A girl, her car, and the community that’s rallying behind them both.

Today’s post if from Community Shepherd Cheerleader, Shannon Kohn.


Photo from flickr.

My love for the Pontiac Fiero goes way back. It was my first “real” car purchase after high school in 1987. I loved the powerful cuteness found within its form, and the freedom from childhood that it represented for me. The day I had to take my dream car back to the dealership (grown-up life lesson #1 — always check the cost of new-driver, sports car insurance before you purchase said sports car, and when it exceeds the monthly payment of said sports car by more than $100, consider more cost-effective transportation options) was one of the saddest days of my young life. Seriously.

So, when I came across this article on cnn.com about 12-year-old Kathryn DiMaria and her desire to purchase, rebuild and be able to drive a Fiero by the time she turns 16, I was super stoked. There are so many things that make Kathryn’s story amazing in my eyes. But, for brevity’s sake, I’ll only share a few:

Fieros rock.

Kathryn’s only 12, yet she’s so determined to “do this thing” on her own. I know there are other kids out there like her with vision, creativity, and stick-to-it-ness, and that makes me feel hopeful for the future.

I love that her whole family is involved in her adventure and supports her passion enough to want to share in it with her and share it with others, too.

Lastly, her story is a perfect example of what community is all about. Once her dad posted threads on Kathryn’s adventure in the forums of several online Fiero enthusiast communities, massive amounts of support, encouragement, knowledge–and even money and car parts–began to pour in. That’s beyond awesome.

When I read stories like Kathryn’s, I feel extra-energized about the idea of community and about the world around me. I now also have a nagging desire to hit the interwebs to look for a gently used, ’87 silver Pontiac Fiero with low miles. Hell, maybe I’ll follow in Kathryn’s shoes and just build my own. I know there’s a passionate group of Fiero-loving folks out there that will welcome me with open arms.

We’d love to hear about your first “real” car purchase. Care to share?

  • dub

    Mind. Blown. O_o

    While not my first car, my first car purchase was a maroon 1988 (wait for it) Pontiac Fiero. I bought it from the Pontiac dealer on Motor Mile in 1991. I owned it until around 1998 when my sister-in-law borrowed it for a quick trip to a convenience store, ran a stop sign, and allowed a Ford Escort to park in the passenger seat. No one was injured, but the Fiero was unrepairable due to extensive unibody-frame damage.

    I have owned two Fieros since then, including one with a built 3.4l V6 grafted from a Camaro. And while I don’t currently own one that is road-worthy, I can easily spot them in oncoming traffic or in a parking lot. I always take note and remember the good times with my sporty little underdog.

    I have also made several pilgrimages to the annual swap-meet held at The Fiero Factory right outside of Huntsville, AL.

    • Shannon

      Thanks for sharing your history with and mutual passion for Fieros, Dub! I may have to check out that Alabama gig! Sounds really cool!

  • JimS @ 26.2

    Okay, so not a Fiero, but a car as iconic in its own right, especially in those first few years when it hit the road in the U.S. — a 1971 Datsun 240Z, silver, black interior (was there anything else at the time??) and brand-spanking new from the dealer.

    I remember the first time I saw one driving down a residential street in my hometown in the Fall of 1970. Oh my God — I fell in love at first sight! And it was a 1970 (and ½) — one of the very first to arrive on these shores from Japan.

    I knew they were out on the road and had seen the pictures — I have been a ‘car geek’ after all since my early teens — when the models were similar to Fred Flintstone’s vehicle or the Jetson’s if you remember the big finned models of those days. But those pictures didn’t do it justice. Seeing it in-person on the road was the only way to really appreciate the car.

    I couldn’t turn around to follow it because of traffic (I’ve been known to do that over the years).

    But I have never forgotten that moment — it’s as clear to me now as it was 40+ years ago. And I was determined to buy one as soon as I graduated college the next year.

    And I did. I placed an order that December on Christmas break, and waited anxiously as the 240Zs were highly allocated at the time due to demand.

    And just as I was preparing for graduation, I got a call from the dealership — my turn on the list was up for the next 240Z coming into the dealership — and it was silver — exactly what I had wanted.

    I was in heaven! Bought a set of great American Racing Wheel mags to replace the factory steel wheels and hubcaps, and it was perfect.

    I had that car for over ten years and put over 180,000 miles on it. It went with me from the East Coast to San Francisco, to New York City, to Washington. D.C., in storage when my work took me to San Juan, PR for a two-year stint, and then to Boston. Many, many memorable trips — some just to drive and enjoy the car and the road trip.

    Some may say that’s hard to believe, because that era of 240Zs were infamous for rusting out. It was not uncommon to see a 240Z driving down the road with huge rusted out gaps in various body panels — especially the lower door runners/kick plates — after only a couple of years. Ahh, although I didn’t know about the issue, I had had the car rust proofed by a Ziebart franchise almost immediately after I took possession — and it worked.

    My Z did not live an easy life — it was seriously rear-ended three times — once in Virginia, once on the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge, and the last time in Massachusetts. Every time I took it to the best repair shop I could find and had them do everything to make it right. Repainted completely twice — but always silver.

    After so much time and many miles, I was considering putting it up on blocks and storing it until I could afford to restore the engine and all the other mechanical parts that needed replacing at that point in its life. I was literally two weeks from making the drive to my hometown to put it in storage, when another person in a later model 300ZX was sitting next to me at a stop light, and asked me if I wanted to sell my Z.

    We talked. He unknowingly offered me exactly what it had cost me to buy the car originally — including tax and licensing. I mulled that over for a few days, knew that I couldn’t really afford to do anything with the car likely for some years, and finally decided to sell it.

    Should I have done it? I still struggle with that question to this day — 30+ years later. Certainly there are days when I wish I had kept the car — especially now that my grown children are even more into cars than I ever was — and I was pretty rabid. The practical side of me says — ‘Yes, it was the right thing to do.’ But my heart says otherwise.

    So on those quiet days when I’m just cruising around the Internet, I sometimes go on eBay Motors and look to see if there are any 1971 240Zs out there — and dream about the possibility of buying and restoring one to original (or better) quality.

    Maybe. Who knows? My heart says “Yes.”

    • Shannon

      Wow, Jim! What an amazing love story! Thanks for sharing and for letting us come “along for the ride!” I think you should follow your heart! I just checked ebay…there’s a ’71 240Z in Cheyenne, WY that could use a little love! ;-)