1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition coupe

One of the Corvettes judged at the NCRS Mid-Atlantic Regional a few months ago was a 35th Anniversary Edition Corvette coupe. Time to write a blog entry about one of the most striking of eighties Corvettes.

“… the influential sports car of the modern era.”

For 1988, the big news for Chevrolet’s Corvette was the 35th Anniversary Edition coupe. It was only the second anniversary edition Corvette, following 1978’s Silver Anniversary version. Chevrolet had missed the 30th anniversary (there were no 1983 Corvettes), and one senses that General Motors’ marketing team didn’t want to let another one go by without acknowledgment.

The standard powertrain continued to be the L98 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired to a four-speed automatic with overdrive. Depending on the rear axle ratio, horsepower for the coupe was either 240 bhp or 245 bhp. Top speed for the 1988 Corvette was about 155 mph, with a 0-60 time of about six seconds. Estimated fuel economy was 16 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (15/23 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette owner could expect a range of 340 to 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $29,489 base Corvette coupe (about $65,500 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power anti-lock disc brakes, and P255/60ZR16 tires (a size still available thanks to BF Goodrich) on 16-inch x 8.5-inch wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, and an ETR AM/FM stereo radio with a clock were all included.

Additional equipment on the $34,284 35th Anniversary Edition coupe (about $76,200 in 2019 dollars) included white leather seats and steering wheel along with a black roof bow. In a preview of early 1990s Corvettes, the rub strips were body color instead of the usual black.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included an electric rear window defogger ($129), the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission (no cost), Z51 performance handling package ($1,295 for a radiator boost fan, Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers, engine oil cooler, heavy-duty radiator, 17 x 9.5 inch wheels, and fast steering ratio). Optional interior equipment included power driver’s and power passenger’s seats ($240 each), electronic air conditioning ($150), and a Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player ($773).

Picture of 1988 35th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette
1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition, photo courtesy of Mecum.

There is strong club support for the 1988 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 35th Anniversary Edition coupe in #1 condition is $33,800, with a more typical number #3 condition car going for $11,500. 1988 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors—as I write this in May 2019, there’s a 35th Anniversary Edition coupe with 28,000 miles and many NCRS awards asking an astonishing $80,000.

Other eighties Corvettes I have covered include the 1980 coupe, the 1982 coupe, and the 1986 convertible.

1988 Honda Civic sedan

There’s a white fourth-generation Honda Civic sedan routinely parked on the street about two blocks from my house. You can tell that it hasn’t led a particularly sheltered life, but it’s obviously still in regular use. That makes it time to add one of those sedans to my suite of eighties Hondas: the 1983 Civic 1500 S hatchback coupe, the 1984 Civic CRX hatchback coupe, the 1985 Civic CRX Si hatchback coupe, and the 1986 Accord sedan.

“That was then. This is now.”

For the 1988 model year, the Honda Civic was completely revised, with a brand new design with a lower hood line, an innovative four-wheel double wishbone suspension, and a wheelbase up almost two inches to 98.4 inches. All Civic sedans for the North American market were built in Honda’s still relatively new Marysville, Ohio factory.

The standard powertrain for the Civic sedan was the D15B2 92 bhp 1.5 liter/91 ci inline four with twin-injector fuel injection mated with a five-speed manual. Fuel economy was quite good—33 city/37 highway by the standards of the day (28/34 by 2018 standards). An optional four-speed automatic took mileage down to 28 city/33 highway. With an 11.9-gallon gas tank, a Civic owner could expect a range of between 330 and 375 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The Civic’s performance was competitive for the class—0-60 came in about 11 seconds with the five-speed manual in a car whose curb weight ranged from 2,039 to 2,205 pounds. The sedan was almost a second slower with the automatic; common in many cars in the eighties.

For $8,795 (about $19,200 in today’s dollars), the base DX version of the sedan came with flush low profile halogen headlights, tinted glass, rack and pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and 175/70R13 steel belted radial tires (a size still readily available) on 13 x 5-inch wheels. Inside, an adjustable steering column, a rear window defroster, intermittent wipers, and full carpeting were included.

Moving up to $9,625 (about $21,000 in 2018 dollars or about $1,500 more than a 2019 Civic LX sedan goes for) LX added power brakes, a tachometer, power windows, power door locks, power side mirrors, and digital quartz clock.

Other than the choice of trim level, exterior and interior colors, and transmission, there were no options. Air conditioning was available only as a dealer accessory, as was a choice of various car stereos: Honda would continue to sell AC as a dealer accessory well into the 1990s.

The larger 1988 Civic was well received—it made Car and Driver‘s 10 Best list and sold like hot cakes; a 1988 Civic LX sedan marked the one-millionth car built at the Marysville plant in early April 1988. They were still small cars by modern standards—the 1988 Civic was only about five inches longer than the current Honda Fit.

In 2018, the Civic sedan rarely comes up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. Some do show up on eBay Motors, but they’re often in sketchy condition.

Make mine Cardinal Red Metallic, please.

