I was talking to some younger kids, hot-rodders, showing off my Fiero (3800 SC), and got to talking about the 80's. While talking to them it occurred to me how the Fiero's timeline, from conception to demise, ran parallel to the legendary Buick Grand National. Of course the GN went on to be revered with the last year of production, the GNX, become highly collectable. I believe they command over hundred thousand dollars today if you can even find one. Then there was the Fiero. They really struck on an amazing design, the beautiful, exotic, GT model, but never went with an engine upgrade. This really makes you think --- if GM would have up the horsepower it could possible have catapulted the Fiero in legendary stardom? I know they experimented with an aluminum 2.9 Turbo engine, but it never made it to production. Even that final year, 1988, if they would have just hot-rodded those few models I believe it would have brought more esteem to the whole breed.
The biggest killer for the Fiero was that Car & Driver magazine was on an Anti-American kick and so they did everything they could to kill the car.....Although the Fiero definitely had it's weak points, reading the C&D reviews sound more like a joke, they are so bad. I have given a few guys rides in my Fiero who were blown away by how nice it was- even during the first decade when I had not modified it.....One friend recently drove mine (Now with 3.4 F-body long block, 5 speed, 88 rear and some odd tuning of the suspension) and stated, "Why the hell do I hear so much bad about these?!"
In truth, instead of comparing the Fiero to the TINY MR2, C&D should have been comparing the V6 Fiero to the 300ZX and RX7 of that time period- IT would beat the non-turbo versions and get better MPG, while costing somewhat less- The MR2 was a great little sports car- but it had weaknesses too....although C&D NEVER mentioned them during the Fiero's run....In 1989, AFTER they had killed the Fiero, C&D tested a MR2, and suddenly discovered that it had very sensitive DTO......They had supposedly NEVER noticed it during the preceding 4 years.
The Buick GN was tested much more by the Hot Rod/car craft mags, while C&D ignored it....
It just makes you think that within GM there must have been a hot rod culture, with the Buick GN and the Fiero.
I agree. The Fiero is an amazing car. Maybe the fear was, since it was so small, adding HP would make it too dangerous to drive.
But, most of us did inherit that amazing forced induction V6 engine which is just what the Fiero needed.
Ran into a guy, started talking about his Miata, and I mentioned I had a Fiero. He was raving about his little car, and then asked me if I had the four or six cylinder. I said "six", but the "engine is a 3800 with a supercharger". He got quiet. He knew he lost.
During the development of the 2.9 turbo, the engineers talked about having people who ordered that combination complete a high performance driving course before picking up their car. ( if the 2.9 turbo had ever gotten to production) . And , of course, the 90 prototype had the twin dual cam V6. That would have been a step in the right direction.
The truth on all this is that GM was very bad working as one. Chevy did not want the car and fought the Fiero every step of the way.
The infighting of divisions is well documented.
Another factor is GM a was already hurting for money and was poorly managing what funds they had left. Pontiac was on the bubble not olds and was at risk of being done away with. The Bonneville was reduced to the Lemans body sales were tanking.
Pontiac did a end around as a commuter car to get the Fiero built and took many risk and pissed off a lot of people at GM. They knew the plant could not support just the Fiero sales and took a risk they could put the GM 80 platform there. In the end it was canceled and it doomed the Fiero.
This was a very complex issue and was not just bean counters only. Mistakes were made all around. The magazines did not kill it either. The Fiero program is a classic case of what the failure was at GM leading up to the chapter 11.
Today GM is now working as one company back then the divisions did more damage to each other than a Toyota ever did.
The car market is dead now. Boring cars that all look the same.
After the Fiero we entered the SUV era. Lots of money to be made with big, boxy, elevated vehicles and they went to great extremes to convince people they needed lots of room, not performance, in their lives. Add horrible gas mileage, four wheel drive that never gets used, and the problems with people trying to hot rod them. Even the Hummer made a showing for a while. We still live in the shadow of that.
Pontiac took a chance, a cool looking, quick car, with some great performance. Initially, it sold well, and if the innovation continued it could have been great. It was up to us to do that!!!
The Corvette is a great car. Great performance for the money. But, it's not for everyone. There so common. What wrong with a little performance in something else?
