1985 Chevrolet Blazer SUV

“Finding the back country is up to you.”

For 1985, Chevrolet’s Blazer SUV gained a new grille and the availability of a color-keyed top, but not many other changes.

The Blazer’s standard powertrain for everywhere but California was the LE9 160 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor mated to a four-speed manual. Mileage was rated at 14 city/17 highway by the standards of the day (12/16 by 2020 measures). With a 25-gallon gas tank, a Blazer owner could expect a range of 315 to 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The heavy (4,846 pound) Blazer was not quick—0-60 took about 12.5 seconds.

Optional power included a $2,730 LH6 130 bhp 6.2 liter/379 ci diesel V8, which came with a four-speed automatic with overdrive. The diesel came bundled with many other features, including an engine block heater, a heavy-duty radiator, an engine oil cooler, and a dual exhaust system. Mileage for the diesel was rated at 17 city/21 highway.

1985 Chevrolet Blazer brochure cover
1985 Chevrolet Blazer brochure cover

Designated as the Custom Deluxe, the base 1985 Blazer’s price was $11,223—about $27,700 in today’s dollars or almost exactly what a base 2021 Blazer L costs. Standard exterior equipment included a removable fiberglass top and Soft-Ray tinted glass. Mechanical equipment included variable-ratio power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P215/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch white painted wheels with bright metal hub caps. Inside, vinyl high back bucket seats and a heater were standard—the base Blazer was relatively spare inside.

The $1,015 Silverado trim required Custom cloth or Custom vinyl seats and included Silverado nameplates inside and out, the Deluxe Front Appearance package, the Deluxe Molding package, bright body side moldings, dual horns, a color-keyed console, a cigarette lighter, an interior headliner, and a Custom steering wheel.

Individual exterior and mechanical options included deep tinted glass ($194), halogen hi-beam headlamps ($17), a 31-gallon fuel tank ($43), and 15 x 7 cast aluminum wheels ($299). Inside, all-weather air conditioning ($740), electronic speed control ($195), power side windows ($190), a power tailgate window ($43), power door locks ($135), and an AM/FM stereo radio with a stereo cassette tape player ($298) were all available. Upholstery options included Custom vinyl high back bucket seats, Custom cloth high back bucket seats (available only with the Silverado trim), a second row bench seat ($369), and a Comfortilt steering wheel ($115).

1985 ended up being the Blazer’s best sales year in the eighties, with 40,011 exiting dealer lots—up almost 2% over 1984’s total. This performance helped Chevrolet gain the lead in 1985 sales among manufacturers of light-duty trucks.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Blazers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Blazer Silverado in #1/Concours condition is $45,800, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $16,200. Blazers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Midnight Black 1985 Blazer with slate gray cloth bucket seats and 154,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $27,500.

Make mine Midnight Blue, please.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII coupe

On a driveway about three blocks from my house sits a Silver Blue Lincoln Mark VII. The sporty LSC version attracts most of the attention with these cars—it has previously attracted mine. However, this post is about the “base” coupe.

“The most completely equipped car sold in America”

Lincoln dropped the Continental sub-marque name from the Mark series in 1986. That was probably the biggest news in the Mark VII’s third year, but there were other enhancements and changes. The standard V8 gained 10 bhp, while the LSC got a 60 bhp bump. Lincoln added the newly-required high mount rear stop lamp, and both anti-lock brakes and keyless entry became standard across the line. Inside, power front seat recliners and the Premium Sound System were newly standard. The Versace Designer Series was no more, but the Bill Blass Designer Series continued.

The base Mark’s only available powertrain was a Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection mated with a four-speed automatic with overdrive. 0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds in a car with a curb weight that approached 3,700 pounds. Fuel economy was respectable: 18 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (16/24 by 2020 measures). With a 22.1-gallon gas tank, a Mark VII owner could expect a range of 400 to 440 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure pages
Pages from the 1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure

The Mark VII’s base price was $22,399 for 1986—approximately $53,600 in today’s dollars, or about 15% more than a 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard sedan goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included flush-mounted aerodynamic halogen headlamps, tinted glass on all windows, a power antenna, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, an Electronic Air Suspension with automatic level control, and P215/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch cast-aluminum road wheels. Inside, every Mark VII included fingertip speed control, interval windshield wipers with speed controls, Electronic Automatic Climate Control, cloth six-way power seats, and an AM/FM stereo cassette radio with four speakers.

