1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird S/E hatchback coupe

“One of the world’s most advanced production turbos”

For 1984, Pontiac’s top-of-the-line Sunbird gained a new turbocharged motor along with some other minor changes.

The S/E‘s new engine was an LA5 150 bhp 1.8 liter/110 ci inline four with a Garrett turbocharger and fuel injection. It was paired with a standard four-speed manual gearbox, with a three-speed automatic optional for $320. With the standard powertrain, 0-60 came in about nine seconds. Fuel economy ratings were 25 city/36 highway by the standards of the day (20/26 by today’s standards). The Sunbird’s 13.5-gallon gas tank meant that owners could expect a range of 280 to 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $9,489 S/E hatchback coupe (about $24,200 in 2019 dollars) included two-tone paint, clear fog lamps, power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a WS6 performance suspension, special chassis tuning, and Goodyear Eagle GT P205/60R14 tires (a size now only marginally available) mounted on attractive 14-inch “hi-tech turbo” cast aluminum wheels. Inside, fully adjustable reclining front seats, a folding split back rear seat, a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, rally gages, and a Delco-GM AM radio were included.

Exterior options included a power glass sunroof ($300) and a louvered rear sunshade ($199). Inside, custom air conditioning, electronic cruise control, and Lear Siegler bucket seats($400) were available.

2000 Sunbird S/E pages from the 1984 Pontiac brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

1984 Sunbirds sold well, but most of them were the base coupes and sedans, not the LE or the S/E. Sunbirds of this generation (1982-1994) are now almost completely vanished from the nation’s roads, and models other than the convertibles rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors.

I wrote about the last of the previous-generation Sunbird’s here. Other J platform cars I have covered this blog include the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, and the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe. I will not ignore Buick and Oldsmobile forever.

1981 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

“Corvette is a rolling showcase of new technology …”

For 1981, Chevrolet’s Corvette gained a new standard powertrain—the L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor combined with a four-speed manual transmission (a three-speed automatic was a no-cost option). The new engine featured Computer Command Control, which automatically adjusted the ignition timing and the fuel/air mixture. Chevrolet engineers also managed to remove 167 pounds of curb weight from the Corvette by reducing the thickness of body panels, using aluminum for more parts, and replacing the steel rear leaf spring with a fiberglass one in cars with the automatic.

With the four-speed manual, 0-60 came in about 8 seconds—quick for a 1981 model year car. Fuel economy was 14 city/20 highway by the standards of the day with either transmission. With a 23.7-gallon gas tank, one of the 40,606 proud new owners of a 1981 Corvette could expect a range of 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

For the $16,258.52 base price at the beginning of the model year (about $49,300 in 2019 dollars), Corvette buyers got T-tops, four-wheel power disc brakes, power steering, dual sport mirrors, and P225/70R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 8 inch rally wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, a tilt-telescopic steering column, an AM/FM radio with dual front speakers, a quartz clock, and a choice of either cloth/vinyl or leather/vinyl bucket seats were all standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included aluminum wheels ($428) and power antenna ($55). Inside, buyers could add power door locks ($145), cruise control ($155), and a rear window defogger ($119). 1981 was the first year that the AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player ($423) was more popular than the AM/FM stereo radio with an 8-track player ($386). A power driver’s seat was a new option and cost $183.

1981 was the first year Corvettes were produced in two factories at one time. The new Bowling Green, Kentucky plant produced its first Corvette on June 1, 1981, while the St. Louis plant was producing its last Corvettes—the final St. Louis Corvette was built on August 1, 1981. All St. Louis Corvettes were painted with lacquer paints while the new Bowling Green plant had a brand new paint facility and used enamels with clear top coats.

Cover of the 1981 Corvette brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

One of the two 1981 Corvette brochures has what I think of as one of the best visual expressions of the “shark” Corvette as its fold-out cover. A silhouetted 1981 is in the foreground, with the image of the curving path it has just traversed carved with a time-lapse of its taillights.

There is strong club support for the 1981 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1981 Corvette in #1/Concours condition is $29,900, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $12,200. 1981 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in December 2019, there’s a White one with a Medium Red leather bucket seats and 92,000 miles available on Hemming’s for $19,000. Make mine just like that, please.

