1984 BMW 325e Coupe

Murilee Martin of The Truth About Cars posted a Junkyard Find on a BMW 325e recently, so I’ve updated this two-year old post.

“High technology dedicated to heightening your pulse rate.”

I see BMW’s 325e as a rare misstep for BMW in the eighties, a decade where BMW generally could do no wrong.

The e stood for efficiency and the engine was BMW’s torque-optimized M20B27 2.7 liter inline 6 with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, making 121 bhp and 170 lb-ft of torque with a fairly low 4,700 rpm redline. Mileage by the standards of the day was pretty good: 21 city/28 highway (18/26 by 2016 standards) with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Proud new owners of a 325e could expect about 320 miles of range with a 10% reserve.

0-60 mph with the five-speed manual took between 8.5 and 9 seconds and the top speed was 116 mph—not exactly the kind of numbers one would expect from the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” As Car and Driver wrote, “the 325e is less of a goer than you would imagine.”

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,700 325e (about $47,700 in 2016 dollars) included power four-wheel disk brakes, bumper-mounted fog lights, and 195/60R14 tires (the same size as those on the Isuzu Impulse). Inside, the 325e came well-equipped: power steering, cloth or leatherette manual sport seats, a power sunroof, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a three spoke leather sport steering wheel, and a BMW/Alpine four-speaker AM/FM stereo with cassette and power antenna were all included.

Available options for the 325e were relatively few: a four-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, many choices of metallic paint, and a limited slip differential.

BMW did their best to present the 325e as a legitimate part of their overall product line.

BMW would continue with the 325e as the top of the line 3 series until 1987, when the 325i and 325is were released with the 2.5 liter M20B25 inline 6 featuring a much more sporting 168 bhp. Horsepower for the 325e would climb just a little in 1988, but by 1989 it would be gone, replaced completely in the 3-series model line by the 325i.

Hagerty does not follow 325e values and the 325e is rarely seen in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. Examples do show up on eBay Motors—as I update this post in August 2016, there is a Bronzit Beige 1984 with a tan leatherette interior, an automatic transmission, a sunroof, and 49,000 miles available for $9,850.

1984 Buick Regal Grand National

Last Sunday morning, I saw a Grand National actually being driven. The silhouette was distinctive even from a quarter of a mile away. In a strange way, they look tall and even a little bit fragile in 2015.

“The hottest Buick this side of a banked oval.”

1984 was the first year that Buick offered a Grand National package for the Regal. The Regal T Types had debuted in 1983, but the Grand National definitely kicked things up a notch.

The star was, of course, the engine. For 1984, Buick’s 3.8 liter V6 gained sequential fuel injection, bumping horsepower up from 180 bhp to an even 200 bhp. Paired to a four-speed automatic transmission, 0-60 came in a little under 8 seconds. Mileage was 18 city/22 highway by the standards of the day (16/20 by 2015 standards).

Standard mechanical equipment on the $13,400 Grand National (about $32,100 in today’s dollars) included power brakes, power steering, dual exhausts, performance rear axle, Gran Touring suspension, and P215/65R15 blackwall tires on black-accented aluminum wheels. A Grand National’s exterior equipment included a turbo “power bulge” on the hood, dual mirrors, dual horns, front air dam, rear decklid spoiler, and that distinctive black paint with black accents—responsible for the “Darth Buick” nickname. Air conditioning, Lear Siegler cloth/leather seats, a tachometer, a turbo boost gauge, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel were all included inside.

Optional equipment included dual remote sport mirrors ($30), electric rear defogger ($140), touch climate control air conditioning ($150), tilt steering ($110), power windows ($185), Twilight Sentinel ($57), and electronic tuning AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and graphic equalizer ($605).

1984 Buick Regal Grand National flyer, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s wonderful brochures section.

Buick Regal Grand Nationals have a fanatical following. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1984 Grand National in #1 condition is an astounding $38,700, with a more normal #3 condition car going for $12,700. Grand Nationals frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this in July 2015, there’s a 1986 with 28,000 miles available for $28,000.

I don’t have to tell you what color I want mine in.

1984 Chrysler Laser

“The competition is good. We had to be better.”

The 1984 Chrysler Laser was intended to be the upscale complement for the Dodge Daytona. Equipment was not notably different from the Daytona, but the Laser had more of a luxury emphasis with a slightly softer suspension.

Two engines were available. The base engine, Chrysler’s 93 bhp 2.2 liter inline four, was available with a standard five speed manual transmission or a three speed automatic transmission ($439). Mileage with the manual was 22 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (19/29 by today’s standards). Moving to the automatic helped city mileage a bit but dropped highway mileage significantly – 23/27.

