- General Motors took a trial-and-error approach to developing the lightweight Pontiac Fiero. GM eschewed the conventional approach to building a Pontiac by designing the Fiero as a mid-engine car with plastic body panels. GM's top brass, however, had little enthusiasm for the project because it could eat into the sales of the Corvette. Despite the lack of support, the Fiero sold remarkably well during its run; more than 370,000 units were produced. Although Pontiac worked out the bugs of the early models -- including the Fiero's reputation for cooling problems and having engine fires -- GM feared future model years would see a significant drop in sales and killed it. The Fiero SE was the top trim level and during its entire production run, Pontiac manufactured 32,305 SE versions.
The Plastic Body
- Although common in contemporary automobiles, the 1986 Pontiac Fiero featured a plastic body. Plastic bodies were lightweight, eliminated the risk of rust and minimized dents, but they lacked rigidity. Pontiac solved the rigidity problem by producing a welded Enduraflex unibody constructed of steel and had the plastic body panels bolted onto the frame. Pontiac developed a method to attach the plastic panels with greater precision. It also produced the chassis with a strong spine, including using the driveshaft tunnel to further strengthen the frame.
- By 1986, the Fiero SE finally got its V-6 engine after complaints from owners that the in-line four was too weak for a sports car. The 1986 Fiero's base engine was still the in-line four. It displaced 2.5 liters and developed 92 horsepower and 132 foot-pounds of torque. The Fiero's SE model had a 2.8-liter V-6 as standard equipment. The V-6 generated 140 horsepower and 170 foot-pounds of torque to reach zero to 60 mph in a reasonable, although not breath-taking, 9.6 seconds. The Fiero SE's top speed with the V-6 was 112 mph. The engine's bore measured 3.50 inches and the stroke measured 3 inches. A three-speed automatic was standard on the SE, although buyers could order a four- or five-speed manual transmission to complement the engine.
Dimensions and Features
- The 1986 Fiero SE featured a 93-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 165 inches. It stood only 47 inches tall and measured 69 inches wide. The front and rear track width was 60 inches. It sat on 14-inch aluminum wheels. The Fiero had a curbside weight of 2,791 lbs. The Fiero SE also featured four-wheel disc brakes, which was a departure from the usual rear drums on most 1980s cars. Power windows and door locks, air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo cassette audio system were standard on the SE models.