A 7,331 Mile Trip In A 234,000 Mile, 15 Year Old Fiero by Al Wagner
Friday, May 21st – Streamwood, IL
Call me crazy, but the day after tomorrow, I’m driving my Fiero to Alaska. My Friend, Lainey, is taking a cruise from Anchorage to Seattle and since she does not like to fly, I offered to give her a lift – why not? It is only 7200 miles round trip! Call me crazy, but my ’84 Economy Coupe already has 234,000 miles on it. Do I expect the car to make it there? Of course – I replaced the fuel pump and alternator only 164,000 miles ago. Come to think of it, I do believe the water pump is original. Well, we will need something to break the monotone of the beautiful scenery and wild animals, right?
Saturday, May 22nd – Streamwood, IL.
Wouldn’t you know it – I had to make a last minute repair the day before we leave! Of course, it was an unexpected problem – the tailpipe fell off! It was hanging by a thread, almost dragging on the ground when I got home last night. Fair Muffler welded it back on for $15.00. I wonder if this is an omen…
Sunday, May 23rd – Carrington, SD. (759 miles driven)
I left my house at 1:53AM, then picked up Lainey in Lake Zurich. I only have 12 days off work, so we have to average 600 miles a day, everyday! This is our only day of driving on Interstate Highways, so I hoped to get ahead of schedule by leaving real early and making the first day the longest day of driving. The Fiero is running great!
Monday, May 24th – Saskatchewan (577 miles driven)
I’m hoping to average 40 miles per gallon with the extra tall final gear ratio in my 4-speed. Only 5% of all ’84 Fieros had this transmission – it came on Coupes without A/C. But we have had headwinds all day yesterday and today, so I do not think we are reaching that goal.
Our motel is the only sign of life in town – only 10 rooms with a bathroom down the hall; all the amenities for only $25.00 a night. The owner/cook is running the restaurant/bar downstairs.
Tuesday, May 25th – Grand Prairie, Alberta (581 miles driven)
This morning when we woke up, we were the only 2 people left in the entire building! The owner had locked up and gone home. So, we locked the door behind us too!
I forgot to mention the trouble we had entering Canada yesterday. Maybe they did not like my story of taking Lainey to Alaska in that tiny car (she is starting to call it a sardine can, so I told her sardine cans are metal, not plastic!) Anyway, we were delayed an hour – they checked our driver’s licenses in the computer, interrogated us in separate rooms and did a thorough search of the car and all of our bags. Of course we had nothing to hide – I wonder if they felt guilty?
We are about halfway to Anchorage. I was hoping to spend tonight in Dawson Creek, British Columbia – the start of the Alaska Highway – but we are about 2 hours behind now because of our problems we had entering Canada.
Wednesday, May 26th – Toad River, British Columbia (479 miles driven)
More headwinds and some rain today. The Fiero is really dirty! There are still sections of the Alaska Highway that are being straightened – they are taking all the fun out! These sections are 5-10 miles of rough, dusty or muddy gravel or dirt – definitely not fun! The scenery is beautiful – lots of snow on the mountains; lots of wild animals along the road - I will give you a list at the end of the trip.
We had a scary day today – all of the sudden I heard a loud, steady tapping noise. At first I thought the engine had blown, but it was still running perfect and then the noise stopped after about 10 seconds. I guess that maybe it was a twig stuck somewhere on the car, flapping in the wind.
Thursday, May 27th – Whitehorse, Yukon (479miles driven)
Getting further behind schedule – Lainey keeps insisting we stop for a picnic twice a day! In the Yukon, you must drive with your lights on at all times – it is the law! So much for the Fieros good coefficient of friction. On the upside, the speed limit is 110 (don’t get excited, that’s Kilometers per hour!) We have seen several hitchhikers – for some reason, they always drop their thumbs before we pass by them??!!
Friday, May 28th – Anchorage, Alaska (713 miles driven)
We’re here! To make up for lost time, we drove half the night. This was our second longest day in the ‘sardine can’. I’m going to bed!
Saturday, May 29th – Northway, Alaska (501 miles driven)
I am on my way home now. It was already noon when I said goodbye to Lainey and put a quart of oil in the Fiero.
At Gulkana, Alaska I forgot to turn right to continue on the Glenn Highway. I did not realize it for 50 miles! So, I just continued north on the Richardson highway to meet the Alaska Highway at Delta Junction. I am glad I did – I saw some of the best scenery of the entire trip, including views of the Alaska Pipeline. It was only 120 miles out of the way! I guess I can not blame Lainey for this delay!
Sunday, May 30th – Upper Liard Village, Yukon (629 miles driven)
I have never seen so many motor homes in all of my life. The motor home is the most common vehicle on the Alaska Highway. I have seen only 2 Fieros all week. Lainey likes old VW Beetles – we saw a dozen of those!
Some of the gas stations up here are full-service. Today the attendant said, “So, you got the race car out today, huh?” I just said, “Not really, this is the slowest Fiero ever made”. Then just 20 miles down the road, the Canada Customs Agent said, “So how is this little car on the highway?” I said, “It is a dog going up the hills, but gets good mileage”.
Without Lainey here to get nervous, I am able to drive a little faster. It sure was fun racing along the west shore of Kluane Lake with its sharp, banked curves. Even with my standard 13” wheels, the Fiero really holds the road well. And I finally noticed the speedometer has Kilometers per hour on it – all through Canada I have been guessing what the speed limits really are!
Monday, May 31st – Dawson Creek, British Columbia (612 miles driven)
Now I am right on schedule – back at mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. Tomorrow I will be on boring roads again – for 3 more days! I saw 2 Fieros today – both blue; one had a sagging front bumper. My driver’s seat is getting to be permanently squished! I can feel the frame on my left hip – still looks good though, no rips!
My factory cassette player ate a few tapes today. Oh well, I wanted to check out the local radio stations anyway! Guess what, there weren’t any - not AM or FM – but that is ok, just listening to that old Iron Duke purr is music to my ears.
Tuesday, June 1st – Borden Saskatchewan (again) (654 miles driven)
Guess I spoke too soon – that purr is starting to growl. I am hearing a tapping noise when idling – sounds like a rod knock. The oil is full and the oil pressure light is off. Maybe this motor won’t make a quarter million miles after all! It just better go another 1400 miles, that’s all I can say!!!
I am in the same $25.00 per night motel as I was a week ago. This time, two other rooms are occupied. Well, it is the tourist season now.
Wednesday, June 2nd – Fargo, ND (704 miles driven)
Headwinds again? This is killing my gas mileage! It’s good to be back in the USA. Luckily, I had no problems crossing the border this time.
Thursday, June 3rd – Streamwood, IL (642 miles driven)
Direct headwinds again all day! Engine is clattering when I accelerate now, too. But I made it! I got home at 9:00PM.
Friday, June 4th
Here are the final Fiero statistics (corrected for 1% odometer error):
Total miles driven – 7,331
Average gas mileage – 39.5 miles per gallon
Most miles in one day – 759
Most miles on one tank of gas – 359
Quarts of oil added – 1
Throughout the trip, here is a list of all the wild animals we saw on or near the highway: rabbits, squirrels, caribou, bison, moose, wild horses, porcupines, wolves, a mountain lion and a bear.
Saturday, June 5th
Took the valve cover off my engine today – found a bent pushrod. I got a used pushrod from one of V-8 Archie’s “boat anchors out back”. I put it in and unfortunately, the noise is still there! I better stop here, this could be the start of another long story!