Home » Here’s Why The Nicest Pontiac Fieros Now Cost More Than $26,000

Here’s Why The Nicest Pontiac Fieros Now Cost More Than $26,000

Fiero Gg2b
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There’s something enjoyable about cars with lore, and one 1980s Pontiac fits that bill perfectly. From jokes about fires to spawning a zillion kit cars to becoming an odd obsession, the history of the Pontiac Fiero is wild, and it looks like people are catching onto the fact that this mid-engined oddity is one of GM’s most interesting cars.

It wasn’t that long ago that you could buy project Fieros by the batch and nice ones for sensible money, but times are changing. These days, a spectacular example of a Pontiac Fiero now costs nearly as much as a brand-new Mazda MX-5. Wow.

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So how did we get here? Is it simply a matter of attrition, a weird way to launder money, or the financial effects of MD 20/20? Well, it turns out it’s something even more intriguing. This might come as a shock to many people who were alive in the 1980s, but the Pontiac Fiero is now cool, and not just ironically so.

What’s The Appeal?

silver 1988 pontiac fiero

There was only one decade in which America could produce a mid-engined sporty economy car, and that was the 1980s. Widespread adoption of front-wheel-drive was fairly new, and little mid-engined machines made a ton of sense from a parts-sharing perspective, should rear-wheel-drive be desired at some point.

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1988 Pontiac Fiero Gt Img 3673 38064 Scaled Copy

Your definition of sense and my definition of sense might be a little different, but bear with me here. With economy cars being predominantly front-engined front-wheel-drive, engineering a cheap rear-wheel-drive performance car can be expensive. In addition to a new platform, such a car would require a new rear suspension setup, a rear differential, a driveshaft, a longitudinal transmission, and all that jazz. Instead, why not just take a transverse powertrain and move it nearly eight feet backwards? You can re-use control arms and MacPherson struts, run fixed-length toe arms instead of tie rods to keep the rear wheels pointed straight-ish, re-use the transaxle, and you wouldn’t need a driveshaft running down the center of the car.

With that in mind, Pontiac used a bunch of GM economy car parts, some plastic panels, and a fancy steel spaceframe to create a mid-engined car for the masses on a shoestring budget. Was it perfect? No. An incorrect dipstick helped early four-cylinder examples self-immolate, and clueless dealers crushing the fore-aft coolant pipes under the car didn’t help either. The standard four-speed manual transmission was outdated in a world where five-speeds were becoming the norm, and the Iron Duke four-banger wasn’t exactly suited for sports car duty. However, the Fiero looked rakish, had a surprisingly plush interior, and was still fun to throw around.

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The most valuable Fieros are from 1988, and the final model year Fiero was a brilliant example of GM getting it right immediately before killing a model. See, Pontiac engineers had a dream for the Fiero’s suspension from the beginning, and it was finally realized for 1988. Instead of rear suspension from a Citation and front suspension from a Chevette, the Fiero finally got its own handling bits. New front control arms and knuckles shrunk scrub radius and reduced kingpin angle, while a new tri-link setup out back, tweaked rear spring rates, and different anti-roll bars complemented the front setup. With staggered tires and new brakes to back up the suspension changes, the Fiero was substantially improved but still not perfect, as Road & Track found out.

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Does all the work better? Definitely yes. How much better? It’s a noticeable improvement over the 1987 Fiero but still with a way to go. especially when compared with the nimble MR2. The Fiero remains a wide, heavy car with slow steering, not very subtle and not responsive to the light touch. Manhandle it and you’ll get results. Much of the older design’s numb feel is gone, there is more road feel and the car turns in better, though retaining a basic understeer. But it still has the annoying bump steer (maybe we can call it “bump wander” now), and undulating road surfaces produce so much suspension movement that it is hard to place the car accurately. Whether this is excessive front-end sensitivity or misaligned rear suspension, the driver must make constant corrections on all but the smoothest roads. On an ideal surface the Fiero has lots of grip, hanging in there better than the MR2. The ride is improved, especially in reducing the shocks that were transmitted so jarringly through the structure before.

Alright, so even the best Fiero wasn’t as buttoned-down as the first-generation Toyota MR2, but it still looked neat, and the improvements for 1988 certainly weren’t nothing. Maybe that’s partly why pristine ones cost so much.

Are They Seriously That Expensive?

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Believe it or not, absolutely. Earlier this week, this silver 1988 Fiero GT sold on Bring A Trailer for $26,500. With only 4,100 miles on the clock, it’s absolutely mint, and a nifty sight even with its three-speed automatic transaxle. The GT got a 2.8-liter V6 which upped pace dramatically over the base four-cylinder, while a fastback roofline finished everything off.

1988 Pontiac Fiero Gt Img 3698 38242 Scaled Copy

The craziest part of well-kept ultra-low-mileage cars is always how well the plastics have kept, and would you just look at the cowl plastic on this silver Fiero. It’s just so beautiful, it’s unreal. Even though I love driving my stuff, I totally understand preserving an example or two because details like this are just astonishing.

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Now, if you want one with a manual gearbox, the price for a top-tier example isn’t much more than one with an automatic. This 1988 Fiero GT has the five-speed row-your-own gearbox, and it sold earlier in May on Bring A Trailer for $27,500. Okay, so 11,000 miles may be substantially more than 4,100, but it’s still mint, and dark red with gold wheels and a tan interior feelss like an inspired choice.

