Home » Cars Of The Bueller Family: 1985 Chrysler Town & Country vs 1985 Pontiac Fiero

Cars Of The Bueller Family: 1985 Chrysler Town & Country vs 1985 Pontiac Fiero

Sbsd 2 21 2024
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Good morning! For your mid-week Showdown, I have a couple of cars featured in the classic 1986 John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. No, not the one you’re thinking of, or the other one. Or the other one. These are the two cars in which Jennifer Grey squeals the tires.

But first, about yesterday: Yeah, I screwed up. Of course that Polaris was a scam ad. I have no idea what those usually go for, don’t care much about them anyway, and figured depreciation was just horrible on them (because really, it should be). I should have checked, I didn’t, and I regret it.

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It doesn’t matter; the stupid thing lost anyway. As it should. If you really want to have fun on three wheels, don’t half-ass it; do it the right way. That little Sidekick is probably a little overpriced, considering it needs tires like five years ago, but at least it’s honest.

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All right; back to more familiar territory. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off isn’t really a car movie, but it has probably the most famous bit with a Ferrari of any movie ever. It’s not a real Ferrari (fun fact: those are MGB taillights), but still, it’s the one car everyone remembers. But John Hughes was a genius when it came to picking cars for movies, and the rest of the cars are absolutely perfect: Cameron’s Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Ed Rooney’s Plymouth Reliant, the other two cars in Morris Frye’s garage – an MGTC and what I’m pretty sure is a Lancia Aurelia – and these two, driven by Ferris’s mom and sister, respectively. Let’s check them out.

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1985 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country – $4,200

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Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, three-speed automatic, FWD

Location: West Hollywood, CA

Odometer reading: 69,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

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Katie Bueller, working mom, real-estate agent, and complete dupe when it comes to her son, needs a car that works for her. It has to be classy enough to show clients around, large enough to carry yard signs, economical, and easy to live with. Enter the luxury version of the most practical K-car bodystyle: the Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country wagon.

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No mere Reliant, this. The Town & Country features a quad-headlight fascia with a waterfall grille and Chrysler’s faceted crystal (actually probably acrylic) pentastar hood ornament. Behind that hood ornament is a turbocharged and fuel-injected version of Chrysler’s 2.2 liter K engine, a welcome improvement over the Mitsubishi-sourced 2.6 liter with its hateful feedback carburetor. It drives the front wheels through a three-speed Torqueflite automatic (of course).

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Inside, you get comfy leather seats in good condition, a full host of all the power toys available in the ’80s, and Chrysler’s Electronic Message Center. The leather-wrapped steering wheel could use redoing, but otherwise it looks quite nice. The seller says it runs and drives just fine, and has a new battery, tires, and front struts.

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The trademark fake woodgrain paneling outside has suffered somewhat in the California sun, but it’s all there, and passable. One of the “Town & Country” badges is missing off the rear quarter panel, and you can see the outline of where it once was. But that should make it easy to line up a new emblem, if you can find one.

1985 Pontiac Fiero SE – $11,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.5 liter overhead valve inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD

Location: Westminster, MD

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Odometer reading: 25,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

“I asked for a car,” says Ferris, “and I got a computer. How’s that for being born under a bad sign?” His sister, Jeannie, on the other hand, has her own car: a snow-white Pontiac Fiero, shown only in one scene, when she cuts school (ironically) to try to catch Ferris in the act of cutting school. When I saw the Town & Country for sale, I knew I had to find one of the other cars from the film. I wanted to find a red Audi 5000, like the one Ferris’s dad drives, but came up empty-handed. So instead, we have what might be the nicest Iron Duke-powered Fiero left anywhere.

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This SE model Fiero has a five-speed manual gearbox sitting next to its Iron Duke, providing better acceleration than the economy-geared four-speed or the completely unnecessary TH125C automatic. It still doesn’t have the performance to back up its looks – you need the V6 version to get close to that – but it’s plenty for a maniac driver like Jeannie Bueller. This one has a scant 25,000 miles on it, and as expected, runs and drives beautifully.

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It’s practically flawless inside and out, as you would expect for something with so few miles. The only issues noted by the seller are a falling headliner (though it has a sunroof, so there isn’t much headliner to begin with) and a non-functional tape deck (which means you might as well leave the Yello cassette at home). The car’s low mileage is due to being parked for many years; it was revived by a Fiero specialist and has since completed several long drives.

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I know the final-year Fiero GTs and Formulas are the best of the breed, but I greatly prefer the looks of these early cars, with the trim squared-off bumpers, the much smaller buttresses in the rear, and those classic ’80s Pontiac “Salad Shooter” wheels. Yes, the asking price for this car is steep, but if you really want a near-perfect four-cylinder Fiero, here it is.

Yes, I know Katie Bueller’s car was yellow instead of white. But it’s the first thing I think of whenever I see a Town & Country wagon, which is not very often at all, especially these days. But at least I was able to find a white Fiero, even with an eye-watering price. I know we’d all rather have Tom Bueller’s Audi, or Cameron’s Alfa, but those are getting really hard to find at any price. So we’ll stick with the American iron in the film. What’ll it be: the wagon or the sports car?

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(Image credits: Chrysler – Facebook Marketplace seller; Fiero – Craigslist seller)

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Raven65
Raven65
1 month ago

Wow… a close one! I went with the Fiero (even with the lethargic Iron Duke) because I was smitten with the car as a college student when it was released. In 1985, MTV had a big contest associated with the Hall and Oates “Big Bam Boom” concert tour where they gave them away to the four grand prize winners (the tour was sponsored by MTV and Pontiac). I entered as many times as I could, but… won nothing. One of my later college roommates had a black base model black Fiero 2M4, so I got to ride in it a few times. I’d still like to have one, though I have no good reason to do so (or garage space for it. If I did, it would have to be a last-year V6 Formula trim version (with a 5-speed, obviously).

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago

I don’t think I have seen the perfectly even vote result: 374 for Chrysler and 374 for Pontiac!

I picked Town & Country because I rode Fiero a few times in the 1980s and hated it.

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
1 month ago

the voting is so close on this one! I went with the Chrysler, because wagon, and it just looks comfy. That Fiero has to be the best-kept example of it’s breed remaining in existence.

Stephen Reed
Stephen Reed
1 month ago

I want to get a Fiero and drop a (fixed) Northstar V8 in it. Meanwhile anytime I hear LeBaron, I think of Hoovie burying his.

Fiero it is.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

Definitely Fiero, that’s in awesome condition and I want it
This should be a blowout w/ the Fiero winning but it’s not and I’ll never understand

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 month ago

Didn’t Ferris’ dad have an Audi 5000? I’ll take that Bueller car!

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Yup, Mark did mention in his article that he couldn’t find a suitable red Audi 5000 for sale.

“I wanted to find a red Audi 5000, like the one Ferris’s dad drives, but came up empty-handed.”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

I’ll take a mgtd or a w220 from Cameron’s dad’s garage over the Firestarter Fiero. And $11,000? That car sux bad even rebuilt it’s issues can’t be fixed. The Fiero should be a 3 wheeler because it is a 3 legged dog just not as loveable.

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