Do some research and you'll find that in 1984 the only car rated higher for safety than the Fiero was Volvo. There is a bunch of info both here and on the internet about this. They are very safe. Welcome to PFF.
I feel safer in a fiero than most cars on the road today. Under the panels is a full steel chassis. I remember reading about and see photos of a fiero driven over by a semi and trailer. The driver had a scratch the car saved his life.
At the same time, everything falls back on proper maintenance and education your son to drive safely.
[This message has been edited by Phirewire (edited 07-23-2017).]
The Fiero is one of the safest cars ever built; The roll-over and side impact protection still meets our far-more-stringent requirements of today- with one exception...No airbags blowing up in your face. Wearing seatbelts is the only thing that needs to be done to make this car almost perfectly safe.
The only down side, safety-wise, to the Fiero is that it is low.....Visibility is not as good as a regular-height car......I take care to always double check in certain situations to make sure the other driver sees me.....And, of course I try hard to see over and around other cars.
One thing that freaked out a number of friends- including girlfriends- was that the gas tank is between the seats UNDER(mounted from below- Outside the passenger compartment) the center console...."Oh my god! It's right next to me?!" Yes, it is, but to damage the tank, you would have to be hit so hard that the whole car would be crushed beyond recognition....And at that point, I don't think you'll be complaining.
One of the cars I was really interested in when I was young(Long...LONG ago(Arrrgggg) was the Bricklin SV-1....A Corvette size sports car. The SV stands for Safety vehicle; It had 5+ MPH bumpers, a full rollcage, and side impact beams that would stop a truck. Loved that car....And don't feel any less safe for having bought the Fiero instead.
(Thanks to Fiero sound for pointing out my mistake of not making it clear about the Fuel tank location)(I have now corrected my mistake!)
[This message has been edited by cvxjet (edited 07-23-2017).]
One thing that freaked out a number of friends- including girlfriends- was that the gas tank is between the seats in the center console...."Oh my god! It's right next to me?!" Yes, it is, but to damage the tank, you would have to be hit so hard that the whole car would be crushed beyond recognition....And at that point, I don't think you'll be complaining.
Just to be clear, the gas tank IS NOT INSIDE the passenger compartment. It's under the center console yes, BUT it's "outside" below the floor tunnel. The expensive Ford GT has the gas tank located exactly the same way.
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I may be incorrect, not by much, but is not the Fiero the only fully *5 Star crash rated vehicle in American history?
I witnessed a 1984 Fiero that crashed into a Southern Michigan county snowplow at speeds nearing 45 for the Fiero and we are guessing 35 for the plow. It happened feet from me. A friend was driving her Fiero and the conditions were still snowing with several inches on the ground. We were headed down a 45 mph road in a Jeep with Lisa right behind us. All easily saw the plow, and then she just swerved into the plow like it was a target. It just happened. It took us a moment to stop, collect, and turn around to go back to the scene. The very worst was thought. As I ran up to her car, she opened the drivers door and stepped right out. The front of the car was crumpled quite badly, but the doors opened and closed like intended.
This is not saying that the Fiero is as safe as a new car, but I feel MUCH safer in the GT than in my 1997 F150.
Only one passenger! There will be no back seat distractions for your child to deal with.
*I fully understand that crash ratings have changed over time.
Know of a guy who wrapped a Fiero around a tree years ago and walked away with no broken bones or internal injuries. It was a hard impact and the only cuts were from the sunroof glass that cracked and came down on him. A few stitches later he was back home. If you saw the car it would be hard to imagine that anyone could have survived that accident but he did.
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Yet another voice... Yes. The Fiero is quite safe. It's a small car, but it is way overbuilt for what it is. (The "second only to Volvo" thing is the absolute truth.) You can take every single body panel off of a Fiero, then get in and drive it away. Safely. It's actually been done on several occasions, for shows.
[This message has been edited by Raydar (edited 07-23-2017).]
