Not far from the fabled automotive steering gear town of Saginaw, Michigan multiple dams broke and flooded homes and businesses Tuesday, including one in Sanford called “Fieros Forever.” Sadly, water claimed rare variants of America’s beloved 1980s mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive Pontiac sports car. Prepare to shed a tear for drowned Pontiac Fieros.
The Midland, Michigan area is reeling from tremendous rainfall that has over the past few days overflowed the Tittabawassee River and compromised the Edenville Dam roughly 80 kilometres northwest of Saginaw, and overflowing the Sanford Dam 15 kilometres downriver from the Edenville Dam.
According to Detroit-based news station WDIV Local 4, authorities asked roughly 10,000 people across multiple townships to evacuate and take shelter in local high schools and other public facilities. Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Midland County, and a major employer in Midland, Dow Chemical, “shut down all operating units except those needed to contain chemicals,” WDIV writes, attributing the information to a Dow spokesman.
Things are not going great for Dow, with WDIV mentioning potential water contamination (the Detroit Free Press expounds upon that here):
By Wednesday, floodwater was mixing with on-site containment ponds and the company and U.S. Coast Guard activated emergency plans, Dow said in a statement.
U.S. President Trump even tweeted about the flood, saying the military and FEMA are on site to help.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Obviously, this whole thing is a huge deal for lots of people, so it may seem silly to focus on Pontiac Fieros. But we’re all car enthusiasts here and frankly, every car enthusiast on earth has a soft spot in their heart for the Fiero. I know this, because early this month, I wrote a story about a Pontiac Fiero that had been used at GM’s Desert Proving Ground in Mesa, Arizona in the 1980s, and then recently wound up in the hands of two Jalopnik readers who’d purchased the machine for $US400 ($609) at a junkyard. Lots of people read that random story. Why? Because it’s a well-known fact that the world has no defences against the Fiero’s charm.
For this reason, I implore you: If there are children in your midst, have them avert their eyes from this clip showing Fieros Forever—a Pontiac Fiero museum and car dealership in Sanford—in a rough state:
Here’s a screenshot from the video:
And here’s how Fieros Forever looked before the disastrous flood:
You’ll notice in the clip that the roof of another building has drifted into the shop. That roof, Fieros Forever owner Timothy R. Evans and his wife Linda told me over a phone call, belonged to a nearby dog grooming shop.
One of the photos below from news site AJ+’s Twitter page shows the road in front of the shop completely flooded. Sitting right there on the main street are at least five Fieros with water up to roughly the tops of their tires.
10,000 people in Michigan were evacuated after 2 dams collapsed due to rain, flooding towns. One of the dams had its licensed revoked in 2018 — one of 19 rated unsatisfactory.
The governor says parts of Midland will be under 9 feet of water: "This is unlike anything we've seen." pic.twitter.com/Gbs5JZ9BQO
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 20, 2020
Tim, an independent architect now in his 70s, bought his first Pontiac Fiero—a 1984 model—in 1987, and he’s been smitten ever since. Just a few years after the initial purchase, he bought an 1985 GT, and before he knew it, he owned 10 of the things. “I just like the car. I owned a Fiero—one at a time for about three or four years, and then started collecting them,” he told me.
Tim eventually bought a building, remodeled it, and added to his fleet. “By the time we ended up, we had 40 cars and a lot of parts,” he said, telling me that his hobby naturally turned into a dealership and a Fiero parts sales outfit. (You can read more about Tim’s love for the Fiero in this 2006 story by the Midland Daily News commemorating the opening of Fieros Forever).
I asked Tim and Linda how many Fieros this flood has claimed, and they weren’t initially sure. “We’re still rattled…I can’t tell you specifically,” Linda told me. Eventually, the two said the answer was about 20 vehicles—11 nicer ones in building, 4 parts cars in the backyard, and five Fieros out front.
A lot of these vehicles were rare and quite beautiful. Just check out this Indy Pace Car variant—one of only about 2,000 ever made:
There was also a 1988 Fiero Formula—a notchback (the more attractive body style if you ask me) with many of the performance features of the fastback GT—with under 8,000 miles (12,800 km) on the clock:
Sadly, the low-mileage Formula broke down as Evans tried to move it away from the floodwaters, so it’s likely totalled.
The good news is that a red 1986 Fiero GT survived, and a 1986 Fiero GT is on a lift in the shop, so hopefully it’s in ok shape.
You can see much of the Evans collection on Orbitbid.com, including the Lamborghini kit car Fiero shown above. Tim had a stroke four years ago, prompting the couple to decide to auction the vehicles off. “We were about ready to have an auction in July, so we’ve got nothing to auction now,” Linda said over the phone in a rather solemn tone.
The collection of flooded Fiero bits even includes a Super Duty (SD4) inline-four engine—a rare GM-built motor meant for racing applications, especially IMSA:
Tim and Linda had experienced a flood before back in 2017, when the couple lost 10 vehicles after water breached the front room of their building. Things are much worse this time, though.
“We don’t know what we’ve got now,” they admitted. They’re awaiting an insurance adjuster to show up and assess the damage. Clearly it’s bad, and clearly the world has lost some truly special Fieros—but it’s just a small loss in a devastating 500 Year Flood.
h/t: Ross, Chris, Jeff, JJ, Matt