The well-equipped Mark VII offered relatively few options for 1986. Items buyers could choose included a power glass moonroof ($1,319), a Traction-Lok differential ($165), strange-looking geometric cast-aluminum wheels ($298), wire-spoke aluminum wheels ($693), and leather seating surfaces ($551).

1986 was a solid year for Lincoln’s big coupe. Sales increased by 9% of the previous yeaar and Car and Driver chose the LSC variant as one of their 10Best. All of this happened while sales of the newly downsized Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado collapsed.

Mark VIIs do attract collector interest, and there is model-specific club support along with the bigger Lincoln car clubs. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Mark VII in #1/Concours condition is $16,400, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $11,300. These Marks are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, a mahogany 1988 Mark VII with tan leather seats and 51,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $8,500.

Make mine the extra-cost ($268) Flemish Blue Glamour Clearcoat Metallic, please. What a name!

1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan

We’ve got a lot of road work going on in our area. Two days ago, I had to take a short detour, which sent me down a route that included a few blocks I’ve never traveled. I saw a white Dodge Aries sedan parked on the side of the road. Yesterday, I went back and took a couple of pictures. The Aries was in pretty good shape and sported a Pennsylvania classic car plate.

“More car for the money than you thought possible.”

For 1987 changes to the Dodge Aries sedan were minor. A stainless steel exhaust system was new, as were standard front bucket seats.

The Aries’ standard powertrain was an E86 97 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with central fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. A 100 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four was a $287 option for the LE only and required the $534 TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 25 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (22/29 by 2020 measures), while ratings for the 2.5 liter/automatic combination dropped to 22/27. With a 14-gallon gas tank, the owner of a base Aries sedan could expect a range of 320 to 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The driver of a 2.5 liter Aries could expect about 50 miles less. Best case 0-60 times were about 10.5 seconds in a car with a shipping weight of just under 2,500 pounds.

1985 Dodge Aries LE sedan photo
1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan circa 2020

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $7,655 Dodge Aries sedan included halogen headlights, manual rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a compact spare tire, and P175/80R13 black sidewall tires (now generally a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels with hubcaps. Inside, a manual left exterior mirror, a Deluxe two-spoke steering wheel, a mini console, and cloth with vinyl trim low-back bucket seats with reclining seatbacks were included.

Moving up to the $8,134 LE (which 93% of Aries sedan buyers did) added Deluxe wheel covers, a power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, a trunk light, cloth door trim panels, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. The LE could get a vinyl bench seat at no extra charge.

Chrysler corporation had begun to move to more options packages by the mid-eighties. The Aries sedan had four for 1987:

  • Basic Equipment Package ($261) included Deluxe 13-inch wheel covers, a black power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. It was (natch!) only available for the base sedan.
  • Popular Equipment Discount Package included tinted glass, bodyside tape stripes, an automatic transmission, power-assisted steering, and P185/70R14 black sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, the package included black dual remote exterior mirrors, special sound insulation, trunk dress-up, and an AM stereo/FM stereo electronic tuning radio with a cassette player, four speakers, and a digital clock. This package was LE-only and went for $740.
  • Premium Equipment Discount Package ($1,312 and LE-only) included everything in the Popular Equipment Discount Package and added an electric rear window defroster, electronic speed control, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, a tilt steering column, and power door locks.
  • Light Package ($59 and LE-only) included an ash receiver light, a cigar lighter light, a headlights-on warning buzzer, an ignition switch light with time delay, and an underhood light.

Individual options included tinted glass ($121), 14-inch cast aluminum road wheels ($332 with either the Popular or Premium packages/$381 without), a conventional spare tire ($75 for 13-inch wheel/$85 for $14-inch wheel), and air conditioning ($790 and requiring tinted glass). Between the packages and the options, a loaded LE sedan could surpass $11,000 on its window sticker.

