1983 Mazda 626 coupe

“A concept crystallized.”

For 1983, Mazda’s 626 coupe, sedan, and liftback were all new as they switched from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive. Styling was also more aerodynamic, with the coupe receiving a 0.34 Cd. Finally, almost every interior dimension was expanded.

The 626’s standard powertrain was the FE 83 bhp 2.0 liter/121 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a five-speed manual. 0-60 mph took about 12.5 seconds in a car with a 2,545-pound curb weight. EPA fuel economy ratings were 29 city/41 highway by the day’s standards. With a 15.8-gallon fuel tank, a new 626 coupe owner could expect an impressive range of 405 to 450 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

626 page from the 1983 Mazda brochure

Standard equipment on the $9,295 626 DL coupe (about $26,900 in today’s dollars or about what a 2022 Mazda3 sedan Carbon Edition goes for) included rack-and-pinion steering, vacuum-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70R-14 tires (a size still available) on 14 x 5.5 inch wheels. Inside, electric window lifts, electric adjustable mirrors, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo cassette were included.

The LX coupe added power steering, cruise control, and the trick Electronic Variable Shock Absorber (EVSA) suspension.

Options included 15 x 6 inch cast alloy wheels with uprated 195/60R-15 tires (a combination that yielded class-leading skid pad results and is still readily available), an electric sunroof ($430), and air conditioning ($650).

The third-generation 626 got a very good reception from the automotive press, with Road & Track stating that it was “an impressive update” that had been “delivered as promised.” AutoWeek gave Mazda a splash quote they used in advertisements—”about as perfect as an automobile can be built.”

The View From 2022

The third-generation Mazda 626 was once quite common (at least in the Philadelphia suburbs), but I haven’t seen one in over a decade. This era of 626 is sometimes available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at online auctions such as Bring a Trailer that cater to the eighties car market.

Make mine Silhouette Blue Metallic, please.

The only other Mazda I have written about is the 1985 RX7 GSL-SE hatchback coupe. I’ve got to get to a GLC at some point.


1983 Jaguar XJ6 sedan

When I was growing up, I was aware of more prestigious sedans than the Jaguar XJ6. However, none were as gorgeous.

“… the best Jaguar ever built.”

For 1983, Jaguar’s XJ6 sedan received a new center console, a thicker steering wheel rim, and newly standard Pirelli tires. Other than that, there were few changes to the Pininfarina-designed Series III version of the XJ6 that had been introduced in 1980.

The only powertrain available in North America was an XK 176 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with fuel injection mated with a three-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 mph came in a little under 11 seconds in a sedan with a curb weight of 4,065 pounds. Fuel economy was rated at 17 (14 city/17 highway by today’s standards). With both fuel tanks full, an XJ6 owner could expect a range of 330 to 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

XJ6 brochure pages from the 1983 Jaguar brochure

The XJ6’s base price was $30,500—about $88,100 in today’s dollars. Standard mechanical equipment included a four wheel independent suspension, power rack and pinion steering, four wheel power disc brakes, and Pirelli P5 205/70VR15 tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, a power sunroof, centrally controlled door locks, power side mirrors, cruise control, and leather front bucket seats were included.

The $33,500 Vanden Plas version of the XJ6 kicked things up a notch, adding upgraded seats, individual swivel based reading lamps for the rear passengers, and burled walnut in the dashboard, the console, and the door panels. Jaguar described the Vanden Plas as “frankly opulent.”

By 1983, Jaguar quality overall had sharply improved under the management of chairman John Egan (knighted in 1986), so purchasing an XJ6 was a relatively safe decision. The Series III XJ6 was well-liked—Car and Driver pronounced it as “one of the Western World’s more delightful mechanical manifestations.” However, it was not particularly large inside—the EPA classified it as a subcompact car.

The View From 2022

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Jaguar XJ6 sedan in #1/Concours condition is $31,800, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $8,700. A Vanden Plas is believed to be worth about 2% more—far less than the cost it added back in 1983.

