A few months back, The Smoking Tire posted a request for interesting local cars and I posted a photo of my car. I guess they liked it, because in late September, Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire and /DRIVE channel spent the day track-testing my Fiero at a Speed District event at Buttonwillow Raceway. They were originally going to film it up Angeles Crest or another canyon road, but I insisted on taking the car out to a racetrack so it could be driven to the limit.
It was awesome seeing my car covered in cameras, and nice to hear that the car was fun to drive from someone who has driven everything from Lamborghini Aventadors to the Hennessey Venom GT.
The resulting footage was turned into full-length 10-minute video on /DRIVE+ for subscribers, and a 5-minute version (not trailer, just a shorter edit) on the free /DRIVE channel.
The videos turned out AWESOME. I didn’t think I spoke well during the interview, but I guess I did alright. With clever editing, I narrate a large portion of the film!
For once I came home from a track day and didn’t have to edit any videos myself!
Here’s the full length version for /DRIVE+ subscribers:
… and the free, shorter version:
Big thanks to Matt, Thaddeus, Zack and Nino for making the film, to Speed District for hosting the track day, and to my friend Chris for long hours spent helping to make the car ready for a flawless day at the track!
With aftermarket wheels and/or thicker brake rotors, the Fiero’s stock wheel studs don’t provide much thread engagement with the lug nuts. I found that on the front of my ’88 Fiero I was only getting 8 turns with the C4 12″ rotors and my Motegi wheels. That’s 12 mm of thread engagement on a 12mm stud. Marginal at best. With the 3mm spacers I wanted to add behind my rotors to get some control arm clearance, I would be down to a dangerous 6 turns or 9mm.
I scoured the ARP and Dorman catalogs to find a good candidate. The 1988 front hub holes are about 0.490″ with the stock studs removed. Dorman recommends a hole size between 0.017″ and 0.027″ under the knurl OD, while ARP recommends 0.005″ for iron and steel hugs and 0.007″ for aluminum. It’s not clear why there’s such a big range or difference between the recommended interference.
The closest longer studs that would fit are ARP 100-7708 and Dorman 610-323. The ARP 100-7708 studs have an 0.509″ knurl, making a 1/2″ reamer the closest common size to the correct hole size (0.504″ by ARP’s recommendation). When installed, these studs increase the thread length by 0.84″ (21.4mm) over the stock studs.
The Dorman 610-323 studs have a 12.80 mm (0.504″) knurl, which fit in the original hub holes based on Dorman’s specifications. They are 54 mm long, thus increasing the thread length by 12mm over the stock studs.
I pressed the lug studs out of a brand new Rodney Dickman 88 front hub and measured the hole size as about 0.490″ at the smallest and around 0.50″ at the largest. I went ahead and pressed the ARP studs in without reaming the hole to 0.503″, and they pressed in without too much trouble. The hub didn’t split, but a few metal shavings were produced by the knurl pushing through the hole. This fit exceeds the ARP recommendation for the interference fit, but is within spec if Dorman’s recommendation is followed.
Since these studs are so much longer than stock, open-ended lug nuts must be used. For GM wheels the stock ones should work. In the aftermarket, I found some inexpensive Gorilla lug nuts on Amazon.com. The part number is 20033SD for a set of 20 lug nuts and the spline drive socket. These nuts are narrow enough to fit in aftermarket wheels. I tried some White Knight lug nuts but they were too large in diameter to fit in the lug but counterbores in my wheels.
The Gorilla lug nuts fit perfectly in my aftermarket Motegi MR116 wheels. The only disadvantage of these nuts is that the require the use of Gorilla’s spline drive key. Some hex drive lug nuts are available from Vorshlag that look like they might fit, since they are small enough to use a 17mm hex instead of the 19mm hex on the White Knight lug nuts that were too large for my wheels.
