By on October 1, 2011

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!

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17 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: The Buick-infused Fiero at LeMons...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I really wish those guys well in LeMons.

  • avatar

    Am I the only person that wants an LS4-powered, Corvair-bodied Fiero?

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Yes, and that’s why it’s a wonderful thing. I loathe canned fantasies in the custom automobile world, which makes these mutants far more praiseworthy than anything which disappears into the depressing sameness most projects end up becoming. It’s far too easy to choose a car everyone else loves and alter its performance and appearance – but the rewards of choosing from the wretched refuse and oft-derided landmark automobiles are far greater, especially when their upgraded performance defies stereotypes and hammers home to the unwashed masses that their view of how the universe works is forever invalidated.

      Take pride in your whacko fantasies: you’ll go farther simply because you could see the possibilities others could not.

  • avatar

    It my dream to make something like that and take it to LeMons, but if the judges decided to exercise their buy rights I would be forced to kill them… So for now, I stay away and dream.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s not scare people away from bringing interesting stuff: Only Jay Lamm can claim cars, not the judges, and so far he’s only done that twice in the entire history of the series (and one of those was at the prearranged urging of its owners).

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    Sajeev (and anyone interested in making these plastic terrors go fast), I’d recommend a look over the build forums at They have everything from stock 3.4 Camaro swaps to LS4 six speed swaps all the way to the L67. And let’s just say GM did the Fiero guys a BIG favor by using the G40 six speed in the G6 with the 3.9, it bolts right to any of these! (And let’s also say Northstars make a LOT more sense when they have aftermarket cams and springs set to spin to 8,000RPM with said six speed manual). The 3.4’s bolt right up, 3800s and Caddy 4.9’s can be made to bolt up with available adapters, everything else is custom.

    That is, if you haven’t already been looking over the forums. Now I need to find that $600 Fiero again!

  • avatar

    I liked the video – the final few seconds where the driver shows that the power steering works by going lock to lock several times was priceless. Not being a Fiero devotee, is there something about the steering he is particularly proud of?

    • 0 avatar

      He may have just filled the power steering fluid and was trying to bleed all of the air out of the system, who knows . . .

      The sound of that is awesome – I’ve got a subwoofer on my computer and it felt like I was standing there next to it.

    • 0 avatar

      yah….the Fiero never came from the factory with power steering. It is possible he added a Corvette steering rack and power steering to the car. The Fiero’s steering was slow and rumors have it that somebody has figured out how to retrofit the Corvette’s steering rack to a Fiero.

  • avatar

    As far as electrics go, how simple (or not) has the after market made engine swaps for Fieros?

  • avatar

    Did any of you guys check out the Fiero owners YouTube stream?? He has a completely retrofitted custom dash in there from a new Malibu, everything inside works, all the electronics, even the power pedals. Very top notch work, and the V8 sounds incredible. Its a 5.3L from a Monte Carlo SS. OK, now I want one…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Quad4 is another easy Fiero swap. Better reliability and more power. Apparently if GM kept the Fiero around post 1988 it would have had the Quad4 and other improvements.

  • avatar

    Electric power steering was available on the final model year Fieros. Along with a suspension that was actually designed for the car and not a collection of parts bin hand me downs.

    Just another example of GM losing interest in a vehicle after getting its problems worked out.

  • avatar

    The Fiero engine bay is big enough to accommodate many engines. Most are fitting V8’s in there, but, personally, I think V6’s are a lot cleaner looking.

    The problem would be wiring up the electronics to work.

    I understand the old Cadillac 4.9 V8 is a direct bolt on to the existing Fiero transmission without any adapter plates required. So that might be the easiest transplant. Wiring harness not being considered.

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