet in those days. Anyway, we drove it from Terre Haute all the way to his family home in Metuchen, NJ, one Spring Break. It was a little claustrophobic in there, but I could lean the seat back enough. Passing on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was always a bit of a challenge, but otherwise the car was competent enough for the long trip. And we got something like 50 mpg all the way.
But what puzzles me is this: I still see the occasional Fiero on the road. I can’t remember the last time I saw a first-gen Civic CRX. Man, if I could ever find an HF, even if it were a little rough, I’d want it bigtime for just daily commuting to work. What a perfect car for that.
Even around here, I don’t see a lot of first-gen CRX survivors. Every once in a while, but not frequently.
As to why, my guess would be a combination of rust (not so much an issue in California unless it’s been pranged pretty badly) and, er, youthful enthusiasm. Relatively cheap sporty cars with a big aftermarket performance parts market don’t tend to have long lives; the Diamond Star coupes, which were extremely popular, are pretty thin on the ground these days for probably the same reason.
My biggest car regret is selling an ’86 CRX HF and replacing it with a V6 Taurus (I needed four doors). I lived in the city at the time, and I also owned a Scout, so parking three cars on the street was definitely Not Going To Happen. The CRX had 150K on the odo and was beginning to burn oil in massive quantities, but still averaged 45mpg in mixed highway/city driving. If I could have done it all over again, I would have parked it at my parents’ place and saved it for when I eventually bought a house. It got sold the day the ad placed in the paper, and it probably went on to be an SCCA racer somewhere.
I had a 87 CRX in 91/92 just out of college. Silver with black/gray checked seats which were nice. Black carpet and dash, etc. Personally I liked the styling on it better than the earlier models. The flush lights just seemed better integrated. Had 88 model rims on it which also helped its looks. Was a really nice looking car and always got comments on it. People always asked me, don’t you just love your CRX. Most of the time I would answer no. Master brake cylinder failure was the first but not the last of the mechanical problems. The interesting thing was that both the blinker control arm and the light control arm broke in half. The blinker when my coat pocket happened to catch it getting in or out and the lights (IIRC) as I rotated the end to turn the lights on. Had to use two hands to turn lights on from then on. Cheap, brittle plastic parts inside and bad steel on the outside. Besides the usual wheel wells the back-pillar and hatch would rust. 5 or 6 years old and it was rusting quickly up top. I sold it in 93/94 and glad I did. As I said, nice looking cars, but not the kind of car that would last many winters in Wisconsin. I recall catching a ride with a guys who had one of the last year Fieros and really liking it. I agree with Paul… just when GM got it right they killed it.
I’m more or less a GM fan, but GM is one company that I’ll never understand. Over and over the “let’s go ahead and release it now, but try and make it good later” mindset when the Japanese were continually cranking out new models that were right the first time. “Autos of Interest” has an interesting blog on the development of the Fiero and I believe mentioned that it was cancelled and green-lighted around 6 times over it’s development.
Some of the first pictures I shot when I started contributing to CC were of an early Fiero. I have zero experience with them, and though the inspiration started to spark a couple of times, it never caught and I wrote about other cars. As of today, I’m glad I waited.
I guess I knew in my heart that this car had earned the coveted Deadly Sin status, and nobody but PN could do it justice.
I wonder if the Corvair experience somehow scarred the company. They spent a lot of money on a second generation but the cars more or less sat there not selling well for five model years, getting worse every year.
I think that another reason these cars sold so well at first was that in 1984, there were still a lot of people, particularly those of us away from the coasts, that believed that GM was still the company of 1955 or 1965. Sure, there had been a couple of clunkers (like the Vega and the X cars), but there was still reason to believe that GM could design and build a good car. But one by one and two by two, loyal customers were burned by bad cars and never went back.
If the Corvair experience had a permanent negative effect on GM, it had to be the settling in of the attitude, “Anything new and different can always be done cheaper – and with less inspiration.” It must have been disheartening as hell to those who powered the Corvair thru the design and production stages, first watch it get nickle and dimed to death by accounting, and then have its ass handed to it on a platter by the Falcon.
Which was probably the car that accounting was yelling for in the first place. And proof that H. L. Mencken was right.
Other than the followup ’61-62 compacts (which were well in development when the Corvair was released), GM never got that adventurous again. Or, if they did stretch the design department, accounting kept their claws firmly in the designers back.
Don’t forget the Toronado. A case could be made for the GM Rotary Combustion Engine in the ’70s, although that one never got past the prototype stage.
A good freind has an 85 with 2.8 and 4-speed. He wanted the old body style with the V6, and looked for a few years until he found one that had been meticulously cared for.
It’s a fun little car, not sure if I’d want to use it for my daily driver, or pay full pop for a new one.
And yes, he is a bit of a fanatic and is constantly on the hunt for original trim pieces.
These were always such curious cars. I’ve seen a white one around my town from time to time. Other than that, there aren’t that many left in my neck of the woods. While taking to a co-worker and friend of mine recently, I found out that when she was in her 20s purchased a brand new white Fiero back in the ’80s. I could’ve guessed that the Fiero wouldn’t handle well in the snow, but she verified this fact with her story of getting stuck in the middle of the road with it during a snowstorm.
Never had a problem with mine. All the weight was on the rear tires, so they were pretty good in the snow. It was a much better car in the snow than my Cruze is.
My aunt bought a Fiero new and it was her daily driver for years living in the rustbelt.
Apparently when she was looking to replace the Fiero she wanted a CUV because she decided she needed AWD for the snow. My cousin (her son) pointed out that she drove a Fiero all this time, why does she suddenly need AWD now?! I don’t know what she ultimately bought.
