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.”

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), gauge package with 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.

1980 Plymouth Volaré station wagon

“Value were it counts.”

For 1980, Plymouth’s Volaré got a new grille but was otherwise little changed aside from a few new options. 1980 would be the Volaré’s last year—the Reliant would replace it in 1981.

The Volaré’s standard engine for 1980 continued to be Chrysler’s evergreen 3.7 liter/225 ci Slant Six with a Holley one-barrel carburetor, making 90 bhp and giving a 0-60 time of a little over 16 seconds. Optional power was (of course) the 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a Carter two-barrel carburetor, making 120 bhp and costing an additional $211. A three-speed manual was standard with the six, but a TorqueFlite automatic was required with the V8. Mileage with the three-speed manual and the six was (ooog) 16—with the 18-gallon fuel tank, a Volaré driver could expect a 260-mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $5,422 Volaré station wagon (about $18,200 in today’s dollars) included power front disc/rear drum brakes, a torsion bar front suspension, and P195/75R14 glass-belted radial-ply tires. Inside, a heater, a defroster, a three-spoke steering wheel, an all-vinyl bench seat, and an AM radio were included.

Exterior and mechanical options included halogen headlamps ($37), a power liftgate ($24), a luggage rack ($91), a rear wiper/washer system ($64), and cast aluminum road wheels ($287). Inside, air conditioning ($543), automatic speed control ($106), electronic digital clock with a fluorescent display ($55), carpeting in the rear ($69), lockable storage bins ($24), and a range of stereos were available.

A Premier package ($831) added woodtone trim on the body sides, rear gate, instrument panel, and glove box door, along with a hood ornament, deluxe wheel covers, and 60/40 individually adjustable vinyl seats. You could also get (but few did) the $721 Sport Wagon package, which included fender flares, front air dam, tape stripes, black grille highlights, dual sport mirrors, Tuff three-spoke color-keyed steering wheel, and eight-spoke road wheels with trim rings. Finally, the Handling/Performance package ($385) included heavy-duty shocks, Firm-Feel power steering, and FR70x14 Aramid-belted radial tires.

Station wagon pages from the 1980 Plymouth Volare brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages

Like almost every Chrysler product in 1980, sales of the Volaré station wagon were not good. At 16,895, they were well less than half of 1979’s total of 44,085. Sales would recover substantially with the release of the Reliant station wagon in 1981.

Plymouth Volarés and Dodge Aspens were once common on American roads, but have virtually disappeared by now. You do occasionally see them for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there are no Volaré station wagons out there as I write this in August 2018.

1980 Lincoln Continental Mark VI coupe

“A car befitting its illustrious heritage”

For 1980, Lincoln completely revised the Continental Mark series, downsizing it for the first time and adding a sedan. The coupe was over 14 inches shorter than the 1979 Mark V and about 750 pounds lighter. However, the Mark VI was still a big car by any standard—a foot and a half longer than a 2017 Mercedes-Benz S550 coupe.

Standard power for 1980 was a Windsor 129 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. Buyers could specify a $160 140 bhp 5.8 liter/351 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. With the standard powertrain, 0-60 took about 14 seconds in the 3,892-pound car. Mileage was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day—with the 18-gallon gas tank, Mark VI owners could expect a range of about 330 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $16,291 base Mark VI ($54,500 in today’s dollars or about what a 2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve costs) included hidden halogen headlamps, luxury wheel covers, and P205/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, cloth Twin Comfort lounge seats, power windows, an electronic instrumental panel with message center, a four-spoke color-keyed steering wheel, automatic temperature control air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all standard.

As had been true for many years, there were multiple designer packages available for the Mark VI: Bill Blass ($1,825), Cartier ($2,191), Emilio Pucci ($2,191), and Givenchy ($1,739). There was also the Signature Series ($5,485), which added just about every possible option and brought the price to $21,776 (about $72,900 in 2018 dollars).

Individual options included touring lamps ($67), Twin Comfort six-way power seats ($171), a tilt steering wheel ($83), and automatic speed control ($149).

Continental Mark VI page from the 1980 Lincoln brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Like the Ford Thunderbird of the same year, the 1980 Continental Mark VI did not sell. Sales of the coupe dropped to 27% of the 1979 number—even if you added the newly-available sedan, they were still down 49%; not a good look for a brand new model. To make the news worse, the virtually unchanged Cadillac Eldorado (which had been downsized on 1979) more than doubled the Mark VI coupe’s sales. The agony would continue for several years, only changing with the release of the aerodynamic and significantly smaller Mark VII in 1984.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Continental Mark VI in #1/Concours condition is $15,200, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for $6,300. Values slide up with the various designer packages and the Signature Series, but only by about 5% to 10%. This generation of Marks maintains some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in July 2018, there’s burgundy 1980 Signature Series coupe with 4,800 miles for sale asking $25,000.

1980 MG MGB convertible

Writing a blog entry on cars from 1980 that Hagerty considers to be collectible reminded me that I should probably do an entry on the last of the MGBs.

