1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible

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For 1984, Cadillac decided to join the eighties convertible party with a version of the Eldorado Biarritz. With a base price of $31,286 (about $80,600 in today’s dollars), the Eldorado droptop was operating in rarified air. In constant dollars, it was the most costly Eldorado of any type since 1960’s hand-crafted Pininfarina-built Brougham.

The only powertrain available for the 1984 Eldorado convertible was an HT-4100 135 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic. With a curb weight of about 3,900 pounds, 0-60 mph came in about 13.5 seconds. Fuel economy was rated at 17 city/27 highway by 1984 standards (14/20 by today’s measures). A 20.4-gallon gas tank meant an Eldorado convertible owner could expect a range of between 310 and 405 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1984 Cadillac Eldorado convertible advertisement
1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible advertisement

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Biarritz convertible included a power convertible top, power rear quarter windows, car color body side moldings, and P225/70R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with wire wheel discs. Inside, a theft-deterrent system, leather seats, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel rim were standard.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on every 1984 Eldorado included Soft Ray tinted glass, front-wheel-drive, a four-wheel independent suspension, power steering, remote mirrors, and four-wheel power disk brakes. Inside, electronic climate control, power door locks, and power windows were all included. Standard audio features included a Delco-GM 2000 stereo with four speakers and a power antenna.

Options and Production Numbers

Options available for the Biarritz convertible included an engine block heater, a remote locking fuel filler door, power mirrors, Twilight Sentinel, cruise control, and a six-way power passenger seat.

Many Eldorado coupe options were not available with the convertible. Some of these unavailable options included the touring suspension, the memory seat, and the all-conquering Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System.

Cadillac sold 3,300 Eldorado convertibles in 1984—substantial numbers for such a high-end droptop and well more than the platform-mate Buick Riviera managed to sell in any single year. General Motors ended up having to navigate at least one lawsuit from folks who had purchased the 1976 Eldorado which Cadillac advertised it as “the last convertible.”

The View From 2021

Tenth-generation Eldorados do attract collector interest, and there is club support. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1984 Eldorado convertible in #1/Concours condition is $32,800, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $9,000. These Eldorados are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a Cotillion White 1984 Eldorado convertible with red leather “tufted multi-button” seats and 78,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $14,500.

Make mine Autumn Maple Firemist, please.

Other Eldorados I have written about include the 1982 Touring Coupe, the 1986 coupe, and the 1988 coupe. Additional E-body/K-body cars with blog entries include the 1980 Buick Riviera S TYPE coupe, the 1980 Cadillac Seville sedan, the 1982 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham coupe, and the 1984 Buick Riviera T TYPE coupe.

1985 Chevrolet C20 Suburban Silverado SUV

For Memorial Day 2020, here’s some truly large American iron.

I was working at the local Chevrolet dealership when a special-ordered Suburban Silverado came in with a 454. It was late in 1984—no passenger car was shipping with anything approaching a big block. But this C20 Suburban had a “rat motor” inside, and you could hear a distinct difference.

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For 1985, Chevrolet changed little with the Suburban in the 13th model year of its seventh generation (Suburbans go back to 1935). There was a new grille, but that was about it other than minor trim changes.

The standard powertrain for the C20 Suburban was an LT9 160 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor paired with a floor-mounted four-speed manual transmission. Engine options included an LH6 148 bhp 6.2 liter/379 ci diesel V8 and the aforementioned LE8 230 bhp 7.4 liter/454 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor (which required power steering and a heavy-duty battery and was a $700 option). A three-speed automatic was available for all three engines, while a four-speed automatic was for only the 350 ci engine.

The Suburban was a substantial vehicle for 1985, with an 129.5 inch wheelbase and 219.1 inches of overall length. With a 4,705-pound curb weight, C20 Suburbans had a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,600 pounds—high enough not to receive fuel economy ratings, which was likely a good thing. A standard 27-gallon fuel tank kept the range respectable but filling it was painful to the wallet.

