1987 Fiero, 4.3 Litre Diesel ?!?!

This conversion belongs to Rick Michelhaugh, of Tennessee, and what an interesting conversion it is..maybe the ONLY one of its kind, known in the WORLD!

The Diesel Fiero
By Rick Michelhaugh

Last year I was at the junkyard looking for parts for my wife's Fiero. The guys at th junkyard said they had just gotten one in. I went back to take a look at it and it was in better than the one that I was working on! I bought it! They said it had a bad engine but I figured I could fix it. I got it for $150. I got it home but couldn't work on it for a while. A few months later, I started working on it. It was a 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder with a 125C transmission. It needed a battery, and a starter. Then it fired right up. It ran fine. So I started driving it to work, about an 8 mile trip. It kept overheating. It turned out to be losing water only while driving. The front waterjacket cover/bracket was leaking. I removed it and replaced the gasket. It was fine. I drove it for several months with the only problem it was it burning oil with little smoke. Now we come to the Diesel. I had salvaged the diesel engine and transmission from the 1982 Buick Century that I had purchased new. The car was getting old and my 16 yo son had smacked it in the front. It is a FWD V6 4.3 liter Diesel with a 125C transmission. It had 177,000 miles and it was burning a bit of oil. I figured the rings were stuck. I decided to fix the rings and put the engine and transmission into the Fiero. I ended up doing a total rebuild on it. I couldn't quite bring myself to tear apart the engine and not rebuild it completely. I always liked the Diesel and it looked like it would fit right into the Fiero engine compartment. I bought an extra engine cradle from a Fiero to build the Diesel on while I continued to drive the Fiero to work. When I was done, I could take a weekend and and drop the old engine and cradle out and put the Diesel right in with a minimum of down time. The first few pictures are of the Diesel mounted on the Fiero engine cradle sitting on my trailer. I hauled it up to the muffler shop to have a custom Y-pipe made. The original Diesel had a crossover pipe from the front cylinder bank to the rear bank then the exhaust pipe came out of the center of the rear manifold. Since I wanted to use an original V6 stainless steel exhaust system,which I had bought for $10.

I needed to replace the crossover pipe with a custom Y-pipe where the Y came forward to where the Fiero exhaust is. I made a blankoff plate for the original exhaust outlet on the rear manifold.

I hooked up the radiator, put a jumper on the oil cooler lines, connected some fuel lines and a battery and presto it fired up!! I figured I would use the original AC compressor, etc. But to do that, I had to disable the Power Steering pump, so I could use all of the original accessories and serpentine belt.

Once everything was ready I raised the Fiero and dropped the old engine cradle and installed the Diesel engine cradle. Everything went pretty well until I went to close the decklid and the reinforcing rib on the underside of the decklid hit the AC compressor and the alternator. Crap!!!! I ended up having to use the Fiero AC compressor which was smaller in diameter and moving the alternator. I had to make and modify mounting brackets for them and find a serpentine belt to fit the new arrangement. It all worked out.

This picture shows that there is about 3/8 in clearance between the decklid and the AC compressor and alternator.

The wiring was pretty simple for the Diesel. I salvaged wiring and connectors from a Fiero so everything plugs right into the Fiero. I could plug the the old engine back in without having to mess with the wiring. I now have about 150 miles on the diesel engine and it runs great. I am having a little difficulty getting the transmission torque converter lockup to work properly. But I am sure I will get it to work soon.
Rick Michelhaugh
178 Walker Circle
Clinton, TN 37716

Chris's Comments...
The 4.3 Litre V6 Diesel seemed to have some interesting plans for the future, starting in 1986, with a rumored GM cars powered by the 4.3 Litre Tuned Induction Diesel, which turned a Front Drive Diesel Ciera, into a 0-60 in 10 second diesel cruiser using modified intake and exhaust..it was clear, as it always has been, that the Diesel V6 is hiding performance...get into one, and tell me that it DOESNT perform for 85 Horsepower! The Rear Drive cars with this engine can easily bring a chirp to the rear wheel, even on the dryest pavement. With that in mind, along with its bulky, yet stubby, compact size..your mind takes you on a trip. You begin to think about all of the vehicles that can house a 4.3L V6 Diesel, and when properly tuned, could easily keep up with, if not out perform the gas versions that where actually produced..ESPECIALLY in the FWD chasis, or lets not forget, the rear engine Fiero, which shares the same engines and transmissions as the FWD cars. It was about 6 years ago, when my dad obtained, well, an 87 Fiero GT with a blown up 2.8L V6 Gas burner..several ideas came to mind...Rebuild the Gas v6, or go for the gold, and install a small block Chevy engine into this body. His mind stopped at that point, but mine went on to think, Hey, the installation of a FWD 4.3 V6 Diesel would be quite interesting...I found myself inspecting the empty engine compartment, trying to visualize how tight of a fit it would be...yikes!

Well, like thousands of others, it didnt become reality for me, but it was definatly a conversion which always stuck in my mind. Several Months ago, Rick Michelhaugh mentioned that he had drive to go through with this conversion, and what it shows, is an example of what we in North America missed out on...Diesel power, in performance applications...unrealistic? Definatly not. Interesting to drive? I would say so...

I will tell you, Rick sent about a Dozen pictures, however, the space that they allot me for a "Free Website" would bring it pretty close to nearly full..I did my best to pick the ones that showed all that was explained in the story. Forgive me...

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