1988 Buick Reatta coupe

Buick made things more than a bit confusing for some of its higher-end coupe buyers in the middle of the 1988 model year by introducing the two-seater Reatta. For the first time since its introduction in 1963, the Riviera was definitively no longer the top of the two-door Buick line—with a base price of $25,000, the Reatta’s barrier to entry was almost 16% higher.

“Beauty with purpose.”

Designed to be a sporty car, but with no delusions of being a sports car, Buick targeted the Reatta at a perceived niche in the two-seater market for a luxury coupe at a substantially lower price than the high-end luxury convertibles of the day. As Buick general manager Edward Mertz said in January 1988, it was “priced many thousands of dollars less than luxury and sports cars at the top end of the market.” The Reatta was not nearly as expensive as the Cadillac Allanté convertible (which had a base price of $56,533 in 1988) or the Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible ($61,130 in that same year) but could claim to be nearly as comfortable. Compared to the Cadillac and (especially) the Mercedes, the Reatta lacked refinement and prestige—both important to potential buyers.

Despite being based on the same E-platform as the Riviera, the Reatta’s exterior styling was distinctive, even if some of the proportions looked a little off to some. However, many parts of its interior were familiar to Riviera buyers—indeed, Buick benchmarked the Reatta’s two seats to the Riviera’s driver and front passenger experience. Because of this, the Reatta’s Electronic Control Center was essentially the same as the Riviera’s, and the Reatta’s optional driver’s seat closely resembled the one in the Riviera T Type.

1988 Buick Reatta brochure cover

The Reatta’s sole powertrain was a 3800 165 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection paired with a four-speed automatic. Car and Driver tested a 1988 Reatta, and recorded a 0-60 mph time of 9.1 seconds in a vehicle with a 3,380-pound curb weight. Mileage was respectable—19 city/29 highway by the day’s standards (17/26 by today’s measures). With an 18.2-gallon gas tank, a Reatta owner could expect a range of 355 to 390 miles with a 10% fuel reserve—enough to take those road trips that Buick was convinced the Reatta would be primarily used for.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Reatta included Soft-Ray tinted glass, fast-ratio power steering, an independent four-wheel Gran Touring suspension, four-wheel anti-lock disk brakes, and P215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, power windows, electric door locks, six-way power seats, and Electronic Touch Climate Control air conditioning were included. The standard and only audio system was an ETR AM stereo-FM stereo radio with seek and scan, acassette tape player with auto reverse, search/repeat, a graphic equalizer, a clock, eight Concert Sound speakers, and automatic power antenna.

Options & Production Numbers

Buick’s new coupe came loaded, with only two options in its introductory year: an electric sliding steel sunroof ($895) and a 16-way adjustable leather and suede driver’s seat ($680).

First-year sales of the Reatta were decent for a new two-seat coupe without that all-important pre-existing audience that many of its competitors had—Buick moved 4,708 of them in about nine months.

The View From 2022

There is collector interest in the Reatta, including club support. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 Buick Reatta coupe in #1/Concours condition is $20,600, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $4,600.

Reatta coupes are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, at online auctions such as Bring a Trailer that cater to the eighties car market, and at in-person auctions such as Barrett-Jackson and Mecum. As I write this blog entry in June 2022, Hemmings has a 1988 Bright Red Reatta with saddle bucket seats and 48,000 miles for sale for $9,000.

Make mine Claret Red Metallic, please.

Other Buick coupes I have written about include the 1980 Rivera S TYPE, the 1983 Skylark T TYPE, the 1984 Regal Grand National, the 1984 Riviera T TYPE, the 1985 Somerset Regal, the 1987 GNX, and the 1987 LeSabre T Type. I seem to find Buick coupes interesting.


1983 Mazda 626 coupe

“A concept crystallized.”

For 1983, Mazda’s 626 coupe, sedan, and liftback were all new as they switched from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive. Styling was also more aerodynamic, with the coupe receiving a 0.34 Cd. Finally, almost every interior dimension was expanded.

