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Weekly Craigslist Hidden Treasure: 1987 Pontiac Fiero GT

Car Culture / 25 Comments

The starting point for nearly every fake Ferrari.

In hindsight, General Motors was not a very good car company when the Pontiac Fiero came into existence. Badge engineering ruled the day with terrible favorites like the Cadillac Cimarron, essentially a Chevy Cavalier with leather. It fooled no one, but GM stuck with this strategy for years and it later paid a huge price for doing so. Bad business practices like badge engineering helped lead to 2008's bankruptcy filing. The 1980s and 90s were the heydays of badge engineering but not everything from GM was completely terrible.

Despite its many shortcomings, the Pontiac Fiero was an interesting and cool mid-engined sports car. In fact, some top GM brass didn't even want to build it because they were afraid it'd internally compete with the then-new C4 Corvette. The Fiero program was originally conceived in the early 80s by a group of engineers who truly wanted to build a mid-engined, two-seat sports car powered by a V6.

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Craigslist

Although the suits running the company were initially not in favor of it, they had a change of heart after realizing that, when equipped with a different engine and gearbox, the Fiero could instead be marketed as a fuel-efficient commuter sporty-looking car. The V8-powered Corvette's opposite, if you will.

And so it came to be that the Pontiac Fiero arrived for the 1984 model year with GM's 2.5-liter inline-four "Iron Duke" engine, tuned here to develop 98 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed manual was standard, sending power to the rear wheels. A three-speed automatic was optional. The Fiero's reception was initially positive, as most loved its exotic styling and sporty flare. Even its handling was praised. However, they were soon disappointed by its lack of performance. Still, demand remained high and Pontiac kept churning them out at a fast pace.

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Craigslist
Craigslist
Craigslist

For 1985, GM acknowledged the oil crisis was a thing of the past and there was no need to focus on fuel, so a V6 option arrived. This was a 2.8-liter V6 with 141 hp. Not amazing, but the car weighed no more than 2,800 pounds. This was also the year when Pontiac launched the Fiero GT, which featured not only different body styling, but also an upgraded suspension, wider tires, and that V6. Okay, now time for the elephant in the room topic GM would love to ignore forever: engine fires.

Yep, the Pontiac Fiero caught on fire, or at least some did in its first model year. Sadly, this was enough to plague the coupe for the rest of its production life. Because of defective connecting rods, a very small number (135) of Fieros caught on fire, almost exclusively the 2.5-liter models. The media attention and the public's rightful fear permanently damaged the Fiero's reputation. To its credit, GM found the aforementioned source of the problem and quickly resolved it, but that was enough to ensure the Fiero would live for only one generation. It was discontinued in 1988 after 370,000 examples were built.

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Craigslist
Craigslist
Craigslist

Today, there's an extremely loyal Fiero following. There are also those who use Fieros as the basis for supercar replicas, such as the Ferrari 308. It's a shame the Fiero's reputation took such a hit so early on that it never fully recovered, and there's no doubt it never became the mid-engined sports car it could have been. Still though, it's a classic.

This 1987 Pontiac Fiero GT we found for sale on Craigslist in Boston appears to be in overall solid condition inside and out, which can be explained by its mere 29,000 miles. You read that right. Only 29k miles for a 32-year-old car. The only downside we can see is that it's equipped with the optional automatic transmission. With an asking price of $7,995, you can own a piece of GM history as well as something from a now-defunct and sorely missed brand.

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