The Truth About Cars » fiero The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:37:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » fiero Piston Slap: Fiero and Joy or Cash Money? Fri, 08 Nov 2013 12:27:47 +0000

Issac writes:


My father and I are Pontiac Fiero people, as we have owned nine Fieros in the past ten years (my first car was a 1986 Fiero GT). We are quite mechanically familiar with them as we have done little to major work on all of them. My dad currently has a 1988 Fiero Formula that we did a complete restoration on about five years ago. That car is an absolute blast to drive as the stock engine was modified to make considerably more power. After spending last summer driving that car almost every day I knew that someday I wanted a Fiero like his.

Last fall I was in the market for a cheap college vehicle. After looking for a couple of months and not finding anything that I wanted I stumbled across a Craigslist gem. It was a 1988 (the last year they were made and the most desirable) coupe with 95,000 miles, two owner vehicle, very little rust on it and could be had for $500. The only catch was it had a blown 2.5L iron duke motor. What made this situation ideal was that my dad had a brand new 2.5L iron duke motor sitting at home in the corner of his shop that he was looking to get rid of. After forking over $500 and a long three-day weekend, we had the car back on the road and I was glad to be back in a Fiero.

Since then I have put 8,000 trouble free miles on the car and have really enjoyed. Thinking post college I would like to do a restoration on the car where I put a much larger and more powerful engine in it. However, recently I was approached by a coworker of my dad who is looking at buying a Fiero similar to mine. He offered me a very nice amount of money for my car and it has me thinking of selling it. My question to you is, do I keep the car and hope to someday do the modifications that I want, or do I sell it?

My dad said he will set me up with a vehicle if I do sell my car, but I do not know if it worth it to walk away from a hard to find car. Such a hard decision…

Sajeev answers:

This is a hard decision for a family of Fiero restorers?  Are you kidding me? 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Turn this up, son!  I’m sorry, I can’t hear the begging and pleading of your Dad’s friend over the glorious sound of LS4-FTW.

You are graduating from college, getting a good job and “investing” your hobby time with an F40 6 speed manual and an LS4 swap!  Unlike last week’s LS4-powered dreamboat Buick Skylark,  I’m not grasping at straws to get a kid thinking about hot-rodding an obscure classic GM product. You are in the perfect position for GM perfection!

  1. The 1988 Fiero is a stunning design.
  2. You and your Dad actually know and appreciate them at their best, and tolerate ‘em at their worst.
  3. LS4-FTW isn’t a bizarre joke like in a FWD platform, this is performance GOLD in a rear engine sports car!

Okay, perhaps you might want a 3.8L V6, a supercharged 3.8L, or a Northstar V8 instead, they might be far cheaper and easier to procure locally.  Or the Twin Dual Cam swap if you truly enjoy pain. Best of luck, we wish you well!

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: SHO-in off the MetSHO! Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:00:59 +0000

TTAC commentator crabspirits writes:

I stumbled upon your Lemons Z34-fiero article.  My brothers both had LQ1 Cutlasses and whoever designed that engine was a sadist. They both blew the headgaskets and were impossible to work on. FYI: we run the SHO-swapped, mid-engine Geo Metro in the 24 Hours of LeMons. I had some good battles against that LQ1 Fiero, some captured on my helmet cam.

Thought you might find it interesting. I could’ve had him on the straights easy, but our clutch was slipping badly, and I didn’t want to divebomb him. Still, a worthy opponent.

The Metro has an ongoing track diary attached to the build thread. You can probably glean a lot of material from it. 

The car feels like a 200hp MR-S with better brakes. The suspension is built with all warranty returns from a local suspension company’s dumpster. It feels fine for what it is, but every now and then, a corner of the car will feel “weird” and you get an unpleasant surprise. When something fails on the MetSHO, it is always a case of “I can see it, but I can’t reach it”. It basically sucks to work on.