The 626’s standard powertrain was the FE 83 bhp 2.0 liter/121 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a five-speed manual. 0-60 mph took about 12.5 seconds in a car with a 2,545-pound curb weight. EPA fuel economy ratings were 29 city/41 highway by the day’s standards. With a 15.8-gallon fuel tank, a new 626 coupe owner could expect an impressive range of 405 to 450 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

626 page from the 1983 Mazda brochure

Standard equipment on the $9,295 626 DL coupe (about $26,900 in today’s dollars or about what a 2022 Mazda3 sedan Carbon Edition goes for) included rack-and-pinion steering, vacuum-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70R-14 tires (a size still available) on 14 x 5.5 inch wheels. Inside, electric window lifts, electric adjustable mirrors, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo cassette were included.

The LX coupe added power steering, cruise control, and the trick Electronic Variable Shock Absorber (EVSA) suspension.

Options included 15 x 6 inch cast alloy wheels with uprated 195/60R-15 tires (a combination that yielded class-leading skid pad results and is still readily available), an electric sunroof ($430), and air conditioning ($650).

The third-generation 626 got a very good reception from the automotive press, with Road & Track stating that it was “an impressive update” that had been “delivered as promised.” AutoWeek gave Mazda a splash quote they used in advertisements—”about as perfect as an automobile can be built.”

The View From 2022

The third-generation Mazda 626 was once quite common (at least in the Philadelphia suburbs), but I haven’t seen one in over a decade. This era of 626 is 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 Silhouette Blue Metallic, please.

The only other Mazda I have written about is the 1985 RX7 GSL-SE hatchback coupe. I’ve got to get to a GLC at some point.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe

A 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with 156 miles recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $32,000.

“Chevy SS tradition comes alive …”

In the middle of the 1983 model year, Chevrolet announced the Monte Carlo SS. Designated RPO Z65, the SS was designed to help Chevrolet compete better in NASCAR on Sundays—and sell more Monte Carlos on Mondays. There were only two exterior color choices—White and Medium Dark Royal Blue. The changes in the front end and the addition of a rear spoiler cut the drag coefficient by 15% compared to the “civilian” Sport Coupe, making it a respectable 0.375, though not quite the Ford Thunderbird coupe‘s 0.35 Cd.

Aside from the exterior looks, the powertrain was the star—an L69 “H.O.” 175 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed automatic transmission. Period road tests resulted in 0-60 mph times of about 8 seconds—about as quick as the Monte’s Buick Regal T-Type and Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Hurst/Olds platform-mates in the same year. Fuel economy was rated at 17 city/25 highway by the day’s standards (14 city/18 highway by 2022 measures). With an 18.1-gallon gas tank, the enthused new owner of a Monte Carlo SS could expect a range of 260 to 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS flyer

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $10,249 Monte Carlo SS included Sport mirrors, a rear spoiler, a dual outlet exhaust system, power steering, the F41 sport suspension, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and Goodyear Eagle GT P215/65R15 white letter tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 7 inch stamped steel wheels. Inside, the SS was less differentiated, but it did get a gage package with a tachometer. The standard seat was a blue cloth bench seat with white vinyl inserts and matching door trim.

Options & Production Numbers

Many of the standard Sport Coupe’s options were also available for the SS. Exterior examples included tinted glass ($105), hi-beam halogen headlamps ($10), and twin remote Sport mirrors ($60). Inside, options included an intermittent windshield wiper system ($49), an electric rear window defogger ($135), power windows ($180), an electric power door lock system ($120), a power trunk opener ($40), automatic speed control with resume speed ($170), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($105), and air conditioning ($725).

A blue cloth 55/45 seat with white vinyl inserts was available for an extra $133, but no bucket seats were available for the 1983 Monte Carlo. A series of four radios were available, with an AM/FM stereo radio with stereo cassette tape and four speakers ($298) being the top of the line. A fixed mast black antenna was an SS-only option and was included with all radios.

The sportier Monte Carlo was generally received in the press, though many scribes noted the lack of a console, bucket seats, Positraction, and a four-speed automatic—all issues Chevrolet promised to fix. Motor Trend‘s title was “Mid-American GT Revival,” and much of the coverage agreed.

