Unrestored Final Year: 1988 Pontiac Fiero V6

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

While rumors of a new mid-engined Corvette continue to circulate, GM’s lone midship sports car continues to appreciate as an appealing classic with solid driving dynamics. We’re talking about the Pontiac Fiero, and in particular, the final-fling 1988 model with improved styling and a competent 2.8L V6 mounted behind the driver’s head. This unrestored example here on eBay is bid to over $3K with lots of time left in the auction, and the reserve remains unmet. 

The seller describes this as an unrestored, unmolested example with under 50,000 original miles. The body and interior certainly show evidence of long-term care, with contoured bucket seats showing no evidence of tearing or soiling. This is a manual transmission example, which rounds out the checklist of must-haves in a Fiero. We like these later cars which remedied some of the ills of the earliest examples and also incorporated a smooth factory body kit and sharp basketweave alloy wheels.

The improved output of the V6 really made these into formidable driver’s cars, and it’s a shame the beefier motor came so late in the production cycle. The Fiero always seems to synonymous with the type of car that finally got the bugs worked out right as GM killed the project, unfortunately. The engine bay shows a clean, dry motor that doesn’t appear to have been detailed prior to its photo shoot – simply maintained and preserved.

The aforementioned wheels, side sills, rear spoiler and smoked taillights are representative of the era in which the Fiero was made. While it’s very 80s, that’s not a bad thing if we’re talking about one of the poster cars of the era. For an enthusiast looking for an entry-level hobby car with a strong network of passionate owners and good parts support, a Fiero like this one is a great choice. If the reserve is somewhere in the neighborhood of $6K-$7K, it becomes even more appealing.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    In the day, I thought these were a little over-the-top with all the Boy Racer add-ons, but looking at it now I’m attracted to it. By ’88, these were pretty decent cars, and would scoot right along with the V-6 option. Nice handling, relatively comfortable, but — like most GM cars of that period — cursed with cheap-ish interior materials and somewhat spotty assembly quality.

    I remember a Pontiac engineer telling me the ’89 model would be a major improvement over a car that was already far superior to the first-year Fiero: stiffer chassis and much better suspension. Unfortunately, there was no ’89….

    7+
  2. RH FACTOR

    Install any aluminum LS engine with a five spd. and you really have something.

    8+
  3. boxdin

    I bought a new 1988 Fiero Formula and since then have had 8 other 88 Fieros. My fav is a 4cyl 5sp lowered w GT sway bars. On my home track (www.swms.org) that 4 cyl car was faster then any 6cyl Fiero I ever drove out there. Its a combination of low grunt from the Iron Duke and well suited gear ratios for that motor. I wish I still had that car, it had 236k miles when I got it and was still as tight as a gnats azz

    5+
    • DrinkinGasoline

      Define tight. The Fiero was far from tight.

      0
      • boxdin

        Yea the doors rattled on their hinge bushings, but the metal superstructure of the Fiero was so strong the Fiero was the best crashing car of 1988. Why do you think the Fiero weighs 600 pounds more than a MR2?

        1+
  4. DrinkinGasoline

    Such a sad time for GM’s PMD. Truth be told, GM denied this concept from PMD from it’s inception. They went ahead with it anyway. The Iron Duke version would go on to be chastised while the V6 would be revered. A Catch 22 vehicle for sure. PMD’s bastard child.

    0
  5. Reid Hall

    These cars were total flip flops, and l mean total flip flops. I believe 88-90 were a little better, thanks to Holley aftermarket, and or dealer install. These never would fly on the road, and certainly were not back to the future DeLorean cars.

    1+
    • F.A.G.

      The 1990 models are kind of rare.

      25+
      • Scott

        Indeed,my uncles brother had a 90 equipped with the 3.1 and 6 spd manual. Not bad for the day except he could never keep the carb adjusted properly

        11+
      • Don

        Rare, as in only prototypes were ever made… production ended after the 1988 model year.

        The prototype had the 215hp 3.4l 24-valve V6 later put into the Grand Prix GTP and would have been crazy fast for the time, given that it would have been somewhere around 2800lbs… 0-60 numbers I’ve seen for the ’88 Formula with the 135hp V6 were _faster_ than the ’91 Grand Prix GTP.

