Fierce and Fine: Low Mileage 1988 Fiero

Fiero rear 3

I doubt very many people felt that the Pontiac Fiero was fierce or ferocious, but that is what the name “fiero” means in Spanish. And in Italian it’s “proud”. Maybe Pontiac was proud of the Fiero at least for the few years this model was manufactured. During the mid-eighties, when the Fiero was launched, Pontiac’s sales slogan was the rather hopeful, “We Build Excitement”, but for most of us, these cars just did not deliver on the promises the manufacturer made for them.

Fiero side

The Fiero probably could have been an interesting car if Pontiac had invested more in it, and maybe given it a bit more time. Within a few years of launching the car, it was beginning to look like, and properly equipped, drive like a real sports car. But as the only mid-engined two seater American car ever made, it probably had a sales ceiling that was just too low for the company itself to get excited, and the car was killed after the 1988 model year.

Fiero rear

Now that it has been a few years, Fieros have a following, especially the 1988 GT model, which is probably the most fully developed and interesting version of the car that Pontiac built.

Fiero interior 1

This particular bright red 1988 Fiero for sale here on craigslist in Redondo Beach, California with only 2,232 miles showing on the odometer does have some appeal. The body is said to be like new, as is the interior, it has been serviced and has new tires, new belts and new hoses, which it doubtless needed after its long sleep.

Fiero engine

The car features power windows, a moon roof, air conditioning and an alarm system – but on the other hand it’s got an automatic transmission, and perhaps most importantly, it’s not a GT, which makes it far less collectible.

Fiero odo

And the seller does think this car is a collector’s item and has priced it accordingly – a very lofty and optimistic $16,500 (or best offer.)  Even with low mileage and in great condition this car does not seem likely draw that kind of price. It is essentially a semi-sporty commuter car you can’t drive, even though the Fiero (especially the later GT version) is one of the stand out cars of its era.

Fiero wheel

If you like good car stories, you have to read this article in Road and Track, The Pontiac Fiero was a Misunderstood, Misfit Love Letter to American Back Roads, it’s a fun piece of car writing about a potentially interesting car.

Fiero seat

It will be interesting to see what Barn Finds readers think of this car.

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Comments

  1. Brakeservo

    I may have shared this before but I worked for a Pontiac dealer when these came out. When the first one arrived at the store, the owner tried to drive it around the block. Ha! The little Iron Duke Four Banger had other ideas and promptly threw a rod!! 20+ years later I had a small shop along the Columbia River in rural Washington State. My old RHD Cobra was parked at the curb and the nose of my Rolls-Royce poked through the door. Two cars not to be expected amongst the tractors, harvesters and log trucks common in those parts.

    Anyway as I was fixing the brakes on the Rolls, a parade of brand new and perhaps never seen before Pontiac Solstice sports cars stopped outside my shop and the first one contained Bob Lutz! Being a true car guy he had to stop the retinue of automotive journalists who were being permitted their very first drive of the new Pontiac when he saw my beat up old Cobra and Rolls. One of his lackeys introduced Mr. Lutz and explained the purpose of the tour. Lutz seemed to enjoy seeing my cars “out in the middle of nowhere” but the whole time I’m hoping that he doesn’t ask what I thought of the Solstice as all I could think of was the abysmal quality of not just that first Fiero, but nearly all the GM cars I’d worked with. Fortunately for me, he never asked as I was not sure how to diplomatically respond.

    • Dolphin Member

      Bob Lutz is the No American car exec that I would most like to meet. I’m envious.

      Most months the only reason I can find to read Road & Track nowadays is his column at the back. He has an apt comment for any car question, the most recent being his take on Ferdinand Piech’s role in VW Group shooting itself in the foot—-admittedly a guess, but one based on his time as a car exec in Germany and his interactions with Piech.

      I think Lutz is enough of a real car guy that his opinion of the Solstice might not be too different from your own, Brakes…

  2. Jason Houston

    Just another in a series of embarrassing GM blunders that ultimately cost the company their iron-clad reputation. Pontiac’s version of the Mustang II.

    • Don

      At the time I hated the Mustang II. But now it seems there isn’t a hot rod with 50 miles of me without a Mustang II part on it somewhere. That’s a pretty good legacy.

  3. RON

    All very true, but Pontiac was true to the GM marque as Pontiac and Olds were the Stars of a big segment of GM. I think it is all just a testimony of how the Greatest country in the World let every country in the world we have had to defend ourselves against , defeat, and rebuild with apology, come into this country and dismantle and overtake a great industry. . Send them back where they came from

    Like 1
    • Bobsmyuncle

      Classic. LOL.

