1986 Dodge Ramcharger SUV

Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020 included three examples of the 1980s Ramcharger. The one that did the best was a 1986 Royal S.E.—the top-of-the-line for that year. Its hammer price was $15,500.

“Tough in the Rough.”

For 1986, Dodge’s Ramcharger SUV received a new crosshair grille, which had a strong resemblance to their early 1970s pickup truck design. The side mirror assemblies were simplified but other than that, there was little change besides some new colors.

The Ramcharger’s standard engine was an LA 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. It came with a four-speed manual if four-wheel drive was chosen and a three-speed automatic if two-wheel drive was preferred. An LA 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor went for an additional $261. With the base powertrain, fuel economy was rated at an uninspiring (and somewhat uncompetitive) 11 city/14 highway by the standards of the day in an SUV with a curb weight that started at 4,045 pounds. A capacious 35-gallon gas tank did give a respectable 360 to 395-mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger brcohure cover
1986 Dodge Ramcharger brochure cover

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $11,534 Ramcharger included tinted glass, chrome front and rear bumpers, two-wheel drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P235/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6.5-inch wheels. Inside, Deluxe vinyl low-back front bucket seats and an ETR AM radio with a digital clock was included. The four-wheel-drive version of the Ramcharger went for an additional $1,229.

Among the many individual options available were aluminum road wheels ($350), a heavy-duty alternator ($145), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), air conditioning ($740), and an ETR AM stereo/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and a clock ($360).

A few options packages were available. Prospector Package I ($768) included a bright grille, Deluxe wheel covers, a Ram’s Head hood ornament, Prospector nameplates, and a convenience package. Prospector Package II ($1,251) added the Royal S.E. décor package and power door locks. Finally, the top-of-the-line Prospector Package III ($3,269 2WD/$3,186 4WD) added two-tone paint, air conditioning, power windows, speed control, and a tilt steering column.

The Ramcharger’s sales peaked at 37,055 in the 1985 model year and would never again come close to that total. With little changed for 1986, sales slipped substantially, with only 20,815 Ramchargers produced compared to 37,310 Chevrolet Blazers and 57,488 Ford Broncos.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Ramchargers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a loaded 1986 Ramcharger Royal S.E. 4×4 in #1/Concours condition is $29,100, with a far more normal #3/Good condition AD-100 version going for $9,400. Ramchargers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Black 1989 Ramcharger with tan bucket seats and 61,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $20,000.

Make mine Charcoal Gray Metallic, please. Other Dodges I have written about are the 1985 600 Club Coupe and the 1985 Omni GLH.

1986 Mercury Capri hatchback coupe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MercuryCapriSales

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

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

Updated September 2019.

1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan

“Owning a Cadillac is a satisfying experience.”

For 1986, Cadillac transitioned the Fleetwood Brougham from the Cadillac-built HT-4100 130 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection to the Oldsmobile-built 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor. Production for the model year started late—it didn’t get going until February 1986.

The only powertrain available mated the aforementioned V8 to a four-speed automatic transmission. Mileage was rated at 18 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (16/23 by today’s standards). With a 20.7-gallon fuel tank, a Fleetwood Brougham buyer could expect a range of between 365 and 400 miles with a 10% reserve. The target market didn’t really care about performance, but the 0-60 time was a little under 13 seconds.

Standard exterior equipment on the $21,265 Fleetwood Brougham (about $48,900 in today’s dollars or about what a base 2019 Cadillac CT6 sedan goes for) included Soft Ray tinted glass and a full padded roof treatment. Mechanical equipment included rear-wheel-drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P215/75R15 steel-belted all-season radial whitewall tires (a size still readily available, including in whitewall) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, an illuminated entry system, power door locks, power windows, electronic climate control, and dual comfort 55/45 heather cloth seats with six-way power adjuster for the driver were all included in these comfortably equipped cars.