Along with the late introduction, there were production problems in 1983, so the first year total for the fourth-generation Monte Carlo SS was only 4,714. SS sales would hit their stride in the following year, with Chevrolet moving 24,050 out the door.

The View From 2022

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe in #1/Concours condition is $27,700, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $13,900.

These Monte Carlos have enthusiastic forum support, and there is definite collector interest. Monte Carlos SS coupes are often 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 Medium Dark Royal Blue, please.

I’ve written about one other Monte Carlo—the 1981 Sport Coupe. Other sporty G-platform cars I have written about include the 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ coupe and the 1982 Buick Regal Grand National coupe.

1980 Toyota Corolla Tercel Liftback

“… a price that belies its good looks.

1980 was the first year that Toyota sold the Corolla Tercel in the United States. Despite its name, the front-wheel-drive Tercel was not related in any meaningful way to the rear-wheel-drive Corolla, but Toyota evidently figured that adding the Corolla name would make buyers more confident in their purchasing decision. The Tercel was available as a 2-Door Sedan and a 3-Door Liftback (a four-door sedan would arrive one year later).

Corolla Tercel Liftback pages from the 1980 Corolla brochure

The Corolla Tercel Liftback was a small and light car, with a 160 inch length (about 20 inches shorter than a 2022 Corolla) and a curb weight of 2,030 pounds. The Liftback’s standard powertrain combined a 60 bhp 1.5 liter/99 ci inline four paired to a five-speed manual (a three-speed automatic was optional). Unusually for a front-wheel-drive car, the Tercel’s engine was longitudinally placed, which Toyota claimed resulted in easier serviceability.

Road & Track clocked a 0-60 time of 14.8 seconds in a loaded Tercel Liftback SR-5. As might be expected with a 99 cubic inch engine and a five-speed, fuel economy was impressive—33 city/43 highway by the day’s standards. With an 11.9-gallon fuel tank, a Tercel driver could expect a range of 330 to 365 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The Liftback had more standard equipment than the 2-Door Sedan, which was the loss leader. At $4,848, the Corolla Tercel Liftback Deluxe included body side moldings, front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 155/80R12 tires on 12-inch wheels. Inside, reclining front bucket seats and a split-back fold-down rear seat were included.

The $600 SR-5 package added black accents, side striping, and 165/70SR13 radial tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, SR-5 features included a cloth interior, full interior carpeting, a tachometer, and an AM/FM/MPX stereo radio.

Options were relatively few, but did include aluminum alloy wheels ($215), a rear window washer/wiper ($75), and air conditioning ($520).

I haven’t seen a first-generation Tercel in decades. Make mine Light Blue Metallic, please.

Other Toyotas I have written about include the 1981 Celica Sport Coupe, the 1982 Celica Supra hatchback coupe, the 1983 Camry sedan, and the 1985 MR2 coupe. This list hints that I should write about an actual Corolla soon.

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.

1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Indy 500 Commemorative Edition hatchback coupe

Every May, the Indianapolis 500 race is a “tentpole” event in the international racing schedule. Since 1911, there have been designated pace cars, with replica pace cars often being sold. A 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Indy 500 Commemorative Edition with 2,630 miles sold for a $35,000 hammer price at the 2021 Mecum Indy. Are these distinctive and good-looking (I think) cars finally attracting significant interest?

“Even its shadow boasts performance”

The 1982 Chevrolet Camaro could reasonably be described as all-new. This moniker applied to the “pleasing and exciting” exterior, the interior, much of the chassis, and most of the engines. As Road & Track stated, the new Camaro was “keenly anticipated.”

The Z28‘s standard powertrain was the LG4 145 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed manual transmission. An optional LU5 Cross-Fire 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with throttle-body fuel injection and 165 bhp set the buyer back $450 and required the $396 three-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 took just under 10 seconds with the base V8 and the four-speed manual and shortened to 9 seconds with the top-of-the-line Cross-Fire motor and the automatic.

