Tag Archives: pontiac

53 Cool Concept Cars… Part XXXV

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This is Tinton's 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT. He/she...
Image via Wikipedia

In 1984-88, Pontiac built the only mid-engine production car in the US… the Pontiac Fiero.  It was “sold” to the accountants at GM as a commuter car.  It was light, reasonably inexpensive, and with the 2.5L ‘Iron Duke’ 4 cylinder it got up to 40mpg on the highway.

Enthusiasts saw the space frame with the plastic panels, light weight and slick looks as a great platform to build on.  But there was a MAJOR problem…

The suspension truly sucked.  The front suspension was largely raided from the parts bin of the lowly Chevette.  The rear suspension was basically the front components from the Chevy Citation.  The suspension did a good job of keeping the car from scraping the ground as it went down the road, but lacked serious sporting intent… and the car just looked like it wanted serious sporting intent.  The available 3 speed automatic transmission was no engineering marvel, either.  It robbed much of the economy the engine gave it…

1987 Pontiac Fiero GT
Image via Wikipedia

But then…

… came late 1987.  The suspension was redesigned.  The GT had actual handling befitting the attractive looks.

The way to get one was either the GT or the Formula Fiero with a 5 speed.  Either of those came with the 2.8L V-6.  They could get the new WS6 suspension.  And they were both pretty… with the Formula getting a little nod for being slightly lighter.  Those very late 87s and 1988 cars also had better brakes and revised steering…

The “Mera” kit, pictured on the yellow car, was only available on GTs in 1987.  Ferrari put a stop to them that year… the kits were actually installed by many Pontiac dealers.

But, why build a concept if we aren’t going to tweak it a little?

Image via Wikipedia

So, let’s make a few changes.  Not much, because the car was actually quite nice in 1988 trim.  So, if we pick up a 1988 Fiero GT, it will do nicely…

  • We want more than 140hp, so let’s drop in a Cadillac Northstar V8.  The 2004 STS had a 4.6L L37 with 300hp… that is more than twice the power of the stock engine.
  • The transaxle would likely be the 4 speed automatic from the same car…
  • The interior of the Fiero is pretty attractive as it sits.  But that doesn’t mean that a nice pair of racing seats and a little carbon fiber might not be a nice addition… I was never really fond of the brushed aluminum.
  • The “cage” around which the car is designed could also be strengthened.
  • The Mera kits were only on 1987s… but why not drop one on a 1988 car?  And paint it black.  VERY black.
  • To continue the theme of black, the wheels could be black as well.

That would make a pretty cool update of a classic…  And it is really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that 1988 is 22 years ago… and that cars that I could have purchased new can be called classics.

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53 Cool Concepts… Part XXVI

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Vector W2
Image by Michael Heilemann via Flickr

There is something about aircraft technology that we Car Guys HAVE to love.  Actually, there are probably a few things.

When I think of cars with a heavy aircraft influence, the first one that comes to my mind is the Vector W2 Twin Turbo… it was a fighter plane on wheels.  We aren’t talking about a Warbird here, but rather, a full fledged modern fighter like and F-16.

From the covered switches to the feel of real carbon fiber and anodized aluminum, to the overall look of something that should be going blindingly fast, this thing really fits the part.  And I recall seeing something printed back in the 1980s when Jerry Weigert created this beast saying that he was inspired by modern fighter planes.

Pensacola Airshow 2008, F4U Corsair flyby
Image by divemasterking2000 via Flickr

So, what would I create to pay homage to fighter planes?  To start with, I might go a little more vintage… thinking back to those Warbirds, the fighter planes of WWII, like the P-51 Mustang and the F-4U Corsair.

The car I would start with would likely be a Pontiac Solstice… HEAVILY modified.  To start with, if given an unlimited budget, I might try to have the body panels replicated in aluminum (not exactly, because I’d want a little more meat in the wheel well).  And rather than paint, I might go with a slightly brushed finish… with added stripes and details painted.

The interior would have to include nice, distressed leather seating and accents.  The switches would all have to be those cool, military surplus covered style.  Strip out a bunch of the dead weight, like door panels and carpet… replace it with zinc coated aluminum supports… So, everything inside would be polished, leather or that green, zinc-coated color.

Pontiac Solstice GXP photographed at the Washi...
Image via Wikipedia

The power would have to be kind of raw, so I would like to upgrade the power with something like a Mallett LS engine.  The exhaust wouldn’t be open, but something like the Shelby Cobra side-pipes might be pretty cool… and loud enough.

Makes me want to get one of those leather ‘flying helmets’ just thinking about it.

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53 Cool Concepts… Part XIII

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Holden Commodore SV6
Image by Bidgee via Flickr

Everything old is new again…  Happy Days, set in the 1950s came out in the 1970s.  That 70s show, set in the 1970s came out in the 1990s.  How many shows from the 1990s are running in syndication right now?  And doesn’t it seem like all of the shows we liked 20 or 30 years ago are becoming movies?

Trends get recycled…  Rat Rods are referred to as “traditional” rods by many aficionados.  Retro is hot…  The New Bettle…  The New Mini…  Mustang, Camaro, Challenger.

One trend that might be ready to resurface is ‘Sedan Deliveries’.  They have a few advantages over traditional vans.. and they are cooler.  Because they are smaller and lighter, they would use less fuel.  Many of the vans running around are mostly empty anyway… at least they are most of the time.

1949 Chevrolet Sedan delivery
Image via Wikipedia

They were big in the 1930s… and again in the 1950s.  They popped up in some compact cars in the 1970s.  And then minivans got real popular in the 1990s.  There were some minivan delivery specials a while back, and more recently, the PT Cruiser and HHR have had Sedan Delivery variants…

But what about full size vehicles?  The Dodge Magnum would have been a great choice.  The Ford Taurus X was another one…  Just how cool would a company look with a fleet of Dodge Magnum delivery vehicles?

Of course, having a 2 door would be much more authentic.  GM has a perfect platform that would be relatively easy to deploy…  The Holden Commodore Ute.  Holden is the Australian marque for General Motors.  Previously, GM brought the 2 door Commodore into the US as the 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO.  The again tapped Holden when they brought the 4 door Commodore in as the Pontiac G8.

Dodge Magnum
Image via Wikipedia

Holden has a ‘Ute’ version of the same platform.  It has undergone a lot of testing in the US and should be pretty easy to certify for US sales.  It has plenty of engine options, ranging from a nice V6 up to a couple of 400hp+ Corvette V8s.

Pontiac is gone now… but there is no reason that Chevy couldn’t be the brand that benefits from the Australian Connection.  Heck, they could even bring back the Nomad name.  I don’t think it would be a top selling model… but it would be a killer niche vehicle.  Maybe that trend is ready to roll back around again.

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Lane’s 10 Best New American Cars

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Listening to the mainstream media, you wouldn’t know that there are at least 10 cars from American car makers that you can wander into the dealership and buy RIGHT NOW that are kicking the butts out from under anything coming out of Japan, Germany, Korea… or anywhere else.

Here is a sample:

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A Shadow of What it Once Was… GM

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The news this week was that Saab was on the block… first the sale block, then the chopping block.  Now there are a couple of possibilities that might mean that Saab won’t go the way of Saturn, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.  Maybe closer to the way of Hummer, though…

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