1983 Mercury Grand Marquis Sedan

As I walked to the train earlier the week, I saw an eighties Mercury Grand Marquis sedan idling on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. It stood out because of its size (at 214 inches these cars are more than a foot longer than a 2018 Lincoln Continental) and its new for 1979 squareness. Reason enough to write a (rare) Mercury blog entry (my only other one so far is about the 1986 Mercury Capri).

“A Lesson In Luxury”

For 1983, Mercury renamed all versions of the full-size Marquis to Grand Marquis and moved the Marquis name to the mid-size Fox platform. Other than the name change, changes for the Grand Marquis were relatively modest: there were new full-width wraparound tail lamps and a modified grille. New options included a remote locking fuel filler door ($24), locking wire wheel covers ($168), and a Tripminder trip computer ($261) which showed month/day/time, elapsed time, average speed, average MPG, instantaneous MPG, and gallons of fuel used. In their annual “Charting the Changes” roundup, Car and Driver once again made the ritual complaint that there was still no de Sad package.

The standard engine in 1983 was Ford’s 130 bhp 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection paired to a four-speed automatic. Somewhat strangely to our modern eyes, the optional power upgrade was a carburetted version of the same motor with 145 bhp. These were not fast cars—with an almost 3,800-pound curb weight, 0-60 came in about 12 seconds. Mileage with the standard powertrain was 17 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (14/20 by today’s standards). With the 18-gallon fuel tank, Grand Marquis drivers could expect a range of 275 to 355 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $1o,718 Grand Marquis (about $26,900 in today’s dollars) included a coach vinyl roof, coach lamps, halogen headlamps, power brakes (front disc and rear drum), power steering, and P215/75R14 steel-belted white sidewall radial tires on 14-inch wheels with deluxe wheel covers. Inside, cloth/vinyl Twin Comfort Lounge seats with dual front seat recliners, a four-spoke luxury (the Grand Marquis brochure mentioned luxury a lot) steering wheel, an analog quartz clock, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were included. Standard items that Mercury proudly listed that do not impress in 2017 included a front stabilizer bar, seat belt warning chimes, and carpeted lower door trim panels.

Upgrading to the $11,273 LS added tinted glass, luxury cloth Twin Comfort Lounge seats, cloth-trimmed headrests, right-hand visor vanity mirror, map pockets in front seatback, luxury door trim with armrest woodtone inserts and courtesy lights, dual beam dome/map light, dual fold-down front center armrests, rear-seat folding center armrest, and the all-important LS badge on the rear decklid.

Exterior and mechanical options included the Traction-Lok differential ($95) and cast aluminum turbine spoke wheels ($361) which required P205/75R15 tires ($17). Interior options included manual air conditioning ($724), automatic air conditioning ($802), 6-way power driver’s seat ($210) or driver’s and passenger’s seats ($420), power door locks ($123), fingertip speed control ($170), and tilt steering wheel ($105). Audio options included a host of optional radios with 8-track or cassette player, a power antenna ($60), and Premium Sound System with two additional speakers in the front doors, upgraded rear speakers, and an extra power amplifier ($175 base/$145 LS). Leather seating surfaces ($418) were only available on the LS. All these options meant that a loaded Grand Marquis LS could quickly get close to the Lincoln Town Car’s pricing territory—I quickly priced one to $14,584 (about $36,700 in 2017 dollars).

The rear cover of the 1983 Mercury Grand Marquis brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

The Grand Marquis sold well for Mercury in 1983—72,207 sedans, 11,117 coupes, and 12,394 Colony Park wagons made it one of the division’s best sellers—23% of sales in a year when Mercury also offered the Capri, Cougar, LN7 (remember the LN7?), Lynx, Marquis, and Zephyr.

The first-generation Grand Marquis sometimes shows up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. Make mine Midnight Blue Metallic, I think.

