Do you ever look on with envy when someone manages to stumble across a pristine or rare Fiero for an absolutely absurd price?
Or perhaps you dream that one day you will uncover one of those special little cars sitting in the back of a forgotten car lot, or some little old lady's garage.
That is exactly what this story is about. Bert (the main character) manages to stumble across a rare yellow 88 GT with T-tops in a place he least suspected to find the car.
While this story, like others in the Fiero Fiction Series, is meant to entertain…. much of what you will read here is true. It relates to actual experiences with my rare find of a beautiful little 87 GT in 1995. - Randy Agee
t was one of those fantasy dreams that came true. You know, the ones you always read about happening to the other guy, or you just miss by minutes.
It was in late September. My friend, Bert Morgan, was on his way to Washington, D.C. He had stopped just out side of Thornburg, VA, at a rather unkempt Exxon service station. As he was filling up his car he caught a glimpse of something yellow sitting in a fenced area behind the service station.
As soon as he had paid for his gas, he pulled his car over near the outdoor Pepsi machine and walked up to the fence to get a closer look. His first impression was right. That WAS the spoiler on the back of a Fiero sticking up in the air.
The gate to the fenced area was standing open. Carefully stepping around the numerous pot holes filled with muddy water, he slowly walked up to the spot of yellow. For a moment, he couldn't believe what he was seeing. There, right in front of him, was a chrome yellow 88GT. The decklid was off of the car, resting on the roof. The trunk was full of water, and the car was covered with mud. It was tightly sandwiched between a battered Honda and a wrecked Corsica.
He wedged himself between the Fiero and the Honda to get a better look at the inside of the car, but couldn't get a door open. Even though the glass was dirty, he could see that the tan seats were leather, the transmission was a five speed and the upper courtesy light had the Performance Sound control. The tag on the back of the car indicated that it had come from Tennessee, Knox County to be exact. It had expired about a month ago.
When Bert walked back into the station, the attendant was talking on the phone. Even though he could only hear one side of the conversation, and then only pieces of that, it was obvious the caller on the other end was trying to collect on a past due bill. He noted that this guy was probably in trouble with his creditors, and needed some fast cash. The attendant's greasy gray Exxon shirt sported the name "Rusty". Burt stood with his back to Rusty, looking out the window and munching on a package of nabs.
When Rusty hung up the phone he bluntly blurted out, "Whatcha need now buddy?"
Burt was somewhat taken back by this abrupt confrontation, but recovered nicely. "I noticed you have an old Fiero back behind the fence...."
Before Burt could get the next sentence out of his mouth, Rusty began angrily responding. "That piece of no good junk? Yea, the owner got into me for over a thousand bucks and then skipped out leaving me to eat the bill. Junk yard up the road is suppose to come and look at it an' see if they can give me sumpthin' for it, but they ain't showed up yet."
As Burt opened his mouth to ask a question, Rusty started grumbling again. It was obvious he was more interested in venting his anger than responding to Burt's questions. "State Police Safety Patrol called me one morning, got me out of bed, to come pull that car in off the highway. The driver, a young preppie looking kid, rode in with me in the wrecker and axed if I would look at the car and see if I could fix it for him. They don't make them things no more, you know, parts is hard to find nowadays. Well, I told the kid I would see what I could do. There weren't no gas getting to the motor, so I called a buddy of mine who works on GM cars. He said the brain box was probably bad since it controlled how them fuel squirtin things work."
Rusty stopped long enough to take a drink from a dirty cup of cold coffee and light another cigarette. Burt was giving him all of his total undivided attention, nodding his head up and down the whole time Rusty was talking. Rusty was eating up the captive one man audience and started right back where he left off.
"So, I called the junk yard up the road and they sent me a brain box from one of their junkers. It weren't xactly the same, but close enough that all the wires plugged up. She still wouldn't hit a lick, so I called my buddy back. He said that if the brain box didn't fix it and it still weren't gettin' any gas then them injector things must be stopped up. I asked the kid if he wanted me to put new ones in and he said yea. NAPA sent me a new set of injectors and those little O-ring things. Had to use a pair of vice grips to get the red thing off the top of the engine 'cause of those funny bolts - took a long time - but I got the injectors in. Damn thing still wouldn't kick unless you poured gas down it's snout."
After taking another swig from the coffee cup, a long drag on his cigarette, and giving his crotch a good scratch, he continued.
"Well, anyways, when the kid came back I told him I had done all I could do and if he would pay his bill I would haul the car somewhere else. When he axed what his bill was I told him it was $100 for the wrecker, $200 for the brain box and $550 for the injector things. He got all pissed off, called me a bunch of names and left with a girl in a Volvo. Good thing too, 'cause I was gettin' ready to whup his butt. I ain't seen or heard from him since. I sent a letter to the address on the papers in the car telling them to pay up, but never got nothing back. The car has been sittin' here over three months now, collectin' a $15 a day storage fee. Why did ya' ask, you interested in the car or sumptin?"
Burt couldn't believe his ears. He fumbled around looking for words and finally replied. "Well, I have a friend who likes to tinker around with those cars, sort of as a hobby, I guess I could ask him if he was interested in it. What would you need to haul it off your lot?"
Rusty scribbled on the back of the phone book with his pencil. "Give me $1,500 and you can have the car. It's been here over 90 days and the law says I can sell it for what's owed me. Actually, that's over $2,000 countin' storage, but I'll give you a break."