Other Corvettes I have written about in this blog include the 1980 coupe, the 1982 coupe, the 1986 convertible, and the 1988 35th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe. I also wrote about traveling long distances in an eighties Corvette.

1984 Oldsmobile Omega sedan

“… comfort and value you can feel good about …”

In its final year, Oldsmobile’s Omega variant of GM’s X-car received few changes. The grille now consisted of horizontal stripes with vertical park/signal lamps, and there were new bumper treatments.

The Omega’s standard powertrain continued to be an LR8 “Iron Duke” 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with electronic fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Powertrain options included the LE2 112 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 ($250) and a three-speed automatic transmission ($425). Mileage with the 2.8 liter V6 and the automatic was 21 city/33 highway by the standards of the day (17/24 by today’s standards). With a 14.6-gallon fuel tank, an Omega’s owner could expect a range of between 270 and 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,832 (about $19,900 in 2019 dollars) Oldsmobile Omega sedan included front-wheel-drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, P185/80R13 steel-belted radial tires (now a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels, deluxe wheel discs, custom bench seating, and a fold-down center armrest.

Moving up to the $8,104 Omega Brougham added a stand-up hood ornament, lower bodyside moldings, and a deluxe steering wheel.

Omega Brougham page from the 1984 Oldsmobile brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

The $675 ES package (RPO W48) remained available in 1984 as an upgrade for the Brougham, but only 224 were ordered. By far the sportiest version of the Omega, the ES included a suspension with higher-rate front and rear springs, firmer front and rear shock absorbers, and thicker stabilizer bars. In an attempt to appear more European, the ES2500 was the version with the 2.5 liter inline four, while the ES2800 was the version with the 2.8 liter V6. Both versions got a blacked-out grille.

Exterior and mechanical options on all Omegas included a glass-panel sunroof ($300), power steering, and high-capacity cooling. Inside, cruise control, power windows, and a four-season air conditioner were available.

Omega sales were significant, but not great, and they had been dropping steadily from the 1981 peak of almost 148,000 (including over 101,000 sedans). Oldsmobile produced 41,874 Omega sedans in the 1984 model year—small potatoes compared to all the other Oldsmobile sedans available (Firenza, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Supreme, Delta 88 Royale, and Ninety-Eight Regency).

I haven’t seen an Omega on the streets in well over a decade and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never seen one shown, though I’m not betting against that happening at some point.

Other X-cars I have written about include the 1983 Buick Skylark T TYPE coupe, the 1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe, and the 1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan. For some reason, I have yet to write about Pontiac’s Phoenix.

1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo

This early (December 2013) blog entry was recently revised and extended enough to consider it a new entry.

“Low, sleek, ultra-competitive.”

The 1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo finally brought the performance that the original Esprit’s supercar looks had promised over half a decade before.

Horsepower was up to 205 bhp from the 140 bhp that had come with the debut of the Esprit in 1977. The engine was still the type-910 2.2 liter/131 ci inline four with a carburetor, but a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger making 8.0 psi of boost was attached along with an intercooler. Other engine technology included an aluminum block, aluminum heads, and four valves per cylinder.

Performance for the almost 3,000-pound exotic substantially improved with the turbo: a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds was about 1.5 seconds quicker than the original naturally aspirated car. The Esprit Turbo’s top speed was about 140 mph. From the perspective of 2019, mileage wasn’t so great for a small turbocharged four with a five-speed manual transmission; 14 city/25 highway by the standards of the day and 11/18 by today’s standards. A 22.7-gallon gas tank helped with range, which was likely about 295 to 400 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The Esprit’s looks were updated in the same way that many 1970s designs were as they headed into the 1980s. Ground effects were added to the original Giorgetto Giugiaro design, and of course there were huge Esprit Turbo logos on the rear quarters.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Esprit Turbo included a four-wheel independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes, and 195/60R15 front tires and 235/60R15 rear tires, all of them Goodyear NCT‘s riding on BBS 15-inch alloy wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, and Connolly leather bucket seats were included.