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Eighties Vehicles at the 2017 Mecum Chicago

Mecum’s October auction in Chicago provided some fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s cars (and a few trucks) that sold (remember that Mecum auctions are not no reserve auctions—a black and gold 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE custom coupe with a tan interior was a no sale bid up to $42,000) and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 9% of the 366 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Thursday, October 5th:

  • 1987 gold Porsche 944 coupe with black leather seats, a 150 bhp 2.5 liter/151 cubic inch inline four with fuel injection, an automatic, and 81,000 miles—$6,000 hammer price
  • 1986 white Cadillac Coupe de Ville with blue seats, an HT-4100 130 bhp 4.1 liter/249 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 55,000 miles—an ouch! at $3,000
  • 1987 green Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with a tan convertible top, a hard top, tan leather seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 cubic inch V8 with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, and an automatic—$7,500
  • 1984 red Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible with a white top, white tufted leather seats, an HT-4100 135 bhp 4.1 liter/249 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$8,500
  • 1988 white with woodgrain Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV with a beige interior, a 144 bhp 5.9 liter/360 cubic inch V8 with Motorcraft 2-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$14,000
  • 1984 silver Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with gray leather seats, a hard top, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 cubic inch V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection, and an automatic—$7,000
  • 1982 silver beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback coupe with silver beige leather seats, a 200 bhp L83 Cross-Fire 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 17,000 miles—$20,000
  • 1980 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with black leather seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$12,000
  • 1984 light pewter metallic over thunder black Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe with black leather seats, a 200 bhp 3.0 liter/181 cubic inch V6 with twin turbochargers and fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 25,000 miles—$18,000
  • 1983 beige crystal Chrysler Imperial coupe with beige leather seats, an LA 130 bhp 5.2 liter/318 cubic inch V8 with stunningly unreliable fuel injection, an automatic, and 31,000 miles—$7,250
1983 Chrysler Imperial, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1988 gray Pontiac Firebird Formula hatchback coupe with a gray interior, a 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$4,000
  • 1986 light blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with blue cloth bench seat, a V8, an automatic, and 27,000 miles—$8,500

Friday, October 6th:

  • 1986 dark red metallic Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z hatchback coupe with gray cloth seats, an LB9 190 bhp 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 41,000 miles—at $15,000  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.
  • 1989 aqua Nissan Pao hatchback coupe with ivory seats, a MA10S 51 bhp 1.0 liter/61 cubic inch inline four, a five-speed manual, and 79,000 miles—$10,000 for this retro-styled car, perhaps the most interesting eighties vehicle at this auction
1989 Nissan Pao, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1988 astral silver metallic Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with a hard top, blue leather seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 cubic inch V8 with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, an automatic, and 35,000 miles—$27,500
  • 1980 blue Datsun 280ZX hatchback coupe with blue cloth seats, an L28 145 bhp 2.8 liter/168 cubic inch inline six with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, and a five-speed—$7,500
  • 1980 black GMC Sierra 2500 custom pickup truck with a gray interior, a 400 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$17,000
  • 1989 gray Jaguar XJS convertible with a black top, black leather seats, an HE 262 bhp 5.3 liter/326 cubic inch V12 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 63,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1984 blue Chevrolet Cavalier convertible with a blue top, blue cloth seats, an LQ5 88 bhp 2.0 liter/121 cubic inch inline four with throttle-body fuel injection, and an automatic—$1,000. When was the last time you saw a Cavalier at a collector car auction?
  • 1984 red Chevrolet Corvette hatchback coupe with gray leather seats, a Cross-Fire 205 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle-body fuel injection, an automatic, and 2,600 miles—$13,500
  • 1986 yellow Chevrolet Corvette convertible with black leather seats, an L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1989 red/white/blue Chevrolet Corvette Corvette Challenge race car with a black interior, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and a six-speed manual—$35,000. Corvette Challenge cars seem to have (finally) found their market.
  • 1982 green Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser SUV with a black and green interior, a six cylinder engine, and a five-speed manual—$29,000
  • 1986 black Buick Grand National coupe with a black/gray cloth seats, a 245 bhp 3.8 liter/231 cubic inch turbocharged V6 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 54,000 miles—$22,000
  • 1987 brown/tan two-tone Ford Bronco II SUV Eddie Bauer edition SUV with tan cloth seats, a Cologne 140 bhp 2.9 liter/179 cubic inch V6 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$11,000
  • 1989 red Ford Mustang Saleen hatchback coupe with gray cloth seats, a 4.9 liter V8 with Paxton supercharger, a five-speed manual, and 29,000 miles—$20,500
  • 1988 maroon with gray cladding Ford Mustang GT convertible with red cloth seats, a white top, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 30,000 miles—$10,500

Saturday, October 7th:

