, it has earned multiple crossword mentions in the last two decades.
The Sporty ‘80s Pontiac
The Pontiac Fiero was mentioned in crosswords a total of eight times over the past 11 years as an answer to the clue “Sporty ‘80s Pontiac.” Seven of the features occurred in the LA Times and one popped up in the Washington Post in 2012.
When it was first designed, the Fiero was meant to be a light, zippy, and affordable
. The first model was a 1984 two-seater mid-engine with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive.
In order to make it affordable and lightweight, GM tried to think outside the box by piecing the car together using different parts from other cars they built. They added their 2.8-liter Iron Duke V-6 engine to it, and also gave the Fiero four-wheel independent suspension.
At first, its affordability and handling helped boost sales, and people were generally happy with the car. The first-year sales surpassed GM’s 100,000-unit minimum marker.
However, the Fiero’s run ended after just five years in 1988 when reliability issues began tanking sales.
The Fiero soon began underperforming, with its speed, acceleration, and reliability landing well below par.
Though GM had tried to give the car a light frame to cut its weight, the engine and overall construction of the car put it over 2,500 pounds. This severely hindered its speed and acceleration speed, as the engine wasn’t powerful enough to support the vehicle at high speeds.
. Not long after its release, people started reporting issues with engine fires caused by defective connecting rods and poor heat transfer from the iron engine blocks. The fires affected 135 cars in total, many of them starting while the car was in motion. Luckily, these only caused minor injuries and no deaths were reported.
The final nail in the Fiero’s coffin was its maintenance costs. The four-wheel independent suspension relied on a very complicated system and was a pain to repair. The cooling system’s long pipes made it prone to air bubbles as well.
The Fiero’s look is highly sought after, as well as its fun features like built-in speaker headrests and a removable sunroof. Plus, most of the Fieros around today have been restored or repaired to prevent most of its common issues, and GM issued a recall for 125,000 first-year models for engine improvements.
Though the implementation fell a bit short, some have come to admire GM’s gumption for trying to create a high-performing, affordable sports car when they did.
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Hannah is a recent college graduate with a degree in English Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Currently located in Washington State, she's interested in applying her craft in news areas across new subjects, using her skills to stretch her comfort zone. Outside of writing articles about cars and insurance, Hannah is drawn to Creative Nonfiction writing, though she loves a good fiction book. In her free time, Hannah enjoys reading, playing basketball, sunny hikes in the PNW, and flexing her creative muscles through art.