The Poster Dream Car

1984 Pontiac Fiero Indy Pace Car

CHAD McGHEE was smitten when he first saw his dream car in 1984. “I took every chance I could to be near one,” he says. It was Pontiac’s brand-new Fiero, and the 12-yearold car fanatic dragged his parents to auto shows, wore out factory brochures and generally searched for any information on the Pontiac’s mid-engine “commuter car.” Then, he recalls, “One day at the mall I found a hard-backed poster of the ultimate Fiero of the time — the 1984 Indy Pace Car edition.” He bought it, framed it and it hung on his wall until long after he left for college.

Two decades later, McGhee had a sideline sourcing inexpensive used cars for graduate students. While making his regular trawl through Craigslist, he stumbled across an ad that read: “One-owner 40,000-mile Indy Fiero Pace Car. $900.” Although it was already after 9 p.m., Chad insisted on driving the 30 minutes to the seller’s house.

The Fiero had suffered from sitting outside for over a decade, but it was complete. More importantly, being a southern car, the chassis wasn’t rusty. He even managed to negotiate a price that included delivery to his home. Three weeks later, after new calipers, a water pump, fuel pump, a fuel injector, fresh tires and a heavy-duty cleaning, the Fiero hit the road again. Now with 55,000 miles on it, McGhee says, “It still drives like, well, a car with 55,000 miles on it.”

So far, McGhee has resisted the urge to restore the Pace Car, despite chalky white paint and other blemishes from poor storage. He is content to maintain it mechanically and use it whenever possible. After years of being a multiple Fiero owner, he’s still enamored with the cars, partly because of the great handling, the “engine sounds” and because they are “inexpensive to buy and maintain.” The only time he was ever stuck on the road was his own fault; he ran out of gas.

When asked why he loves his Fieros so much, he is quite clear:

“I love the Fiero because my 12-year-old self loved the Fiero and could only dream of owning one (much less two) some day. I smile every time I drive it because the car transports me back to my childhood.” And when he’s not driving it, the Fiero Pace Car is parked next to the same framed poster that hung over McGhee’s bed for years.

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