Copied this from http://www.roadandtrack.com...regular-car-reviews/The Pontiac Fiero Was a Misunderstood, Misfit Love Letter to American Backroads
This is a flaming spike of maybe. The Fiero challenged US citizens to re-think everything about American cars. It was mid-engined. It had either a four-banger or a small displacement 2.8L V6. The handling was darty. The diving position was not meant for hanging your arm out the window and ashing your Winston Salem. Keep both hands on the wheel! You need them to turn because there is no power steering. The Fiero was a love letter to small American back-roads.
But, the Fiero was looked at as a failure while the Mk1 MR2 was revered as a success. Why? For the purpose of this article, and for the purpose of delightful internet-rage augments, I'm ignoring all the GM politics, marketing, and internal competitions for the Fiero. We're just talking about the car as a lump of bolts, fiberglass, and plastic.
First, look at the transmission on the Fiero. It has a four-speed manual transmission. Really? This is a mid-engine car for carving up hills and corners and you expect me to keep its 140 hp V6 in the powerband using only four gears? What are my ratios ?
1st Gear: 3.31 Ok, that's pretty low, but I understand. I'm sure you want to be able to spin the tires. I'll allow it.
2nd Gear: 1.95 What?! That's a jump! The tach needle is going to fall out of the power band unless I shift from redline!
3rd Gear: 1.24 Better, this is more like it.
4th Gear: 0.81 Overdrive. Right. You need this for the highway.
So, let me get this straight, 1980's GM. You're giving me a mid-engined car, but only giving me two usable gears for backroads driving: 2nd and 3rd. This means that really tight low-speed turns, where a mid-engine car rules all others, will either be taken in a screaming first-gear or a lugging second gear. I know what I have to do, enter the corner too fast in 3rd, hoping to grab 2nd on the way out. And I know what dreadful thing I'm going to do; lift. I'm going to lift off the gas in this Fiero and spin.
Things got better in 1986. The Fiero GT was available with a five-speed, which helped the 2.8L V6 manage what power it had. Yet, the party was over in 1988 when Fiero production ended, along with all hope for an American mass-produced mid-engine car.
Second, the Fiero was a victim of 80's American cars. In fact, the 80's American car scene was the only wild time when the Fiero could have existed in the first place. Experimentation ran naked through the school hallways of Car High School. In addition to the Fiero, GM made the Corvette-scaring Grand National. Carol Shelby, angry at Ford for reasons only Shelby's Estate will discuss, ran to Chrysler and made the Shelby Charger and the GLHS. Ford, high on opium, insisted that bringing their European Ford Sierra to the US qualified it as a luxury car under the zombie Merkur name. In that buzzed and coked-up decade—the Fiero fit right in.
Last week, I drove the Fiero's predecessor, the Toyota AW11 MR2. The AW11 got thumbs up and waves and honks. The Fiero got nothing. No one even gave it a second look. Maybe passing drivers saw something bad from their own 1980's past in the Fiero. Somehow, the same memory is reflected happily with an AW11, but soiled with the Fiero.
The third reason why the Fiero was remembered as a failure was because the 90's were hard on the poor car. A lot of Fieros were trashed by the mid 90's. During the Seinfeld years, the Fiero was a joke—just another 80's monstrosity. Think of it as a single person with a pack-a-day habit trying to be classy in a wood-paneled bar next to a casket factory. A victim of the convertible LeBaron effect: a polished turd that barely works on anyone. Yeah, the LeBaron was a pile of unsalted mashed potatoes—but because the roof was gone, people liked it and saw it as something more valuable than it was. The Fiero became a car for divorced 40-year-olds, male or female, who felt they deserved something nice in their lives again. Here was a sporty-looking used car that was more striking than their Mercury Lynx CE14.
The fourth and final reason why the Fiero tanked: wheel width. The tires are way too wide and the 2.8L V6 is just weak enough to make you want more. This combination of engine dullness, crisp steering, good traction and ride means that people think the Fiero is a better road-hugger than it is. Remember that one guy from 2001 who drove a second generation Neon? Remember "that guy?" Remember that thing? That single-jingle two-liter-four with 132hp? Remember how "that guy" would take corners, understeer within his own lane and think that, because he didn't slide onto the median, the car was a "road hugger?" The same problem happens here with the Fiero but in the opposite direction. The low power and high traction means that everyone would take corners at higher and higher perceived speeds because "I don't hear the tires squeaking. We're still good!" The problem with that is, the Fiero was the American introduction to mid-engined driving dynamics. We all know this—and snap-oversteer: the inevitable result of panic-lifting off the gas in the middle of a hard corner. Entire voting demographics of American panic-lifted when they realized a brave cornering attempt was going tits-up at 60mph.
Spin. Crash. Tow-Truck. Another Fiero gone.
So, here's one Fiero GT that survived everything, with only 15,000 miles. A low-slung mistake. A two seat infield fly that only got a runner on first. A participation-trophy car. But a survivor nonetheless.