cheers mates - wondering about the difference from and 88 to all other years....i've been told by guys (not fiero owners/fans) that previous to 1988 fiero's shared a lot of parts, mostly steering and suspension, with pontiac acadians and chevettes type stuff. and then in 1988 it was truly its own design (and better?). i currently have an 86 gt, the owner i got it from described the 88 as much more 'car like', smoother steering and ride. (he's owned an 88 as well as couple other years). and the 86 he described as much more of a 'drivers' car, he likened it like a go-cart, really goes where you want it type thing. i guess this is all hear-say and opinion, what i'm really looking for are the facts;
- what years are 'the same'. my guess is 86/87 gt's the same, and 88 different?
- what is different/better about 88 from 86/87?
- what parts are and arent't interchangable from the 86/87 to the 88?
and after the physical parts differences, what are the real world ramifications of all that - are the 88's better handling, more/less reliable?
Better as a daily driver with minimal competitive road coarse driving - I would go with pre 88. Which one would you like to try to find the hard suspension parts for if you were to own the car for the next 10 years?. 84-87, or and 88?
------------------ 84/87 NB, 3800SC, E-85, VS Cam, 2.8 Pulley, 4T65E-HD, HP Tuners, AEM Wideband, Regal GS Gauges, S-10 Brake Booster. 1/4 mile -11.85 at 114mph
The key to the 88 is lighter steering and no real bump steer. The handling is more neutral an just much better sorted out.
The 84-87 cars have bump steer, heavier steering and a lot of understeer. You can drive a early car fast but you have to really work it at the upper scale of driving. Also the car has the feeling of the front and the rear not working together. I have a low mileage 85 and it never felt sorted out. I have added the Herb Adams suspension and it has made it feel like a 88 with a little heavier steering. It is now neutral and the bushings remove the bump steer. I have heard he still sells the parts direct have seen them on his web site.
The 88 was designed by GM with the 3 link rear and redesigned the front suspension to better work in harmony. It is what they really wanted in the first place. The scrub radius and turn in tuning was done by Porsche Engineering back in 1985 on the front suspension. That I found was always funny how Lotus was given credit in error but Porsche per Tom Goad of GM did the tuning of a GM design. This is also why they had to remove the Porsche eater tail lights from the two turbo Fiero's in the 80's GM had running around.
Parts are getting hard to get on some of the 88 Suspension parts but some are being reproduced. the early cars are no an issue.
If given the choice the 88 is better but overall condition and price of the car is a greater factor as the better the car the better off you will be. To invest to restore a Fiero is like many other cars anymore. It cost more to restore them than they are worth. You generally are better off buying a low mileage unrestored car for a little more vs. rebuilding one unless you are going all out modified.
Plus one to the 88 if you can find a reasonable priced one in good condition.
Also keep in mind the Fiero is not a handler like many of todays cars as things have come a long way and while the stock 88 was good back then todays cars have other advantages that have taken cars to the next level. Today many you can go stupid fast with little effort as the driver. GM has finally mastered the fine art of handling with out just using big tires and stiff springs. The new Z/28 is a great example of what they have learned as is the new CTS V Sport.
I found the steering in my "new" at the time 85 GT (same as the 86 and 87) to be so obnoxious, in terms of kickback and "tracking" that I traded the car. Other than that, I really didn't have any complaints. But then I didn't drive as hard as many people do, so I was less likely to discover the other "negative traits" that people speak of. My 88 is much nicer in that regard. Even with low/wide tires and stiffer springs on all four corners, it's much easier to drive.
People who autocross seem to prefer an earlier car, with the rear cradle/suspension from an 88 swapped in.
Of course, opinions may vary.
------------------ Raydar 88 Formula IMSA Fastback. 4.9, NVG T550
I've owned several Fieros since the early 90's. I picked up a Formula this summer, my first '88.
My first impression after getting it driveable (replaced clutch, fuel pump, etc) is that the '88 is more... refined. It drives like a Cadillac compared to the earlier years.
Now having said that, my '84 duke (which I've autocrossed for the last three years) would easily outhandle the Formula on a track right now. The Formula obvioulsly has more power, but I find the factory suspension much too soft to really push it in the corners. My goal is to do the tweaks to the Formula's suspension that I did to the 84's and hopefully have a more powerful car that handles well at autocross next spring.
The 88 has vastly superior handling & the brakes are far superior to the 84 to 87 the 88 duke handling is much better than the GT in spirited street driving, must be the weight factor the first time I went around a corner at speed in the 88 I was amazed ,i had given to much throttle
& knew I had to brake ..but no ,I was use to the early Fiero supension & my new to me 88 felt like it was on rails compared to the older cars the 88 brakes are good ,with the addition of thermo quiet ,carbomet or other quality street brake pads you can get 0 to 60= 120 to 125 feet stops cheap brake pads are the zombie curse of the Fiero nation,,put out the sheckles for excellent pads
88 is far superior. Better ride. Better handling. Better brakes. Better steering.
