SANFORD – Timothy Evans loves Pontiac Fieros so much that he amassed his own collection of the short-lived sports cars. He even opened a museum to showcase and sell the vehicles.
So when floodwaters from the Tittabawassee River began creeping toward his business earlier this week, 73-year-old Evans scrambled to move his cars to dry ground, where he thought they’d be safe.
Then the Edenville and Sanford dams breached Tuesday, inundating parts of the Midland County village and flooding his beloved cars. Of Evans’ 20 Fieros, only one, the vehicle he drove home Tuesday, was untouched.
“It’s devastating,” he said Thursday outside his decimated shop and museum, Fieros Forever, Michigan.
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A block over, a 1987 Fiero lay flipped on its roof. A pace car from the 1984 Indianapolis 500 — a Fiero that sat idle in a barn for a decade before Evans bought it from a man who'd fixed it up — had come to rest against a fire hydrant, debris poking out of its hood. Behind Evans’ shop, a Fiero ripped off a hoist by the floods lay upside down alongside another car on its roof.
Car enthusiasts across the country lamented the loss this week, sharing photos and news coverage on Facebook of several of the Fieros sitting in floodwaters, at least one nearly submerged, before the water had receded.
Evans has been collecting and selling Fieros for more than a decade. He praises the car as advanced for its time.
"It had a chassis that was made out of steel," he said. "They built the car in five sub assemblies, and then they put it into this mill and drill machine."
The Michigan Fiero Club says roughly 370,000 of the cars were built from the Fiero’s debut in 1984 until GM ended production in 1988.
Evans and his wife bought the building that housed his business on West Saginaw Road in the early 2000s. They spent years fixing up the dilapidated structure before he opened the museum and shop.
He acquired a mix of Fieros, some that were ready to drive and others that remained on display. An architect by trade, Evans handled the minor fixes himself and worked with a mechanic to get the Fieros running.
The museum drew collectors from as far as Scotland and Hong Kong, Evans said.
"The Blue Books were cheap. ... A $10,000 car was worth about $2,500," he said. "But if you run into a collector, he might pay $10,000."
Evans said Thursday that he hadn't yet contacted his insurance company about the flooded cars, but he’d already learned that the damage to his building isn't covered.
The back walls of the shop were blown out. A roof torn off another building slumped over the side of the structure.
Inside, Evans' daughter had moved valuable items to higher ground before the dam broke, but the flood "swept everything off the walls," he said. Six glass cases holding model cars and original dealer magazines were either destroyed or waterlogged.
What’s more: Evans was ready to sell his Fieros after suffering a stroke a few years back. He'd put his cars and parts up for auction, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the sales.