The more interesting engine was the optional 2.2 liter turbocharged inline four cylinder with 142 bhp and the same transmission choices as the base engine. Depending on whether you were adding the turbo to the base Laser or the XE, the extra cost was either $934 or $872. Mileage with the hot setup (turbo and manual) was 20 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (18/25 by 2015 standards) while the 0-60 time was about 8.5 seconds. Moving to the three speed automatic once again killed highway mileage, making the ratings 20 and 23.

Standard equipment on the base Laser (priced at $8,648 or about $19,700 in today’s dollars) included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, intermittent wipers, and an AM radio with digital clock.

Moving up to Laser XE ($10,546 or about $20,400 in 2015 dollars) added features such as an electronic instrument cluster, tilt steering wheel, driver’s side sport seat, dual power side mirrors, and an AM/FM stereo radio.

Optional equipment included air conditioning ($737), cruise control ($179), rear defroster ($168 base/$143 XE), power windows ($185), power door locks ($125), and AM/FM stereo cassette ($285/$160). With all the trimmings, a Laser XE could fairly easily get to $12,900 or so or about $29,500 in today’s dollars—about what a 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT costs.

The Laser sold decently in its first year, with almost 34,000 base coupes and almost 26,000 XEs crossing dealer lots. This was actually more than its Dodge Daytona sister car (with a total of almost 50,000 sold).

However, Chrysler must have been disappointed—this was an era where the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Pontiac Firebird were routinely selling in the hundreds of thousands (the three models combined for 530,000 sold in 1984).

Chrysler would never see these first year totals again—by 1987 the Laser would be gone, with the Daytona hanging on through the 1993 model year after a few pretty good years in the late 1980s.

DaytonaLaserSales

Lasers rarely show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay. You see some Daytonas on eBay, but even they are relatively uncommon.

Not surprisingly, allpar.com has an interesting and detailed article on the front-wheel-drive Lasers and Daytonas—it is here. Make mine Black, please.

1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Yesterday’s Hemmings Daily blog had an entry on the Mustang SVO, titled “Was this America’s most misunderstood sports car?” I’ve updated on of my early posts to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“Sophisticated performance for the knowledgeable driver.”

With the announcement of the 2015 Mustang and its available EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine, my mind turned back to the 1984 to 1986 Mustang SVO.

Created by Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations department, the SVO was an admirable attempt to take a different and more advanced approach to the pony car market. This version of the Fox-body Mustang was built around the Lima turbocharged and fuel injected 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder engine making 175 bhp paired with a Borg-Warner T5 five-speed manual transmission. By the standards of the day, this combination yielded a reasonable 19 city/26 highway (it would be 17/24  by current standards) and a respectable 7.5 second 0-60 time.

Other modifications over the standard Mustang included ventilated 4-wheel power disc brakes (replacing the Mustang GT’s disc/drum setup), and a Koni suspension system featuring adjustable struts and shocks. 16 × 7 inch aluminum wheels with 225/50VR16 Goodyear NCT tires were standard for the first year—Gatorbacks didn’t become available until 1985.

You could have the interior in any color you wanted as long as that was Charcoal, but you did get to choose from the standard cloth or optional leather seats. Standard features included adjustable sport seats with lumbar support and a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel. Air conditioning ($743), a cassette player ($222), power door locks ($177), and power windows ($198) all remained optional—this was 1984, after all.

The exterior featured a SVO-specific front grille, a hood with a functional scoop, and a “dual wing” spoiler that was also unique to the SVO.

Mustang SVO page from the 1984 Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

With a base price of $15,596 (about $35,800 in 2014 dollars), sales did not come close to meeting Ford’s hopes—less than 10,000 buyers took home a Mustang SVO over its three years of production. The reasons for its relative failure where many, but I think the biggest problems were:

  • The average Mustang buyer was happier with a Mustang GT, which, with a base price of $9,578, cost substantially less.
  • The potential buyer of a vehicle with turbocharged and intercooled 4 cylinder engine, 4 wheel disc brakes, and an adjustable suspension wasn’t looking to Ford for this car.

It is interesting to note that Ford was much more successful in the 1990s and 2000s in selling high end Mustangs. We’ll see how they do with the 2.3 liter (there’s a coincidence!) 310 bhp EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine in 2015.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1984 Mustang SVO in #1 condition is $19,900. Make my SVO Silver Metallic, please.

1984 Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC

This was one of my early posts in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“The ultimate American road car.”

The Lincoln Continental Mark VII was all new for 1984, along with a new LSC trim level that added about $2,000 to the base Mark VII’s non-trivial $21,707 price (making the LSC start at about $54,400 in 2014 dollars). Standard power in 1984 was provided by the Windsor throttle-body fuel-injected 5.0 liter V8 engine with 140 bhp connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. Despite the LSC’s 3,600 pound weight, 0-60 still came in under 9 seconds.

LSC-specific components included a stiffer air suspension, dual exhaust, leather seats with six-way power on the driver’s side, fog lamps, and forged aluminum 15-inch wheels. A limited slip differential was optional. All Mark VIIs got the first composite headlights available in the United States.

