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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1980 Pontiac Grand Am

“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 155 bhp 301 cubic inch L37 V8 with four-barrel Rochester carburetor and electronic spark control (California cars got the Chevrolet-sourced 150 bhp 305 cubic inch LG4 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 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.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $7,299 car (about $23,900 in 2015 dollars) included dual sport mirrors, dual horns, power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 205/75R14 black sidewall radial tires on 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 stereo cassette player ($272) were all available. A nicely configured Grand Am could easily push past $9,600—real money in 1980 and over $31,000 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.

Make mine Starlight Black, please.

Other G-bodies in this blog:

1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe

1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan

1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe

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1980 Chevrolet Corvette

“How many other cars can you name at a single glance?”

For the 1980 model year, the Corvette’s long-running “shark” body style was substantially redesigned for the third time since its debut in the 1968 model year. The front and rear bumper caps were modified with integrated spoilers that decreased the drag coefficient by 14% to 0.443. Chevrolet engineers also managed to remove 167 pounds of curb weight from the Corvette by reducing the thickness of body panels and using aluminum for more parts.

There were two engine options for all states but California, both 350 cubic inch small blocks with 4-barrel carburetors: the standard 190 bhp L48 and the optional ($595) 230 bhp L82. The four-speed manual transmission was only available with the L48—the L82 and the California-only 180 bhp 305 cubic inch LG4 could only be combined with the three-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 14 city/20 highway by the standards of the day with either 350 cubic inch engine and either transmission. With the relatively rare (about 12% of production) L82 and automatic transmission combination, 0-60 came in about 7.5 seconds.

For the $13,140.24 base price at the beginning of the model year (about $42,800 in 2015 dollars), Corvette buyers got T-tops, power disc brakes, power steering, dual sport mirrors, and a choice of transmissions. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, a tilt-telescopic steering column, an AM/FM radio, and a choice of either cloth/leather or all leather interior were all standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included aluminum wheels ($409) and power antenna ($56). Inside, buyers could add power door locks ($140), cruise control ($123), rear window defogger ($109), and dual rear speakers ($52). 1980 would be the last year that the AM/FM stereo radio with 8-track player ($155) would be more popular than the AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player ($173).

Cover of the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The redesign probably kept Corvette sales from dropping as much as they otherwise would have, but they were still off more than 13,000 units from 1979 as the shark aged. The tag line for Car and Driver‘s review of the 1980 Corvette was “America’s only sports car, but that doesn’t excuse everything.”

There is strong club support for the 1980 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Corvette with the L82 engine in #1 condition is $30,200, with a more normal L48-engined car in number #3 condition going for $13,500. 1980 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I write this in June 2015, there’s a white one with a red leather interior and 67,000 miles available for $14,000. Make mine just like that, please.

1980 Datsun 280ZX

Yutaka Katayama passed on February 19th, 2015, after a long and full life—he was 105. “Mr. K” was the person most responsible for bringing the Z car to market. It is beyond the purview of this blog to head back to the original and groundbreaking 240Z, but we can take a look at the second generation 280ZX.

“It’s Black. It’s Gold. And it is awesome.”

For 1980, the Datsun 280ZX received optional T-tops, but otherwise mostly stood pat for the standard car. Power continued to be provided by the L28E 135 bhp 2.8 liter V-6 with multi-port fuel injection. With the standard five-speed manual transmission, EPA fuel economy ratings were 21 city/31 highway by the standards of the day (19/28 by modern standards). Moving to the three-speed automatic transmission significantly impacted mileage—ratings on the sticker were 19/26.

0-60 times in the 2,800 pound coupe were a little over 9 seconds with the manual; reasonably competitive in the early 1980s. The top speed was about 125 mph.

Standard equipment on the $9,899 280ZX (about $28,400 in 2015 dollars) included four-wheel disc brakes and an independent suspension. Stepping up to the $12,238 GL added power steering, cruise control, and air conditioning.

