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Hi All! New to the forum intro and potential purchase question... by bakantor
Started on: 05-05-2010 02:33 PM
Replies: 13
Last post by: Francis T on 05-05-2010 11:30 PM
bakantor
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Report this Post05-05-2010 02:33 PM Click Here to See the Profile for bakantorSend a Private Message to bakantorDirect Link to This Post
Hi All -

I've been looking at an older car for my work commute for over a year now. The car won't be my primary so it's not an issue if it's down once in awhile. I've thought about the porsche 924, late model thunderbird turbo coupes, datsun Z cars, and on and on. Ultimately I decided I wanted a car that could get great gas mileage and be sporty like those listed... more along the lines of the british road cars (4 bangers that handle well at speed).

And then I stumbled across the Fiero. I was a pre-teen when they hit the market and they never caught my eye. I was more interested in early corvettes, mustangs and of course the 57 chevy. Low and behold, Fieros are pretty cool and quite reasonably priced.

I'm intersted in a good mph setup. Anything 30 or better highway will be sufficient, so I'm not too concerned auto vs manual but have ruled out the V6. I've been looking at two cars and was hoping to get some advice...

Car 1: $400
1984 with most features (auto windows, air, no sunroof, etc).
2.5L 97K miles
automatic
cracked windshield, front quareterpanel in need of replacement (fine to drive but smashed in).
Paint looks great!
2-owner car. 1st owner was the service manager iirc at the dealership. 2nd owner was on old lady.
Car has been in storage since 97. It starts with some fuel shoved down it's throat but won't go on its own.
Immaculate interior. It couldn't be nicer

Car 2: $500
1986 Sport, factory sunroof, factory subwoofer (may not be working) and all the other nice features
2.5L 147K miles
5-speed manual
It needs to be cleaned up and the roof panel has 2 cracks.
Paint looks ok for a car this age.
The interior needs TLC... the center console is broken. Other than that, it needs a good go with the shampoo vac.
Subframe has some rust but is solild (no holes, weak spots, etc known of).
It's been worked on by the current owner. New plugs, wires, cap, rotor, distributor, and fuel pressure regulator have been installed. The timing has been adjusted. It still has low fuel pressure but the owner has the new pump (not installed). Car does run as is and restricting the return helps it run good. The owner works in the auto industry and knows what he's doing..
It has the beretta brake upgrade, 4 new rotors, new calipers, new hubs machined up front and new bearings/seals, new pads, matched master cylinder with speed-bleeder brake bleeders.

I don't mind getting dirty. #2 seems like the better deal... it's been worked on and driven, many major items have been tackled and the brakes are a huge plus. The new brakes probably have reduced drag as well and will increase the mileage. Car #1 seems like the safer bet; however, dealing with a car sitting 13 years could be very expensive.

My gut is split but my heart/head screams #2 with one hesitation... the mileage. If the engine has not been beat on and properly maintained I should get another 50k on it. Otherwise, it seems like engines can be had relatively cheap.

Which would you go with? Neither is an ok answer!

Thanks in advance! BTW, anything I should watch for that's fiero-specific? I'll be taking a light-doty hydrolic jack along
Brad
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unboundmo
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Report this Post05-05-2010 02:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for unboundmoClick Here to Email unboundmoSend a Private Message to unboundmoDirect Link to This Post
84 - 4 bangers had a problem with not enough oil and would cause fire... check to see if it has this fixed
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jaskispyder
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Report this Post05-05-2010 03:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by unboundmo:

84 - 4 bangers had a problem with not enough oil and would cause fire... check to see if it has this fixed



I am guessing with 97K on the odo... it has been fixed... or doesn't need to be fixed

[This message has been edited by jaskispyder (edited 05-05-2010).]

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skuzzbomer
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Report this Post05-05-2010 03:21 PM Click Here to See the Profile for skuzzbomerSend a Private Message to skuzzbomerDirect Link to This Post
Just so you know, a properly tuned V6 with a 5speed will get 30mpg highway and it will have more grunt overall. However, I will tell you to avoid the automatics at all cost - they're just plain terrible without an overdrive gear, even with the Iron Duke 4cyl.

That being said, the dukes are easier to work on and generally more reliable overall - if they've been taken care of.

Now, if you find a coupe with a 4speed, check the RPO codes to see if it has the performance or economy transmission. If memory serves, the RPO code for the economy tranny is MY8 (somebody correct me if I'm wrong).