Standard equipment for the base C20 Suburban (which Chevrolet designated the Custom Deluxe) included power front disc/rear drum brakes, 16 x 6.5 inch wheels, a vinyl bench seat, and a heater and defogger. At $10,953, the C20 was approximately $26,700 in today’s dollars or about half of what a base 2020 Suburban costs—SUVs have moved substantially upmarket in the last 35 years. For most of the eighties, Chevrolet offered two upgraded trims:

  • Scottsdale trim ($459 for gasoline-engined Suburbans) included black body-side moldings, dual horns, two dome lamps, a cigarette lighter, and Scottsdale nameplates on the front fenders and instrument panel.
  • Silverado trim ($1,259 for gasoline-engined Suburbans) required Custom cloth or Custom vinyl seats. It included a Deluxe molding package, bright body-side moldings, Deluxe front appearance, dual horns, and Silverado nameplates on the front fenders. Inside, a cigarette lighter, a dome lamp, voltmeter, temperature, and oil pressure gages, and a Silverado nameplate on the instrument panel were included.
Options page from the 1985 Suburban brochure

Beyond the trims, the 1985 Suburban’s options list was long and complicated. Suburban buyers first had to choose whether they wanted panel rear doors (standard) or a tailgate with manual drop glass ($36). Next came seating choices: front seat only, front seat and folding center seat, or front seat, folding center seat, and removable rear seat.

Other exterior and mechanical options included deep tinted glass in two different configurations, halogen high beam headlamps, two optional gas tank sizes (31 gallon and 41 gallon), and a wide range of wheels and tires. Inside, air conditioning (front or front and rear), an electric rear window defogger, electronic speed control, power door locks, power windows, a quartz electric clock, Custom reclining bucket seats with a console, and a range of radios up to an AM/FM stereo with a cassette player were all available. Chevrolet sold 64,470 Suburbans in the 1985 model year—many of them heavily-optioned.

These seventh-generation Suburbans have their fans. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 C20 Suburban Silverado in #1/Concours condition is $28,600, with a more typical #3/Good condition example going for $13,400. Suburbans frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post in May 2020, a 1985 Doeskin Tan/Frost White two-tone Scottsdale with a Saddle Tan Custom cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, an automatic, and 42,000 miles is available on Hemmings for $24,900.

Make mine Apple Red, with Saddle Tan Custom cloth reclining bucket seats, please—just like that 454 all those years ago.

1989 Buick Electra Park Avenue Ultra sedan

“The standard for luxurious, smooth-riding American sedans …”

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For 1989, Buick’s Electra Park Avenue received a new trim in the middle of the model year: Ultra. It became the new top-of-the-line Buick sedan.

The only powertrain for the Ultra or for any 1989 Electra was a “3800” LN3 165 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with sequential fuel injection teamed with a four-speed automatic transmission. Mileage for the standard engine was 19 city/28 highway by the 1989 measures (17/26 by today’s standards). With an 18-gallon gas tank, an Ultra owner could expect a range of about 345 to 380 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph took a little under 11 seconds.

Electra pages from the 1989 Buick brochure

Buick piled on the bling for the Ultra—standard exterior equipment included Soft-Ray tinted glass, a unique grille texture, smoked tail lamps, chrome side pillars, a Sterling Silver lower accent paint treatment, and a silver accent body stripe. Mechanical equipment on the $26,218 (approximately $55,100 in 2020 dollars) car included a 4-wheel independent DynaRide suspension, power rack-and-pinion steering, power anti-lock front disk/rear drum brakes, and P205/70R15 whitewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch aluminum wheels.

Inside the Ultra, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo radio, burled elm trim on the doors and instrument panel, a tilt steering column, power door locks, power mirrors, and power windows were all standard. The all-leather seats were styled by famed Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, with the 55/45 front seats being 20-way for both driver and front passenger.

Optional items for 1989 included an electric sliding Astroroof ($1,230), a heavily-padded full vinyl top only available for the Ultra, cornering lamps ($60), Electronic Touch Climate Control air conditioning ($165), and Twilight Sentinel headlamp control ($60).

The Electra Park Avenue Ultra received good reviews, with one automotive writer comparing it favorably to the same year’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SE. First-year sales of the 1989 Park Avenue Ultra sedan were decent considering the short window of availability—Buick moved 4,815 examples.