  • 1989 black Land Rover Defender 110 custom pickup truck with black seats, a 2.5 liter/152 cubic inch diesel inline four, and a five-speed manual—$43,000
  • 1987 venetian blue metallic Porsche 911 Turbo coupe with linen leather seats, a 282 bhp 3.3 liter/201 cubic inch flat six with turbocharger and fuel injection, a four-speed manual, and 40,000 miles—$78,000
1987 Porsche 911 Turbo, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1983 azzurro blue Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole coupe with nuvola blue leather seats, a 230 bhp 2.9 liter/179 cubic inch V8 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 38,000 miles—$33,000 is right at #4/Fair money according to Hagerty’s valuation tools.
  • 1987 red Chevrolet Silverado custom pickup truck with a tan cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$12,500
  • 1988 white with woodgrain Jeep Grand Wagoneer custom SUV with tan seats, a 5.9 liter/360 cubic inch V8 with carburetor, and an automatic—$21,500
  • 1984 blue Chevrolet Silverado custom pickup truck with a bench seat, a 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$13,500
  • 1982 white Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with a blue convertible top, hard top, blue leather seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 cubic inch V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection, and an automatic—$9,500

Eighties Chevrolets were heavily represented in this auction—almost 30% of the lots from that decade, with Mercedes-Benz a distant second place. What do you think of these results?

 

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Eighties Vehicles at the 2017 Mecum Louisville

Mecum’s September auction in Louisville provided some fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s cars (and a few trucks) that sold (remember that Mecum auctions are not no reserve auctions—a green Toyota FJ-43 Land Cruiser SUV with gray interior and 11,000 miles was a no sale bid up to $29,000) and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 8% of the 196 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Thursday, September 21st:

  • 1981 blue Toyota Trekker mild custom (lifted) pickup truck with blue cloth seats, a 22R 97 bhp 2.4 liter/144 cubic inch inline four with a single-barrel carburetor, and a five-speed manual—$7,000 hammer price for this proto 4runner built in collaboration with Winnebago (!).
  • 1986 bright red Chevrolet Corvette convertible with white top, red leather seats, an L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$5,000
  • 1989 red Chevrolet Silverado custom pickup with a red cloth interior, a 7.4 liter/454 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$7,000
  • 1985 red Chevrolet C10 custom pickup with a black interior, a Vortec 5.3 liter V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—11,500
  • 1984 light blue metallic/medium blue metallic Chevrolet Corvette hatchback coupe with blue leather seats, a Cross-Fire 205 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle-body fuel injection, and an automatic—$8,250
  • 1985 blue/white two-tone Ford F150 mild custom (lifted) pickup truck with a 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection and an automatic—$12,500

Friday, September 22nd:

  • 1989 white Cadillac Coupe deVille coupe (natch!) with white leather seats, a 155 bhp 4.5 liter/273 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 48,000 miles—at $4,000 an ouch! for a car that started at $25,285 when new.
  • 1980 black Chevrolet Corvette coupe with black leather seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$8,500
  • 1982 silver beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback coupe with silver beige leather seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 64,000 miles—$7,500 is below #4/Fair money according to Hagerty’s valuation tools.
  • 1980 carousel red Pontiac Firebird Esprit coupe with red cloth seats, an L37 140 bhp 4.9 liter/301 cubic inch V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 59,000 miles. At $12,500 this rarely seen Firebird model was 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.
1980 Firebird Esprit, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1984 white Jeep CJ-7 Renegade SUV with gray seats, a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 cubic inch inline six with a Carter two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$13,000
  • 1983 white Chevrolet Camaro Z28 hatchback coupe with dark blue cloth seats, an LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 19,000 miles—$11,500
  • 1982 bronze metallic Jeep CJ-7 Renegade SUV with nutmeg seats, a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 cubic inch inline six with a Carter 2-barrel carburetor, and a four-speed—$15,000
  • 1985 yellow Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler mild custom (lifted) pickup truck with black seats, a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 cubic inch inline six with a Carter 2-barrel carburetor, and a four-speed—$23,000

Saturday, September 23rd:

  • 1981 blue/silver two-tone Datsun 280ZX hatchback coupe with blue/gray cloth seats, an L28 145 bhp 2.8 liter/168 cubic inch inline six with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, and a five-speed—$8,500 for perhaps the most interesting eighties vehicle at this auction.
1981 Datsun 280ZX, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1981 silver Chevrolet Corvette coupe with red leather seats, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet 4-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 61,000 miles—$15,000

Eighties Chevrolets were heavily represented in this auction—almost 50% of the lots from that decade. What do you think of these results?

