I like to think that I was pretty aware of automotive model lines in the eighties. Somehow, I completely missed the BMW L6 coupe until 2022.
“Contempt for Compromise”
For 1987 only, BMW bifurcated the 6-series coupe line into two distinct versions: the sporting M6 and the luxury-oriented L6.
The L6’s only powertrain was the M30B34 182 bhp 3.4 liter/209 ci inline six with fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic. 0-60 came in a little over 9 seconds in a car with a 3,490-pound curb weight. Fuel economy was rated at 16 city/21 highway by the day’s standards (15 city/20 highway by modern measures). With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, an L6’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 290 and 310 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
The $49,500 L6 came well-equipped—a good thing, as that is about $131,200 in 2022 dollars, which is substantially more than a 2023 840i XDrive coupe. Exterior and mechanical features included a sunroof, power steering, four wheel disc brakes, and 220/55-390 Michelin TRX tires (available from Coker Tire) on 390 mm aluminum wheels. Inside, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, power leather seats, power windows, and power mirrors were included. Distinctive features included a rear center console with individual climate controls, a leather headliner, and a unique leather dash that was notorious for peeling off and warping due to windshield heat.
Options & Production Numbers
With all that standard equipment, few options were available. A limited slip differential was $390.
The L6 did not sell very well in its single year—BMW moved 1,217. For comparison, the M6 sold 1,767 in the same year.
There are (many) eighties cars that no one is convinced have a following, and then there is the Buick GNX. Unlike many of the other cars I write about, I doubt there’s anything new I can add to the discourse about the GNX. Still, I can’t not cover it.
“A high-performance investment for the fortunate 500.”
The story is familiar to many of us. Buick’s Grand National performance variant of the Regal had been around since 1982, and it had gotten steadily more powerful, gaining a standard turbo V6 in 1984, and an intercooler in 1986. For 1987, Buick announced the GNX, which stood for Grand National Experimental.
Buick built cars with Grand National interiors and sent them to American Specialty Cars (ASC). The GNX added a performance suspension with a torque bar and a GNX-only rear differential cover. Its exterior featured functional front-fender louvers, and 16-inch aluminum mesh wheels with black-out faces and GNX center caps, which were equipped with Goodyear Eagle “Gatorback” tires—245/50VR-16 in front and 255/50VR-16 in the rear.
Most importantly, the GNX included a massaged version of Buick’s LC2 3.8 liter/231 ci turbo V6 making 276 bhp paired with an automatic transmission with overdrive. Improvements to the engine over the standard turbo included a Garrett T3 turbocharger with ceramic impeller and a GNX-specific heat shield, a larger capacity intercooler, reprogrammed engine management, and a low-restriction exhaust.
Straight line acceleration was outstanding for the day—0-60 came in 5.5 seconds. The GNX handled well for a Regal, but that wasn’t really the point. Mileage ratings were 15 city/23 highway by the day’s standards (about 13 city/21 highway by today’s measures), which triggered the dreaded gas guzzler tax—$650 in this case.
The GNX was not inexpensive—the window sticker showed $29,290 (about $76,800 in 2022 dollars), with the GNX option alone listed as $10,995. Essentially, moving from a Grand National to a GNX added more than 50% to the price.
By 1987, a Grand National came reasonably well-equipped, with Sport mirrors, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped Sport steering wheel, a full-length operating console, and reclining front bucket seats included. A GNX came standard with many comfort and convenience features that were optional on the Grand National, including tungsten-halogen headlamps, electric door locks, power windows, electronic cruise control, tilt steering column, a six-way power driver’s seat, and the top-of-the-line UX1 stereo with graphic equalizer.
Options and Production Numbers
Buick built a mere 547 examples of the GNX—production was always intended to be quite limited. As far as I can tell, there were no factory options.
The View From 2022
According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1987 Buick GNX coupe in #1/Concours condition is an astounding$288,000, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $112,000.
I still occasionally see M-body Fifth Avenues on the road. They’re always well-kept, but also actually being driven. How much longer will they last?
“Fifth Avenue remembers what fine car buyers demand!”
Little changed for 1987, Chrysler’s rear-wheel-drive Fifth Avenue sedan did receive an updated steering wheel. Otherwise, things continued along virtually the same as they had been since the M-body Chrysler went from the New Yorker Fifth Avenue name to the Fifth Avenue name in 1984.
