When a reader named Dan emailed me in February asking for help getting his late father’s prized small block Chevy-swapped Pontiac Fiero back up and running, I could tell the vehicle meant a lot to Dan. So gladly, I headed over to his house and got to wrenching. Now, a few months later, Dan gave me a ride in the beast, and holy crap is it quick.
“A Michigan man is fixing his late father’s highly-modified Pontiac Fiero and I’m going to help him,” I wrote back in May about Dan, a southeast Michigan man whose father passed away tragically back in November of 2018. Dan’s dad left behind a highly-modified, bright yellow Fiero—a mysterious machine about which Dan knew very little. But what Dan did know was that the car had meant a lot to his father, and therefore, Dan set out to get the mid-engine sports car back on the road after it had sat for six years. “I kind of wanted to take a stab at it myself, for the old man,” he had told me in the original email.
Over the following months, I drove to Dan’s house a handful of times to try to revive this purpose-built speed machine. We started by throwing a battery in the vehicle and draining the oil. We then set about extracting the bad gas from the fuel tank, starting first with a basic hand pump, and when that didn’t work, we just jumped a relay and let the in-tank electric fuel pump do the work for us:
With new fuel and clean oil in the vehicle, and a fresh battery ready to pump out some electrons, the car started right up:
But the joy was short-lived, as the vehicle kept shutting off after just a few minutes of idling. We noticed that the fuel pressure was dropping shortly before cut-off, making us wonder if the issue was with the fuel pump or the fuel regulator, but Dan recalled his dad mentioning a problem with the MSD ignition box. In fact, over six years ago, his father had purchased a new MSD box to fix this issue, but he never got around to installing it.
Dan grabbed that new ignition controller, which had been recovered from that tragic 2018 fire, and we read the included wiring diagram. Between that, and simply analyzing the wiring on the faulty ignition controller in the vehicle (it was a slightly different model, but quite similar), we were able to figure out how to get the new one wired up.
After Dan and I conducted a successful engine test-run by just shoving some ignition controller wires into some connectors, Dan later crimped everything together for a more permanent solution (though he still does need to clean up the wiring a bit).
Then Dan took his first drive in his father’s beloved Fiero, and today, he gave me a ride. It was a wonderful experience. However much power this lightweight Fiero actually makes (Dan guesses somewhere around 400 ponies), I can tell you that it is more than enough. Way more:
The sound of that lobe-y V8 is incredible, especially when it occasionally burps out some loud “pops.” Dan is still working on learning how to drive smoothly with the car’s tricky performance clutch setup, but even with a bit of shuttering in the gear changes, the car felt very well put together. The engine, suspension, and brakes seemed in great shape, even after sitting for six years.
We did notice a bit of a hissing sound under braking, and there is a small oil leak from what looks like the oil filter area, but otherwise, the machine looks ready to roll for some Woodward Avenue cruising.
It really didn’t need a lot to get back on the road, and honestly, despite saying he was a novice at fixing cars, Dan did the majority of the work. This is great, because it means Dan can spend all summer sitting in the same seat that his dad used to sit in, and getting to know a vehicle that was near and dear to his father’s heart.