1986 Pontiac Fiero GT coupe

While I was out today on the highway in my 1980s car, I saw a Pontiac Fiero coming up quickly from behind.

You just don’t see that many Fieros on the road in 2013—the youngest of them is now over 25 years old. This one was red, and I believe it was a 1987 or 1988 base coupe—the dead giveaway is that it did not have the black bumper pads but otherwise had the debut Fiero 2M4 look. I gave the driver of the Fiero a thumbs-up, he gave me a wave, and we went our separate ways.

“One red-hot with everything, to go.”

The Pontiac Fiero came to market in 1984 with ridiculous expectations brought on partially by Pontiac and partly by how the public sees two-seat mid-engine cars. What had intitially been designed as a somewhat sporty commuter car became a significant part of Pontiac’s We Build Excitement strategy.

At this point, the painful fact that the Fiero’s mechanical parts were from the low end of the General Motors parts bin became stunningly obvious. Citation and Chevette suspension parts abounded, and the only available engine was the distinctly uninspiring 2.5 liter/151 ci Iron Duke inline four with fuel injection, featuring all of 90 bhp. Predictably, handling and acceleration did not meet expectations.

By 1986, Pontiac had gone a long way toward fixing some of the underlying issues. The L44 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 was made available in 1985, its 140 bhp and multi-port fuel injection both major upgrades. In 1986, the fastback body style was added, and a five-speed manual transmission became available for the V6, though only late in the model year. With that powertrain, 0-60 came in a little under eight seconds. Mileage in the 2,500-pound car wasn’t bad, either—18 city/28 highway by the standards of the day (16/26 by today’s standards). With the Fiero’s small 10.2-gallon gas tank, range was between 195 and 210 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $12,875 GT (about $29,600 in 2018 dollars) included the V6, retracting halogen headlamps, and P205/60R15 front and P215/60R15 rear tires (both sizes still readily available) on 15-inch diamond-spoke wheels. Options included air conditioning, power windows, intermittent windshield wipers, tilt steering wheel, and a rear spoiler.

The fastback GT was a striking car—the flying buttresses in the rear and aero nose in front substantially changed the look of the Fiero. I liked the base design more at first, but the fastback has grown on me over time.

Page from 1986 Pontiac Fiero brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Fiero GT in #1/Concours condition is $15,100, with a more common #3/Good condition car going for $5,900. Fieros have a good club following and a fairly strong presence in Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I update this in December 2018, there’s a Black 1986 Fiero GT with 46,000 miles for sale for $14,000. Make mine Bright Red, please.

Updated December 2018.

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