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Interesting Car & Driver Article from 84 by DKcustoms
Started on: 05-22-2015 01:28 PM
Replies: 18 (506 views)
Last post by: hyperv6 on 05-28-2015 07:47 AM
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Report this Post05-22-2015 01:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for DKcustomsSend a Private Message to DKcustomsEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
http://www.caranddriver.com...ived-comparison-test


Spoiler:
Mostly disappointing for the Fiero, but they did review an 84 4 cyl after all
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Report this Post05-22-2015 09:21 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Very good, if not dead accurate.
I still remember reading about these cars when they were new. The ones that I remembered (mostly the Camaro and Corvette - and the SVO, now that I think about it) were exactly as I remembered and/or expected.
Everyone in the test hated the Camaro's automatic tranny. Over the years, I learned to hate GM automatics. They were almost never in the gear that you wanted them to be, and any kind of shift (automatic, or manually selected) took so long to happen that whatever was going on, on the road, was ancient history by the time that it finally did. This was true, as recently as the 4T60E in my Caddy swap.

Potential hijack, re: slushboxes...
I'll go off on a tangent, and state that the 4T45E (go figure) auto tranny in my G6 is probably the best automatic I've ever driven. I'm sure it has everything to do with the programming. It probably has a lot to do with why I like the car so much. (The 6T70(?) in my mother-in-law's CTS is right up there, too.)
Progress isn't always bad, and is frequently good. I'll stop there.

But yeah... The Z28 was tuned to handle, right out of the box. So was the Corvette - especially the Z51 - at the cost of having your vertebrae shattered when running over anything rougher than painted crosswalk lines.

[This message has been edited by Raydar (edited 05-22-2015).]

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Report this Post05-25-2015 09:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Tuna HelperClick Here to Email Tuna HelperSend a Private Message to Tuna HelperEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
There is a car and driver video on YouTube where they compare it against a Toyota MR2.
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Report this Post05-25-2015 09:57 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
The Fiero read is accurate. While our car Is fun to drive it is not a Lemans winner as it has many faults too.

If I had to auto cross this afternoon I would take my HHR SS to run before the Fiero.

But to be fair too the Camaro and Corvettes while better handling here were far from todays standards. American suspension tuning has come a long way in the last decade and we are now seeing world class cars done the right way and then you add in the technology it just takes it to the next level.

A well tuned car will feel slow while going fast and my Fiero feels fast when going slow. You can drive It to high limits but you really have to work to do it. A well tuned car is easy to drive at or near the limit. But with that said the Fiero I feel because of the work you have to put in is a much more fun drive as you have to earn It even on a back country road. Todays cars are to the point to be rewarding to where you have to work with the car you are generally restricted to a race track as the limits are so high few people ever get to where they can enjoy them. These cars can make an average person Mario Andretti but they will never know that at the limit feel as it is so high.
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Report this Post05-25-2015 06:26 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
1984 was probably the lowest point in American car history. Even the Camaro and Firebird were rocking the iron duke... which by today's standards is a boat anchor. If the 84 had at least had the V6 and the 88 suspension it would have been off to a much better start. By 88 it would have had the DOHC V6 and an even better suspension. But that obviously didn't happen.

The Fiero's problems are a small example of what was wrong with the old GM... under so much cost cutting pressure that they cut corners. Here was the game plan:

1) Introduce a half baked car and sell on looks alone

2) after a year or two introduce a better engine that it should have had all along

3) after a couple more years give it better handling and upgrade the interior.. a little bit but not too much

4) when sales start to sag, give the body a minor refresh but don't spend any money to fix the underlying issues

5) when sales continue to slide, cancel the car and blame the market for being saturated, (despite the fact that other manufactures sell the same type car in droves).
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Report this Post05-25-2015 07:46 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

1984 was probably the lowest point in American car history. Even the Camaro and Firebird were rocking the iron duke... which by today's standards is a boat anchor. If the 84 had at least had the V6 and the 88 suspension it would have been off to a much better start. By 88 it would have had the DOHC V6 and an even better suspension. But that obviously didn't happen.

The Fiero's problems are a small example of what was wrong with the old GM... under so much cost cutting pressure that they cut corners. Here was the game plan:

1) Introduce a half baked car and sell on looks alone

2) after a year or two introduce a better engine that it should have had all along

3) after a couple more years give it better handling and upgrade the interior.. a little bit but not too much

4) when sales start to sag, give the body a minor refresh but don't spend any money to fix the underlying issues

5) when sales continue to slide, cancel the car and blame the market for being saturated, (despite the fact that other manufactures sell the same type car in droves).


I agree with the old GM culture as the problem but the list is not really all the true facts.

GM never wanted this car and neither did Chevy.

Pontiac hid and channeled the limited fund as well as they could.