The main thing on the car that holds us back is tires. Good sized wheels for the taurus bolt pattern are hard to find, then you realize you can’t fit them when you factor in the coilovers and Geo real estate. We recently managed to squeeze some good rubber in the rear, but the fronts are still plastic-like. The brakes are good, but nearly everyone in the top 10 has big aftermarket setups. We usually get a best lap time in the top 5-10, but with our talent, we can’t seem to hold that kind of speed in this car without getting into trouble eventually. Fortunately, we are all drifters, so when trouble happens we usually know what to do. There have been many pleasant and unpleasant experiences with this car. Lemons has taught me a lot about car prep, tech stuff, driving, planning, and priorities (#1 is have fun).

Looking forward to such an article. I’ve never gotten the chance to meet with the Fiero team. I’m sure we share a lot in common. Same with the team that brings the Alfa 164-swapped Fiat X1/9.

Sajeev answers:

Z34-powered Fiero, SHO-Metro.  Fiat X1/9 with an Alfa motor. My goodness…every time I judge a LeMons race I am thankful for at least two things:  the free shit you cheaty-cheaters are obligated to give me, and your ability to make me look normal.  I sincerely appreciate both.

A friend of mine (using the term loosely, since all you people are certifiable) once mentioned that making a LeMons car is like freebasing on automobiles.   So if a freebasing (admit it!) gearhead such as yourself has such information proving the LQ1′s complete terribleness, it must be right.

What else is there to say?  You made a fantastic machine, you certainly don’t need my advice…though I will say one thing: Thunderbird Super Coupe or Lincoln Mark VIII. Ditch the 6.5″ wide wheels and get a set of 16×7″ inchers from the big Ford coupes.  They are dirt cheap so they work in a LeMons budget. The extra .5″ will get you a slightly wider tire, and every bit counts. But since wheels/tires are considered a safety(?) item, you can go nuts and buy the aftermarket 9″ wide rims.

I have faith that you can make a 9″ wide rim fit in the rear.  And why not? Then again, talk to Jay Lamm before doing so…as citing me as a source might be the dumbest move on your part.  Dumber than freebasing cars, that is.

Best of luck, I wish you and your team well this year in LeMons.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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Super Piston Slap: This LeMons Fiero Gets Revenge on FoMoCo Mon, 03 Oct 2011 16:17:57 +0000

Since there are multiple TTAC Hacks on assignment here at the 24 Hours of LeMons, you’re getting into the mix from multiple angles. And, here in the Piston Slap corner of the world, the Cars are the Stars! But some whips simply have too much going on: feats of engineering superiority, a collection of creative/rare parts and a dump truck full of historical irony. That’s right, historical irony…with a touch of revenge!

Enter the Chevy Lumina Z34 powered Pontiac Fiero here at LeMons Houston. And a little Ford vs. Chevy history: from the viewpoint of Mr. Goodwrench and the average Joe.

If you were a Mr. Goodwrench back then: do please accept my heartfelt apology. Much like cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag, the Lumina Z34 was a hot mess to service: the double-overhead camshaft “wannabe Yamaha V6” conversion made servicing the spark plugs, timing belt, tensioners, etc. a nightmare. Buried in the frame of the less-than-Taurean Chevrolet Lumina, more skilled wrenches curse the name “Twin Dual Cam” compared to the Yamaha SHO motor. Moot point in this day and age, but I remember the chatter on car forums back in the late 1990s.

Let’s say you aren’t a Mr. Goodwrench:
the (1991) Z34 was a (cobbled up) competitor for the critically acclaimed 1989 Ford Taurus SHO. Much like the Lumina’s relative lack of success, the Z34 didn’t stand a chance against the SHO. Aside from less power, the SHO always rated higher because of the vehicle wrapped around the hot engine. Short of being an aspirational vehicle for Chevy Beretta owners or rabid fans of GM’s 60-degree V6 motor, the Lumina Z34 flopped.

So why on earth should you care about the mating of a Lumina Z34 and a Pontiac Fiero?

Continuing with the Ford vs. Chevy thing, the Yamaha SHO motor was originally intended for a Pontiac Fiero type of mid-engine sports car. Which was stillborn. Hence the need for the Taurus SHO to exist. So what’s a GM fan to do? Get the ultimate “Z34 revenge” by making your own Ford SHO-like mid-engine sports car!