  4. Dan

    That IS a GT. What makes you think it isn’t? The V-6 was only available in the Formula (that had the regular body) and the GT (that had the fastback. like this one)

    Automatic was an option on both V-6 versions. The 1988’s are the rarest as they made only 5,484 Formulas and 6,848 GT’s.

    Like 1
    • Keith

      Hi Dan,
      This is incorrect. You could get an SE model with a V6. I had an 86 SE with the 2.8L V6 (as well as an 88 Formula). But you are correct that the featured car here is a GT model.

      • Dan

        The SE wasn’t available in 1988 only the Formula or GT for the V6 (I have an 88 Formula that will be up for sale soon) 88 was the only year for the Formula. You are correct that 86-87 the V6 was available on the notch back body as an SE.

    • Top Jimmy

      88s were the ONLY year that weren’t an amalgamation of Chevette and Citation parts! Would love to have it sitting in my garage. Instead of “gimme a ticket red” though, I’d want one in solar gold. A one year option I believe, just like the chassis and suspension upgrades.

  5. ydnar

    I like it, someone will snap it up. It is unique and there are very few like this one left.

    I am having a hard time following Ron’s POV.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Probably because Ron… Nah I’ll moderate my own comment. ;)

  6. Dan h

    The first job I ever did in a shop as a newbie mechanic was an a/c compressor on a Fiero. That sure opened my eyes to what the future as a professional mechanic was all about!
    Later, that same year, I lifted a mint Fiero on the rack to find out I had set the rack arms on the plastic fender moulding, not the frame. ‘Twas no longer a mint Fiero. Glad I’m over that learning curve!!

  7. EP

    Wow, drove one just like this from Manhattan Beach to Reno in 1989 to see Boom Boom Mancini fight Hector “Macho Man” Camacho. Pretty fun ride, and this one is literally a couple of miles from my house. OBO…hmmmm.

  8. Vince Habel

    At least it has the V6. I have seen these with a SBC installed in them. Make the pretty fierce.

  9. Mark E

    “…the only mid-engined two seater American car ever made…”

    I suppose it’s a matter of technicalities but 10 years before the Fiero you could waltz into your Lincoln Mercury dealership and drive off in a Pantera!

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Mark, you have to be kidding…………………Shipping engines to Italy to be mounted in a car, built over there, American Made?

      LMAO.

    • Asterix

      The Mosler Consulier production may not have reached 100 but it is a mid-engined two-seater made in Florida. And, it is the only one that has a fully composite monocoque chassis, only the front suspension and mid-engine/transmission/suspension cradles were metal. With the 2.2 Liter Dodge Daytona turbo and 2200 lbs, it could to 0-60 in less than five seconds. I’ve had the pleasure of being behind the wheel of a Consulier GTP Targa (one of eight made) for over 2500 miles. I bought a 1985 Fiero GT new, and have now had a 1986 Fiero GT for eleven years. So, the Fiero is NOT the “only mid-engined two seater American car ever made …”

      • scottymac

        Fast maybe, but the Mosler was so stinking butt ugly!

        The ex bought a ’85 SE V-6, with the Chevette front axle and the Citation front engine cradle stuck in the back with the bolted tie rods. (OK, to be politically correct, T-1000 and Phoenix.) Fun car for her. Was there a GT in ’85? Later had an ’88 GT with the better suspension, last car I got a ticket in, knock on wood.

        And Ron, I’m with you 100%.

    • DK

      Ahem
      Ford GT
      Doesn’t that count?

  10. Brakeservo

    How is built in Italy by an Argentinian vs built in America a mere matter of technicalities?

    • nighttrainx03

      The car was designed by American designer Tom Tjaarda and used the 351 Cleveland so I would think some credit should go to the car being American made even though it was not assembled here. I am sure there were a lot of parts on the Fiero that were not American made. For example depending on model and equipment beginning in 1985 used the Isuzu five-speed which came on four-cylinder cars. so were do you draw the line?

      • Brakeservo

        And Shelby Cobra roadsters were made in England. . . something most car enthusiasts are astounded to learn when they ask why my Cobra has the steering wheel on the “wrong side.”

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      In good natured fun, I guess the Cobra was really American………..

      • Brakeservo

        Then let’s consider the Nash Healey, American engine, British chassis, Italian body. Then Bugatti – an Italian building a car in France in a region the Germans considered to be part of their country!
        It’s all simple, don’t you think??

  11. jim s

    i wish it had a manaul. i too think the 1988 are the best of them. nice find.