The Aries sedan continued to sell respectably in 1987, with 71,216 sold. It remained by far the best-selling Dodge sedan. Interestingly, K cars have not entirely disappeared from the road—quite unlike many of their eighties peers. Examples of the Aries rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though they do appear on cars.com.

Make mine the extra cost ($41) Twilight Blue Pearl Coat, please.

Other K and K-based cars I have written about include the 1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe, the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the 1984 Chrysler Laser hatchback coupe, the 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan, the 1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe, and the 1986 Chrysler Town and Country convertible.

1985 Ford Eddie Bauer Bronco SUV

“… we’ve done it again …”

The big news for 1985’s Ford Bronco SUV was the November 1984 introduction of an Eddie Bauer edition, which became the new top-of-the-line. Of course, the full-size Bronco was not the first Ford to be “Bauerized”—that was actually the 1984 Ford Bronco II compact SUV.

The Eddie Bauer Bronco went for $15,972—about $39,400 in today’s dollars or about what a 2021 Bronco Outer Banks will go for. Exterior features distinctive Eddie Bauer Bronco included a specific two-tone paint treatment, dual accent bodyside paint stripes, privacy glass for the quarter windows, and Deluxe argent styled steel wheels.

Interior equipment for Ford’s new special edition included air conditioning, speed control, a tilt steering wheel, Light Group, and an AM/FM stereo radio. Upholstery included reclining all-tan cloth front captains chairs with folding armrests and zippered pouches on the seatbacks, a matching rear bench seat, a floor console, and deep 16 oz color-keyed carpeting.

The Bronco’s powertrain story was not simple for 1985. All Bronco equipment levels (base, XLT, and Eddie Bauer) came standard with a 120 bhp 4.9 liter/300 ci inline six with a one-barrel carburetor. The year kicked off with two engine options, both versions of the Windsor 5.8 liter/351 ci V8. At $1,041 was a 150 bhp example with a two-barrel carburetor, while an H.O. version with a four-barrel carburetor put out 210 bhp and cost $1,418. Arriving at about the same time that the Eddie Bauer edition did was a Windsor 190 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, which set buyers back $1,202.

A four-speed manual was standard with the six and the smaller V8, while an automatic was the standard and only transmission with both of the 5.8 liter engines. The six could be ordered with a four-speed manual with overdrive while the 4.9 liter V8 could be had with an overdrive automatic.

Mileage ratings sharply separated the six from all the V8s. With the six and the four-speed manual, a Bronco owner could expect 16 city/21 highway. That dropped to 13/17 with the 5.0 liter V8 and was even worse with the two 5.8 liter engines. Thus, the Bronco’s range with its 25-gallon gas tank and a 10% fuel reserve could vary from a high of 415 miles to a low of 260 miles. Of course, the V8s were noticeably quicker—about two to four seconds faster to 60 mph.

1985 Frod Bronco brochure page
Eddie Bauer Bronco page from the 1985 Bronco brochure

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all Broncos included halogen headlights, tinted glass, a heavy-duty radiator, variable-ratio power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P235/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, dome lights, a locking glove box, and a rear flip/fold bench seat were included.

Options for the well-equipped Eddie Bauer Bronco included heavy-duty shocks and springs ($155), a Traction-Lok limited slip rear axle ($238), power windows ($239), and an AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette tape player ($235).

Bronco sales were up a little over 10% to 52,316 for the 1985 model year, easily outselling the competing Chevrolet Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger. Sales of the eighties Bronco would peak in 1989, with 66,730 moved.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Broncos are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Eddie Bauer Bronco with the 5.8 liter H.O. V8 (the most prized engine) in #1/Concours condition is $28,400, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $11,300. Broncos are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Scarlet Red 1989 Eddie Bauer Bronco with a tan interior, a 5.8 liter V8, and 71,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $17,900.

Make mine Dark Canyon Red Metallic, please.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger SUV

Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020 included three examples of the 1980s Ramcharger. The one that did the best was a 1986 Royal S.E.—the top-of-the-line for that year. Its hammer price was $15,500.

“Tough in the Rough.”

For 1986, Dodge’s Ramcharger SUV received a new crosshair grille, which had a strong resemblance to their early 1970s pickup truck design. The side mirror assemblies were simplified but other than that, there was little change besides some new colors.

