The Ultimate Pontiac Fiero Fan page
The Pontiac Fiero is one of the most innovative cars produced by Pontiac, and arguably GM in general. The iconic look of the Fiero coupe defines the late 1980s, while the timeless form of the Fiero GT can be mistaken for a brand new car even almost 30 years later. As any classic should be the Fiero was divisive, whether you loved it or hated it the car instilled instant emotion.
The Fiero began life in the 1970s following the oil crisis. General Motors was looking for a car that was fuel efficient to replace sales of fuel eating muscle cars that were falling out of favor. At the same time the Fiero engineers wanted to design a European style sports car in the spirit of the Ferrari. This was especially true of Hulki Aldikacti, who managed the project.
The Fiero was produced for just 5 years from 1984-1988. While a factory was built specifically for the Fiero relatively few were sold. The first 1984 Fieros were plagued by technical problems that resulted in fewer sales in subsequent years. Even enthusiasts will note it is very common for someone unfamiliar with the recalls to be introduced to the famous engine fire problems the hard way. By 1988 Pontiac addressed all of these problems and the Fiero no longer merited a reputation for unreliability.
Many names were considered for the Fiero. Favorites included the Spirit, the Pegasus, and Sunfire, the latter of which was eventually used for another Pontiac model. It is debatable specifically what influenced the name Fiero. In Spanish Fiero means fierce, and in Italian it means proud. Given the deliberate attempts to emulate the Ferrari, the similar sounding name, and the Italian style of the Fiero in general, it is likely the Italian word weighed heavily in the decision.
There are numerous features were introduced for the first time, or popularized by the Fiero. The 1984 model came with optional headrest speakers, and a Bose sound system featuring a subwoofer under the passenger's side dash. The 1988 model introduced all round aluminum disc brakes that became standard on GM models in later years. The Fiero's solid steel space-frame became the staple of Saturn vehicles for more than a decade. The three types of fiberglass compounds used to create the body panels influenced numerous other vehicles at GM, especially at Saturn. In fact the production processes themselves were so new that the Saturn factory took a lot of the equipment originally used at the Fiero factory.
The original Fiero coupe came with a notchback design. Later Pontiac introduced a fastback GT model with a V6 engine, and subsequently a Formula model which featured the GT's performance enhancements with the coupe's notchback body style. In the last 2 years of production Pontiac introduced the Mera. The Fiero had already become popular for 'kit cars', do it yourself rebodies. The Mera embraced this market. To purchase a Mera one would purchase a stock Fiero which would be shipped from the Factory to Corporate Concepts in Michigan where it would be modified to look like a Ferrari 308, popular at the time as the car driven by Tom Selleck in Magnum PI.
The 1989/1990 Prototype
The never released 1989/1990 Fiero prototype would have continued on the tradition of innovation in the line. Pontiac had already addressed handling with the 1988 suspension which was so advanced it is often confused to have been designed by famed sports car maker Lotus. Further a turbo charged aluminum V6 engine was rumored to run circles around the Chevy Corvette.
While GM insists that the costs of repairing the engine fire issues, and declining sales caused the end of the Fiero, many are skeptical. Chevrolet executives were adamant that no other GM models compete with the Corvette, something that did not contribute to the Corvette's overall competitiveness. A turbo charged V6 Fiero, with a new body style, blowing away Corvettes at the stop light for less than half the cost was sure to upset Chevrolet. The prototype's body style went on to significantly influence the redesigned F-Body line (The Firebird & Camaro).
There are a number of dedicated Fiero fans today. There are many regional Fiero car shows held each year. Fiero enthusiasts flock to these shows throughout the country. Fiero enthusiasts have done much to preserve the line, and availability of parts. The Fiero Factory in Alabama restores Fieros and several enthusiasts and niche companies produce no longer available parts. A number of kits exist, including one to put an Aluminum V8 Norstar engine in a Fiero. One owner was able to create an LS1 (the Corvette V8) powered Fiero which can give higher end Ferrari's a run for their money. If you're a Fiero enthusiast there's a good chance a Fiero club exists near you.
Though Fiero fans have long wished GM would bring back the brand the recent closure of Pontiac has pretty well dashed those hopes. That said Fiero innovation lives on at GM Europe where Opel has continued many of the concepts the Fiero pioneered. Further cars like the Opel Speedster, the Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky all borrow heavily from the Fiero's tradition.
NEFA & MAFOA - Two regional Fiero Owner's Associations
DIY Fiero - A Forum for Fiero Owners
Fiero Transmission Repairs - An Illustrated Guide
Fiero Recall - The Original NY Times Article
LS1 Fiero - Photos & Comments
1989/1990 Fiero Prototype - Pictures, Brochures, and Information
Fiero Clubs Around the United States – From a Fiero enthusiasts club in the Copper State.
Written By: Edson Farnell | Email |