Good luck finding something you like.
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White Spyder
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Report this Post05-05-2010 04:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for White SpyderClick Here to Email White SpyderSend a Private Message to White SpyderDirect Link to This Post
My '88 was a Duke auto that got 31MPG consistently on 100% gas. But non-blended fuel is harder to find now days. With the stroker and the stock auto I get around 26MPG. I say for the money and condition go for the '84.
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katatak
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Report this Post05-05-2010 04:08 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakDirect Link to This Post
Buy them both - for 900.00 you can have a driver with plenty of spare parts!
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bakantor
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Report this Post05-05-2010 05:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for bakantorSend a Private Message to bakantorDirect Link to This Post
Thanks for all the great comments! I suspect the '84 has had the engine taken care of since it was owned by a dealership employee for the first 4-5 years. I will be checking.

I wish I could get away with buying both! Unfortunately that won't fly with Mrs. Brad. We live in the city (well suburbs, but it's not like we have acres to play with) and with two cars and a two car garage extra projects sitting in the driveway will be looked down upon. Of course, it might piss of the neighbors, which in my case wouldn't be a bad thing. My diesel already does a good job of that.

So, I have one vote for the '84 . Any concerns about it sitting for 13 years? I'd go for it except I'm worried it will take thousand(s) to bring it back to life. Of course, the other could take thousands to keep running. Over time (next year or two) is fine... but spending big bucks up front isn't what I want to do. If it weren't for that I wouldn't be having this conversation.

Does anyone have an idea what a good used duke costs? It may be cheaper to stick a known good engine in if there's an issue.

I also see many dukes running well into the 200K in mileage when maintenance is performed on schedule. Is this a fluke or the norm? I'm shocked as most 80's engines I've dealt with are toast by 150k.

Any other votes? On the left we have a storage queen and on the right we have the bruiser!
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White Spyder
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Report this Post05-05-2010 05:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for White SpyderClick Here to Email White SpyderSend a Private Message to White SpyderDirect Link to This Post
Even though it has been sitting it should not take too much on the front end to get the '84 in good drivable shape. Change all fluids (includes draining the gas tank), change all filters (buy 2 fuel and change it again after the first tank), change belts and hoses, check for dry rot in tires, new battery, change plugs, cap, rotor and wires, change rubber brake lines.

Fuel her up and have fun!
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ltlfrari
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Report this Post05-05-2010 06:20 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ltlfrariClick Here to visit ltlfrari's HomePageClick Here to Email ltlfrariSend a Private Message to ltlfrariDirect Link to This Post
My 88 has a duke with 3 speed auto. It's totally gutless (which is good coz it's the kid's car when it's on the road = fewer tickets!).

My old 85 had a duke with a 5 speed stick, it was a blast to drive. Not a rocket ship but fun.

My current 85 has a 2.8 with a 4 speed stick. I'ts fine but revs a little high on the freeway (3k revs at 65-70). The old 85 was 2400 revs at 65. Made a big difference.

As suggested, if you've got room and $, buy em both.

Car 1:

$250 ish to replace windscreen.
Quarter panel, 0 to $20ish maybe for the panel, then paint to match
Running issue could just be old fuel or something more serious. Do you know if it was running when parked? If so I'd say fuel system related, maybe just gummed up. If not then something else is amiss.
Looks. These are plastic bodied cars. total basket cases can look good!


Car 2:
To replace the roof panel you'll need to get at the nuts in the roof that hold it on and that means remove the headliner which in turn means remove the interior trim. Be prepared to have to have to replace or at least fiber glass the existing headliner board and recover it. $50 for fiber glass etc, $50 for headliner material and glue (just done this!) plus cost of a new roof panel. I've not removed the roof panel but I think it comes off pretty easily, at least compared to the rear clip (same mess inside the car removing stuff).
Paint. How much do you want to spend!
Cracked/broken parts in the interior are just parts. Obtain decent replacement, remove old, install replacement. Easy to fix over time or go custom!

General:
Replacing the fuel pump isn't that hard. Main problem is how badly corroded and hard to get off the nuts on the two T bolts that hold the tank straps are but you may have to replace the pump on the other car as well so I wouldn't let that put you off.

Engine wise, I'm not knocking the 84 cars but never buy version 1 of anything, plus in my opinion and experience, duke + auto is just plain sad!

Rust:
There's the obvious trunk corners and area below and around the battery but the upper frame rails can be very hard to really see as they are hidden by the rear clip and the rear wheel well liners. You might be able to see or at least feel them if you can get you hand up behind the wheel well liner. Rotted rails are fixable (just done it) but you need a welder and you need to pull the rear clip.

