Rides from the Readers: 1986 Pontiac Fiero

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Tom Schmidt

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to us at the above email. 

Today’s featured vehicle is a 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE, the 2.8-liter, six-cylinder model of Pontiac’s two-seater, mid-engine vehicle that, as stock, packed 135-hp. Equipped with the competition suspension package and a rear wing, this Fiero served as a daily driver for the first nine years of its life. Then owner Tom Schmidt decided to get creative. The six trumpets out back—which function as heat vents—made the car instantly recognizable at car shows and, later, trackside. Thanks to the meticulous attention of Ann Schmidt, the 165,000-mile car boasts show trophies as well as podium finishes among local and national Fiero clubs.

Naturally, the Fiero received other modifications apart from the rear stacks to morph into its track fiend persona: “The Rattler.” The engine received racing headers and an over-bored throttle body and breathes in complete freedom thanks to a straight-through exhaust system. Schmidt beefed up the suspension for track weekends and added all the fabulous exterior mods—”flopper” front clip, racing wheels, and custom-built spoiler—to complete the package. “The Rattler” now does (appropriately noisy) homage to the original “Rattler” racer built by Mark Bratton in Corpus Christi, Texas, which was powered by a six-cylinder Mercury engine running a mixture of alcohol and castor oil—a race-day cocktail that the Pontiac Rattler also enjoys.

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