All vintage Jaguars have strong forum support, and there is definite collector interest in the XJ sedans. Eighties XJ6s are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at online auctions such as Bring a Trailer that cater to the eighties car market.

Make mine Racing Green, please. Can there be any doubt?

The other Jaguars I have written about are the 1982 XJ-S H.E. coupe and the 1988 XJ-S convertible.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe

A 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with 156 miles recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $32,000.

“Chevy SS tradition comes alive …”

In the middle of the 1983 model year, Chevrolet announced the Monte Carlo SS. Designated RPO Z65, the SS was designed to help Chevrolet compete better in NASCAR on Sundays—and sell more Monte Carlos on Mondays. There were only two exterior color choices—White and Medium Dark Royal Blue. The changes in the front end and the addition of a rear spoiler cut the drag coefficient by 15% compared to the “civilian” Sport Coupe, making it a respectable 0.375, though not quite the Ford Thunderbird coupe‘s 0.35 Cd.

Aside from the exterior looks, the powertrain was the star—an L69 “H.O.” 175 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed automatic transmission. Period road tests resulted in 0-60 mph times of about 8 seconds—about as quick as the Monte’s Buick Regal T-Type and Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Hurst/Olds platform-mates in the same year. Fuel economy was rated at 17 city/25 highway by the day’s standards (14 city/18 highway by 2022 measures). With an 18.1-gallon gas tank, the enthused new owner of a Monte Carlo SS could expect a range of 260 to 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS flyer

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $10,249 Monte Carlo SS included Sport mirrors, a rear spoiler, a dual outlet exhaust system, power steering, the F41 sport suspension, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and Goodyear Eagle GT P215/65R15 white letter tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 7 inch stamped steel wheels. Inside, the SS was less differentiated, but it did get a gage package with a tachometer. The standard seat was a blue cloth bench seat with white vinyl inserts and matching door trim.

Options & Production Numbers

Many of the standard Sport Coupe’s options were also available for the SS. Exterior examples included tinted glass ($105), hi-beam halogen headlamps ($10), and twin remote Sport mirrors ($60). Inside, options included an intermittent windshield wiper system ($49), an electric rear window defogger ($135), power windows ($180), an electric power door lock system ($120), a power trunk opener ($40), automatic speed control with resume speed ($170), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($105), and air conditioning ($725).

A blue cloth 55/45 seat with white vinyl inserts was available for an extra $133, but no bucket seats were available for the 1983 Monte Carlo. A series of four radios were available, with an AM/FM stereo radio with stereo cassette tape and four speakers ($298) being the top of the line. A fixed mast black antenna was an SS-only option and was included with all radios.

The sportier Monte Carlo was generally received in the press, though many scribes noted the lack of a console, bucket seats, Positraction, and a four-speed automatic—all issues Chevrolet promised to fix. Motor Trend‘s title was “Mid-American GT Revival,” and much of the coverage agreed.

Along with the late introduction, there were production problems in 1983, so the first year total for the fourth-generation Monte Carlo SS was only 4,714. SS sales would hit their stride in the following year, with Chevrolet moving 24,050 out the door.

The View From 2022

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe in #1/Concours condition is $27,700, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $13,900.

These Monte Carlos have enthusiastic forum support, and there is definite collector interest. Monte Carlos SS coupes are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at online auctions such as Bring a Trailer that cater to the eighties car market.

Make mine Medium Dark Royal Blue, please.

I’ve written about one other Monte Carlo—the 1981 Sport Coupe. Other sporty G-platform cars I have written about include the 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ coupe and the 1982 Buick Regal Grand National coupe.

1983 BMW 633CSi coupe

A neighbor of mine owned a BMW 633CSi for many years. I think all 6-series coupes from the seventies and eighties are good-looking, but this one was exceptionally attractive, with a dark blue exterior and a tan interior.