For 1980, there was also a 10th Anniversary Edition (auto manufacturers were beginning to become aware that anniversary cars could really bring the buyers) available in two different two-tones: either Thunder Black and Rallye Red or Thunder Black and Golden Mist Metallic.

Standard equipment on the loaded $13,850 10th Anniversary Edition (about $39,800 in today’s dollars) included the aforementioned T-tops and two-tone paint, along with leather seats, Hitachi AM/FM stereo radio with cassette, special badging, power windows, headlamp washers, alloy wheels, and P195/70R14 Goodyear Wingfoot radial tires (that’s a size last seen on the 2002 Honda Accord).

There is good club support for the 280ZX, though not to quite the level of the original 240Z. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 280ZX coupe in #1 condition is $18,400, with a more normal number #3 condition car going for $5,700. 280ZXs  often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I write this in February 2015, there’s a dark charcoal car with a gray leather interior with 142,000 miles available for $18,000. Lord help me, I would like one in the black and gold two-tone …

1980 Chevrolet Citation 4-Door Hatchback Sedan

Today’s Hemming Daily blog included an entry on their Find of the Day—a Dark Blue Metallic 1980 Chevrolet Citation 4-Door Hatchback Sedan with 70,000 miles available for $7,000. This officially fits it in my “Who Saves These Cars” category.

“The first Chevy of the ’80s”

For 1980, the Chevrolet Citation was truly all new. It may have been the “most thoroughly tested new car in Chevy history”, but the Citation quickly became the most recalled car in history, with an absolutely astounding nine recalls.

The standard powertrain on the 2,491 pound sedan was the GM’s 2.5 liter Iron Duke 2-barrel carbureted in-line four cylinder engine with 90 bhp, paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy was 24 city/38 highway by the standards of the day (21/34 by today’s standards). 0-60 times for the Iron Duke are hard to find, but were likely over 12 seconds for the four-speed manual transmission and likely about 15 seconds (oog) with the three-speed automatic transmission.

Upgrading to the LE2 2.8 liter V6 with 2-barrel carburetor got you 115 bhp and a 0-60 time of a little over 10 seconds. Fuel economy dropped, but not by that much: to 20 city/34 highway with the four-speed manual transmission. Moving to the profligate three-speed automatic transmission dropped highway mileage to 30 mpg.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $5,153 sedan (about $14,900 in 2014 dollars) included the heavily advertised front-wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, glass-belted P185/80R13 radial tires, and a Delco Freedom battery. Inside, sliding door locks, a lockable glove box, and an AM radio were considered worth mentioning as standard features. Chevrolet also shamelessly stated that the sedan’s .417 drag coefficient was a sign of “Efficient Aerodynamics”.

Exterior and mechanical options were many, including cruise control ($105), an electric rear window defogger ($101), intermittent wipers ($39), power brakes, power steering, sport mirrors (both manual and power), and tinted glass ($70). Inside, a custom interior, a gauge package ($70), bucket seats, air conditioning ($564), a reclining front passenger seat, power door locks ($123), power windows ($189), a tilt wheel ($75), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($188) were all available.

As Hemmings showed today, Citations do sometimes come up for sale, though I see few in the condition of the one they highlighted.

1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

I saw a white 1980 or 1981 Z28 with blue graphics (I believe the only way you can tell them apart is to get close enough to see the length of the VIN) out driving today, not once but twice. It wasn’t quite in show condition, but it still looked pretty sharp, and you so rarely see these cars on the road in 2014. We’ll go with the 1980 version for this post because it had slightly more horsepower.

“The Maximum Camaro.”