These mid to late 1980s C-bodies had a stately look about them. Big and (I think) handsome, they had a lot of interior room despite the second round of downsizing—with 111 cubic feet, they had only one cubic foot less than the previous generation rear-wheel-drive cars. C-body Park Avenue sedans of this era rarely come up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I wrote this blog entry in March 2020, there were none for sale on either marketplace.

Make mine Claret Red over Sterling Silver, please. All Ultras came with two-tone exterior paint.

Other C-bodies I have written about in this blog are the 1989 Cadillac Sedan deVille and the 1985 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency sedan. Among the many eighties Buicks I have written about include the 1980 Riviera S TYPE coupe, the 1983 Skylark T TYPE coupe, the 1984 Regal Grand National coupe, the 1984 Riviera T TYPE coupe, the 1985 Somerset Regal coupe, the 1986 Century sedan, and the 1987 LeSabre T Type coupe.

1987 Buick LeSabre T Type coupe

“… ranks as the most exciting new LeSabre ever”

1987 was the first year for the T Type version of Buick’s sixth-generation LeSabre. Looking toward a looming future where the rear-wheel-drive Regal would no longer exist, Buick did its best to inject some sportiness into these big (110.8-inch wheelbase) front-wheel-drive coupes.

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Power wasn’t great—the only engine available on any LeSabre was the LG3 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V-6 with sequential fuel injection mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 came in a little over 10 seconds in the 3,250-pound coupe—sprightly but not speedy in 1987. Fuel economy was 18 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (16/25 by 2018 standards). With an 18-gallon gas tank, LeSabre owners could expect a range of about 330 to 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Exterior features specific to the $15,591 T Type (about $35,500 in 2018 dollars or about what a 2019 Buick LaCrosse Preferred sedan goes for) included blackout trim treatment, a front air dam, and a rear deck spoiler. Mechanical equipment included a Gran Touring suspension, a 2.97 performance axle ratio, and 215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT blackwall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Inside, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, gray/black 45/45 cloth seats, a gage package with red backlighting, and an ETR AM-FM stereo radio with graphic equalizer, cassette tape, and more red backlighting were included.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all LeSabre coupes included composite tungsten-halogen headlamps, power rack and pinion steering, clearcoat paint, dual horns, Soft-Ray tinted glass, and a fixed-mast radio antenna. Inside, air conditioning, adjustable front-seat headrests, and cut-pile carpeting were standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included an anti-lock brake system ($925), flip-open Vista-Vent removable glass sunroof ($350), electric side mirrors ($91), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), and power antenna ($95). Inside, automatic climate control ($165), power door locks ($145) power windows ($210), tilt steering column ($125), and electronic cruise control ($175) were available.

LeSabre pages from the 1987 “Hot Buick” brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section

The automotive press and the auto market itself weren’t quite sure what to make of the LeSabre T Type—Consumer Guide said: “it had nothing exceptional to rave about.” Sales were not good in a year when the LeSabre overall sold quite well; only 4,123 out of the 16,899 coupes sold.

A few folks do collect these cars, but I haven’t seen a LeSabre coupe of any type for many years. This generation of LeSabres does maintain some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—however, there are none for sale as I write this in February 2019.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

1980 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport coupe

At Barrett-Jackson’s 2018 Northeast auction, a bright blue metallic 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport coupe with black vinyl seats, a 3.8 liter/229 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 45,000 miles crossed the block. The hammer price was $4,700 for this honest, reasonably original car that no one ever tried to turn into something resembling a Z28. I find these non-top of the line cars interesting because they are rarely saved, leading to something like what we have with 1957 Chevrolets, where you’d think 90% of them were Bel Airs.

“It’s an escape from the ordinary.”

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For 1980, Chevrolet featured four versions of the Camaro. The base model was the Sport Coupe, followed by the Rally Sport, the Berlinetta, and the Z28. This post is about the Rally Sport, which cost $5,916 (about $19,800 in today’s dollars) and got a few changes in the final year of this particular iteration. A new blacked-out grille and a new three-tone striping package were visible, while inside sat a new standard V6.