And by that logic, you’d be a damn fool to NOT put a Z34 mill in a Pontiac Fiero!

The first thing that tips you off to this car’s “Screw You Ford” mantra are those wheels. Sure, the fronts are proper lacy affairs for the Pontiac Fiero. But what are those rear wheels? Is that really a Chevy Lumina back there?

Did Dearborn just get served? Peek a little closer, and there it is. Do yourself a solid and dig through the photo album, because you rarely see things quite this awesome.

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Super Piston Slap: The Buick-infused Fiero at LeMons Sat, 01 Oct 2011 19:56:17 +0000

Perhaps you already know a little about this car from a previous post, but let’s look a little deeper into what makes an engine swap in a Fiero so positively epic.

First off, if you don’t know about the Pontiac Fiero, shame on you! This is one of many half-baked efforts from General Motors that deserved a better fate. Let’s face it, the Chevy Corvair coulda lived to see numerous upgrades and cult classic success, sparing us from colossal money pits of premium compact car hell, like the Mk V Volkswagon Golf. The multi-cammed, custom bodied Corvette ZR-1 (with a dash) was far too excellent to die, although it has finally come back with a vengeance in a slightly less unique guise. The Cadillac Allante finally made some sense when it received the Northstar V8 in the last year of production, but the Fiero was the worst sin a neglected GM product faced. The staggering number of upgrades in 1988 and the clean “Formula” trim level made this ride a potential success…if that wasn’t to be the last year of production.

Thank goodness for people who keep the flame, and raise up the heat. The Buick “Fireball” 3.8L V6 is a fun and worthy upgrade, as seen here in this LeMons racer that we all ogled during the BS inspection. Of course, the team’s wicked Ferrari theme didn’t hurt, even the wheels looked great! Adding the hood vents from a Trans Am GTA (correct?) and an impressive roll-on red paintjob with catch phrases in Ferrari’s own font absolutely sealed the deal. Opening the hood while doing my judge-ly duties, I remarked, “wait, that isn’t right? Is that a…

…and before I could fully digest the sheer volume of awesome presented to my eyes…

It’s a 3.8,” said a team member. Well, that just made my day. The 3.8L V6 is a gutsy, durable and coarse little mill, compact and easily fitted into the Fiero’s little frame. The later model (Series II and up) mills give you way more grunt than the 60-degree pushrod motor that came in a factory Fiero, and upping the ate with the (roots-type) supercharged Buick V6 would be absolutely wicked. Too bad this one is naturally aspirated! And while this motor (and any mid-engined car) has a serious uphill battle in an endurance style, crapcan LeMons race, this type of automotive expressionism is wholly encouraged and applauded ’round these parts.

Ready for more? We have another Fiero motor swap that’s worth a closer look, coming soon. In the meantime, you know I had to drop a little LSX love, even if that won’t fit within LeMon’s $500 budget.

Yeeeee-ha! LS4-FTW and I’m headed back to the races this weekend!

Click here to view the embedded video.

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There’s Only One Way To Prove You Really Love the Fiero! Wed, 22 Jun 2011 22:00:23 +0000
I’ve seen a fair number of car-themed tatts inked into the flesh of single-interest car fanatics over the years, including the usual Super Bees, Corvette logos, and Alfa snakes, but this gentleman raises the car-tattoo bar to unheard-of heights by opting to make an impressively high percentage of his body’s surface area an homage to GM’s mid-engined two-seater. This man is now King of the Fieros.

I met him at last weekend’s Capitol Offense 24 Hours of LeMons at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. LeMons was sharing the venue with Hyperfest, which meant there were plenty of Evo-drifting rednecks with pit bulls and lurid GReddy tattoos strutting about the premises. I must assume that the Hyperfest guys felt like total posers once they caught a glimpse of The Fiero King’s mural.

El Rey de los Fieros was there as part of Rusty Tear Racing, the team that got ripped off by Car & Driver Technical Editor Mike Austin, who sold them the ’85 Fiero made famous in Eddie Alterman’s New York Times article; this car, known as the “five lap Fiero” for its performance at one of the early California LeMons races (for which Austin made his sister tow the car out from Detroit in a blizzard), has been breaking the spirits of racers since the very beginning of LeMons racing.