The MR2 was a similar handful in the snow, not surprisingly. My dad had a Gen. 2 turbo back in the day, and in one of my stupider moments I decided to floor it while on a patch of snow. Just to see what would happen, of course. One quick 360 later I crept sheepishly out of the parking lot and decided not to try that again.
“One quick 360 later I crept sheepishly out of the parking lot” What? That is what parking lots were for! At least in my misspent youth in Vermont. All my friends loved going to parking lots to do donuts. In the snow it is so easy and relatively low risk. It is not like driving down a snowy dirt road, realizing we are spinning… watching the stone walls and trees thru the windshield… praying we are pointed in the right direction for the turn ahead.
Great write-up and yet another example of how the Greatest Company on Earth fell back to earth due to hubris, cynicism and bean-counters.
I know some bristle at the “GM Deadly Sin” series but of all car companies, I think GM was the one of whom it could almost always be said…”they knew better than to…”
Have to admit…I look at Solstice/Sky and wonder how easy it would be to slam that drivetrain and some other parts into an early Vega Kammback or Fastback.
The Solstice/Sky drive train would fit very easily in any “H body”, and perform way better than the original motors… my dad had several Vegas when I was growing up (he had a “good” engine that he swapped into Vegas he picked up with blown engines) and my first car was a Pontiac Sunbird (Chevy Monza clone) with the “Iron Duke” motor. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a Monza and a Solstice drive train instead of the ubiquitous 350-v8 swap.
Daan: I think that Sunbird notchback is a very underappreciated design. Probably one of the nicest of GM;s efforts of the 70s.
The ’86 restyle made the car look much more appealing to me. My boss had one with V6 and automatic as his long distance commuter and he loved it. A coworker had the original with the Iron Duke and 4-speed, what a POS. He, for some demented reason, was loyal to Pontiac no matter what. The $1000 early clutch job, the fire, nothing seemed to faze him. Ultimately, it was replaced with a “Dustbuster” Pontiac minivan.
Wait a minute! Hall and Oates sold Fieros? How could that possibly not turn out well?
They go together like Michael Jackson and Pepsi!
In an odd CC Effect, while in the car today the radio mentioned that it was Daryl Hall’s birthday!
That was “BAD” 😛
I can’t go for that, nooo
No can do
I can’t go for that
Can’t go for that
Can’t go for that
Can’t go for that
These may have been junk, but they were one of the coolest looking cars on the road at the time. It’s too bad they didn’t put more effort into them.
Amen, bro. They’re beautiful little cars aren’t they? There were so many things “right” about them: they do not squeak, rattle, or flex like the 3rd-gen F-body cars* and they’ll never dent.
The interiors are quite nice apart from the those three padded vinyl console pieces which shrink & curl over time. Ignorance fuels a lot of hatred towards the Fiero but that makes them a fantastic bargain for dorks like us who enjoy the heck out of them.
*I like/own 3rd-gen F-body cars
I’m one of those dorks who happens to own one…a red ’88 notchback coupe!
Beautiful car. I’ve always lusted after a Fierro, make it ’88 Formula while I’m dreaming.
Thanks…it’s not perfect, but still fun to drive. Bought it in ’93 (mid-life crisis…LOL!) and sold it to my son’s buddy in 2000. In 2008, he offered it back to me and in a weak moment, I said yes…and here we are, after a quite a few $ to “bring it back”, so to speak.
I once read that the number one demographic for the Fiero was divorced women.
Which probably was true, I only knew of a few new Fieros and they were driven by spoiled high school girls. Same for the few CRXs and MR2s that I knew of.
The market for guys was moving into a lot of small trucks like the Ranger and S-10. The truckization of the U.S. vehicle fleet was on as two door cars started dying out.
Spoiled high school girls?
Jeanine “Shana” Bueller comes to mind………….
“You can rely on the old man’s money.”
“Give us 5 years to get it almost right and then we’ll kill it.”
Wasn’t that framed and hung on the Board Room wall from 1962 to 2009?
The Banshee is for sale at Napoli Classic Cars in Milford CT with an asking price of $750,0000. Talk about owning a one of a kind car…extensive exterior/interior pictures on their website.
Great write up. Interesting history.
To me the Fiero always looks like an ’84 or ’85 version, just because of the sales numbers and that you still see them occasionally. I barely recall anything about the later versions then, or now.
GM bungled this car, but even if it had been stellar, sales likely would not have held up. Two seaters are a tough sell, and when too many models are competing, some eventually leave the market. People lost interest in the CRX, and Honda changed it’s mission to be less a commuter and more a sporty coupe with the 1992 del Sol. The del Sol sold an average of 12,500 cars a year for six years in the U.S., and was done. The MR2 soldiered on until it was totally lost in Toyota’s model / brand proliferation, and like many makers in the recession, Toyota cut out some low volume redundant models including the MR2.
The Fiero was a sales champ among 2 seaters, even in it’s final year with over 26,000 sales. In hindsight, GM might have been better off avoiding some of the exterior tweaks in an era that was starting to look at “generations,” instead of annual changes. A decently refreshed “Gen 2” car might have been able to play in a 20K-30K unit sales niche almost indefinitely.
But, GM was busy futzing with things like Saturn, which eventually would produce the SC and have probably managed to cannibalize Fiero sales from Pontiac with that.
GM tried to shop the Fiero around when it was still in development, but none of the other divisions were really interested in participating. Buick thought about using the Fiero P-car platform for what later became the Reatta, but they though it would be too rough for their intended near $30K price bracket and Buick type customer.