Pontiac wanted a sports car and sold this as an economy car.

Pontiac put the car in a plant able to build a quarter million cars a year and yet they put a limited sale 2 seat car there. They decided to over build the line till the GM 80 program came in and picked up the additional production.

Pontiac failed to have a back up plan as the GM80 was killed and left the car in a plant with nothing else to fill out production. This gave Chevy and all the enemies of the car at GM what they needed to kill it.

Pontiac had hope to nurse the car along and provide the upgrades as they could afford them. At this time Pontiac was dying fast and they were desperate. At this time Pontiac had been considered for the axe but they held off when the Grand Am sales took off. Many of these sales were attributed to the Fiero bring people into the show room along with the new TA. In the end Old took a dive and they got the axe first.

The Fiero is a car that really should not have happened at GM with the way they worked then. A lot of people stuck their necks out and to be honest I think many never expected it to last more than 5 years anyways. They knew this was a long shot and took a lot of chances but they wanted to put attention on Pontiac and rebuild their image. To be honest the Fiero did the job well as it garnered much attention and helped revive a brand that could easily have been gone buy 1990 had it not been for this attention and the increase of sales of the other models that rode that attention wave.

I have spent time with some of the folks who worked this progam and go the stories that never made the papers. Fred can back this up as he has spoken to even more people than I. The Fiero program was a great example of the best and the worst of GM culture. Some really smart people took a risk and tried to be innovative in ways no one else had. All the while that other parts of GM attacked this program like white blood cells attack a infection.

If this car had been done today this would be a different story but when this happened GM was in a lot more trouble than we ever knew at the time and it only got worse as time went on. Bob Lutz was the first person to come in and try to change the culture and today Mary Barra and others continue what he started and we are now seeing the results.


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Report this Post05-26-2015 09:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by hyperv6:

...Bob Lutz was the first person to come in and try to change the culture and today Mary Barra and others continue what he started and we are now seeing the results.



Admittedly, I haven't kept up with this as much as some, but I really like what I've heard from Ms. Barra.
She was kind of thrown to the wolves with the whole "ignition switch recall" cluster-fest, and seems to have acquitted herself nicely.
Even Peter DeLorenzo (of AutoExtremist.com) was very critical at first. Now it seems like he's willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. High praise indeed, coming from him. (He still hates Sergio Marchionne, with a passion.)
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Report this Post05-26-2015 10:27 PM Click Here to See the Profile for sricka01Send a Private Message to sricka01Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
When watching the Motorweek videos from 82 - 88, they started out with praise and even complimented the suspension (except for the Charles Atlas comment). Then each year it was almost like the cool thing to hate on the car with each progressive year even though it basically the same suspension in the car year over year. Then the 88, seemed like that wasn't even good enough. Next time watch the video and see how they went downhill in ratings. I would think it would have been poor from beginning to end. But watch how they rag on the entire Fiero from 2nd year on. Did all the initial good perceptions somehow disappear without merit?
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Report this Post05-26-2015 11:22 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yeah my observations were generic across the board for the old GM. Could apply to many cars. All manufacturers have to make a business decision about what features to have in at launch but it seems old GM brought more half baked cars to market than most.

With respect to the Fiero, expectations were high at launch. People didn't immediately complain about the suspension and the handling, but it was basically the same from 84 to 87. That's the problem. The disappointment did grow because by 87 it was very outdated. The 88 was too little too late as the Motorweek video even said.

[This message has been edited by jscott1 (edited 05-26-2015).]

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Report this Post05-27-2015 07:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

Yeah my observations were generic across the board for the old GM. Could apply to many cars. All manufacturers have to make a business decision about what features to have in at launch but it seems old GM brought more half baked cars to market than most.

With respect to the Fiero, expectations were high at launch. People didn't immediately complain about the suspension and the handling, but it was basically the same from 84 to 87. That's the problem. The disappointment did grow because by 87 it was very outdated. The 88 was too little too late as the Motorweek video even said.



The whole deal was a project of compromise and infighting at GM and Pontiac. While many just want to blame GM for the failure Pontiac also too many high odds risks and they did not pay off for long term survival.

But on the other hand I think Pontiac was desperate and was willing to take the chance to generate a lot of publicity that did help even in the cars short life. I remember back in the day the Fiero was in every magazine every month for many years from 1980-1988.

I really believe they went for it at Pontiac and if the car lived long fine if not it did its job saving Pontiac for another 25 years.

GM on the other had no idea of what to so with Pontiac and Chevy just saw them as lost sales. That is no way to run a division.

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Report this Post05-27-2015 07:03 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

hyperv6

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quote
Originally posted by Raydar:


Admittedly, I haven't kept up with this as much as some, but I really like what I've heard from Ms. Barra.
She was kind of thrown to the wolves with the whole "ignition switch recall" cluster-fest, and seems to have acquitted herself nicely.
Even Peter DeLorenzo (of AutoExtremist.com) was very critical at first. Now it seems like he's willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. High praise indeed, coming from him. (He still hates Sergio Marchionne, with a passion.)