Upgrading to the Sedan d’Elegance added adjustable rear seat reading lamps, controlled cycle wipers, tufted pillow-style seating areas, a six-way power seat and manual recliner for the front passenger, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options were the electrically powered Astroroof ($1,255), electronic level control ($203), and wire wheels ($860 to $940). Inside, Twilight Sentinel ($85), automatic door locks ($170), a power trunk lid release ($40), and a driver’s side memory seat ($215) were available.

Sedan d’Elegance pages from the 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

The 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sold decently, especially considering the short year—49,115 examples went out the door. By 1986, these cars had evolved into stately evocations of another age. No longer an expression of anything reasonably current in the automotive world, they still received surprising respect. In 1987, the name was shortened to just Brougham, but Cadillac would sell the same basic model through the 1992 model year with only one notable update in 1990.

Folks are collecting these rear-wheel-drive eighties Cadillacs, but values do not approach those of Fleetwoods from previous decades. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sedan in #1/Concours condition is a painfully low $8,000, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $4,200. Eighties Fleetwood Broughams and their ilk are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in February 2019, there’s a Cotillion White 1986 with burgundy velour seats and 44,000 miles available on Hemmings for $11,000.

Make mine Autumn Maple Firemist, please.

1986 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

“Yes to wind. Yes to sunshine.”

For 1986, the big news for Corvette was the return of the convertible, gone since 1975. Other improvements included Bosch ABS II anti-lock brakes, a Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS), and the mid-year introduction of aluminum cylinder heads.

The standard powertrain was the L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a Turbo-Hydramatic four-speed automatic transmission. Car and Driver recorded 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. Estimated fuel economy was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette convertible’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 335 and 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Built in collaboration with ASC, the convertible included a manual top, a rear-hinged deck panel to cover the top, and an X-brace underneath the floor. The newly-required high-mounted rear brake light was integrated into the rear fascia. Even the gas filler cover was different from the coupe—square because there was no rounded rear hatchback glass for it to wrap around.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $32,032 Corvette convertible (about $76,700 in today’s dollars or about what a well-equipped 2019 Corvette Stingray convertible goes for) included a Delco Freedom Plus II battery, power operated quartz-halogen retractable headlamps, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and P255/50VR-16 tires on 16 x 9.5 inch cast alloy aluminum wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, Tilt-Telescopic steering wheel, driver information system, cloth seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included a performance axle ratio ($22) and Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers ($189)—the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission was a no-cost option. Optional interior equipment included cruise control ($185), a power door lock system ($175), electronic control air conditioning ($150), a six-way power driver’s seat ($225), and the Delco-GM/Bose Music System ($895). The Z51 Performance Handling Package was not available with the convertible.

Pages from the 1986 Corvette convertible, linked from the always useful PaintRef.com.

The return of the Corvette convertible was well-received—Chevrolet sold 7,315 in about half a model, even at $5,000 more than the coupe. Reviews were also good; Car and Driver stated that the convertible was “a mighty hospitable carriage.”

There is strong club support for the 1986 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Corvette convertible in #1/Concours condition is $20,200, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $7,700. 1986 Corvette convertibles are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in December 2018, there’s a Yellow car with black leather seats and 29,000 miles available on Hemmings for $17,900.

Make mine White, with red leather seats—the “heritage colors” that match the first Corvette back in 1953.

1986 Buick Century sedan

For the last few weeks, there’s been a white Buick Century sedan parked outside one of my local supermarkets. Followers of Eighties Cars know that is likely to generate a blog entry.

“… truly satisfying motoring in the European tradition.”

For 1986, Buick’s Century gained a new slanted grille along with lower profile headlamps. The other major news was the T Type coupe had been discontinued, though the sedan version remained alive. Both the sedan and the coupe were available in Custom (base) and Limited trim, while the wagon was available in Custom (base) and Estate versions. We’ll concentrate on the sedan in this post.

Standard power on the Century remained the Iron Duke 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection. Two different V6 engines were available: a $435 112 bhp 2.8 liter/181 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor and a $695 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with sequential fuel injection. A three-speed automatic transmission was standard with the 2.5 liter inline four and 2.8 liter V6, but buyers could add a four-speed automatic for an additional $175.

