Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Paul asks: What do you think about the Pontiac Fiero?
My reply: The Fiero’s story is a tragedy on par with anything Shakespeare came up with. In concept, it was brilliant. A composite-bodied and mid-engined affordable sporty commuter car. But cost-cutting (and jealousy from Chevy, which saw the Fiero as a threat to the Corvette) turned it into a plastic-bodied Chevette, at least initially. Some of the cheap-outs were addressed as the car’s life progressed, but because it arrived on the market so badly compromised its reputation never recovered and that ultimately sealed its doom. I devoted an entire chapter to this car in my book, Automotive Atrocities – which I think you can still get on Amazon.
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I have a 1988 Fiero. Fun but truly awful outward vision. Not particularly quick or fast either.
If you want to drive one fast through corners, get a 1988. Much better suspension than the pre-88 models. The pre-88 had a rear bump steer issue that was fixed for 1988, along with much better front suspension. There is a fix for the earlier models but it is fairly expensive. Cheaper to find a good 88.
If you want one with more power, buy one already done. The engine/trans swaps are not overly complex but are fiddly, time consuming and not cheap for serious upgrades. I have seen finished V8 1988s for less than the price of the V8 swap kit. (V8 Archies)
There was one in Edmonton a while back that was professionally built with a claimed 500hp 383 stroker and beefed up Getrag 282. $10,000 asking price. Probably cost 2-3X that.
Check Pennock’s Fiero Forum for lots of very cool builds and the headaches encountered. Even one with a VW TDI.
Good stuff, Cold Frog – thanks!
I think I’d be pretty happy with a mostly stock Pace Car edition with a manual transmission and the four!
I doubt you would like the four. Even the six is under powered for a 2750lb car.
The GM3.8 s/c with an F40 6 speed is probably the best bang for buck for these cars. The V8 just adds too much rear weight to an already ass heavy car.
Also, avoid the automatics. The TH125 gearing has the engine turning 3000+ at highway speeds and is very weak. This can be solved by using a GM3.8 with a 4t60/65 trans which gives a 0.7 OD.
Look at what I found.
Friend of mine’s S/C 3.8 swapped Fiero, runs 11s and is streetable. It’s fast even when compared to modern ‘muscle’.
An acquaintance of an acquaintance transplanted the 3.8 V6 into one. now that was good./
I would love to own one – even with the four cylinder engine. The car may not be quick, but it’s cool. Different. For once!