Rally Sport and Sport Coupe pages from the 1980 Chevrolet Camaro brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

That new standard powertrain on the 1980 Rally Sport was the LC3 115 bhp 3.8 liter/229 ci V6 with a Rochester M2ME two-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed manual. EPA fuel economy was 20 city/26 highway by the standards of the day—with a 20.9-gallon gas tank, a Camaro owner could expect to go 430 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The trade-off was performance that belied the Camaro’s sporty looks: 0-60 in a little under 13 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph.

Optional powertrains included two V8s, both of which required power brakes ($81): the L39 120 bhp 4.4 liter/267 ci with a two-barrel carburetor ($180) and the LG4 155 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci with a four-barrel carburetor ($295). An automatic ($358) was available with all three engines, while a four-speed manual was only available with the larger of the two V8s. The LG4/four-speed combination yielded notably better performance than the base powertrain: 0-60 in about 10 seconds. It didn’t make mileage that much worse—16 city/24 highway by 1980 standards.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all Rally Sports included High Energy ignition, power steering, front stabilizer bar, sport mirrors, rear spoiler, concealed windshield wipers, front disc/rear drum brakes, and 205/75R14 steel-belted radial ply tires (a size still available thanks to Hancook and Kumho) on 14-inch color-keyed Rally wheels. Inside, flow-through ventilation system, contoured full-foam vinyl bucket seats, a “centre” (as spelled in the brochure) floor console, and cut-pile colour-keyed carpeting were included.

Exterior and mechanical options included removable glass panels ($695) and 14 x 7 aluminum wheels ($337). Inside, air conditioning ($566), intermittent windshield wiper system ($41), electric rear window defogger ($107), automatic speed control ($112), power door locks ($93), power windows ($143), a Custom interior ($68), a gauge package with a tachometer ($120), Comfortilt steering wheel ($81), and an AM/FM stereo radio with stereo cassette tape ($272) were all available.

Though the Z28 wasn’t the most popular Camaro, the Rally Sport did not hold up its end of the bargain (likely why it was gone in 1981). The leading seller remained the entry-level Sport Coupe (46% of production), followed by the Z28 (30%), the Berlinetta (16%), and the Rally Sport (8%).

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Camaro Rally Sport with the LG4 V8, a four-speed, and T-tops in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $21,600, with a far more typical #3/Good car with same equipment going for $12,800. Values slide down substantially with the base equipment—a base V6 Rally Sport in #3 condition is only worth $7,600.

This generation of the Rally Sport maintains some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in August 2018, there’s a beige/metallic brown 1979 with 78,000 miles for sale asking $29,000.

Make mine Bright Blue Metallic, please.

1987 Mercury Lynx XR3 hatchback coupe

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“… the sporting side of Lynx.”

1987 was the final year for the Lynx—Mercury’s version of Ford’s Escort compact. The Escort would soldier on for many more years (through model year 2002), but from 1988 forward the smallest American-built Mercury would be the Topaz—still a compact, but larger in almost every dimension. For 1986 and 1987, the top of the line Lynx was the XR3 hatchback coupe.

The Lynx XR3‘s standard (and only) powertrain was a “High Output” 115 bhp 1.9 liter/113 ci inline four with Bosch fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. Mileage was good—25 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (about 22 city/31 highway by 2018 standards). Acceleration was reasonably quick: 0-60 came in about 10 seconds in the approximately 2,400-pound car. With a 13-gallon fuel tank, Lynx XR3 drivers could expect a range of 310 to 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,808 Lynx XR3 (about $20,100 in today’s dollars and close to what a 2018 Fiesta ST hatchback costs) included an asymmetrical grille, an aerodynamic front air dam with built-in fog lamps, wide wheel flairs, a rear spoiler, dual power mirrors, and P195/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels. Inside, cloth sport bucket seats, power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a locking fuel filler door with remote release were included.

Standard equipment on every Lynx included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, a four-wheel independent suspension, aero halogen headlamps, low-back individual reclining seats, and a folding rear seat. The Lynx was not a large car—there aren’t many small coupes left to compare it to, but the current Honda Civic coupe is 5 inches wider and about 10 inches longer.

XR3 page from the 1987 Mercury Lynx brochure.