With these three engines, two transmissions, and curb weights in the 2,750 to 2,850-pound range, there was a wide variance in performance. 0-60 mph with the inline four/three-speed automatic combination was about 13.5 seconds, while 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 owners with the four-speed automatic could expect to get from 0-60 in about 10 seconds.

Mileage with the base four and three-speed automatic was 22 city/32 highway (19/29 by today’s standards) while owners of the top-of-the-line V6/four-speed automatic combination could expect 19 city/29 highway (17/26 by 2018 standards). With a 15.7-gallon fuel tank, Century V6 drivers could expect a range of between 305 and 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $10,228 Century Custom (about $23,800 in 2018 dollars—just slightly under what a 2019 Regal Sportback goes for) included front-wheel drive, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/75R14 tires (a size still available from Hankook) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a cloth notchback front bench seat and a Delco AM radio with dual front speakers and a fixed antenna were included.

Moving up to the $10,729 Limited (about $25,000 in today’s dollars) added 55/45 notchback velour seats and a hood ornament.

The relatively rare $13,714 T Type (about $31,900 in 2018 dollars) included the 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 and four-speed automatic combination, along with a Gran Touring suspension and 215/60R14 tires on 14-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel, a full length storage console, and reclining cloth bucket seats were included.

Century page from the 1986 Buick full-line brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Century buyers had many choices to personalize their sedan. Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included aluminum wheels ($199), tinted glass ($115), and engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($750), cruise control ($175), Twilight Sentinel ($57), power windows ($270), and six-way power driver’s seat ($225) were available.

The 1986 Buick Century sedan sold rather well—sales inched up slightly from 1985 as Buick moved about 232,000, with 5,286 being the T Type version.

I think of these A-body cars as basic and honest. Centurys sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Other A-bodies I’ve written about in this blog include the 1983 Pontiac 6000 STE sedan and the 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity sedan—I guess I owe the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera some attention.

1986 Honda Accord sedan

“Once again, other manufacturers will be forced to return to their drawing boards.”

The Honda Accord was all new for 1986, with a brand new body and an upgraded base engine—the standard powertrain was the A20A 98 bhp 2.0 liter/120 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor paired to a five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic was optional). Acceleration was acceptable: 0-60 came in a little under 11 seconds in the approximately 2,400-pound car. On the other hand, fuel economy was good: 27 city/33 highway by the standards of the day (about 23 city/30 highway by 2018 standards). With a 15.9-gallon fuel tank, Accord drivers could expect a range of from 380 to 430 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

By modern standards, the 1986 Accord was not a large car: with a 102.4-inch wheelbase and a 178.5-inch length, it was four inches shorter in both wheelbase and length than a 2018 Honda Civic and was classified by the EPA as a subcompact car (the modern Accord is classified as a large car). What’s even more striking is the height or lack thereof: at 53.3 inches, the Accord was only three inches taller than the same year’s Camaro. The 1986 Accord had a six-inch longer wheelbase, three inches more of length, and was almost an inch shorter than the 1985 version.

1986 Honda Accord advertisement.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the base Accord DX sedan included front wheel drive, double wishbone front and rear suspension, power brakes, variable-assist power steering, pop-up halogen headlights, hidden wipers, and P185/70R13 tires (a size still available) on 13-inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside reclining front bucket seats, an adjustable steering column, and cruise control were included. The DX went for $9,299—about $21,600 in 2018 dollars.

Moving up to the LX added air conditioning, power door locks, power windows, and an AM/FM stereo with cassette player and power antenna. The top of the line LXi went for $12,675 (about $29,400 in today’s dollars or about what a 2018 Accord EX-L sedan goes for) and added the 110 bhp fuel injected engine, cast aluminum alloy wheels, and a power moonroof.

The 1986 Honda Accord was well received. It was present on Car and Driver‘s 10 Best list and got good reviews. Honda sold 325,000 in the United States, making it the fifth best selling car model that year.