The same studs will work just as well on the rear bearings as on the front.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a professional safety equipment builder, and I do NOT recommend building your harness bar the same way I built mine! This bar isn’t legal for any wheel-to-wheel racing, and race harnesses are not legal for use on the street. I just needed a way to put harnesses in the car for autocross and track days, since there’s no way to lock the stock seatbelts on a Fiero. Use a professional race shop to build a roll bar/cage if you intend to use a race harness. Race harnesses, harness bars and roll bars are NOT to be used on the street.
I recently finished building and installing a harness bar in my ’88 Fiero. I designed it so no parts need to be removed from the car except the B-pillars, the stock seatbelt can still be used, and no holes need to be drilled in the chassis.
I designed a bracket to go over two existing holes in the B-pillar. I mock up all my brackets in cardboard, then trace them onto the material to be cut on a bandsaw, and bend it using my vice and a hammer or adjustable wrench. Obviously a sheet metal brake would be a lot easier and more precise, but I don’t have room for one in my shop right now.
There is a hole at the bottom of the B-pillar that’s big enough to fit my arm through to feed the inner backing plate into place. I had two M12 nuts welded to the backing plate so I don’t have to fumble with nuts on the inside.
I bent the harness bar from 1.5″ OD, 0.120″ thickness 4130 “chrome moly” steel using a JD Squared Model 32 manual bender:
The brackets (inner and outer) were cut from 3/16″ 4130 steel plate and bent in my vice:
I may add another M8 or M12 bolt in the 3rd hole, but haven’t done so yet.
If anti-rotation bars are desired, the main harness bar can be tied into plate bolted to the OE shoulder belt mounting points.
The bracket shown mocked up in cardboard would be made from 3/16″ 4130 steel plate and would be tied into the main harness bar with 1.5″ OD 0.120″ wall thickness tubes. This can help prevent the main harness bar from rotating forward when the shoulder harnesses pull on it in a collision.
When I have enough parts ready to fill a large batch, I’ll probably have the harness bar powdercoated. I’ve read that some race teams don’t powdercoat or paint their roll cages or harness bars, so that it’s easier to inspect for cracks. However, some surface rust will develop over time if it isn’t protected.
With its mid-engine layout, the Fiero needs to shuttle coolant from the rear to the front of the car, where the radiator is located. The coolant flows through tubes located just inboard of the rocker panels. Since this is a common location for modern cars to be lifted for maintenance and repair, shops often damage the coolant tubes by using them as jackpoints. All it takes is one careless mechanic or tire shop employee to crush the pipes and render the cooling system ineffective.
The damage is often hidden, as shown below:
Replacement coolant tubes for the 1984 to 1987 Fieros are available from The Fiero Store. However, they are expensive, and tubes for 1988 Fieros are not available.
With access to a welder, it’s possible to repair kinked/crushed tubing.
First, cut the tubing at the narrowest part of the kink. A hacksaw will make quick work of the thin stainless steel tubing.
When not suffering from damage, the coolant tube should have an inner diameter of ~1.236″. A socket with approximately the same outer diameter can be used as a mandrel to bend the tube back into shape.
To facilitate removal, insert a long bolt through the drive hole in the socket. Later, a slide hammer can be used to remove the socket.
It may be necessary to bend the coolant tube with pliers or a vice to make room for the stepped smaller diameter of the socket.
It will be necessary to secure the coolant tube in a vice to prevent it from moving while knocking the socket into the tube.
After making the small diameter of the socket fit by bending the tube with pliers or the vice, carefully hammer the socket evenly into the tube. Make sure to wear safety glasses! The chrome plating of the socket or the hammer itself may chip. Using a piece of wood to drive the socket is also a good idea, as it can help prevent the hammer and socket from chipping, and help distribute load.
After the socket is fully inserted into the tubing, remove it using a slide hammer or channel locks (see photo below).
Repeat the socket-reshaping procedure described above fro the other piece of the cut tube.
Finally, prepare the tube for welding by sanding the inside and outside, and grind or deburr the faces if necessary to get the best fit.
If you don’t have access to a welder, a muffler shop should be able to weld the tube back together. Make sure they know it’s stainless steel, and tell them to line up the welded seam of the tubing.