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Been Too Long Without a Fiero by Spektyr
Started on: 08-31-2018 09:45 PM
Replies: 15 (345 views)
Last post by: 2.5 on 09-06-2018 11:59 AM
Spektyr
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Report this Post08-31-2018 09:45 PM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
So it's been... <counting fingers>... more fingers than I have in years since I had to sell my Fiero.

Now I'm looking at a turn in the old career that should be bringing in a pretty penny - just bought the wife a new car so she's pretty happy, so it seems like the right time to pitch the fun two-seater idea again.

Operation ReFiero is a go.


Phase 1: Planning and Permission.
So I ran the idea past the wife and didn't get the disapproving "let's be serious" face. More the skeptical "you've been on this for years and weren't serious enough before to actually do it" face. She issued very tentative approval of the concept, pending proper research and feasibility testing.

Next I need to get everything figured out and re-apply with more concrete information. ("Shouldn't cost more than X plus or minus 5k" isn't specific enough in her book.) When last I spent any real time around this forum the engine swap options were roughly: 3800, 3800SC, SBC, Northstar, and the LS-type Chevy motors. Never really considered the LS's much, or the Northstar, as my bank account lacked zeroes. Hell, I couldn't afford to fix the headlights properly. So the first thing I need to figure out is what kind of motor I want in this thing.

Priorities, in order:
1. Not stock. I had a 2.8, it was okay. Sucked out loud to work on, and while not exactly dull, doesn't get my heart pumping.
2. Reliable. I want something I can drive to work every day and show those snot-nosed punks I work with that good things came from the 80's.
3. Not-awful mpg. Let's be honest, I'm gonna put my foot in it from time to time. But I don't want to be nursing it to see the north side of 20mpg.
4. Fun. Pretty much anything that isn't stock is going to make the car more fun. More-more fun is funner, but I'm not looking to trade reliability for speed, or end up with something I have to tinker with constantly to keep happy.
5. Automatic. Personally I like a stick, but the wife can't drive stick (even though she actually can). If it's an auto, it's a "backup car" she can drive if her car is in the shop. Odds of that are nearly zero, since she'd get a loaner and probably hate driving the Fiero, but it's something that greases the wheels. (Not a requirement, though.)

If memory serves, that sits pretty soundly in the 3800SC camp, but I don't know everything and would like some advice.

Car: Probably an 88GT, but that's not a given. I had an 85GT so that's going to be a soft-spot for me. Naturally the non-88 is going to need extra work on the brakes, and probably the suspension, to make it non-death-trappy. I still have nightmares where my car has no brakes caused by the trouble stopping that 85GT after the disks got hot. Oh, and not chopped. I'm 6'4" and I barely fit in a stock Fiero as it is.


Putting it together: this is where the numbers get tricky. As much as I love tinkering with stuff I have to be realistic. I don't have the spare time to devote to doing all the wrench-work myself. I'm mechanically-inclined, and I know my way around an engine bay, but I just don't have the hours free to do it, and when I do I have a list of hobby projects as long as my arm that I honestly would enjoy doing more. (My primary hobby is to collect hobbies, apparently.) So the smart thing for me to do is to delegate the things I don't have time to do in the amount that I have money to pay people to do them. This means I either need to find a car that's either completely or nearly done the way I want it, or buy a fixer-upper and pay someone to do it all. In either case, I don't get past the "permission" phase of phase 1 until I can get budget approval. Just a quick aside here - I'm not saying that my wife has final say over financial matters. I'm saying that in order for me to be happy, she must first be happy. And she's not going to be happy if I buy a car without talking to her first and getting her okay (at least not if the car is for me rather than her, which would clearly be the case here and she'd probably still be mad if I bought her a car without letting her pick the color first.)


Phase 2: Getting the Car Done
Assuming I don't find a car exactly the way I want it down to color and such, I need to get some work done on it. Again, advice on where to go, who to get it done by, and so on would be appreciated. I know a body guy I'd probably have do the paint, but beyond that I'm looking for suggestions.

