'Fun" car advice/ Your opinion wanted

I am a fan of 1980’s era cars - mainly because I was in college then and dreamed of owning some of these rides. I am considering a car for some daily use (light) and some short weekend travel. I want the car to be comfortable, dependable, and fun to drive for trips around town and some 3-4 hour drives occasionally. I have located these cars, all in good condition: 1985 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham, 1989 Corvette, and 1991 Nissan 300ZX, 1983 Buick Riviera, and a 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT. I know it is a diverse list, but I can find reasons to like all these cars. Any deal breakers? Things I should consider? You all have always been helpful, and I appreciate your thoughts.

Of those listed without a doubt the 91 300zx. It is in a separate tier. The 1983 & 1985 are sporty boats. Fiero GT is decent car but its core roots are from Chevette. Fiero’s initially were only designed to look sporty not be sports car except in form.

The Fieros also had a distressing tendency to send a connecting rod through the side of the block and a significant number of engine compartment fires resulted from that situation. However, if a Fiero has survived this long, it is less likely that the connecting rod(s) will decide to self-destruct.

I guess fun means different things to different people. The 1985 Olds and the 1983 Buick are not what I would consider to be fun, they are underpowered boats with flobbery soft suspension. The C4 Corvette is well known to have had the some of the worst build quality known to man. Furthermore the Tuned Port L98 one of the weaker engines the Corvette has had. Get a 91-96 model with the LT-1 it’s much more potent engine. The 300ZX is probably the best combination of performance an reliability on the list. The Fiero is simply a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Despite it’s sporty looks it’s just a freaking Chevette underneath. However the 1988 model is by far the best choice as it has unique underpinings and is a proper sports car.

88 Fiero Is Unique

I own two Fieri. I agree with your Fiero comments, particularly regarding the 88, last year Fiero. It is my understanding that the suspension system underwent a major improvement over the former design. All that work and once they hit the streets Pontiac pulled the plug on the Fiero, for good.

Hopefully GM has changed their way of doing business, but back in the '80s and '90s, GM used the buying public to do the final testing of their designs that were rushed to market prior to being fully tested.

On the earlier Fieros, there were apparently 3 different reasons for the “connecting rod through the block/ engine compartment fire syndrome”, including badly cast rods and also dipsticks and manuals that both specified 3 qts. of oil in a car that really needed 4 1/2 qts.

By the final year of Fiero production, it does appear that GM had sorted out most of the earlier problems and had actually put a credible suspension in the car. And, in typical GM fashion for that era, as soon as the car was sorted out, they dropped it from production.

Dipstick Migration

I have a 2.5 4cyl and a 2.8 V6 GT. I think the rod thing you’re tallking about was with the 2.5. They also sometimes broke head bolts I believe, and then used coolant. I took it in about 2 decades back. When I got the car back, among other modifications, the dipstick was different and had relocated to the opposite end of the engine compartment. There was some extra heat stuff put on near the exhaust manifold, too, I think. Our Cars have never blown-up or done anything weird. The plastic body never shows any signs of rust and the undersides have never been run through winter slop.

P.S. I remember reading that these cars were so precisely built that the fender mounting holes, for example, were round and not elongated and the fenders went right on perfectly without adjustment!

The ‘best’ car in your list is the 300ZX, by far, while the most interesting/unusual, and certainly a fun car, is the Fiero. The Corvette, as mentioned, is a constant project, but fun to drive, the others aren’t fun in any way.

Depends on the engine, too. I think that problem was with the early 4-cylinders. The v6 motors, identical to the ones used on zillions of FWD GM cars, were pretty good and enough power-plant to make the Fiero feel at least overpowered, if not sporty.