AC
Do you need a/c (vs want it). ac is one of those things that looks like it should be simple but isn't. If it's working (on either car) then great, if not and you need it then it can get expensive.

Mileage.
It's pot luck really. The 84 does not run on it's own so who knows. The 86 does sooo.....

Trans
On both my current cars it's been the trannies that have died (cars have around 100k on them) and having now pulled a stick and an auto tranny, give me a stick any day. Auto is unbelievably heavy and when you remove it you get tranny fluid (from the converter) everywhere. Can you say mess!
Stick is much easier to work with and lighter and on my 85 duke with 5 speed, I loved the overdrive (is 84 the same?).
Sticks can have clutch issues with the hydraulic setup, usually the slave needs replacing/repairing. Easy fix though.


If it were me and assuming nothing major to put me off it, I'd go for the 86 because Its a stick, it's not version 1 and it's been driven recently and worked on.

That's just my opinion though and as always, this information is probably worth what you paid for it

Edit.
I see I got pipped at the post whilst typing that lot up. I still say 86 though. Price of engines and tranies is really pot luck. You can go ebay and pay $400+ or trawl craigslist and maybe get lucky. And there's always the mall on here as well of course which is actually the best place.


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[This message has been edited by ltlfrari (edited 05-05-2010).]

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timgray
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Report this Post05-05-2010 06:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for timgrayClick Here to visit timgray's HomePageClick Here to Email timgraySend a Private Message to timgrayDirect Link to This Post
Being owned the first few years by someone has nothing to do with the condition of a 20+ year old car. All it takes is 3 months in the hands of a knucklehead to destroy ANY car.

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Report this Post05-05-2010 09:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JonesySend a Private Message to JonesyDirect Link to This Post
Just an idea.. Regardless of weather you go for a 4-banger, or a 2.8 car, you WILL have to put some money into it.. So i would save up a little extra cash and find yourself one in better condition.. Even if you have to travel a little to get it.. It would be worth it, and you would be much happier for it. If all you care about is MPG then a 4-banger will be what you want.. But a V6 really isnt that much worse, especially if given a fresh tune up after you get it. And its more fun to drive.. I recommend the 4spd.. its more fun than the 5spd, but the 5spd will give you slightly better MPG.. I wouldent even bother with a auto, plus they give the worst MPG..

Just be careful man.. Once you start driving these things, you can really fall in love with them, and get addicted, and next thing you know, your little car you bought just to drive to work, will be getting an engine swap, new suspension, ect ect ect... lol.

Iv had mine for 16 years.. and i love it even more now than ever.. (probably cause iv been modding the hell out of it, lol.) But i wish you luck with your purchase. and you have definatly come to the right place for help and advice, lots of very cool and very knowledgeable people here.. And if you get a Fiero, you will more than likely need it at some point.. lol.

[This message has been edited by Jonesy (edited 05-05-2010).]

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bakantor
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Report this Post05-05-2010 09:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for bakantorSend a Private Message to bakantorDirect Link to This Post
ltlfrari -

What a great post! I think you outlined everything I was thinking and confirmed my thoughts. My ultimate concern with the 84 is it isn't running. It could be a simple thing like old fuel or it could be multiple time and money consuming items. 13 years is a long time to sit with fuel in it... the gas tank is likely shot inside, fuel pump gunked up, etc... and what about all the engine seals and gaskets. Sitting this long without proper preparation is not so hot! I am also concerned about why it was parked originally. It's easy to say "I was saving it for our kid" when it was really "this is a nice car I'd like to fix some day when I can afford it". As honest as someone sounds you just never know.

I do like a few things I've read about the duke. Sure, it's not the hottest engine, but it isn't an interference design like the V6 so no issues if the timing belt implodes. I have never been a fan of interference engines. From what I've read it's quite durable if cared for properly (but isn't that the truth about all engines). I've never owned a manual but have driven a few without incident including a few larger old trucks. I laugh at this because I embarrased my father-in-law... he had owned sticks for many years and was kind of hinting that he could drive the truck better. Who was I to argue, the noob who's been behind the wheel for 5 miles. Long story short? ... he stalled the truck multiple times and took out a mailbox. Hahahaha.

Anyway, back on topic. I would be happy with an auto if it had overdrive. However, in this day and age of 70mph speed limits a 3-speed is unrealistic. I'd be happiest with a 4-speed but haven't had much luck finding a cheaper one.