A few years ago, Car and Driver reprinted their story on the Esprit Turbo from the November 1983 issue, and it is interesting and instructive to read—though it is notable that they put the Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo on the cover that month instead of the Lotus. They believed that the car would find a hole in the exotic market even at a relatively dear price of $47,984 (about $122,000 in 2019 dollars).

1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo, linked from Car and Driver’s website

For reference, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Esprit Turbo in #1/Concours condition is currently $38,900, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $17,700. There is good club support for Esprits on LotusTalk and they regularly show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I updated this blog entry in December 2019, there’s a red 1986 Turbo with tan leather bucket seats and 17,000 miles available on Hemming’s for $55,000.

1988 BMW M3 coupe

Earlier this month, my wife and I visited the small but excellent BMW Zentrum Museum in Greer, SC. Of course they had a first-generation M3 on display—time to write a blog entry about this game-changing little coupe.

“Created for the race track, destined for the road.”

It took the M3 two-and-a-half years to make it to the United States following its debut in Europe, but most agreed that it was worth the wait. Reviews were enthusiastic; Car and Driver exclaimed that “This is a car for us.”

The powertrain was the thing: an S14 192 bhp 2.3 liter/141 ci 16-valve inline four with four valves per cylinder and Bosch Motronic fuel injection mated to a five-speed manual. In a car with a curb weight of 2,734 pounds, this meant impressive acceleration—0-60 times were in the seven-second range. Given this, fuel economy wasn’t bad: 17 city/28 highway on premium gasoline by the standards of the day (15/26 by today’s standards). With a 14.5-gallon gas tank, the proud new owner of an M3 could expect a range of 265 to 295 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior equipment on the pricey $34,000 M3 (about $75,500 in 2019 dollars or a little over what a base 2020 M4 coupe goes for) included boxed-out fender flares, a unique front bumper, and a cap over the C-pillar which helped to feed air onto the large for the day rear wing. Mechanical features included a limited-slip differential, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and 205/55VR15 tires on 15 x 7 inch cast light alloy BBS wheels.

Inside, the M3 was comfortably equipped; leather sport seats, full instrumentation, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, and an AM/FM stereo cassette were all included.

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1988 BMW M3 advertisement

Over the last decade or so, the first-generation M3 has become one of the definitive eighties collector cars. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 M3 in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $142,000, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $59,700. Some M3s come up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, but many are now sold at auction.

Make mine Salmon Silver Metallic, I think.

1984 Audi 5000S sedan

1984 was the first year for Audi’s new aerodynamic design for their biggest sedan. At the time, the exterior design was differentiating—though many would follow, Audi’s was first. Despite being the top-of-the-line, the 5000S was not a large car by modern standards—every dimension was smaller than Audi’s current A6 sedan.

The standard powertrain on Audi’s new sedan was Volkswagon’s corporate 100 bhp 2.1 liter/123 ci inline five with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection mated with a five-speed manual transmission. An automatic was available with the standard engine. The automatic was the only transmission available with the upmarket Turbo option—the same engine with a KKK turbocharger that made 140 bhp.

Period road tests showed 0-60 times of 10.6 seconds for the Turbo, making it not much quicker than the base 5000S but almost 20 mph faster. Fuel economy ratings for the Turbo were 19 city/28 highway by the standards of the day (15/20 by today’s standards). With a 21.2-gallon gas tank, the driver of a new Turbo could expect a 335 to 445 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $16,840 5000S (about $42,800 in today’s dollars—approximately what a 2019 A5 costs) included halogen headlamps, flush-mounted window glass, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70SR14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 6 inch aerodynamically styled lightweight aluminum wheels.

Inside, standard features included Electronic Climate Control, cloth bucket seats, a center console, and power windows. Features that look strange to our modern eyes included an illuminated ash tray and a “radio prep kit with power antenna” and four “high-quality” speakers.

Exterior options for the 5000S included an electric two-way tilting/sliding sunroof, power heated mirrors, and metallic paint. Inside, leather seats, heated seats, and a trip computer were all available.

