1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible

A 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible sold for $27,000 at Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020. I’ve previously written about the other two eighties SL versions: the 380SL and the 560SL. Perhaps it’s time to write about the 450SL.

In production since the 1972 model year, the Mercedes-Benz 450SL changed little in its final year, with a few new exterior colors and some new stereo choices.

The sole powertrain for the 450SL remained a 160 bhp 4.5 liter/276 ci V8 with Bosch Jetronic fuel injection paired to a three-speed automatic. Car and Driver tested a 1980 450SL and recorded an 11.6-second 0-60 time, but raw acceleration likely wasn’t that important to SL buyers. Mileage also wasn’t great in a vehicle with a 3,730-pound curb weight—this SL was no longer anything resembling Sport Light. The 1980 EPA fuel economy rating was 16 mpg, and most owners report that number as somewhat hopeful. At least the sizeable 23.8-gallon gas tank allowed a range of close to 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL advertisement
1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL advertisement

For 1980, the 450SL’s base price was a substantial $35,839—about $123,500 in today’s dollars, which is about 35% more than today’s SL 450 goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for this expensive car included tinted glass, variable-ratio power steering, power four-wheel disc brakes, and 205/70HR14 tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) mounted on 14 x 6 inch light-alloy wheels. Inside, air conditioning, adjustable MB-Tex bucket seats, cruise control, electric windows, and central locking were all included.

Options included a limited-slip differential, 15-inch wheels, leather bucket seats, and an array of Becker stereos. Like many other European cars of the early eighties, the 450SL did not have a standard stereo, though a power antenna was included.

The 450SL was a cultural icon, finding fans among various executives, celebrities, professional athletes, and rock stars when new. It was also a film and television star—famously driven by Richard Gere in American Gigolo, by Stephanie Powers and Robert Wagner on Hart to Hart, and by Patrick Duffy on Dallas.

450SLs have many adherents to this day, and there is much club support. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 450SL in #1/Concours condition is $36,000, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $11,500. These SLs are always available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and often at auction. As I write this post, there are eleven 1980 450SLs available for sale in Hemmings. An example with Champagne Metallic paint, brown leather bucket seats, and 45,000 miles is asking $20,000.

Make mine Astral Silver Metallic, please. Sometimes the cliché is correct.

Other eighties Mercedes-Benz models I have written about include the 1985 300CD Turbo coupe and 1986 560SEC coupe.

1980 Chevrolet Monza Sport 2+2 Hatchback Coupe

“Your kind of features. Your kind of fun.”

1980 was the Chevrolet Monza’s final year. Available in base coupe, 2+2 hatchback coupe, and Sport 2+2 hatchback coupe, the Monza received few changes for 1980. The biggest news that wasn’t about deleted models and options (there was no more wagon or V8) was probably the integration of 1979’s Spyder Appearance Package and Spyder Equipment Group into a single Spyder Equipment Package.

The Monza’s standard engine was the LX8 Iron Duke 86 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with a Rochester 2SE two-barrel carburetor. The only engine option for 1980 was the LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester M2ME two-barrel carburetor ($225). A four-speed manual was standard, with an optional three-speed automatic ($320) available.

Mileage with the inline four and four-speed manual was pretty impressive in 1980: 22 city/35 highway by the standards of the day (around 17/27 by today’s standards). Spending $545 for the automatic and the V6 combination took mileage down to 20 city/27 highway. With the V6/automatic transmission pairing and the 18.5-gallon gas tank, a Monza owner could expect a range of 300 to 390 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Exterior and mechanical equipment for the $4,921 Monza Sport 2+2 Hatchback Coupe (approximately $16,700 in today’s dollars) included tinted windows, a Delco Freedom battery, front disc/rear drum brakes, white-stripe tires, and full wheel covers. Inside, the Monza Sport 2+2 included a Sport steering wheel with a cushioned rim, high-back Sport front bucket seats in cloth/vinyl or all-vinyl, a console, color-keyed seat and shoulder belts, and a Delco AM radio (which could be deleted for a $52 credit).

1980 Chevrolet Monza brochure cover
1980 Chevrolet Monza brochure cover

Featured on the cover of the 1980 Monza brochure, the expensive ($521, or about $1,800 in today’s dollars) Spyder Equipment Package added a Spyder hood decal, a body color front air dam and rear spoiler, black Sport mirrors, a sport suspension, and BR70-13 blackwall radial tires (nearly equivalent 195/70R13 tires are available from BF Goodrich) on 13-inch black-painted Rally II wheels with bright trim rings. About 37% of Sport 2+2 Hatchback Coupe buyers chose the Spyder Equipment Package.