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Eighties Vehicles at the 2017 Mecum Dallas

Mecum’s September auction in Dallas provided some fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s cars (and a few trucks) that sold (remember that Mecum auctions are not no reserve auctions—a grand prix white 1982 Porsche 930 Turbo coupe with can-can red leather seats and 17,000 miles was a no sale bid up to $77,500) and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 7% of the 450 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Wednesday, September 6th:

  • 1984 blue Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with tan seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 cubic inch V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection, and an automatic—$7,000 hammer price.
  • 1988 alpine white Mercedes-Benz 560SEC custom coupe with tan leather seats, an M117 238 bhp 5.5 liter/338 cubic inch V8 with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, an automatic, and 69,000 miles—$15,500
  • 1985 light bronze metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe with dark bronze leather seats, an L98 230 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 2,200 miles—$16,500
  • 1985 blue Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with a black convertible top, tan seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 cubic inch V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection, and an automatic—an ouch! at $3,750.
  • 1980 black and gold Pontiac Firebird Trans Am custom coupe with a black interior, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 (that’s why it’s custom), and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1980 dark blue Chevrolet Corvette custom coupe with dark blue leather seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 63,000 miles—$9,500
  • 1985 black Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS custom coupe with maroon cloth seats, a 383 cubic inch V8 with a carburetor, and an automatic—$8,500 for this car dressed to look like a NASCAR race car.

Thursday, September 7th:

  • 1980 white Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe with a blue interior, an LM1 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic. At $12,500, 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.
  • 1998 red Chevrolet 3500 custom pickup truck with a red interior, a 7.4 liter/454 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$17,500
  • 1981 white Chevrolet Corvette coupe with medium red leather seats, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 60,000 miles—$17,000
  • 1981 autumn red/dark claret two-tone Chevrolet Corvette coupe with medium red leather seats, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic. $9,500 for this attractive and rare (probably less than 3% of production) two-tone.
1981 Chevrolet Corvette, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1981 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with medium red leather seats, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, and a four-speed manual—$12,500. If you like 1981 Corvettes, this seems to have been your auction.
  • 1989 blue GMC 1500 custom pickup truck with blue/ gray cloth seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$4,000
  • 1982 silver beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback coupe with silver beige leather seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle body fuel injection, and an automatic—$9,000
  • 1987 black GMC custom pickup truck with a gray cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, and a four-speed manual—$21,000
  • 1989 tan/brown two-tone Chevrolet Blazer Silverado SUV with tan cloth seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, an automatic, and 22,000 miles—$14,000
  • 1987 blue/white two-tone Ford F-150 XLT Lariat pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, a Windsor 5.8 liter/351 cubic inch V8, an automatic, and 85,000 miles—$8,500
  • 1985 silver GMC custom pickup with a red leather bench seat, a 400 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$24,500

Friday, September 8th:

  • 1988 black BMW M6 coupe with silver gray leather seats, an M88/3 256 bhp 3.5 liter/211 cubic inch inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, and a five-speed—$41,000 for this very complete (full toolkit included) coupe.
  • 1983 red GMC 1500 custom pickup truck with gray leather seats, a V8, and an automatic—$10,500
  • 1984 red Chevrolet C10 custom pickup truck with tan seats, a 502 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$21,000
  • 1989 light blue/dark blue two-tone Chevrolet K1500 Silverado pickup truck with a blue bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, an automatic, and 16,000 miles—$21,000
  • 1987 black Buick Regal GNX coupe with black/gray cloth seats, an LC2 276 bhp 3.8 liter/231 cubic inch V6 with turbocharging and fuel injection, and an automatic—$49,000 for this GNX with a recently rebuilt engine.
  • 1987 black Buick Grand National coupe with a black/gray cloth seats, a 245 bhp 3.8 liter/231 cubic inch turbocharged V6 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 6,400 miles—$39,000
  • 1986 brown Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer Edition SUV with tan cloth seats, a Windsor H.O. 210 bhp 5.8 liter/351 cubic inch V8 with a Motorcraft two-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 14,000 miles—$20,000 is no longer crazy money for a low-mileage Bronco with the top-of-the-line power option.
1986 Ford Bronco, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1984 red Chevrolet Corvette hatchback coupe with red leather seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 205 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with throttle-body fuel injection, an automatic, and 5,700 miles—$15,000. Hagerty’s valuation tools see this as between #1/Concours and #2/Excellent condition for this configuration.
  • 1987 black Chevrolet K10 Silverado pickup truck with a red interior, a 210 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$17,500
  • 1988 blue GMC Suburban SUV with blue cloth seats, a 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8, and an automatic—$7,500