In addition to more power, the Turbo package included an electric two-way tilting/sliding sunroof, a slightly tighter suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and 205/60HR15 tires (also still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch aluminum wheels. Inside, power seats, power door locks, a trip computer, and a “fine-sounding” Audi Design/Blaupunkt AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and four speakers were included. The Turbo‘s $5,570 additional cost brought it up to about $56,900 in 2019 dollars—more like today’s A6 pricing.

1984 Audi 5000 S advertisement

Reviews of the new design were quite good, and sales reflected that. Then, of course, things all went horribly south with the unintended acceleration controversy. Sales would crater, and it would take Audi many years to recover.

5000S’s sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors, but there’s not a lot of activity. As I write this in September 2019, there’s a Nautical Blue Metallic 1987 5000S with gray velour bucket seats, a five-speed manual, and 59,000 miles being advertised on Hemmings and asking $7,000.

Make mine Sapphire Metallic, please.

1986 Mercury Capri hatchback coupe

Hemmings is making a go at auctions. One of their first offerings is a white 1982 Mercury Capri RS coupe with red vinyl bucket seats, a Windsor 157 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with a Motorcraft 356CFM two-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 33,000 miles. That’s enough to get me to generate an update to this four-year-old post about the later 1986 version.

“Proof that getting there can be a fun experience in itself.”

Mercury made three attempts at the Capri. The first was an imported version of the European Ford Capri and was sold from the 1970 to 1978 model years as first the Capri and then the Capri II. The second was Mercury’s version of the Fox body Mustang and was sold from 1979 to 1986. The final version of the Capri was an imported version of the Australian Ford Capri and was 1991 to 1994. Sense a trend here?

For 1986, Mercury’s Capri had three engine choices and two transmission choices. Standard on the GS was the Lima 88 bhp (aargh!) 2.3 liter/140 ci in-line four with a Carter YFA one-barrel carburetor mated to a four-speed manual transmission. Power options for the GS included the Essex 120 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection and the (wonderful) Windsor 200 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with sequential fuel injection that was standard on the 5.0L. All three engines could be paired with a three-speed automatic transmission for an additional $510 (the V6 required the automatic while the 5.0L came standard with a five-speed manual transmission with overdrive).

Mileage ratings for the various configurations ranged from 23 city/28 highway (21/26 by today’s standards) for the four-speed manual/in-line four combination that I’m not convinced that anyone bought to 17/25 for the “big daddy” five-speed manual paired with the V8.

Performance with the 2.3 liter four paired with either transmission was ghastly. 0-60 came in about 15 seconds, which meant a Capri driver with the Lima engine would see only the taillights of Iron Duke powered Camaros and Firebirds (such a sad competition!). Moving to the V6 paid significant performance dividends, dropping the 0-60 time by about 3.5 seconds. Of course, the V8 was by far the best: even the automatic was in the 7 second range, while the manual could do 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds.

The base price for a Capri GS was $8,331 (about $19,700 in 2019 dollars). For that money, the Capri came relatively well equipped by mid-1980s standards. External features included halogen headlamps, tinted glass, and the distinctive bubble-back rear hatch with rear-window defroster. Mechanical equipment included power steering, power brakes, and P195/75R14 tires (still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels with turbine wheel covers. Inside, power windows, interval wipers, tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were standard.

Page from the 1986 Mercury Capri brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The more sporty Capri 5.0L stickered for $10,950 (about $25,800 in today’s dollars) and added the V8 mentioned above, dual exhaust, and P225/60VR15 tires (a size still readily available) on cast aluminum wheels.

Exterior options for both the GS and the 5.0L included a flip-up open-air roof ($315) or a T-Roof ($1,100). Inside, buyers could add air conditioning ($762), power door lock group ($182), speed control ($176), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($300).

Sales for the last of the second generation Capris were not at all good, but Capri sales had not been good for years—Mercury’s traditional problem wedged between Ford and Lincoln. By 1986, Capri sales were about 9% of Mustang sales.

MercuryCapriSales

Fox body Capris sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors, but there’s not a lot of activity. I’ll say they are uncommon rather than unloved. Make mine Smoke Metallic, please.

Updated September 2019.