        I really need to get mine back on the road, it’s a fun car! 😀

        1+
  6. Anthony golden

    I had two of these. Bought an 88 GT new. Nice looking. Slow. Guy down the street had stock a Civic Si and he would leave me in the dust.
    They changed the front suspension for 88 and the control arm bushings would wear out every few months replaced under warranty. Three sets in two years.
    Got tired of it and tried to trade it in 90 but couldn’t give it away.
    GM even had a promotion at they time where they were giving incentives if you traded in a Fiero in on another Pontiac.
    Years later I bought a used base 85 2M4 5 speed off a friend that bought it new.
    That thing would get unbelievable fuel mileage.

    0
  7. T Mel

    I agree, the 89-90 models we’re quite a bit better, except for ..you know, the fact that they didn’t exist.

    31+
  8. ccrvtt

    Prince Albert of Monaco saw one of these and loved it. Pontiac never picked up on the obvious marketing coup that would have been. There’s a loyal fan base for Fieros in my area. A customer of mine has swapped in a 3.8 after much finagling and says it runs great. I have heard of SBC & LS swaps – sounds mind-bending. I’d prefer this car to the CRX or GTi shown recently on BF.

    1+
    • Jonnycrash

      I was wondering if anyone had done that with a simple turbo set up. Wow.

      0
  9. Christopher Wenz

    I remember reading about a car that swapped a 455 mill from a Toranado into a Fiero. GM always had a habit of building a car like this with Chevette parts, improving the car through model years and when they finally get it right ending production.

    1+
  10. Coventrycat

    I never thought I would see “must haves” in a Fiero description. I bought one new, thanks for the laugh!

    1+
  11. JimmyJ

    For some reason I’ve always liked these gt versions. Never drove one but I did drive the 4 banger and it was very disappointing…but I would assume the sixes would be more fun.
    I’ll take an mr2 all day long!

    2+
  12. TVC15

    I converted my Ferrari Testarossa into one of these

    23+
  13. Gearheaddropping

    I remember when these came out and the first time I drove one. It handled like it was on rails. I do remember the interior on them started disintegrating within a few months of ownership however.

    There are a couple of these running around in Detroit with V8 engines. One had an LT1 our of a ’92 Corvette and the other had a Northstar.

    0
  14. dyno dan

    these are really inflatable spares for a cadillac

    0
  15. sluggo

    Never could understand why they killed this car program, I heard from a few owners that once sorted these were a cool car, And of course they are prime donor material for kit cars and customs.

    0
    • boxdin

      The august 1988 press release stated that GM has only one sports car, the Corvette !
      Lots of Fiero history at http://www.fiero.nl Yes the worlds best site for fieros is in the Neatherlands.
      The fiero was sabotaged internally by chevy, its an incredable story.

      3+
      • sluggo

        Boxdin, Can you point us to a specific article about the Politics at Chevy and how the Fiero was sabotaged? I would be interested in reading such a story and well aware of many such battles at manufacturers some with happy endings despite adversity as well as the more common sad tales of crashing and burning.
        The British car and Motorcycle industry is a prime example and the topic is still debated to day.

        4+
      • boxdin

        Here is the wiki entry, it talks about GM supplying bent rods for the 2.5 4cyl and various other “mistakes” GM made w the

        Fiero.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Fiero

        1+
      • sluggo

        198.29.35.226
        URL: barnfinds.com/wp-comments-post.php
        Your Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/49.0.2623.112 Safari/537.36
        Block ID: EXPVP15
        Block reason: Exploit attempt denied by virtual patching.
        Time: Wed Sep 13 01:30:21 2017
        Server ID: 11011

        0
      • sluggo

        Boxdin thanks for the wiki page, thats some very interesting reading. Shame about the mismanagement. I got mildly excited for Fieros reading it.

        Found several entries very interesting as I was not aware of the Muncie trans options and the 5 speeds, also, the part about the Iron Duke being an economy engine capable of…
        “To this end, the Fiero was redesigned to use a fuel efficient version of GM’s 2.5 L (150 cu in) four-cylinder “Iron Duke” engine capable of 31 mpg‑US (7.6 L/100 km; 37 mpg‑imp) in the city and 50 mpg‑US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg‑imp) on the highway with the economy-ratio transmission option. These figures are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency test-circuit results, published by Pontiac, and confirmed from multiple sources.[3] It was impressive mileage for a 2.5 L engine of the period, and still good by today’s standards, but the three-speed automatic reduced highway mileage to only 32 mpg‑US”

        But intriguing is the part of the Ferrari look alikes from the factory/dealers… (News to me!!!!)