Saturday, September 9th:

  • 1989 white Chevrolet custom pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, a 355 cubic inch engine with a supercharger and two Eldebrock four-barrel carburetors, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1987 apple red/frost white GMC Sierra Classic pickup truck with a burgundy cloth bench seat, a 210 bhp 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 5,800 miles—$25,000
  • 1980 black Chevrolet Camaro Sport Coupe coupe (natch!) with black vinyl seats, a V8 with a carburetor (could be either a 4.4 liter or a 5.0 liter), and an automatic—$11,000 for this rarely seen version.

Many Chevrolets and a lot of trucks. What do you think of these results?

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Auction Favorite: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL

The Mercedes-Benz 380SL is a common vehicle at the auctions I follow—since starting this blog in late 2013, I’ve seen almost 40 of these convertibles go across the block, mostly at the Barrett-Jackson and Mecum events. I chose to go with 1985 as the model year to write about because it and 1982 have been the two most common years I have seen.

“What do you get when you blend a Mercedes-Benz with a sports car? The incomparable 380SL.”

1985 was the final year for the 380SL—from 1986 on, the heavier and more powerful 560SL would be the only option in North America. There wasn’t much change for 1985; all cars got anti-lock brakes, and later cars got a drivers-side airbag. About 11,100 buyers took home this last of the line example.

Motive power was provided by a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 cubic inch V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection, connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. As with all R107 models, mileage for the 3,600-pound car wasn’t very good—the ratings of the day were 16 city mpg/18 highway (14/17 by today’s standards). With the 22.5-gallon fuel tank, a 380SL driver could expect a range of between 310 and 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds; the 380SL was closer to a grand touring car than to a sports car.

The 380SL’s base price for 1985 was $43,820 (about $102,200 in today’s dollars—neatly spaced between what an SL 450 and an SL 550 cost in 2017). For the money, exterior and mechanical standard features included the aforementioned ABS controlling power disk brakes, power steering, a steel hardtop, and 205/70VR14 tires (now a rare size) on 14-inch forged light-alloy wheels. Inside, power windows, power door locks via a vacuum locking system, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo with cassette player were standard. Air conditioning was also included in the electronic automatic climate control system, though most say it wasn’t that effective. Heated leather seats were optional.

1980 Mercedes-Benz 380SL Roadster

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 380SL in #1/Concours condition is $28,200, with a more typical #3/Good car going for $13,600. There is decent club support for the 380SL, as there is for almost all Mercedes-Benz’s. 380SLs maintain a substantial presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this in September 2017, there are 66 advertised on Hemmings, including 14 of the 1985 models.

Make mine Astral Silver Metallic, please. Dealer advertising image courtesy of Alden Jewell, linked from Flickr.

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NASCAR’s Eighties Flashback

This weekend, NASCAR will have two “throwback” races at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, one for the “AAA” Xfinity series and one for the “major league” Monster Energy series. Darlington and NASCAR started with this throwback theme in 2015, and this year 35 of the 40 cars in the top-tier series will have retro color schemes centered around 1985-1989. In my opinion, two of the best of these liveries are Brad Keselowski’s tribute to Rusty Wallace’s #2 Miller Genuine Draft car and Aric Almirola’s version of Richard Petty’s 1984 #43 STP car—the one he won his 200th race in.

An example Darlington throwback paint scheme, linked from Motor Racing Network.
The #43 throwback paint scheme, also linked from Motor Racing Network.

To be fair, Brad, Aric, and their teams have some advantages over some of the other tribute schemes—they have the matching car number, and the original sponsor is a) still in business and b) willing to sponsor the new car. Because of this, some of the other schemes are more of a reach—but it’s still nice to see the effort.

It’s not just how the cars look, either. NBCSN will use some old school graphics, and with any luck, there will be some commercials from the period (I’ve seen Coca Cola and Mellow Yellow in past years). Some of the pit crews are wearing uniforms styled like those from decades ago. Even the Monster Energy girls are getting into it with some eighties hairstyles.

For me, this is appointment viewing—to be honest, likely the last time of the NASCAR racing year that this is true. What do others think?