The only powertrain available was an LA 140 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a Carter two-barrel carburetor paired with a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission—the slant six had departed from the M-body after 1983. 0-60 came in about 12 seconds in a car with a 3,741-pound curb weight. Mileage ratings were 16 city/21 highway by 1987 standards—which equals 15 city/20 highway today. With an 18-gallon gas tank, a Fifth Avenue owner could expect a range of 285 to 300 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard exterior features on the $15,422 Fifth Avenue (about $38,900 in today’s dollars or about what a 2021 Chrysler 300S V6 sedan goes for) included a color-keyed padded vinyl Landau roof and tinted glass on all windows. Mechanical features included power front disc/rear drum brakes, power-assisted steering, and P205/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with Premium wheel covers. Inside, an air conditioning/heater with automatic temperature control, power windows, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, and an AM radio were included.
Packages, Options, and Production Numbers
The Luxury Equipment Discount Package added hood stripes, electroluminescent opera lights, and wire wheel covers with locks. Inside, the same package added automatic speed control, a tilt steering column, Deluxe intermittent windshield washers/wipers, a power deck lid release, and an AM stereo/FM stereo radio with the Premium speaker system and a power antenna. Added upholstery features with the package included (of course) Corinthian leather 60/40 front seat with vinyl trim, dual front power seats, and a Luxury leather-wrapped two-spoke steering wheel. This substantial package cost $2,113 if ordered with the Ultimate Sound audio system and $2,251 if ordered without Chrysler top-of-the-line stereo. Either way, it added 14% to 15% to the Fifth Avenue’s base price.
A Two-Tone Paint Package was also available. This package included (natch!) two-tone paint with a choice of three colors matched with Radiant Silver, a special padded vinyl Landau roof with electroluminescent opera lights, and cast aluminum 15-inch wheels.
Individual options included a power glass sun roof and a driver-only passenger seat. A range of three optional car stereos topped out with the Ultimate Sound system, which included an AM stereo/FM stereo radio, a cassette tape player with automatic reverse and Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR), a five-band graphic equalizer, and a joystick balance/fader control. Many individual options cost less if they were ordered along with the Luxury Equipment Discount Package.
Chrysler sold 70,579 Fifth Avenues in 1987, making it the single most popular Chrysler model, though all the various LeBaron models combined were good for far more sales. With tooling that had long since been paid for, all the M-body cars (the Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury were also in production) were probably good for Chrysler’s profits.
The View From 2021
These cars were the last of the old Chryslers, with a platform that dated back to 1977 and some design elements that were far older. When rear-wheel-drive returned to big Chryslers in 2005, it was based on a Mercedes-Benz E-class platform.
Though they are far from collector cars, Fifth Avenues of this generation are sometimes available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and occasionally show up at auction. As I write this post, a Radiant Silver 1985 Fifth Avenue with a silver vinyl top and gray velvet cloth 60/40 front seats is for sale on Hemmings for $7,850.
At the 2021 Mecum Indy, a Cinnabar Red 1987 BMW M6 coupe with tan leather front bucket seats sold for $50,000.
“For the zealots.”
For the 1987 model year, BMW finally brought the European M635CSi (available since 1983) to North America, but rebadged it as the M6. This rebadging meant that the “civilian” 6-series (previously the 633CSi) was redesignated as the L6. Specific M6 details included front and rear M badging, a larger front air dam and rear spoiler, and matching color side mirrors.
The M6’s engine was an S38B35 256 bhp 3.5 liter/211 ci inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the fuel economy rating of 10 city/19 highway mpg meant a range of between 215 and 240 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph came in a little over six seconds.
The M6’s base price was $58,970—about $143,300 in today’s dollars, and about 10% more than a 2021 M8 coupe starts at. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included metallic paint, halogen headlights, speed-related power steering, four-wheel power anti-lock disc brakes, and Michelin TRX 240/45VR-415 tires on 7.7-by-16.3-inch BBS alloy wheels.
Inside the very well-equipped M6, BMW paired leather reclining front bucket seats with memory with leather rear bucket seats. Other interior accouterments included front and rear air conditioning, power heated side mirrors, power door locks, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, a trip computer, and a digital clock. Audio entertainment was provided by a BMW Sound System with an AM/FM stereo radio, a cassette player, eight speakers, and a power antenna.
Production Numbers and Period Reviews
The 1987 M6 had no factory options—buyers chose the exterior and interior colors, and that was it.
BMW produced a total of 1,767 M6 coupes for North America between September 1986 and September 1988. Reviews were excellent, with the only complaints being the price and the fuel mileage (“drinks gas like a fiend”). Car and Driver stated that the M6 was “one of those wild, wonderful cars that throw the scales of automotive justice totally off balance.”