        ” starting with the 1987 model Pontiac dealerships offered an upgrade in the form of an “option” that changed the original body to a Pininfarina Ferrari 308-type body, called the Fiero Mera. Corporate Concepts completed the “Mera” transformation and none were sold as kit form. The Mera body change was offered only on new Fieros, sold through Pontiac dealers and is considered a class of car in its own right. Only 247 Mera’s were produced by Corporate Concepts before production was halted when sued by Ferrari.[11][12] With its limited number produced, the Pontiac Mera is one of the rarest American made automobiles.”

        1+
  16. Stu

    “V8 Archie” is a shop that does custom conversions and V8 installations on Fieros only. Google “v8archie” or check their photo gallery at http://www.v8archie.us/gallery.html

    2+
  17. matty-matt

    32V Northstar or the 24V 3.4 DOHC V6 are both decent engine bay upgrade options

    0
  18. Greg flynn

    My brother bought one first year out and thought would be a good investment. But investment turned sour when the Motör had a knock and he finally sold it years later for$600.00

    1+
  19. Jonnycrash

    My friend had a fully loaded-85? First or second uear in black. That thing started floating between 95 and 110. Plastic body panels, right? My other friends wife almost killed herself in the last year, newer body style. GT V6, hinda like this car but the later body style. Anyway, I kinda loved these ars in a little way. For an American 4 banger of the 80s, this thing handled pretty awesome taking those 2 factors in to the equation. Lol

    0
  20. ACZ

    Another interesting one is a Fiero with a Northstar swapped in.

    1+
  21. Tony B

    I have my late wife’s ’88 Fiero Formula she got new in High school. We spun a bearing in the V-6, so I drove to Iowa to pick up a 30,000 mile engine and transmission from a shop that installed Northstars in them. Almost a new motor and tranny for peanuts! Very quick car that is a blast to drive.

    2+
  22. Jeff

    A very typical GM car, once they finally got it right, they stop making it.

    3+
  23. Keith

    This one ticks all the right boxes: 88 (Lotus suspension), V6, Manual, and the fairly rare leather seats.
    The GT and Formulas are the ones to get, especially the 1988s. Lots of club support on these cars and the parts are easy to find an inexpensive.

    0
  24. HeadMaster1

    GM just got the suspension and brakes figured out on these at the end of their life, but never put a real engine in them. The Iron Duke was a forklift motor, the V6 just a tad smoother but no power. GM had the Quad-4 HO on the shelf and it would have turned the Fiero into a rocket ship at the time. I like the rear end of the GT, but prefer the front of the Formula, guess I might have to create my own Formula-GT-Quad-4-HO one of these days….

    0
    • Don

      Definitely one possibility… I’m seriously thinking about taking the drivetrain from a Cobalt SS (most likely the turbo version, the supercharged Ecotec is actually wider than the V6) and transplanting it into my Formula. One of these days I’ll get around to doing that…

      0
  25. CarNut from Winnipeg

    Saw a nice 88 at the show 2 days ago that had a 3.4 swapped in. Owner said it was tuned to maybe 180-200hp. Yellow with beige int. Pretty nice look and sound.

    0
  26. Car Guy

    I still own a documented 88 Mera Fiero built on an 88 GT 5-speed leather car. Not many Mera’s were this loaded. It’s a fun car but was slower than my stock yellow 88 GT 5-speed due to the extra body weight. With a look a like 3.4 V6 engine swap with some performance mods it is now faster than my yellow 2.8 was. I am still considering a 3.4 DOHC swap which would give the car a much higer rpm range

    0
    • boxdin

      If its a nice clean Mera I would keep it bone stock.

      0
  27. sluggo

    I TRIED to load a picture of a MERA I found on the internet and BF is having some software issues and blocked me from posting.
    Admins know about it, but right now cannot attch a pix.
    But Car guy,, would LOVE to see some pix of your car…
    If you cant post here, feel free to ping me at my throwaway email acct. NOPENotDave at Yahoo Dot com

    0
  28. W9BAG

    Wasn’t there a small run of 2M8’s, with the Caddy 4.1 aluminum V-8 ?

    0
    • boxdin

      No. Pontiac never put in V8s but V8 Archie did and a few others.

      0

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