Exterior and mechanical options included a Sky Roof manual sunroof ($193), variable-ratio power steering ($158), and power brakes ($76). Inside, you could add air conditioning ($531), a Comfortilt steering wheel ($73), and an AM/FM stereo cassette player ($188).

The Monza sold quite well in its final year—in fact, 1980 was the Monza’s best year out of its six years of production. Chevrolet produced over 169,000, with more than 95,000 being the base coupe. There is some club support for the Monza, and they occasionally come up for sale in Hemmings Motor News and eBay Motors, though many are highly-modified drag-racing cars. As I write this blog entry in August 2020, there were no stock examples for sale.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Other 1980 model year Chevrolets I have written about include the Camaro Rally Sport coupe, the Camaro Z28 coupe, the Citation hatchback sedan, and the Corvette coupe. I also wrote about the 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Sport Hatch a few years ago.

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1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7 coupe

For 1988, Mercury’s Cougar personal luxury coupe received relatively few changes after 1987’s substantial restyling. For one year only, the XR-7 received a distinctive monochromatic paint scheme, available only in Oxford WhiteMedium Scarlet, and Black. Creating this look involved changing the wraparound bumper and body-side moldings from black to body color, and deleting the Medium Smoke lower-body accent used in 1987.  The sportiest Cougar also received 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels that had previously been seen on contemporary Ford Mustang GTs. Finally, analog instruments returned to the XR-7 after one year with a digital dashboard.

Though the Cougar LS made do with an Essex 140 bhp 3.8 liter/232 ci V6 with fuel injection as standard power, all XR-7s came with a Windsor 155 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with sequential fuel injection. Both engines received power increases in 1988, with multi-port fuel injection and a balance shaft for the V6 being worth 20 bhp, while split dual exhaust brought another 5 bhp for the V8. No matter what the engine, all Cougars came with Ford’s corporate AOD four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

Recorded 0-60 mph times are spare for the 1988 XR-7, but would likely have been a little under 10 seconds in the 3,485-pound car. Fuel economy ratings are more readily available; the XR-7 was rated 18 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (16/23 by today’s standards). With a 22.1-gallon gas tank, a Cougar XR-7 owner could expect an impressive range of 390 to 430 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all Cougars included tinted glass, aero halogen headlamps, a front air dam, dual outside power mirrors, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, and power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes. Inside, air conditioning, cloth upholstery, and an electronic AM/FM stereo with four speakers were included. The Cougar’s base price was $14,134—about $31,700 in 2020 dollars.

XR-7 pages from the 1988 Mercury Cougar brochure

With a base price of $16,266 (about $36,500 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Ford Mustang GT fastback goes for), the XR-7 added a Traction-Lok rear axle, a Quadrashock suspension, and P225/60R15 performance tires (a size still easily available) on 15-inch body-color cast-aluminum wheels. Inside, a sport steering wheel, articulated sport seats with power lumbar support, and a full-length center console were included.

Exterior and mechanical options for the XR-7 included a power moonroof ($841), an electric rear window defroster ($145), an engine block heater ($18), and Argent versions of the standard body-color cast-aluminum wheels. Inside, automatic temperature control ($162), power windows ($222), fingertip speed control ($182), and a tilt steering wheel ($124) were all available. Upholstery options included a leather-wrapped steering wheel ($59), leather seating surfaces ($415), and six-way power seats (either driver’s side only [$251] or driver and front passenger [$502]). A range of audio options included an electronic AM/FM stereo with a cassette player and four speakers ($137), the Premium Sound System with a power amplifier, two additional door-mounted speakers, and premium rear speakers ($168), a graphic equalizer ($218), and a power antenna ($76).

The 1988 Cougar sold well—Mercury moved a total of 113,801 units, with 14,488 (almost 13%) being XR-7s. For unclear reasons, Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track any Cougar after 1973, though they do value Ford Thunderbirds through their entire production history. Eighties Cougars occasionally show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this blog entry, there’s a Black 1987 Cougar LS with gray cloth seats and 33,000 miles listed for $6,900. Make mine Black, please.