Finished, I want the car to look new, in and out. (This, I worry, is where I depart from reality.)

Budget is... ??? How much for how much? It looks like $8500ish is a good price for a 3800SC swapped car, turn key. But that's a guy selling the car he built the way he likes it, maybe not the way I like it. What I'm thinking of in my head is just shy of a show car - not the crazy intense attention to detail that will win trophies, but I don't want people to look close and see an obviously 30-year old car. That balance between trailer queen and "nice used car". Sort of "if it were any nicer I wouldn't want to drive it." Does that make sense?

My attitude on cost on this is the same as most things: I don't mind paying a premium for premium results. I'm not quite "money is no object" kind of income, but I'm old enough to understand that waiting a little longer for the perfect thing is far better than getting sort of what you want right now. So if it takes a few more months to put together just enough more money to make the difference, I'm happy to do that. It's all about how much I'm getting for what I'm spending.


So with all that in mind, for the rare few of you who've made it this far... what should I expect to pay for what I'm looking for?
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Report this Post08-31-2018 11:08 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Quad RaiderClick Here to Email Quad RaiderSend a Private Message to Quad RaiderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
No idea, but this was a great read. Best of luck.
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Report this Post09-01-2018 11:08 AM 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
For a really nice, swapped car, I'm thinking $8500 is a good place to start.
This coming from someone who has built a swapped car that has decent - but not quite show quality - cosmetics. Although I did bring home a "best in class" at World Of Wheels, that was a few years ago.
(I actually have quite a bit more than that in mine, but we all know how THAT goes...)

Good luck with your search.

------------------
Raydar
88 Formula IMSA Fastback. 4.9, NVG T550

Praise the Lowered!

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Spektyr
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Report this Post09-01-2018 11:38 AM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Oh, and if anyone wants to recommend a mechanic, or volunteer themselves - Wichita area would be ideal, but I'm not against the idea of driving across the country to pick up the car if it means getting it done right, at the right price. Obviously it'd be ideal to have someone local because then I can take it back to them when it breaks down, they know the car, they don't have to waste time figuring out what was done to it and why.
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Report this Post09-03-2018 12:12 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Jason88NotchieClick Here to Email Jason88NotchieSend a Private Message to Jason88NotchieEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I've always had notions on what to do with my previous 88 that never came to fruition. I ended up buying a Formula which was exactly what I wanted. Been enjoying and driving the hell out of it. It's fun and relatively fast for 80s cars a d I just did a 4hr trip in it today. It has 158000 miles in the 2.8 and has no inkling on slowing down. So my advice is take some time and find a good non molested version of a GT or Formula. That means no cut wires of any kind fan switch bullshit or any of that. Look it over well. 30 yr old cars can hide a lot. Start with pure stock. Don't inherit other people's problems. And when you get this car drive it. Have fun with it. And you will know it in and out. THEN START THE SWAP STUFF.
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Jason88Notchie
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Report this Post09-03-2018 12:17 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Jason88NotchieClick Here to Email Jason88NotchieSend a Private Message to Jason88NotchieEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

Jason88Notchie

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In the end it's a labor of love. If not...your swap will end up rotting in the garage like most end up.
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bjm362
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Report this Post09-03-2018 03:46 AM Click Here to See the Profile for bjm362Send a Private Message to bjm362Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Good luck with your up and coming purchase!

Personally I would recommend spending a good deal of time looking at "Fiero for sale" searches and websites. If you Google search "Fiero for sale" sites like CarGurus, Carfax, Autotrader and Hemmings etc. all will have listings and you can customize your search including distance.

Although I am very pleased that the powerplant in mine has more umpah than the factory 2.8 V6. I used the fact that it was not factory stock as negotiating point in my favor.
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Spektyr
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Report this Post09-04-2018 11:22 AM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
All the advice is greatly appreciated.

