1987 Pontiac Fiero GT: Missed Opportunity

1987 Pontiac Fiero GT

When you look back at the ways oil crises have shaped the American automotive landscape, it’s rather amazing how often manufacturers squashed cars with endless potential in the interest of a knee-jerk reaction to selling fuel efficient vehicles. Or, the tendency to shove ill-conceived engines into a decent platform for the same goal – either way, the outcome is similar: good cars saddled by engineering shortcomings that tarnish their reputation for life. Enter the Pontiac Fiero, a mid-engined coupe that should have been a home run if not for its economy car roots. This 1987 Fiero GT here on craigslist in Pennsylvania is a great example of what might have been for $4,950.

1987 Pontiac Fiero GT Interior

The Fiero came about when GM realized buyers were not exactly anxious to own a V8-powered Corvette in the fuel-conscious ‘80s. At the same time, introducing a sporty platform that could siphon sales away from the Corvette was an outcome they intended to avoid at all costs, so much like the creation of the Ford EXP and Mercury LN7, a plan was hatched to build a car that looked like a high-performance model but with the efficiency of a Chevette. While I applaud them for at least making fuel economy look good, the engineering team went a little too far and gave the Fiero underpinnings from hell: quite literally, suspension components from the Chevette and Citation.

1987 Pontiac Fiero

You can imagine, then, the disappointment of buying into GM’s marketing of the Fiero as a sexy coupe with Ferrari-esque  profile and then actually driving the thing. Buyers complained that the experience behind the wheel fell far short of what was promised by the design, a complaint you can’t really blame on anyone but the consumer, yet one that I can empathize with completely. Although it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, the reaction to the Subaru BRZ / Scion FRS was much the same, as the car’s handling capabilities and design seemed to belie greater performance potential than it actually delivered. In the case of the Fiero, GM eventually gave it some performance chops, adding V6 power in 1985 and a revised suspension near the end of its production run.

Pontiac Fiero GT

This example appears stock and in clean condition. The mesh wheels were one of my favorite tweaks to the later body styles, and they fit the car perfectly – with just enough “poke” to support its aggressive profile. The blacked out tail lights were factory, and though totally ‘80s, also fit the look well. Should you need replacement parts or performance upgrades, The Fiero Store will be your new best friend (and bank account’s worst enemy.) I have this car on my list of vehicles that will soon be a bit harder to find for under $5K, especially for desirable models like the GT. Would any of you jump on the General’s mid-engined answer to the oil crisis? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Larry

    My neighbor bought one new. I think it was also an ’87 GT. Black, V6, manual trans. I thought it was fun to drive, but then again, I wasn’t the one living with the repairs. He sold it just before the warranty was up. The interior fit and finish was typical 80’s GM crap also. Too bad…it could have been a really good car.

  2. jim s

    i would rather have an 1988 but this one is still very interesting. i love the sound the V6 makes. the photo of the parking brake sticking up, in the way when getting in or out makes me laugh. not sure about the blackout taillights.

  3. Jeff Lavery

    My elementary school science teacher had a “Formula” edition. Red with black mesh wheels. Summer car only. He moved to AZ years ago and I often wonder if he still owns it.

  4. Charles Hefner

    My friend had an ’87 GT with a 4.9 liter Cadillac V8 swapped in. Was professionally done with suspension upgrades,ended up being a really nice and interesting car.

  5. boxdin

    Love 88 Fieros and have had a dozen of them since the new one I got right after they announced its demise. Imho the 88s had it all but were heavy for sure. Lots of fun to drive w great AC too.

  6. Jeff Lavery

    boxdin, they look like great, comfy cruisers. I’ve sat in a few and the seats are enormously comfortable. Fun driving position, too. I’d love to drive one with a throaty intake right behind my ears.

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