Thanks to COOL CATS (a site devoted to the 1983-1988 Mercury Cougar) for providing helpful context for this post.

Other Mercurys I have written about include the 1983 Grand Marquis sedan, the 1986 Capri hatchback coupe, and the 1987 Lynx XR3 hatchback coupe. Regarding the Cougar’s Ford Thunderbird sister, I’ve written about the 1980 coupe and the 1983 Turbo Coupe.

1981 Triumph TR8 convertible

“Test drive the incredibly responsive TR8 today”

In its final year, Triumph’s TR8 gained Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection for all fifty states (in 1980, fuel injection had been California-only). The original “the shape of things to come” TR7 design from 1975 remained, but the internals had come a long way.

Though the TRs had always been the “big” Triumphs since their introduction in 1953, big was a relative term. With a length of 160.1 inches, the TR8 was about six inches longer than today’s Mazda Miata convertible.

The standard powertrain was the Rover 148 bhp 3.5 liter/215 ci aluminum block V8 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection paired with a five-speed manual transmission (a three-speed automatic was optional). That V8, of course, had a basic design that dated from the 1961 model year and originally came from Buick.

The TR8’s performance was good in comparison to many sporty cars in 1981; 0-60 mph came in about 8.5 seconds in the 2,654-pound car. Fuel economy was rated at 16 mpg by the standards of the day. With a smallish 14.6-gallon fuel tank, a TR8 driver could expect a range of about 210 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1981 Triumph TR8 advertisement

Standard exterior equipment on the rather dear $13,900 TR8 (about $42,400 in today’s dollars) included a central hood bulge and tinted glass. Mechanical equipment included dual exhausts, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/ rear drum brakes, and 185/70HR13 steel-belted radial tires (a size still readily available) on 13 x 5.5 inch alloy wheels. Inside, full instrumentation, a heater/defroster with a three-speed fan, multi-adjustable bucket seats, and a center console with a storage bin and lockable glovebox were included.

Optional equipment included fog lamps, a luggage rack, air conditioning, and three different radios. Of these, only the air conditioning was an option from the factory—all other options were dealer-installed.

Reviews of the TR8 in the automotive press were reasonably complementary, which may have been at least partially because convertibles had become so rare. The V8 drew a lot of positive mentions, as did the roomy cockpit. Observed faults included the steering wheel blocking some gauges, the tiny ashtrays (it was indeed a different age), and the rear-mounted battery’s intrusion into the otherwise reasonably capacious trunk.

The 1981 TR8 was an unusual car—a mere 415 were sold, compared to, say, the 40,408 only slightly more expensive Corvettes that Chevrolet managed to move in that same model year. Like all Triumphs, TR8s have a following and make regular appearances in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1981 TR8 convertible in #1/Concours condition is $24,600, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for $9,600.

Many TR8s and TR7s had colors and color names that were very much of their age; examples are Aran Beige, Champagne, French Blue, Mimosa, Topaz, and Vermilion. Make mine the a little more conservative Poseidon Green Metallic, please.

1985 Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole coupe

“Only those who dare … truly live”

1985 was the final year for the Ferrari 308 (the 328 would follow in 1986). Ferrari’s least expensive two-seater was also overshadowed in the public view by the release of its big brother Testarossa.

The engine was Ferrari’s Tipo F105AB 2.9 liter/179 ci V8 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and four valves per cylinder (thus Quattrovalvole), making 230 bhp and mated with a five-speed manual transmission. In the 3,200 pound GTB, this was good for period 0-60 times of under 7 seconds. Mileage was pretty awful compared to some of the 308’s fuel-injected competition—10 city/16 highway by the standards of the day (9/15 by today’s standards). With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, 308 owners could expect a chastening 200 to 215 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $54,000 GTB (about $134,000 in 2020 dollars) included four-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, leather bucket seats, power windows, tinted glass, and a heated rear window were all included. Available options included metallic paint, a deep front spoiler, a satin black finished aerofoil at the rear of the roof, 16 x 8 inch Speedline wheels with Pirelli P7 tires, air conditioning, and cloth seat centers.

Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole, courtesy of Ferrari

The lovely Pininfarina styling that made its first appearance in 1975 had aged well with relatively few changes. Debuting for the 1983 model year, the Quattrovalvole could be differentiated from previous 308s by the addition of a slim black louvered panel on the hood to aid radiator exhaust air exit and a redesigned radiator grille with rectangular driving lights on each side. Also new were power-operated side mirrors carrying small enamel Ferrari badges and rectangular side repeaters. The interior also received some minor updates, such as a satin black three-spoke steering wheel with a triangular center.

