1988 Porsche 944

Yesterday, I was out in the Philadelphia suburbs picking up some hoagies (known as subs or heros to a good portion of the rest of the country). A young man parked next to me in a black Porsche 944. As we waited for our sandwiches to be made, he told me that his family had recently picked up the car, that it was quite original, that it had only about 50,000 miles, and that it was a 1988.

“Driving in its finest form”

For the 1988 model year, the 944 stood mostly pat. The engine continued to be the 147 bhp fuel injected 2.5 liter inline four, paired with either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional three-speed automatic transmission.

0-60 with the manual transmission was about 8.5 seconds in the 2,800 pound car while mileage was 20 city/28 highway by the standards of the day (18/26 by modern standards). With a 21.1 gallon fuel tank, range was an impressive 455 miles with a 10% reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $31,650 car (about $65,900 in 2015 dollars) included pop-up halogen headlights, an integral front air dam, power rack and pinion steering, vented disc brakes, and cast alloy wheels on 215/60VR15 tires. Inside, all 944s came with air conditioning, leather sport steering wheel, a digital quartz clock, power windows, and electric rear window defroster.

Options included anti-lock brakes, automatic cruise control, a tilting sunroof, sports seats, front heated seats, driver and passenger airbags, and a selection of Blaupunkt digital cassette radios.

There is good club support for the Porsche 944, as there is for all Porsches. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 Porsche 944 in #1 condition is $17,500, with a more normal #3 condition car going for $6,700. Porsche 944s frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in June 2015, there’s a red 1986 with the manual and 82,000 miles available for $12,000.

Make mine silver, please.

1988 Cadillac Cimarron

This afternoon I was walking in the University City portion of Philadelphia and I saw a later Cadillac Cimarron driving towards me in surprisingly good shape. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog entry.

“… built for those who consider driving a sporty pastime.”

It is an article of faith in the automotive world that General Motors often finally gets a car right just before killing it. Examples that spring to mind are the last of the Pontiac Fieros and the last of the Cadillac Allantes. However, in the case of the Cadillac Cimarron, all GM was able to do was make it less awful and embarrassing.

The only engine available for 1988 was the 125 bhp LB6 2.8 liter V6 with multi-port fuel injection. When paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission, mileage was 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day (18/27 by today’s standards). A three-speed automatic transmission was optional and rated at 20 city/27 highway. 0-60 in the 2,800-pound car came in about 9.5 seconds with the manual transmission and about 10.5 seconds with the automatic transmission.

The $16,071 base price (about $33,500 in today’s dollars) included standard exterior and mechanical features such as power brakes, power steering, power mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, and 13-inch aluminum wheels. Air conditioning, leather seating areas, a leather steering wheel, a tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were all standard in the interior.

Options included a sunroof, cruise control, power door locks, power windows, six-way power seat, tilt steering wheel, and the Delco-GM Bose Symphony Sound System.

Exterior styling that was at least somewhat more differentiated from the Chevrolet Cavalier sedan than the earliest Cimmarons had been. A more aggressive and distinctive grille had been added in 1984, the front end had been lengthened in 1985, and ribbed lower body cladding had appeared in 1986.

Page from the 1988 Cadillac brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochure’s section.

By 1988, sales of the Cimarron had completely collapsed. After a first year peak of almost 26,000 unit sold in the 1982 model year, sales dropped to a sad 6,454 in the Cimarron’s final model year.

I have yet to see a Cimarron at a serious antique car show—they’re treated by Cadillac folks like Ford folks treat the Mustang II from the 1970s—but I’m betting some intrepid soul will save one and bring it back for judging. You occasionally see them for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in June 2015, there’s a Glacier Blue 1987 Cimarron with a Dark Blue leather interior and 11,300 miles listed on Hemmings for $14,900.

1988 Chevrolet Beretta GT

“A car with performance that fulfills the promise offered by its exterior appearance.”

I always liked the Chevrolet Beretta’s styling. It was among the purest executions of the wedge in the 1980s (along with the Bertone/Fiat X1/9, the Pontiac Fiero, and the Triumph TR-8).

For its first year, there were two kinds of Berettas available – the coupe and the GT. The Beretta GT came standard with the LB6 130 bhp multi-port fuel injected V6: a notable step up from the LQ5 90 bhp throttle body fuel injected inline four cylinder that came standard with the coupe. 0-60 came in a little over 9 seconds with the five speed manual transmission and the V6—not that bad, but not certainly not stunningly fast either. Fuel economy with the same powertrain combination was 19 city/29 highway by the standards of the day (17/27 by today’s standards).

Standard equipment on the $11,851 GT (approximately $23,700 in today’s dollars) included dual sport mirrors and power brakes. Inside, the Custom interior, tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio were all standard.

The Beretta was one of the early examples of General Motors’ move to option packages as the preferred way to reduce the number of equipment combinations. The GT’s option packages were:

  1. Air conditioning
  2. Floor mats, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, intermittent wipers
  3. Auxiliary lighting, power door locks, power trunk opener, power windows, AM/FM stereo cassette with digital clock

Optional equipment included the GT-only Z51 Performance Handling Package ($153 for larger stabilizer bars, firmer bushings, tuned struts and shocks, and Goodyear Eagle GT + 4 P205/60R-15 tires on 15-inch styled steel wheels), rear window defogger ($145), electronic instrumentation ($156), two-tone paint ($123), and AM/FM stereo cassette with digital clock and graphic equalizer.

Not a lot of folks seems to be collecting Berettas, at least not yet. I have not seen one on the road in a few years.

Make mine Maroon Metallic, please.

1988 BMW 750iL

“Enter into a new world.”

After a year in production with just the straight 6, the second generation of BMW’s top of the line 7-series sedan got a V12 option in 1988. This engine, BMW’s first production V12, made a fairly effortless 296 bhp from its 5.0 liters and was designated M70.

BMW’s M70 V12, courtesy of Sv650k4 from the Wikimedia Commons.

This was, of course, back when BMW number and letter designations still meant something, so the breakout of the 7-series with the V12 was this:

7 – series

50 – 5.0 liters

i – fuel injected

L – long wheelbase

Of course, at the eye-popping base price of $69,000 (a little over $140,000 in 2013 dollars) the purchaser also got almost every piece of equipment BMW could put in the car. Anti-lock brakes, ZF’s Servotronic power steering, driver’s side airbag, trip computer, and a leather interior were all standard.

Beyond this, there were a few options available such as a limited slip differential. In addition, the buyer of a 750iL was paying the dreaded $1,850 gas guzzler tax—the original EPA estimate was 12 city/17 highway (the modern equivalent would be 11 city/16 highway).

I remember being in one of these cars when it was new and I felt it accelerated like a LearJet: weighing in at about 4,250 pounds, it still could do 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds and hit 155 mph—respectable sports car numbers in the late 1980s. At the time Car and Driver called it “the sedan of choice when money is no object”.