The year was 1984, Wham was still together, Apple was putting the first personal computers in peoples homes, Clara Peller was asking “where’s the beef?”, General Motors was selling their first car without an engine between the front wheels since the Corvair, and I was at home playing with my Transformers.
Fast forward eleven years and I would own one of those rear engine, plastic bodied wonders myself. The Pontiac Fiero was a decent first car. My friends liked it, my girlfriend told her friends it was a Ferrari, her parents thought it was to small for extra curricular activities (it wasn’t), it was cheap to drive, and it was fun.
Could the Fiero have been more than it was? Absolutely! Let’s look at the facts. 1) it was a light weight, small, two seat car with the engine out back powering the wheels that should be powered on a sports car. 2) it had four wheel disc brakes and four wheel independent suspension. 3) it had speakers in the friggin headrest! Okay it wasn’t as light as it could have been the engine was the tried and true Iron duke Four cylinder, the suspension wasn’t state of the art, and the speakers in the headrest weren’t Bose. Even so it made Car and Drivers ten best list for 1984, and was able to secure itself a position as the pace car for the Indy 500 that same year. Pontiac just didn’t quite add that extra something that would’ve, could’ve, should’ve sent the Fiero over the top, but before we light the torches and go after Pontiac we have to understand that they wanted to throw their purse at the Fiero, but GM had one rule above all other rules and that was nothing can be faster than the Corvette!
Sure it sounds stupid, but what if newly single old uncle Jerry with his combover and his Miami Vice sport coat had squeezed his beer belly behind the wheel of his brand new mid life crisisvette drove across town, picked up miss gold digger, and on his way to the mall he gets gapped by a River Phoenix wanna be in a plastic Pontiac? You see rules keep us on equal footing, and because of this one simple rule the Fiero was never what it was meant to be, nor what it could have been. An MR2 killer, the Fox bodies worst nite mare, the Corvettes badass baby brother. Sure it got better in the later years, but it never really got where it should have or where I am sure the designers envisioned it would be.
I am happy to say that the Fiero is regaining popularity now as project cars and/or collectors. I’ve seen everything from tube chassis front engine drag Fieros to v8 swapped rear engine versions and people have really started to notice the potential in these cheap relatively easy to find sports cars. I myself have even considered buying another one, but my wife won’t let me comb my hair over, and I’m pretty sure my Miami Vice jacket no longer fits.
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