  12. Coventry Cat

    Bought a new one in 1984, and loved it until it started to self destruct. I changed their catch phase to ” We Build Excretement”

  13. Jeff D

    Just wondering, why do you think the car is not a GT? All GTs from 86 through 88 were of this rounded rear end style. The other style of Fiero could be called a notchback.

    This is definitely a GT. Will agree that the lack of a Getrag 5 speed holds it back somewhat in value. A lot of these low miled cars should be coming out of the woodwork as a lot of folks squirreled them away as instant classics back in the day.

    Jeffd, owner of a frankenfiero with a v8 transplant…….and yes, it is all that and a ham sammich too! :-)

  14. Gary I

    One of the most over rated “sports” cars ever built. These were over with once they overheated for the first time and blew all of the gaskets. Engine compartment was far too tight to make the repairs easy, most got scrapped for a reason. Don’t see these very often anymore

  15. Tim

    That’s a GT for sure. If you look at it in the ad you can see it written on the side. Also the GT’s only came with the body kit

  16. Ray Devito

    The 88 Fiero for sale in California with 2232.7 miles is a GT with out the spoiler option.

    Like 1
  17. 64 bonneville

    either the iron Duke 4 or 2.8 V-6 were both difficult to work on. A friends’ wife had one she bought new in 86, hardly had 10K on the odometer before it sent all the engine gaskets out to lunch. A multi-day project repair, due to the frustration factor. And then she tried to drive it in the snow! it went from her calling it “cute” to multi syllable hyphenated words.

  18. piper62j

    Actually, I like these little guys.. Especially this model.. Having been a GM / Pontiac / Olds service manager for quite a few years, we never had any major issues with the Fiero.. In new england, it sometimes took a little longer to get heat in the passenger compartment because the heater hoses ran from the back of the engine up to the front of the dash and took a little longer to run hot water to the core.. Other than that, a nice small sporty looking car..

    This one is a great find..

  19. Paula Frolka

    I LOVE my stock 88GT!

    BTW, the Fiero featured here in Barn Finds is stated to NOT be a GT, it in fact IS a GT.

    Like 1
  20. Richard

    i HAVE HAD fieros since 1992 my current one for almost 10 years. 1444k miles on it and still going strong.

  21. nighttrainx03

    Just my opinion! I am very proud of a lot of are American made cars compered to a lot of cars from over seas. You know you can find a knock on just about any car made and as a car dealer I have seen a lot of good and bad in all of them. I am a ford guy by heart but I have had a lot of Pontiacs and found them to be pretty good cars. The Fiero 4cly was junk but I had a couple later model GT 6s and they were blast to drive. The 87s and 88s were the best. It was disappointing to see them dropped and really disjointing to see Government Motors to can Pontiac all together. I hope some day they bring back Pontiac as I always liked the firebird.

  22. piper62j

    Nighttrain.. Not sure if you’re aware of it, but Chevrolet brought the Firebird back… It’s actually the Camaro platform with an Eagle on the hood and lots of glitz and glamour..
    I too was disjointed with GM for dumping the Pontiac line.. My wife drove Pontiacs since the 70’s and loved all of them..

    • nighttrainx03

      Piper I agree!! As far as I’m concerned the firebird was always a better car in later years.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      That’s actually not a GM product but a private company.

  23. Bobsmyuncle

    I think the car is a great design and has aged exceptionally well.

  24. Asterix

    The Fiero advertised is near to new. Price asked is about what they cost new. Considering so-called “inflation” (actually devaluation), the price is a bargain in today’s fiat script.

  25. gtjeff

    Great car, I have owned a Red 88 GT since it was new. It was the first production space frame car. The Corvette switched to a space frame in 1997 and it looked very similar to the Fiero space frame. As others pointed out, this is a GT model. There is another American made mid-engine car, the Ford GT.

  26. Brakeservo

    You’ve got nearly one and a half million miles on a Fiero?? That truly is remarkable! GM should give you a medal and put your car in a museum!!

  27. John Ferguson

    I bought an ’88 GT, loaded, with a 5 speed. The little bugger did over 130 mph and out-handled a Corvette or my loaded ws6 TransAm ’88. I am not kidding. Reliability????? Ya, the first Fieros had their problems. The last ones were very good. Wish I could say that about the GTA. Read some books on the Fieros…..GM killed it because it was becoming too much like a Vette. This is a fact.

  28. David

    One of my best friends had a Fiero in college. It was bone stock but I recall it drove wonderfully. Powerplant was a V6, rear decal said the trimline was 2M6. Never gave him a problem and I wished I had room for it when he sold it. It’s a car I can appreciate.

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