By: Murilee Martin on 6/28/2013
Last week, we found ourselves lured in by (and simultaneously reeled back in horror from) a couple of ill-advised engine swaps in classic British cars. Engine swaps! We love 'em! We especially love engine swaps that yield double or triple a car's original horsepower, and there's nothing better than adding all that extra power to a funky-handling mid-engined crypto-sporty 1980s econo-commuter car.
The Pontiac Fiero, in addition to sporting plastic body panels that may be swapped for vaguely Italian-looking replacements in order to create a "Fierrari" or "Fieroborghini," came from the factory with engines that shared bellhousing bolt patterns with many other GM powerplants. There's (sort of) enough room in the Fiero's engine compartment for something bigger than the 60-degree V6 that was the most potent engine The General installed in his Reagan-era mid-engined machine, and many backyard fabricators have taken advantage of these features (plus an abundance of cheap junked GM cars built during the 1980-2010 period) to turn the Fiero into the supercar it deserved to be.
We've picked out a couple of affordable engine-swapped Fiero candidates for you, so let's leap headfirst into the Hell Garage Lake of Fire!
Look! It fits...sort of. The supercharged Buick 3800 is bigger, but it's also better.
The good old Buick V6 engine, which made its debut in the 1962 model year, is quite a bit bigger than the unrelated 60-degree V6 that came in the hotter (no, not this kind of hot) Fieros, but you can make it fit in that cramped engine compartment if you're really serious. But why go to all that trouble unless you're going to be stuffing in the 205- or 225-horse supercharged 3800 version? That's how the Hell Garage Demons see the matter, of course, and so they've found this 1984 Pontiac Fiero with Series I supercharged 3800 in Texas (go here if the listing disappears) for you.
The seller scorns Craigslist tradition by using both upper- and lower-case letters as well as not-particularly-random use of punctuation, summing up the car thusly: "has never been wrecked, good glass all around, fair interior (needs headliner) aftermarket oil press, tach, and boost guage, strong motor and transmission, no smoke or drip, good tires, brakes, all lights work, headlights do not go down automatically, e-brake needs attention."
Sounds like a runner, eh? Well, the thing about this kind of swap is that there's always a little more sorting to do, so even after you make those pesky headlights go down and throw in a new velour-covered cardboard headliner, you'll get to enjoy a lot more wrenching. Hey, why does it have three pedals and what appears to be a manual shifter if it has an automatic transmission?
The HT stands for "high tech," and with the 4.9-liter version of Caddy's HT4100 in your Fiero, that's what you'll be.
Superchargers are great, but a genuine American performance car such as the Fiero deserves that most American of engines: a big V8! You can find Fieros with Chevy 350s, Cadillac Northstars, and even the occasional Olds 455 swapped in, but those machines can get pretty pricey in addition to being good for just the occasional drag race.
The Cadillac HT4100 engine, on the other hand, may be found in the endless rows of 1980s and 1990s Eldorados, DeVilles, and Fleetwoods at your local wrecking yard, and they're quite affordable. The 4.9 liter version fits pretty well in the Fiero, and so it is possible to find projects such as this 1986 Pontiac Fiero with 4.9 Cadillac V8 in New Jersey (go here if the listing disappears). The seller would like to get $2,000 for this car, but the ad features an air of urgency ("Im selling it becuase im moving.into a new apartment very soon and i need the money very bad.") that indicates that he or she might be willing to negotiate.
It has a "brand new starter" but has been sitting at the garage that replaced the starter ever since the repair; some might say that the car might have other problems (in spite of the seller's claim that it is "Very fast, decent on gas"), but this is no time to be suspicious! Buy this car, fix the problems, and then find a way to get a manual transmission in it, we say.
Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/art...629849#ixzz2Xk863OgT
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