Remember, the Fiero is different from most cars today. Yes, the Fiero is physically safe, but as stated above, proper maintenance is MANDATORY. Make sure the oil is changed and full, and that no fluids are leaking.
Also, as the Fiero is ~30 years old, make sure that the brake and fuel lines are in good condition. Also, check for rust, which hides behind the plastic panels.
Finally, your son must understand that the Fiero can get squirrelly in slick road conditions. He needs to understand how to avoid issues, and how to handle them.
A list of thing any new driver should know/follow;
1) Do not play the radio while driving for the first 6 months(Your buddies will probably complain- But you are learning completely new reactions, so keep yourself extra-aware!)
2) Always maintain your car; Jet fighter pilots don't fly around in a jet that hasn't been maintained, so you should not drive a car that hasn't been maintained- Don't get stuck on the side of the road....
3)The Fiero has a rearward weight distribution.....Somewhat like Porsches and just like Ferraris- They handle differently...Be aware of the differences, and how to avoid problem situations; Case in point....You enter a turn fast- Too fast!- and you cut the throttle...This can cause the rear to swing out in what is called Drop-Throttle-oversteer (DTO).....Don't suddenly cut the throttle in a turn, don't jam on the brakes, and if you have cut it too quickly, you can squeeze the throttle to re-gain control...I read about this for years before I bought my Fiero, and the first time it happened, I remembered what to do- Main thing is to be fully aware! (Just for info- The Fiero is not that bad at this(DTO)...Very mild, but your son should be aware so he know what to do and what not to do)
4) DON'T TEXT WHILE DRIVING!!! OK, ever seen "Iron Eagle"?...Utterly stupid movie, but in it, the son takes a fighter jet up to rescue his father(ACK! ACK!) but he is not doing well until he turns on his walkman....Then he kicks azz.......(Arrrgggggg). When doing something critical like driving it demands your attention...I can guarantee you there is not one fighter pilot in the world that would want ANY distractions while flying- especially in critical situations!
Be safe, be intelligent, be mature...and you will enjoy your Fiero(Or any other car) for a long time....I have enjoyed my Fiero for 32+ years!
Many cars today have tons of safety features. Too many, in my opinion. This is why I love my Fieros. You interact with your journey in a way that modern cars take much away from.
As for safety, the above mentioned crash tests ratings and proven design of our space frame are good peace of mind.
However, education to the young driver is ultimately the number one safety feature. It's often hard to explain how we should react in any situation and expect a young mind to comprehend what only experience has taught a good many of us.
I hesitate to suggest it, but YouTube dash cam accidents have given myself a very different perspective on road safety and a better understanding of what kind of reactions result in accidents, what kind of accidents are beyond our control, and how to make myself an alert driver. It may make some folks paranoid to drive. View at your own risk via YouTube searches...
How about the "Showing off" thing.......My learning experience; I was out in the Delta boating age 12....As I left the beach a friend of my father's landed with his two daughters.......I decided I would show off......(Yep, you can see it coming!)....As I approached the beach, I cut hard to come in "Hot"..... faster...faster......yep.....Face planted right in front of those girls I was trying to impress....As I spit sand from my mouth they came running down and asked "Are you ok?" To which I should have answered,"Sure!...except for a pulverized ego..." ( I didn't realize I was the "Comedy relief"!)
DON'T........SHOW........OFF......it can only end.....badly.....
The odds are the kid is going to wreck the car, how badly is anyones guess.
Remember these cars have no airbags or anti lock brakes or stability controls, and the stock brakes are poor at best. You have to remember these things don't handle or brake as well as new cars, so you have to keep your distance more, and plan ahead for the worst.