The fact that GM couldn’t pimp the P-car into a Chevrolet or an Oldsmobile probably put a target on its back from an accounting perspective too.Similar to the Corvette, the Fiero was made in it’s own unique plant, no other cars were made there.
I liked the looks of the original Fiero, and would have liked to own one. When I went shopping in ’86 for a commute car, there was one on the lot of the dealer that I had stopped at. But I wasn’t brave enough, and the Nissan Pulsar I did buy from the same car lot served me very well. I have no problem with the original premise of the Fiero; to me if you wanted a sports car, look somewhere else.
I have a friend who bought an ’84 new, and put almost 150K miles on it, but it was a PITA over the last 30K miles with lots of nickel and dime problems. I still liked it, though.
My one issue is the engine. This is why I didn’t buy a Fiero. From the same company that installed the lifeless, lousy 305 taxi engine in my ’82 Z28, we were expecting big things in the Fiero? It would seem the Brazilian engine would be a natural fit for the Fiero, but were they any more durable than the Iron Duke? GM should have made a competent engine for the then new Cavalier and could have used that in the Fiero, but history shows that engine was a underwhelming, gasket munching boat anchor, too.
My experience with late ’70s Hondas rendered the CRX a no-go for me, but I’d still love to have an MR2. Any of them.
That pic of Hall & Oats on the Fiero is interesting. I can almost imagine singing their top hit Out of Touch and directing it to GM for building a mid engined Chevette or Citation(they sure as hell used enough parts off them for this affair)
That Hall & Oates Fiero promo ad is so 80’s I want to breakdance.
There’s an amazing Fiero on ebay right now:
1988, 50k miles, 5-speed, V6, red, tan interior…
Can anyone explain the “PERFORMANCE SOUND” switch on the headliner???
the Performance Sound switch controlled the amount of base the optional subwoofer put out. It was actually a slider, variable between off and 100%, not an on/off switch. It is a weird size, about 5 inches in diameter. Put out pretty good base for what it was and given that it was the 80’s.
So it piped in exhaust noise to the interior? Or am I misreading this?
Nope, it’s a cool little option that taps into the speaker outputs of the Delco stereo. None of my NC Fieros have this option so I don’t know what it sounds like…but I bet it sounds good. The speaker enclosure mounts under the right side of the dash in the “glove compartment area”. The driver amp mounts on the side of the transmission tunnel under the carpet.
I guess Pontiac felt sorry for us Fierophiles when they took away our headrest speakers in ’86 so we got the subwoofer option as a consolation prize.
The Performance Sound slider on the overhead controlled the bass frequency for the single subwoofer speaker mounted below the passenger side instrument panel. It worked quite nicely. This was found on the AM/FM Cassette radio with a built in graphic equalizer. Had this set up in my 86 GT…
Michael…it was actually an option on any “upgrade” radio above the base level. I’ve seen it on the radios with only two sliders for bass and treble
Wow, that may very well be the nicest Fiero left on the planet!
there are actually quite a few zero mile 88’s still around. lots of people bought them and put them away.
Paul, are you sure on the Vega engine only taking three quarts of oil? A quick google says otherwise (the interwebs is always right, hey?), and I always did four quarts per change… If I ever have time to dig my original owners manual out of the attic, I can confirm what it actually was…
Shoot; I blew it. I got that from the automobile-catalog site, and missed the part about that being without the oil filter, which took another .9 quart. I’ve dissed the Vega unfairly, once again. I’ll fix the article.
Ah… Well, back then, it wasn’t unheard of to just drain and refill the oil without changing the filter every time (my Dad taught me to always do the filter…).
I always thought GM took the Fiero tooling and used it to make Dustbuster minivans, but that doesn’t seem possible as the Fieros and Dustbusters were built in different plants, and their production almost overlapped. The plastic-panel-on-spaceframe technology definitely carried over and was used on Saturns as well.
The MR2 was vastly superior but really wasn’t much more of reach than the Fiero production-wise. The 4A-GE engine revs to 7500 rpm, runs forever, gets 29 mpg even when you zing it, and is still used in Formula Atlantic racing. But that same drivetrain could be had in a Corolla FX16. Or an AE86 GT-S.
The suspension was much more thoroughly engineered than the early Fieros at least, rumored to have extensive Lotus influence. It was a world-class sports car that didn’t cost any more than a Corolla to run. It was priced higher, though, and more luxuriously appointed, particularly if you opted for the leather interior.
I had a black-on-black ’86 and a charcoal-gray ’88, which I still have parked anticipating a restoration someday. Rust is a problem, particularly on the rear quarter panels. And good luck finding one without six-figure mileages. But they’re monumentally great cars, maybe overlooked as classics.
The Dustbusters were made in Tarrytown NY from what I recall, someone at GM was really in love with the space frame/plastic body panel process for a little while, plastic body panels were on the Fiero, U-vans, Saturns, and the front fenders on many 1989 and up luxury cars, like the DeVille/Fleetwood, were also plastic.
I don’t know if Lotus had anything to do with the MR2’s suspension tuning, but during the period in which the first MR2 was developed (and through about 1985), Toyota did own a minority stake in Lotus. Toyota DID get Lotus to retune the European Celica Supra’s suspension, but I dunno about the MR2.
CC effect again! Just saw a silver one of these a few days ago, likely an ’84 or ’85. To my eyes, it still is such a great looking car. The botched potential is just staggering. If the rest of the car had been even remotely as good as the styling, it would have been a truly memorable car for all the right reasons.
