Wildly Obscure Four-Seater Pontiac Fiero Prototype Is Real and Still Lives Today
Pontiac reportedly considered putting this mid-engined machine into production but tragically, it never came to be.
If General Motors could be encapsulated in a single car-shaped nutshell, that nutshell would be shaped suspiciously like the Pontiac Fiero. Michigan's (original) mid-engined sports car was the meeting point of novel ideas, shrewd engineering, and infuriating GM brand politics, which forbid the Fiero from competing with the Chevrolet Corvette. Instead of the V8 or boosted V6 this Pontiac deserved, it hit showrooms with a pencil pusher-approved "Iron Duke" four-cylinder, known for its lack of power and tendency to catch fire. By the time the much-maligned Fiero got suspension and a powertrain worthy of its potential, GM ran out of patience and pulled the plug.
Before the Fiero paved the way to Pontiac's grave, however, GM played with variations on its formula, experimenting with everything from extra cylinders to additional seats. An example equipped with the latter survives to this day in the hands of the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum in Illinois, on loan from its owner Frederick Bartemeyer Jr., a Fiero collector.
Bartmeyer told Motor1 that this prototype was built on the ninth Fiero chassis produced, and was used as a test mule before it got repurposed as a two-plus-two concept car in 1984. Photos from the period show that in its original guise, the four-seat Fiero sheltered second-row occupants with a glass roof, which would've guaranteed they were both hot and cramped—legroom was never the car's strong suit. Pontiac reportedly updated this concept again in 1986, pitching the glass roof, seemingly to mirror updates to the mass-produced two-seater.
While Pontiac reportedly considered sending the Fiero-for-four into production, it never did, likely because of that lack of rear legroom and the model's imminent demise. Instead, Pontiac committed the prototype to the GM Heritage Center Collection, where it lived until 2009, when GM sold some of said collection's contents at Barrett-Jackson. With just 62 miles on the clock, the only known surviving four-seat Fiero came under stewardship of the aforementioned Mr. Bartemeyer, who has cared for it the way GM never did: As one of his own.
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