According to a Consumer’s Report magazine article entitled "Which Cars Protect You Best?" from pages 186-188, April, 1984, the Fiero tied for first place in the small car class. In this test, the cars were run into a solid barrier at 35 miles an hour. From the article, "No car made today can survive a head-on collision into a fixed barrier at 35 miles an hour. After such a crash, the car is reduced to scrap metal" (p.186). After this crash test, the Fiero received a rating by Consumer’s Report of: minor injury to driver, minor injury to passenger, and moderate rating for structural integrity (p.187). The standard scale ranged from : 1). No injury or minor injury (best), to 2). Moderate injury; to 3). Certain injury, possibly severe; to 4). Severe or fatal injury; to 5). Severe or fatal injury was virtually certain (worse) (p.188). The only car that had a better rating, in fact the highest rating, was the Volvo DL. The Volvo’s ratings were: minor injury to driver, minor injury to passenger, and a minor rating for structural integrity (p.187). So, the only difference was that the Volvo had a step higher rating for structural integrity. Although this may not be highly scientific, very detailed data, on an overall basis, the Fiero scored extremely well.
The Fiero’s rating was far better than such marquees as: Ford’s Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis; and GM’s Le Sabre, Caprice, Delta 88, and Parisienne (P.187). Some of the poorest results were from the Honda Civic CRX, Peugeot 505, and Ford Escort 4-door (p.187).
Here are some other encouraging links on the Fieros safety:
I forgot to mention this and have seen it several times DTO. Someone else said it I am just re-enforcing it. You do drop throttle and brake in a turn you feel you took to fast the rear of the car will come around on you. As he said for the most part you do what you were taught not to and power through it.
Find a local autocross club or event and have your son compete a few times. It is best to learn the limits and quirks of the car in a semi-controlled environment vs. on the road. I normally spin mine at least 1 time per session and when the rear breaks free around a corner, you flip 180 degrees almost instantly.
Find a local autocross club or event and have your son compete a few times.
As I was reading through the responses, this is exactly what I was thinking. We can describe a hundred different ways what to do, what not to do. But the best thing for any driver (especially a new one) to experience is their car losing control... in a safe environment. When you realize there isn't a damn thing you can do if/when the rear-end of a Fiero snaps around, you tend to find ways to best prevent it!
Auto-crossing is a smart way to learn how to drive a car in emergency situations....I have been driving handling courses since I learned to drive...I can do almost anything with the car...and I don't feel like I don't know what to do. An easy way to get the hang of a new car is to go to a EMPTY parking lot (With NO light poles or parking curbs!) when it is raining and slide around a little- NOT do brodies! But do a turn a little too tight for wet conditions (With plenty of breathing room)....Also, do a turn and suddenly cut the throttle...You will get the feel for DTO and how to not cut the throttle completely.....Remember- Nothing over 20 mph!
In Europe, everyone knows how to drive a car close to the limit...Here in America, we (Govt and industry) believe the public should be protected from injuring themselves..at All costs...If it gets any worse, we will be driving 4000 lb cars with rubber padding a foot thick and only 50 hp and governed to 20 mph......or they will only allow computers to drive cars.....
Rolled one at 60 mph, stepped out of it. Shook up and a couple of small scratches but otherwise OK. Got my kid one as his first car when he started driving because I was confident he would be safe in it.
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The Autocross track is a good way to learn the handling characteristics of a Fiero. There is little he can do other than spin out. It's danged near impossible to roll one like Itlfrari did unless you catch a curb broadside or something stops the wheels from sliding sideways. Maybe going over an embankment, too.
He will learn the consequences of breaking in a hard curve and of lifting on the throttle when the rear breaks loose, and the value of keeping the car in good alignment. It's vital in poor weather conditions.
Years ago, a friend of mine who had worked 36 hours straight was driving home from work. Fell asleep on the thruway. (This was near the Canada/New York border.) Ran off the road and flipped the car end-over-end about 3 times. Climbed out of the car and walked to civilization (which I believe was the border station.) Essentially uninjured.
[This message has been edited by Raydar (edited 07-26-2017).]