When these came out in 1984, the cousin of one of my best friends got a red one. Loved the looks of it outside, but the inside was not particularly comfortable and the plastic quality was dismal. The only thing worse was the way it performed. My buddy and I got to drive it, and wow, talk about underwhelmed. The thing was as slow as molasses (granted, it was an automatic, which didn’t help matters). The noises the engine made would have embarrassed a Cuisinart. The steering was leaden. The suspension was jarring. The list of demerits just went on, and on, and on.
A mere few years later, another friend got a new 1986 MR2. Also red, though a stick. Amazing car! Blast to drive. Much nicer interior. However, for all its appeal, I still found it nowhere near as good looking as the Pontiac.
You know… as much as I don’t like MR2s, everything you stated is spot-on!
When these came out in 84 everybody I knew wanted one or just wanted to ride in one, the price seemed reasonable too. What other cars had that look for $7,999.
Getting an 88 could be a double edged sword, while improved, some parts are hard to come by, like wheel bearings.
I’ve been reading the Fiero forums for a couple of months, boy, these guys come up with some cheap upgrades. The 84-87 Fieros had solid rotors, they figured out if you machine the oem rotors down till it is just a hub, you could slide a j car vented rotors on to them & literally bolt on Beretta calipers.
I always wanted to know what John Delorean thought of these cars.
Great write up Paul. A few years ago I dated a girl who had one in really nice shape, and I got to drive it occasionally. I always loved the look of these but it was a real dog to drive. It had the iron puke and the most agricultural gearbox I’ve ever shifted in my life. A total poser-mobile with nothing remotely sporty about it. Real nasty cheap interior too. Also, what was GM thinking in the 80’s when they decided to put a pouch on the dash instead of designing a proper glovebox?! I know the F body twins had them too.
Actually the glove box is in between the seats.
A friend of mine who worked for a GM supplier had one of the last Fieros built, and really liked it. He had some mods done to it, and it was plenty quick. He had it for about 4 years as his daily commute to work car. One day, he and his then girlfriend went out to dinner and it was gone, stolen and never found again. Every time he sees one of that year, not very often anymore, he always checks it out, and I do too, He saw one in Columbus that he was convinced was his car, but it wasn’t, it was a twin, even down to the engine mods. He thinks about getting another one, but he’s got a couple of kids now, and a Mustang and Charger are more useful than a Fiero would be.
I never thought of it until now, but the Fiero was almost a Corvair of the ’80s. Futuristic, nice lines, initially half-baked and misunderstood, and today loved by its devoted owners. I always thought they were neat looking as a kid in the ’80s. It probably didn’t hurt that I had the Fiero 2M4 Hot Wheels car in my collection!
Say it isn’t so, Hall & Oates… a friend’s wife had a V6 equipped ’88 GT, which was a pretty nice car, except for the automatic trannie. I’ll take a well-sorted Fiat X1/9.
Hall and Oates always seemed…greasy to me, like they were refugees from a porn set. Maybe it was just the ‘stache and hair.
Unfortunately, throughout the 1980s, General Motors weren’t known for doing anything right. With the X bodied cars (Chevy Citation, Pontiac, Buick, etc.) the 5.7 litre V8 diesel engine, the V-8-6-4?!, etc. and the Pontiac Fiero, it’s any wonder General Motors is still in the car business. If General Motors continues on the path it’s been on for the past 30-40 yrs, the only thing left will be Chevrolet and GMC trucks.
The Fiero is one stupid automobile. Toyota succeeded with the MR2; Honda succeeded with the CRX; and Mazda succeeded with the Miata and RX7. But in typical GM fashion the Fiero was another example of a nickel and dime approach in development and horrendously bad build quality to boot. To be perfectly honest there isn’t one GM car built in the last 36 years or so that I’d be proud to own. Some of their products in the last couple of years seem interesting though.
I recently bought a 1984 Fiero 2M4. I enjoyed it for 2 days until the head gasket blew on day 3. I still enjoy the look of it despite the problems. It will always be a cool looking car in my opinion.
For all you h8r’s out there, I found this a little while back lol:
Some Interesting Fiero Stuff
– The V-6 Fiero hit .84-.86g on the skidpad (4-cyl was roughly .80-.82g)
Porsche 911 Carrera -> .85g (the Carrera 4 was at .83g)
Ferrari Testarossa -> .84g
Lotus Esprit Turbo -> .86g
Lamborghini Diablo VT -> .87g
Acura NSX -> .87g
Acura Integra GS-R -> .82g
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am/Formula (’93+) -> .82g-.85g
Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX -> .86g
– The Fiero ran the slalom at 63.4-63.9 mph (about 61.5 for 4-cyl. models).
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am -> 59.7 mph
Lotus Epsrit S4 -> 60.6 mph
Porsche 911 Carrera -> 61.9 mph
BMW M3 -> 62.8 mph
Corvette ZR-1 -> 63.6 mph
Ferrari 348 -> 62.8 mph
Acura NSX -> 62.3 mph
Dodge Viper -> 62.7 mph
Ford Mustang Cobra (1994) -> 61.1 mph
Nissan 300ZX Turbo -> 63.0 mph
– The V-6 Fiero consistantly accelerated from 0-30 in 2.2 seconds.
The Lamborghini Diablo manages 0-30 in 2.2 seconds.
– Best 1/4-mile time for a stock V-6 Fiero: 14.7 @ 92 mph
Worst: 17.0 @ 80 mph
Both Fieros were GT’s with manual transmissions.
– Best top speed for a stock V-6 Fiero: 135 mph
Worst: 115 mph
Both Fieros were ’85 GT’s, the latter with an automatic transmission.
– Pontiac purchased Ferrari 308’s for handling engineering and comparison
– Many V-6 engines in Fieros dynoed at between 150 and 160 bhp.