Since the XR3 came relatively loaded for a compact car, there weren’t many options available. Seven separate options available for lesser Lynxes were standard on the XR3. Exterior and mechanical options for the XR3 included tinted glass ($105), a rear window wiper/washer ($126), and an engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($688), speed control ($176), and a tilt steering wheel ($179) were available.

The final-year Lynx didn’t sell very well: a total of 39,039 in a year when Ford sold 374,765 Escorts. First-generation Escorts and Lynxes were once so prevalent on American roads, but have now virtually disappeared. You occasionally see Lynxes for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there are none out there as I write this in July 2018.

Make mine Smoke, please.

Other Mercury’s I have written about are the 1983 Grand Marquis sedan, the 1986 Capri hatchback coupe, and the 1988 Cougar XR-7 coupe. I have also written about the 1981 Ford Escort hatchback coupe.

1980 Plymouth Horizon hatchback sedan

The October 2017 issue of Hemmings Classic Car included an article on an “Unbelievable Restoration of a 1979 Plymouth Horizon,” which certainly falls into my “Who Saves These Cars?” category. In honor of this, I’ve updated a blog entry on the 1980 Horizon from a few years ago.

“Handling it with confidence.”

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1980 was the third model year for Chrysler’s “Omnirizon” front-wheel drive subcompact. Once again, the only available engine was a Volkswagen-sourced 1.7 liter/105 ci four-cylinder with a Holley two-barrel carburetor and all of 65 bhp. With the standard four-speed manual transmission, 0-60 came in about 14.5 seconds in the 2,135-pound car. Fuel economy was rated at 24 city/31 highway by the standards of the day, so the 13-gallon fuel tank gave a range of about 320 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $5,526 car (about $18,500 in today’s dollars) included rack and pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, a rear electric defroster, tinted glass, and P155/80R13 glass-belted radial tires (a size still available from Kumho) on 13-inch wheels. Standard interior equipment included a heater, an AM radio, and an electric clock.

A variety of exterior and interior packages were available to dress up the rather spare base Horizon. The Custom exterior package ($101) added some bright moldings to the outside of the car. Moving up to the Premium exterior ($207) added some more bright moldings and deluxe wheel covers. The Premium Woodgrain exterior added (natch!) woodgrain appliques on the body sides and lower liftgate pane. The Custom ($112) interior added a glove box lock, a cigarette lighter, custom door panels, and custom vinyl seats. The top-of-the-line Premium ($355) interior added a color-keyed console, a “luxury” three-spoke steering wheel, premium door panels, and a reclining passenger-side seatback.

Exterior and mechanical options included a removable flip-up glass sun roof ($182), power steering ($161), power front brakes ($77), and a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission ($340) that slowed the Horizon’s acceleration even more. Inside, air conditioning ($541), a sport steering wheel ($40), and an AM/FM stereo radio ($93) were available—there were no eight-tracks or cassettes available as factory stereos (it was left to Crutchfield and others to provide those upgrades—and they still do).

Page from 1980 Plymouth Horizon brochure, linked from the always useful PaintRef

The Horizon continued to sell reasonably well in the 1980 model year—almost 86,000 units. The slightly sportier two-door TC3 hatchback added another 60,000 or so units. Combined, the two models accounted for 58% of Plymouth’s dire 1980 automobile sales totals in the United States (Plymouth’s other offerings for that year included the Arrow, Champ, Gran Fury, Sapparo, and Volaré).

A few folks are trying to save “Omnirizons”—including that fellow featured in Hemmings Classic Car (journalist Robert Suhr)—but you rarely see these cars for sale in either the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. The exception is the later and much faster Dodge Omni GLH. Make mine Crimson Red Metallic, please.

Updated December 2018.

1989 Chevrolet Celebrity sedan

A co-worker of mine casually mentioned that he owns a beige 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity sedan. That’s enough for me to write a blog entry.

“contemporary front-drive technology”

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For 1989, Chevrolet’s Celebrity mid-size sedans and wagons were little changed. The major news was that the five-speed manual transmission that (very) few bought was no longer available and that the coupe had been discontinued.

