One of the highlights of the car show calendar in Michigan is the annual Orphans Car Show in Ypsilanti. Except for Chevrolet Corvairs, which were built at the nearby Willow Run assembly plant, the event is restricted to vehicles produced by automakers no longer in business.
Perhaps inspired by attending that show for many years, my trip through the docket on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, features a trio of automotive orphans.
Vintage vehicles still owned by the original buyer are rare, and this 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 is one of them. Yes, it’s been driven more than 121,000 miles, but figuring that car’s age, that works out to fewer than 2,700 miles a year.
Except for the driver’s door, where some bodywork was done 20 years ago, the paint is original, as are the “Formula” decals. The driver’s seat has been reupholstered, while the seller reports the back seats have hardly been used.
The California-based car is propelled by its original 400cid V8 engine, linked to a 4-speed manual gearbox manipulated by a Hurst shifter. The engine exhales through angled pipes just below the rear quarter panels rather than beneath the rear bumper. The seller notes that the car’s original fuel tank and catalytic converter have been replaced.
The car came with an 8-track audio player, but that has been replaced with a digital system with a period-correct look. The car has factory air conditioning that needs to be recharged.
Not only is this a late-production 1988 Pontiac Fiero, but it reportedly has been driven less than 24,000 miles since it was brand new.
There were issues that caused General Motors to discontinue Pontiac’s mid-engine sports coupe, but they’d been fixed by the car’s final year, though the Fiero’s fate already had been decided. As was too typical of GM in that era, the car was finally correct, but production was ending nonetheless.
As GM was pulling the plug, a Fiero fan sent a letter to the editor of AutoWeek magazine, a poem that began “Fiero, Fiero, you left us too soon…” The poet was right, and so was the car, at last. R.I.P.
This Fiero has a 2.8-liter rear-mounted V6 engine, which was updated for the 1988 model year, and is linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The seller has owned the car for 5 years, during which the car was mounted on new alloy wheels (and is being sold with the original 15-inch factory wheels).
The car has air conditioning, power windows, a removable glass sunroof, dealer-installed luggage rack, and an AM/FM/cassette audio, though the seller notes that the sound quality from the front speakers is poor.
The AMX looked a lot like the AMC Javelin, American Motors’ answer to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, but it was built on a shortened chassis and powered by a 390cid V8, so it was more akin to a Shelby Cobra and a mere Mustang.
This AMX has won awards at AMC owners national events and, speaking of owners, has been owned by the same person for 30 years.
Its rebuilt 390 V8 is linked to a 4-speed manual transmission and has a limited-slip differential. It also has the “Go Pack” that includes front disc brakes, heavy-duty cooling, dual chrome exhaust, Torque Thrust wheels and racing stripes.
Other features include power steering, a tilt steering column and tan leather interior.
The car had been disassembled and put into storage by its original owner, but that work was done after the seller gained ownership and was done by the president of the national AMC owners club. The car originally was painted in Bittersweet orange but was restored in Matador red. It also came out of the factory with an automatic transmission, but that was replaced by the original owner.
To see these and other cars up for bidding, visit the full AutoHunter docket,