M6’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, a Black 1987 M6 with lotus white leather front bucket seats and 42,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $94,900. Bring A Trailer auctioned a Royalblau Metallic 1987 M6 with a five-speed manual and lotus white leather front bucket seats for $62,000 in May 2021.
We’ve got a lot of road work going on in our area. Two days ago, I had to take a short detour, which sent me down a route that included a few blocks I’ve never traveled. I saw a white Dodge Aries sedan parked on the side of the road. Yesterday, I went back and took a couple of pictures. The Aries was in pretty good shape and sported a Pennsylvania classic car plate.
“More car for the money than you thought possible.”
For 1987 changes to the Dodge Aries sedan were minor. A stainless steel exhaust system was new, as were standard front bucket seats.
The Aries’ standard powertrain was an E86 97 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with central fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. A 100 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four was a $287 option for the LE only and required the $534 TorqueFlite automatic transmission.
Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 25 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (22/29 by 2020 measures), while ratings for the 2.5 liter/automatic combination dropped to 22/27. With a 14-gallon gas tank, the owner of a base Aries sedan could expect a range of 320 to 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The driver of a 2.5 liter Aries could expect about 50 miles less. Best case 0-60 times were about 10.5 seconds in a car with a shipping weight of just under 2,500 pounds.
Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $7,655 Dodge Aries sedan included halogen headlights, manual rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a compact spare tire, and P175/80R13 black sidewall tires (now generally a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels with hubcaps. Inside, a manual left exterior mirror, a Deluxe two-spoke steering wheel, a mini console, and cloth with vinyl trim low-back bucket seats with reclining seatbacks were included.
Moving up to the $8,134 LE (which 93% of Aries sedan buyers did) added Deluxe wheel covers, a power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, a trunk light, cloth door trim panels, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. The LE could get a vinyl bench seat at no extra charge.
Chrysler corporation had begun to move to more options packages by the mid-eighties. The Aries sedan had four for 1987:
Basic Equipment Package ($261) included Deluxe 13-inch wheel covers, a black power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. It was (natch!) only available for the base sedan.
Popular Equipment Discount Package included tinted glass, bodyside tape stripes, an automatic transmission, power-assisted steering, and P185/70R14 black sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, the package included black dual remote exterior mirrors, special sound insulation, trunk dress-up, and an AM stereo/FM stereo electronic tuning radio with a cassette player, four speakers, and a digital clock. This package was LE-only and went for $740.
Premium Equipment Discount Package ($1,312 and LE-only) included everything in the Popular Equipment Discount Package and added an electric rear window defroster, electronic speed control, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, a tilt steering column, and power door locks.
Light Package ($59 and LE-only) included an ash receiver light, a cigar lighter light, a headlights-on warning buzzer, an ignition switch light with time delay, and an underhood light.
Individual options included tinted glass ($121), 14-inch cast aluminum road wheels ($332 with either the Popular or Premium packages/$381 without), a conventional spare tire ($75 for 13-inch wheel/$85 for $14-inch wheel), and air conditioning ($790 and requiring tinted glass). Between the packages and the options, a loaded LE sedan could surpass $11,000 on its window sticker.
The Aries sedan continued to sell respectably in 1987, with 71,216 sold. It remained by far the best-selling Dodge sedan. Interestingly, K cars have not entirely disappeared from the road—quite unlike many of their eighties peers. Examples of the Aries rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though they do appear on cars.com.
Make mine the extra cost ($41) Twilight Blue Pearl Coat, please.
“The kind of Volvo you design when you’ve been designing Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis all your life.”
Designed and produced by Bertone and primarily based on the 760 sedan, the 780 was Volvo’s second attempt at a stylish coupe. The first was also a Bertone creation—the 262C built from 1977 through 1981. Beyond the handsome exterior, the interior was also specific to the 780—not merely a slightly re-purposed 760 design. Among the significant changes from the 760’s interior were a move from five seats to four, with individually-shaped seats for those in the rear.
The 780 used its design and a notably high standard equipment level as differentiators as Volvo attempted to move into higher-end markets. The 780’s base price was $34,785—about $81,700 in today’s dollars, which is well more than any Volvo vehicle’s sticker price in 2020. Back in 1987, the 780’s real competition was unclear. Was it the Acura Legend (also in its first year but much less expensive), the BMW 6-series (much more expensive), the Lincoln Mark VII (far less expensive—at least until many options were added), or some other car?