Standard power on the Celebrity remained the Tech IV 98 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection. The LB6 125 bhp 2.8 liter/181 ci V6 with multi-port fuel injection was available for $610. A three-speed automatic transmission was standard on both engines, but buyers of the V6 could add a four-speed automatic for an additional $175.

With these two engines and curb weights in the 2,750 to 2,800-pound range, the Celebrity was not a fast car. 0-60 mph with the four was a little over 13 seconds, while V6 owners got to 60 mph about two seconds faster.

Mileage with the base four was 23 city/30 highway (21/28 by today’s standards) while owners of the top-of-the-line V6/four-speed automatic combination could expect 20 city/29 highway. With a 15.7-gallon fuel tank, Celebrity V6 drivers could expect a range of between 310 and 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

My colleague's 1989 Celebrity, prior to restoration.
My colleague’s 1989 Celebrity before restoration.

Standard equipment on the $11,495 Celebrity (about $24,100 in 2019 dollars or about what a 2019 Chevrolet Malibu LS sedan goes for) included power steering, power brakes, 14-inch wheels on P175/75R14 tires (a size now tough to find), and a Delco AM/FM stereo radio with digital clock. Adding the V6 and the four-speed automatic brought the price up to $12,280, or about $25,700 in today’s dollars.

By 1989, Chevrolet was moving to Preferred Equipment Group option packages as a way to reduce the number of equipment combinations. The Celebrity’s option packages were:

  1. Air conditioning, auxiliary lighting, exterior moldings, floor mats—($931 with the 2.5 liter inline four/$957 with the 2.8 liter V6)
  2. Air conditioning, auxiliary lighting, exterior moldings, floor mats, power door locks, gauge package, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, and intermittent windshield wipers—($1,565 with the 2.5 liter inline four/$1,591 with the 2.8 liter V6)
  3. Air conditioning, auxiliary lighting, exterior moldings, floor mats, power door locks, gauge package, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, and intermittent windshield wipers, sport remote mirrors, AM/FM stereo cassette with digital clock, power trunk opener, and power windows—($2,062 with the 2.5 liter inline four/$2,088 with the 2.8 liter V6)

Adding the Preferred Equipment Group 3 to a Celebrity with the V6 and the four-speed automatic brought the price all the way up to $14,368, or about $30,100 in today’s dollars.

The most glamorous option for the Celebrity continued to be the $230 Eurosport package, which included the F41 sport suspension and P195/75R14 tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) and 14-inch rally wheels. The exterior featured blacked out window trim and red center stripes on the protective rubber door and bumper molding; fender and trunk emblems were red rather than the standard chrome. Eurosports also featured unique red emblems on the interior door panels and dash and a black steering wheel.

Other optional equipment included two-tone paint ($55), aluminum wheels ($195), an engine block heater ($20), cloth bucket seats with a console ($257), and a six-way power driver’s seat ($250).

1989 would end up being the last year for the Celebrity sedan—the wagon would soldier on for one more year. I think of these cars as honest but basic; they aren’t really being collected, though I did see an early (1982-1985) coupe at an AACA show a few years ago. Celebrities sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors—as I updated this entry in February 2019, there was a 1988 Gray Celebrity wagon with 24,000 (!) miles for sale in Hemmings for $6,500.

Make mine Black, I think.

Other A-bodies in this blog:

1986 Buick Century sedan

1983 Pontiac 6000 STE sedan

Updated February 2019.

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1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe

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“One exhilarating road machine”

The last of the rear-wheel-drive Grand Ams came in 1980. Unlike in 1978 and 1979, the sedan was no longer available—only the coupe remained.

The standard engine in non-California cars was the L37 155 bhp 4.9 liter/301 ci V8 with four-barrel Rochester carburetor and electronic spark control (California cars got the Chevrolet-sourced LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8). The only transmission available was a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic TH200 automatic transmission. Mileage was 17 city/25 highway by the standards of the day. With the 18.1-gallon fuel tank, range was about 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. Period performance tests of the Grand Am are hard to come by, but 0-60 mph likely came in around 9 seconds.

New features for 1980 included a revised soft-fascia front end with three sections per side, an Ontario Gray lower accent color for the exterior, a silver upper body accent stripe, larger wraparound black-out tail lamps, and larger front and rear stabilizer bars for the optional ($45) Rally RTS handling package.

