In 2009, General Motors sold off a sizeable portion of its private Heritage Collection cars to the public, via a series of high-profile Barrett-Jackson auctions. High Performance Pontiac readers already learned about one such car-the Piranha Concept Mule Car-in our Dec. '12 issue.

Now, we've located another rare late-model Pontiac that GM sold to keep the lights on: an '85 PPG Fiero GTP PPG Pace Car.

Model-year '85 was the sophomore outing for Pontiac's sporty two-seater. Four trim levels were available: a base coupe, the Fiero Sport, the Fiero SE (with either an Iron Duke 4-cylinder or a V-6), and the Fiero GT (V-6 only). In total, 76,371 Fieros were produced that year. In the mid-'80s, Pontiac paired with OEM sub-supplier Autostyle Plastics (formerly C&F Stamping Company) and PPG Industries to produce very special Fiero GTs. They were renamed Fiero GTPs.

"There were six of these specially prepped Fiero GTPs in various experimental PPG pearl metallic colors that made up the PPG Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Precision Driving Team," says Ed York, owner of PPG Fiero GTP No. 6. "The team consisted of female drivers, who performed driving maneuvers and stunts during the pre-race festivities at race tracks during the '86 and '87 CART Indy Car racing season. The purpose of these special Fieros was to showcase the capabilities of the automotive suppliers to the automotive industry in a highly visible and public atmosphere."

Once these cars' active-duty assignments were completed, our research indicates PPG likely returned them to GM. Five of them were donated to automotive-training schools, and one was retained for GM's private collection. In April 2009, having seen the Fiero GTP No. 6 (the GM collection car) in 2003 and 2008 at the 20th and 25th Fiero Anniversary shows, York won it by telephone bid for a hammer price of $11,000.

Body

As the photos in this feature show, the PPG Fiero GTPs underwent extensive body modifications before signing up for active-duty on the exhibition circuit. Since Autostyle Plastics is no longer in business, we relied upon a brochure, which PPG distributed at track events in 1986 and 1987 to help fill in some details of the cars' conversions.

"Full-size renderings and clay models were created in Autostyle's ... design facility to insure their pledge to maintain a traditional Pontiac styling theme. New components were modeled to harmonize with the rear fascia, hood, roof, door panels, and front bumper energy management system of the Fiero SE [Note: All six PPG cars started life as Fiero GTs, not SEs]. When the modeling and engineering were complete, low-volume molds were constructed for the initial hand-built vehicles.

"The front bumper system was modified to accept the fascia, turn-indicator lamps, and grilles. Fender panels were redesigned to accommodate wider wheels. Rocker and door extensions were used to visually widen and lower the body.

"The entire rear body structure was redesigned. Sail-panel modifications provide a longer side profile with the rear-engine hood supporting an integral rear spoiler. Airflow exiting the engine compartment is aided by grillework added to the rear deck area. The transformation was complete with aerodynamically functional body refinements that manage the flow of air under, around, and over the car to improve stability.

Paint

PPG does not have any remaining records regarding the six GTPs. We must rely upon the aforementioned brochure, which offers some specific details:

"Because the Fiero GTP is a reassembled vehicle, it presents a paint-finish challenge. Body painting is most economical when processed after complete exterior assembly. This necessitates a low-temperature bake cycle to protect interior components while minimizing thermal expansion creep that can cause permanent distortion of the assembled body pieces. PPG has created a non-isocyanine system with a 180 degrees F curing temperature. This high-solids basecoat and clearcoat system is elastomeric in nature and covers a prime coat. It produces a uniform appearance plus compensates for the panel finish variations.

"The unique pearlized effect of basecoat is produced by special PPG mica pigments. The wet appearance of the finish is a result of the ultra-high-gloss characteristics of the clearcoat material. All colors are warm, yet forceful; bright, but not overbearing. This system offers fast film-build properties and is applied wet on wet. Dispersion of the base material is excellent, plus it resists application striping and modeling."