For 1980, the aging second-generation Chevrolet Camaro (the title of Car and Driver‘s road test for the 1980 Z28 was a cruel “A medieval warrior on the path to a rocking chair“) received some updates, including exterior styling changes and a more powerful engine for the Z28. Not much could be done about the general lack of space efficiency, the high weight, and the fairly primitive technology.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included in the $7,121 base price of the Z28 (about $20,500 in today’s dollars) included heavy duty shocks and springs, sport mirrors, a front air dam, a rear spoiler, body-colored wheels, and white-lettered radial tires. Inside, power steering, full gauges, center console, cut-pile carpeting, and vinyl bucket seats were standard.

The standard (and only) Z28 powertrain for states other than California was the LM1 5.7 liter/350 cubic inch V8 with a four-barrel Rochester carburetor and 8.2:1 compression matched with a four-speed manual transmission. At 190 bhp, this engine had the most horsepower that had been seen in a Camaro since 1974 (sigh). For 1980, a solenoid-driven air intake was added to the back of the redesigned hood scoop. Car and Driver managed to get the 3,660 pound Z28 from 0-60 in 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. Fuel mileage was predictably bad—14 city/21 highway by the standards of the day.

External options included 15 x 7 aluminum wheels ($184) and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add air conditioning ($566), cruise control ($112), power windows ($143), and an AM/FM stereo radio ($192).

Z28 page from the 1980 Camaro brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Long neglected by the collector market and with most now used up, late second-generation Z28s in good or great shape are starting to get interesting numbers at auctions. A red 1980 Z28 went for $13,000 at Mecum’s January 2014 auction in Kissimmee. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Z28 in #1 condition is $26,800. A more normal #3 condition version is valued at $13,100.

Make mine red, I think. Surprisingly, the most popular color in 1980 was dark blue.

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1980 Pontiac Sunbird

“Sunbird offers new thrills for the thrifty.”

1980 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Pontiac Sunbird, Pontiac’s version of Chevrolet’s Monza. Initially available in base coupe, sport coupe, and sport hatch (a base hatch was added mid-year but the wagon was permanently gone), the Sunbird received few changes for 1980.

The standard engine was the LX8 Iron Duke 2.5 liter inline four with a Holley two-barrel carburetor, making all of 86 bhp. Optional was the LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter V6, also with a two-barrel carburetor. The standard transmission was a four-speed manual, with an optional three-speed automatic available.

Mileage with the inline four and four-speed manual was a pretty impressive: 22 city/35 highway by the standards of the day (19/32 by today’s standards). Getting decadent by spending $545 for the three-speed automatic and the V6 combination took mileage down to 20 city/27 highway.

Not much came standard for the $4,623 base price (approximately $13,100 in 2014 dollars), especially to our 2014 eyes. Feature highlights for a base Sunbird included bright grill with park and signal lamps, whitewall tires, custom wheel covers, and “Sunbird external identification.” Inside, base Sunbirds included tinted windows, vinyl bucket seats, and a Delco AM radio.

Moving up to the sport coupe ($4,885) or the sport hatch ($4,996) added body color mirrors, “custom” vinyl bucket seats, and various moldings, but was still fairly austere. Luxury trim ($195) added cloth seats along with snazzier carpeting and door trim.

Available only with the sport hatch, the rare (only 1% of production) and expensive ($674, or about $1,900 in today’s dollars) Formula Package added a front air dam and rear spoiler, along with blacked-out grille, rally wheels with trim rings, and white lettered tires. It wasn’t all bark and no bite: the Rally Handling Package was included, with larger front and rear stabilizer bars. Inside, a tachometer and other rally gauges were included.

1980 Sunbird Sport Hatch with the Formula package, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Mechanical options included variable-ratio power steering (the most popular option and required with the V6) and power front disc brakes. Inside, you could add air conditioning ($531), a tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo cassette player (two different 8-track radios were also still available). A removable sunroof was also available for $193.

The rear wheel drive Sunbird sold well even in its final year, partially because the model year was extended. Almost 188,000 were sold with over 100,000 being the base coupe, making the Sunbird the best-selling of all the 1980 H-bodies. Make mine Agate Red, please.

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