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1988 Pontiac Fiero Formula with 36,000 Original Miles!

Some people consider the Pontiac Fiero a failed experiment, while others think it was a genuinely great car. The svelte styling and drivetrain configuration promised sports car performance, but the publicity surrounding early quality issues tainted the Fiero’s reputation, causing sales to freefall before Pontiac pulled the pin on production in August 1988. Our feature car is a Fiero Formula from the final production year, and its presentation is virtually flawless. If you missed out on purchasing one of these gems when new, this could be your opportunity to right that wrong. The Formula is listed here on Craigslist in Carthage, Missouri. It could be yours for $12,950, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Taylor W for spotting this motoring gem.

Pontiac introduced the Formula option to the Fiero range in 1988, although it is unclear whether they saw it as a last hurrah. It is possible that if the company knew that 1988 was the final year for the Fiero, they elected to go out with a flourish. The car presents superbly in its original Code 14 Black. The seller says it has been garage-kept throughout its life, and combined with the odometer reading, its overall condition is understandable. The paint retains a shine you could almost sink into, while the composite panels appear perfect. There are no signs of rust on any metal surfaces, which isn’t a shock, all things considered. The cross-lace wheels and rear spoiler were borrowed from the GT variant for the Formula package and add to the Pontiac’s imposing presence. The plastic looks flawless, and the glass shows no signs of scratches or defects.

It seems Pontiac tried to kill two birds with one stone with the Fiero. Its drivetrain configuration seemed to confirm its sporting aspirations, while some trim features hinted at luxury leanings. The two supplied interior shots paint an initially positive picture, but close examination exposes what might be a glaring fault. It seems the original stereo made way for a modern CD unit. There’s nothing out of the ordinary there because it is a common practice with classics of this vintage. I am prepared to be corrected, but there appears to be a yawning gap at the top of the stereo where we can see into the inner workings of the dash. If that is correct, it is almost the only flaw I can spot in this immaculate interior. The buyer might be able to source a blanking plate to address the shortcoming, but I’m surprised the seller hasn’t done so to make a more positive impact. Otherwise, there is no evidence of wear or physical damage and no aftermarket additions beyond the CD player. The overall condition is consistent with a car hidden away from UV light’s ravages.

In keeping with many European and Japanese sporting models that Pontiac considered their natural competition, the Fiero features what some people would loosely categorize as a mid-mounted V6. Others will disagree with the term because the engine is almost directly over the rear wheels and transmission, rather than in front of them. It is one point that stirs debate and no doubt will do so in this case. The 2,838cc V6 produces 135hp that feeds to the road via a five-speed manual transaxle. The modest power figure was another aspect of the Fiero that disappointed some buyers because the car’s appearance suggests it should better a 16.5-second ¼-mile. The Formula package didn’t just bring a spoiler and different wheels; buyers also received the WS6 suspension package to improve handling. The seller claims this classic has a genuine 36,000 miles on the clock but doesn’t mention verifying evidence. They say it runs and drives perfectly and that they wouldn’t hesitate to drive it anywhere. That makes flying in and driving home a viable option.

The Formula badge is most readily associated with various Pontiac models, but General Motors did apply it to multiple models globally. In Australia, Holden released the Astra Formula in the mid-1980s. It successfully transformed a small and boring hatchback into a small and boring hatchback with some stickers and spoilers! Thankfully, the Fiero Formula contains more substance, with 5,484 buyers handing over their cash for one in 1988. Considering total Fiero sales for that year numbered 26,402 vehicles, that demonstrates a ready acceptance of the Formula in that market niche. The seller’s price is at the top of the market, and I doubt they will be overwhelmed with inquiries. However, the condition and odometer reading place it above most examples currently listed. It has been on the market for a week, and I won’t be surprised if it finds a new home before the end of the month. But could that home be yours?


  1. Sam61

    Very nice find! I always liked these. There was one at our local father’s day car show a few years ago with a Cadillac transplant….4.1 or 4.3? A 3.8 ssei transplant should be a screamer for those that can do your own wrenching.