I was not a Mary fan at first. I though Mark Ruess should have gotten the job but I soon realized that she was the right person in the right job. She handled this better than anyone at GM would have handled this for the last 70 years.

Also with her handling the issues Mark is the real product person and it has left him free to do what has been needed product wise and has her full support.
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Report this Post05-27-2015 07:50 AM Click Here to See the Profile for css9450Click Here to Email css9450Send a Private Message to css9450Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

5) when sales continue to slide, cancel the car and blame the market for being saturated, (despite the fact that other manufactures sell the same type car in droves).


Like the Miata? MR2? I'd have to look them up but they're typically a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous sales of the first-year Fiero. That's probably part of the problem - I wonder how many potential '85-'88 Fiero buyers took a pass on the improved engine, body style and suspension because they already had an '84 in the driveway they were still making payments on.

I think by 1988 especially, the ship had sailed already for a big-selling 2-seat car. Gas prices came back down (especially in 1987) and Americans were swarming to the dealers to buy 4-door SUVs. From that point forward, a 2-seater was destined to be nothing more than a niche market.

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Report this Post05-27-2015 09:06 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 2.5Send a Private Message to 2.5Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Fiero really turned out better than by all rights it should have for all that it was up against in GM.
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Report this Post05-27-2015 01:15 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by css9450:


Like the Miata? MR2? I'd have to look them up but they're typically a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous sales of the first-year Fiero. That's probably part of the problem - I wonder how many potential '85-'88 Fiero buyers took a pass on the improved engine, body style and suspension because they already had an '84 in the driveway they were still making payments on.

I think by 1988 especially, the ship had sailed already for a big-selling 2-seat car. Gas prices came back down (especially in 1987) and Americans were swarming to the dealers to buy 4-door SUVs. From that point forward, a 2-seater was destined to be nothing more than a niche market.


Your version of history doesn't sync up with mine or reality.

First year Fiero sales did exceed everyone's expectations, but the Miata, which debuted in the summer of 1989 as a 1990 model went on to become the best selling 2 seater of all time, (940,000 as of 2014). The first generation alone sold over 400,000 from 1989 to 1997. Which is the same time frame that Pontiac and yourself are saying the market was saturated. A better Fiero, especially a convertible model, could have had a large chunk of those sales.

Yes, the two seater market has always been a niche...trying to make it a mainstream car with over 100,000 sales per year was a doomed strategy, but to say the two seater market was saturated was disproven by Miata sales.

But the fact that a lot of the market bought into the 84's 137,000 or so, yes they would have been ripe for a new and improved Fiero in 89/90 but of course that never happened. But it chaps me the wrong way when people blame the market for Fieros' issues. The general public would have bought into an improved Fiero, it just never came.

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Report this Post05-27-2015 02:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for css9450Click Here to Email css9450Send a Private Message to css9450Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

Yes, the two seater market has always been a niche...trying to make it a mainstream car with over 100,000 sales per year was a doomed strategy, but to say the two seater market was saturated was disproven by Miata sales.

But the fact that a lot of the market bought into the 84's 137,000 or so, yes they would have been ripe for a new and improved Fiero in 89/90 but of course that never happened. But it chaps me the wrong way when people blame the market for Fieros' issues. The general public would have bought into an improved Fiero, it just never came.


My version of history places most of the "blame" for the end of Fiero production on the rising popularity of the SUV, but I might be alone in that belief since I've never seen it repeated by anyone else. I guess it all comes down to what we think a "reasonable" sales figure for the new Fiero would be. Competing with the brand-new Miata... Would it sell 15K a year, year after year, or 30K, or more? Sadly we'll never know.

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Report this Post05-28-2015 12:08 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by css9450:


My version of history places most of the "blame" for the end of Fiero production on the rising popularity of the SUV, but I might be alone in that belief since I've never seen it repeated by anyone else. I guess it all comes down to what we think a "reasonable" sales figure for the new Fiero would be. Competing with the brand-new Miata... Would it sell 15K a year, year after year, or 30K, or more? Sadly we'll never know.


SUVs did increase in popularity during this time, but it was a related event... lowering gas prices, that probably was the biggest problem the Fiero faced. If gas prices had stayed high then a weak 4 banger Fiero would have been an attractive commuter car and sell in the large numbers GM needed to be profitable. The Fiero attempted to make the switch to a low volume sports car, but as Hyperv6 has pointed out the Fiero plant was not designed to be profitable in small numbers. So falling gas prices more than anything doomed the Fiero.
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Report this Post05-28-2015 07:37 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by css9450:


Like the Miata? MR2? I'd have to look them up but they're typically a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous sales of the first-year Fiero. That's probably part of the problem - I wonder how many potential '85-'88 Fiero buyers took a pass on the improved engine, body style and suspension because they already had an '84 in the driveway they were still making payments on.