Hundreds of things could change between now and the time to start laying down wads of cash that influence not only when that time might be, but how thick those wads can be. That's one of the reasons I'm not looking super-hard right this second, and definitely not looking to start a long build project as soon as the money to begin is lined up. If I drop a couple grand on a car with the expectation that the rest of the money for the project will roll in, and then business needs for a few clients change and the projects I'm working on get delayed or cancelled... well then I've got a car that's not what I want, my wife is guaranteed not to like it sitting in the garage with no real plan.

This is also a big part of the reason I want to find and decide on the mechanic early in the process. I want to build the car on paper - what needs to be done to the chassis, suspension, brakes, body, interior, engine... etc. All the way down the line, get an estimate, and then from there determine what the build car needs to have, must have, and so on. Say I want rear coil-overs (which I probably do) - and a car that's up for sale has that done, well that's a potential bonus (assuming it was done right - another reason to have the mechanic figured out ahead of time.)


I had an 85GT years ago that I drove the hell out of and loved (aside from trying to stop it - that was more excitement than I needed). I had the 2.8L with (iirc the Isuzu) 5-speed and it was an absolute blast. It was reasonably quick for the turn of the century, but a stock Fiero is a bit underpowered for its looks these days. I'm not saying I'm looking to to get under 5 seconds 0-60 (though that wouldn't suck), but I know I won't be happy with a car that struggles to outrun my wife's new Honda Fit. The CVT in that thing is surprisingly competent and the lawnmower engine is putting out 130+hp stock. Basically, cars keep getting better to where the economy cars of today run circles around many of the sports cars of my youth.

That said, the Fit will never make as nice a noise as the Fiero can. And it's sure as hell not as much fun to toss into a turn (though it won't try to kill you if you back off the throttle part way through).


Since I can't really do the work myself (insufficient space in the garage without torquing down the wife too much, and nowhere near the spare time needed) the most appealing solution is to figure out exactly what all I want done and then have it done A to Z in one go. That way I'm not driving a car that's "almost" what I want, taking it to the shop for a couple weeks to get it closer, driving it for a few weeks, taking it back, etc. I have no problem with delaying gratification if it means the car is done and I can simply enjoy it. If that means finding the car myself, taking to a mechanic, and throwing money at them until it's perfect, great. Or if the mechanic wants to find the car (so my less-trained eye doesn't make more work for them), that's fine too.

But this sort of thing isn't like trying to find a mechanic that isn't going to try to "upsell" you on repairs you don't need. Engine swaps and other significant modifications are way more important to have done right the first time. Any decent grease monkey can shoe-horn a monster V8 into an old muscle car. Fiero's are a different animal, so I need someone know really knows their stuff.

Basically what I'm saying is I'm looking for help from the community here to track down the right mechanic for the job, and help planning what the build should be.

For planning, I'm mainly looking to nail down which engine fits my needs the best, but also basically anything else that can be modified. For example: I don't want to drive down the highway and have a headlight cover pop open. That's annoying. But I do like the pop-up headlights, so what solutions are there (if any)? Think of it like this: I want the Fiero to look and drive like a modern retro Fiero. As if they'd been making Fiero's all this time, and then thought "hey, let's make the 2018 model look like the original 1980's Fiero". So...

1. Better performance
2. Better handling / braking
3. Maintain good reliability
4. Keep the Fiero look, but consider subtle, tasteful body mods that modernize it.
5. Fix up the interior. (Cup holders, glove box, stuff to make it look less dated.)

In terms of the interior I don't want it to look like the average modern car (I don't need an 8" media screen in the dash or stuff like that). I think it's easy enough to go for a minimalist "this is a sports car not a commuter car" look with modern touches. Like how certain high-end sports cars have race variants that lack AC, radio, and the interior just screams "track car". That, dialed back a little. Sort of "we know you're going to go through the drive-through but this is still a sports car first and foremost."

Man I'm using a lot of quotation marks...

[This message has been edited by Spektyr (edited 09-04-2018).]

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Dennis LaGrua
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Report this Post09-04-2018 01:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis LaGruaClick Here to Email Dennis LaGruaSend a Private Message to Dennis LaGruaEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Did you ever write encyclopedias?