    Like 4
    • SirRaoulDuke

      I have also seen a couple of these with a Northstar swap.

      Like 0
  2. Grant

    I like this design better than the more common 88. The slotted chrome Fiero mags are better too, plus the standard dash without the fake wood is better. Ditch the spoiler and make mine red please, otherwise, perfect. 88s had the better handling, too bad GM killed them off just when they were getting good, though sales were way down. I have heard insurance companies priced them like a Vette due to the 2 seats and mid engines. I could understand if they had high HP, but really guys? These were just as nice as an MR2 in my humble opinion, certainly better looking, those the Toyotas did rev better.

    Like 4
    • SubGothius

      In case anyone wonders why GM would approve such a major revision to the steering and suspension for one final production year only, they didn’t, at least not intentionally.

      These ’88s were meant to be a transitional model previewing even better things to come with the 2nd-gen Fiero then in late development, expected to debut for ’90. Unfortunately, the widely reported and well-reviewed handling improvements didn’t translate to improved sales, so GM decided to axe the 2nd-gen Fiero project entirely.

      Like 8
      • PRA4SNW

        Here is a picture of the only ’90 Fiero Prototype made. Looks really sharp to me.

        Like 4
  3. jrhmobile

    Be grateful for that ugly gap above that cheesy aftermarket stereo. It hopefully means that there was no cutting into the dash panel and you can replace it with a stock Delco unit with no evidence of the previous crime.

    Like 6
  4. JC

    Nice Fiero… that stereo does look like an afterthought and just thrown in there… lol. Too far away for me but if it were closer, it would be in my garage. Doesn’t matter how nice it looks, I wouldn’t drive it the 1k miles+ it would take without knowing the car thoroughly. That’s just me.

    Like 2
    • Lee

      Hook up your trailer and go! Or you’ll regret it. I had a 86 GT and it was a rocket. Wish I had it now. You won’t see a low miles car like this for a long time. Price is reasonable.

      Only issue I had on my was the parking brake was integral with the disc brakes. If the parking brake isn’t working you have no rear brakes.

      Like 4
  5. Homer

    I drove the first year model from KC to Hutchinson Ks and thought it wasn’t a very good driver at all. The most impressive thing was the composite skin that stood many hits with a bowling ball setup from Pontiac that each dealer had.

    Like 1
  6. Ort

    I had a blast driving my aunt’s fiero throughout Palm Springs 35 years ago, blasting Dokken from the cassette player. Loved that car and the memories. Today I wouldn’t be able to out of that car without help. lol.

    Like 6
  7. Mike’s57

    Having owned 9 Fiero’s, two of which were Fourmulas, I can attest this is a very nice example. It amazes me where the prices have gone. My last Forumla was a factory authorized T-top, one of only 299 ever made. After a restoration I was only able to get $6.5K on the auction site for it. That was six years ago tho.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the seller gets his price.

    Like 5
  8. Roger Cutter

    I had a 3.8 SC Firro. Fun to drive. Now I’m the capable hands of my Grandson. Love that 3.8 backed up with a 5 sp getrag.

    Like 4
    • Mark

      Might be ok if it had a Northstar V8.

      Like 1
      • Rocco Russo

        I was at a Mecum auction and there was one there that someone dropped a 500+ cube motor in, lol!!

        Like 3
  9. John A Corey Member

    Love it! Much like mine (only mine is the less common metallic red outside and lacks the aftermarket dash stuff, thankfully). Oh, and the red one has just 18,000 miles on it, so far. This price point makes me as happy as driving my Fiero does!

    Like 4
  10. PRA4SNW

    GONE! Someone got a nice ne.

    Like 3
  11. Dan

    GM has had some cars over the years that didn’t get good until the end of the model run…. think Vega….. Cosworth, Corvair…Second Generation 65-69, Fiero 88. Lee Iacocca was right when he said, “GM is the slow moving giant”

    Like 3

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