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Pontiac Fiero

Published: 8th Jun 2011 - 2 Comments

Pontiac Fiero
Front ‘boot’ full with spare, etc. Look for creased inner wings - past prang? Front ‘boot’ full with spare, etc. Look for creased inner wings - past prang?
Interior is typically 80s US but it’s all quite comfy and refined for a mid-ship Interior is typically 80s US but it’s all quite comfy and refined for a mid-ship
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Introduced in 1984, it was Pontiac’s equivalent of Fiat’s X1/9 and the Toyota MR2, and indeed its first twoseater since the late 1930s and the first ever mass produced mid-engined car in America.

What is a Pontiac Fiero?

Introduced in 1984, it was Pontiac’s equivalent of Fiat’s X1/9 and the Toyota MR2, and indeed its first twoseater since the late 1930s and the first ever mass produced midengined car in America. On paper the Fiero looks a pretty exciting little package featuring independent suspension, a spaceframe skeletal chassis covered with impact resistant plastic panels and a choice of four-cylinder or V6 transverse mid-mounted engines. Offered initially with the branding as a very fuel efficient sporting twoseater commuter to satisfy management and accountant criteria, the Fiero, which incidentally means “Proud” in Italian, was produced with limited funds and was always going to be a sports car that perhaps never did quite receive the acclaim and development that it deserved. There was no doubt that from the outset the Fiero didn’t perform as well as it looked, but by the time production ceased in 1988, the GT model with a 2.8 litre V-6 engine and five years of development was the best of the breed. Who knows what it may have evolved into? The Toyota MR2 is still going strong!


The Fiero was engineered by Huldi Aldikacti at Entech Engineering with final design work at the Pontiac II Studio led by John Schinella. It’s based upon GM’s X-Cars of the early 1980s, dipping into many different model parts bins including Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega and Chevrolet Citation to name but a few. The front suspension is Chevrolet Chevette derived with double wishbones and coil springs, while at the rear are MacPherson struts. The mid-engined concept should in theory provide optimum weight distribution leading to superb road holding and handling. However the in-line cast iron four-cylinder 2.5 litre engine known as the “Iron Duke” produced only 92bhp, which lead to a fairly dismal performance of 0-60mph in 11 seconds and a top speed of just over 100mph. In spite of this the Fiero sold well in the first year. The car was also offered with a Chevrolet 2.8-litre V6 in 1985 which increased the power up to 140bhp. In 1986 a restyling exercise produced a fastback roofline, followed by minor front and rear end facelifts in 1987. The final year of the Fiero was 1988 when it received a new suspension layout which was the same in principal as the previous, but much more substantial and heavier duty comprising double wishbone and coils at the front, multi-link at the rear with MacPherson struts, rear antiroll bar and ventilated disc brakes fitted all round.


An early 2.5-litre Fiero requiring resto work can be purchased for as little as £500, while £1000 will get you a car on the road with an MoT. A really good example of a 2.8-litre V6 car can be picked up for £4000 and even one in mint condition shouldn’t be more than £5000. This example in our picture is for sale.

What To Look For

  • Fiero bodywork is constructed from some seven different types of plastic, including a mixture of dry pressed GFRP, Enduraflex, UPVC, etc. The wings and doorskins will sustain minor knocks, but any heavy impact will result in them tearing like compressed cardboard, though, thankfully, spare panels are readily available.
  • Any damage to the bodywork that goes unrepaired can be bad news as water ingress into the dry pressed GFRP is sucked in like a straw, retained, and in winter when it freezes will swell up leading to lumps and bumps appearing on the bodywork. So check thoroughly.
  • Sills are made from a kind of UPVC and can get punctured from stone damage. The front and rear bumpers are made from Enduraflex and whilst these could be deemed unsuitable for repair, if damaged they can be repaired with P40 filler, but they won’t accept any subsequent impact which will result in being back to square one!
  • Pull the carpet back in the boot and check the right and left corners for corrosion, it’s one of the very few places to suffer from rot as the Fiero is built from high carbon steel. The battery tray is another area that can suffer from corrosion.
  • An early Fiero can be cloned to look like a late car, as the rear bootlid, spoiler, rear bumper and side windows are all inter-changeable, check the registration document and the chassis number to verify the car’s exact parentage.
  • Some of the first cars with the 2.5-litre engines suffered from engine bay fires, thought to be caused by a combination of low oil leading to connecting rod breakage (poor quality batch) and subsequent oil spillage onto the exhaust manifold. Silicone sealer was used on the rocker cover gaskets which after time can crystallize, sink, and lead to oil leakage. The V6 engines use a rubber gasket which can also perish and let oil leak out.
  • Early cars also had the wiring loom positioned above the exhaust manifold where it was subjected to unnecessary heat and a possible fire hazard. Later cars featured better heat shielding and it’s a worthwhile mod.
  • The exhaust manifold and bolt heads are prone to cracking due to water running off the rear screen onto the hot manifold. If the distributor has been disturbed to adjust the timing, the rubber O-ring can get damaged leading to oil leaks.
  • Check the condition of the underbody pipes of the cooling system (the radiator is mounted at the front) as these can often get damaged by inappropriate jacking.
  • Changing the clutch on a Fiero is major job requiring removal of the rear subframe, suspension, gearbox, wiring etc, and very time consuming. This can lead to all sorts of associated problems such as captive plates seized with rust inside the chassis, making bolt removal extremely difficult, often leading to major surgery to get the bolts out! Not a cheap job then…


An interesting mid ‘80s model from Pontiac with the last of the line featuring V6 grunt, five-speed manual transmission, lightweight disc brakes, and a novel T-Top option available through dealers, and the best of the bunch. Purchasing an automatic will avoid time consuming and costly clutch replacement, and they’re reckoned to be just as desirable as a manual box car.The Fiero still has an enthusiastic following, they’re fairly frugal on petrol, approximately 27mph urban and 40mpg on motorways. On the other hand some owners have even fitted V8 engines making them more in keeping with a sexy sports car image!

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User Comments

This review has 2 comments

  • We have 5 Fiero's at the moment, they are a great little car, fun to drive, small enough to fit in UK parking spaces, and dont see many on the roads ! go buy one !

    Comment by: Karen Jebson -Tricker     Posted on: 05 Jul 2011 at 06:36 PM

  • A good stater US classic we reckon (editor)

    Comment by: Alan Anderson     Posted on: 30 Jul 2011 at 10:36 AM

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