The local Pontiac Fiero owner’s club held its annual gathering in St. Charles last month – the 20th installment of which.
This is usually the season-closer for my 88 Formula, and it’s a great show because despite every car being the same make and model, each one is still unique in their own way – all travelling roads apart from each other over the last 27 years (minimum). So it sucks that I don’t really shoot this one much as I used to, largely because it’s plagued by great weather. Yes, I said great weather. Pottawatomie Park’s parking lot was redesigned a few years ago and seems to be seal coated annually – creating unusually-harsh lighting conditions.
As usual I did make effort to photograph mine, along with a couple of outstanding examples. This first one being a tastefully-modified 88 GT with larger lace wheels that are similar to stock, and body-matching painted mirrors. I believe it also had an engine swap.
This second one – another 88 GT, built in the second week of 1987 – happens to be a prototype that was part of the 1988 pilot-build program, and was #25 of 31 cars built for which. These cars tested pre-production components for the 1988 model-year cars, and were never to be available for sale to the general public. This car, outfitted with an electric-hydraulic power steering system (that ultimately never made it to production) and foglamps, spent all 18,000+ miles of its life at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds before being withdrawn in 1991, long after the Fiero program had ended. Apparently it wound up in the hands of a GM test engineer, who would drive it home from the grounds daily, and died suddenly; his parents kept the car in a barn, eventually selling it to Fiero historian Fred Bartermeyer earlier this year.
At some point, this car was also fitted with a prototype instrument cluster, center console surround, wiring harness, and glovebox for the redesigned 1990 Fiero – the last of which, interestingly, is absent from the actual 1990 Fiero GTP prototype still retained by GM’s Heritage Collection. The reason GM continued testing this car after the discontinuation of the Fiero program is likely for testing of this cluster, which ultimately went into the production 1993 Firebird.
And then one of my car’s previous owners showed up, with the VIN saved in her phone…
I’d long been searching for my car’s third owner (I’m number-five), a guy whose first name remained a mystery until that day, but never expected to meet Patricia and learn about my car’s early life! She bought it in 1990 from Castle Buick, after the original owner’s lease was up. Apparently Castle had fitted it with additional running lights and pinstriping – the latter was I guess removed before her first-seeing it (the marks from paint fading around them are still visible on the spoiler), but she had most of the additional running lights on the rocker panels removed – which explains a couple of tiny “mystery holes” on the driver side. Considering it had boating lights on the rear bumper, still, when I bought it in 2007: I cringe to think what was on the sides.
From there, the car was almost-immediately involved in an accident – I knew about it from an AutoCheck report, but interestingly it doesn’t appear on Carfax. Apparently someone ran a stop sign during the winter. The passenger door and front quarter panel were replaced – the door I knew was unoriginal to the car as it is actually from a MY1984, which had a distinct “notch” in the door sill toward the rear that was eliminated in 1985. She drove it for 11 years, finally selling it due to having too many cars back in 2001 to a guy named John Fribich. She tells me she regretted it, but was amazed to see it still enthusiast-owned and in great condition. I’m hoping to hear from her again, to see if she has old photographs or stuff worth adding to my archives.