1982 Renault Fuego hatchback coupe

A friend of mine mentioned recently that he once owned an early Renault Fuego Turbo. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog post—one I’ve had “in the hopper” for years.

After some sales success in Europe, Renault’s Fuego hatchback coupe became available for sale in the United States in 1982. Based on the Renault 18 sedan and using its floorpan and drivetrain, the Fuego was a different approach to a sporty coupe from what most manufacturers offered in the early eighties. Designed by Michel Jardin, the Fuego’s exterior looked like nothing else on the market, though some saw faint echos of the Porsche 924 and 928.

Two versions of the Fuego were available on its debut in the USA: the base Fuego coupe and the line-leading Fuego Turbo. The coupe came with an 81 bhp 1.6 liter/101 ci inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection mated with a five-speed manual transmission. The Turbo featured an A5L 107 bhp 1.6 liter/96 ci inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection and a Garrett T3 turbocharger paired with the same five-speed transmission.

As one might expect, performance was notably different for the two models. With a 2,372-pound curb weight, owners of a new Fuego Turbo could expect a 0-60 time of little over 10 seconds. A base Fuego was about 3.5 seconds slower, putting it in the same category as other slow sporty coupes for 1982, such as Lima-powered Mustangs and Capris and Iron Duke-powered Camaros and Firebirds. Mileage ratings were impressive for either version—the Turbo registered 26 city/39 highway mileage rating by the standards of the day. With a 14.8-gallon fuel, a Fuego Turbo owner could expect a range of 390 to 435 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1982 Renault Fuego advertisement
1982 Renault Fuego advertisement

Standard equipment for the $8,654 base Fuego included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and P185/70R13 tires on 13-inch wheels.

Standard equipment on the $10,704 Fuego Turbo included power rack-and-pinion steering, 190/65 HR 365 (metric) Michelin TRX radial tires on 14.4-inch cast alloy wheels, air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo. An electric sunroof was a $400 option.

Despite their success in Europe, Fuegos did not sell well in North America, which was Renault’s evident lot in life. Peak sales of 33,229 in 1982 declined every year going forward—by 1986, the Fuego’s last year in the US, they were a mere 4,152.

Those who did buy a Fuego reported that they were generally happy with their choice. A January 1983 Popular Mechanics Owner’s Report found that owners liked the handling and styling, but wanted more power.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Renault Fuego in #1/Concours condition is $5,400, with a more typical #3/Good condition example going for $1,700. For unclear reasons, Hagerty only has values for the base version and not the Turbo. Fuegos rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have basically vanished.

Make mine Silver Poly, please.

This post is another first—my first Renault. I should probably cover the Alliance I spent a portion of the early nineties in sometime soon …

1984 Plymouth Voyager van

1984 Plymouth Voyager on the National Mall
1984 Plymouth Voyager on the National Mall, courtesy of the HVA

In spring 2018, the Historic Vehicle Association placed a series of five notable vehicles in a glass case on the National Mall in Washington, DC. One of those vehicles was a 1984 Plymouth Voyager Limited Edition minivan—highly original, and with a mere 12,000 miles.

“The Magic Wagon.”

Few eighties vehicles changed the world as much as the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager twins—because few automobiles essentially create a new market segment. The essential glory of K-platform minivans was their splitting of the packaging differences between traditional station wagons and full-size vans, along with their utilization of front-wheel-drive. Astoundingly, Allpar writes that Chrysler had been working on the same basic idea since around 1972. A reason given that those early designs were not brought to market was that General Motors and Ford had not released their own versions. It took Lee Iaccoca’s arrival in late 1978 to finally get upper management support for the T-115 concept.

The Voyager’s standard powertrain was an 84 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a five-speed manual. Powertrain options included a $439 three-speed automatic and a $259 105 bhp 2.6 liter/156 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor (which required the automatic).

