Pontiac Fiero (1984-1988)
OK so back in March, we got a good look at an American attempt to capture the hearts of exotic buyers: The Vector W2. We all know that didn't turn out so profitable or become the everyday symbol of an American supercar they were hoping for.
Maybe it was too much, too soon? People didn't readily have $150,000 to spend, or really need the 600HP. The dream may have ended for Vector, but the American mid-engine would stay alive, via a very different turn.
In the late 70's and early 80's, GM started looking into a Corvette stable-mate. The only problem was, they were dealing with the now infamous Oil Crisis. Gone were the days of massive engines and raw horsepower. Now, everyone needed fuel economy and proper emissions. Suddenly GM found itself in the middle of trying to please government officials and buyers at the same time.
Their answer was one single latin word: Fiero.
If the Fiero was to be a food dish for the consumers taste, the recipe would be; dramatic styling, nimble frame, and a mid-ship engine. A two seater with a beefy 2.5L four cylinder engine that had amazing exotic sports car looks, with an astounding potential of 40MPG on the freeway.
With the foundational backing of a major world company like GM, and a price tag of just $13,499 its no wonder the Fiero spread like fire and wedged in its way to become a piece of Americana.
The sales figures and success of the brand would have makers like Vector spinning in its grave! Even Hall & Oates approved!
But alas, not all was well in paradise. The Fiero was meant to live up to emission and fuel economy standards, not to sucker punch Italians on the track. Many felt the car was all show and no go. Even the exquisite handling people would come to expect from a mid-engine car; was just not there.
Yes, unfortunately, there were some unhealthy ingredients in this recipe too. The ever penny pinching GM took parts and suspension from the Chevette and Citation to build the Fiero. Neither car was ever in the hall of fame for anything noteworthy, so those parts continued to drag down the Fiero. The fuel economy too, had a downside. To attain such MPG, it came at the sacrifice of power.
The car was still a success, and GM was determined to keep the customers happy. In 1985, they outsold the Toyota MR2 in America by more than double. It was time to walk the walk so they added a V6 option. Later, they upgraded the handling and suspension. A turbo version was also in the works.
But just as Vector W2 suffered from being too much, too soon; the Pontiac Fiero suffered from a case of too little, too late.
The final curtain call for this gorgeous 2 seater was in 1988. Today the Fiero lives on as an icon in style and charisma. Many clubs and forums are dedicated to restoring this car to its former glory and then some. There are also more kit cars made from Fiero's than any other frame available, save it be the Volkswagen Beetle.
Luckily this day in age, they can be found and bought, as there are plenty available. And the entry cost of even a well taken care of model shouldn't break the bank. If there's room in your heart, or your garage, a Fiero is waiting to be your sunset escape.