The Mera: A rare Pontiac that looks like a Ferrari | Photos

Photography by J.A. Ackley

It looks like a Ferrari. It even has Ferrari badging. However, it’s not.

Meet the 1987 Pontiac Mera, which we saw at the Concours d’Lemons at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival.

[The best of the worst from Concours d’Lemons Chattanooga]

This one owned by Natalie Rauls is No. 29 of 247. It’s the only one known to have come from the factory in yellow with a T-top.

In 1986, when the V6 engine was introduced for the Fiero, Pontiac engineers wanted to give the car a more sporty body,” says Natalie. “They partnered with Custom Concepts to build this. It’s a slightly stretched and slighty widened Fiero chassis that was built to order new, and sold at Pontiac dealerships, mostly in California. [A total of] 247 were made from 1986 to 1988, until Ferrari found out and sued them. Ferrari ordered the production dies and everything relating to the car to be destroyed.”

The similarities between the Mera and the Ferrari 308 GT are uncanny.

When I had it next to the Euro-spec 308, all the body-lines, the proportions are identical,” Natalie says. “The deck lid, the way it opens up, is more like a 288 GTO. It had a front-tilt hood, for this setup, because the front clip is a different shape. The only reason why the front clip is different is because they wanted to reuse the Fiero headlights. There are some differences, but it doesn’t affect the silhouette.”

Body-wise, the panels between the two cars are interchangeable.

The front bumper it’s wearing, that’s a 308 bumper,” says Natalie. “If anything happens to the fiberglass, I have to get 308 parts. All the body-fastening locations are the same as a 308.”

The car even came from the dealer with Ferrari badging.

Where the car was ordered new, it came with Mera badges [from the factory],” Natalie says. “The badges had Mera on the front. On the wheel caps, it would have had an M. Instead of the Ferrari prancing horse, it would have had a Pegasus. Instead of 308, it would have said 286, because it’s a 2.8-liter V6. At the dealership, they were swapped out for Ferrari badges. There were two option codes–one for the Mera badges and one for the Ferrari badges.”

Natalie found this ultra-rare car on Facebook Marketplace.

I had just finished a mechanical restoration on a ’72 Corvette and this popped up in Tennessee,” says Natalie. “I messaged the guy and told him I could drive the Corvette up that day, if he was willing to trade. He said, ‘If you can bring up the car tonight, it’s yours.’ With less than a hour’s notice, we drove it there.”

Natalie enjoys owning this Pontiac Mera for the same reasons GM advertised it.

On ads from that era, they say you’re getting Italian looks with American performance and reliability, [and] you could be sitting in an Italian exotic for only $25,000,” Natalie says. “It handles like a 308. It’ll accelerate with [a 308]. It gives you all the 308 experience without all the headache. Those cars often have quality issues, build issues. The panel fitment isn’t as good as with this car. The welds are bad on 308s. The only thing good on those cars is the drivetrain. This car, it’s bulletproof.”

Natalie has entered it into events as a Ferrari, just for the fun of it.

If we leave the windows up, with the tint it has, sometimes we just like to see how long it takes before people figure out if it’s a Ferrari or not,” says Natalie.

Natalie Rauls (right) with Moth Bonk (left)

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Ferrari, Pontiac, Concours d'Lemons and Chattanooga Motorcar Festival news.
More like this
View comments on the CMS forums
Our Preferred Partners