1986 Honda Prelude Si coupe

A 1986 Honda Prelude Si recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $7,500. This made me wonder why I hadn’t yet written about any Prelude.

“We are lots of fun.”

1986 brought few changes to Honda’s Prelude sports coupe, which continued in both base and Si versions. A visual distinction from 1985 was the high-mounted brake lamp, along with a few more exterior color choices.

The Si‘s salient feature was its engine—the B20A 110 bhp 2.0 liter inline four with three valves per cylinder and fuel injection. Making ten more horsepower than the base Prelude meant that it was about half a second faster to get from 0-60 mph—spritely but not fast at a little under 10 seconds.

A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with a four-speed automatic optional. Fuel economy was respectable at 25 city/30 highway by the day’s standards with the manual transmission (22/28 by modern standards). As might be expected, the automatic dropped ratings by 8% in the city and 3% on the highway. With a 15.8-gallon fuel tank, a Prelude’s Si‘s proud new owner could expect a range of 335 to 390 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Prelude Si photo from the 1986 Honda full-line brochure

By 1986 standards, the $12,955 Prelude Si—about $33,600 in today’s dollars or about what a 2022 Accord EX-L sedan goes for—came well-equipped. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included a power moonroof (a Prelude trademark), power windows, power mirrors, power disc brakes, and Michelin 185/75R13 steel-belted radial tires (a size still somewhat available) on Custom 13-inch alloy wheels. Inside, air conditioning, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and cloth front bucket seats were included. The stereo featured electronic quartz tuning, an autoreverse cassette player, a seven-band graphic equalizer, and four speakers.

These second-generation Preludes were a revelation when introduced for the 1983 model year, replacing the somewhat ungainly first-generation coupes that had been introduced in the late 1970s. They come from a period when Honda styling seemingly could do no wrong—Road & Track called the second-generation Preludes “handsome, satisfying, exciting.”

Second-generation Preludes attract collector interest, and there is some online forum support. They are 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 Sonic Blue Metallic, please.

Other Hondas I have written about include the 1983 Civic S hatchback coupe, the 1984 Civic DX hatchback coupe, the 1984 Civic CRX hatchback coupe, the 1985 Civic CRX Si hatchback coupe, the 1986 Accord sedan, and the 1988 Civic sedan.


1986 Hyundai Excel hatchback coupe

Hyundai was new to the United States in 1986, and the first product they sold was the Excel, available in hatchback coupe, hatchback sedan, and sedan versions.

The Excel L‘s standard powertrain was a 4G15 68 bhp 1.5 liter/90 ci inline four with a carburetor paired with a four-speed manual. The GL and GLS upmarket trims included a five-speed manual and had a three-speed automatic available as an option. Whichever transmission was chosen, the Excel was not exactly fast: Car and Driver reported a 0-60 time of just over 16 seconds.

Fuel economy by 1986 standards was 28 city/31 highway with the four-speed manual—24/28 by current standards. Predictably, the five-speed manual was better on the highway, while the three-speed automatic was worse. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank on all but the GLS/automatic combination, Excel owners could expect a range of between 235 to 300 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Hyundai Excel advertisement

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Excel’s styling was pleasing, if somewhat anonymous. At the time, some Hyundai executives were concerned that it looked a little too much like the concurrent Izuzu I-Mark/Chevrolet Spectrum—also designed by Giugiaro.

With a base price of $4,995, the Excel L was the second cheapest car for sale in the United States—the Yugo GV was, of course, the cheapest. One of Hyundai’s strategies was to differentiate with standard equipment compared to the economy car competition. Thus, standard exterior and mechanical equipment included halogen headlamps, an electric rear window defroster, front wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and name-brand Goodyear Corsa P155/80R13 all-season tires (a size still available) on 13-inch styled steel wheels. Inside, a lockable glove box, a color-keyed dash, vinyl reclining front bucket seats, and split fold-down rear seats were included.

Moving up to the $5,895 GL added tinted glass, styled steel wheels with hub covers and wheel trim rings, a remote hatch release, dual remote control rearview mirrors, an analog quartz clock, a full center console, cloth/vinyl front bucket seats, and Luxury door trim with cloth inserts.

The top-of-the-line $6,395 GLS included full wheel covers, thicker carpeting, a color-keyed Luxury steering wheel, cloth front bucket seats with driver’s side height and lumbar adjustment, and a Panasonic ETR AM/FM stereo cassette deck with auto-reverse and two speakers.

Individual options were few—a power sliding sunroof, Goodyear Corsa P175/70R13 all-season tires on aluminum alloy wheels, air conditioning, and a Panasonic ETR AM/FM stereo cassette deck with auto-reverse, Dolby noise reduction, and four speakers. Initial reviews of the Excel were decent and initial sales were quite strong, with 168,882 sold in the 1986 model year.

The view of the Excel from today is not so kind. The Excel turned out to be notably less reliable than the Yugo and also had significant rust problems—even compared to other mid-1980s economy cars. Hyundai now barely acknowledges the Excel, though it occasionally gets a mention in press releases. I haven’t seen a first-generation Excel in many years.

Make mine Medium Red Metallic, please.

This post is my first Hyundai article, but one of many on vanished vehicles.

1986 Pontiac Firebird SE hatchback coupe

“Comfort and function define every Firebird interior.”

For 1986, Pontiac offered three versions of its sporty Firebird—the base car, the SE, and the Trans Am. The SE was intended to be the most comfortable of the three versions (Pontiac stated that it possessed “a subtle sophistication”), and its $11,995 base price (about $30,500 in today’s dollars) slotted between the $9,279 base coupe and the $12,395 Trans Am.