– The Fiero turned in a profit every year it was sold (including 1988).
– Fiero prototypes were running in 1980.
– Most foreign auto magazines raved about the Fiero’s superior handling,
its nimble response and excellent road feel.
Most American auto magazines criticized the Fiero’s handling as being
numb, heavy and not responsive.
– The decisions to kill the Fiero was made on February 29, 1988.
– The Fiero had nearly 3 times as many sales as the MR2 during any given
year in its lifetime.
– Pontiac spent over $300,000,000 to produce the Fiero, yet cancelled the
car on a “hunch” they would lose a maximum of $20-million between 1988
– Several factory prototypes were made of a Fiero convertible.
– Two prototypes were made in 1986 of a Fiero with an aluminum frame. One
of the aluminum Fieros had a 190 bhp Quad-4.
– Car & Driver called the Fiero, “One of the best cars in America” and
gave the Fiero a slot in their top ten best category.
– The Los Angeles Auto Expo gave the Fiero their Design of the Year Award.
– The Fiero accounted for nearly 1/4 of all Pontiac sales in 1984.
– Spectators at the unvailing of the fastback Fiero mistook the GT version
as a new Corvette.
– GM was struggling with the problem of employees purchasing Fieros before
the public had an opportunity. Never before had this been a problem with
a GM car.
– Even though the highest sticker price for an ’84 Fiero was about $10,000,
one Michigan buyer paid over $15,000 for an ’84 SE.
– The Fiero was the first American car to win in IMSA GTU.
– In 1985, the Fiero won at Sears Point (one of 3 straight victories),
beating such successful competitors as Chevrolet’s Corvette and
– A 4-cylinder Fiero belting out only 370 bhp took the NHRA’s Competition
Eliminator title at the Keystone Nationals on September 15, 1985 with a
best 1/4-mile time of 9.72 seconds at 134.41 mph.
– The Fiero won well over 40 races in the 36 months it raced.
final drive ratio which improved 0-60 times from about 12.5 seconds to
around 11. Optional Indy edition featured white paint with red trim,
red on gray interior, performance final drive ratio, and “aero” body
work (nearly identical to an ’85 GT’s). Most common year for engine
fire problems. Causes were insufficient oil capacity, flawed connecting
rods shipped from the Saginaw factory, and improper placement of some
engine bay components. Recall issued, all ’84 Fieros have been serviced
and corrected according to Pontiac Motor Division.
4-cylinder renamed Tech-IV and received minor improvements. GT model
added featuring a revised body, WS6 suspension, and new trim options.
2.8-liter V-6 introduced as an option for the GT and SE models. 4-speed
manual or 3-speed automatic available for V-6 engine option, 5-speed
manual added for 4-cylinder engine only. V-6 engine features multi-port
fuel injection and tubular exhaust manifolds, produces over 50% more
power than the 4-cylinder. Suspension is revised to reduce bump
harshness and pitching behavior. Decklid hump replaces vented plate.
GT model receives fastback bodywork. 5-speed manual transmission
introduced on some late ’86 V-6 equipped cars, 4-speed still most
common. SE model receives ’85 GT style bodywork. Gauges are revised
for V-6 cars, featuring vivid backlighting and wrap-around tachometer.
3rd brake light added. Headrest stereo speakers are deleted. 15-inch
wheels with offset tire sizes are found on the GT. Weave style wheel
introduced. Suspension is recalibrated, improving rough road behavior
5-speed manual standard on V-6 models. V-6 engine receives improvements
to combustion efficiency, counter-weighting, and lubrication. 4-cylinder
receives substantial improvements to lubrication system as well as the
addition of balance shafts and a small power increase (about 98 horsepower
vs 92 for the previous engine). Suspension is again slightly revised.
Speedometer limit for V-6 cars is increased to 120 mph. Improvements
are also found in the hydraulic clutch and braking systems. The headlight
motors were also upgraded to more reliable and quieter units (thankfully).
Monochrome paint is an option. T-top option added. Vented discs
come standard. Suspension is revised to reduce scrub radius and rough
road behavior. Lotus actually had nothing to do with the suspension
improvement as most Fiero fans would like to claim, it was merely a
media rumor. The suspension is completely unique. V-6 engine is again
improved to increase longevity. Fiero cancelled.
Pontiac Fiero Model Specifications
Year Weight Axle Trans Engine BHP@rpm Torque@rpm 0-60 1/4-mile
1984C 2464 3.32 4-spd 4-cyl 92@4000 134@2800 12.5 18.9@70
1984C 2464 4.10 4-spd 4-cyl 92@4000 134@2800 10.86 17.7@75
1984SE 2480 4.10 4-spd 4-cyl 92@4000 134@2800 10.9 18.1@74
1985C 2505 3.35 5-spd 4-cyl 92@4000 134@2800 10.8 18.0@74
1985SE 2560 3.65 4-spd 6-cyl 140@5200 170@3600 7.4 15.5@90
1985GT 2572 3.65 4-spd 6-cyl 140@5200 170@3600 7.5 15.7@87
1986C 2504 3.35 5-spd 4-cyl 92@4000 134@2800 10.8 18.0@74
1986SE 2575 3.65 4-spd 6-cyl 140@5200 170@3600 7.4 15.6@89
1986GT 2696 3.65 4-spd 6-cyl 140@5200 170@3600 7.5 15.9@85
1987C 2546 3.35 5-spd 4-cyl 96@4800 135@3200 10.5 17.6@75
1987SE 2567 3.61 5-spd 6-cyl 135@4500 165@3600 7.6 15.8@87
1987GT 2708 3.61 5-spd 6-cyl 135@4500 165@3600 7.8 15.9@86
1988C 2547 3.35 5-spd 4-cyl 98@4800 135@3200 10.5 17.6@75
1988FM 2580 3.61 5-spd 6-cyl 135@4500 165@3600 7.4 15.5@89
1988GT 2735 3.61 5-spd 6-cyl 135@4500 165@3600 7.8 16.0@85
C = Coupe SE = Special Edition GT = Grand Touring FM = Formula
Thank you for that! Now I’m going to have to re-write my article and call it a GM’s Greatest Hit!