Thanks for the rust tips... I own a welder. Therefore, if there is no metal left somewhere I will smelt better metal to take its place... for I am an engineer!
AC? If it's in good shape and working great! If not I'll likely yank it. I'm in MN. This is a summer-month commuter and backup vehicle, nothing more. If it's too hot (typically only a handful of days per year) to enjoy the drive to and from work I'll hop in my primary vehicle. I will say many years ago my young (at the time) daughter and I got caught without air on a 100 degree day and no wind... never again! My mpg goal is not only guiding my car selection, it is also pushing me to determine what changes I can make to further increase mpg (remove air, underdrive pulleys, gears, etc).

I'm still looking for additional opinions (but I'll still do my own thing anyway and blame someone here for my mistake!). Thanks to everyone for the pile of information. I see success in my sites.

I do have a side question... is the beretta brake upgrade a big deal? It's not too expensive and the only painful part I see is to get the front hubs machined properly for the conversion. I see I lose the emergency brake as well (time to make a solution and sell it). Is this a desirable upgrade or a problem waiting to happen (assuming the conversion was done properly).

Cheers!
Brad


EDIT: I have an issue with long posts... verbosity is not always a good thing.

[This message has been edited by bakantor (edited 05-05-2010).]

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bakantor
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Report this Post05-05-2010 10:13 PM Click Here to See the Profile for bakantorSend a Private Message to bakantorDirect Link to This Post
Hehehe. Everything you wrote is true! I would like a 4spd over a 5. This is kind of a hobby anyway, so I don't mind a car that has a few issues to work out. I have thought about the engine swap already... I think a turbo-4 of some sort would be ideal for this car... and something that could rev to 8-9k. I've had a thing for turbos lately. I'm hoping having a car to play with will give me a chance to resolve a few truck issues and get me to stop tinkering with it in general (I've modified the suspension, put in bags (the front end can go up and down), etc but it's not as good as I thought it would be so now I'm thinking of pulling the leaf springs and swapping in a later-model coil setup). Time to lower the truck a few inches (hard to get into for family) and stick a fixed suspension in which was the goal with the air bags. I have no interest in slamming it, it's a truck for (insert religious figure of choice here)'s sake!

I'm targeting high mpg... not quite hypermiler style, just anything to increase it. I know these cars can be ultra-fast with an engine swap but my truck is quick enough. Perhaps I'll eventually need two, one for mileage and one for anti-mileage... never shall the two meet!

I will absolutely need community support... there will be issues I can't resolve and things I won't know how to do. This board looks like a great place and I hope to become a Fiero owner sometime soon!

 
quote
Originally posted by Jonesy:

Just an idea.. Regardless of weather you go for a 4-banger, or a 2.8 car, you WILL have to put some money into it.. So i would save up a little extra cash and find yourself one in better condition.. Even if you have to travel a little to get it.. It would be worth it, and you would be much happier for it. If all you care about is MPG then a 4-banger will be what you want.. But a V6 really isnt that much worse, especially if given a fresh tune up after you get it. And its more fun to drive.. I recommend the 4spd.. its more fun than the 5spd, but the 5spd will give you slightly better MPG.. I wouldent even bother with a auto, plus they give the worst MPG..

Just be careful man.. Once you start driving these things, you can really fall in love with them, and get addicted, and next thing you know, your little car you bought just to drive to work, will be getting an engine swap, new suspension, ect ect ect... lol.

Iv had mine for 16 years.. and i love it even more now than ever.. (probably cause iv been modding the hell out of it, lol.) But i wish you luck with your purchase. and you have definatly come to the right place for help and advice, lots of very cool and very knowledgeable people here.. And if you get a Fiero, you will more than likely need it at some point.. lol.

[This message has been edited by bakantor (edited 05-05-2010).]

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Francis T
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Report this Post05-05-2010 11:30 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Francis TClick Here to visit Francis T's HomePageClick Here to Email Francis TSend a Private Message to Francis TDirect Link to This Post
I heartly agree, go with the V6 and the 4 or 5 spd trans. These cars are underpowered as is, behind and auto they can be real dogs. A manaul trans means beter gas millage, more go, and more fun.

 
quote
Originally posted by skuzzbomer:

Just so you know, a properly tuned V6 with a 5speed will get 30mpg highway and it will have more grunt overall. However, I will tell you to avoid the automatics at all cost - they're just plain terrible without an overdrive gear, even with the Iron Duke 4cyl.

That being said, the dukes are easier to work on and generally more reliable overall - if they've been taken care of.

Now, if you find a coupe with a 4speed, check the RPO codes to see if it has the performance or economy transmission. If memory serves, the RPO code for the economy tranny is MY8 (somebody correct me if I'm wrong).

Good luck finding something you like.


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