“A conspicuous exception”

For the 1983 model year, BMW changed the platform of the 6-series coupe in North America. This substantial update—the first since the introduction of the series in 1977—resulted in changes to the exterior styling, the engine, the chassis, the suspension, the electronics, and the interior. These changes still left the 633CSi both very recognizable to and quite comfortable for its intended market.

BMW updated the 633CSi’s engine to the M30 181 bhp 3.2 liter/196 ci inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection. This engine was available with a standard wide-ratio five-speed manual or an optional automatic. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the fuel economy rating of 19 city/29 highway mpg meant a range of between 360 and 400 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph came in about 8.5 seconds—competitive performance for a luxury coupe in 1983.

The updated front suspension featured double-linked struts, making the big coupe less likely to dip under hard braking. The new rear axle assembly added a top-mounted link to the trailing arm layout of the E28 528i. BMW replaced the ventilated rear disc brakes seen in previous years with solid ones in a token bid at simplicity.

1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement
1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement

The 633CSi’s base price was $39,210—about $103,900 in today’s dollars, and about 18% more than a base 2021 840i coupe goes for. Notably, this price was still less than it’s putative German competition; a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SEC was almost $15,000 more. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included quad headlights with halogen high beams, power steering, four-wheel power disc brakes, and 205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 6.5 inch light-alloy wheels.

Inside the 633CSi, BMW paired leather reclining front bucket seats with leather rear bucket seats. Other interior accouterments included air conditioning, power heated side mirrors, power door locks, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, and a digital clock.

BMW would build the 6-series coupes through the 1989 model year. Like many BMWs, the 633CSi does attract collector interest, and there is series-specific club support along with that of the bigger BMW car clubs. 633CSi’s are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, an Atlantic Blue Metallic 1984 633CSi with blue leather seats and 231,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $6,900 firm. Bring A Trailer auctioned a Sapphire Blue 1984 633CSi with a five-speed manual and blue bucket seats for $11,500 in June 2020.

Make mine Lapis Blue, please.

Other BMWs I have written about include the 1984 325e coupe, the 1988 M3 coupe, and the 1988 750iL sedan.

1983 Jeep Wagoneer Limited SUV

With Jeep about to introduce a brand new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, my thoughts turn back to the nowclassic eighties Wagoneers.

In addition to my historical interest, there’s a personal reason for these thoughts. Back in the eighties, I walked to my local high school almost every day. On cold winter mornings, I’d be trudging alone toward school, and sometimes I’d hear the quiet rumble of a Wagoneer’s V8 behind me along with a female voice. “Get in, John,” she’d say—and I would, grateful for the Wagoneer’s warmth and the lady’s company. I remember you, Patricia, and I hope you are doing well.

“The Ultimate Wagon.”

For 1983, Jeep’s Wagoneer gained a new Selec-Trac four-wheel-drive system, which replaced the decade-old Quadra-Trac system. Jeep also changed the Wagoneer’s trims. 1982’s base Custom trim was no longer available, with what had been the Brougham package now marking the base trim. The loaded Limited trim continued as the top of the Wagoneer line.

The standard engine for the Brougham was a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a two-barrel carburetor. Optional on the Brougham and standard on the Limited was a 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. Mileage was, of course, awful, especially with the V8—the Limited got 12 city/16 highway by the standards of the day (10/12 by 2020 standards). With a 20.3-gallon fuel tank, a Limited owner could expect a range of 200 to 255 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. Wagoneers could go just about anywhere, but they couldn’t go that far. They also wouldn’t get there that fast: 0-60 mph took about 16 seconds.

1983 Jeep Wagoneer advertisement
1983 Jeep Wagoneer Limited magazine advertisement

The $13,173 1983 Wagoneer Brougham was about $34,800 in today’s dollars—almost exactly what a base 2020 Grand Cherokee goes for. Standard mechanical equipment included power variable-ratio steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P225/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, Coventry checked cloth or Deluxe grain vinyl front and rear bench seats, Custom interior trim, Light Group, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included.

