Car Blog Showdown: Best-Ever Pontiac

1986 Pontiac Fiero

1986 Pontiac Fiero

Here’s our latest Car Blog Showdown. This week, in tribute to the expected end of the Pontiac marque, tgriffith and jgoods were each invited to tell us about what they believe to be Pontiac’s best-ever vehicle. Which is your favorite?

Before we get to our cars, jgoods wanted to share a personal Pontiac story – here goes:

Fieros have always had an amazingly bad rap—from engine fires (that were rare) to unsafe construction to lack of power. Well, I admit to the latter. My 1986 Fiero SE, like the one pictured here, was silver and slow, and it had the 2.3-liter “Iron Duke” four-cylinder. It had no fires, and it was basically a marvelous car to hotrod and enjoy for very little money. I bought it used in 2002 for less than $2,000 and finally gave it to my younger son, who had just gotten his driver’s license. Two days later he rear-ended a Volvo in the school parking lot while inserting a CD. Naturally, we have not spoken since.

The Fiero had a plastic body over a very strong I-beam structure, a mid-engine design that got even better when they added the V6 in 1985, and decent handling, which could be easily improved. Mileage ranged from 27-40 mpg. The story is well known about Pontiac’s killing the car just when it got good, and unfortunately, this typifies the kinds of marketing decisions GM is famous for.

Now here’s our showdown:

jgoods’ 5 reasons why the 1986-88 Fiero is the best Pontiac ever made:

* Where are you going to get a well-designed, easily hotrodded, safe, and sporty midengine car for this kind of money?
* The Fiero’s styling still holds up, both in SE and GT (long snout) versions.
* Fieros are still plentiful in the used-car market, many in good condition.
* The Fiero is extremely safe, with plastic body panels over a central I-beam frame, a wide stance, and no rusting.
* Drop in a small-block V8 or a 2.3-liter Quad 4 and watch what happens.

tgriffith’s 3 reasons why the 1986-1988 Fiero isn’t the best Pontiac ever made

* The Fiero was just Pontiac’s attempt to compete with the superb Toyota MR2.
* Some CarGurus user reviews say the Fiero drives like a go-cart.
* If you have a silver one, you’ll get it confused all day long with the “Back to the Future” DeLorean.

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

tgriffith’s 5 reasons why the 2009 Pontiac G8 is the best Pontiac ever made:

* The G8 GXP is the most powerful Pontiac ever, with a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13 flat at 108 miles per hour.
* The G8 GXP has the rumbling exhaust and torquey response of 1960s muscle cars combined with the precise handling and responsive ride of modern performance cars.
* The quality of the G8’s interior challenges the likes of Audi.
* The hood scoops and low front fascia make the GXP look as good as it drives.
* The team at Autoblog tried to push the GXP hard enough to expose weaknesses, but couldn’t find any.

jgoods’ 3 reasons why the 2009 G8 GXP isn’t the best Pontiac ever made:

* The G8 has a great engine, but no manual transmission available!
* The G8 still looks like a Pontiac, particularly the front end.
* When GM goes bust, what’s going to happen to your G8 for parts, service, and warranty?

Which do you think was the best vehicle ever made by Pontiac? Why?

8 Comments

  1. …the fiero and mr2 came out in the same year, but you have it backwards. the fiero was sold 1st quarter ’84. MR2 did not come out until 2nd or 3rd quarter. i mean it was still the 70’s when gm began designing the fiero, Carter was president… there was a gas crisis, hence the 4 cylinder… MR2 concept car showed up over 4 years later in ’83. get your facts straight tgriffith. and dont even try to compare those piece of crap MR2’s to fieros, theres no comparison. in fact dont mention pontiac (RIP) and toyota in the same sentence

  2. Of course its good its not american and the only pontiac part is the nose cone its actually a Holden built in Australia. This car gets badged as a Pontiac for US market Vauxhall for UK Chevrolet for Middle east and probably South Africa.

  3. No fancy sound system, no cup holders, no navi, no nothing except raw power and sex appeal. Jim Wangers took the concept and turned it into a nationwide phenomenon that lasted into the 70’s when GM brass killed it. I guarantee that years from now the 66 (and 65 and 67 to some extent) will be far more collectible than a G8. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want one…it’s a great car, and certainly the best we’ve seen from Pontiac in many years. But the ‘66…

  4. Definitely the 1960’s GTO models. This was the car that launched the muscle car era and resulted in literally hundreds of competitor models. As Norm Davis mentions, the ’66 was the cream of that crop. Most folks don’t discern the difference between “pony” cars and muscle cars, but there is a difference, and I think the early GTO’s were GM’s gems until the wonderful Buick GSX models came out. The pony cars were great fun but there was something nice about a mid-size car that you could haul the family around in during the week and take to the drag strip on Sunday. The new G8? Yawn. Just another BMW wannabee.

  5. Fiero was the best car Pontiac ever made. Granted it was a MR2 spin-off but there were plenty of great muscle cars in the late 60’s. The Fiero was a progressive move by Pontiac. Don’t get me wrong the GTO is amazing but drop a V8 in a Fiero (which many people do) and you have a car just as fast and handles waaaaay better.

  6. I’m going with the 1966 GTO. This was the first year the GTO was offered as a unique model, not a worked-over LeMans. The ’66 established and defined an entire new genre: the Musclecar. No fancy sound system, no cup holders, no navi, no nothing except raw power and sex appeal. Jim Wangers took the concept and turned it into a nationwide phenomenon that lasted into the 70’s when GM brass killed it. I guarantee that years from now the 66 (and 65 and 67 to some extent) will be far more collectible than a G8. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want one…it’s a great car, and certainly the best we’ve seen from Pontiac in many years. But the ’66…

  7. I’d have to go with the GTO, specifically the 1969 Judge, as the best Pontiac ever. *Way* more power and oomph than a Fiero, and a lot cooler and more influential than the G8, which is actually pretty much a Holden, not a Pontiac.

  8. The G8 GXP *is* available with a manual transmission. None of the other models are, but your comparison is specific to the GXP model. I have no idea about parts and service after GM goes bust, but the government isn’t going to let GM go out of business, and is backing warranties. I wouldn’t mind having a G8 GXP instead of my 2008 CTS RWD DI.

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