When I first starting really appreciating cars, the Fiero was the butt end of jokes. It was the early 1990s and the Fiero’s sullied reputation was still fresh in many people’s minds. Despite selling over 370,000 examples in a five-year run, highly publicized issues that plagued the early models scared buyers away.
I didn’t fully understand the hate for the Fiero, I was just a young adolescent during its lifetime. To me, the Fiero was a cool looking car with an exotic set-up that was relatively inexpensive. But all the anecdotes and hearsay told to me the car was not to be liked.
Double Edge Sword
As I got older and had more access to actual information, I began to learn more about the Fiero. I learned about the travesties that plagued the early years, but I also learned how well sorted the car was by the end of its model run – especially the 1988 model year.
But the damage was done, and the car’s reputation was tarnished beyond repair. Maybe if the car had a second generation, it probably could have recovered, but the Fiero wasn’t given another chance. This was bad news for Fiero fans at the time but has actually benefitted them long term.
Due to the general dislike of Pontiac’s composite-body wonder, prices for used Fiero’s have remained relatively low. Even amazing examples won’t break the bank compared to some other sporty machinery from the ‘80s. This is a big plus for potential owners like me.
Which to Choose
For a vehicle that had such a short model run, there were a surprising number of ways a Fiero could be ordered. Two body styles, two engines, four transmissions, and various other exterior options could be had. If I was going to dive deep into Fiero ownership, I think I’d want a 1986-1988 Fiero GT as I prefer the fastback body, and of course I would opt for the V6 engine and a five-speed manual transmission.
But the truth is, I have a deep appreciation for all the variants of the Fiero. There is something retro cool about the early coupe models that lacked the more aerodynamic GT nose cone. Any model with a V6 would do it for me, or maybe even one with a well sorted engine swap.
And that brings us to the Fiero’s successful secondary life; as a blank canvas for many hotrodders and tuners. Being a diminutive, mid-engine design, the car is a perfect starting point for a custom performance vehicle.
Although its engine compartment only contained a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 2.8-liter V6 engine from the factory, it is surprisingly spacious. People have stuffed all manner of GM V6 engines in there including the popular 3.8-liter Supercharged V6. Numerous Cadillac V8s have also found homes in Fiero’s as well as LT and LS small block Chevrolet V8s.
Of course, engines are just the beginning as the rest of the car is just as appealing to modifiers. This includes the composite body, that since the very beginning of the Fiero’s life, has been ripped off and replaced by various shells that resemble exotics like the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari 308.
But the car doesn’t need to be transformed to be appreciated. Just a good old, well cared for V6 manual would be more than enough for me. I need to get on it though, people are waking up to the Fiero and prices do appear to finally be creeping upward.