The Fiero had an extraordinarily long gestation period. The idea of a cheap, plastic-bodied Pontiac sports car goes back at least 20 years before the Fiero’s introduction, to a 1964 prototype called XP-833, later known as the Pontiac Banshee. The Banshee was the brainchild of E.M. (Pete) Estes, then Pontiac’s general manager, and John Z. DeLorean, then the division’s chief engineer. Both Estes and DeLorean had joined Pontiac back in 1956, under the auspices of general manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen. They had spent the ensuing eight years reinventing Pontiac as GM’s excitement division, with considerable success. By 1964, however, they were faced with a dilemma. Although Pontiac had some fast, good-looking products, particularly the GTO , even its sportiest models were big, five- and six-passenger cars. Pontiac had nothing resembling Chevrolet’s Corvette Sting Ray or, more significantly, the new Ford Mustang . The Mustang was then beginning a concerted assault on the youth market that Pontiac had so assiduously cultivated. It represented a serious threat.
We're re-running this story as part of Flashback Friday , when we republish classic stories from the Jalopnik archives. Think of it as Jalopnik's 'Best Of' series. We decided to run this particular story because this week, when we needed to figure out a VIN, we found this post to be particularly invaluable in helping us decode it. —Ed. The Vehicle Identification Number program was initiated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1980 as a way to standardize car serial numbers. Cars built before 1981 don't follow a universal standard and thus require manufacturer-specific information to decode. Why was this worth the ISO's time? Simple: The whole thing was created to ensure that no one car — make, model, production run, etc. — was ever passed off as another.
Models covered by the recall include 2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, the 2007 to 2010 Pontiac G5s, 2005 and 2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada and 2005 and 2006 Pontiac G4s sold in Mexico. GM says the vehicles are safe to drive and never lose steering, but they may be harder to steer when travelling under 15mph.