“The Classic Breed”

1980 was the final year for MG’s MGB convertible, which had been in production since 1962.

Changes for 1980 were minimal. The standard powertrain remained the 62.5 bhp (not 62 or 63!) 1.8 liter/110 cubic inch inline four with Zenith 150 CD4T carburetor paired with a four-speed manual transmission. 0-60 mph came in a leisurely 16 seconds in the 2,400-pound car. Mileage was pretty good by the standards of the day: 16 city/30 highway. With a 13-gallon fuel tank, an MGB driver could expect a range of about 270 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $7,950 MGB (about $27,100 in today’s dollars) included rack and pinion steering, power front disc and rear drum brakes, and 165/80-14 radial tires on 14-inch wheels. Inside, vinyl bucket seats, a center console, a locking glovebox, and a clock were standard.

Optional equipment included an electrically-operated overdrive for the transmission, center-lock wire wheels, a luggage rack, and various radios with either 8-track or cassette players included.

1980 MG MGB advertisement.

The Limited Edition that had debuted in 1979 remained available and popular, with 6,668 produced over the two years. In addition to black paint, the Limited Edition included silver body stripes, 5-spoke alloy wheels, air dam, boot and tonneau covers, chrome luggage rack, leather padded 3-spoke steering wheel, Limited Edition dash plaque, and Limited Edition thresholds.

Like all MGs, MGBs have a following and make frequent appearances in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 MGB in #1/Concours condition is $20,700, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for $7,300.

Make mine Brooklands Green, please.

1980: What Cars Are Collectible?

The question always arises: what cars are considered collectable? One way is to look at what Hagerty tracks with their valuation tools. For 1980 cars, the full list is below—I have added a few comments.

Alfa Romeo; Spyder convertible

Alpine; A310 coupe

American Motors; AMX hatchback coupe (in its final year), Pacer hatchback coupe and station wagon, but no Eagle

Aston Martin; Lagonda sedan, V8 coupe and convertible

Avanti; Avanti II coupe

Bentley; Corniche convertible, T2 sedan

BMW; 320i coupe, 633CSi coupe, 733i sedan, M1 coupe

Bristol; 412 convertible

Buick; Regal coupe, Riviera coupe

Cadillac; DeVille coupe and sedan, Eldorado coupe, Fleetwood coupe and sedan, Seville sedan

Checker; Marathon sedan

Chevrolet; C10/K10 pickup truck, C10/K10 Blazer SUV, C10/K10 Suburban SUV, C20/K20 pickup truck, C20/K20 Suburban SUV, Camaro coupe, Corvette coupe, El Camino pickup truck

Clenet; SII convertible

Datsun; 280ZX hatchback coupe

DeTomaso; Deauville sedan (a car I’d never heard of before)

Dodge; D150/W150 pickup truck, D200/W200 pickup truck, D300 pickup truck, Ramcharger SUV

Excalibur; Series IV convertible

Ferrari; 308 GTBi/GTSi coupe, 400i coupe, 512 BB coupe, Mondial coupe

Fiat; 2000 convertible, X1/9 coupe

Ford; Bronco SUV, F-100 pickup truck, F-150 pickup truck, F-250 pickup truck, F-350 pickup truck, Mustang coupe and hatchback coupe, Thunderbird coupe

GMC; C1500/K1500 pickup truck, C2500/K2500 pickup truck, C3500/K3500 pickup truck, Caballero pickup truck

International; Scout II SUV

Jaguar; XJ-6 sedan, XJ-S coupe

Jeep; Cherokee SUV, CJ-5 SUV, CJ-7 SUV, Wagoneer SUV

Lamborghini; Countach coupe

Lancia; Beta coupe, convertible, sedan, and station wagon, Gamma coupe and sedan, Scorpion coupe

Lincoln; Continental coupe and sedan, Continental Mark VI coupe and sedan, Versailles sedan

Lotus; Eclat coupe, Elite hatchback coupe, Esprit coupe

Maserati; Kyalami coupe, Merak coupe, Quattroporte III sedan (I am reminded that I have yet to discuss any eighties Maserati in this blog)

Matra; Bagheera coupe, Murena coupe

Mazda; RX-7 hatchback coupe

Mercedes-Benz; 240D sedan, 280CE coupe, 280E sedan, 280SE sedan, 300CD coupe, 300D sedan, 300SD sedan, 300TD station wagon, 450SEL sedan, 450SL convertible, 450SLC coupe

MG; MGB convertible

Morgan; 4/4 convertible, Plus 8 convertible

Oldsmobile; Toronado coupe

Panther; DeVille convertible and sedan, J72 convertible, Lima convertible

Peugeot; 504 convertible

Plymouth; Trail Duster SUV

Pontiac; Firebird coupe but no Grand Am (Hagerty only tracks them up to 1975)