For a mainstream vehicle in 1984, the Voyager came respectably equipped. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment ($8,290 or about $20,200 in today’s dollars) included tinted glass for all windows, a right hand sliding door with a vented window, quad halogen headlamps, power rack and pinion steering, and P185/75R14 blackwall tires on 14-inch wheels with bright wheel covers. Inside, a left hand remote control mirror, two-speed windshield wipers, cloth low back front bucket seats, a three-passenger rear seat, full-floor carpeting, and an AM ETR radio with a digital clock were included.

Moving up to the S.E./Special Edition package ($227) added black exterior window trim, black lower body paint, road styled wheels with bright centers and trim rings, and Deluxe cloth low back front bucket seats.

Page from the 1984 Plymouth Voyager brochure
L.E. page from the 1984 Plymouth Voyager brochure

The top-of-the-line L.E./Limited Edition package ($815) included everything from the S.E. package and added woodgrain exterior vinyl bodyside panels, dual horns, a Luxury steering wheel, and Luxury cloth high back front bucket seats with recliners.

Individual options included premium wheel covers ($203), a 20-gallon fuel tank ($43), air conditioning ($737), automatic speed control ($179), a rear window defroster ($143), power door locks ($176), and an AM/FM stereo with a cassette player ($389). A Seven-Passenger Seating Package ($336) was available with either the S.E. or the L.E.—that was Chrysler’s nomenclature for adding a third row seat.

Of course, the Chrysler minivan twins were a huge success, with 209,895 sold in their initial model year. They also received good to great reviews from the automotive press—Car and Driver included them in their 1985 10Best Cars.

Ford and General Motors had notable trouble in responding. Both had competitors (Chevrolet Astro, Ford Aerostar, GMC Safari) in place by the 1986 model year, but the market found them wanting—in part because they were rear-wheel-drive. The first real competition for Chrysler did not come until the mid-nineties when Honda debuted the front-wheel-drive Odyssey.

Despite their importance, just a few folks out there collect these minivans—though I did spot one at a car show several years ago. Chrysler minivans of this era rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they now are seldom for sale anywhere.

Make mine Gunmetal Blue Pearl Coat, please.

1984 Maserati Biturbo coupe

After over six years of writing, this is the first Maserati to be featured in Eighties Cars.

“Formula One Performance in a Grand Touring Masterpiece”

After two years of European production, 1984 was the first model year that Maserati’s Pierangelo Andreani-styled Biturbo coupe was available in the United States. The Biturbo was a complete change of pace for Maserati, essentially designed to be an Italian-flavored BMW 3 series competitor.

Of course, the Biturbo was famous for—and named for—it’s engine, the first production twin-turbocharged powerplant in the world. For 1984’s move to the US market, displacement of the V6 was increased to 2.5 liters/152 cubic inches, which resulted in 192 bhp. Unsurprisingly for the era, a Weber two-barrel carburetor fed the fuel/air mixture. The only transmission available for 1984 was a five-speed manual.

page from 1984 maserati Biturbo brochure
Page from the 1984 Maserati Biturbo brochure

Maserati’s four-page brochure claimed a top speed of 130 mph and a 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds in the 2,650-pound Biturbo (quick in 1984), and period road tests came reasonably close to those figures. Fuel economy was less impressive—rated at 15 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (12/18 by today’s standards). With a sizeable 21.2-gallon gas tank, a Biturbo owner could expect a range of between 285 and 380 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $26,874 Biturbo (about $68,200 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Ghibli sedan costs) included a four-wheel independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, four-wheel power disc brakes, and Pirelli P6 195/60HR14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 5.5 inch magnesium alloy wheels. The luxurious interior design was highly acclaimed at the time and remains attractive even to this day.

