Sam Patrick’s 1988 Fiero is his second hot rod. He’d already built a Camaro, which he sold in order to buy the Pontiac.
That’s a pretty good bit of hot rodding for anyone, but now consider the fact that Sam doesn’t even have his driver’s license yet. That’s really good hot rodding.
When I asked him why he chose the Fiero, Sam simply said, “It caught my eye. I liked it a lot. So I bought it.”
Sam acquired the Pontiac just two months ago. “The clear coat was peeling off, the seats were a little ripped, and it was pretty dirty,” he told me, “but everything else was good.”
Sam has enjoyed helping his dad Chris work on cars for a while now. Sam says Chris’ home shop has “all the things I need to work on a car,” including a paint booth.
That paint booth came in handy, because the first thing that needed work on the Fiero was the exterior. Sam sanded down the entire body, and had to re-primer a good portion of it. There were some cracks in the Fiero’s composite body, which the Patricks repaired. Sam then sprayed on a new coat of the original Pontiac Red paint. A set of reproduction body decals from the Fiero Store completed the body restoration.
The composite body was not the only unique feature of Fieros. First introduced in 1984, they came out at a pretty low point for American performance cars. There was a lot of excitement back then about Pontiac producing an affordable, mid-engine, rear wheel drive, two seat sports car.
Budget constraints at GM forced some compromises on the car’s design, and performance of the 1984 models left a bit to be desired. But a V6 option was added in 1985, a 5-speed manual transmission in 1986, and some engine tweaks, including fuel injection, increased horsepower in 1987. By the time the 1988 models like Sam’s rolled around, the automotive press were favorably impressed with how the Fiero had progressed.
Sam’s ‘88 has the fuel injected, 2.8 liter V6. He freshed it up with an oil change and tune up, including new plugs, plug wires, belt, and a new EGR valve. It’s mated to a Turbo Hydramatic THM-125 three speed automatic.
Another notable feature of Fieros were the four wheel disk brakes – not a common feature in the 80s. Both the brakes and steering are manual, which Sam describes as “kind of stiff”, but the original components are still working well. Still, he’s exploring brake and suspension upgrades that might be incorporated in the future.
Other than the previously mentioned rips in the driver’s seat, Sam reports “everything was perfect” in the interior. He’s replaced the factory stereo with a Kenwood unit that’s more to his liking, but otherwise it’s 1988 Pontiac – including the original spare tire and jack in the trunk.
Sam just recently got his Candadian L license in British Columbia – the same as a learner’s permit in the U.S. He’s still got to drive with another licensed driver, and he’s been doing almost all of that in his Fiero.
“I like it a lot more than when I saw it the first time,” he told me. “The performance is good and it’s great on gas.”
And Sam likes the uniqueness of his sports car. “You don’t see it every day,” he said. “I’ve only seen one other since I’ve gotten it. A lot of people are interested in looking at it.”
Future plans for the Fiero may include a new “show car” paint job, and the suspension and brake upgrades. Or they might include flipping the Fiero, like Sam did with that Camaro, for something else.
“If I really like it, I might just keep it,” Sam said. When I asked him which way he was leaning, he replied, “Probably keeping it.”
Hot rodding is not just about 60s and 70s muscle cars. With young people like Sam leading the way, and unique cars like his Fiero still out there to be built, the future of our sport is bright.
Photos courtesy of Sam and Chris Patrick.
Click here to see more photos of the Fiero.
To keep up with the progress on Sam’s Fiero,
follow Chris’ Instagram account @pairadicephotography.