The Fiero was a “guaranteed sure winner” 🙂
Yes, you should. Depends on point of view.
You should learn to identify sarcasm. 🙂
You should learn to identify my sarcasm on your standpoint ?
You both may have fallen into the sarchasm!
Hey…come on…STOP THROWING CAR PARTS AT ME!
“– The Fiero turned in a profit every year it was sold (including 1988).”
I would imagine the same could be said about every Deadly Sin and, undoubtedly, the one that drives GM apologists crazy. How could the company possibly go bankrupt when their vehicles consistently made a profit year after year?
It’s one of the things I always found rather fascinating about GM. Chrysler and Ford, during specific eras, would actually sell vehicles at a loss (the NASCAR/musclecar specials) but, to the best of my knowledge, GM never did this. Even the iconic COPO 427 Camaro had a huge price tag.
That statement is incorrect. The Fiero was losing quite a bit of money, especially due to the high warranty claims. If it was so profitable, why did GM shut it down? Don’t believe everything you read in the comments here.
It was sarcasm.
It’s one of those conundrums that elude the fanboys (or they simply choose to ignore it). I have no doubt that it’s actually true that GM has made initial, short-term profit on every car they’ve ever sold (including the Fiero).
But, as stated, it’s the overall big-picture where GM loses (and, sometimes, in a very big way). It’s not only in later, crushing warranty claims for poorly engineered vehicles, but the permanent loss of future customers, sometimes for generations.
So, while most understand why some so-called profitable GM vehicles get Deadly Sin status, there are always a few that don’t quite grasp the concept.
Ignoring warnings from virtually everyone he knew, a good friend of mine bought a used ’84 Fiero 2M4 in 1994. We all said don’t buy it, the engine will blow up. Not only were we right, but 3 times over. I often wonder how many engines it went through in the prior 10 years of its existence. But 3 was the magic number until 1997 when he bought yet another dog in a ’92 Eagle Talon (4-cylinder) and the old fiery Fiero went off to the sweet bye and bye.
It will always occupy a soft spot, though be it a small one, in my heart…reason being he bought this 4-speed manual with no knowledge of how to drive stick, and his learning curve was quite large, so I chauffeured him about in it for quite some time before he got the hang of driving it in any kind of substantial traffic. Yes it was a dog, but was like a Ferrari compared to my 1.3L anaemic Civic that needed a serious overhaul and hesitated, sputtered, and coughed like an old man who smoked 5 packs of Camels a day for the past 60 years. I will never forget when engine #1 in the Fiero blew up, on the QEW just outside of Toronto when we were headed back stateside after enjoying Ontario’s 19 year old drinking age the night before. Anyone familiar with the amount and speed of the traffic up there will appreciate how closely we brushed death that day, as our little plastic can sputtered thick black smoke out the rear grill and I limped it to the side of the road through 5 lanes of 80+ mph traffic, while my buddy slept off his hangover.
I love, _love_ these cars. My fourth is a pacecar sitting in the driveway. Saw my first one on the street when I was 12 and promised myself I’d own one some day. 10 years later I was the proud owner of a Black 84 economy stripper (the one with a crazy long gear ratio; and no radio or speakers in the seat) with a 100K already on the odometer. Put another 100K on and the only serious problem I had was with the starter (which I rebuilt three times and then finally scraped up enough money to buy a new unit which was flawless). Never had a fire with any of the Fieros I’ve owned. But the parking brakes were pretty marginal when it came to holding the car on a hill.
The Stripper got decent gas mileage; so much better than my big block Windsor which I also had at the time. Which was good because the tank only held like 9.5 gallons.
With a set of studded tires it was phenomenal in snow and ice; easily the best non traction control 2WD car I’ve ever driven. The only winter driving drawback is the pointy nose and flat body meant the front of the car would toboggan when the snow got more than ~10″ deep. One memorable new years eve when we got rain over top of an inch of ice I was the only thing driving around besides chained up 4X4s.
Power even with the 2.5 was sufficient. Sure it wouldn’t snap your neck but as the saying goes a slow car driven fast is more fun than a fast car driven slow. And it was fast enough to get me a written warning for excessive acceleration onto a highway. Which brilliantly illustrated the only serious complaint I had: the car was a bloody cop magnet. Excluding that car I’ve been pulled over like five times in 25 years and 100s of thousands of kilometres; including that car it would be well into double digits. And at one time I drove a 600+hp IROC. Never got a ticket in the Fiero but I don’t think I ever went more than a couple weeks without having a chat with a friendly officer. I was pretty skeptical of police profiling and harassment before I owned that car but it made me a believer.
Surprisingly the Fiero was also pretty rust resistant. Sure the visible body was all plastic but the space frame itself rusted much less than most other cars of the era. A 10 year old CRX or MR2 around here in 95 would be swiss cheese but even now you can find essentially rust free Fieros.
The engine choices were pretty disappointed but par for the mid 80s GM course. I mean the same Iron Duke was the base engine for the Camaro in 84. Talk about underwhelming performance.