Continental Mark VII LSC page from the 1984 Lincoln brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Ford wanted the LSC to compete with the big BMW and Mercedes-Benz coupes, but it seems more likely that most LSC buyers were cross-shopping cars like the Buick Riviera T-Type, the Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe, or (horrors!) the Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.

I always liked the look of the LSC—I think the stylists combined  “traditional” Mark traits such as the rear spare tire hump with Ford’s new aerodynamic direction very effectively. People complained at the time about the limited interior room for such a large car and the period of the big coupe was definitely beginning to fade, but the LSC was certainly an interesting approach.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1984 Continental Mark VII LSC in #1 condition is $9,100, with a more “normal” #3 condition LSC fetching $4,200. Lincoln Mark VIIs show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds fairly regularly—as I write this in July 2014,  there’s a Sandstone 1988 LSC with 55,000 miles listed for $8,000. Make mine Platinum Clearcoat Metallic, please.

1984 Buick Riviera T-Type

This was one of my first posts in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“… the thrill of turbocharged performance and responsive handling.”

For 1984, the T-Type version of Buick’s Riviera gained sequential fuel injection, yielding a respectable 180 bhp from the evergreen LD5 3.8 liter turbo V6. Performance figures for the later Riviera T-Types are hard to come by, but I’m betting that 0-60 mph came in between 9 and 10 seconds.

Fuel mileage for the big coupe was decent by the standards of the day: 14 city/21 highway (13/20 by today’s standards). With the 21.2 gallon fuel tank, range was about 330 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. A T-Type continued to be the only way to get your Riviera turbocharged.

The $17,050 T-Type (about $39,500 in 2014 dollars) came with a blacked-out grill, amber parking light and turn signal lenses, black mirrors, and styled aluminum wheels on P205/75R15 tires. Additional instrumentation for the T-Type included a turbo boost gauge and an LED tachometer. The 1984 T-Type also included the Gran Touring Package which featured stiffer springs, re-calibrated shock absorbers, and larger diameter anti-sway bars front and rear.

Standard exterior and mechanical features on all 1984 Rivieras included a four-speed automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and power antenna. Inside, every Riviera had air conditioning, power door locks, and power windows.

An extensive list of options included electronic climate control ($150), rear window defogger ($140), and Twilight Sentinel ($60). Options available for every Riviera except the convertible included the Delco/Bose Music System ($895) and the Astroroof ($1,195).

Sales weren’t great—with only 1,153 made, T-Types accounted for only about 2% of the very strong overall Riviera sales. T-Type sales would continue to dip in the last year for the “big” sixth generation Riviera—there were only 1,069 made in 1985. My theory is that there weren’t a ton of folks searching for a big (206 inches long and 3,660 pounds) performance-oriented (but not really high performance) coupe in the mid-1980s and there was competition from vehicles like the brand new Lincoln Mark VII LSC.

Riviera page from 1984 Buick brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project's amazing brochures section.
Riviera page from 1984 Buick brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Unlike many other cars from the 1980s, there are folks saving the sixth generation Rivieras. For example, there’s strong discussion and support on the AACA’s Buick Riviera page. T-Types also come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds—when I first wrote this in October 2013, there was a red 1985 with 140,000 miles for available for $4,800.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1984 Riviera T-Type in #1 condition is $13,800. Make mine the extra-cost ($210) Medium Sand Gray Firemist, please. I love those Buick color names and believe everyone should have at least one Firemist.

1984 Honda Civic CRX

“Are you using the right car for your gasoline?”

Even for the 1980s, the 1984 Honda Civic CRX two-seater was absolutely tiny, with a length of a little over 12 feet and a weight of around 1,800 pounds. The CRX debuted as a new model included with the introduction of the all new third generation Civic line.

There were two engine choices for the CRX in 1984. The CRX HF (High Fuel economy) got a carbureted 1.3 liter inline 4 cylinder with all of 60 bhp – but this got you 46 city/52 highway by the standards of the day (still 38/47 by today’s standards). It also got you a 0-60 time of about 12 seconds.

Moving up to the DX got you the EW1 carbureted 1.5 liter inline 4 cylinder with 76 bhp – enough to reduce the 0-60 time to a little over 10 seconds and still get 32 city/38 highway by the eighties standards (28/35 by the current standard).

Standard was a five-speed manual, but you could get a three-speed automatic with the DX – though I’m not at all sure why you’d want one.

The first generation CRX found its markets and sold quite well, with over 48,000 in 1984 and a total of 218,000 over four years. In 1985, the fuel injected 91 bhp Si would come along – but that is a topic for another blog post.

I see early CRX’s occasionally, but they’ve become rarer and rarer on the roads in the northeast. I have yet to see one at an auto show, but I’d love to.

Make my 1984 CRX a DX in blue (with the standard metallic gray lower rocker panels), please.