However, there are more aftermarket upgrades for pre-88 cars and you can modify a pre-88 to out handle a stock 88 without much trouble. It won't have the 88 steering feel or ride, but it will handle better. I love all Fieros, but if it's one I'm buying for myself, I'll choose an 88.
[This message has been edited by Formula88 (edited 10-19-2013).]
Weird reading about the lighter steering on the '88s. I've an '87 that I just put 225/45-17 Sumitomo HTRZ-III (a fairly sticky tire) on 7" wide wheels and the steering still feels quite light. I wish there was a steering rack with a higher ratio, as I'd be more than fine with slightly heavier steering if I could reduce the number of turns. As it turns out, the biggest downside with the handling I've built for it is actually wanting to drive it fast. There is nowhere for my right elbow to go when fast steering is called for - it's either hand-over-hand (sloooooow), or banging my elbow against the center console or my crotch. :lol: I've found the only way I can drive the car fast is one handed, with my left hand around 7 or 8 o'clock... just like driving something with significant steering boost (looking at you, Corvette!). With stock tires, the bump steer issue was completely tolerable, but it got worse with wider, lower-profile tires. With a stock alignment I'd go so far as to say it was intolerable with more front end traction. After dialing in a little more camber (lightly slotted UCAs, -1 degree) and a little more toe (.25 total), it's quite good. Bump steer is well under control, steering effort is slightly too light (for my taste), and on-center is solid. Turn-in could be better, but it might have something to do with needing a bazillion turns of the wheel. Don't get me wrong, there is *clear* room for improvement, but my gut tells me - as others have said - for most applications you can get good results from the earlier front suspension without ridiculous amounts of work. The rear, OTOH, I think that'd be worth the price of admission for an '88... or a cradle swap.
[This message has been edited by thesameguy (edited 10-21-2013).]
I have a 86GT and have driven it unholy fast through some twisties. the only mod done to the suspension is a heavy-duty rear sway bar. A friend had a stock 88 GT and he let me drive his 88 through the same twisties to compare the two cars. They both handled the same but had a different feel in the steering wheel. I would not turn my hand over for the difference. My 2 cents.
Guys, keep in mind...are your 88 fieros in good order "alignment-wise" (suspension bushings, ball joints, tie-rods, shocks & struts) to comment on the car handling performance?
Back in 2000, I drove an 86GT that the GM dealer was selling. I drove it for 10 miles. It was a world of a difference than my current 86GT I was driving at the time. Problem was that my fiero was not aligned well and the fiero I tested was in prestine condition. That car was sold for the same price and the 86GT I bought. I should of bought it from the begining. Mine was a 4 speed, and the fiero I tested was automatic.
I can't really judge myself because I never drove a perfect 85-87GT fiero that was / is aligned to spec. That 86GT I test drove was alot easier to steer at slow speeds than my old 86GT because it was probably aligned to spec. Those washers on the UCA to adjust the caster makes a difference, but many shop (I believe) won't adjust those washers to spec because its alot of work to R&R the UCA and see what difference it does. Those washer are measured in millimeters and should be installed correctly. I've never did this job on a fiero, but understand the procedure.
If the future, I'd possibly buy an 86-87GT but its would need to be in pristine shape, all original, low milage car.
As for the 88, playing around with the alignment is more easier.
You can have a nice 85-87 fiero handle very well, but if the 88s components are all worn (bushings, ball-joints, etc) how can you compare??
The bottom line for me is the 88 is more superior that the 85-87 fieros, and easier to work on...no question.
*The reason I say 85-87GT is because it has a V6 engine just to be fair on performance / weight / suspension.*
I also think this is kind of a "Is Ford better than Chevy?" question. The 88 Fiero had the mentioned suspension changes but the early ones area still great cars. The question comes down to your preference and how you are going to drive it. If you are racing it where every tiny difference will make changes in your pace then gaining the advantages of an 88 might weigh heavily. If it is a daily driver I don't think you will see too much of a difference. There will be some you feel but unless you push the car hard I think you will be happy with either. Look at the difference in appearances and buy the style/year/color/options you want.
I have owned both. A couple 88 Formula's, and my present 85 SE. (All WS6 suspension RPO coded). My 85 SE also has the 15 inch GT wheels on it.
My take: I have found the 88's to offer equivalent grip to the pre-88 cars, while giving superior dynamics, ride quality, and smoothness in stock form. Also, the brakes tend to hold up better from fade and stuff (although I have quickly cooked and faded the stock 88 brakes too so I am hesitant to talk them up too much).
If I was shopping for a Fiero today, I would not rule out a pre-88 because of the suspension or brakes but they are a nice perk to have.