Car WTFs

Will She Dig It? The Pontiac Fiero

Car WTFs

Tyler is a writer and pastor's kid who infrequently writes about being a pastor's kid. A full-time automotive journalist, Tyler buoys himself with car facts that might kill a more reasonable person.

Welcome to the first installment in our “Will She Dig It?” series. Here, we’ll take a look at some iconic vehicles that were, whether accurately or not, deemed by some to be chick magnets. Our series begins with the mid-1980s Pontiac Fiero, naturally.

Before he even took over as the high school football coach in our small North Dakota town, here’s what we knew about Coach Hogan: he was a former college jock who wore short-shorts bearing the unmistakable outline of his dick, he apparently was something of a poonhound, and he drove a Fiero. Each of these facts heavily informed what we assumed about the others.

Pontiac Fiero

Your particular Fiero experience may differ.

It was 1989 when Coach Hogan and his Fiero happened upon our shitty little town. Since my brother was something of a gridiron hero in a town that treated anything above soul-crushing mediocrity like it was goddamn royalty, he was among the first to meet Coach Hogan, a summit that inevitably took place on the freshly buffed hood of the Fiero.

To be liked by Coach Hogan meant that you got a ride in the Fiero, and since it was the only model of its kind in town, it was treated with a bit more love than it probably should have been. It had flip-up headlights and speakers embedded in the seats’ headrests–The eighties, ladies and gentlemen!–but given the way that the schoolkids would talk, it might’ve had a fucking flux capacitor as well. Such was the mystique of the Fiero.

The answer to whether chicks were digging Hogan’s Fiero during the summer of 1989 is almost comically obvious. It was quirky and scuzzy in a way that was on-the-nose for an era where every comedy film ended with a blowout party or a musical performance. It was also uniquely suited to driveway carwashes, to the point where the lack of a Def Leppard Hysteria cassette as a standard feature was a failure of the highest order. So, yes, chicks dug the Fiero.

Unfortunately, the ensuing years haven’t been particularly kind to Pontiac’s wedge-shaped curiosity. When any car is described as being “of its time,” you can pretty safely assume that it’s remembered with a fair bit of cynicism, and this is pretty much the only way that anyone talks about the Fiero anymore. It was actually somewhat forward-thinking when it was released, with plastic body panels and excellent fuel economy. In popular opinion, however, it’s remembered thusly: as a throbbing, Me-Decade punchline that Journey fans would drive while they got a dry handjob from the babysitter. They were promoted by none other than Hall & Oates. Oh, and they caught on fire. Like, all the damn time.

fieroquoteWhether fairly deserved or not, the Fiero’s dwindling social cachet says every bit as much about the era that spawned it as it does about the car itself. The list of cultural items that escaped the grotesque neon hues of the 1980s without enduring constant ridicule is pretty brief: the Talking Heads, Bill Murray, and that’s about it. The Fiero’s reputation is just another casualty of an era that most would rather act like they knew was stupid all along.

In 1988, citing slumping sales figures and some well-publicized production issues (Read: Fire!), GM brought the axe down on the Fiero after only five years of production. And, despite its notoriety for being a too-heavy, underperforming and highly-flammable relic, the Fiero still maintains something of a parallel legacy as a memorable and earnest failure.

Of course, answering whether or not it’s memorable isn’t why we’re here, is it? So, in regard to the Pontiac Fiero: Will she dig it? Unless she’s a single mom in a one-cop town thirty miles from the Canadian border–or a high school jock who only wants to listen to Journey with the new football coach–she probably will not.

Next time on “Will She Dig It?” — The early-90s Dodge Stealth.

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