This time, the Rusty Tear Fiero did pretty well, doing 263 laps and taking 59th place out of 102 starters. The Fiero hasn’t been the worst LeMons car of all time (that honor goes to the Mitsubishi Starion, with the Talon/Eclipse a close second), but the reliability just hasn’t been there. The Fiero King has a plan to turn the Fiero into a LeMons-dominating machine: install a Cadillac 4900 engine in place of the factory 2.8 V6.

He’s got a 4.9 street Fiero right now, complete with shaker hood (this is the car depicted in the scene on his back), and he feels confident that such a setup in a race car would work very well. There will be no problem convincing me that such a car could be built for under 500 bucks, given that beater Fieros aren’t even worth scrap value and 4.9 Cadillac engines can be found in any number of wrecked $200 cars. What could possibly go wrong?

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This Is… The Fiero Factory Fri, 17 Sep 2010 17:21:09 +0000

In the comments for yesterday’s article about Eclectic Bubbleland, DucRam noted:

Just outside of Huntsville, AL is a Pontiac Fiero graveyard. The sign outside says The Fiero Factory.

As fate would have it, I saw this place leaving an SCCA Solo National Tour event three years ago and stopped to take pictures. Some of those pictures, and the story behind these Fieros and Fierraris (and all the mysteriously engine-less Cadillacs) can be found below…

Yes, that post-facelift Fiero 2m6 is winking at us! He knows something that most of us don’t… that The Fiero Factory has a near-limitless supply of Fieros and the donor cars required to upgrade them to 3400 GM V6 or 4.9L Cadillac V8 power. The (out-of-date) website offers an automatic-transmission V8 Fiero for just $7,000. It’s likely to have over 200 horsepower (see more info on the V8-into-Fiero swap here) and in a 2600-pound car that’s more than acceptably rapid. At the very least, you’ll be smoking Honda S2000s from a dig.

Some discerning individuals demand that their V8 Fiero have the look and feel of the Pininfarina-penned Ferrari 308GTS. Yes, it’s possible to imitate a $30,000 used Fezza for far less. Make sure that your lady friend is really drunk by the time she gets in the car, or she may notice that the interior is a little more StarBird than it is mid-Seventies Italian chic. On the positive side, no smog-strangled 308 ever had the kind of pace that a engine-swapped Fiero has.

If you’re into thirtysomething Midwestern chicks, you may find that your bar pickup has an intimate knowledge of Fieros, acquired through high-school prom-night fumbling with the rich son of a drywall contractor, and is not impressed by your Ferrari-a-like. Ensure the sweatiest of intimate encounters on the second date by bringing an Indy Fiero. If the sheer rarity of this bodystyle, which returned later as the first Fiero GT and then became available as the Fiero SE, doesn’t cause her to heat up, the inevitable engine fire surely will.

No need for you to “slam this bitch into the weeds”. It’s already been done for you. Enjoy the Fiero 2m6. By late 1985 everybody knew that the Fiero was easy meat in the stoplight drag scene. This 2m6 looks just like a tepid Iron Duke Fiero but has the raging power of the 2.8 GM V6. Line up against a Citation X-11 and wipe the smile off that bastard’s face thanks to superior traction and a similar power-to-weight ratio. I can’t wait to see you both struggling with your cable-operated shifters.

Sir, I can tell you that want the very best. These could be any Fiero GT from 1986 forward, but since they are prominently placed up-front they are very likely the ne plus ultra of Fiero, the 1988 GT. New suspension. “Fastback” panels. Vented discs. If they were yellow, we would know for sure that they are 1988 cars, but for the meantime let’s just agree that you’ll be taking both of these home regardless. The Cadillacs in the background? Well, where do you think we get the V8 transplants? From GM Performance Crate Engines?

Inventory is not a problem at The Fiero Factory, with over 100 donor cars. We are eagerly awaiting the day when our Fiero inventory is worth more than a similar number of 1997 Boxsters, a day which should arrive well before 2020. Thanks for stopping by!

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