Engine

According to York, the original code-L44 V-6 remains with his GTP. He observed that a larger-than-stock custom oil pan had been installed. His research suggests that the intake manifold's upper plenum area was enlarged for more air volume.

It is important to note that Fred Bartemeyer, the owner of two other of these six rare Fieros, has torn down their engines. He states, "The cam has more lift and modified duration to com- plement the custom intake. Flat-top pistons were installed, along with reinforced connecting rods. The crankshaft remains stock, the oil return galleys were enlarged to compensate for track usage, and the engine was increased from 2.8L to 3.0L

HPP cannot verify that these modifications were also performed on York's Fiero, although it is likely.

Suspension and Brakes

For these GTPs to perform professional track exhibitions for thousands of spectators, Autostyle and KONI engineers worked on suspension enhancements. They strengthened the front crossmembers and control arms and mounted them to the frame with high -durometer bushings. They installed KONI adjustable gas shock absorbers and coil springs, plus a 1.00-inch front sway bar.

In the rear of the car, the engine cradle (mounted to the space frame with specially designed bushings), lower control arms, and driveline were reinforced.

The factory parking brake was swapped out for a mechanical-over-hydraulic-disc parking brake. In addition, the brake rotors, calipers, bearings, knuckle assemblies, and axles (which came from the Chevrolet Chevette) were upgraded with heavy-duty components from the 6000 STE. KONI adjustable gas-filled struts; stiffer springs; and a rear-mounted, 0.875-inch sway bar tighten up the rear's capabilities.

Wheels and Tires

The stock 14x6 wheels and 215/60R14 tires were upgraded to Remotec alloy wheels (16x7-inch front and 16x8 rear) wrapped in 205/55VR16 and 225/50VR16 Goodyear Eagles, respectively.

"The tread is directional with the tires being marked right side and left side. Also the tread has been shaved to eliminate tread squirm during high-speed maneuvers," York observes.

Exhaust

The catalytic converter and muffler's substrate were removed for increased performance.

Interior

The brochure states: "Interior appointments were redone to harmonize with Fiero GTP's existing exterior styling and high- performance character. There is rich leather everywhere to enrich the GT's interior. The Autostyle custom leather seats are unparalleled in fit, finish, and impressive styling. Leather accents both door panels and the passenger dash-panel storage envelope. Not overlooking function for flair, voltmeter, oil pressure, and water temperature gauges have been clustered above the radio. [Note: This Fiero has an oil temperature gauge in place of a voltmeter.] The steering wheel-leather covered, of course."

York states that the factory A/C system and radio were removed, as evidenced by his car and others he has documented.

Other Track Prep

The six Fiero GTPs were outfitted with dual batteries, a light bar, leather-covered roll bar, engine and cabin fire-suppression system, brake-bias adjustment, three-point racing harness, custom fuel cell in the front compartment, transmission cooler, two-way radios, and custom seats.

Conclusion

York says he bought this car because it gave [him] the unique opportunity to obtain a limited and rare piece of Fiero and automotive history, which was never intended to be supplied to the public. He says he has enjoyed two favorite moments with it: The first was when the auctioneer said, "Sold!" to his bid, and the second was when he met a transporter truck at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, and his PPG Fiero GTP rolled off of the truck before he brought it home.

His future plans for his rare, exhibition-only Fiero are to restore the dual battery brackets, and install a second battery, two fire extinguishers, and a lightbar.

Since Pontiac and Autostyle no longer exist, and HPP was unable to source the names of the persons directly involved in the PPG Fiero GTP program, there are many questions left unanswered. That's why we're turning to High Performance Pontiac readers. If you have any information that could help tell the full story of these ultra-rare two-seaters, please send an email to christopher.phillip@sorc.com.

York wishes to thank Fred Bartemeyer, who has been doing research on the PPG Pace Cars for over 15 years. Both men intend to preserve and keep these rare Fieros together for future generations of car enthusiasts to enjoy.)