Curbside Classic: 1984 Pontiac Indy Fiero – Do You Feel Lucky?

I love Las Vegas.  It was a place I had serious reservations about visiting before my friends had successfully convinced me to join their annual trek back in 2012.  I’m definitely more of a “practiced extrovert”, and though I am a social person, sometimes I think I’d be happy with occasionally peace-ing out from absolutely everything for an entire week or so before rejoining society.  With that said, perhaps it’s true that people are attracted to people and things with qualities opposite their own, because when I’m in Vegas, I can’t get enough of the lights, sights, sounds, and a lot of what else this bright, bold, beautiful city has to offer.

I’m also somewhat risk-averse, and I’m a terrible gambler.  Once my betting allowance is gone, there is no second or third trip to the ATM before going back to try to recoup my losses.  As with a bad job, a dead-end relationship or any other similarly bad scenario, sometimes you have to know when to cut-and-run and have the mental and emotional strength to execute that plan.

This brings us to our featured car.  Sometimes the context in which you spot a rare or unusual vehicle can make it seem just that much more interesting.  This beauty was sitting outside a pawn shop located just a few storefronts down from the resort at which my friends and I were staying.  Like an off-duty performer or entertainer, this Fiero exuded a certain, tired hotness early that Sunday morning that drew me in with charms I could not resist.

Unless an unlikely, aftermarket “tribute”, this is a bona fide, first-year ’84 SE model with the Indianapolis 500-themed option package.  This would make it one of about 2,000 produced out of about 137,000 total Fieros that year.  There was only one engine available that year, and it was the 92-horsepower 2.5L “Iron Duke” four-cylinder.  Curiously, the Fiero was chosen over the also-new Chevrolet Corvette, a celebrated nameplate with a well-deserved place in American automotive history, to pace the Indianapolis 500 that year.

The Indy option package added about $2,900 to the SE’s $9,600 base price.  With options like air conditioning listing for $730 and cruise control at $175, we’re looking at what might well have been a $16,000 car all-up when new in ’84.  (For comparison, prices for a Firebird Trans Am powered by a 150-horse Chevy 305 V8 started at about $10,700 before options which, itself, was about twice the starting price of the Chevette-based 1000 3-door hatchback.)  Zero-to-sixty mph came in the mid ten-second range for this 2,800-pound car.  One thing I love about the Fiero was that it was a Pontiac that was actually built in Pontiac (Michigan).

This car is a pretty rare example, and I wonder how many survive today.  I’m also curious about the backstory here, and why this car was parked in front of a pawn shop.  A bad game of craps, perhaps, where a local lost several thousand?  “It’s alright, Man… It’s alright.  I’ve got the Fiero in the garage.”  “That thing?  How much do you think you’re going to get for it?  It’s probably worth more to you than you’ll ever get from one of those downtown pawn shops.”  “Will you lend me the money?”  “No, Sir.  Call me when you need a ride from the pawn shop.”  I wondered about the asking price, if in fact this car was for sale.  My curiosity gnawed at me, but I let it go, perhaps for the better.  It would be a long drive back to Chicago, even if the car ran right and didn’t attempt to barbecue me while on the way home.

I have always liked the looks of the original, notchback-profiled Fiero, being that I was a car-crazed, elementary school-aged kid when they first came out.  When Christmas ’86 rolled around, Mom had brought back cordless, radio-controlled toy versions of a Fiero and a Dodge Daytona Turbo Z from the store (Radio Shack, if I remember correctly), asking me to pick one.  Do you want to know why I picked the former and not the latter?  Because Pontiac Fiero.

I have not one, but two 1:24 scale kit models of the Fiero dating from the 80’s – only one of which I had actually attempted and completed.  (The silver one is still in its thirty-plus year old box.)  A lot like much of Las Vegas, the early cars were definitely all-show and just as superficially pretty as they could be.  Sometimes, though, that’s all you want – something sparkly and beautiful to look at, if only for a little while.

Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Early) Sunday, September 25, 2016.

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