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A quick glimpse inside reveals carpeting so plush you could lose a small pet in it, perfect gauge hood upholstery, and absolutely immaculate seats. It genuinely looks like a new car in here, except we don’t need a time machine to admire it. Considering how many absolutely beat Fieros are out there, the cabin of this one’s a revelation.

Is A Collector-Grade Pontiac Fiero Worth It?

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If you’ve always wanted one, why not? There are more accomplished cars you can get for between $26,000 and $28,000, but at the same time, that sort of money for a concours-grade one-year-only example of a neat car doesn’t sound obscene, especially when few Fieros were ever preserved. Plus, unlike a driver-condition 996 Porsche 911 or pretty much anything else European, a Fiero won’t cost an arm and a leg to maintain because parts are cheap.

The flipside? You can still get an absurdly good Fiero for less than half of what top-tier examples go for, and if you’re looking for a sharp driving tool, a pristine Fiero might not be the car for you. Truthfully, it’s not the car for most of us, but to the few who are obsessed, we salute you.

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)

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But youve seen it run
But youve seen it run
11 days ago

No. No. No.Nonononononononononono! I remember Fieros well. They were not fast. And ony cool in the “you actually have one?” way. I do agree they did not come fully together until the last gen with the V6. Then GM did what it does.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
20 days ago

I do like the Fiero mainly due to the awesome body style…but that much for these cars is a ripoff. 1st one is only that expensive since it has 4,100 miles…and it’s an auto?! Crackpipe
The next one’s colors look terrible…
and it’s more expensive?! Ha ha

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
21 days ago

“Instead of rear suspension from a Citation and front suspension from a Chevette, the Fiero finally got its own handling bits.”

The Jalopnik article stated: The Fiero’s rear suspension came from the front suspension of GM’s X-platform with the steering tie-rod secured to the engine cradle.

PS I have said a lot of times that the Autopian does need the proofreaders…

C Xiromeritis
C Xiromeritis
16 days ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

My brother had an ’84 Fiero that I could write a whole story on. One time, driving it back from Florida, he hit a curb somewhere near Atlanta and broke a tie rod. He went to a local junkyard and pulled one off a Chevette. ????

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
21 days ago

On a long enough timeline everything gets expensive

Myk El
Myk El
21 days ago

Having been a teen getting into cars in the last years of the Fiero, I did like the looks. But in period, nobody was knocking the Fiero for its looks. Almost everything else, but not the looks.

Church
Church
21 days ago

Is A Collector-Grade Pontiac Fiero Worth It?

Betteridge’s Law is always in effect.

Mike B
Mike B
21 days ago

I’ve always loved the look of these cars, especially the fastbacks. As a little kid in the 80’s, I spent an inordinate amount of time drawing these.

I had a buddy super into these in high school in the mid 90’s, he swapped the GT nose and wing shown here onto his notchback, it really improved the look.

Buddy Repperton's Sideburns
Buddy Repperton's Sideburns
21 days ago

These are really neat – I owned an ’88 Formula – but not at this price point. I’m really happy to see examples kept in this kind of condition, and also glad that other people are so enthusiastic about them to pay these eye-watering prices. However, the number of other cars that could be had at this price point or less that are simply vastly superior machines is too numerous to list. It won’t matter for me, since I likely won’t be in the market for another Fiero again, but this car at this price is a bit of a head scratcher for me.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
21 days ago

We had a 914, so when the Fiero came out, we were not impressed. It looked like a copy 10 years too late.

However, the fastback was a great looking car, and should’ve been the focus from the start.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
21 days ago

I can’t believe I wasn’t interviewed for this piece, Thomas! LOL
I’m on my third ’88 GT 5-speed. The first one, I had for almost 10 years, bought with 16k miles and totaled with 21k. The second, I bought with 23k miles on BaT “by mistake” (lower price than it should have gone for), had my uncle hang onto it for a couple years, then sold it at a profit. My current one is my “forever Fiero” and has more miles at 67k, but it’s my ideal spec of black on Beachwood LEATHER (pretty rare).
Here’s the story of the first and second cars:
https://youtu.be/KQFQvGeOuhM?si=Xf7asUeET1p7SNdd

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
21 days ago

And here’s my current car. I kept all the NLA aftermarket suspension from my first car (TFS lowering springs, Koni red adjustable dampers, AADCO swaybars) and put them on my current car, along with having my dream set of Forgeline wheels built for it.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/4hwhGWqqRmDka14r8

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
21 days ago

I didn’t know leather was even an option on a Fiero. I’ve had two. And multiple 3rd gen F-bodies.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
21 days ago
Reply to  Angry Bob

’88 only, and I understand it was maybe only half of ’88, at that. I got this car off-market as the seller reached out to me, directly, knowing that I was looking. I’ve bought every one of my Fieros right and actually profited several thousand on each, including totaling the first one since I had a stated value for it.

Slirt
Slirt
21 days ago

if I had the cojones y dinero I would totally EV-swap a Fiero; I used to like the GT’s shape, but now prefer the OG wedge design. -GenXer out.

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
20 days ago
Reply to  Slirt

The cool kids today are Honda K swapping Fieros. Make more than stock power while losing a ton of weight. Mine gets an autoX shakedown next weekend! – fellow GenXer out.

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