For 1987, the only powertrain available was the B280F 146 bhp 2.8 liter/174 ci V6 with Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 mph times were in the 11 second range—Volvo did not intend the 780 to be a sports coupe. Mileage in the 3,415-pound car was rated at 17 city/21 highway by the standards of the day (15/20 by today’s standards). With a relatively small 15.9-gallon fuel tank, 780 drivers could expect 250 to 270 miles of range with a 10% reserve.
Standard exterior equipment for the 780 included tinted glass, a power moonroof with a sliding sunshade, dual power mirrors with a heating element, flush-lens halogen headlamps, front and rear fog lamps, and the Bertone name and logo on both C pillars. Mechanical features included power steering, four-wheel vented power disc brakes with ABS, and 205/60R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch 15-spoke alloy wheels.
Inside, the 780 came loaded, with full instrumentation including a tachometer, a power central locking system, power windows, automatic climate control, cruise control, and a driver’s side airbag. Upholstery highlights included heated eight-way power leather front bucket seats and beach burl wood trim. The standard stereo was an AM/FM ETR stereo cassette with a seven-band graphic equalizer, four speakers, a 200-watt amplifier, and a power antenna.
Volvo did not sell a lot of 780’s—but I don’t believe they expected to. Only 9,215 (other sources say 8,518) were produced over six years of production, with about 61% of those going to the United States market. There’s an enthusiast site at 780coupe.com, and folks do collect 780’s. You also sometimes see them in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors.
Make mine Blue Metallic, please.
This post is the first on a Volvo in Eighties Cars. There will be others—I definitely expect to get to the 240 wagon at some point.
The inspiration for this blog entry is a 1987 Thunderbird standard coupe one of my frequent readers owned. As I was fairly deep into writing it, the Hemmings blog just happened to re-publish an article that ran in Hemmings Classic Car earlier this year—also about the 1987 Thunderbird (though mostly about the Turbo Coupe). Luckily, I have a slightly different view, in what looks to be a rather long-form entry.
“In step with the times”
For 1987, Ford significantly revised the Thunderbird—even though it didn’t look that different, the late mid-life update of what had been a 1983 model year debut cost approximately 250 million dollars. Few exterior parts carried over from the 1986, with composite headlights, a more pointed nose, flush-fitting side glass, and full-width taillamps being among the notable changes. There were few differences inside—all of the money had been spent on the exterior and mechanical revisions.
The standard engine for the 1987 Thunderbird was an Essex 120 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with throttle-body fuel injection. Optional power on the base coupe and LX (and standard on the Sport) was a $638 Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with sequential fuel injection. Both engines came with a four-speed automatic transmission. The most powerful engine available on any Thunderbird remained the Turbo Coupe-specific Lima 2.3 liter/140 ci inline four with a turbocharger and fuel injection. With the new for 1987 addition of an intercooler, this engine made an impressive 190 bhp with the five-speed manual, but only 150 bhp with the automatic—something that was common with many Ford performance cars in the 1980s.
Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for 1987 on every Thunderbird standard coupe included dual aerodynamic halogen headlamps, tinted glass, power rack and pinion steering, power front disc/ rear drum brakes, and P215/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 5.5 inch wheels with Luxury wheel covers. Inside, the standard coupe included a reclining cloth split bench seat with a consolette, a quartz electric clock, and an electronic AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers. All of this cost $12,972—approximately $30,400 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Hatchback goes for.
Exterior and mechanical options for the standard coupe included two-tone paint ($218), a power moonroof ($841), and cast aluminum wheels ($343). Inside, dual power seats ($302), a digital clock ($61), and a range of audio options including the Premium Sound System were available. There were three different upgrades from the standard version of the Thunderbird, each with a distinctive personality:
For an additional $2,411, the luxury-oriented LX included everything in the standard coupe and added dual remote-control electric mirrors, styled road wheels, an electronic digital clock, speed control, interval windshield wipers, power windows, and an electronic AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and four speakers. LX upholstery included a Luxury cloth split bench seat in a special sew style and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Sport included everything in the standard coupe and added a heavy-duty battery, a Traction-Lok axle, styled road wheels, an electronic digital clock, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, speed control, and individual cloth seats with a full console. The Sport came standard with the 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 that was optional in the standard and LX versions, which Ford stated was it’s “driving force.” It cost $2,107 more than the standard coupe.
