NIFE History 1997-1998 By Jim Hallman

Our member, Blake Bandusky, with his award winning 1984 red SE replaced Christopher Sass as our Activity Director as we began our 1997 activity year. Christopher served with us on the board since 1994. Christopher and his award winning 1985 white Sport Coupe left on a job transfer to the state of Michigan. Christopher continues to write articles for our newsletter as our Technical Corner author.
This year also brought about a change in our Primary Meeting location. Since our founding in 1991, our meetings were held at the Union Church in Hinsdale thanks to one of our founding members, Bruce Chlevin, who worked there. As Bruce moved on, so did our club meeting facility - to the Meadows Center in Lisle.
Some notes from the end of 1996: a Fiero icon, V8 Archie, first appeared on the NIFE scene in late 1996 when he attended our November 1996 club meeting. Archie has had quite a positive influence on our club - just think about how many V8 Fieros there are in our club! Our club membership stood at 223 at the end of 1996 as our growth continued - a 21% gain in membership from 1995.
NIFE was proudly featured in the April issue of Pontiac Fiero Connection Magazine (no longer published). A brief history of our club, along with four of our members being featured in articles therein made this issue of the short-lived, Fiero-only magazine the best one to date!
Another improvement in our newsletter first appeared in the March 1997 issue of Fiero Focus - we began using a higher grade, glossy paper for the cover to give a more professional appearance to our Golden Quill Award Winning newsletter.
NIFE members Paul Vargyas and Ron Carli were the first representatives from our club to participate in what has become known as the first Fiero event of the year - the Florida Fiero Weekend held in March at the Daytona Speedway.
A membership drive was undertaken using a list of names and addresses purchased from the Illinois Secretary Of State's Office. This list consisted of over 3,000 names of Fiero owners of 1986 - 1988 Fieros in the counties of Cook, Dupage, Will, Kane, Lake, and Kendall. Membership Director, Paul Vargyas, organized several 'mailing meetings' to send out a membership information sheet and a membership application to each of these 3,000 registered owners. This turned out to be quite an extensive and expensive feat, but the results and publicity we received were well worth the effort! By May, 40 new members had already joined our club as a result of this mailing. Also in May, our website was already viewed by over 7,000 visitors. Our website was turning into an excellent vehicle to promote membership in our club.
The jam-packed July Fiero Focus announced that our club was the recipient of the Chapter Award and Best Club Display Award presented at the Midwest Fiero Regionals/Dells Run Event. Our thanks to Tom and John Podziemski of the Fiero Fanatics Of Wisconsin for honoring our club with these two awards. Our thanks also to former club member Elly Palmer for hand painting our official club banner that continues to grace our club display since it was finished in 1997! Also announced in this issue was the resignation of Jim Corrigan as Activity Director. Al Silverman replaced Jim later that year in September.
On June 22, 1997, NIFE grew past the 300-member milestone for the first time. Sixty-one new members had thus far responded to our mass mailing effort. Amazingly, by August, we surpassed the 350 mark!
Our NIFE GM parts discount program with West Suburban Pontiac came to an official end in September when the dealership lost their Pontiac franchise. But this program was the platform to launch our next program to take place later.
September also brought with it the announcement of Byron Daugherty's resignation as Newsletter Editor. Byron took our humble, four-page newsletter and catapulted it into the award winning, sixteen page format we all enjoy today. Compiling the November 1997 issue ourselves without Byron, Paul Vargyas and I realized that we needed more help and some formatting/layout expertise!
Our 1997 Fierorama took place in September and gathered 117 Fieros on a partly sunny, 70-degree day. This was the first year for the event to take place in September to eliminate scheduling conflicts in the busy month of June when our first Fierorama took place a year earlier. This event was quickly turning out to be the gemstone of our annual events schedule.
Two of our founding members made life transitions in 1997. Jim Corbin and his bride Sylvia who headed down to Alabama in 1995, officially retired as Newsletter Editor of the Golden Quill Award Winning Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Club - Jim had officially retired at this point. Paul Ketterer and his family moved to Georgia where Paul took a job transfer. We hope that all is still going well with both of their transitions.
After starting out 1997 with 200 members, it was announced in our November newsletter that our membership had grown to 390 - just about doubled in one year! No doubt, this growth was a result of the large response of our mass mailing effort.
Harry Jensen's computerized layout expertise helped bring new life to Fiero Focus in the January 1998 issue. Harry's professionalism in this area is still enjoyed today - what a way to begin this New Year!
1998 also began a yearlong series on remembering the 10th anniversary of the final year of Fiero Production. Each issue of Fiero Focus included a special feature entitled '10 Years Ago…' which highlighted the events that took place in the world of Fiero in 1988.
In March, Paul Vargyas, tabulated the total number of Fieros our membership owns. The grand total at the time represented 513 - of which 250 were the GT model with the 1987 model year having the highest representation.
A new, local GM parts source was located by March to replace our parts discount program we had at West Suburban Pontiac. NIFE's commitment to its members to offer the best price on new, GM parts was able to be continued with the announcement of Faul Chevrolet as our latest resource.
Rand Anderson filled the last empty board position as Activity Director in March. If you are not sure who Rand is, he has the prestigious honor of owning the only Fiero in our club with 'opera lights' on his side panels!
March also brought yet another mild update to the quality of our newsletter. The entire issue was printed on glossy paper, as it is today - yet another refinement in the unending quest for the best Fiero newsletter around! Finally, this month marks the first time we stopped by for a visit at the shop of V8 Archie for his what has become annual V8 Seminar. Over 40 members participated in this event.
Our first Service Referral Listing was published in May to help our members locate area repair shops that appreciate the Fiero. This listing was tabulated from member's contributions of recommended service facilities.
Our participation in the Midwest Fiero Regionals/Dells Run continued to grow in 1998 - up to 49 members and 28 Fieros were represented at the event.
August 16th, 1988 was the day the last Fiero passed through the assembly plant on Baldwin Avenue in Pontiac, Michigan. Coincidently, the Orphan Auto Picnic sponsored by the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts took place on this very same day ten years later. To celebrate this milestone, NIFE provided a cake to share at the picnic honoring the last day of production - the day the Fiero became an orphan automobile!
The September Fiero Focus contained the first of a four-part series written by Andy Szavay on how to completely disassemble the interior of a Fiero. The series proved helpful for any member to repair, replace, or detail their interior.
The 1998 Fierorama was relocated to its current location just north of the McDonald's in Oak Brook. Previous years, this event was held at the Chestnut Court Shopping Center in Darien. Due to a management change at the Chestnut Court, a new location was sought to accommodate the needs of our event. Fierorama drew over 120 Fieros on a beautiful, rain-free, September day. Over four surrounding states were represented.
Needless to say, 1997-1998 was marked with change. Change can be good and bad depending on the situation. Although the changes that took place during these two years may have seemed unwanted at the time, nothing but positives have resulted in the outcomes.

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