Burt was having a hard time hiding his excitement. $1,500 for an 88 Yellow GT with T-tops in any condition was a deal and a half, and this one looked like it was better than average, even with the mess Rusty had made of the car. Burt told him he was positive his "friend" would buy the car for that and they would be back tomorrow morning to close the deal. He had three twenty dollar bills in his wallet that he gave to Rusty as a good faith deposit, accepted a receipt scribbled on an Exxon charge card slip, and quietly slipped out the door on his way to D.C.
When I got home from work that afternoon the red light on the answering machine was rapidly flashing, indicating several messages. I walked over to the phone as I scanned my mail and hit the playback button.
"Randy, this is Burt. Give me a call as soon as you get in."
"Randy, Burt again. This is important. Please give me a call."
"Randy, where in the hell are you? You gotta call me, man.
This is really important."
Just then the phone rang.
"Randy - this is Burt. Thank goodness you're home. I found a yellow 88 Fiero GT. The guy will sell if for $1,500. I have all ready been to the bank and got the money. I need you to go with me tomorrow morning to Thornburg with your truck and lowboy trailer to bring it home. Want to get there early before the guy changes his mind or sells it to someone else."
I assured Burt I would be at his house by 6:00 a.m. All other efforts to calm him down or get any really comprehensive details from him were futile.
We got to Thornburg about 7:15 a.m. Burt bounded from the van and actually had to restrain himself to keep from running into the service station. Rusty was standing there drinking coffee from the same dirty cup and sucking on a cigarette. As casually as he could, he told Rusty that he had the rest of the money and would like to load the car on the trailer.
Rusty eyed Burt closely for a few moments, then said, "You know, I been thinking. I probably quoted you too low of a price for that car. There is lots of good parts and all on that car. The tires are almost new and the seats are real nice."
Burt's heart dropped to his knees. He knew all along that this was coming and had actually prepared for it in his mind. Deep down inside he knew that this guy could hold him up for most anything he wanted for the car. Burt wanted it that bad.
Slowly, Burt responded to Rusty. "Gee, that's too bad. Guess my friend and I made the trip up here for nothing. I had to really do a lot of talking last night to convince him to put $1,500 into the car. You know, they don't make them anymore. He wanted to offer you $800 - tops. I told him I didn't think you would take it and he finally agreed to the $1,500. Sorry, Rusty, guess you will have to find another buyer."
As Burt turned to walk out the door, Rusty said, "OK, OK. Give me the $1,500 and get the piece of crap out of here."
Burt peeled 14 one hundred dollar bills and two twenties onto the counter, reminding Rusty he had all ready given him sixty bucks yesterday. Rusty filled in a DMV form that showed he had kept the car for more than 90 days, had been unable to collect the amount due from the owner and had placed a Mechanics Lien against the car. Therefore, he was selling it for the amount owed him. He signed the paper, pulled the Fiero keys out of the cash register drawer, and thrust them out to Burt. Burt grabbed them and ran out the door.
Back in Richmond, we unloaded the car in Burt's garage. A quick inventory showed that the original EMC was in the front floorboard and the only thing the car really needed was a new set of inverted torx bolts for the fuel injection unit, trunk carpet and a lot of TLC to make it look like new. We charged the battery and turned on the ignition key. I listened for a moment. The familiar burp of the fuel pump wasn't there. After checking the fuse, relay and wiring we determined the fuel pump itself must be bad. Burt added that to his list of needed parts.
When I left work the next day, I went directly by Burt's house. He had called in sick, stayed home and worked on the car all day. The body was washed and waxed, the tires and wheels scrubbed and shined. The interior had been shampooed and the windows cleaned. He had been to the Pontiac dealer and found the fuel pump in stock. The local auto recycler had sold him a nice used trunk carpet out of a wrecked 87, along with a set of inverted Torx bolts from a bad engine. He had also put the original computer back into the car. The car looked awesome, one of the most beautiful GT's I have ever seen, and one of only 241 yellow GT's ever built. Not only that, this one had T-Tops and Lumbar Seats! Burt excitedly announced that the odometer only showed 16,000 miles!
I went home, ate, changed into my work clothes and arrived back at Burt's about an hour later. We dropped the fuel tank, installed the new pump, changed the oil in the engine, added some fresh gas from a five gallon can and spun the starter. The little V6 immediately came to life with a pleasant burbling sound.
Without the benefit of tags or insurance, we pulled the little yellow car out onto the blacktop highway. The engine ran strong, the ride was smooth and the handling superb. Everything worked flawlessly - just like it was suppose to.
Burt took the papers Rusty had given him down to the DMV on Monday. The girl at his service window was surprisingly nice. She ran the VIN number on the car through the NCIC Computer to see if it came up as stolen. It only took about three minutes, but to Burt it was the longest three minutes of his life - if the car came back as stolen, he would loose it right then and there. He gave a loud sigh of relief when it came back clean. The DMV girl told him they would have to contact the DMV in Tennessee to see if there were any other liens against the car. If there were, he would have to pay them off or return the car to the first lien holder. If all came back OK, he would have a new Virginia title in about a week.
It was Tuesday of the following week. Burt had been a real pain-in-the-butt the past few days. He was almost frantic worrying about getting the title or having to give up the car. When the mailman handed him an envelope from DMV, I thought he was going to pass out in the middle of his driveway. He carefully opened the envelope and let out a shrill "ALL RIGHT". In his hands he held a new Virginia Title to the yellow Fiero.
Burt drives his yellow GT everyday, and treats it like a million dollar Ferarri F-50.
Me? Well, I just keep looking behind every service station I stop at, hoping to find my yellow 88GT sitting there too.
Randy T. Agee