The top-of-the-line Turbo Coupe included everything in the standard coupe and added dual remote-control electric mirrors, Hella fog lamps, four-wheel disk brakes (newly anti-lock for 1987), a Traction-Lok axle, dual exhaust, and P225/60R16 Goodyear performance tires on 16 x 7 inch cast aluminum wheels. Inside, full analog instrumentation, interval windshield wipers, power windows, and adjustable articulated cloth sport bucket seats were standard for Turbo Coupe buyers. The Turbo Coupe cost $16,805—about $39,300 in today’s dollars and almost 30% more than the standard coupe. Ford stated confidently that it was “one of the most complete performance cars on the road today.”
Some in the automotive press were impressed by the Thunderbird’s substantial refresh for 1987, with Motor Trend giving it their Car of the Year award. Popular Mechanics was a little more even-handed; they liked many of the exterior changes but were unimpressed by the acceleration of either the V8 or the turbo four. Whatever the opinions were from the buff books, sales still slid substantially—dropping by almost 22% from 163,965 for 1986 to 128,135 in 1987.
According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1987 Thunderbird standard coupe in #1/Concours condition is currently $12,700, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $4,600. Turbo Coupes are worth a little more, garnering $20,000 for a #1/Concours example.
These 1987 and 1988 Thunderbirds frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this blog entry in April 2020, there’s a Dark Cinnabar Clearcoat Metallic 1988 coupe with cinnabar cloth bucket seats, the 302 ci V8, and 26,000 miles up for auction. Make mine Medium Canyon Red, please.
This entry is yet another post inspired by a car one of my frequent readers owned.
“It’s a good feeling, having this Olds around you.”
1987 was the second model year for the ninth generation of Oldsmobile’s Delta 88. New features were relatively few but included composite headlamps, a new grille, new “aero” side-view mirrors, and a revised taillamp design. For coupes, front automatic safety belts were standard throughout the year—they were a mid-year introduction for sedans. Finally, Oldsmobile bailed on even offering the 125 bhp 3.0 liter/181 ci V6 that had been the base engine for 1986.
The only powertrain available for any Delta 88 Royale in the 1987 model year was the LG3 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection mated to a four-speed automatic. 0-60 mph came in a little over 11 seconds in the 3,203-pound car. EPA fuel economy ratings were 18 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (16/25 by today’s standards). With an 18-gallon fuel tank, a Delta 88 owner could expect a range of between 330 and 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $13,639 Delta 88 Royale coupe (about $31,900 in today’s dollars) included Soft-Ray tinted glass, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and P205/75R14 tires on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel discs. Inside, all cars included Lucerne knit velour seats, Four Seasons air conditioning, side window defoggers, and an AM radio with dual front speakers.
Among the many exterior and mechanical options were a tinted glass sunroof, a full vinyl roof ($200), and a Level III (FE3) suspension. Inside, power door locks, power windows, power seats, a tilt steering wheel, leather seats, an electronic instrument panel, an electronic day/night mirror, and a Delco/Bose Music System were all available.
The Delta 88 Royale coupe sold acceptably for a big coupe in 1987—of the 12,943 made, approximately 65% were the Broughams. Oldsmobile would build the coupes through the end of the 1991 model year, by which point sales had declined to a mere 692 examples. The final Delta 88 of any kind came off the production line on January 6, 1999.
While dropping my parents off at church this Sunday morning, I saw a stock-appearing facelifted fourth-generation Grand Prix with two-tone paint out of the corner of my eye—heading west on the Lincoln Highway. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog post that I’ve been working on for over six months.
“… a Pontiac classic …”
1987 marked the final model year for the G-body Grand Prix coupe—it would be replaced in 1988 by an all-new W-body front-wheel-drive model. Changes were few; the Grand Prix portion of Pontiac’s 1987 brochure emphasized a new sport steering wheel and new 45/55 seats for the LE.
The standard Grand Prix powertrain continued to be the LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed automatic. Optional engines included the LB4 140 bhp 4.3 liter/263 ci V6 with fuel injection ($200 and available with either a three-speed or a four-speed automatic) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor ($590 and only available with a $175 four-speed automatic). With the V8, a Grand Prix owner could expect a 0-60 time of a little over nine seconds in a coupe with a shipping weight of 3,231 pounds.
Mileage wasn’t good with any engine/transmission combination: the best was the 4.3 liter/four-speed automatic combination with 19 city/26 highway (17/24 by today’s standards). Predictably, the V8 was the worst, at 17 city/24 highway—with a 13.6-gallon gas tank the owner of a V8 Grand Prix could expect a range of between 225 and 250 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard equipment on the $11,069 Grand Prix (about $25,300 in 2019 dollars) included power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P195/75R14 blackwall tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels. General Motors was moving to option groups in the late eighties, and the base Grand Prix had two. Option Group I $1,313) included dual sport sideview mirrors, body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel that was also a luxury cushion steering wheel, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($1,867) added cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, and power windows.
