Every few a decades, the folks running General Motors lose their minds briefly try to market a car that public doesn't see coming and often aren't ready for. In the '60s there was the rear-engine, air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair, then the mid-engine Pontiac Fiero in the '80s and the completely bizarre Chevy SSR in the 2000s. What all of these had in common was that they bucked the trend for American models of their era, for better or worse. The latest episode of Generation Gap tasked the hosts with finding two cult classic vehicles to choose between; they came come up with two of these quirky products from The General.

On the classic side, there's a 1967 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible. Being from later in the production run, it wears slightly more aerodynamic styling than the earlier, boxier examples. Hanging out back is an air-cooled, 2.7-liter flat-six pumping out a robust 95 horsepower. In the other corner is the somewhat more modern 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE with a mid-mounted, 2.5-liter "Iron Duke" four-cylinder, an engine nearly ubiquitous in GM cars of the '80s.

Judging by when they were new, the Corvair was far more successful than the Fiero with over 1.8 million sold. Of course, Ralph Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed kind of poisoned the well, even if the poor safety reputation wasn't entirely deserved. The Fiero on the other hand only lasted for a few model years before shuffling off, but it eventually got its own performance boost with the V6 version and rather attractive GT models. Check them both out in the video and tell us in Comments which you want in your garage.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      svt2399
      • 3 Months Ago

      Having owned a couple Fieros (86 SE and 88 GT) a total of 14 yrs between them, I can say I am partial to the Fiero. Both were manual V6s and both were a joy to own and reliable without fail. Aside from some inaccurate info given in the video short (37 mpg...never) they brought up some good points and info regarding Fiero. The biggest problem GM had with the Fiero was not as much as the car itself as produced, but the lack of really taking the design to the performance potential it could have. It is a shame really how GM dropped the ball wth the Fiero and another shinning example of a reason why GM went into bankruptcy. 

        frankM
        • 3 Months Ago
        @svt2399

        85 GT Manual 4 speed V6 Owner right there with you putting over 100,000 miles on mine as mostly a daily driver.   On nice summer days, really miss that car, and I'll always miss that exhaust.   I'll elaborate as being one of those "cult" type people who couldn't get his hands on enough pieces.   You are mostly correct - but the 'unofficial' truth as I was told through extensive research.   GM didn't kill it - Chevy MADE THEM kill it.  By the time they fixed most everything incorrect about the car it was the 88 model. And - buried deep in the R/D area of GM were the next gen Fiero models that were going to crush the Corvette's performance figures at around half to a third the cost of the vehicle, and the Chevy brass would have ZERO of that coming out of Pontiac, so it was scrapped.  Yes it started with many 'hand off" pieces, but most all of that was gone by 88.  Engine fire problem= only 4 cylinders and it was because original model had 3 quart capacity and the oil filter alone held a quart.  Engine was ever low on oil and that was the issue - main solution - change to smaller filter.

      carnut0913
      • 3 Months Ago

      A last yr Corvair and fiero are both on my dream garage list. I like the under appreciated ones 

      scott3
      • 3 Months Ago

      As a Fiero owner I can be authentic in my observations. While I love my car I do not try to hide it has some warts too. The truth is the Fiero program is a perfect case study where GM's damaged culture was front and center. The truth was Toyota did less damage to GM than GM did to GM.

      The fact the Fiero ever got made s a amazing.  

      The car had Chevy against it from the start and only the stubborn Pontiac engineers keep the program from being lost. Without the proper funding they found was to get the car made but over production in the early years to keep the numbers looking good for plant production till they could get the GM 80 program up and running hurt them as much as the Corvette guys as Chevy.

      The FIero by 1988 was just to the jumping off point Pontiac has wanted but by then it was to late and with poor publicity and the under capacity of the plant with the canceled GM 80 platform all was lost by that time.

      What many do not know is the Fiero lived on in the 4th Gen Firebird and Camaro as the styling was lifted and converted to Front engine use. John Schinella the father of the Fiero styling and F body styling said it was too good to let it go to waste.

      The Corvair was doomed by not just the Mustang and Camaro but the fact the 327 was also cheaper to build than the flat 6. The air cooled engine would not make emission easy either so once Ed Cole was gone there was little left.

      The Second Gen was on of the best styled cars GM has ever done and I would love to see a small RWD coupe done for them based on similar styling again. It would be difficult to do with to days crash standards but the clean hard top flowing lines are hard to match. To me it was so much better than the Nova and 67-68 Camaro.

