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The Pontiac Fiero Was a Misunderstood, Misfit Love Letter to American Backroads by CoolBlue87GT
Started on: 12-28-2015 06:19 PM
Replies: 7 (282 views)
Last post by: zzzhuh on 12-29-2015 03:26 AM
CoolBlue87GT
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Report this Post12-28-2015 06:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for CoolBlue87GTClick Here to Email CoolBlue87GTSend a Private Message to CoolBlue87GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Copied this from http://www.roadandtrack.com...regular-car-reviews/

The Pontiac Fiero Was a Misunderstood, Misfit Love Letter to American Backroads



This is a flaming spike of maybe. The Fiero challenged US citizens to re-think everything about American cars. It was mid-engined. It had either a four-banger or a small displacement 2.8L V6. The handling was darty. The diving position was not meant for hanging your arm out the window and ashing your Winston Salem. Keep both hands on the wheel! You need them to turn because there is no power steering. The Fiero was a love letter to small American back-roads.

But, the Fiero was looked at as a failure while the Mk1 MR2 was revered as a success. Why? For the purpose of this article, and for the purpose of delightful internet-rage augments, I'm ignoring all the GM politics, marketing, and internal competitions for the Fiero. We're just talking about the car as a lump of bolts, fiberglass, and plastic.

First, look at the transmission on the Fiero. It has a four-speed manual transmission. Really? This is a mid-engine car for carving up hills and corners and you expect me to keep its 140 hp V6 in the powerband using only four gears? What are my ratios ?

1st Gear: 3.31 Ok, that's pretty low, but I understand. I'm sure you want to be able to spin the tires. I'll allow it.

2nd Gear: 1.95 What?! That's a jump! The tach needle is going to fall out of the power band unless I shift from redline!

3rd Gear: 1.24 Better, this is more like it.

4th Gear: 0.81 Overdrive. Right. You need this for the highway.

So, let me get this straight, 1980's GM. You're giving me a mid-engined car, but only giving me two usable gears for backroads driving: 2nd and 3rd. This means that really tight low-speed turns, where a mid-engine car rules all others, will either be taken in a screaming first-gear or a lugging second gear. I know what I have to do, enter the corner too fast in 3rd, hoping to grab 2nd on the way out. And I know what dreadful thing I'm going to do; lift. I'm going to lift off the gas in this Fiero and spin.

Things got better in 1986. The Fiero GT was available with a five-speed, which helped the 2.8L V6 manage what power it had. Yet, the party was over in 1988 when Fiero production ended, along with all hope for an American mass-produced mid-engine car.

Second, the Fiero was a victim of 80's American cars. In fact, the 80's American car scene was the only wild time when the Fiero could have existed in the first place. Experimentation ran naked through the school hallways of Car High School. In addition to the Fiero, GM made the Corvette-scaring Grand National. Carol Shelby, angry at Ford for reasons only Shelby's Estate will discuss, ran to Chrysler and made the Shelby Charger and the GLHS. Ford, high on opium, insisted that bringing their European Ford Sierra to the US qualified it as a luxury car under the zombie Merkur name. In that buzzed and coked-up decade—the Fiero fit right in.

Last week, I drove the Fiero's predecessor, the Toyota AW11 MR2. The AW11 got thumbs up and waves and honks. The Fiero got nothing. No one even gave it a second look. Maybe passing drivers saw something bad from their own 1980's past in the Fiero. Somehow, the same memory is reflected happily with an AW11, but soiled with the Fiero.

The third reason why the Fiero was remembered as a failure was because the 90's were hard on the poor car. A lot of Fieros were trashed by the mid 90's. During the Seinfeld years, the Fiero was a joke—just another 80's monstrosity. Think of it as a single person with a pack-a-day habit trying to be classy in a wood-paneled bar next to a casket factory. A victim of the convertible LeBaron effect: a polished turd that barely works on anyone. Yeah, the LeBaron was a pile of unsalted mashed potatoes—but because the roof was gone, people liked it and saw it as something more valuable than it was. The Fiero became a car for divorced 40-year-olds, male or female, who felt they deserved something nice in their lives again. Here was a sporty-looking used car that was more striking than their Mercury Lynx CE14.

The fourth and final reason why the Fiero tanked: wheel width. The tires are way too wide and the 2.8L V6 is just weak enough to make you want more. This combination of engine dullness, crisp steering, good traction and ride means that people think the Fiero is a better road-hugger than it is. Remember that one guy from 2001 who drove a second generation Neon? Remember "that guy?" Remember that thing? That single-jingle two-liter-four with 132hp? Remember how "that guy" would take corners, understeer within his own lane and think that, because he didn't slide onto the median, the car was a "road hugger?" The same problem happens here with the Fiero but in the opposite direction. The low power and high traction means that everyone would take corners at higher and higher perceived speeds because "I don't hear the tires squeaking. We're still good!" The problem with that is, the Fiero was the American introduction to mid-engined driving dynamics. We all know this—and snap-oversteer: the inevitable result of panic-lifting off the gas in the middle of a hard corner. Entire voting demographics of American panic-lifted when they realized a brave cornering attempt was going tits-up at 60mph.

