American Mid-Engine – 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT

Out of the fuel crisis and corresponding high prices of the 1970s and early 1980s came some pretty interesting cars, many intended as second cars for one or two people to commute to work. Of course, this begged the question of why this prospective car should even have 4 seats, and so a crop of two seat sporting commuter cars was born. Among those were the Toyota MR2, Honda CRX, Ford EXP (remember those?), and the Pontiac Fiero. While the Fiero delivered on compact size and mimicked the layout of such cars as the Fiat X1/9, Lancia Stratos and Ferrari 308, it also developed a reputation for engine fires and poor handling. However, this was resolved by 1988, and you can find this 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT for $3150 in New Haven, CT.

1988 Pontiac Fiero right rear

It’s remarkably difficult to find a decent Fiero for short money, and the final-year 1988 cars are the least prevalent. Most are low-mileage garage queens or clapped out beaters with cheesy modifications, but this looks to be someone’s much loved warm-weather driver. The paint is glossy, the original wheels and trim are present, and the seller says the body has no rust.

1988 Pontiac Fiero left front

This car is the most desirable specification – the 1988 GT with the 2.8 liter V6 and a 5-speed manual transmission. The shift linkage on these tends to be a bit notchy, but the tight suspension, upgraded and improved together with the steering and engines for 1988, finally lived up to what the original 1984 car promised. The reputation for fires only really pertained to the early 1984 cars, but by 1988 this problem had been resolved.

1988 Pontiac Fiero engine

Here’s the 2.8 liter V6 that makes this the only mid-engine American car made. People have upgraded these with V8s, but it’s no doubt harder to service these in that already-inaccessible engine compartment. The engine is somewhat breathless compared to, say, the Toyota 4A-GE as installed in the Toyota MR2, but that is not surprising since it also appeared in more pedestrian cars like the Chevrolet Citation. However, it does have decent torque and gets the car moving quickly enough.

1988 Pontiac Fiero interior

The interior is in good shape too, barring the split in the driver’s seat. Notice the interesting location of the handbrake – space in the center console must have been used up by cooling and hydraulic lines. Overall, this car is definitely worth an inspection, and driving to New Haven is a great excuse to swing by the landmark Pepe’s Pizza for lunch!

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2 Responses to “American Mid-Engine – 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    I would hope the plastic body panels on the Fiero would be without rust. I’ve haven’t seen a Fiero actually running down the road in forever; I do see them as redneck yard occasionally.

  2. steve in podunk Says:

    “Yard art”

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