The Pontiac Fiero — how could an 80’s economy car sport a mid-engine design, a V6 engine with 50-mpg, and eventually, four-wheel disc brakes? Weren’t these typically the characteristics of a sports car, like the iconic Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s of the time?

In this video, Jason Cammisa examines the history of the Pontiac Fiero and the automotive con job behind its creation. Built under the guise of an ‘efficient commuter car,’ the Fiero aimed to usher in a new era of sporty, automotive design, and bring General Motors into the future (after a decade of malaise-era cars.) It was a mid-engine ray of hope for the domestic car market until Pontiac’s plan went up in flames…

How did the Fiero’s revolutionary design, still praised in the car enthusiast realm today, burn out in GM’s lineup, just to be discontinued four years later? Learn about the history of the Fiery Pontiac Fiero, in this episode of Revelations.

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Comments

    Jason nice video and for once someone got about 80% right or complete.

    I have owned my Fiero since new in 1985 and been involved with the car since 1980 while it was still being developed.

    These are a few things you missed on or just did not know you could add to this story.

    #1 the Fiero’s fires were not 1 in 5. The truth is a number of well known cars had much higher ratios. What brought the attention was if one did catch it was impressive as the body fed the fire.

    #2 the thrown rods did not cause the fires. It was much more simple as the Iron Duke engine all leaked out the valve covers but in a Fiero there was no air coming through a grill to lower compartment temps like in a S10. So the leak on the covers to the intake is where the fires were. The rod issue was another issue by itself. Oliver Rods botched that one up.

    #3 the mid engine space frame was a GM tech center idea rejected by the Corvette Team and was offered to Hulki as he did want a low cowl. He did not think it up but he did put it on the road.

    #4 Pontiac was slated to be shut down and the Fiero was a way they felt at Pontiac they could get people into show rooms. It is credited for the high sales of the Grand Am and that save Pontiac and doomed Olds.

    #5 Pontiac wanted the 1.8 but was refused by GM

    #6 the plan con by Pontiac also included over selling the car to keep the plant viable till the GM 80 the fwd F body replacement arrived. Once Ford decided not to replace the Mustang with the Probe the GM80 was canceled. This left the plant unable to build the needed cars for the plant. The Corvette people pointed out the under capacity. As Fiero designer John Schinella told me Chevy sells more cars so the get more say.

    #7 There was a 2.9 Turbo canceled in 1985 but 1990 was to get a DOHC V6 and 235 hp. That is in the prototype yet today.

    #8 the engine compartment was sized for a V8 LT engine. One was built but GM made Pontiac scrap it.

    #9 the 88 suspension was designed for the original car but no money was given to develop it. GM designed the suspension via Tom Goad SCCA racer and Pontiac engineer. Pontiac did enlist Porsche engineering to dial in on center feel and turn in. Ironic as Porsche was racing Corvette in Showroom stock at this time.

    #10 the styling and dash from the 1990 Gt were reused on the 4th Gen F body. The profiles are very close and the dash panels are the same in the prototypes still left.

    #11 there was several all aluminum space frames tested to cut the 2500 pound weight.

    #12 there were major hard feelings between GM, Pontiac and the UAW that even today prevent some from speaking public about it. It even gets more involved. I saw the documents from the meeting that killed the car and Pontiac had no chance to save the car.

    #13 Even the Pontiac folks did not expect the car to survive the 2nd gen as most sports cars seldom live more than ten years. Only the Corvette and Miata have really broken that barrier with two seats.

    #14 The Fiero was the last true Pontiac. It was built in Pontiac, sold only by Pontiac and had a Pontiac engine.

    #15 the early cars handling was an easy fix with a rear sway bar, solid rear control arm bushings and removing the front steering damper. Tran Am tuner Herb Adams sold a kit to fix this and it worked I own a VSE kit for mine.

    The Fiero was not perfect and is amazing it was ever built. It show cased the cult issues in GM and how divisions did more damage to each other than Toyota.

    I lived the whole deal. I was a celebrity when I bought mine. Then I was the idiot when the bad press hit. Today people are all I loved these, wanted one, had one or younger kids wanting one today.

    Mine has opened many doors from winning top 5/Ames Pontiac award at the Pontiac Nationals twice to laps at Indy at over 100 mph.

    I have been ask to display the car at GM events with sone of their collection cars and even in the showroom at Summit Racing’s headquarters.

    I was going to buy a Trans Am but the insurance was too high so I bought the Fiero and have had no regrets.