The Ramcharger’s standard engine was an LA 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. It came with a four-speed manual if four-wheel drive was chosen and a three-speed automatic if two-wheel drive was preferred. An LA 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor went for an additional $261. With the base powertrain, fuel economy was rated at an uninspiring (and somewhat uncompetitive) 11 city/14 highway by the standards of the day in an SUV with a curb weight that started at 4,045 pounds. A capacious 35-gallon gas tank did give a respectable 360 to 395-mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger brcohure cover
1986 Dodge Ramcharger brochure cover

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $11,534 Ramcharger included tinted glass, chrome front and rear bumpers, two-wheel drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P235/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6.5-inch wheels. Inside, Deluxe vinyl low-back front bucket seats and an ETR AM radio with a digital clock was included. The four-wheel-drive version of the Ramcharger went for an additional $1,229.

Among the many individual options available were aluminum road wheels ($350), a heavy-duty alternator ($145), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), air conditioning ($740), and an ETR AM stereo/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and a clock ($360).

A few options packages were available. Prospector Package I ($768) included a bright grille, Deluxe wheel covers, a Ram’s Head hood ornament, Prospector nameplates, and a convenience package. Prospector Package II ($1,251) added the Royal S.E. décor package and power door locks. Finally, the top-of-the-line Prospector Package III ($3,269 2WD/$3,186 4WD) added two-tone paint, air conditioning, power windows, speed control, and a tilt steering column.

The Ramcharger’s sales peaked at 37,055 in the 1985 model year and would never again come close to that total. With little changed for 1986, sales slipped substantially, with only 20,815 Ramchargers produced compared to 37,310 Chevrolet Blazers and 57,488 Ford Broncos.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Ramchargers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a loaded 1986 Ramcharger Royal S.E. 4×4 in #1/Concours condition is $29,100, with a far more normal #3/Good condition AD-100 version going for $9,400. Ramchargers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Black 1989 Ramcharger with tan bucket seats and 61,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $20,000.

Make mine Charcoal Gray Metallic, please. Other Dodges I have written about are the 1985 600 Club Coupe and the 1985 Omni GLH.

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible

A 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible sold for $27,000 at Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020. I’ve previously written about the other two eighties SL versions: the 380SL and the 560SL. Perhaps it’s time to write about the 450SL.

In production since the 1972 model year, the Mercedes-Benz 450SL changed little in its final year, with a few new exterior colors and some new stereo choices.

The sole powertrain for the 450SL remained a 160 bhp 4.5 liter/276 ci V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection paired to a three-speed automatic. Car and Driver tested a 1980 450SL and recorded an 11.6-second 0-60 time, but raw acceleration likely wasn’t that important to SL buyers. Mileage also wasn’t great in a vehicle with a 3,730-pound curb weight—this SL was no longer anything resembling Sport Light. The 1980 EPA fuel economy rating was 16 mpg, and most owners report that number as somewhat hopeful. At least the sizeable 23.8-gallon gas tank allowed a range of close to 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL advertisement
1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL advertisement

For 1980, the 450SL’s base price was a substantial $35,839—about $123,500 in today’s dollars, which is about 35% more than today’s SL 450 goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for this expensive car included tinted glass, variable-ratio power steering, power four-wheel disc brakes, and 205/70HR14 tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) mounted on 14 x 6 inch light-alloy wheels. Inside, air conditioning, adjustable MB-Tex bucket seats, cruise control, electric windows, and central locking were all included.

Options included a limited-slip differential, 15-inch wheels, leather bucket seats, and an array of Becker stereos. Like many other European cars of the early eighties, the 450SL did not have a standard stereo, though a power antenna was included.

The 450SL was a cultural icon, finding fans among various executives, celebrities, professional athletes, and rock stars when new. It was also a film and television star—famously driven by Richard Gere in American Gigolo, by Stephanie Powers and Robert Wagner on Hart to Hart, and by Patrick Duffy on Dallas.

450SLs have many adherents to this day, and there is much club support. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 450SL in #1/Concours condition is $36,000, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $11,500. These SLs are always available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and often at auction. As I write this post, there are eleven 1980 450SLs available for sale in Hemmings. An example with Champagne Metallic paint, brown leather bucket seats, and 45,000 miles is asking $20,000.