The SE‘s standard engine was the 135 bhp LB8 2.8 liter V6 with fuel injection, while it’s only optional engine was the $400 155 bhp LG4 5.0 liter/305 ci v8 with a four-barrel carburetor (only Trans Ams could get fancier V8s). Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual and were offered with an optional four-speed automatic ($465). The V8 with the manual was the quickest (0-60 mph in about 9 seconds) and the fastest (top speed of about 131 mph) SE. EPA gas mileage ratings were 17 city/26 highway with the standard powertrain (15/24 by today’s standards). Interestingly, the V8 wasn’t significantly worse at 16 city/26 highway with the manual or at 17 city/25 highway with the automatic. With a relatively small 15.5-gallon gas tank, SE owners could expect a range of between 265 and 320 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 base and SE Firebird versions from the Pontiac full-line brochure

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all Firebirds included concealed rectangular quartz halogen headlamps, Sport mirrors, power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P215/65R15 tires on 15-inch wheels. Inside, a full-length console, reclining front bucket seats, cut pile carpeting, and a Delco-GM AM radio were standard.

Additional standard equipment on the SE included hood air louvers, black body side moldings, and 15-inch diamond spoke aluminum wheels. Inside, the Formula steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake were all leather-wrapped. Luxury Trim Group included Custom front bucket seats, a Deluxe split folding rear seat, and Deluxe door trim. An interior roof console included sub-woofer controls if the subwoofer six-speaker system was ordered.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included a body color rear deck spoiler ($70), a hatch roof with removable glass panels, and power four wheel disc brakes ($179 and requiring the limited slip differential). Inside, Custom air conditioning (which required Soft Ray glass), power door locks, power windows, a six-way power driver’s seat, a tilt steering wheel, and five different radios were available. A loaded SE moved from comfortable to relatively luxurious by mid-1980s standards.

Like its Camaro Berlinetta cousin, the SE did not sell well—it was only 2% of overall Firebird sales in 1986. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Firebird SE with the V8 and the manual in #1/Concours condition is $13,200, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $4,600.

Mid-1980s Trans Ams are always available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but SEs rarely make an appearance—as I write this post, there are no third-generation Firebird SEs for sale on either site. I have not seen an SE in almost 20 years.

Other Firebird versions I have written about include the 1981 Trans Am coupe, the 1982 Trans Am hatchback coupe, the 1984 Trans Am 15th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe, the 1985 Trans Am hatchback coupe, and the 1989 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am hatchback coupe. I should probably cover a Formula and a GTA at some point.

Make mine Midnight Blue over Silver, please.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII coupe

On a driveway about three blocks from my house sits a Silver Blue Lincoln Mark VII. The sporty LSC version attracts most of the attention with these cars—it has previously attracted mine. However, this post is about the “base” coupe.

“The most completely equipped car sold in America”

Lincoln dropped the Continental sub-marque name from the Mark series in 1986. That was probably the biggest news in the Mark VII’s third year, but there were other enhancements and changes. The standard V8 gained 10 bhp, while the LSC got a 60 bhp bump. Lincoln added the newly-required high mount rear stop lamp, and both anti-lock brakes and keyless entry became standard across the line. Inside, power front seat recliners and the Premium Sound System were newly standard. The Versace Designer Series was no more, but the Bill Blass Designer Series continued.

The base Mark’s only available powertrain was a Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection mated with a four-speed automatic with overdrive. 0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds in a car with a curb weight that approached 3,700 pounds. Fuel economy was respectable: 18 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (16/24 by 2020 measures). With a 22.1-gallon gas tank, a Mark VII owner could expect a range of 400 to 440 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure pages
Pages from the 1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure

The Mark VII’s base price was $22,399 for 1986—approximately $53,600 in today’s dollars, or about 15% more than a 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard sedan goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included flush-mounted aerodynamic halogen headlamps, tinted glass on all windows, a power antenna, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, an Electronic Air Suspension with automatic level control, and P215/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch cast-aluminum road wheels. Inside, every Mark VII included fingertip speed control, interval windshield wipers with speed controls, Electronic Automatic Climate Control, cloth six-way power seats, and an AM/FM stereo cassette radio with four speakers.

The well-equipped Mark VII offered relatively few options for 1986. Items buyers could choose included a power glass moonroof ($1,319), a Traction-Lok differential ($165), strange-looking geometric cast-aluminum wheels ($298), wire-spoke aluminum wheels ($693), and leather seating surfaces ($551).

1986 was a solid year for Lincoln’s big coupe. Sales increased by 9% of the previous yeaar and Car and Driver chose the LSC variant as one of their 10Best. All of this happened while sales of the newly downsized Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado collapsed.

Mark VIIs do attract collector interest, and there is model-specific club support along with the bigger Lincoln car clubs. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Mark VII in #1/Concours condition is $16,400, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $11,300. These Marks 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, a mahogany 1988 Mark VII with tan leather seats and 51,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $8,500.

Make mine the extra-cost ($268) Flemish Blue Glamour Clearcoat Metallic, please. What a name!

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).


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 year, 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

There’s been a white Buick Century sedan parked outside one of my local supermarkets for the last few weeks. Followers of Eighties Cars know that presence 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 of the most sporting Century 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 ratings with the base four and three-speed automatic were 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 $26,900 in 2022 dollars—just slightly over what a 2022 Encore GX SUV 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 $28,000 in today’s dollars) added 55/45 notchback velour seats and a hood ornament.

The relatively rare $13,714 T Type (about $35,800 in 2022 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.

Options & Production Numbers

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), Soft-Ray tinted glass ($115), and an engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($750), cruise control ($175), Twilight Sentinel ($57), power windows ($270), power door locks ($180), tilt steering ($115), and a 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. The Century overall remained the most popular vehicle at most Buick dealers.

The View From 2022

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, though this is increasingly unusual.

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.

Updated March 2022.

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.