Students from Streetsville Secondary school in Mississauga pose
with a Pontiac Fiero converted into a Lamborghini.
From Pontiac Fiero to Lamborghini Countach in 2,000 hours.
The hard work of 24 auto shop classes over two years and
the dedication of teacher Jim Dinner turned the fantasy kit-car project
into a real success for Streetsville Secondary School in Mississauga.
"A lot of people didn't believe we made it," said Grade
10 shop student Victoria Girard.
It was painstaking work, she added, "even removing the
steering column (from the Fiero) took two weeks we had to be careful
not to cut any wires or strip bolts," said the 15-year-old.
"It was pretty fun," added Grade 12 student Dave
Thomas. "I learned a lot of stuff like I could not build a kit
myself, it's way too much work."
Dinner, a certified teacher and mechanic, funded the entire
project and now owns the car "I've always wanted one"
but plans to sell it to pay for the students' next project, likely a
Lamborghini Diablo. Dinner estimates the kit car is worth around $40,000.
In September, 1999, Dinner purchased a 1985, four-cylinder
Pontiac Fiero with a five-speed transmission for $500, along with a $4,500
body kit for the 1989, 25th anniversary edition Lamborghini.
Students replaced the Fiero's four-cylinder engine with a more
powerful V-6 which involved computer, wiring and fuel pump upgrades.
They also rebuilt the steering, brakes and suspension.
The Fiero was then stripped, and cut in half behind the driver's
seat. The two halves were separated by almost 13 centimetres to fit the
Lamborghini's frame, and welded together using steel plates.
The body kit itself had 21 panels the wing doors themselves
are three separate pieces "and we reshaped every panel to
fit," said Dinner. "It was a lot of work."
Dinner and his students even created the boxy console for the
interior, which was overhauled as well. A parent recovered the seats in
grey and navy leather.
"It's all glued, screw-nailed and staple-gunned,"
chance I get, I bring it in. I bring it in on parent-teacher night
I have parents come to see me without their children, just to
see the car. They don't want to know anything about his or her
Before it was painted professionally, using three coats of
silver metallic paint and five clear coats a few students drove it
around the school's parking lot.
"When (the project) first started, people wanted to see
it," said Marc Laplante, a Grade 12 student. "But because of the
slow process, people lost interest."
When finished, however, "a lot of people came around to see
The tires are new, and high-performance. Dinner even created a
Lamborghini nameplate and signature bull for the back of the car using his
computer, then having a plastic mould made. In total, he's put about
$25,000 into the car.
He believes the car can reach 209 km/h, and has driven it as fast
The project has sparked an interest in auto shop at a time when
the curriculum is placing an emphasis on academics.
"Every chance I get, I bring it in," he said. "I
bring it in on parent-teacher night I have parents come to see me
without their children, just to see the car. They don't want to know
anything about his or her marks."
"Some nights I stayed late, puttering, and kids from feeder
schools in Grades 6, 7, 8, would come by on their bikes and peer
in the windows. I'd invite them in and they'd say, `Really, I can touch
Tom Bates, head of the school's technology department, points out
that auto shop involves a lot more than mechanics these days. Using cars
donated by Honda and General Motors, students study computer, wiring,
airbag and ABS braking systems.
Grade 11 student Dave Wells said he hopes to work on the next
project, too, and plans to go to college to become an automotive
For more information on the school's Lamborghini project, go to:
Streetsville Secondary School Auto Shop
If you have an idea for Cool Schools, you can reach Louise Brown
at 416-869-4306 or Kristin Rushowy at 416-869-4828, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org