I love the Fiero. I actually like the base versions with the “non-areo” nose, to me the front ends of those accented the wedge shape of the car.
It was created to be a sporty looking commuter and they did return great gas mileage. However it did mimic the style not substance ethos that was the 1980’s. Out of all of them, the CRX was the more roomy of the bunch with a nice trunk area with gobs of compartments. However none of those cars sold super well. As much as everybody sung the praises of the CRX and MR2, there were not many that were bought and 10 years later seeing one was a rare event. The MR2 grew into a expensive car with high insurance rates so the young demographic that was to buy them, could not buy them.
In the end most commuters bought a Civic or a Tercel/Corolla and that was that
Geo Metro comes to mind, too. Mid-engine 2-seaters are really a ridiculous choice for commuting: fat lot of good all that low-inertia agility will do you in weekday traffic jams. And you can’t carpool with >1 coworkers either, or take them out to lunch.
Now if a 2-seater got phenomenally better MPG, that might be an excuse, but then the Smart ForTwo is no better than C-class compacts here.
I’ve never had to commute to work in a car so I’m not really familiar with the market. But if I ever had a job where I had to I’d want a small fun car to do it in since mostly it wouldn’t even have a passenger. Maybe my thinking is like GMs at this time- they have no experience in it so they just think of what they’d do in the situation.
Another part of Pontiacs recall was 1984 2.5 engine replacement, regardless of mileage. I remember reading a GM recall letter sent to ’84 Fiero owners at the VW/ Pontiac dealership I worked at in 1989. It urged the customer to bring the car to the dealership to check for engine noises. It explained that if a rod broke it could go through the block and dump oil on the exhaust manifold, creating a fire. This was a safety recall so was life time, at least for as long as a replacement engine was available from GM.
What would have been really cool, and John DeLorean might have loved it had he still been at Pontiac, was to have _body kit options_ for the Fiero. It’s a kit car, right? Plastic everything?
Well, you have your basic Fiero for the default model, but you could have had the sleeker RetroBanshee kit with chrome ‘Vette bumper and faux engine bulge and a plethora of 60s detailing inside, a TR-7/X-19 style roadster with woodgrain interior and crooked shift lever and so forth. GM would have easily duplicated the Lucas electronics experience for sure. Maybe ever the Ferrari (Fierrari?) kit with a dedicated V-6 Turbo transplanted from the GNX as the top tier model.
Three distinct options with commensurate pricing all based on the same inner platform. And a decent engine/tranny. I bet this would go over wonderfully right now, what with cars looking alike and coming only in silver, black or white. Are you listening, Hyundai?
Maybe you’d like the Factory Five 818 kit car, which uses a Subaru drivetrain.
Of all the deadly sins of GM that could have been so great, the Fiero in my mind is the saddest. Especially the way they cancelled it. After making it good of course. If you want the full tale of woe, get a copy of the book “The Fall and Rise of the American Auto Industry” published in 95 by a couple of wall street journalists who’s name I’ve forgotten. When I get home tommorow, i’ll post a pic of the Cover.
I wonder if GM’s habit of killing off a vehicle just as they get it right was due to the Corvair. After the car’s handling issues were corrected, it was actually okay. But due to all the bad publicity, it never really recovered, even though GM stuck with it for a total of 10 years.
So, maybe that memory is why GM was very quick to cut their losses and stop production of a car that had garnered a negative perception, even though they’d managed to correct the deficiencies with the last versions.
While starting out with my favorite of the mid engines was the X19 11 years earlier, The Fiero was a much more innovative car than the MR2. I say this by virtue of the optional V6. The speed and flexibility added so much to the package.
PN calls for a lighter package with the Brazilian OHCs. That would have more resembled the MR2 and made for a simpler package. But given that import buyers were off the table by 84, wasn’t it better to make a package that appealed to domestic buyers. That inevitably means bigger engines and wheels. The only deadly sin is no optional power steering. With the engine off the front wheels it might not have seemed necessary. But GM should have understood not to scrimp on features. That’s an import game.
I don’t really see that Gremlin treatment on the Civic being a real competitor.
Excellent article. I’ve always liked the Fiero, but more for the idea and styling (which is what GM coasted on in the 80’s). I was unaware of the extreme examples of unreliability and the small oil capacity that lead to the problems. Can you imagine how great this car could have been, had it been given the right budget? Better suspension, maybe a turbo. It’s a shame that it took until 1984 for Pontiac to really get their sports car (Trans Am notwithstanding), and that GM seemed to almost reluctantly give the go-ahead for it, just to almost see it fail. “Here’s your sports car already, now stop bothering us”.
She’s go-o-o-o-ne, oh wo-o-o-oah I… I bettah learn how to face it.
I’d sold my ’74 X1/9 before these came out, but do remember the anticipation. I have an ’81 X now, know two X-Web members who’ve owned 1st and 2nd gen MRs, along with their Xs. They like the MRs, but love the Xs. Did have a carpool buddy that owned an ’88 V6 Fiero with an auto trans,. Very comfortable cruiser, per my recollection.
I remember the local junkyard had one as a yard car. No doors or front panels. It had big bumpers and a basket on the front. The guy working there would tear along the rows bouncing of junked cars occasionally.
I seem to recall that for a while there was a little cottage industry swapping in 4.5 and 4.9 liter Cadillac transverse V8’s (found in most 1988-93 FWD Cadillacs).
Northstars have been swapped in, although now that seems like a bad idea.