1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe

Lee Iacocca passed yesterday after leading a full life—he was 94. In his honor, I have revised my write-up one of his most famous creations.

“right for the times we drive in”

The 1981 Plymouth Reliant and its sibling the Dodge Aries are the K-body cars often (and reasonably) credited with saving Chrysler in the early 1980s. The first K cars were basic transportation, famously (like the GM X cars a year before) with no roll-down rear windows and just barely mid-size by the EPA’s classification—with an overall length of 176 inches, the Reliant coupe is almost exactly as long as a 2019 Honda Civic coupe.

The standard powertrain was an 84 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with a Holley two-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed manual. A Mitsubishi built 92 bhp 2.6 liter/156 ci inline four was optional for $159 and required both power steering ($174) and the three-speed TorqueFlite automatic ($360). Gas mileage with the base powertrain combination was rated at 29 city/41 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by today’s standards). With a 13-gallon gas tank, a Reliant coupe with the standard engine and transmission could travel between 305 and 410 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

For $5,880 (about $17,800 in 2019 dollars), you got a Reliant coupe with front-wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, a cloth and vinyl split back bench seat, and P175/75R13 tires (a size that isn’t generally available anymore) on 13-inch wheels. The base coupe was only available in white, tan, and black.

Spending another $435 on your Reliant coupe moved you up to Custom trim, which added front disc brakes, quarter-window louvers, halogen headlights, a cigarette lighter, a color-keyed “deluxe” two-spoke steering wheel, a digital clock, a glove box lock, and an AM radio. You also got many more exterior and interior color choices.

The top-of-the-line Special Edition (SE) Reliant coupes ($6,789 or about $20,500 in today’s dollars) added dual horns, deluxe wheel covers, special sound insulation, a cloth bench seat, and a snazzier “luxury” two-spoke steering wheel. An option only available with the SE was cloth bucket seats ($91).

External and mechanical options for all Reliant coupes included tinted glass ($75), a glass sunroof ($246), and power brakes ($82). Both the mid-range upgrade P185/75R13 tires and the P165/75R14 upmarket tires (a size that fit the mid-90s Plymouth Neon compact just fine) are still readily available.

Inside, air conditioning cost $605 and required tinted glass, power brakes, and power steering—things were tightly engineered in the early 1980s. Other options included automatic speed control ($132), intermittent wipers ($44), a tilt steering wheel ($81), power door locks ($93), power front seats ($173 and said to be quite rare), along with a variety of radios up to an AM/FM radio with a cassette tape player and four speakers ($224).

1981PlymouthReliant
1981 Plymouth Reliant two-door coupe, scan courtesy of Alden Jewell

The Reliant sold well in 1981—between the coupe and the sedan, Plymouth moved 101,127. Motor Trend managed to get a 2.2 liter with the automatic to do 0-60 in 12.4 seconds—they tried with another Reliant running the same combination, and it took 14.0 (oog) seconds. Top speed (if you could call it that) ranged from 88 to 96 mph in the 2,350-pound car.

In 2019, Plymouth Reliants rarely comes up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though you do see them occasionally on Craigslist. I haven’t seen a coupe in the wild for many years. Make mine Baron Red, I think.

Other K-body and K-body based cars I have covered in this blog include the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the 1984 Chrysler Laser fastback coupe, the 1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe, and the 1986 Chrysler Town & Country convertible. There’s also a short commentary I did on an unidentified K-car wagon I did called Some Quiet Love For A K Car.

Updated July 2019.

1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan

When I’m out running early on weekday mornings, I often see an eighties Malibu sedan driving along the Lincoln Highway in Bryn Mawr. Time to update this elderly post.

“… a beautiful and practical choice …”

The 1983 Malibu was the final rear-wheel-drive Malibu and the last Malibu of any kind until the 1997 model year. For 1983, Chevrolet eliminated the Malibu Classic designation and reverted to Malibu as the single trim level, which you could get in either a four-door sedan or a five-door wagon.