Moving to the upscale Wagoneer Limited added tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, and a premium audio system with electronic tuning. Limited trim and upholstery included leather bucket seats up front, power seats for the driver and front passenger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and extra-thick 22-ounce carpeting in the seating area. All of this equipment raised the Limited‘s price to 44% to $16,889—$44,600 in today’s dollars, which is 2020 Grand Cherokee Limited X money.

Options for the Limited included halogen fog lamps ($82), a power sun roof ($1,637), an electric rear window defroster ($184), and a cassette tape player ($300).

Sales of the SJ Wagoneer were up by almost 28% in the 1983 model year, with the 18,478 produced marking 21% of overall Jeep production. Today, Wagoneers of this era have many adherents—in fact, there’s a company that makes its entire business restoring them. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Wagoneer Limited in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $40,600, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $20,800.

SJ Jeep Wagoneers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a Deep Night Blue with woodgrain sides 1983 Wagoneer Limited with nutmeg leather bucket seats and 115,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $42,500.

Make mine Deep Maroon Metallic, please.

I have written about one other Jeep in this blog—the 1982 CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck. Years ago, I wrote about the 1980 AMC Eagle station wagon.

1983 Chevrolet Caprice Classic sedan

Earlier this week, a two-tone and stock-appearing Caprice Classic sedan turned a few hundred feet in front of me. Time to finally write a blog entry on the four-door Caprice—I have previously covered the coupe and the station wagon.

“… comfort and quiet for up to six.”

For 1983, Chevrolet’s Caprice Classic sedan was little changed. The headline might have been the return of Black exterior paint.

The Caprice’s standard engine was a Chevrolet-built LC3 110 bhp 3.8 liter/229 ci V6 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor. Options included a Chevrolet-built LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor and a (don’t do it!) Oldsmobile-built LF9 105 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8. The standard engine for California buyers was a Buick-built LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor. A three-speed automatic was standard for the two V6’s and the diesel, with a four-speed automatic with overdrive standard with the gas V8 and available for the diesel.

Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 19 mpg, while the V8 was 17 mpg. The diesel was said to get 23 mpg. With a 25.1-gallon gas tank, the owner of a V8 Caprice could expect a range of about 385 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. No matter which engine was under the hood, Chevrolet’s largest car was not quick; 0-60 mph took about 11.5 seconds with the V8.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $8,802 Caprice Classic sedan (about $23,000 in today’s dollars) included power steering, a front stabilizer bar, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P205/75R15 radial tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 15 x 6 inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, Quiet Sound Group, a full-width front bench seat, a quartz electric clock, and a glove box light were included.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options were Custom two-tone paint ($141) in four combinations, tinted glass ($105), halogen hi-beam headlamps ($10), cornering lamps ($55), and an electric rear window defogger ($135). Inside, air conditioning ($725), automatic speed control with resume speed ($170), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($105), power door locks ($170), and a range of Delco radios up to an AM/FM stereo radio with a stereo cassette tape player and four speakers ($298) were available.

The acclaimed F41 Sport Suspension—Car and Driver stated that it would make you “think that your Chevy came from the Black Forest instead of Detroit”—included stiffer springs, tighter shocks, a thicker front stabilizer bar, and a rear stabilizer bar. The F41 was a bargain at $49 and required P225/70R15 white stripe tires ($159). A CL Special Custom interior ($452) included 50/50 Custom cloth seats and a passenger recliner.

Caprice Classic sedan pages from the 1983 full-size Chevrolet brochure

The Caprice Classic and other B platform cars—1983’s B body sedan roster included the Buick LeSabre, the Chevrolet Impala, the Oldsmobile Delta 88, and the Pontiac Parisienne—continued to be well regarded. Car and Driver‘s inaugural 10 Best Cars in January 1983 included the Caprice Classic along with the AMC/Renault Alliance, the Ford Mustang GT, the Pontiac 6000 STE, the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, and five other cars.

