More than twenty years ago, Pontiac dealers sold their two-seat Fiero with a special "option" called the MERA. Essentially a complete re-body over the Fiero's then-advanced space frame, brand-new cars rolled out of the showroom looking much like a Ferrari 308. Over the next two years, 247 Fiero MERA models were built before Ferrari dropped a legal hatchet on the operation, and Corporate Concepts was forced to end production of their "kit."

We had put this blasphemy out of our minds until this week, when police in Rome uncovered a counterfeit car operation once again making fake Ferraris. In the Italian case, real customers (the police called them "car fanatics on a budget") were found to be paying upwards of $30,000 for each of these pseudo-Ferraris. The police report mentions that "donor cars" were involved, but they don't name names.

Photos released by the Italian police quickly confirmed our fears. In one image, a dusty red crackle-finish intake manifold proudly bears the Ferrari name. We recognize it as the 2.8-liter, 140-hp V6 that powered the Pontiac Fiero GT in 1988. The interior bares more irreverence as a knock-off Ferrari steering wheel tries to hide 80's-era GM switchgear. It is painfully obvious that the "Polizia" have stumbled upon an illegal reincarnation of the Fiero MERA, but this time on sacred Italian soil and offering more than one model. It is hard to imagine a criminal ring going this far to make a buck, but we are more stupefied by the knuckle-heads who actually paid them for these cars.

Thanks for the tip Mike!

Related GalleryCounterfeit Ferraris

[Source: Reuters]