Values for the 308 have gone up and down over the last decade. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole in #1/Concours condition is currently $97,000 with the targa-top GTS in the same condition getting $80,000 (the GTB is far rarer, at about 20% of overall Quattrovalvole production). Prices drop significantly for more normal #3/Good condition cars—$58,000 for a GTB and $47,500 for a GTS. Ferrari 308s frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and at auction. As I write this in March 2020, there’s a 1984 Rosso Corso GTS QV listed for $65,000.

Make mine Rosso Corso, of course. Is there really a question?

Other Ferraris I have written about in this blog include the 1983 Berlinetta Boxer 512i coupe and the aforementioned 1985 Testarossa coupe.

1984 Oldsmobile Omega sedan

“… comfort and value you can feel good about …”

In its final year, Oldsmobile’s Omega variant of GM’s X-car received few changes. The grille now consisted of horizontal stripes with vertical park/signal lamps, and there were new bumper treatments.

The Omega’s standard powertrain continued to be an LR8 “Iron Duke” 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with electronic fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Powertrain options included the LE2 112 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 ($250) and a three-speed automatic transmission ($425). Mileage with the 2.8 liter V6 and the automatic was 21 city/33 highway by the standards of the day (17/24 by today’s standards). With a 14.6-gallon fuel tank, an Omega’s owner could expect a range of between 270 and 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,832 (about $19,900 in 2019 dollars) Oldsmobile Omega sedan included front-wheel-drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, P185/80R13 steel-belted radial tires (now a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels, deluxe wheel discs, custom bench seating, and a fold-down center armrest.

Moving up to the $8,104 Omega Brougham added a stand-up hood ornament, lower bodyside moldings, and a deluxe steering wheel.

Omega Brougham page from the 1984 Oldsmobile brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

The $675 ES package (RPO W48) remained available in 1984 as an upgrade for the Brougham, but only 224 were ordered. By far the sportiest version of the Omega, the ES included a suspension with higher-rate front and rear springs, firmer front and rear shock absorbers, and thicker stabilizer bars. In an attempt to appear more European, the ES2500 was the version with the 2.5 liter inline four, while the ES2800 was the version with the 2.8 liter V6. Both versions got a blacked-out grille.

Exterior and mechanical options on all Omegas included a glass-panel sunroof ($300), power steering, and high-capacity cooling. Inside, cruise control, power windows, and a four-season air conditioner were available.

Omega sales were significant, but not great, and they had been dropping steadily from the 1981 peak of almost 148,000 (including over 101,000 sedans). Oldsmobile produced 41,874 Omega sedans in the 1984 model year—small potatoes compared to all the other Oldsmobile sedans available (Firenza, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Supreme, Delta 88 Royale, and Ninety-Eight Regency).

I haven’t seen an Omega on the streets in well over a decade and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never seen one shown, though I’m not betting against that happening at some point.

Other X-cars I have written about include the 1983 Buick Skylark T TYPE coupe, the 1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe, and the 1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan. For some reason, I have yet to write about Pontiac’s Phoenix.

1986 Mercury Capri hatchback coupe

Hemmings is making a go at auctions. One of their first offerings is a white 1982 Mercury Capri RS coupe with red vinyl bucket seats, a Windsor 157 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with a Motorcraft 356CFM two-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 33,000 miles. That’s enough to get me to generate an update to this four-year-old post about the later 1986 version.

“Proof that getting there can be a fun experience in itself.”

Mercury made three attempts at the Capri. The first was an imported version of the European Ford Capri and was sold from the 1970 to 1978 model years as first the Capri and then the Capri II. The second was Mercury’s version of the Fox body Mustang and was sold from 1979 to 1986. The final version of the Capri was an imported version of the Australian Ford Capri and was sold from 1991 to 1994. Sense a trend here?

For 1986, Mercury’s Capri had three engine choices and two transmission choices. Standard on the GS was the Lima 88 bhp (aargh!) 2.3 liter/140 ci in-line four with a Carter YFA one-barrel carburetor mated to a four-speed manual transmission. Power options for the GS included the Essex 120 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection and the (wonderful) Windsor 200 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with sequential fuel injection that was standard on the 5.0L. All three engines could be paired with a three-speed automatic transmission for an additional $510 (the V6 required the automatic while the 5.0L came standard with a five-speed manual transmission with overdrive).