Initially, the Biturbo sold reasonably well in North America, aided by positive reviews—Popular Mechanics called it “the Clark Kent of cars.” However, a reputation for both engine unreliability (related to the blow-through carburetor/turbo combination) and spotty build quality quickly took its toll, and by 1985 many coupes sat on dealer lots. Decades later, this notoriety would end up landing the 1984 Biturbo on Time magazine’s The 50 Worst Cars of All Time list, where it joined other notably failed cars such as the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron. As always, as with any vehicle, there are different opinions.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1984 Biturbo coupe in #1/Concours condition is currently $8,400, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for a mere $3,200. These Biturbos sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but are often in at least somewhat sketchy condition. Make mine Bordeaux, please.

1981 Datsun 810 Maxima sedan

“For the luxury minded who long to be Datsun driven.”

1981 brought the nicest Datsun yet for America, in the form of the 810 Maxima sedan. Datsun aimed high, advertising the Maxima as having the “luxury of a Mercedes” and the “sophistication of a Cadillac.” Nissan was in the process of transitioning away from the Datsun name, so the Maxima‘s official name was a clunky “Datsun 810 Maxima by Nissan.”

The only powertrain available for the Maxima was the L24E 118 bhp 2.4 liter/146 ci inline six with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection paired with a three-speed automatic. Luxury did not mean quick in 1981—in the 2,800-pound car, 0-60 came in about 12.5 seconds. EPA fuel economy ratings were 22 city/27 highway—with a 16.4-gallon gas tank, a Maxima owner could expect a range of 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Despite being the top of Datsun’s sedan line and “the roomiest and most comfortable Datsun ever created” to that point, the Maxima was not a particularly large car. With a 183.3 inch length, it was barely longer than today’s Nissan Sentra, which is classified as a compact car. In advertisements, Datsun stated that the Maxima was “about the size of a BMW 528i at less than half the price.” Both of these claims were true, but the Maxima was not yet a “4-Door Sports Car.”

810 Maxima pages from the 1981 Datsun brochure

Standard exterior equipment on the $10,879 1981 Maxima (about $33,200 in 2020 dollars or just a little less than a 2020 Maxima S costs) included an electric sliding sun roof and Quadrabeam headlights with halogen high beams. Mechanical equipment included a fully independent suspension, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes, and 185/70SR14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch “mag-style” alloy wheels.

Inside, centralized locking, power controls, a tilt steering column, cruise control, and an AM/FM digital four-speaker stereo with a cassette player were included. Standard upholstery included “loose-pillow” velour seats, fully reclining front seats, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, and full Saxony carpeting. Famously, an early version of the vocalized warning system warned a Maxima‘s driver when the headlights were on.

There were few if any options available for the 1981 Maxima sedan. Reviews of the day generally liked the new car’s exterior styling, but the “buff books” complained that the Maxima was only available with a three-speed automatic and velour upholstery. Car and Driver‘s write-up in April 1981 stated: “What we have here seems to be a clear case of over-Americanization.”

It isn’t that surprising that Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track any eighties Datsuns other than the Z-cars. Eighties Maximas rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

Make mine Medium Gray Metallic, please.

1989 Buick Electra Park Avenue Ultra sedan

“The standard for luxurious, smooth-riding American sedans …”

For 1989, Buick’s Electra Park Avenue received a new trim in the middle of the model year: Ultra. It became the new top-of-the-line Buick sedan.

The only powertrain for the Ultra or for any 1989 Electra was a “3800” LN3 165 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with sequential fuel injection teamed with a four-speed automatic transmission. Mileage for the standard engine was 19 city/28 highway by the 1989 measures (17/26 by today’s standards). With an 18-gallon gas tank, an Ultra owner could expect a range of about 345 to 380 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph took a little under 11 seconds.

Electra pages from the 1989 Buick brochure

Buick piled on the bling for the Ultra—standard exterior equipment included Soft-Ray tinted glass, a unique grille texture, smoked tail lamps, chrome side pillars, a Sterling Silver lower accent paint treatment, and a silver accent body stripe. Mechanical equipment on the $26,218 (approximately $55,100 in 2020 dollars) car included a 4-wheel independent DynaRide suspension, power rack-and-pinion steering, power anti-lock front disk/rear drum brakes, and P205/70R15 whitewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch aluminum wheels.