Standard motivation for the 3,100 to 3,200-pound sedan (weight largely depended on engine choice) was provided by the evergreen LD5 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor hooked up to a three-speed automatic transmission, making 110 bhp and getting 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day. Power options included two different diesels (a $500 V6 and a $700 V8 that just about no one purchased) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a Rochester E4ME four-barrel carburetor rated at 18 city/26 highway. With an 18.1-gallon fuel tank, the owner of a V8 Malibu could expect a range of 325 to 360 miles. Performance was not exactly sparkling: 0-60 took a little over 11 seconds with the V8.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,084 Malibu V6 sedan (about $21,100 in today’s dollars or a little under what a 2019 Malibu L costs) included quad rectangular headlamps, high-energy ignition, a Delco Freedom II battery, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P185/75R14 glass-belted radial tires (a size currently available thanks to Hankook) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a base Malibu came spare—highlights were a vinyl bench seat, a cigarette lighter, a locking glove compartment, and a day/night rearview mirror.

Moving to the V8 brought the Malibu sedan’s base price up $225 to $8,309 (about $21,700 in 2019 dollars). Options that were ordered in more than 50% of 1983 Malibus included air conditioning (the most expensive option at $725), tinted glass ($105), remote left-hand side-view mirror ($22), and rear window defogger ($135).

1983 Chevrolet Malibu brochure cover, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Interestingly, you could still order some performance-oriented options for the Malibu even in its final year. A limited-slip differential ($95), performance rear axle ($21), gauge package with trip odometer ($95), heavy-duty battery ($25), heavy-duty cooling, rally wheels ($108), and the F40 heavy-duty suspension ($26) were all available, though I’m not convinced they found a lot of buyers among the total of 117,426 Malibus purchased in 1983.

This generation of Malibu does come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, but there were no reasonably stock sedans available when I updated this blog entry in June 2019.

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 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, the 1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe, and the 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe.

Updated June 2019.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition coupe

One of the Corvettes judged at the NCRS Mid-Atlantic Regional a few months ago was a 35th Anniversary Edition Corvette coupe. Time to write a blog entry about one of the most striking of eighties Corvettes.

“… the influential sports car of the modern era.”

For 1988, the big news for Chevrolet’s Corvette was the 35th Anniversary Edition coupe. It was only the second anniversary edition Corvette, following 1978’s Silver Anniversary version. Chevrolet had missed the 30th anniversary (there were no 1983 Corvettes), and one senses that General Motors’ marketing team didn’t want to let another one go by without acknowledgment.

The standard powertrain continued to be the L98 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired to a four-speed automatic with overdrive. Depending on the rear axle ratio, horsepower for the coupe was either 240 bhp or 245 bhp. Top speed for the 1988 Corvette was about 155 mph, with a 0-60 time of about six seconds. Estimated fuel economy was 16 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (15/23 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette owner could expect a range of 340 to 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $29,489 base Corvette coupe (about $65,500 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power anti-lock disc brakes, and P255/60ZR16 tires (a size still available thanks to BF Goodrich) on 16-inch x 8.5-inch wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, and an ETR AM/FM stereo radio with a clock were all included.

Additional equipment on the $34,284 35th Anniversary Edition coupe (about $76,200 in 2019 dollars) included white leather seats and steering wheel along with a black roof bow. In a preview of early 1990s Corvettes, the rub strips were body color instead of the usual black.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included an electric rear window defogger ($129), the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission (no cost), Z51 performance handling package ($1,295 for a radiator boost fan, Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers, engine oil cooler, heavy-duty radiator, 17 x 9.5 inch wheels, and fast steering ratio). Optional interior equipment included power driver’s and power passenger’s seats ($240 each), electronic air conditioning ($150), and a Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player ($773).

Picture of 1988 35th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette
1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition, photo courtesy of Mecum.

There is strong club support for the 1988 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 35th Anniversary Edition coupe in #1 condition is $33,800, with a more typical number #3 condition car going for $11,500. 1988 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors—as I write this in May 2019, there’s a 35th Anniversary Edition coupe with 28,000 miles and many NCRS awards asking an astonishing $80,000.

Other eighties Corvettes I have covered include the 1980 coupe, the 1982 coupe, and the 1986 convertible.