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March 1, 2024
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A Fake Lambo And A Real Roller: 1985 Pontiac Fiero vs 1972 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Good morning, and welcome to your Thursday edition of Shitbox Showdown! This week we’re featuring suggestions by all of you, taken from our Discord server, and you have not disappointed. Today we’re upping the price range by quite a lot to look at a Fiero with delusions of grandeur and a very pretty old British lady.

Yesterday’s vote was, shall we say, decisive. That poor half-dead AMC Concord never stood a chance. Honestly, I wish somebody would buy it and fix it up, but that somebody won’t be me, and apparently it won’t be ninety-two percent of you either. The big green Dodge land barge sailed to an easy victory, despite not currently being able to make way under its own steam.

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A derelict Mopar that color makes me think of my grandfather, and his cluttered property in Kansas. He had a house, a huge barn, and half a dozen other outbuildings of various sizes, all packed to the rafters with assorted junk. Some of it was really interesting, but most of it was just scrap, bits and pieces he’d collected over the years and then forgotten about. He was an inventor and engineer, and he gathered up parts for things he thought he might need for various projects. My cousin and I once found a Plymouth station wagon behind the barn, the same green as this Dodge, that he had simply forgotten he bought. It didn’t run, either.

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Moving on: Exotics aren’t really our thing around here, but I know an intriguing car to write about when I see one, and you all have given me two. One isn’t really all that exotic once you get past the bodywork, and the other is far too classy to be seen in a rap video like its newer progeny. Still, either one would definitely turn heads. Let’s see what you make of them.

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Engine/drivetrain: Doesn’t say, but probably a 2.8 liter V6, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Odometer reading: 85,000 miles

Operational status: I think it runs and drives? Ad isn’t very clear

Pontiac Fieros are cool. Small, low-slung, mid-engined, and agile, they had an inauspicious start, but like many GM products, grew into themselves nicely – just in time to be killed off. Lamborghini Countachs are cool too. Also small, also low, also with an engine behind the seats, albeit with twice the number of cylinders, as well as fragile and unattainable except by a fortunate few. But what about a Fiero that has been made to look like a Countach? Is that cool?

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Well, apparently some people think so. I think the idea is kind of silly, myself. But it’s a popular enough idea that full body kits exist. I can’t actually find any for sale, so I don’t know who made this kit. I did find images of other Countach kits, as well as Diablos, Murcielagos, even Miuras. Or at least, kind of; like most kit cars, they’re all just a little “off.” It looks all right at first glance – vertical doors, NACA ducts, and that signature big rear wing are all present and accounted for – but the proportions and details aren’t right.

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Worse, the donor Fiero used suffers from one of the greatest indignities ever visited upon any small sporty car: an automatic transmission. The seller doesn’t specify which engine is in this car, but I can’t imagine putting all that work into an Iron Duke-powered car. I’m assuming it has at least the optional 2.8 liter 60-degree V6, but it might have something even spicier under there. 3.8 liter V6s are popular Fiero engine swaps; it’s still no Lamborghini V12, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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It’s unfinished, and, somehow fittingly, wears Florida license plates, even though the car is in Pennsylvania. The seller says it needs interior work, and “some other work.” At least you know the exhaust is finished, I guess. I wonder how many of those pipes are functional?

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Engine/drivetrain: 6.75 liter overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Sheridan, IN

Odometer reading: 94,000 miles

Operational status: Runs beautifully, it sounds like

But perhaps you’re looking for a more subtle approach to a custom car. Something distinctive, but distinguished. May I interest you in one of the finest motorcars ever to come out of Crewe? The Silver Shadow was a technological masterpiece in its day, with disk brakes, independent rear suspension, and a self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension system licensed from Citroën. It was a handsome car to begin with, but this one has some custom touches that make it really stand out. The custom work was done when the car was new, in 1973.

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This big Shadow is powered by the famous “six and three-quarter litre” V8, for which no horsepower figures were published by Rolls-Royce; contemporary literature only listed the engine’s output as “sufficient.” It’s backed by a GM Turbo 400 Hydramatic automatic transmission, which seems like an odd choice, but it’s one of the best automatics available at the time. Between the smooth engine and transmission, and that “floating on a cloud” French suspension, I can only imagine what the ride is like in this car. It’s something I’d love to experience someday.

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This is a long-wheelbase Silver Shadow, which in the car’s second series was renamed Silver Wraith. Some of these had limousine dividers, but I don’t see one here. It’s still a car you’re more likely to be driven in than drive. It’s in lovely condition, with perfect glossy paint outside and just the right amount of wear on the leather and wood inside. The modern aftermarket stereo in the center console is unfortunate; if it were me, I would have installed a completely hidden modern sound system. But what to play on the stereo in such a magnificent automobile? I have my ideas, but you tell me, in the comments.

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I quite like the custom work on the front of this car, with the large single headlights and “Frenched” fog lights. Combined with the classic waterfall grille, they give the car a ’50s Bentley feel, and that’s not a bad thing. The rear wheel skirts, I’m less sure about. But maybe that’s just me.

You won’t be able to fly under the radar in either one of these. The Fieroghini is going to draw a huge crowd, and a ton of questions once onlookers realize it isn’t a real Countach. Any Rolls-Royce, parked anywhere except Rodeo Drive, will get attention, and anyone who knows what a stock Silver Shadow looks like will want to know more about this one. Subtle they aren’t, nor cheap, but fun? Oh yeah. Which one is more your style?

(Image credits: Fiero – Facebook Marketplace seller; Rolls-Royce – Craigslist seller)

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