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Eighties Vehicles at the 2017 Mecum Monterey

Mecum’s four-day auction in Monterey included a lot of vehicles from the 1980s—fully 10% of the 241 cars and trucks that sold. As always, I’ll concentrate on the cars that actually sold (remember that this is not a no reserve auction—a green, gold, and white 1989 Porsche 962 Miller High Life race car was a no sale bid up to $2,000,000) and add some of my opinions.

Thursday, August 17th:

  • 1984 white GMC 3500 pickup truck with a blue bench seat, a 7.4 liter/454 cubic inch V8, and an automatic —$11,000 hammer price for this truck with 1984 Olympics badging.
  • 1989 tungsten blue Jaguar XJS convertible with a blue top, medium blue interior, an HE 262 bhp 5.3 liter/326 cubic inch V12 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 86,000 miles—$6,500
  • 1985 gold BMW 528e sedan with a brown interior, an M20B27 121 bhp 2.7 liter/165 cubic inch inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—an ouch! at $1,000
  • 1985 black BMW 535i sedan with a black interior, an M30B34 182 bhp 3.4 liter/209 cubic inch inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, and an automatic—$2,000
  • 1989 red Cadillac Allanté  convertible with beige leather seats, an HT-4500 200 bhp 4.5 liter/273 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 47,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1985 guards red Porsche 911 Carrera Targa coupe with a black interior, a 207 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 106,000 miles—$31,000
  • 1988 black Porsche 911 Carrera coupe with checkered cloth seats, a 217 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 197,000 miles—$29,000
  • 1987 red Porsche 911 Carrera Targa coupe with black leather seats, a 217 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 95,000 miles—$28,500
  • 1989 black pearl Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with a black hard top, palomino leather seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 cubic inch V8 with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, an automatic, and 65,000 miles—$27,000 for this car once owned by Joe Montana.
  • 1987 zermatt silver metallic Porsche 924 S coupe with a black interior, a 150 bhp 2.5 liter/151 cubic inch inline four with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 44,000 miles—$19,000
  • 1981 stainless steel DeLorean DMC-12 coupe with a gray interior, a ZMJ-159 130 bhp 2.8 liter/174 cubic inch V6 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 1,900 miles. $39,000 makes this the first eighties vehicle in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 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.
  • 1987 venetian blue metallic Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet convertible with a black top, black leather seats, a 217 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 41,000 miles—$49,000

Friday, August 18th:

  • 1988 alpine white BMW M3 coupe with cardinal red leather seats, an S14 192 bhp 2.3 liter/141 cubic inch inline four with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 78,000 miles—$60,000
  • 1988 black Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet convertible with a black top, black leather seats, a 217 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 88,000 miles—$31,000
  • 1988 black Porsche 911 Turbo coupe with brown leather seats, a 282 bhp 3.3 liter/301 cubic inch flat six with turbocharger and fuel injection, a four-speed manual, and 11,000 miles—$145,000
  • 1988 white Porsche 911 Speedster convertible with a black top, black leather seats, a 217 bhp 3.2 liter/193 cubic inch flat six with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 8,100 miles—$160,000
  • 1988 black Alpha Romeo Spider Graduate Edition convertible with a black top, a burgundy interior, a 115 bhp 2.0 liter/120 cubic inch inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—$15,000
  • 1983 white, orange, and black Chevrolet Camaro Z28 race car with a 310 cubic inch V8—$26,000

Saturday, August 19th:

  • 1988 black BMW M6 coupe with gray leather seats, an S38B35 256 bhp 3.5 liter/211 cubic inch inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 32,000 miles—$42,000
  • 1983 silver Ferrari 512 BBi coupe with Zenga striped cloth seats, a 335 bhp 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch flat 12 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 5,600 miles—$330,000
  • 1988 graphite Porsche 959 Komfort coupe with gray leather seats, a 444 bhp 2.8 liter/174 cubic inch flat six with twin turbochargers and Bosch Motronic fuel injection, a six-speed manual, and 14,000 miles—$950,000 is between #2/Excellent and #3/Good condition, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools. I’m happy that this 959 was driven a bit by its four previous owners.
1988 Porsche 959 Komfort coupe, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1988 nero black Ferrari Testarossa coupe with black leather seats, a 380 bhp 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch V12 with Bosch fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 9,600 miles—$135,000
  • 1989 red Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary coupe with ivory leather seats, a 455 bhp 5.2 liter/315 cubic inch V12 with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 6,600 miles—$260,000

BMW, Ferraris, and Porsches were strong at this auction, which makes sense given the timing and location. What do you think of the results?