Moving up to the LE ($11,799) added dual sport sideview mirrors, 45/55 notchback seats in Pallex cloth, and a four-spoke sport steering wheel. For the LE, Option Group I ($1,844) included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, power windows, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,117) added halogen headlamps, a deck lid release, and a power driver’s seat, and made the visor vanity mirror illuminated.
The top-of-the-line Brougham ($12,519) added 45/55 notchback seats in Majestic cloth, power windows, special trim, and a luxury cushion steering wheel. Option Group I ($1,874) for the Brougham included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,078) added halogen headlamps, cornering lamps, luggage compartment trim, a deck lid release, dual remote mirrors, and a dome reading lamp, and added illumination to the visor vanity mirror. A Brougham with Option Package 2, the V8, and the four-speed automatic came to a non-trivial $15,362 (about $35,100 in today’s dollars or about what a 2019 Buick Regal Avenir sedan goes for).
Individual exterior and mechanical options included a rally-tuned suspension ($50), a power sunroof ($925), a hatch roof with removable glass panels ($905), a power antenna ($70), two-tone paint ($205 to $295) and turbo-finned cast aluminum wheels ($246). Inside, you could get bucket seats with recliners and console ($292 with Ripple cloth in the base coupe, $69 with Pallex cloth in the LE, or $369 with leather in the LE), and a rally gauge cluster with tachometer ($153) along with a range of stereos up to a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and graphic equalizer ($450).
The 1987 Grand Prix did not sell well—sales were about 41% of the 1986 total, and, at 16,542, the typical Pontiac dealer sold more Grand Ams, 6000s, Bonnevilles, Sunbirds, Firebirds, and Fieros.
Evidently (based on my observation this morning) someone is saving these cars! Hagerty declines to value any Grand Prix after 1977, but this generation does come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. As I write this in February 2019, there’s a 1985 Silver/Medium Gray two-tone Grand Prix LE with gray cloth notchback seats, a 3.8 liter/231 ci V6, an automatic, and 54,000 miles available for $12,900.
1987 was the first year for the T Type version of Buick’s sixth-generation LeSabre. Looking toward a looming future where the rear-wheel-drive Regal would no longer exist, Buick did its best to inject some sportiness into these big (110.8-inch wheelbase) front-wheel-drive coupes.
Power wasn’t great—the only engine available on any LeSabre was the LG3 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V-6 with sequential fuel injection mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 came in a little over 10 seconds in the 3,250-pound coupe—sprightly but not speedy in 1987. Fuel economy was 18 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (16/25 by 2018 standards). With an 18-gallon gas tank, LeSabre owners could expect a range of about 330 to 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Exterior features specific to the $15,591T Type (about $35,500 in 2018 dollars or about what a 2019 Buick LaCrosse Preferred sedan goes for) included blackout trim treatment, a front air dam, and a rear deck spoiler. Mechanical equipment included a Gran Touring suspension, a 2.97 performance axle ratio, and 215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT blackwall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Inside, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, gray/black 45/45 cloth seats, a gage package with red backlighting, and an ETR AM-FM stereo radio with graphic equalizer, cassette tape, and more red backlighting were included.
Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all LeSabre coupes included composite tungsten-halogen headlamps, power rack and pinion steering, clearcoat paint, dual horns, Soft-Ray tinted glass, and a fixed-mast radio antenna. Inside, air conditioning, adjustable front-seat headrests, and cut-pile carpeting were standard.
Exterior and mechanical options included an anti-lock brake system ($925), flip-open Vista-Vent removable glass sunroof ($350), electric side mirrors ($91), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), and power antenna ($95). Inside, automatic climate control ($165), power door locks ($145) power windows ($210), tilt steering column ($125), and electronic cruise control ($175) were available.
The automotive press and the auto market itself weren’t quite sure what to make of the LeSabre T Type—Consumer Guide said: “it had nothing exceptional to rave about.” Sales were not good in a year when the LeSabre overall sold quite well; only 4,123 out of the 16,899 coupes sold.
A few folks do collect these cars, but I haven’t seen a LeSabre coupe of any type for many years. This generation of LeSabres does maintain some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—however, there are none for sale as I write this in February 2019.