Inside the Ultra, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo radio, burled elm trim on the doors and instrument panel, a tilt steering column, power door locks, power mirrors, and power windows were all standard. The all-leather seats were styled by famed Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, with the 55/45 front seats being 20-way for both driver and front passenger.

Optional items for 1989 included an electric sliding Astroroof ($1,230), a heavily-padded full vinyl top only available for the Ultra, cornering lamps ($60), Electronic Touch Climate Control air conditioning ($165), and Twilight Sentinel headlamp control ($60).

The Electra Park Avenue Ultra received good reviews, with one automotive writer comparing it favorably to the same year’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SE. First-year sales of the 1989 Park Avenue Ultra sedan were decent considering the short window of availability—Buick moved 4,815 examples.

These mid to late 1980s C-bodies had a stately look about them. Big and (I think) handsome, they had a lot of interior room despite the second round of downsizing—with 111 cubic feet, they had only one cubic foot less than the previous generation rear-wheel-drive cars. C-body Park Avenue sedans of this era rarely come up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I wrote this blog entry in March 2020, there were none for sale on either marketplace.

Make mine Claret Red over Sterling Silver, please. All Ultras came with two-tone exterior paint.

Other C-bodies I have written about in this blog are the 1989 Cadillac Sedan deVille and the 1985 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency sedan. Among the many eighties Buicks I have written about include the 1980 Riviera S TYPE coupe, the 1983 Skylark T TYPE coupe, the 1984 Regal Grand National coupe, the 1984 Riviera T TYPE coupe, the 1985 Somerset Regal coupe, the 1986 Century sedan, and the 1987 LeSabre T Type coupe.

1988 BMW M3 coupe

Earlier this month, my wife and I visited the small but excellent BMW Zentrum Museum in Greer, SC. Of course they had a first-generation M3 on display—time to write a blog entry about this game-changing little coupe.

“Created for the race track, destined for the road.”

It took the M3 two-and-a-half years to make it to the United States following its debut in Europe, but most agreed that it was worth the wait. Reviews were enthusiastic; Car and Driver exclaimed that “This is a car for us.”

The powertrain was the thing: an S14 192 bhp 2.3 liter/141 ci 16-valve inline four with four valves per cylinder and Bosch Motronic fuel injection mated to a five-speed manual. In a car with a curb weight of 2,734 pounds, this meant impressive acceleration—0-60 times were in the seven-second range. Given this, fuel economy wasn’t bad: 17 city/28 highway on premium gasoline by the standards of the day (15/26 by today’s standards). With a 14.5-gallon gas tank, the proud new owner of an M3 could expect a range of 265 to 295 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior equipment on the pricey $34,000 M3 (about $75,500 in 2019 dollars or a little over what a base 2020 M4 coupe goes for) included boxed-out fender flares, a unique front bumper, and a cap over the C-pillar which helped to feed air onto the large for the day rear wing. Mechanical features included a limited-slip differential, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and 205/55VR15 tires on 15 x 7 inch cast light alloy BBS wheels.

Inside, the M3 was comfortably equipped; leather sport seats, full instrumentation, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, and an AM/FM stereo cassette were all included.

201433683402
1988 BMW M3 advertisement

Over the last decade or so, the first-generation M3 has become one of the definitive eighties collector cars. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 M3 in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $142,000, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $59,700. Some M3s come up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, but many are now sold at auction.

Make mine Salmon Silver Metallic, I think.

1984 Audi 5000S sedan

1984 was the first year for Audi’s new aerodynamic design for their biggest sedan. At the time, the exterior design was differentiating—though many would follow, Audi’s was first. Despite being the top-of-the-line, the 5000S was not a large car by modern standards—every dimension was smaller than Audi’s current A6 sedan.

