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Pontiac Fiero (1984)

The Pontiac Fiero is a mid-engined sports car with hidden headlamps, that was built by the Pontiac division of General Motors from 1984 to 1988. The Fiero was designed by George Milidrag and Hulki Aldikacti as a Pontiac sports car. The Fiero was the first two-seater Pontiac since the 1926 to 1938 coupes, and also the first and only mass-produced mid-engine sports car by a U.S. manufacturer. Many technologies incorporated in the Fiero design such as plastic body panels were radical for its time.

 

A total of 370,168 Fieros were produced over the relatively short production run of five years; by comparison, 163,000 Toyota MR2s were sold in its first five years. At the time, its reputation suffered from criticisms over performance, reliability and safety issues.

 

The word "fiero" means "proud" in Italian, and "wild", "fierce", or "ferocious" in Spanish. Alternative names considered for the car were Sprint, P3000, Pegasus, Fiamma, Sunfire (a name which would later be applied to another car), and Firebird XP.[citation needed] The Fiero 2M4 (two-seat, Mid-engine, four-cylinder) was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1984. The 1984 Fiero was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 for 1984, beating out the new 1984 Chevrolet Corvette for the honor.

 

Designing the Fiero:

 

The Fiero turned out to be an unusual design for GM, which stood out from the rest of their product lines. The company had rejected development of a sporty, two-seater Pontiac since the late 1960s, as they believed it would steal sales from the Corvette. However, young Pontiac engineers in 1978 were able to sell the Fiero concept to the corporation as a fuel-efficient four-cylinder "commuter car" that just happened to have two seats, rather than a muscle car. When the engineers brought back a running prototype in less than six months, corporate bought it. However, the budget for the car, from design to building the machines for making the parts, was 400 million dollars, just a fraction of what GM generally spent on bringing a typical prototype car into production. Pontiac assigned oversight of the Fiero to Hulki Aldikacti, a Turkish émigré with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and nearly 22 years of experience under his belt.

 

Aldikacti’s initial challenge was with GM's corporate structure, which split its engineers into two categories: the car engineers who would create blueprints for the car, and manufacturing engineers who would work out the fabrication and assembly issues. Fiero blueprints traveled back and forth between the two engineering branches, wasting time and money. Aldikacti was forced to sit the two teams of engineers down next to one another, allowing for no excuses to why there was “no build” after his design was done. Many modifications in the Fiero’s production needed to be made; for instance, despite his long-standing interest in manufacturing body panels from plastic, Aldikacti consented to metal body pieces, the dies for which were much less costly.

 

As the prototypes took shape, the exterior lines resembled more of a Ferrari or Porsche than a typical GM car, but the tight budget was taking its toll on the design, particularly on Aldikacti's dream of a high performance, aluminum-block V6; the cost of developing a new engine would be more than the production of the whole car itself. Instead, Aldikacti was forced to settle for the already manufactured four-cylinder engine GM produced for the Pontiac, the “Iron Duke,” nicknamed for its heavy iron block. This engine was too blocky to fit into the tiny car so it was equipped with a smaller oil pan, causing the engine to always run a quart low.

 

Aldikacti’s unorthodox design methods and personal manner made him unpopular to most of GM’s bureaucracy. Three times he was told by counterparts at other GM divisions that his car had been killed by the corporate bean-counters. In fact, however, the Fiero project was kept alive at the wishes of certain high-ranked defenders, chief among them William Hoglund, who took over Pontiac in 1980. Hoglund took the reins as the division was suffering from the loss of their hot rods in the late 1970s; Pontiac’s cars were said to be bland, outdated, and what customers of the past would buy. In 1983 Hoglund told his top three dozen staffers that Pontiac would rebuild itself with cars that were “exciting” and “different.” These terms only described one of Pontiac’s cars in their current lineup, Aldikacti’s "commuter car." In order to build the 100,000 cars a year Hoglund’s marketing team committed to sell, Hoglund negotiated a deal to reopen a plant once shut down in the heart of Pontiac, Michigan. He and his staff wanted to prove that cooperation between management and labor could be solved without the use of robots on the assembly line, which GM’s top executives wanted to use. Hoglund allowed hourly workers to name Aldikacti's car; "Fiero" was their choice.

 

[Text from Wikipedia]

 

This Lego miniland-scale 1984 Pontiac Fiero has been created for Flickr LUGNuts 85th Build Challenge, - "Like, Totally 80's", - a challenge about vehicles created during the decade of the 1980s

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Uploaded on November 29, 2014