The car was supposed to be a V8. Between Hulki and Delorean they got their way and released the build it your self car disguised as a commuter car. They knew someone would eventually build and finish it the way they intended.
It's still a brilliant concept and would even transfer well to something electric. The problem now is cars have become so cumbersome to build, with all the government regulations, that you cant sell anything at a decent price. The price of the car continues to go up with less performance and a smaller size. With all the parameters in place, the cars have lost their individual personality. Someone wanting to point out how cool their car was motioned for me to look out the window into the parking lot at their new car. I could not tell the difference. It looked the same as the rest. They all look the same!
If you ask someone today about their car they cant tell you anything about the performance or HP, or even if it is four, six, or eight. What matters is whether it has this gizmo or that.
Sadly, what is really going to save the performance car is the demise of cars themselves. Once people-driven cars fall by the wayside, and they will as they give way to autonomous vehicles, the drivers automobile will be preserved as a relic of the past. Even now, I am sure it is the novelty of the Fiero when it is amongst its contemporaries that gives it that mystique. I think these types of cars need to be preserved because they are more ready for the future even though they were made in the past.
Imagine going down the street surrounded by gutless electric cars being steered by some machine with a spinning coffee can on the roof, and you just blast passed them. Some sorry rider in the backseat will say something like, "Wow, now that's what a real car can do!", and wish they were riding with you.
[This message has been edited by RotrexFiero (edited 11-07-2017).]
A DOHC engine was proposed for the 89 Fiero. It was faster than the 89 Corvette at half the price, Chevrolet killed the car. GM took the advertisement $$ away fro the Fiero and the set a minimum sales quota for the Fiero and when the quota wasn't met, the Fiero was canceled.
The other shoe that dropped on the Fiero was the "Fire" issue.....as in the Pinto, there was a real problem- but that was (relatively) quickly addressed....Yet the press had to have their "Field day" with the "Flaming Fiero" story and that was a major factor in killing the car. (And as everyone FIERO knows, that was ironic, because the Fiero is actually one of the safest cars ever built (And no exploding bag in your face during the emergency situation!)
One of the things that is missed by a lot of people is that the Suspension has to be tuned just like an engine....Not just big springs and stabilizer bars.....The RIGHT size components, tuned to work together....The complaint about slow steering is caused, to some extent, by the Fiero being tuned for >Novice< drivers to understeer(Plow) more ; I have slowly corrected that problem, and now my car turns in very quickly; The steering feels much faster because the car REACTS quicker to so many degrees of steering input.
Only recently has all of GM realized the suspension tuning factor- The new Camaro can actually perform right alongside the Corvette, and, if you look at the C&D Lightning lap results, in 2006 the Cobalt SS set a VIR lap time of 3:20.6 and 2 years later it improved to 3:13.....7.6 second improvement doesn't sound like much, but think of a car racing by, then count 1001-1007 and think how far behind that slower time was. Even in R&T, they used a formula to calculate the "Fun-factor" and that 2008 Cobalt SS came out on top, over a bunch of "Better" cars.....Including the Solstice GXP, the Corvette.....and several imports.....R&T raved about the suspension tuning....
There were a lot of factors involved. But in the end all it came down to was the Corvette people did not want to lose sales and Pontiac too many risk and ran out of luck.
They took the risk on doing the commuter car to get into production. They took a chance to build in a large plant and hope the GM 80 would join it. And they over built the car to the point that it left sales to struggle even if they got all they wanted.
The rest of the issues for sure did not help but they were not the final nail.
I have spoken to people on the Fiero program and many did not expect the car to live much longer even if the second gen made it.
Hell the MR2 died not long after the second gen arrived as a very nice car,
The Fiero did its intended job to save Pontiac as it was dying. The Fiero help get people into the show room and it help sell a lot of a Grand Ams that extended the life of Pontiac,
But in the end Pontiac just became irrelevant again as it tried to be a Performance division with no RWD till Lutz arrived and by then they had no money left to do it right.
The Fiero is just a snap shot of the decline and failure of GM.
I know everyone has a million reason but this is what the GM insiders will tell you off the record.
Few will speak on the record hence all the different ideas.
I would wager the Fiero would have died in the early 90’s even if the second gen had arrived and the Corvette peolple had not interfered