Caprices continued to sell well—Chevrolet sold 122,613 sedans in 1983 along with another 45,154 of the closely related but somewhat de-contented Impala four-doors. The Caprice’s production numbers made it the best-selling of any Chevrolet sedan in that model year, beating out the Cavalier, Celebrity, Chevette, and Malibu offerings.

Eighties Caprice Classics have their adherents, though many have been modified as donks. Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track the 1976 to 1990 models. You see them in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—when I wrote this post, there was a White 1989 Caprice Classic Brougham sedan with dark blue cloth 45/55 seats, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and 133,000 miles for sale on Hemmings for $7,500.

Make mine Dark Fern Metallic, please.

1983 Renault Alliance sedan

A girlfriend of mine owned a light blue Renault Alliance, which she named “Pierre.”

“Driver appeal and room for five.”

Renault’s Alliance sedan debuted in 1983. Based on the Renault 9 and 11, the Alliance was re-engineered for the North American market and built in AMC’s Kenosha, WI assembly plant—the first front-wheel-drive car built there. The Alliance was available in four-door sedan and two-door coupe versions.

The Alliance’s only engine was Renault’s Cléon-Fonte 64 bhp 1.4 liter/85 ci inline four with Bendix central fuel injection, already over two decades old in its basic design. Transmissions for the sedan varied depending on equipment level; the L (there was no absolutely base sedan—only a coupe) came standard with a four-speed manual, while the better equipped DL and Limited came with a five-speed manual. All three models could be ordered with an automatic ($420 for an L/$325 for others).

Despite a curb weight of around 2,000 pounds, the Alliance was not a fast car. 0-60 times ranged between 15 and 17 seconds depending on transmission. On the other hand, fuel mileage ratings were impressive: the four-speed manual returned 37 city/54 highway by the standards of the day. Of course, applying modern standards lowers the numbers, but what would now be 29 city/37 highway still isn’t that bad. Interestingly, the five-speed manual didn’t do any better, despite the extra gear (it did help a little bit with acceleration and lowered noise at highway speeds). Even the automatic was reasonably efficient at 29 city/38 highway. With a 12.4-gallon gas tank, a new Alliance owner could expect a range of between 370 and 505 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1983 Renault Alliance advertisement

Standard equipment on the $6,270 Alliance L (about $16,500 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Toyota Yaris sedan goes for) included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 155/80GR13 tires (a size still available thanks to Kumho) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, vinyl bucket seats, a soft-feel steering wheel, a day/night mirror, and a trip odometer were included.

Moving up to the $6,905 DL added tinted glass, a dual-note horn, and 175/70SR13 tires (still readily available) with wheel trim rings. Inside, DL buyers got Deluxe six-way cloth reclining bucket seats, a color-keyed remote left mirror, a soft-hub steering wheel, a tachometer, and a digital clock.

The top-of-the-line Limited ($7,470) included halogen headlamps and Luxury wheel covers. Inside, Light Group, Visibility Group (dual remote mirrors, lighted visor mirror, and intermittent wipers), textured cloth reclining bucket seats, a rear center armrest, and luxury door panels were included.

Individual exterior and mechanical options for the Alliance included two-tone paint ($199) and power steering ($199). Inside, power door locks ($170), speed control ($170), rear defroster ($130), air conditioning ($630), and a variety of radios were available. Leather bucket seats were available for the Limited only and set the buyer back $413.

Early on, the Alliance received many good reviews—in fact, it was Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year for 1983. Obtaining this particular plaudit led Renault to (really!) build an MT special edition for the Alliance late in the model year. MT-specific equipment included charcoal gray metallic paint, a decklid luggage rack, painted aluminum wheels, and a right-hand remote mirror. Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an electronic-tuning stereo radio with six speakers were included.

