Letter From Lothar Bacher
USA vs. Germany. Pontiac vs. Porsche. It was that time of year again in Chicago for the “37th Annual Chicago World Of Wheels” custom car show. This year’s show was a great show with many entries, unbelievable paint jobs and again, as in the past, only one Fiero!
Classifications at these shows are a bit hard to understand – they may look good on paper, but the execution is sometimes difficult. Typically, foreign entries are separated from domestic entries according to the books. Then, each class is separated again by the amount of modifications performed. As a result, there is actually no difference made between a daily driven car and a show car. It is just up to the judges to determine the appearance quality difference.
In 1997, the last time I entered this show, my little Fiero competed against the Corvettes and brought home a second place plaque. This year’s show was a little bit different. This year I had a nice display to show off my new Northstar engine. Several people stopped by to see my “Northern Star” (this is my new nickname for the car). The crowds were quite interested in my Fiero as the same questions kept popping up – “how fast?”, “how did it fit in there?”, “you mean a Northstar like in my Eldorado?”, “can I buy a kit?” Several people asked about parts – how to sell them or buy them. Also, I was able to pass out club membership applications to several interested parties. It was nice to see so much interest in the Fiero. I came across one person who told me that he will be doing a Northstar conversion this year to his Fiero. He was quite inquisitive and wanted to know where I bought my ‘drop in kit’ from. He had already contacted a Fiero conversion dealer, but they wanted quite a bit of money for their kit.
This particular show is rather long for a car show, covering three full days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Friday night, I spent the evening checking out the competition to see what I was up against. What a surprise – I found out I was in the “Full Sport” class which has 10 or more modifications. I was happy to see that there were no Corvettes in my class! I was surprised to find a new “domestic” car in my class. Funny thing was that they were originally made in Stuttgart, Germany – there were three Porsches in the “domestic” class? These were just standard edition cars, fully restored and nicely painted. The Porsches did not even bother showing off their engine compartments or suspensions, just their paint jobs. The sign in front of these cars read “Porsche – made in Germany, restored in the USA with original parts”, but they were classified in the “domestic” class??!!
The weekend concluded on Sunday evening, which was awards night. Only my car was a true domestic car being modified with only GM parts, built by GM. This, compared to the other “domestic” cars – the Porsches, that were built in Germany and some with their original engines and some with body modifications performed by their present owners. It was interesting to note that one of the Porsches did have a 200 HP Ford engine installed in it, I guess making it a “domestic” car. The rest of the car was poorly executed though as the front and rear deck lids did not fit and the engine was not clean or well kept. One of the other Porsches had fiberglass ground effects added onto it but the resin marks were still visible and the original engine was not shown. This was my ‘tough’ competition? How could we all be in the same class?
At the end of the show, the judges sorted this confusing mess out for us. The reason my Fiero was mixed in with these “foreign” entries was that my Fiero had no competition so the “foreign” entries were combined with the “domestic” entries. Well, my Fiero stole the show and was awarded “First Place” in the “Full Sport” combined classes of “foreign” and “domestic”. This was quite a rewarding accomplishment for me after well over a full year of hard work installing the Northstar!
To top this off, almost two weeks after the show, I came home one evening after work and was dumbfounded to see a package delivered to my doorstep from the promoter of the “World Of Wheels” auto shows. In the package was a letter of congratulations and a plaque awarded to me for the “Street Achievement Award for Design and Originality” presented by GM Performance Parts – Show Car Series. This is an award given after the judges reviewed the entire show. This was quite the award to receive for my efforts – I am very proud to have earned this. I hope you will be able to come out and see my awards at the car shows coming up this summer season…