Spin. Crash. Tow-Truck. Another Fiero gone.

So, here's one Fiero GT that survived everything, with only 15,000 miles. A low-slung mistake. A two seat infield fly that only got a runner on first. A participation-trophy car. But a survivor nonetheless.
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Report this Post12-28-2015 06:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Thunderstruck GTSend a Private Message to Thunderstruck GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Interesting

The article sounds like bashing but the video almost seems opposite. Somehow I think the driver wanted to say he liked it but held back for political correctness.
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Report this Post12-28-2015 07:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for thesameguyClick Here to Email thesameguySend a Private Message to thesameguyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by CoolBlue87GT:Second, the Fiero was a victim of 80's American cars. In fact, the 80's American car scene was the only wild time when the Fiero could have existed in the first place. Experimentation ran naked through the school hallways of Car High School. In addition to the Fiero, GM made the Corvette-scaring Grand National. Carol Shelby, angry at Ford for reasons only Shelby's Estate will discuss, ran to Chrysler and made the Shelby Charger and the GLHS. Ford, high on opium, insisted that bringing their European Ford Sierra to the US qualified it as a luxury car under the zombie Merkur name. In that buzzed and coked-up decade—the Fiero fit right in.


I really, really identify with this statement. It's why '80s cars appeal to me like '60s cars. There was a bunch of not-quite-understood technology around and everyone was willing to anything to make it work. In the '60s GM thought they could put the engine in the back and Chrysler thought swiveling front seats were a good idea. Ford made unibody pickups. It was insane! In the '80s, GM made mid-engine cars because why not, Ford placed turbo fours above V8s, and Chrysler, well, Chrysler was hosed. But it was a fun time and even if they weren't academically good, the results sure were interesting.

Much like the XR4Ti (which I also happen to own) the Fiero was a good idea that didn't get the budget, or clearance, or thoughtfulness foreign competitors did. A BMW E30 against an XR4Ti? An AW11 against a Fiero? The Bimmer and Toyota were cohesive products built to be the best they could be in their space. The Fiero was built just good enough to not pose a threat to the F-body and the XR4Ti was flat-out detuned to not threaten the Mustang. And then there were fires and electrical problems and such. But whatever.

What's great about both of these cars now is that anything and everything that might have been wrong with them has been addressed. The Fiero can easily lose weight, gain power, have good brakes, and handle. The XR4Ti is brain-dead easy to get 300hp out of and you *still* have a world-beating (for the '80s!) suspension to put it to the ground. In 1987 I'd buy the BMW all over again, but in 2015 my driveway has a Fiero and an XR4Ti and I sold my last BMW a long, long time ago. When you're doing it differently sometimes it takes a while to sort the bugs out and most people just don't have the interest or patience for that. I'm sure they're very happy in their Camry. But, if you're willing to get a little greasy some of those misfits of the past can be total gems. I doubt Jim Rome thought any XR4Ti would make it to 100k much less the 300k I've got. I doubt anyone thought a Fiero would be a daily driver 30 years later, but mine sure is.

I guess it sucks that cars like these never got real appreciation in their day, but loved eventually is better than never loved at all.

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Report this Post12-28-2015 09:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I get the feeling the author doesn't hate the Fiero. The author hates himself for liking the Fiero.
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Report this Post12-28-2015 10:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Thunderstruck GTSend a Private Message to Thunderstruck GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
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Originally posted by Formula88:

I get the feeling the author doesn't hate the Fiero. The author hates himself for liking the Fiero.


LMFAO!!!!!

You put it more to the point than I did.
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quote
Originally posted by Formula88:

I get the feeling the author doesn't hate the Fiero. The author hates himself for liking the Fiero.


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Report this Post12-29-2015 12:16 AM Click Here to See the Profile for MarkSClick Here to Email MarkSSend a Private Message to MarkSEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by pokeyfiero:



Now I know why the metal detectors go off when I try to get on a plane! Years of Fiero exposure!

R&T seems to have a little of the old Car & Driver feel since Webster came on board.

[This message has been edited by MarkS (edited 12-29-2015).]

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Report this Post12-29-2015 03:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for zzzhuhSend a Private Message to zzzhuhEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Formula88:

I get the feeling the author doesn't hate the Fiero. The author hates himself for liking the Fiero.


This is RCR from youtube, and his way of writing is a bit different. You nailed it pretty much on the head tho.
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