The standard powertrain on Audi’s new sedan was Volkswagon’s corporate 100 bhp 2.1 liter/123 ci inline five with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection mated with a five-speed manual transmission. An automatic was available with the standard engine. The automatic was the only transmission available with the upmarket Turbo option—the same engine with a KKK turbocharger that made 140 bhp.

Period road tests showed 0-60 times of 10.6 seconds for the Turbo, making it not much quicker than the base 5000S but almost 20 mph faster. Fuel economy ratings for the Turbo were 19 city/28 highway by the standards of the day (15/20 by today’s standards). With a 21.2-gallon gas tank, the driver of a new Turbo could expect a 335 to 445 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $16,840 5000S (about $42,800 in today’s dollars—approximately what a 2019 A5 costs) included halogen headlamps, flush-mounted window glass, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70SR14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 6 inch aerodynamically styled lightweight aluminum wheels.

Inside, standard features included Electronic Climate Control, cloth bucket seats, a center console, and power windows. Features that look strange to our modern eyes included an illuminated ash tray and a “radio prep kit with power antenna” and four “high-quality” speakers.

Exterior options for the 5000S included an electric two-way tilting/sliding sunroof, power heated mirrors, and metallic paint. Inside, leather seats, heated seats, and a trip computer were all available.

In addition to more power, the Turbo package included an electric two-way tilting/sliding sunroof, a slightly tighter suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and 205/60HR15 tires (also still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch aluminum wheels. Inside, power seats, power door locks, a trip computer, and a “fine-sounding” Audi Design/Blaupunkt AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and four speakers were included. The Turbo‘s $5,570 additional cost brought it up to about $56,900 in 2019 dollars—more like today’s A6 pricing.

1984 Audi 5000 S advertisement

Reviews of the new design were quite good, and sales reflected that. Then, of course, things all went horribly south with the unintended acceleration controversy. Sales would crater, and it would take Audi many years to recover.

5000S’s sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors, but there’s not a lot of activity. As I write this in September 2019, there’s a Nautical Blue Metallic 1987 5000S with gray velour bucket seats, a five-speed manual, and 59,000 miles being advertised on Hemmings and asking $7,000.

Make mine Sapphire Metallic, please.

1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe

Lee Iacocca passed yesterday after leading a full life—he was 94. In his honor, I have revised my write-up on one of his most famous creations.

“right for the times we drive in”

The 1981 Plymouth Reliant and its sibling the Dodge Aries are the K-body cars often (and reasonably) credited with saving Chrysler in the early 1980s. The first K cars were basic transportation, famously (like the GM X cars a year before) with no roll-down rear windows and just barely mid-size by the EPA’s classification—with an overall length of 176 inches, the Reliant coupe is almost exactly as long as a 2019 Honda Civic coupe.

The standard powertrain was an 84 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with a Holley two-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed manual. A Mitsubishi built 92 bhp 2.6 liter/156 ci inline four was optional for $159 and required both power steering ($174) and the three-speed TorqueFlite automatic ($360). Gas mileage with the base powertrain combination was rated at 29 city/41 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by today’s standards). With a 13-gallon gas tank, a Reliant coupe with the standard engine and transmission could travel between 305 and 410 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

For $5,880 (about $17,800 in 2019 dollars), you got a Reliant coupe with front-wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, a cloth and vinyl split back bench seat, and P175/75R13 tires (a size that isn’t generally available anymore) on 13-inch wheels. The base coupe was only available in white, tan, and black.

Spending another $435 on your Reliant coupe moved you up to Custom trim, which added front disc brakes, quarter-window louvers, halogen headlights, a cigarette lighter, a color-keyed “deluxe” two-spoke steering wheel, a digital clock, a glove box lock, and an AM radio. You also got many more exterior and interior color choices.

The top-of-the-line Special Edition (SE) Reliant coupes ($6,789 or about $20,500 in today’s dollars) added dual horns, deluxe wheel covers, special sound insulation, a cloth bench seat, and a snazzier “luxury” two-spoke steering wheel. An option only available with the SE was cloth bucket seats ($91).

