#TBT | Not a warrior from the wasteland, but a Pontiac Fiero kart

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Jan 4, 2024 | Pontiac | Posted in Features | From the May 1996 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Gordon Jolley

If intimidating your opponent is half the battle, then Alabama's Jerry Hardt has already won: his A Modified Special is just the thing for conjuring up images of the post-apocalyptic no man's land from Mad Max–hardly a hospitable place to visit. 

The wheelbase and most other measurements for this car were lifted from the donor vehicle–a good indication of the tidy packaging of a Fiero. Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

Actually, Jerry's creation has quite familiar roots-the Pontiac Fiero GT. Jerry explains: "I wanted an open-wheel car. Formula Fords go for a minimum of $3000, and spare chassis parts are expensive. I like Fieros-have autocrossed four-cylinder and six-cylinder ones-so I took a functional car minus interior, glass. doors and accessories, built a tube chassis and moved everything from the Fiero to the tube chassis."

If you look closely at the car, most every compo­nent is from the Pontiac: suspension, powertrain, cooling system, braking parts and steering assembly. Even the gauge pod, shifter and driver's seat came from the donor car.

Aside from the tubeframe, the rear suspension of this tube-frame AM autocrosser is all Pontiac Fiero. Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

Whatever didn't come from the Fiero was fabri­cated by Jerry. Since he tossed the unibody, new suspension pickup points had to be built and mated to the new tube frame. Look closely and you'll see how the upper rear spring perches were fabricated from diamond plate. While they may be custom, they're still at the same location as the stock pieces.

Jerry did replace the stock wheel and tire combo with something a bit meatier, however: 15x8- and 15xl0-inch Fastwheels with 23x8- and 23x10.5-inch Goodyear road racing slicks.

Like the rear of the car, Jerry Hardt's Special features the Fiero's original front suspension setup. Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

In the interest of simplicity, Jerry kept the 2.8-liter Pontiac V6 stock, except for replacing the exhaust system with a piece of straight pipe. Still, the 2.8 was good for 140 horsepower and 170 ft.-lbs. of torque from the factory. Couple those numbers with a sig­nificant diet, and Jerry suddenly had a very quick and low-buck effort.

Speaking of reducing weight, Jerry dropped more than half a ton when he replaced the factory tub with the tube frame. "A six-cylinder Fiero weighs 2850 [pounds]," Jerry said. "At the GRM Test & Tune Day, Carrera weighed the car at 1647."

The gauge pod is straight out of a Fiero GT. Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

Even though Jerry finished construction in May 1995, he said he still has some more work to do. He would like to construct a fiberglass body and gauge pod for the car, and once GRM tech guy Ron Mathis explained spring rates and such, more little gears were last seen turning inside Jerry's head.

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Stefan GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/18 3:51 p.m.

Ok, that's pretty much the definition of the name for this magazine for many people.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/22/18 4:50 p.m.

The Year 2004: Sounds like The Future,  looks vintage.  Somehow looks even more bitchin in black and white.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/18 5:03 p.m.

This guy was building ghettocets before it was cool!

(Well, not as cool as it is now cool)

Robbie GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/22/18 5:23 p.m.

Awesome. Do we know if he is still running it 14 years later?

racerdave600 UltraDork
1/22/18 5:40 p.m.

Not that I am aware of.  He was in our club and local region, but do not believe he is active any longer.  I can't recall seeing it after 2000 or so.  

racerdave600 UltraDork
1/22/18 5:41 p.m.

It was a big, big car, but the workmanship was pretty good.  He had a blast with it.

CLynn85 HalfDork
1/22/18 6:57 p.m.

Wonder where it is/what it looks like now


David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/22/18 9:00 p.m.
Tyler H said:

The Year 2004: Sounds like The Future,  looks vintage.  Somehow looks even more bitchin in black and white.

That article ran before 2004. I can check when I get home, but I'm guessing it's from 1996 or so. Jerry and his creation showed up at a test and tune that we did at Road Atlanta in conjunction with the ARRC. This is also from a time of film cameras, black-and-white magazine signatures and stuff like that. 

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/18 10:03 p.m.
racerdave600 said:

It was a big, big car, but the workmanship was pretty good.  He had a blast with it.

Only big by A-mod standards laugh

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
1/23/18 8:28 a.m.

This article is from 1996 as David remembered. I accidentally left the 2004 year in there when using intro text from another article. All fixed now. Sorry for the confusion. 

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