|1984 Fiero showroom poster|
In the mid 1980's the North American market was absent of any domestic small sports cars. The Fiat X1/9 had an interesting niche market all to itself as Porsche/VW had stopped production of their somewhat affordable mid engined "914" in 1976. The oil crisis of the late 1970's set the wheels in motion at GM. They wanted a car that could be marketed as an exciting yet economical sports car. This would mark the first mass produced "mid engine" American car. An all fiberglass body was a goal for production. The fiero essentially became the test bed for what would become GM's new division "Saturn" and their full line of fiberglass cars.
|In 1984 The Official Pace Car for the Indy 500 was a 4cyl. Fiero!|
[ohioindy from Pennocks Fiero Forum]
|84' Fieros all had 92hp 2.5L OHV 4cyl.|
|New for 85' 140hp 2.8L OHV V6|
The car was receiving some criticism as it was being heralded as a "secretaries car". The fact was the Fiero appealed to women quite well and a considerable chunk of its new owners were women. The idea of a bigger engine was considered to be a remedy and was already in the works. In 1985 Fiero SE models and the all new GT models were available with a 140hp/160ft.lb 2.8L OHV V6. This added some weight to the rear of the car but answered the call of the people who expected more from a mid engine sports car. Sales dipped lower in 1985 after reports of engine fires surfaced in the media. The cause of the engine fires was due to a mechanical failure when oil levels were low in the 4cyl. The bad media badly hurt the car's reputation and it would never fully recover. The positive news for this model year remained. The introduction of a true performance version in the GT was garnering respect amongst gear heads. The body panels were improved over 2M4 models and likened the car to the "official pace car" models. This would be the last year the GT was available in what would later be referred to as the "notchback" Fieros. The 4cylinder Fieros received a new 5-speed (Isuzu variant) transmission.
|1988 "Fastback" Fiero GT|
Some Fiero aficionados today consider the Fiero's last year in production to be the car it should have been from day one if it was to be destined for success. It's a good argument because vast improvements were made in 1988. The suspension was re-designed along with the steering knuckles. The stance of the car also improved accordingly, helping its aesthetics. The option code for the improved suspension, might be recognized by fans of Pontiac's most successful sports car: the Trans Am. By checking "WS6" in the order form buyers received the best handling car the General had ever made with the exception of the new C4 Corvette. As a treat for minimalists Pontiac also offered the 1988 Fiero GT's performance features in a "notchback" body in the Fiero Formula.
By this time the 1980's were winding down and the trend of the 1990's was expected to be larger SUVs and a resurgence of Trucks alike. Gas prices had loosened their choke hold on society and small cars would take a back seat to any larger models in development. In it's final year of production the greatest Fiero model year ever, a total of less than 27,000 units were sold.
To be continued...