The Grand Am’s base price was $7,299—about $25,100 in 2020 dollars. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included dual sport mirrors, dual horns, power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 205/75R14 black sidewall radial tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch Rally IV cast aluminum wheels. Inside, Grand Am purchasers could expect cut-pile carpeting, Custom vinyl front bucket seats with center floor console, rally gages with clock embedded in a brushed aluminum instrument panel, and a Custom sport steering wheel.

Available exterior and mechanical options included a power sunroof—either metal ($561) or glass ($773), dual remote sport mirrors ($73), Soft-Ray tinted glass ($107), and electric rear window defroster ($107). Inside, air conditioning ($601), power door locks ($93), power windows ($143), a six-way power driver’s seat ($175), a tilt steering wheel ($81), automatic cruise control ($112), and an AM/FM stereo radio with a stereo cassette player ($272) were all available. A nicely configured Grand Am could easily push past $9,600—real money in 1980 and over $33,000 in today’s dollars.

Page from 1980 Pontiac full-line brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section

Grand Ams didn’t sell at all well in 1980—Pontiac moved only 1,647 of them, after selling almost five times as many coupes only two years prior in 1978. Despite this, Pontiac would not give up on the Grand Am name—it would be back in 1985 as a small front-wheel-drive coupe.

Most of the Grand Ams being collected are the larger and more powerful first-generation Colonnade versions sold from 1972 to 1975. You do occasionally see second-generation Grand Ams for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. I haven’t seen a Grand Am from this generation for many years.

Make mine Starlight Black, please.

Other G-bodies covered in this blog include the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, the 1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan, and the 1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe, and the 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe. Another 1980 Pontiac I have written about is the Sunbird Sport Hatch.

Updated September 2020.

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1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe

 “America’s favorite Cutlass for flair, value and price”

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For 1981, the exterior of Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme coupe was substantially revised, with a lowered front, a slightly higher decklid, and quad headlamps. With the new styling, aerodynamic drag dropped by about 15%.

The standard engine remained the 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester M2ME two-barrel carburetor. The optional engines, a 4.3 liter/261 ci V8 with a Rochester M2MC two-barrel carburetor ($50) and a 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8 ($695!), both had (this makes no sense) five less horsepower than the V6. A three-speed automatic transmission was the only transmission available. Early eighties Cutlass Supremes were stylish but slow—0-60 came in a little under 15 seconds. Mileage with the V6 was 21 city/30 highway by the standards of the day (17/22 by today’s standards); with an 18.1-gallon fuel tank, a Cutlass Supreme owner could expect a range of about 315 to 415 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,484 Cutlass Supreme (about $23,600 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power front disc brakes, and P195/75R14 steel-belted radial-ply blackwall tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a Deluxe steering wheel, an instrument panel with simulated butterfly walnut veneer, and a Custom Sport bench seat with a choice of vinyl or cloth were included.

Moving up to the $7,969 Brougham added snazzier exterior moldings, full wheel discs, and a divided cloth velour tufted bench seat.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included cast-aluminum wheels, tungsten halogen high beam headlamps, engine block heater, limited-slip differential, power antenna, dual sport mirrors, electric rear window defogger, and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add either Four-Season or Tempmatic air conditioning, Tilt-Away steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, bucket seats, digital or regular electric clock, and a series of radios.

Cutlass Supreme page from the 1981 mid-size Oldsmobile brochure

The Cutlass Supreme sure was popular—Oldsmobile sold almost 189,000 of them in the 1981 model year along with another 94,000 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupes for a total of over a quarter of a million. Olds made it well known that the Cutlass brand overall continued to be the most popular car in the United States.

A few folks are collecting these cars, but they still aren’t common at shows. You do see Cutlass Supremes for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I update this blog entry in May 2021, there’s a Sandstone Beige 1981 Cutlass Supreme coupe with sandstone vinyl seats, a 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor, and 27,000 miles listed on Hemming‘s for $19,500.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Other rear-wheel-drive G-platform (designated A-platform before 1982) cars I have written about include the 1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe, the 1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe, and the 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe.

Updated May 2021.