I wanted one since the day I first saw one at a small Pontiac / GMC dealer in Lititz, PA. I was 23 at the time and had owned several first gen Mustangs, and 2 Saab model 99’s including a 78 Turbo. I’d still like to have one as a fun car. Reading this I would only be interested in a V6 4-5 speed, and the 88 would be the real prize to find. Are their any interesting engine swaps since the 4 cylinders are what mostly shows up?
One day back in the early 90’s there was a salvage yard on Route 1 outside of Philly. Prominently displayed near the heavily travelled road was a black Fiero that had caught fire. They put a large sign on it saying “Pontiac, We build Excitement”
Around 1980, Car &Driver published some drawings of a GM concept for a mid-engine sports car which was rumored to utilize plastic body panels. Speculation called for the builder to be Buick. I was smitten by those drawings and kept watching for more news on when this car would become reality. By 1984 the reality had arrived in the form of the Fiero. It was certainly watered down from those inspiring drawings of a few years ago, but the basics were there. The local dealer never could get their hands on one, and my then wife wanted a Firebird, so we got a Firebird. I finally got to see a Fiero in metal/plastic on one of my many trips to the dealer to get something fixed on the Firebird. To my eyes the Fiero was a total disappointment. The proportions were odd and the interior was hideous and uninspiring. The dealer offered me a test drive of the Fiero while the mechanics were fixing one thing and breaking others on my car, but I declined. After seeing my dream car in the cold light of day, I kind of felt like I had been catfished by GM
Did Duntov-Arkus ever have any comments on the Fiero? I can’t help but think that he would have been envious of a mid-engine car, since he wanted the Corvette to have that configuration. When I thought about what he may have thought about it, it brought to mind the original Corvette: a parts bin special with the Blue Flame six that everyone laughed at. It took a few years to get the Corvette right, too. Again, it’s a real shame that the axe came down on the Fiero just as it was starting to get good.
I remember I read somewhere that “Next Year” the Fiero was going to get Oldsmobile’s Quad 4 engine and in fact I had seen a prototype or a some one’s Hot Rod modification in that same article. Wouldn’t that been a “Hoot”? But “Next Year ” Never came for the Fiero it was discontinued. But that did not stop the Fiero faithful.. That is it is a modification for the Fiero faithful and it has been done a few times as evidenced by the photo I attached of this supercharged Quad 4 in a a Fiero. There is a link to a Youtube video also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqQ8HGtkIWw but it doesn’t sound too healthy.
Two Fieros* stand out in mind: the one driven by Jeannie in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and the one driven by my crazy friend in Cambridge, England in the mid-1990s. He owned an americana store there—telephones shaped like ’57 Chevrolets, Elvis mousepads, American-flag underwear, that sort of thing. Had a taxi-yellow header panel from a ’78 Caprice in his storefront window, with the headlights lit. He had several very interesting cars, including a South African ’71 Chrysler Valiant Charger 190 Sports Coupé (RHD ’71 Demon, 225 Slant-6 with factory 4bbl) and a South African ’59 Chev (RHD with green Connolly leather interior). And he’d imported a Fiero, I think an ’84 or so, there to the UK. I still don’t know why.
*Wait a moment! In the words of noted philosophers Beavis and Butthead, I just…like…figured something out: the correct plural of “Fiero” is obviously Fieri. As in Guy Fieri, he of Troll Figurine Comes to Life, Roams Countryside Eating Garbage headline fame. Coincidence? I think not. Stupid-lookin’? Check, check. Stupid-soundin’? Check, check. Pointless? Check, check. All hype, no substance? Check, check.
You get the impression someone high up in GM’s what-passed-for ‘management’ really, really, REALLY hated cars. We all thought Toyota was conservative at the time, yet they came out with the MR2.
I’m saddened to think what Pontiac could have become if it hadn’t been bashed and kicked in the groin repeatedly by the Fourteenth Floor Mob.
The 14th Floor bean-counters really took over at GM, and for a very long time. It was obvious the business model they imposed on the divisions was that any new model was going to be barely acceptable when introduced (excessive cost-cutting) and sparingly improved annually just so it could be advertised as improved each year. Then, when it was finally in the decent state it should have been in the first place, unceremoniously discarded due to poor sales because of the reputation it had garnered from the early years.
No wonder they went bankrupt. The only surprise is why it took so long.
As I copied and pasted part of the paragraph above:
“Pontiac had been pining for its own sports car since the sixties, when Pete Estes and John DeLorean shepherded the 1964 XP-833 Banshee to near-production readiness. It was built on a cut-down 1964 A-Body frame and running gear, with a fiberglass body and featured the new SOHC Sprint 230 inch six. But the Banshee was considered too threatening to the Corvette.”
Could this mean that the 1968-72 (actually up to 1982) Corvette meant that those generation of Corvettes used a cut down version of the 1964 Chevelle frame and running gear? Pontiac’s 1964 XP-833 Banshee actually looked almost identical to the redesigned 1968 Corvette Roadster and if that were the case, then the 1G RWD A-Body Platform became a basis for the 1968-82 Corvette at least in my observations and understanding? That is just how I interpreted the paragraph and if this is misinterpreted please clarify this for me. Thank you
The Banshee used a cut-down A-Body chassis. The Corvette did not. The C3 (1968-up) used the same frame and chassis as the C2 (1963-1967), with some minor changes. That was unique to the Corvette.
The Banshee was intended to be cheaper than the Corvette, hence the six cylinder engine and the solid rear axle (from the A-Body).
The C3 Corvette’s styling had a lot of influence from the Banshee, but it was a totally different car.
Ive seen exactly one Fiero in the metal/plastic close up, nice looking car there were no emblems or badges on it so it took a couple of circuits of it to realise what it was but looks wise it was a winner, shame about the mechanical issues.