1982 Camaro Commerative Edition flyer
1982 Camaro Z28 Indy 500 Commemorative Edition flier

The Z28 had a base price of $9,700—about $27,700 in 2021 dollars or about what a base 2021 Camaro coupe goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all 1982 Z28s included front air dam, “ground effect” lower body extensions, a rear spoiler, body-color dual Sport mirrors, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 215/65R-15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 7 inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels. Inside, every 1982 Z28 came with full instrumentation, an electric quartz analog clock, courtesy lamps, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Standard equipment specific to the $10,999.26 Z50 Indy 500 Commemorative Edition included Silver/Blue two-tone accent paint, specific commemorative edition decals, Custom interior trim, and blue Custom cloth bucket L/S Conteur (Chevrolet’s spelling) front seats.

Options and Production Numbers

Among the many options available for the Camaro Z28 were tinted glass ($88), removable glass roof panels ($790!), power windows ($165), a power door lock system ($106), an electric rear window defogger ($125), automatic speed control ($155), air conditioning ($675), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($95), and a host of radios ($111 to $390).

Chevrolet sold 6,360 Indy 500 Commemorative Edition cars in 1982, in addition to 63,563 “normal” Z28s. However, the most popular Camaro was actually the base Sport Coupe, which moved 78,761 units. The somewhat more luxurious Berlinetta sold another 39,744 copies.

Reviews of the new Camaro were decent. Road & Track liked the Z28‘s exterior and the handling but bemoaned the interior packaging and the fuel mileage (EPA rated at 17 mpg but rarely attaining that in real life). Car and Driver famously accused the Z28 of being “Emily Post polite” but later retracted the remark.

The View From 2021

Third-generation Camaros attract plenty of collector interest, and there is substantial club support. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Camaro Z28 hatchback coupe with the Cross-Fire motor in #1/Concours condition is $24,700, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $11,100. 1982 Camaro Commemorative Editions are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, Hemmings has three listed for sale, all in the $25,000 range.

Other Camaros I have written about include the 1980 Rally Sport coupe, the 1980 Z28 coupe, the 1985 IROC-Z hatchback coupe, and the 1986 Berlinetta hatchback coupe. Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams with blog entries here include the 1981 coupe, the 1982 hatchback coupe, the 1984 15th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe, the 1985 hatchback coupe, and the 1989 20th Anniversary Turbo hatchback coupe. Unlike with the Camaro, I have yet to cover anything but the top-the-line Firebird.

1982 Ford EXP hatchback coupe

“Two-seat excitement in a world class coupe.”

Ford’s EXP two-seat coupe was new for the 1982 model year and introduced early in April 1981. Ford’s first two-seat car since the 1957 Thunderbird, the EXP was designed for a far different purpose. Built on the same platform as the Ford Escort/Mercury Lynx twins and closely related to the Mercury LN7, the EXP was marketed as a car for buyers who wanted an efficient and decently-equipped vehicle somewhat sportier than the Escort.

The design language of the EXP resembled that of the contemporary Fox-body Mustang. However, front-wheel-drive and a different platform made the proportions different, which some observers saw as ungainly. I remember thinking that it was different-looking, but not unattractive.

Ford’s new two-seater was a small car—a length of 170.3 inches makes the EXP more than half a foot shorter than the 2020 Honda Civic coupe. However, the EXP’s length was almost seven inches longer than an Escort hatchback coupe, while its height was over 2.5 inches shorter. Because Ford made the EXP fairly well-equipped, it’s weight was about 125 pounds greater than the spare base Escort.

The EXP’s standard powertrain was a CVH 70 bhp 1.6 liter/98 ci inline four with a Motorcraft 740 two-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed manual. An automatic transmission was optional for $411. EPA fuel economy ratings with the manual were 29 city/46 highway by the standards of the day. With an 11.3-gallon gas tank, an EXP owner could expect a range of between 345 and 380 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

What the EXP wasn’t was anything approaching quick. Figures are hard to find, but the EXP’s 0-60 time was likely about 14.5 seconds. Late in the extended 1982 model year, an HO version of the same engine became available, with 80 bhp. It likely dropped the EXP’s 0-60 time by more than a second, but in this case, HO did not mean fast.

