Home » Cheap And Quirky In Albuquerque: 1986 Porsche 928S vs 1985 Pontiac Fiero

Cheap And Quirky In Albuquerque: 1986 Porsche 928S vs 1985 Pontiac Fiero

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Good morning! It’s time to start your day off right, with a couple of bad automotive ideas. Today’s search takes us to New Mexico, to look at two uncommon sports cars that are each undesirable in their own way. So let’s take a quick look at yesterday’s results, and then dig in.

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Well, I’d say that’s pretty decisive. Reader “greatfallsgreen” called this a tortoise-versus-hare race, and I’m mad I didn’t think of that one myself. But it looks like slow and steady has indeed won the race. It’s the Benz by a landslide, weird misspelled ad and all.

Now, today’s choices aren’t the sports cars you’re looking for. One has the wrong transmission, and the other has the wrong engine. Still, the price is right on both of them. Let’s kick some tires.

1986 Porsche 928S – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 5.0 liter dual overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: in the mountains east of Albuquerque, NM

Odometer reading: 63,000 miles

Runs/drives? It doesn’t say, actually…

The Porsche 928 has always seemed to be a love-it-or-hate-it sort of car. It was a massive departure for Porsche, a cushy GT instead of a corner-carving sports car, with a V8 in front instead of a flat-six in back, and genuinely weird styling, with a prominent bubble-butt and those flip-forward headlights. I despised it when I was younger, but its weirdness has grown on me, and now I kinda like it.

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In 1986, the 928’s quad-cam V8 displaced five liters and made 288 horsepower in US trim, nothing to sneeze at when the Corvette was only putting out 230. This 928, like too many, sends that power to a rear-mounted automatic transaxle. Absolutely no indication is given in the ad about the car’s mechanical condition; in fact, the whole thing is written as if this car is intended to be sold for parts. But if it does run, or could run, why chop it up? There can’t be that much demand for 928 parts.

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And apart from some wear inside on the blue leather seats (!!!) and sun-scorched paint outside, it looks pretty good. In fact, if it is driveable, you could probably just leave the cosmetics alone. But a phone call is in order first, I feel, to find out if it’s functional or purely decorative.

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But as we’ve seen, air-cooled Porsche prices are absolutely batshit off-the-rails crazy these days, so if you really must get into the club, these less-desirable water-cooled cars might make a good point of entry. If nothing else, it’s a flashy V8 coupe that you don’t see very often.

1985 Pontiac Fiero 2M4 – $2,000

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

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Odometer reading: 155,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep

Who were Pontiac engineers kidding when they tried to sell this to the GM brass as an economy car? The plastic-bodied parts-bin special Fiero evolved into a quite a decent sports car by the time it was killed off, but even in the early days, this was not being cross-shopped by Sunbird buyers. It was a half-assed sports car, but the engine is behind the seats and it’s shaped like a doorstop. They weren’t fooling anybody.

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Cramming the entire drivetrain and front suspension of an X-body into the middle of a car caused its fair share of problems for these early Fieros, but recalls and decades of owner knowledge sharing makes the risk of fire from a four-cylinder Fiero these days pretty small. Of course, the Iron Duke isn’t much of an engine even when it isn’t catching fire, but a Fiero doesn’t weigh much. I’ve driven a manual four-cylinder Fiero, and it was fine. Not a screamer, but fine.

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The seller says this Fiero runs and drives, but is “not a commuter for someone non-mechanical.” But really, the same could be said of any nearly-forty-year-old GM product, or any car, for that matter. Condition-wise, from the photos, it looks nice, except for some wear on the driver’s seat. But you’ll want to keep those seats; the stereo speakers are in the headrests, presumably because there was nowhere else to put them.

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I was nine when the Fiero came out, and I loved it then, and I still love it now. Even with the Duke, I’d happily spend two grand on this, if I had a place to put another car. But I don’t, and anyway, we’re not here for me to choose a car. This is all about you.

So, good readers, what will it be? The puffy Porsche that may or may not run, or the fire-prone Pontiac with the heart of a Chevy Citation?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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72 Responses

  1. Someone may have covered this already, but no way an ’85 Iron Duke Fiero has a 5-speed unless someone swapped on in from a later car. That would be a 4 speed.