------------------
" THE BLACK PARALYZER" -87GT 3800SC Series III engine, custom ZZP /Frozen Boost Intercooler setup, 3.4" Pulley, Northstar TB, LS1 MAF, 3" Spintech/Hedman Exhaust, P-log Manifold, Autolite 104's, MSD wires, Custom CAI, 4T65eHD w. custom axles, Champion Radiator, S10 Brake Booster, HP Tuners VCM Suite.
"THE COLUSSUS"
87GT - ALL OUT 3.4L Turbocharged engine, Garrett Hybrid Turbo, MSD ign., modified TH125H
" ON THE LOOSE WITHOUT THE JUICE "

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Spektyr
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Report this Post09-04-2018 01:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Not encyclopedias, no.

I've written more than a few game guides, instruction manuals, disaster recovery plans, and truly massive amounts of technical and non-technical documentation.

Basically if you have a complex process that you need documented in full and no one understands it, I'm your guy.
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Report this Post09-04-2018 04:39 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 2.5Send a Private Message to 2.5Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Welcome back, person who was in it before I was!
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Report this Post09-04-2018 05:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for da.slyboyClick Here to Email da.slyboySend a Private Message to da.slyboyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Too bad you want something complete. I have a decent 85gt project with a 3800SC/auto that's in your area . I can help out some and give pointers but I couldn't be much of a mechanic to you as I don't have enough time already for my other two Fieros (hence the needing to sell this project).

[This message has been edited by da.slyboy (edited 09-04-2018).]

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Fierochic88
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Report this Post09-05-2018 08:04 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Fierochic88Click Here to Email Fierochic88Send a Private Message to Fierochic88Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Sounds like you have a possibility here and you also have some good resources in your area with Chris Coulter and Alex Walker to help you get it done. I know both are on FB - so if you don't have FB, let me know and I'll help you track them down.
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Spektyr
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Report this Post09-06-2018 10:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by da.slyboy:

Too bad you want something complete. I have a decent 85gt project with a 3800SC/auto that's in your area . I can help out some and give pointers but I couldn't be much of a mechanic to you as I don't have enough time already for my other two Fieros (hence the needing to sell this project).



It's not that I want it complete from day 1, it's that I don't want it incomplete in my garage. Once I find the right shop to have the work done, and nail down what work I want done, the car that gets bought could be a crate of parts, bone stock, a partially finished project, or something that just needs a few minor tweaks.

 
quote
Originally posted by Fierochic88:

Sounds like you have a possibility here and you also have some good resources in your area with Chris Coulter and Alex Walker to help you get it done. I know both are on FB - so if you don't have FB, let me know and I'll help you track them down.


I have Facebook, but it's not quite as functional as it ought to be. I can search for people who are on my friends list and the results it gives me put them towards the bottom of a list of a bunch of people I don't know. Doing a search for either of those names turns up quite a few people and it's not immediately clear which person is the one you're referring to. Maybe just PM me the links to their profiles?
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Spektyr
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Report this Post09-06-2018 11:12 AM Click Here to See the Profile for SpektyrSend a Private Message to SpektyrEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Also, if someone can point me to a resource that details the differences between each model/year of Fiero I'd appreciate it.

I used to have all that memorized but after not using the knowledge for a couple decades I need a refresher course.

For example, I remember that the 85's had the speaker in the headrests, but not the 86-88. The more exhaustive the list, the better.
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Report this Post09-06-2018 11:59 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 2.5Send a Private Message to 2.5Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Spektyr:

Also, if someone can point me to a resource that details the differences between each model/year of Fiero I'd appreciate it.

I used to have all that memorized but after not using the knowledge for a couple decades I need a refresher course.

For example, I remember that the 85's had the speaker in the headrests, but not the 86-88. The more exhaustive the list, the better.


The best thing is the Fiero Enthusiasts guide from NIFE.

http://www.fierofocus.com/store.html
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