Mileage ratings for the various configurations ranged from 23 city/28 highway (21/26 by today’s standards) for the four-speed manual/in-line four combination that I’m not convinced that anyone bought to 17/25 for the “big daddy” five-speed manual paired with the V8.

Performance with the 2.3 liter four paired with either transmission was ghastly. 0-60 came in about 15 seconds, which meant a Capri driver with the Lima engine would see only the taillights of Iron Duke powered Camaros and Firebirds (such a sad competition!). Moving to the V6 paid significant performance dividends, dropping the 0-60 time by about 3.5 seconds. Of course, the V8 was by far the best: even the automatic was in the 7 second range, while the manual could do 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds.

The base price for a Capri GS was $8,331 (about $19,700 in 2019 dollars). For that money, the Capri came relatively well equipped by mid-1980s standards. External features included halogen headlamps, tinted glass, and the distinctive bubble-back rear hatch with rear-window defroster. Mechanical equipment included power steering, power brakes, and P195/75R14 tires (still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels with turbine wheel covers. Inside, power windows, interval wipers, tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were standard.

Pages from the 1986 Mercury Capri brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The more sporty Capri 5.0L stickered for $10,950 (about $25,800 in today’s dollars) and added the V8 mentioned above, dual exhaust, and P225/60VR15 tires (a size still readily available) on cast-aluminum wheels.

Exterior options for both the GS and the 5.0L included a flip-up open-air roof ($315) or a T-Roof ($1,100). Inside, buyers could add air conditioning ($762), power door lock group ($182), speed control ($176), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($300).

MercuryCapriSales

Sales for the last of the second generation Capris were not at all good, but Capri sales had not been good for years—Mercury’s traditional problem wedged between Ford and Lincoln. By 1986, Capri sales were about 9% of Mustang sales.

Fox body Capris sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and eBay Motors, but there’s not a lot of activity. I’ll say they are uncommon rather than unloved. Make mine Smoke Metallic, please.

Updated September 2019.

1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan

When I’m out running early on weekday mornings, I often see an eighties Malibu sedan driving along the Lincoln Highway in Bryn Mawr. Time to update this elderly post.

“… a beautiful and practical choice …”

The 1983 Malibu was the final rear-wheel-drive Malibu and the last Malibu of any kind until the 1997 model year. For 1983, Chevrolet eliminated the Malibu Classic designation and reverted to Malibu as the single trim level, which you could get in either a four-door sedan or a five-door wagon.

Standard motivation for the 3,100 to 3,200-pound sedan (weight largely depended on engine choice) was provided by the evergreen LD5 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor hooked up to a three-speed automatic transmission, making 110 bhp and getting 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day. Power options included two different diesels (a $500 V6 and a $700 V8 that just about no one purchased) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a Rochester E4ME four-barrel carburetor rated at 18 city/26 highway. With an 18.1-gallon fuel tank, the owner of a V8 Malibu could expect a range of 325 to 360 miles. Performance was not exactly sparkling: 0-60 took a little over 11 seconds with the V8.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,084 Malibu V6 sedan (about $21,100 in today’s dollars or a little under what a 2019 Malibu L costs) included quad rectangular headlamps, high-energy ignition, a Delco Freedom II battery, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P185/75R14 glass-belted radial tires (a size currently available thanks to Hankook) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a base Malibu came spare—highlights were a vinyl bench seat, a cigarette lighter, a locking glove compartment, and a day/night rearview mirror.

Moving to the V8 brought the Malibu sedan’s base price up $225 to $8,309 (about $21,700 in 2019 dollars). Options that were ordered in more than 50% of 1983 Malibus included air conditioning (the most expensive option at $725), tinted glass ($105), remote left-hand side-view mirror ($22), and rear window defogger ($135).

1983 Chevrolet Malibu brochure cover, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Interestingly, you could still order some performance-oriented options for the Malibu even in its final year. A limited-slip differential ($95), performance rear axle ($21), gauge package with trip odometer ($95), heavy-duty battery ($25), heavy-duty cooling, rally wheels ($108), and the F40 heavy-duty suspension ($26) were all available, though I’m not convinced they found a lot of buyers among the total of 117,426 Malibus purchased in 1983.

