1987 Chevrolet Chevette CS Sedan

My wife and I were taking a walk early this Saturday morning and passed a Chevrolet Chevette parked at the end of our street. Reason enough to finally complete this blog entry.

“… one of America’s best known cars …”

1987 was the final year for the rather antiquated rear wheel drive Chevette—in North America, at least. The 1.8 liter diesel engine was no more, but otherwise little was changed from 1986.

The only engine available was the L17 1.6 liter inline four with two-barrel carburetor and 65 bhp, but you did have a choice of transmission: the standard four-speed manual, an optional three-speed automatic ($450), or an optional five-speed manual ($75). Mileage with the standard transmission was 28 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (24/31 by today’s standards). With the 12.2 gallon fuel tank, Chevette owners could expect a 340 mile range with a 10% reserve. Predictably, 0-60 mph took a little under 16 long seconds.

The Chevette was a small car, classified by the EPA as a sub-compact. Curb weight for the sedan was 2,137 pounds, with a 97.3 inch wheelbase, a 164.9 inch overall length, a 61.8 inch width, and a 52.8 inch height.

The truly “base” Chevette had been gone since 1985, but standard equipment was spare even on the supposedly upmarket CS. For your $5,495 base price (about $11,400 in 2015 dollars), you got four doors, a rear hatch with a single strut, rack and pinion steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, and P155/80R13 tires on 13-inch by 5-inch steel wheels. Inside, there were vinyl front bucket seats and vinyl rear bench seats, along with a floor console.

Because the standard equipment was so spare, there were actually a lot of options. Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included power brakes ($105), power steering ($225), an engine block heater ($20), and a custom exterior package ($154). Inside, the buyer could add air conditioning ($675), a tilt steering column ($125), custom cloth bucket seats ($130), a rear defogger ($145), and an AM/FM stereo radio ($119).

Despite being on its last legs, Chevrolet still sold a little over 20,000 Chevette sedans in 1987, along with slightly more than 26,000 coupes. Chevettes rarely show up in either the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe

For unclear reasons, this my most popular post on this blog. Because of this, I recently updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“… the personal flair of a distinctive coupe.”

1987 was the last year for Chevrolet’s Caprice Classic Coupe, with only 3,110 made. Beginning in 1988, the Caprice would soldier on with only the sedan and wagon, as the once very popular big American coupes continued to lose favor.

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The standard power team on the Coupe (and Sedan) was the 140 bhp LB4 4.3 liter/262 cubic inch V6 with throttle-body fuel injection paired with a three-speed automatic transmission. Mileage was rated at 18 city/23 highway by the standards of the day (16/22 by modern standards).

Optional power was the 165 bhp LG4 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed automatic transmission (I see what you did there, Chevrolet). In 1987, mileage was rated at 18 city/25 highway (16/23 by 2014 standards). With a 25-gallon fuel tank, you could reasonably expect a comfortable range of about 480 miles—impressive for a 3,600 pound full size car back then. Even with the V8, these cars were not fast—0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds.

Standard equipment for the $11,392 Coupe (about $25,300 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power brakes, halogen headlights, and all-season radial tires. Inside, a cloth bench seat, Quiet Sound Group, and an AM radio were standard.

Optional equipment included air conditioning ($775), cruise control, power door locks, power windows, power seats, power trunk opener, a 50/50 split-front seat, and AM/FM stereo cassette with graphic equalizer.

1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

I have fun sometimes (often?) building a “unicorn” configuration for these old cars. When I was working at the local Chevrolet dealership in the mid eighties, I dreamed up a “Caprice S.” Here’s what optional equipment it would have required, all still available in 1987:

  • F41 Sport Suspension (includes rear stabilizer bar, 15-inch by 7-inch wheels, sportier shock absorbers)
  • LG4 5.0 liter V8
  • P225/70R-15 tires
  • Sport wheel covers
  • Limited slip differential
  • Performance axle ratio
  • Heavy duty cooling
  • Dual power Sport mirrors
  • Special instrumentation/gauge package

So, a “John-configured” Coupe would have listed for at least $15,096—real money in 1987 and about $33,600 in 2017 dollars. A desperate product planner might have tried to get the leather seats from the Brougham available in the Coupe and maybe scored some blackwall tires, but that’s another story …

These big and (I think) handsome Coupes show up occasionally in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track Caprice Classic values past 1975. As I write this in August 2017, there’s a Light Brown Metallic/Medium Brown Metallic two-tone 1985 Coupe with Saddle velour seats and 60,000 miles for sale on eBay Motors with a starting bid of $8,500. Make mine Silver Metallic, please, though I’m tempted by the Black/Medium Gray Metallic Two-Tone.

Another Caprice that I’ve written about is the 1985 Caprice Classic station wagon.

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1987 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera

“The Classic Porsche”

For 1987, the Carrera version of Porsche’s evergreen 911 continued on with the Bosch fuel injected 3.2 liter flat 6 cylinder engine in use since 1984, but with a new fuel mapping that increased horsepower slightly to 214 bhp. With the standard Getrag G50 five speed manual transmission (also new for 1987), you could expect to hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 149 mph in the 2,750 pound Carrera (the 2014 911 Carrera is about 3,050 pounds). Fuel mileage was 18 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (16/23 by today’s standards) with premium gas.

The 911 was certainly not an entry level Porsche: in 1987 that was left to the 924S (starting at $19,900) and the 944 ($25,500).  For your 911’s $40,425 base price (about $80,200 in 2014 dollars) you got four wheel vented disk brakes (but no ABS) and an engine oil cooler. The exterior included forged alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, fog lights, and tinted glass. Inside, power windows, air conditioning, fold-down rear seats, and Blaupunkt’s  AM/FM stereo cassette (either Charleston or Portland) with four speakers were all standard.

By 1987, Porsche had definitely figured out that the real money was in the options – a behavior that continues to this day. They included the Turbo-Look 911 Turbo body components ($12,593!), limited slip differential ($741), sport shock absorbers ($247), and front and rear spoilers ($1,604). Inside, you could add cruise control ($365), power door locks ($334), heated seats ($164 each), an alarm system ($240), and Blaupunkt’s upmarket Reno AM/FM stereo cassette ($133).

Things hadn’t gotten that comfortable, though – that would wait for the 1990s. There was as yet no automatic transmission option and many (including Car and Driver) mentioned that the ergonomics still showed their 1960s origins when compared to the 928 or 944.

911 Carreras from the 1980s have held their values fairly well. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1987 Porsche  911 3.2 Carrera coupe in #1 condition is $42,900. A cabriolet can fetch up to $47,500 while a targa can get up to $45,100.

Porsche 911 3.2 Carreras have (of course) great club support from many sources and are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in March 2014, a black 1987 coupe with 104,000 miles is for sale for $33,900. Make mine Silver Metallic, please.