Third-generation Accords were once prevalent on American roads, but have virtually disappeared by now. You do occasionally see these Accords for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there were no sedans out there as I write this in July 2018.

1986 Acura Legend Touring Sedan

“No other automobile line has accomplished so much, so soon.”

The 1986 Acura Legend Touring Sedan was the top of the line vehicle available from the then brand new Acura brand and the first Honda product made with a six-cylinder engine.

I have always said that Honda is an engine company and the Legend’s C25A 151 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci fuel-injected 24-valve SOHC V6 was an interesting one, with a 90 degree V-angle to the crankshaft. Mileage with the five-speed manual transmission was decent—20 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (18/23 by 2018 standards), giving the Legend a 330 to 365 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve. With that same five-speed manual, 0-60 mph came in a little under nine seconds in the 3,078-pound car.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $19,898 sedan (about $46,100 in 2018 dollars—just a little over what a loaded 2019 Acura TLX costs) included four-wheel disc brakes, a power tilt/slide sunroof, power folding mirrors, remote locking/keyless entry, and P205/60R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, an information system that could monitor maintenance intervals, fluid levels, and fuel economy, a driver’s side air bag, a power driver’s seat, and adjustable rear seats were also included. The only option available was a four-speed automatic transmission.

1986acuralegend
1986 Acura Legend Touring Sedan

I don’t see a lot of Legends come up for sale in either the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. First generation Legends have a small but avid following (with decent online support), and I find that they stand out when I see them. Make mine Blade Silver Metallic, please.

Save

1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe

“Camaro Z28 Is Its Big Brother”

Chevrolet’s Cavalier Z24 was announced for the 1985 model year but didn’t actually become available until the 1986 model year. The most important feature of the Z24 was definitely the engine—GM’s corporate LB6 120 bhp 2.8 liter/171 ci V6 with multi-port fuel injection. Paired with the standard four-speed manual transmission, 0-60 came in about 8.5 seconds in the 2,450-pound car—decent for a sporty compact car in 1986 (the 102 bhp Volkswagen GTI hatchback of the same year was about as fast).

Mileage was 19 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (19/24 by today’s standards). The Z24‘s range was 265 to 275 miles with a 10% fuel reserve—like all Cavaliers, the fuel tank was 13.6 gallons.

Standard equipment on the $8,878 Z24 (about $20,600 in today’s dollars) included the aforementioned engine and transmission, a ground effects package, black grille, dual black sport mirrors, the F41 sports suspension, and P215/60R-14 Goodyear Eagle GT radial tires (a size still available thanks to Riken and BFGoodrich) mounted on 14 x 6 inch Rally wheels. Inside, all Z24 buyers received digital instrumentation fed from “a 16K computer,” including a tachometer and trip odometer, along with a rear window defroster, and an AM pushbutton radio with dual front speakers.

All Cavaliers included front wheel drive, a MacPherson strut front suspension, rack and pinion steering, and front disc/rear drum brakes. Inside, reclining front bucket seats, a full floor console, side window defoggers, and a day/night rearview mirror were standard.

Available options included 14-inch aluminum wheels ($173), tinted glass ($99), air conditioning ($645), cruise control with resume ($175), power door locks ($130), power windows ($195), Comfortilt steering wheel ($115), and an electronic-tuning AM stereo/FM stereo seek/scan radio with cassette player, graphic equalizer, and clock ($494). A comfortably optioned Z24 could easily reach almost $11,000 (about $25,500 in 2018 dollars or about what you’ll pay nowadays for a loaded Chevrolet Cruze Premier sedan).

Cavalier Z24 pages from the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s amazing lov2xlr8 website.

Handsome in a broad-shouldered sort of way, the Z24 coupe sold pretty well for 1986—about 36,000 units. The slightly more expensive hatchback added another 10,000 units: the two models accounted for about 11% of total Cavalier production. Power would increase to 130 bhp in 1987, and a convertible version of the Z24 would come along in 1988. Chevrolet would build the Cavalier Z24 until the end of the 2002 model year.