1982 Ford EXP brochure cover
1982 Ford EXP brochure cover

Standard equipment on the $7,387 EXP included front-wheel-drive, a four-wheel independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P165/80R13 tires (a size now hard to find) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, a Sport steering wheel, reclining high-back bucket seats, a console, and an AM radio were included.

Exterior and mechanical options included tinted glass (initially $82 but standard later in the model year), a flip-up open air roof ($276), power steering ($190), and cast aluminum wheels ($232). Inside, options included an air conditioner ($611), fingertip speed control ($151), leather/vinyl reclining low back bucket seats ($138), and a few different stereo choices.

The optional TR Performance Suspension Package included special handling tuned suspension components (a thicker stabilizer bar, stiffer shocks, and stiffer springs) and P165/70R 365 Michelin TRX tires (still available!) on a choice of either TR Sport aluminum wheels ($405) or Sport steel wheels ($204).

First-year sales of the EXP were decent: 98,258 in a model year that extended from April 1981 through September 1982. Following 1982, sales dropped precipitously—only 19,697 for 1983, 23,016 for 1984, 26,462 for 1985, 30,978 for 1986, and 25,888 for the EXP’s final year in 1987.

I have not seen an EXP on the road in over a decade. EXPs rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have virtually vanished.

Make mine Bright Red, please.

I have previously written about the 1981 Escort hatchback coupe and the 1987 Mercury Lynx XR3 hatchback coupe. Perhaps someday I shall write about the short-lived Mercury LN7.

1987 Volvo 780 coupe

“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.

1987 Volvo 780 advertisement
1987 Volvo 780 advertisement

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.

1983 Renault Alliance sedan

A girlfriend of mine owned a light blue Renault Alliance, which she named “Pierre.”

“Driver appeal and room for five.”

Renault’s Alliance sedan debuted in 1983. Based on the Renault 9 and 11, the Alliance was re-engineered for the North American market and built in AMC’s Kenosha, WI assembly plant—the first front-wheel-drive car built there. The Alliance was available in four-door sedan and two-door coupe versions.

The Alliance’s only engine was Renault’s Cléon-Fonte 64 bhp 1.4 liter/85 ci inline four with Bendix central fuel injection, already over two decades old in its basic design. Transmissions for the sedan varied depending on equipment level; the L (there was no absolutely base sedan—only a coupe) came standard with a four-speed manual, while the better equipped DL and Limited came with a five-speed manual. All three models could be ordered with an automatic ($420 for an L/$325 for others).

Despite a curb weight of around 2,000 pounds, the Alliance was not a fast car. 0-60 times ranged between 15 and 17 seconds depending on transmission. On the other hand, fuel mileage ratings were impressive: the four-speed manual returned 37 city/54 highway by the standards of the day. Of course, applying modern standards lowers the numbers, but what would now be 29 city/37 highway still isn’t that bad. Interestingly, the five-speed manual didn’t do any better, despite the extra gear (it did help a little bit with acceleration and lowered noise at highway speeds). Even the automatic was reasonably efficient at 29 city/38 highway. With a 12.4-gallon gas tank, a new Alliance owner could expect a range of between 370 and 505 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1983 Renault Alliance advertisement

Standard equipment on the $6,270 Alliance L (about $16,500 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Toyota Yaris sedan goes for) included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 155/80GR13 tires (a size still available thanks to Kumho) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, vinyl bucket seats, a soft-feel steering wheel, a day/night mirror, and a trip odometer were included.

Moving up to the $6,905 DL added tinted glass, a dual-note horn, and 175/70SR13 tires (still readily available) with wheel trim rings. Inside, DL buyers got Deluxe six-way cloth reclining bucket seats, a color-keyed remote left mirror, a soft-hub steering wheel, a tachometer, and a digital clock.

The top-of-the-line Limited ($7,470) included halogen headlamps and Luxury wheel covers. Inside, Light Group, Visibility Group (dual remote mirrors, lighted visor mirror, and intermittent wipers), textured cloth reclining bucket seats, a rear center armrest, and luxury door panels were included.

