May 25, 2009

Loyal Pontiac owner advises GM: Don't do it!

Racinian Jeff Warg bought his first new car in 1988 -- a Pontiac Fiero GT. That was the same year General Motors killed off the four-year-old Fiero and hauled its production tooling to Spring Hill, Tennessee, to build the Saturn. (Admittedly, the early Fieros had serious engine problems and issues with fires; but by '88 they'd been overcome...)

Warg, right, still has his Fiero -- it has 107,000 miles on the odometer -- and he still hasn't forgiven GM. Worst yet, the giant automaker, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, is now killing off the entire Pontiac brand. Warg doesn't like that either -- and gives GM a piece of his mind in the current issue of BusinessWeek magazine.

Writing the My Take column, Warg says General Motors mishandled Pontiac, its third-best-selling brand, and ignored Pontiac's styling and owner loyalty. He mocks GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz for building the iconic GTO overseas, and points out that Pontiac's Solstice roadster would have been even more successful as a Fiero coupe, marketed to the 370,000 Fiero owners wanting a new sports car.

Warg, a Horlick High School grad with a marketing degree from UW-Parkside, has spent 13 years working locally in the auto industry; before that he worked for a market research firm. He offers GM advice from the heart: "GM should eliminate Saturn while keeping Pontiac alive." Failing that, GM should put the Pontiac brand up for sale -- maybe use the proceeds to help repay all those government loans.

If you look carefully, you might see Jeff Warg driving around Racine in his red Fiero, a mid-engine sports car that some enthusiasts, during its short production lifespan, 1984-1988, called "the poor man's Ferrari." Did its styling live up to that? Well, check out the picture at left: it's not a Ferarri, it's an '88 Fiero GT... on eBay right now. Be quick!

As Warg points out, "The Fiero is a unique car, it was the first production car built on a space frame chassis. Ironically, GM’s flagship sports car, the Corvette, is still built on a chassis similar in design to that of my twenty-one-year-old Fiero. The Fiero is popular with kit car companies, as almost all of the body panels bolt on and off quickly. Many people may know that the current Corvette Zo6 has an aluminum chassis; who ever heard about Fiero prototypes that had an aluminum chassis in 1986? A lot of the engineering for the Fiero was done by an outside company (Entech), which was very unusual for Detroit. This car was ahead of its time."

Today's Corvette, by the way, costs anywhere between $48,565 and $103,970. Warg's new Fiero cost $16,500. Who knows, he might be interested in a new one, if GM changes its mind and does the right thing with Pontiac...


  1. Pontiac sports cars were always unique and cool. I once owned a 1962 2-dr.coupe Pontiac Tempest. It came with a bizarre rear indy suspension, 4-speed and a 4-cyl! The compact body had beautiful and distinctly contoured lines, chrome and emblems. It was not the typical econo-boxes of the era (Nova, Rambler, etc.) This car would be be outrageous today retro-fitted with modern styling and technology. Like most of GM, the suits at Pontiac are out of touch. They don't know what they had.

  2. ...please where can I buy a unicorn?