Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Ode To Fiero.

We all like marking milestones, and today I mark my 100th blog entry. I've really enjoyed sharing my stories, and am happy to see a small but seemingly interested group of people to share them with. I have a head full of other stories and a folder of pictures to go with them, so I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

As I look over what I've written up until now, one thing shocks me: I have yet to mention my favourite car! Those that know me well can guess what it is... and there's even a hint in my email address (paul8488). I owned one in 2003, and while it didn't last very long (engine failure was a known problem with some of the early models, and mine was no exception!), I still consider it my favourite car.
Enough suspense, my childhood dream car that remains to this day a smile-inducing mash-up of steel, plastic, rubber and glass is the Pontiac Fiero. North Americans are usually familiar with the Fiero, though rarely for the right reasons. The 2-seat, rear-engine sports coupe is often the butt of jokes, and the irony of the "O, fire" anagram still stings 26 years after it went out of production (after a 1984 to 1988 production run).

But first the good stuff. The Fiero project started at the end of the 1970s, and has become a bit of a legend for fans. Apparently Pontiac wanted to create their own 2-seat sports car, but the Corvette people at Chevrolet (another GM brand) didn't want competition to their iconic coupe. The Fiero project eventually got approval, but only after Pontiac agreed to build it as an economical commuter car, and on a very tight budget.
A clean-sheet car wasn't possible, so Pontiac had to pick and choose from the GM parts bin where they could to save development costs. The rear engine and drivetrain was from an exisiting front-wheel drive platform at GM, and was simply moved to the rear of the car. The front suspension and wheels were taken from another exisiting car. Where Pontiac did spend their money was on the design of the ultra-modern spaceframe and plastic body, which would be copied on future GM models, and truly was a revolution at the time.

When the Fiero finally hit the streets, it was an attractive, stylish little car with several hidden compromises. The performance didn't match the racy looks, as the only engine available at first was a lightly modified 2.5L 'Ironduke' 4-cylinder with less than 100 horsepower. The handling wasn't up to snuff either; while the car was entertaining to drive thanks to the low center of gravity and weight of the engine just behind the cockpit, the borrowed low-grade suspension bits didn't offer any precision, or a particularly inspired feel. 
And then there were the fires. Time has blown the story up (no pun intended), as in the end the fire rate of the Fiero actually wasn't significantly higher than the industry average. The spectacular nature of the fire's however, and the fact that it happened on a newly introduced model, painted the Fiero as a fiery deathtrap from the start, and it was never able to fully shake that reputation.

Several different models were produced over the five years it was built, from the base 2M4 4-cylinder model to the Ferrari-like GT version with fast-back style looks and a more powerful V6 engine. While I was happy with my 2M4 (for the short time I had it), to this day I dream of a red GT...
Someday, someday. Most people dream of exotic sports cars or collectible convertibles, but not me. If I was to put a poster up in my bedroom today it would be the same one I had up 25 years ago, the flawed but charming Fiero.

Hopefully for my 200th blog entry I'll be able to share pictures of my own Pontiac Fiero GT!

EDIT: I found a picture of my actual Fiero that I added to the post; this was before the era of digital photos, so it's always nice to find old photographs; even if the quality is a bit lacking!


2 comments:

  1. The Fiero may not be well known in Europe, but it has a strong and dedicated following in North America. The Fiero Store, an online boutique, is an excellent source for all things Fiero, including hard-to-find parts to keep the lovely little coupes on the road for years to come!

    http://www.fierostore.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Its kind a cool car with amazing design.I love with this car.

    ReplyDelete

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