Individual exterior and mechanical options for the Alliance included two-tone paint ($199) and power steering ($199). Inside, power door locks ($170), speed control ($170), rear defroster ($130), air conditioning ($630), and a variety of radios were available. Leather bucket seats were available for the Limited only and set the buyer back $413.

Early on, the Alliance received many good reviews—in fact, it was Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year for 1983. Obtaining this particular plaudit led Renault to (really!) build an MT special edition for the Alliance late in the model year. MT-specific equipment included charcoal gray metallic paint, a decklid luggage rack, painted aluminum wheels, and a right-hand remote mirror. Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an electronic-tuning stereo radio with six speakers were included.

Those initial positive reviews of the Alliance have not aged well, and many disparaging articles have been written about MT‘s choice. They were not alone—Car and Driver included the Alliance on their 1983 “10 Best” list (26 years later they apologized). Perhaps reviewers of the day wanted the idea of the Alliance to work so much that it clouded their judgment of the actual product delivered.

I have not seen an Alliance in over a decade. Alliances rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have virtually vanished, despite the 623,573 made between the 1983 and 1987 model years.

Another Renault I have written about is the 1982 Fuego hatchback coupe. I’ve also covered the 1980 AMC Eagle station wagon and the 1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck.

1980 Cadillac Seville sedan

“Introducing Seville for the 80’s”

For 1980, the Cadillac Seville sedan could justifiably be called all-new. It switched from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive, used a completely different platform, and made a diesel engine standard.

Of course, the Seville’s exterior look was also completely changed. That styling—by Wayne Cady under Bill Mitchell’s direction—was instantly polarizing; words used in period reviews included striking, astonishing, controversial, and odd. Despite my pre-teen bent toward classically-influenced cars, I did not like the new Seville’s design. Perhaps this was because I really liked the styling of the first-generation Seville.

The 1980 Seville’s standard engine was an LF9 105 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8. An L61 145 bhp 6.0 liter/368 ci V8 with fuel injection was a no-cost option. In California, the gasoline engine choice was a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection.

As might be expected, fuel mileage ratings for the standard diesel were impressive, especially for a car with a 3,911 shipping weight. A Seville owner could expect 21 city/31 highway. With a 23-gallon gas tank, range was an astounding 540 miles with a 10% fuel reserve—at least in theory. What wasn’t impressive was the Seville’s performance; Road & Track clocked a 0-60 mph time of 21 seconds.

The story was different but not necessarily better with the gas engine. With it, mileage was 14 city/22 highway, so range dropped to about 375 miles. Performance was notably better, but still not good with the 0-60 time at about 13 seconds.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,662 Seville (about $67,000 in 2020 dollars) included Soft-Ray glass, tungsten-halogen headlamps, a four-wheel independent suspension, electronic level control, four-wheel disc brakes, and P205/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside 50/45 Dual Comfort front seats, electronic climate control, and a tilt and telescope steering wheel were included.

Seville Elegante brochure page
Seville Elegante page from the 1980 Cadillac brochure

The $2,934 Elegante package included two-tone paint and 40/40 leather seats. Chrome-plated wire wheel covers were available at no extra cost.

Options included an Astroroof ($1,058), power door locks ($129), the Cadillac trip computer ($920), and an AM/FM stereo cassette ($225).

Famously, the Cadillac with the Deadhead sticker that passes Don Henley when he sings about “The Boys of Summer” was a second-generation Seville—likely a 1980 or a 1981.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Cadillac Seville with the gas engine (they don’t list values for the diesel) in #1/Concours condition is $15,500, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $3,500.

Second-generation Cadillac Sevilles are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a silver/gray two-tone 1983 Seville with gray bucket seats and 31,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $8,000.

Make mine an Elegante in its Sable Black/Sheffield Gray Firemist two-tone, please. Over time, the second-generation styling has grown on me—especially with two-tone paint. Mecum sold a striking Seaspray Green/Neptune Aqua two-tone at their Harrisburg auction in 2019.

Other eighties Cadillacs I have covered include the 1982 Eldorado Touring Coupe, the 1986 Eldorado coupe, the 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sedan, the 1988 Eldorado coupe, the 1989 Allanté convertible, and the 1989 Cadillac Sedan deVille.