  2. 928 all day! Especially that color combo. As a kid, the 928 was the first Porsche to catch my attention. To me, the 911 was just an uglier Beetle… clearly I didn’t know shit about sportscars. I can appreciate most of their lineup these days, but the 928 still holds a special place. Nothing looks like it!
    As for the Fiero, I think it gets more hate than it deserves, but it also doesn’t do anything for me. This past year I went to a GM specific car show, and one of the largest turnouts was Fiero’s! And none of them were on fire… while I was present.

  3. The Fiero is the sensible choice (the only time I will ever say that phrase), but hot dang I love color on that Porsche. Kinda like the butt too, odd though it is. The Frogger headlights are a pass, though.

  4. Old girlfriend wanted a Fiero. Went to the Pontiac dealer with her dad, who was not a car guy. What he was, in fact, was a dumbass. Somehow, at the end of her dealership experience, she drove home into in a Fiero, but in her new … T1000!! Tan paint, tan interior, automatic. God, what an awful car.

    Anyway, I’d take the 928. Had a chance to buy one in much batter condition for $7K right before prices of all cars went nuts. Should have jumped on it. Regret.

  5. My in laws live in Los Lunas New Mexico. I remember the last time we were there we passed by a house with a rather sunburnt 928 sitting outside in the same colour. It did not look like the sort of place to knock on the door and ask if it was for sale.

    Los Lunas is to the south of Albuquerque and we didn’t venture east but I wonder if this is the same car?

  6. I suppose the nostalgia sword cuts both ways, but… 928 every time. The Fiero was a “great on paper” car and still is, especially with the 4, now don’t get me wrong, I almost bought one in 1990; my short list was CRX Si, V6 Fiero, and the MK1 MR2, I settled for Toyota, as my calculus favored Imports and RWD. That said my nostalgia brings me to the 928, because in the 80s the Fiero was such a disappointment, and the 928 evoked Rebecca De Mornay. Plus my friend’s father had a Euro-spec one and it was a blast and exotic (mostly because none of the buttons were in English). So in this match-up, the Fiero needs to be fixed while the 928 just needs to be repaired.

  7. Really tough one for me. I’ve owned 3 Fiero’s- all GT’s (an ’86 manual, an ’85 automatic, and an ’87 manual) but I’ve always lusted for a 928. This early 928 isn’t nearly as appealing or desirable as the later ones, plus it’s saddled with an automatic as most of them were, and it’s got unknown running condition with a tendency to be very costly to repair with some unobtainium parts? I’m having to vote Fiero even though it doesn’t even make 100hp.

    1. Most of the hard-to-find parts for 928s are the interior, and this one is not bad. The mechanical stuff is available. If this one is running, it’s a pretty good deal.

  8. What is the voting supposed to represent? I absolutely 100% want a 928, but probably not *this* 928. The 928 was probably my most-coveted car in my youth, exceeding even the Supra in terms of desirability. I just thought it was cool. Being a GT car, it just seemed like something you could live with everyday.

    Having said that, I also thought the Fiero was really cool too! It just seemed like such a rare and unique effort from an American marque. But personally I wouldn’t want to drive anything but the 2M6.

  9. Fiero, nostalgia strikes, hard to believe it’s that old! Makes me cringe, remembering how much I wanted one then… much like the trans am VS Aston db debate, what you spend on the clearly nicer car is only the starting point, whereas with the Pontiac you’re not as likely to go broke before you can enjoy the car.

  10. I test drove both these cars new … once. The 928 I had heard legends about and expectations were high. It rattled and shook like a tin can! I absolutely hated it. The Fiero I lusted after for its good looks and promise of mid-engine performance in the twisties. I quickly found it was gutless and wallowed like a mid-size sedan. Worst case of auto-letdown I’ve ever experienced. Had to vote for the Fiero as it still looks great, parts are cheap, and performance upgrades can be bought.

  11. I have never really liked the styling of the 928 either,but I think it would actually be a fun car to bring back to life,the engine bay looks like hell though. If you need to get mechanical it’s probably best to remove the engine.
    The same goes for the fiero å suppose and that car never really did anything for me. Guess I would go for the Porsche

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