Make mine Astral Silver Metallic, please. Sometimes the cliché is correct.

Other eighties Mercedes-Benz models I have written about include the 1985 300CD Turbo coupe and 1986 560SEC coupe.

Eighties Vehicles at the 2020 Mecum Summer Special

Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in Kissimmee provided some interesting fodder for commentary. It’s important to remember that Mecum auctions are not “no reserve” auctions—a red 1986 DeTomaso Pantara GT5-S coupe with black bucket seats and 7,300 miles was a no-sale bid up to $120,000. I’ll concentrate on the at least reasonably stock 1980s vehicles that sold and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 9% of the 461 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Thursday, August 27th:

  • 1989 Black Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z hatchback coupe with red leather bucket seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 58,000 miles—$14,000 hammer price
  • 1982 Silver Beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback coupe with silver beige leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 44,000 miles—$9,000
  • 1984 Black Chevrolet El Camino custom (engine) pickup with the SS Choo Choo Customs package, a red cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$10,000
  • 1981 Beige Jeep Wrangler custom (engine) SUV with tan bucket seats, a 5.9 liter/360 ci V8, an automatic, and 86,000 miles—$11,500
  • 1987 Black Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 442 coupe with tan seats, a 170 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 77,000 miles—$9,000
  • 1987 red/white two-tone GMC 1500 custom (engine, suspension) pickup truck with a tan interior, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1988 white Chevrolet custom (body) pickup truck with a gray bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$7,000
  • 1982 Light Gray Buick Electra Limited sedan with a dark blue vinyl top, blue velour seats, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 8,000 miles—$9,500. Who saves these cars?
  • 1986 bronze/tan two-tone Dodge Ramcharger Royale SE SUV with tan bucket seats, a 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 71,000 miles—at $15,500, the first vehicle in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 1980s collectability of original cars or trucks: selling for equal to or above its original base list price. I’ll mark these vehicles in bold green.
  • 1986 silver/gray two-tone Mercury Grand Marquis sedan with silver seats, a Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 19,000 miles—$9,750
  • 1981 Cotillion White Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan with red Heather knit seats, the L62 6.0 liter/368 ci V8-6-4 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 44,000 miles—$4,500
  • 1987 white/blue two-tone Dodge Ramcharger SUV with blue bucket seats, a 145 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$8,500. Two Ramchargers on the same day?
  • 1987 Scarlet Red Ford Mustang convertible with a black top, medium gray bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 26,000 miles—$10,500
  • 1986 black with woodgrain AMC Eagle Limited station wagon with a tan interior, a 110 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six, an automatic, and 69,000 miles—$17,000
1986 AMC Eagle, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1987 yellow Jeep Wrangler custom (engine) SUV with black bucket seats, an unknown V8, an automatic, and a salvage title—$8,000
  • 1986 white Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with burgundy leather bucket seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$12,000 for this unusual (for a Mercedes) color combination.
  • 1983 blue Jeep CJ-7 custom (paint, suspension, transmission) SUV with black bucket seats, an unknown engine, and an automatic—$12,000
  • 1989 Midnight Black Lincoln Town Car sedan with a midnight black carriage top, currant red 50/50 seats, a Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 4,000 miles—$24,000 is almost (but not quite) what a 1989 Town Car originally went for.
  • 1986 burgundy Chevrolet Corvette custom (just about everything) hatchback coupe with a saddle bucket seats, an unknown V8, a four-speed manual, and 4,000 miles—$14,000
  • 1989 Dark Blue Metallic Chevrolet Corvette convertible with a saddle top, saddle leather bucket seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$4,500
  • 1989 blue Cadillac Brougham limousine with blue cloth seats, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 27,000 miles—an ouch! at $1,750

Friday, August 28th:

  • 1982 Silver Beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback coupe with silver beige leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 68,000 miles—$11,500
  • 1981 merlot Chevrolet custom (interior, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a gray bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1987 burgundy/white two-tone Dodge Ramcharger SUV with burgundy cloth bucket seats, a 145 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$8,000
  • 1985 brown/tan two-tone Chevrolet C10 Silverado pickup truck with a tan cloth bench seat, a 160 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 79,000 miles—$9,000
  • 1984 Silver/Black two-tone Nissan/Datsun 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe with black bucket seats, a VG30ET 200 bhp 3.0 liter/181 ci V6 with fuel injection and a turbocharger, and a five-speed manual, and 80,000 miles—$11,000
  • 1986 yellow Toyota pickup truck with tan cloth seats, a 22R-E 105 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with fuel injection, an automatic, and 84,000 miles—$14,000
1986 Toyota pickup truck, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1987 Black/Silver two-tone Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 442 coupe with gray cloth bucket seats, a 170 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 11,000 miles—$29,000
  • 1989 Scarlet Red Ford Mustang GT convertible with a white top, white leather bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 7,000 miles—$29,000
  • 1987 red Chevrolet Corvette custom (exterior, wheels/tires) convertible with a white top, black leather bucket seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 63,000 miles—$15,000
  • 1981 maroon Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe with tan cloth bucket seats, a 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 28,000 miles—$25,000
  • 1987 Scarlet Red Ford Mustang ASC/McLaren convertible with gray bucket seats, a 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$13,000
  • 1980 Blue Green Metallic Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible with a black soft top, tan leather seats, a 160 bhp 4.5 liter/276 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$27,000
  • 1984 black/silver two-tone Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a gray cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$28,000 for this truck, restored in reasonably stock fashion.
  • 1981 black Toyota SR5 Hilux pickup truck with tan cloth seats, a 22R 97 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with a carburetor, and a five-speed manual—$20,000
  • 1984 white Johnson Phantom coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a 190 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$11,000 for this Camaro-based “neo-classic.”
  • 1980 blue Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser SUV with gray seats, a 2F 4.2 liter inline six, and a five-speed manual—$34,000
  • 1989 blue Cadillac Brougham limousine with blue cloth seats, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 27,000 miles—a Thursday sale gets resold on Friday for $2,000, $250 more than a day before.

Saturday, August 29th:

  • 1984 Black Chevrolet Corvette hatchback coupe with graphite leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 205 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, the Doug Nash 4+3, and 1,400 miles—$17,000. This amount is almost #1/Concours condition money, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools.
  • 1985 orange Cadillac Fleetwood very custom (just about anything) coupe with orange vinyl seats, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$23,000
  • 1986 Guards Red Porsche 944 Turbo hatchback coupe with black leather bucket seats, a 220 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with fuel injection and a turbocharger, and a five-speed manual—$27,000
  • 1989 Bright Red Jeep Grand Wagoneer custom (engine) SUV with light tan bucket seats, a Hemi 707 bhp 6.2 liter V8 with fuel injection and a supercharger, an automatic, and 52,000 miles—$115,000
  • 1987 red BMW M6 coupe with white leather bucket seats, an S38 256 bhp 3.5 liter/211 ci inline six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 53,000 miles—$59,000 made this handsome car the highest sale of a stock eighties vehicle at this auction.
1986 BMW M6, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1980 Bright Red Toyota FJ-45 Land Cruiser custom (just about everything) SUV with gray/tan bucket seats, a 2F 4.2 liter inline six, and a five-speed manual—$71,000

This particular auction contained the usual suspects (Chevy trucks, Corvettes, Mercedes SLs, Mustangs, Toyota FJs) but also some rarely seen cars—the AMC Eagle, Buick Electra, and Mercury Grand Marquis stood out to me. Of course, there were also those three Ramchargers. What do you think?

1983 Jeep Wagoneer Limited SUV

With Jeep about to introduce a brand new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, my thoughts turn back to the nowclassic eighties Wagoneers.

In addition to my historical interest, there’s a personal reason for these thoughts. Back in the eighties, I walked to my local high school almost every day. On cold winter mornings, I’d be trudging alone toward school, and sometimes I’d hear the quiet rumble of a Wagoneer’s V8 behind me along with a female voice. “Get in, John,” she’d say—and I would, grateful for the Wagoneer’s warmth and the lady’s company. I remember you, Patricia, and I hope you are doing well.

“The Ultimate Wagon.”