External and mechanical options for all Reliant coupes included tinted glass ($75), a glass sunroof ($246), and power brakes ($82). Both the mid-range upgrade P185/75R13 tires and the P165/75R14 upmarket tires (a size that fit the mid-90s Plymouth Neon compact just fine) are still readily available.

Inside, air conditioning cost $605 and required tinted glass, power brakes, and power steering—things were tightly engineered in the early 1980s. Other options included automatic speed control ($132), intermittent wipers ($44), a tilt steering wheel ($81), power door locks ($93), power front seats ($173 and said to be quite rare), along with a variety of radios up to an AM/FM radio with a cassette tape player and four speakers ($224).

1981PlymouthReliant
1981 Plymouth Reliant two-door coupe, scan courtesy of Alden Jewell

The Reliant sold well in 1981—between the coupe and the sedan, Plymouth moved 101,127. Motor Trend managed to get a 2.2 liter with the automatic to do 0-60 in 12.4 seconds—they tried with another Reliant running the same combination, and it took 14.0 (oog) seconds. Top speed (if you could call it that) ranged from 88 to 96 mph in the 2,350-pound car.

In 2019, Plymouth Reliants rarely comes up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though you do see them occasionally on Craigslist. I haven’t seen a coupe in the wild for many years. Make mine Baron Red, I think.

Other K-body and K-body based cars I have covered in this blog include the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the 1984 Chrysler Laser fastback coupe, the 1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe, and the 1986 Chrysler Town & Country convertible. There’s also a short commentary I did on an unidentified K-car wagon I did called Some Quiet Love For A K Car.

Updated July 2019.

1986 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

“Yes to wind. Yes to sunshine.”

For 1986, the big news for Corvette was the return of the convertible, gone since 1975. Other improvements included Bosch ABS II anti-lock brakes, a Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS), and the mid-year introduction of aluminum cylinder heads.

The standard powertrain was the L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a Turbo-Hydramatic four-speed automatic transmission. Car and Driver recorded 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. Estimated fuel economy was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette convertible’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 335 and 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Built in collaboration with ASC, the convertible included a manual top, a rear-hinged deck panel to cover the top, and an X-brace underneath the floor. The newly-required high-mounted rear brake light was integrated into the rear fascia. Even the gas filler cover was different from the coupe—square because there was no rounded rear hatchback glass for it to wrap around.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $32,032 Corvette convertible (about $76,700 in today’s dollars or about what a well-equipped 2019 Corvette Stingray convertible goes for) included a Delco Freedom Plus II battery, power operated quartz-halogen retractable headlamps, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and P255/50VR-16 tires on 16 x 9.5 inch cast alloy aluminum wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, Tilt-Telescopic steering wheel, driver information system, cloth seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included a performance axle ratio ($22) and Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers ($189)—the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission was a no-cost option. Optional interior equipment included cruise control ($185), a power door lock system ($175), electronic control air conditioning ($150), a six-way power driver’s seat ($225), and the Delco-GM/Bose Music System ($895). The Z51 Performance Handling Package was not available with the convertible.

Pages from the 1986 Corvette convertible, linked from the always useful PaintRef.com.

The return of the Corvette convertible was well-received—Chevrolet sold 7,315 in about half a model, even at $5,000 more than the coupe. Reviews were also good; Car and Driver stated that the convertible was “a mighty hospitable carriage.”

There is strong club support for the 1986 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Corvette convertible in #1/Concours condition is $20,200, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $7,700. 1986 Corvette convertibles are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in December 2018, there’s a Yellow car with black leather seats and 29,000 miles available on Hemmings for $17,900.

Make mine White, with red leather seats—the “heritage colors” that match the first Corvette back in 1953.

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, the DX included an adjustable steering column, a rear window defroster, intermittent wipers, and full carpeting.

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