I think by 1988 especially, the ship had sailed already for a big-selling 2-seat car. Gas prices came back down (especially in 1987) and Americans were swarming to the dealers to buy 4-door SUVs. From that point forward, a 2-seater was destined to be nothing more than a niche market.


That has been the secret to the Miata's long life is not to over sell the car. They average between 12K-20K per years in the USA and have added global sales that make it worth their while. Pontiac over sold the car in the first two years because they had to in order to get the plant they needed to build it. Then they put all their chips on the GM 80 Car to pick up the extra production as they settled the Fiero to the 20K sales range that is normal for a 2 seat car.

The plain simple fact is the two seat car segment is a low volume limited sales area no matter the name. To sell a cheap one is tricky as you make so little profit that is generally is not worth while once sales settle in. This is why even popular cars like the MR2, 300 and RX7 are no longer with us. As one guy from the Fiero program said to me the 2 seat car segment is a 5-7 year cycle for many and that is about it as it is difficult to replace and justify spending more money for limited profits on limited sales.

The Miata and the Vette are the two real acceptation to this rule. The Vette has been an Icon and GM has been able to make money but the icon status has still saved its butt several times. The Miata has been sold in a smart way and globalized to where it has made money. But even the most recent one has had trouble when it needed to be replaced. The development cost nearly killed it. Unless Mazda finds a way to share the development cost this one may be in its last gen. That or Mazda gets bought out by VW or the like.
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Report this Post05-28-2015 07:44 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:


Your version of history doesn't sync up with mine or reality.

First year Fiero sales did exceed everyone's expectations, but the Miata, which debuted in the summer of 1989 as a 1990 model went on to become the best selling 2 seater of all time, (940,000 as of 2014). The first generation alone sold over 400,000 from 1989 to 1997. Which is the same time frame that Pontiac and yourself are saying the market was saturated. A better Fiero, especially a convertible model, could have had a large chunk of those sales.

Yes, the two seater market has always been a niche...trying to make it a mainstream car with over 100,000 sales per year was a doomed strategy, but to say the two seater market was saturated was disproven by Miata sales.

But the fact that a lot of the market bought into the 84's 137,000 or so, yes they would have been ripe for a new and improved Fiero in 89/90 but of course that never happened. But it chaps me the wrong way when people blame the market for Fieros' issues. The general public would have bought into an improved Fiero, it just never came.


Key differences here is the Miata was global sales and the Fiero was North American sales. In America the Miata over the years averages between 12K-20K sales per year and the limited sales and the limited editions keep the people coming back. It also was a car that appealed to men and more so female buyers to they have a larger interest group. The ease to drive and drop top opened the market up no pun intended.

In this segment you have to keep them coming back for more. With the Fiero so may bought the car that wanted it in the first two years it limited the numbers later on. The added GT helped but when the GM 80 was not there the expected sales numbers were not enough to keep the plant at acceptable capacity and this is all the Corvette people and Chevy people needed to point out.

Chevy really did fear a cheaper faster Fiero as the Corvette while it gets some consideration still has to make profit and still has to make a business case with each and every new model. A drop in sales over what they have seen would have killed it in this era or made their job even more difficult.
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Report this Post05-28-2015 07:47 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hyperv6Send a Private Message to hyperv6Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

hyperv6

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quote
Originally posted by css9450:


My version of history places most of the "blame" for the end of Fiero production on the rising popularity of the SUV, but I might be alone in that belief since I've never seen it repeated by anyone else. I guess it all comes down to what we think a "reasonable" sales figure for the new Fiero would be. Competing with the brand-new Miata... Would it sell 15K a year, year after year, or 30K, or more? Sadly we'll never know.



The SUV had nothing to do with this. We are looking at a segment where this was a niche model not a mass production model. The Fiero for many was a 3rd car but the SUV was the family daily truckster.

You are alone in this belief as it is not accurate. That is why no one else has ever brought this into the conversation.

Anyone can live with a SUV if you can afford the gas but not everyone can live only with a 2 seater car. One trip to Home Depot with the kids will answer that one.

The two seat car segment for the most part is a very limited sales segment. If you make one cheaper it becomes even more difficult to sell and still make a profit of business case to build. But look around most sports cars that last are 4 passenger GT types even if the back seat is good for children or amputees. Also they are roadsters or have a roadster option. While the space frame made a neat selling point it limited the addition of a factory roadster and that really hurt. In the last years GM did look into doing a factory roadster but it was too little too late.

[This message has been edited by hyperv6 (edited 05-28-2015).]

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