For 1983, Jeep’s Wagoneer gained a new Selec-Trac four-wheel-drive system, which replaced the decade-old Quadra-Trac system. Jeep also changed the Wagoneer’s trims. 1982’s base Custom trim was no longer available, with what had been the Brougham package now marking the base trim. The loaded Limited trim continued as the top of the Wagoneer line.

The standard engine for the Brougham was a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a two-barrel carburetor. Optional on the Brougham and standard on the Limited was a 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. Mileage was, of course, awful, especially with the V8—the Limited got 12 city/16 highway by the standards of the day (10/12 by 2020 standards). With a 20.3-gallon fuel tank, a Limited owner could expect a range of 200 to 255 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. Wagoneers could go just about anywhere, but they couldn’t go that far. They also wouldn’t get there that fast: 0-60 mph took about 16 seconds.

1983 Jeep Wagoneer advertisement
1983 Jeep Wagoneer Limited magazine advertisement

The $13,173 1983 Wagoneer Brougham was about $34,800 in today’s dollars—almost exactly what a base 2020 Grand Cherokee goes for. Standard mechanical equipment included power variable-ratio steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P225/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, Coventry checked cloth or Deluxe grain vinyl front and rear bench seats, Custom interior trim, Light Group, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included.

Moving to the upscale Wagoneer Limited added tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, and a premium audio system with electronic tuning. Limited trim and upholstery included leather bucket seats up front, power seats for the driver and front passenger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and extra-thick 22-ounce carpeting in the seating area. All of this equipment raised the Limited‘s price to 44% to $16,889—$44,600 in today’s dollars, which is 2020 Grand Cherokee Limited X money.

Options for the Limited included halogen fog lamps ($82), a power sun roof ($1,637), an electric rear window defroster ($184), and a cassette tape player ($300).

Sales of the SJ Wagoneer were up by almost 28% in the 1983 model year, with the 18,478 produced marking 21% of overall Jeep production. Today, Wagoneers of this era have many adherents—in fact, there’s a company that makes its entire business restoring them. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Wagoneer Limited in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $40,600, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $20,800.

SJ Jeep Wagoneers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a Deep Night Blue with woodgrain sides 1983 Wagoneer Limited with nutmeg leather bucket seats and 115,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $42,500.

Make mine Deep Maroon Metallic, please.

I have written about one other Jeep in this blog—the 1982 CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck. Years ago, I wrote about the 1980 AMC Eagle station wagon.

1983 Chevrolet Caprice Classic sedan

Earlier this week, a two-tone and stock-appearing Caprice Classic sedan turned a few hundred feet in front of me. Time to finally write a blog entry on the four-door Caprice—I have previously covered the coupe and the station wagon.

“… comfort and quiet for up to six.”

For 1983, Chevrolet’s Caprice Classic sedan was little changed. The headline might have been the return of Black exterior paint.

The Caprice’s standard engine was a Chevrolet-built LC3 110 bhp 3.8 liter/229 ci V6 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor. Options included a Chevrolet-built LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor and a (don’t do it!) Oldsmobile-built LF9 105 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8. The standard engine for California buyers was a Buick-built LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor. A three-speed automatic was standard for the two V6’s and the diesel, with a four-speed automatic with overdrive standard with the gas V8 and available for the diesel.

Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 19 mpg, while the V8 was 17 mpg. The diesel was said to get 23 mpg. With a 25.1-gallon gas tank, the owner of a V8 Caprice could expect a range of about 385 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. No matter which engine was under the hood, Chevrolet’s largest car was not quick; 0-60 mph took about 11.5 seconds with the V8.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $8,802 Caprice Classic sedan (about $23,000 in today’s dollars) included power steering, a front stabilizer bar, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P205/75R15 radial tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 15 x 6 inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, Quiet Sound Group, a full-width front bench seat, a quartz electric clock, and a glove box light were included.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options were Custom two-tone paint ($141) in four combinations, tinted glass ($105), halogen hi-beam headlamps ($10), cornering lamps ($55), and an electric rear window defogger ($135). Inside, air conditioning ($725), automatic speed control with resume speed ($170), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($105), power door locks ($170), and a range of Delco radios up to an AM/FM stereo radio with a stereo cassette tape player and four speakers ($298) were available.