      We have had 4 new Corvairs in the family and my father loved them before moving to Chevelles. I have been a Fiero owner for nearly 30 years and have no regrets. I have had fun with my car. It may not be an Enzo killer but take the T tops out and enjoying the drive just as many Spitfire and Triumph owners have had for years. It has been reliable and still can win a car show on the national level yet today.

      The people who buy these cars are not like some collectors. Today so many of the popular brands are bought as investments. The  Corvair and Fiero are bought for the true love of the car. You are not going to get rich but you can have a lot of affordable fun.

      The number one rule to a good collector car to buy is to buy what you like as if it is never worth anything then you are not out anything and still have a car you love. That is what the Auto Hobbies first rule is.

      J Shep
      • 3 Months Ago

      I had an 88' Fiero GT and man did I love that car. It handled really well, had a far amount of get up & go and looked great. It overheated like crazy , shifted like the gears were made of mashed potatoes and would fishtail in a light rain, but that's what makes cars like it "special". Now that I have enough money to really fix a car like that up, I wish that I had never sold it. 

        Brian M
        • 3 Months Ago
        @J Shep

        there's a blue 86 or 88 GT for sale down the street from me. zip code 46037.

      cpwallen
      • 3 Months Ago

      As for Mr. hypochondriac Nader the Corvair will outlive him handily.

        delsolo1
        • 3 Months Ago
        @cpwallen

        Nader receives way too much credit for the demise of the Corvair, it was the Mustang that buried the Chevy.       

          jesseleaf
          • 3 Months Ago
          @delsolo1

          Nonsense. I owned a Corvair and found it a beautiful, solid car. Those partial to the stang were an entirely different animal. Corvair wasn't a sports car. Mustang owners had fantasies but little money. Nader, the self-serving bastard, killed the car to make his career.

      Bruce Schug
      • 3 Months Ago

      The Fiero and the Corvair were both conceived to be economy/commuter cars. But they put bucket seats and a 4-speed in the Corvair, called it a Monza and the rest is history. This caused Ford to develop the Mustang. The Corvair became more of a personal sports coupe/sedan/van/pickup. Everyone knows the problems of the Fiero which they finally got right for the last year of production. A Fiero with a modern 200+ horsepower Ecotec would be a nice car even though you'd still have that '80's GM interior. The '60-'64 Corvair is a great sixties-type car and handles just fine if maintained and driven correctly. But the second generation '65-/69 Corvair is a whole other ballgame. Classically beautiful in either coupe or sedan version, wonderful handling, fun-to-drive, easy to maintain, it stands the test of time and easily wins this comparison.

      mcwald20
      • 3 Months Ago

      Live in Henderson, NV and one Aug. 23 saw two classic Corvairs. One was the first edition 60-64 convertible. And then to my amazement saw the mid 60s convertible with in 5 minutes of the first sighting. Both were yellow and in excellent condition. Would love to own one of these cars one day.

      They just have something special about the look and ride.

      Fradellas
      • 3 Months Ago

      I'm a big fan of Chevy, Powerful engine with lovely noise. Every car completely unique on the road.

      Michael J Posner
      • 3 Months Ago *Edited*

      As a Corvair owner, this video was pretty weak.  Any simple research would have shown that the Nader issue was false (a 1971 NHSTA test proved that the 1960 Corvair handled as well as other contemporary cars).  As stated here, the real killer was power/price.  As far as cult status, the Corvair also wins hands down (no offense to the Fiero).  The Corvair has  a large national club, an annual convention, and active local chapters (my Chapter the South Florida Corvair Club has at least 15 members at each meeting, and is hosting an Aircooled for Charity event on October 25, 2014 Charity Event Link).

      philip_rico
      • 3 Months Ago

      I'd love a Corvair, especially a Monza Convertible.  If people read the owner's manuals and did not over-inflate the tires, the first generation models were not an issue.  And like icemilkcoffee says, the second generation was handsome; it really had looks and style that was completely unique on the road.  Since the suspension was revised to eliminate the swing-axle design for these cars, they were unfortunately damned by ignorant first generation owners, and General Motors' unfortunate campaign to damage Nader's reputation, an effort that backfired on them.  In a way its good for collectors because GM wanted to defy Nader and extended the life of the Corvair three model years, and values are remarkably low.  A classic!!!

      superlightv12
      • 3 Months Ago

      I actually prefer the earlier Corvair for some odd reason. I would love to own a V-6 Fiero GT.  Either would be a fun classic to cruise in. When the V-6 or iron duke dies in the Fiero, there is always the option of several different V-8's. I have seen an LS-1 and a Northstar V-8 in them. They fit nicely.

      Ricky Smith
      • 3 Months Ago

      If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to buy a classic Ferrari and put a Fiero body kit on it.

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