    It is not perfect but what car is? They all have issues.

    At the time Porsche was tuning the second gen suspension Pontiac had two 2.9 Turbo cars. Both survive. But the tail lamps were ordered removed. When you stepped on the brakes they lit up and said Porsche Eater.

    FYI my goal some days is to get a book out just to set the entire story straight. There is tons of bad info out there.

    I looked up the number of fires that were recorded. By 1986 112 cars of over 297,185 made had a fire.

    The ratio by the recall time 1987 was one in 508 car had a fire issue.

    Again while GM blamed the rods and small pan it really was the iron duke valve cover leaking oil.

    Note none of them had gaskets they were RTV on and the shake of the engine would loosen the screws and the high under hood temps would ignite the oil on the engine if the owner did not address the leak.

    The engine would ignite and the deck lid was kindling.

    The V6 was rare to have a fire as they seldom leaked oil up top. They did leak around the pan and timing cover but it is where the temps are down and no fires.

    Often a V6 fire is on a car the owner did work on and often got a plug wire on a manifold or such.

    A manifold could break a stud and leak also creating a risk. GM did recall the real manifolds and replaced them to eliminate the leak issues. The holes were slotted to let the manifold move but not break a stud.

    @hyperv6, Man, you are a Fiero SUPERFan. At least somebody is standing up for the car. I’ve had a red 88 GT since 1990 and have always liked the car. I just ignore all the crap about it. When I drive it, I still hear people shouting, Hey, Fiero! from the sidewalks. However, my Fiero needs a little TLC now. It’s only got about 55,000 miles. I don’t have enough garage space, so I had to put it under a cover outdoors. Ii is a project in-flux. Needs to be repainted, got the console skeleton out for restoration. power windows are a bit slow now, needs window dew strips, and maybe one headlight motor fix. The biggest problem now is keeping the mice out of the frunk. Although recently, I found a huge rat snake coiled up in the frunk, so maybe I shouldn’t run him off. I hope to have it back on the road soon. Keep up the Fiero love.

    Just a fan and long time Pontiac owner and fan. I grew up around some of the famed Pontiac racers and collectors. I even came home from the Hospital in a Pontiac when I was born.

    I just tire of the lies, false stories and miss information. I was around for much of the history.mi have met many of the people involved with the car and experienced the cars ownership highs and low now highs again.

    First thing I try to be factual and honest. Was it a perfect car no. Was it as bad as some claim no.

    Not as many burned as claimed but when they did they really burned like a Corvette.

    Was the handling perfect in the early cars no but it was not bad and easy to fix.

    These cars look great with age but make sure to look under the carpet in the trunk as they will rust.

    The worst fable was the Lotus suspension story. The Funny thing is GM did the work but Porsche helped.

    Selling low price sports cars is difficult as they are not profit centers. Even now the Miata had to share the platform with Fiat to make costs reasonable.

    I have some prototype parts on y car and made it my own. Hulki stopped by at an even and sowed his approval.

    Myself and a couple others have the true history of the car and we would love to document the cars true history before it is lost.

    It is an amazing story that the car got built but also a story on the disfunction in GM at the time.

    Pontiac had GM’s best engineers but after Delorean left they had to break rules to get anything done as GM had no clue how to deal with Pontiac.

    The Fiero was the last rebel project of many of the Delorean era engineers. It was the last true Pontiac.

    Most of the best Pontiacs broke GM Rules. The 421 SD, GTO, 455 SD and the Fiero.

    Everyone knows the full GTO story six ways to Sunday but most have no clue on the Fiero.

    This video seriously overstates the fire issue. The 4 cyl cars had a tendency to leak from the valve cover gasket, and also had a tendency to break head bolts. The Iron duke had these problems in all cars but in the Fiero the engine compartment was tight and held in the heat, increasing the chance of leaks and also increasing the chance of a leak becoming a fire. The recall amounted to addressing the leaks and wrapping the wiring harness with heat reflective tape. The V6 cars did not share the leakage problems but did ger the forward exhaust manifold recalled because it tended to break the bolts. I worked on a lot of these cars as a Pontiac dealer tech. Honestly, you had to seriously neglect the car and ignore obvious problems to have it catch fire.

    Our Fiero was a well loved and admired little quirky car. Fun as h#%!! to drive anywhere. I am a DIY mechanic so I took all the little issues in stride. Pontiac installed a new engine and changed the oil for free for years. Sold to a collector after 20 years. No complaints. All good fun.

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