Porsche; 911 coupe, 924 hatchback coupe, 928 hatchback coupe

Puma; GT coupe, GTC coupe and convertible, GTS convertible

Replicar; sedan and convertible

Rolls-Royce; Camargue coupe, Corniche I coupe and convertible, Phantom VI sedan, Silver Shadow II sedan, Silver Wraith II sedan

Stutz; Bearcat convertible, Blackhawk coupe, Duplex/Iv-Porte/Victoria sedan, Royale sedan

Subaru; BRAT pickup truck

Toyota; Celica hatchback coupe, Land Cruiser SUV

Triumph; TR7 coupe and convertible, TR8 coupe and convertible

Volvo; 242 coupe, 242GT coupe, 244 sedan, 245 station wagon, 262C coupe, 264 sedan, 265 station wagon

Hagerty casts a wide net (AMX). Coupes are dominant—33% of 156 models listed with an additional 6% being hatchback coupes. Unsurprisingly, the rarest body style is a station wagon, at 3%.

1980 Ford Thunderbird coupe

“New Thunderbird elegance in a new size …”

To me, the 1980 Ford Thunderbird was one of those “why?” cars, though the competitive drivers were obvious. The third Ford based on the “Fox” platform (the Fairmont and the Mustang had come first), the eighth generation ‘bird was of one of the most radically downsized automobiles in the North American auto industry. In comparison to its 1979 predecessor, the base 1980 Thunderbird was 17 inches shorter and 900 pounds lighter.

Standard power for 1980 was a Windsor 118 bhp 4.2 liter/255 ci V8 with a Motorcraft two-barrel carburetor paired with a SelectShift three-speed automatic transmission. Powertrain upgrades were available: buyers could specify a $150 131 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor and could then add a $133 automatic overdrive transmission (with that engine only).

With the standard powertrain, 0-60 took about 15 seconds in the 3,100-pound car—the best powertrain combination dropped that time to a far more respectable 12 seconds. Mileage was 18 city/26 highway by the standards of the day—with a 17.5-gallon gas tank, a Thunderbird owner could expect a range of about 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $6,816 base Thunderbird (about $22,400 in today’s dollars) included variable ratio power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, Thunderbird hood ornament with color-coordinated insert, full wheel covers, and P185/75R x 14 black sidewall tires. Inside, a tweed cloth-and-vinyl Flight Bench seat, a day/night inside mirror, an electric clock, and an AM radio were all standard.

Moving up to the $10,424 Town Landau (approximately $34,200 now) added a lot of equipment, including cast aluminum wheels, dual remote control mirrors, interval windshield wipers, velour cloth split front bench seat, six-way power driver’s seat, SelectAire air conditioning, power windows, power lock group, tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio.

The top of the line Silver Anniversary edition ($12,172 then, $39,900 now) added the 4.9 liter engine, the automatic overdrive transmission, Keyless Entry System, a patterned luxury cloth split front bench seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fingertip speed control, a power antenna, and turbine-spoke cast aluminum wheels.

Options included a power-operated moonroof ($219), electronic information cluster ($275-$313), and leather upholstery ($349).

Two pages from the 1980 Ford Thunderbird brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

To say the market was not ready for the 1980 Thunderbird is a distinct understatement. Despite a much better level of standard equipment, the Thunderbird was only five inches longer than the plebian Fairmont. Sales of Ford’s halo model collapsed: dropping from 284,141 in 1979 to 156,803 in 1979, and losing almost a full percentage point of sales during a year when none of the main General Motors competitors in the personal luxury coupe market had more than a facelift.

It would get worse in the following two years: 86,693 in 1981 and 45,142 in 1982. By 1982, the Thunderbird was being handily outsold by all four of the mid-size GM coupes: Buick Regal, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Pontiac Grand Prix. It would take the next Thunderbird design in 1983 to redress this balance.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Thunderbird Silver Anniversary in #1/Concours condition is $13,400, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for $5,000. This generation of Thunderbirds maintains some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this in November 2017, there’s a black/silver two-tone 1980 with 85,000 miles for sale in Germany. The price: $12,800.

1980 Plymouth Horizon

The October 2017 issue of Hemmings Classic Car came in the mail today. It includes 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.”

1980 was the third year for Chrysler’s “Omnirizon” front-wheel drive subcompact. Once again, the only available engine was a Volkswagen-sourced 1.7 liter/105 cubic inch 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 $18,100 in today’s dollars) included rack and pinion steering, front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, a rear electric defroster, tinted glass, and P155/80R13 radial tires (a size still available from Kumho). 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 brightwork to the outside of the car. Moving up to the Premium exterior ($207) added more brightwork and deluxe wheel covers. Custom ($112) and Premium ($355) interiors mostly made the upholstery slightly nicer.

Exterior and mechanical options included a sun roof ($182), power steering ($161), power brakes ($77), and a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission ($340) that slowed the car’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).

Page from 1980 Plymouth Horizon brochure, linked from the very useful PaintRef.com.

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).

There are a few folks 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.

For a later and much faster L-body check out my blog entry on the 1985 Dodge Omni GLH.

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