1988 Cadillac Eldorado coupe

“… a bold styling statement.”

For 1988, Cadillac’s Eldorado gained a new 4.5 liter V8, along with a power dome hood, a revised grille, a reshaped rear window treatment, and an extended trunk. Length increased by three inches, and the 1988 Eldorado looked a little bit more like the Eldo people had grown to expect.

The Eldorado’s powertrain was Cadillac’s 155 bhp HT series 4.5 liter/273 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration improved notably—the Eldorado’s 0-60 mph time was now under 10 seconds for the first time since the early 1970s. Fuel economy was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards). With an 18.8-gallon fuel tank, an Eldorado owner could expect a range of between 315 and 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

So, what did those buyers get with their $24,891 (about $52,600 in today’s dollars or about what a loaded 2019 ATS coupe goes for) 1988 Eldorado? Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included front wheel drive, a four-wheel independent suspension, power-assisted rack and pinion steering, power four-wheel disc brakes, and 205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, six-way front power seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with tilt and telescope adjustment, cruise control, power side mirrors, power windows, power door locks, electronic climate control, Twilight Sentinel, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included—the Eldorado was pretty well equipped.

Moving up to the Biarritz (almost always the top if the line Eldorado since 1956) added wire wheels, two-tone paint, nicer front seats with power lumbar support and power recliners, and real walnut trim on the instrument panel, console, and door trim plates.

Options included anti-lock brakes, touring suspension with 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Astroroof, a nicely integrated cellular phone, and Delco/Bose Symphony Sound System.

Eldorado page from 1988 Cadillac brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

The exterior redesign and the new engine definitely assisted sales—they were nearly double what they had been in 1987, though still not close to the salad days of 1985 and prior.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 Eldorado in #1/Concours condition is $9,800, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for a mere $3,500. Eldorados of this age come up for sale often in Hemmings Motor News, so folks are saving them. As I write this in November 2018, three 1988 Eldorados are for sale, with prices ranging from $5,000 to $11,900.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe

“… one of the most aerodynamic cars in the world.”

The Grand Prix was all new for 1988. Gone was the elderly G-body rear-wheel-drive (dating from 1978), replaced by an aerodynamic front-wheel drive W-body.

For 1988, the standard Grand Prix powertrain was the LB6 130 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 with fuel injection paired to a four-speed automatic (a five-speed manual was available). With a curb weight of 3,038 pounds, 0-60 took a little over 10 seconds with the standard powertrain. Mileage with the same powertrain was 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day (18/26 by today’s standards). A 16.0-gallon fuel tank meant that a Grand Prix owner could expect a range of between 315 and 355 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The 1988 Grand Prix came in base, LE, and SE forms. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $12,539 base coupe (about $27,300 in today’s dollars) included composite halogen headlamps, dual sport mirrors, power steering, four-wheel power disc brakes, an independent rear suspension, and P195/75R14 tires (a size still available from multiple vendors) on 14 x 6 inch wheels with custom wheel covers. Inside, notchback front bench seats, an electronic digital speedometer, a glove box with a combination lock, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included.

Moving up a little to the $13,239 LE added power windows with illuminated switches, lamp group, 40/60 split reclining pallex cloth seats, rear folding armrest with pass through to the luggage compartment, and mechanical analog gauges with tachometer and trip odometer.

The top-of-the-line $15,249 SE (about $32,300 in 2018 dollars) added the Y99 Rally Tuned suspension, dual exhaust system, and P215/65R15 tires on 15-inch aluminum wheels and switched the standard transmission to a five-speed manual. Inside, air conditioning, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power cloth front bucket seats with three-position lumbar controls, and rear bucket seats were all part of the SE experience.

Options included power door locks, an electric rear window defogger, a power antenna, and a UX1 AM stereo/FM stereo radio with seek, scan, auto-reverse cassette, five-band graphic equalizer, and digital clock.

The 1988 Grand Prix was relatively well received—it was Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year, and Pontiac sold 86,357 cars in slightly over half a model year (sales only began in January 1988), which marked more than five times as many as the last of the G-body versions in 1987. For 1989, sales would top 136,000 and would stay over 100,000 for every year through 1995.

Grand Prix’s of this generation are rarely seen in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. Sometimes you do see the ASC/McLaren or GTP versions, but rarely the “civilian” models.

Make mine red, please.

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 coupe

“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 debut year in 1988, there were two kinds of Berettas available—the base coupe and the GT. The Beretta GT came standard with the LB6 130 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci multi-port fuel injected V6: a notable step up from the LQ5 90 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci throttle body fuel injected inline four that came standard with the coupe. 0-60 mph 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). With a 13.5-gallon gas tank, a GT owner could expect a range of 265 to 290 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $11,851 GT (approximately $23,700 in today’s dollars) included dual sport mirrors, power brakes, and P205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels. 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 possible 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 P205/60R15 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 seem to be collecting Berettas, at least not yet. I have not seen one on the road in a few years. Berettas are rarely seen in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors.

Make mine Maroon Metallic, please.