Those initial positive reviews of the Alliance have not aged well, and many disparaging articles have been written about MT‘s choice. They were not alone—Car and Driver included the Alliance on their 1983 “10 Best” list (26 years later they apologized). Perhaps reviewers of the day wanted the idea of the Alliance to work so much that it clouded their judgment of the actual product delivered.

I have not seen an Alliance in over a decade. Alliances rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have virtually vanished, despite the 623,573 made between the 1983 and 1987 model years.

Another Renault I have written about is the 1982 Fuego hatchback coupe. I’ve also covered the 1980 AMC Eagle station wagon and the 1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck.

1983 Chevrolet Cavalier CS sedan

The inspiration for this blog entry is a loaded 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier CS sedan that one of my frequent readers owned back in the day.

“one of today’s most advanced front-wheel-drive cars”

1983 was the second year model for Chevrolet’s Cavalier compact. The biggest news was likely in the powertrain; a 2.0 liter inline four with throttle-body fuel injection was the new standard engine along with a newly optional five-speed manual transmission. A convertible version of the coupe was a mid-year announcement.

The only engine available was the LQ5 86 bhp 2.0 liter/122 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection. The LQ5 had two less horsepower than the previous year’s L46 1.8 liter engine, but notably more grunt—an additional ten lb-ft of torque. The result was a meaningful half-second improvement in 0-60 times, though the Cavalier remained slow (even by 1983 standards). A four-speed manual remained standard, while a five-speed manual ($75) and an automatic ($395) were available. Fuel economy ratings were 25 mpg combined by the measures of the day. With a 13.6-gallon fuel tank, a Cavalier driver could expect a range of about 305 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the 1983 Cavalier was far sparer than it had been in 1982, when many had blanched at the sedan’s $7,137 base price. Still, exterior and mechanical features on all Cavalier sedans did include front-wheel-drive, a front stabilizer bar, rack and pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P175/80R13 radial tires on 13 x 5 inch steel wheels. Inside, vinyl reclining front bucket seats and side window defoggers were included. For 1983, the sedan started at $5,999—about $15,800 in today’s dollars and just a little under what a 2020 Chevrolet Sonic sedan goes for.

Page from 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier brochure
CS sedan page from the 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier brochure

Moving up to the $6,484 CS added a glove compartment lock, a colour-keyed instrument panel, a cigarette lighter, an ashtray light, and an AM push-button radio with dual front speakers.

Only available with the CS, the CL package added Sport mirrors, a Custom interior with Custom reclining seats and adjustable head restraints, a three-spoke steering wheel with a black leather rim, and a right-hand visor vanity mirror.

Exterior and mechanical options for the CS sedan included tinted glass ($90), a removable sunroof ($295), Custom two-tone paint with pin striping ($176), halogen headlamps ($10), power steering ($195), and an F41 sport suspension ($49). Inside, power door locks ($170), power windows ($255), automatic speed control ($170), a six-way power driver’s seat ($210), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($99), and air conditioning ($625) were among the many options.

The 1983 Cavalier sold well, with 215,585 exiting Chevrolet showrooms, making it the most popular model in the Chevrolet model line. Of all Cavalier variants in 1983, the CS sedan was the most popular, at almost a quarter of the total—the convertible was, of course, the rarest, with a mere 607 sold. Despite this popularity when new, Cavaliers of this generation have now almost vanished, except for the convertibles and the higher-performance Z24 versions. Amazingly, there is currently a white 1986 CS hatchback with blue cloth bucket seats and 66,000 miles for sale on eBay Motors.

Make mine a Light Briar Brown over Dark Brown two-tone—just like my reader’s car.

The other J platform cars I have written about are the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird S/E hatchback coupe, the 1985 Oldsmobile Firenza ES sedan, the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe, and the 1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan. Some day, I will write about the Buick Skyhawk.