A few folks are collecting these cars, but they certainly aren’t common at shows. You do occasionally see Z24s for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I update this blog entry in February 2019, there’s a Dark Red 1989 Z24 convertible with black cloth seats and 29,000 miles listed on Hemmings for $14,900.

Other J cars in this blog include the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan and the 1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan. I will not ignore Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac forever.

Updated February 2019.

1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC coupe

Only a couple of blocks from my house, I walked by a black 560SEC with a tan interior in really good condition earlier this week—a good enough reason as any to write this post.

“Bold lines which reflect the latest in motoring refinement.”

For 1986, Mercedes-Benz’s big W126 S-Class coupe gained an upgraded 238 bhp M117 5.5 liter/338 ci Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injected V8 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. The mid-cycle refresh also differed cosmetically from previous years with the addition of flush-face halogen headlamps and integral headlight wipers.

0-60 came in a sprightly 7.5 seconds in the 3,900-pound car while mileage was a predictably bad 14 city/16 highway by the standards of the day (12/15 by modern standards). With the large 23.8-gallon fuel tank, range was between 290 and 320 miles with a 10% reserve.

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Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $58,700 560SEC (about $129,700 in today’s dollars—a modern S550 4MATIC coupe starts at $119,900) included four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and 215/65VR15 tires on 15-inch “fifteen slot” alloy wheels.

Interior equipment included electronic automatic climate control (said to be less effective than you’d expect), an electronically adjustable steering column, cruise control, driver’s side airbag, dual-stage heated front seats, leather steering-wheel and shift-lever trim, and a Becker Grand Prix AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player and power antenna.

Optional equipment included sun roof, power rear sun shade, front passenger air bag, and California emissions.

There is decent club support for the 560SEC, as there is for almost all Mercedes-Benz’s. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC in #1 condition is $15,500, with a more normal #3 condition car going for $7,700. 560SECs frequently show up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in July 2015, there’s a black 560SEC with a beige interior and 97,000 miles listed on Hemmings for $14,000.

Make mine Black Pearl, please.

1986 Cadillac Eldorado coupe

“Imaginatively new. Decidedly Cadillac.”

Is it possible to miss the market more than this? For, 1986 Cadillac downsized the front wheel drive Eldorado coupe again. This time, wheelbase dropped to 108 inches, and overall length was down by over 16 inches to 188 inches—what was supposed the top of the non-limousine Cadillac line was now about the size of a 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity (or only about six inches longer than a 2014 ATS) and a full three feet shorter than the (admittedly massive) 1978 Eldorado.

Predictably, Eldorado buyers didn’t go for it. Sales collapsed from about 74,000 in 1985 to about 21,000 in 1986—definitely not what would be expected from a complete model revision.

EightiesEldoradoSales

So, what did those relatively few buyers get with their $24,251 (about $52,600 in today’s dollars) 1986 Eldorado? Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included power four-wheel disc brakes, power steering, and aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, front bucket seats, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, a power trunk release, cruise control, electronic climate control, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included, so the Eldorado was at least pretty well equipped.

Moving up to the Biarritz (almost always the top if the line Eldorado since 1956) cost either $3,095 (with cloth seats) or $3,495 (with leather seats) raising the price to either $27,346 ($59,400 today) or $27,746 ($60,200 today). Standard equipment on the Biarritz included nicer seats with power lumbar support, two-tone paint, and real walnut accents.

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

Options included a power Astroroof ($1,255), a nicely integrated cellular phone ($2,850), the FE2 touring suspension with 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels and 215/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires ($155), and the Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System ($895).

The Eldorado’s engine was Cadillac’s 130 bhp HT-4100 throttle body fuel injected 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 17 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (15/24 by today’s standards). Since the engine and transmission remained the same and the Eldorado was smaller and lighter, performance was better but still not very impressive: 0-60 improved to about 11 seconds.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Eldorado in #1/Concours condition is $10,400, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for a mere $3,900. Eldorados of this age come up for sale often in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, so folks are saving them. As I write this in June 2014, four 1986 Eldorados are for sale, with prices ranging from $7,750 to $11,995.