The acclaimed F41 Sport Suspension—Car and Driver stated that it would make you “think that your Chevy came from the Black Forest instead of Detroit”—included stiffer springs, tighter shocks, a thicker front stabilizer bar, and a rear stabilizer bar. The F41 was a bargain at $49 and required P225/70R15 white stripe tires ($159). A CL Special Custom interior ($452) included 50/50 Custom cloth seats and a passenger recliner.

Caprice Classic sedan pages from the 1983 full-size Chevrolet brochure

The Caprice Classic and other B platform cars—1983’s B body sedan roster included the Buick LeSabre, the Chevrolet Impala, the Oldsmobile Delta 88, and the Pontiac Parisienne—continued to be well regarded. Car and Driver‘s inaugural 10 Best Cars in January 1983 included the Caprice Classic along with the AMC/Renault Alliance, the Ford Mustang GT, the Pontiac 6000 STE, the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, and five other cars.

Caprices continued to sell well—Chevrolet sold 122,613 sedans in 1983 along with another 45,154 of the closely related but somewhat de-contented Impala four-doors. The Caprice’s production numbers made it the best-selling of any Chevrolet sedan in that model year, beating out the Cavalier, Celebrity, Chevette, and Malibu offerings.

Eighties Caprice Classics have their adherents, though many have been modified as donks. Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track the 1976 to 1990 models. You see them in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—when I wrote this post, there was a White 1989 Caprice Classic Brougham sedan with dark blue cloth 45/55 seats, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and 133,000 miles for sale on Hemmings for $7,500.

Make mine Dark Fern Metallic, please.

1987 Volvo 780 coupe

“The kind of Volvo you design when you’ve been designing Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis all your life.”

Designed and produced by Bertone and primarily based on the 760 sedan, the 780 was Volvo’s second attempt at a stylish coupe. The first was also a Bertone creation—the 262C built from 1977 through 1981. Beyond the handsome exterior, the interior was also specific to the 780—not merely a slightly re-purposed 760 design. Among the significant changes from the 760’s interior were a move from five seats to four, with individually-shaped seats for those in the rear.

The 780 used its design and a notably high standard equipment level as differentiators as Volvo attempted to move into higher-end markets. The 780’s base price was $34,785—about $81,700 in today’s dollars, which is well more than any Volvo vehicle’s sticker price in 2020. Back in 1987, the 780’s real competition was unclear. Was it the Acura Legend (also in its first year but much less expensive), the BMW 6-series (much more expensive), the Lincoln Mark VII (far less expensive—at least until many options were added), or some other car?

For 1987, the only powertrain available was the B280F 146 bhp 2.8 liter/174 ci V6 with Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 mph times were in the 11 second range—Volvo did not intend the 780 to be a sports coupe. Mileage in the 3,415-pound car was rated at 17 city/21 highway by the standards of the day (15/20 by today’s standards). With a relatively small 15.9-gallon fuel tank, 780 drivers could expect 250 to 270 miles of range with a 10% reserve.

1987 Volvo 780 advertisement
1987 Volvo 780 advertisement

Standard exterior equipment for the 780 included tinted glass, a power moonroof with a sliding sunshade, dual power mirrors with a heating element, flush-lens halogen headlamps, front and rear fog lamps, and the Bertone name and logo on both C pillars. Mechanical features included power steering, four-wheel vented power disc brakes with ABS, and 205/60R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch 15-spoke alloy wheels.

Inside, the 780 came loaded, with full instrumentation including a tachometer, a power central locking system, power windows, automatic climate control, cruise control, and a driver’s side airbag. Upholstery highlights included heated eight-way power leather front bucket seats and beach burl wood trim. The standard stereo was an AM/FM ETR stereo cassette with a seven-band graphic equalizer, four speakers, a 200-watt amplifier, and a power antenna.

Volvo did not sell a lot of 780’s—but I don’t believe they expected to. Only 9,215 (other sources say 8,518) were produced over six years of production, with about 61% of those going to the United States market. There’s an enthusiast site at 780coupe.com, and folks do collect 780’s. You also sometimes see them in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors.

Make mine Blue Metallic, please.

This post is the first on a Volvo in Eighties Cars. There will be others—I definitely expect to get to the 240 wagon at some point.