1983: What Cars Are Collectible?

The question often arises: what eighties cars that were available in the United States are considered collectible? One way is to look at the slowly expanding list what Hagerty tracks with their valuation tools. For 1983 vehicles, the current full list is below—as usual, I have added a few comments in parens.

question mark graphic

Alfa Romeo; GTV-6 hatchback coupe, Spyder convertible

Alpine; A310 coupe

Aston Martin; Lagonda sedan, V8 coupe and convertible

Audi; GT hatchback coupe, Quattro hatchback coupe

Avanti; Avanti II coupe

Bentley; Corniche convertible, Mulsanne sedan

Bertone; X1/9 coupe

Bitter; SC coupe

BMW; 320i coupe (why no 633Csi or 733i?)

Bristol; 412 convertible

Buick; Regal T-Type coupe, Riviera coupe and convertible

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

Chevrolet; C10/K10 pickup truck, C10/K10 Blazer SUV, C10/K10 Suburban SUV, C20/K20 pickup truck, C20/K20 Suburban SUV, C30/K30 pickup truck, Camaro hatchback coupe, El Camino pickup truck, Monte Carlo coupe (no 1983 Corvettes, of course)

Chrysler; Imperial coupe

Clenet; SIII coupe and convertible

Datsun; 280ZX hatchback coupe

Delorean; DMC-12 coupe

DeTomaso; Deauville sedan, Pantera coupe

Dodge; Ramcharger SUV

Excalibur; Series IV convertible

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

Ford; Bronco SUV, F-100 pickup truck, F-150 pickup truck, F-250 pickup truck, F-350 pickup truck, GT40 coupe and convertible, Mustang hatchback coupe and convertible, Thunderbird coupe

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

Jaguar; XJ6 sedan, XJ-S coupe

Jeep; Cherokee SUV, CJ-5 SUV, CJ-7 SUV, CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck, Wagoneer SUV

Lamborghini; Countach coupe, Jalpa coupe

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

Land Rover; Defender SUV, Range Rover SUV

Lincoln; Continental sedan, Continental Mark VI coupe and sedan, Town Car sedan

Lotus; Esprit coupe

Maserati; Quattroporte III sedan

Matra; Murena coupe

Mazda; RX-7 hatchback coupe

Mercedes-Benz; 230G SUV, 230GE SUV, 240D sedan, 240 GD SUV, 280 GE SUV, 300CD coupe, 300D sedan, 300GD SUV, 300SD sedan, 300TD station wagon, 380SEC coupe, 380SEL sedan, 380SL convertible (so, basically the entire 1983 Mercedes-Benz line)

Morgan; 4/4 convertible, Plus 8 convertible

Oldsmobile; Cutlass Hurst coupe

Panther; DeVille convertible and sedan, Kallista convertible

Peugeot; 504 convertible

Pininfarina; Azzura convertible

Pontiac; Firebird hatchback coupe

Porsche; 911 coupe and convertible, 928 hatchback coupe, 944 hatchback coupe

Puma; GT coupe, GTC coupe and convertible

Renault; Fuego hatchback coupe, R5 hatchback coupe

Rolls-Royce; Camargue coupe, Corniche I convertible, Phantom VI sedan, Silver Spirit sedan, Silver Spur sedan

Stutz; Bearcat convertible, Blackhawk coupe, IV-Porte sedan

Subaru: BRAT pickup truck (why just the BRAT?)

Toyota; Celica Supra hatchback coupe, Land Cruiser SUV

TVR; 280i coupe and convertible

Volkswagen; GTI hatchback coupe

Hagerty casts a wide net with their valuation tools, except when they don’t—the only BMW listed is the 320i. Coupes are dominant; 29% of 129 models listed with an additional 11% being hatchback coupes. Unsurprisingly, the rarest body style is a station wagon, at 2%. I have covered seven of the 1983 vehicles they track.

1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo coupe

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.