This generation of Malibu does come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, but there were no reasonably stock sedans available when I updated this blog entry in June 2019.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Other rear-wheel drive G-platform (designated A-platform before 1982) cars I have written about include the 1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe, the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, the 1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe, and the 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe.

Updated June 2019.

1982 Fiat X1/9 coupe

“Nothing moves you like a Fiat Sportscar.”

1982 was the final model year that the X1/9 coupe that had debuted in 1974 was sold under the Fiat name—after that, it would be marketed under the Bertone name as Fiat withdrew from the United States. The X1/9 was small; at 156.3 inches in length, it was more than three inches shorter than today’s Fiat 124 Spider.

1982 Fiat X1/9 advertisement.

With its wedge shape, the X1/9 was part of a design trend in inexpensive sports coupes that included the Triumph TR7/TR8, the Pontiac Fiero, and the Toyota MR2.

The only powertrain available on the X1/9 continued to be a 75 bhp 3.5 liter/91 ci inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection paired with a five-speed manual. An X1/9 owner could expect a 0-60 time of a little over 11 seconds in a coupe with a curb weight of 2,209 pounds.

Mileage wasn’t as good as you would think: rated at 26 city/37 highway by 1982 standards (20/26 by today’s calculation). With a 12.7-gallon gas tank, the driver of an X1/9 could expect a range of between 265 and 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $10,900 X1/9 (about $29,400 in today’s dollars or about what a 2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth convertible goes for) included pop-up headlights, a removable targa roof, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes, and Pirelli Cinturato P3 P165/70R13 tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein) on 13 x 5.5 inch wheels. Inside, bucket seats, a four-spoke padded steering wheel, a lockable glove box, and full instrumentation were included.

Options included metallic paint, tinted glass, air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo radio.

The X1/9 has a following in both its Fiat and Bertone versions. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 X1/9 in #1/Concours condition is $19,800, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $6,300. X1/9s come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. As I write this in February 2019, there’s a 1979 Black Metallic X1/9 with tan/black vinyl seats and 83,000 miles available for $10,500.

1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe

While dropping my parents off at church this Sunday morning, I saw a stock-appearing facelifted fourth-generation Grand Prix with two-tone paint out of the corner of my eye—heading west on the Lincoln Highway. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog post that I’ve been working on for over six months.

“… a Pontiac classic …”

1987 marked the final model year for the G-body Grand Prix coupe—it would be replaced in 1988 by an all-new W-body front-wheel-drive model. Changes were few; the Grand Prix portion of Pontiac’s 1987 brochure emphasized a new sport steering wheel and new 45/55 seats for the LE.

The standard Grand Prix powertrain continued to be the LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed automatic. Optional engines included the LB4 140 bhp 4.3 liter/263 ci V6 with fuel injection ($200 and available with either a three-speed or a four-speed automatic) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor ($590 and only available with a $175 four-speed automatic). With the V8, a Grand Prix owner could expect a 0-60 time of a little over nine seconds in a coupe with a shipping weight of 3,231 pounds.

Mileage wasn’t good with any engine/transmission combination: the best was the 4.3 liter/four-speed automatic combination with 19 city/26 highway (17/24 by today’s standards). Predictably, the V8 was the worst, at 17 city/24 highway—with a 13.6-gallon gas tank the owner of a V8 Grand Prix could expect a range of between 225 and 250 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $11,069 Grand Prix (about $25,300 in 2019 dollars) included power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P195/75R14 blackwall tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels. General Motors was moving to option groups in the late eighties, and the base Grand Prix had two. Option Group I $1,313) included dual sport sideview mirrors, body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel that was also a luxury cushion steering wheel, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($1,867) added cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, and power windows.

Moving up to the LE ($11,799) added dual sport sideview mirrors, 45/55 notchback seats in Pallex cloth, and a four-spoke sport steering wheel. For the LE, Option Group I ($1,844) included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, power windows, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,117) added halogen headlamps, a deck lid release, and a power driver’s seat, and made the visor vanity mirror illuminated.

The top-of-the-line Brougham ($12,519) added 45/55 notchback seats in Majestic cloth, power windows, special trim, and a luxury cushion steering wheel. Option Group I ($1,874) for the Brougham included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,078) added halogen headlamps, cornering lamps, luggage compartment trim, a deck lid release, dual remote mirrors, and a dome reading lamp, and added illumination to the visor vanity mirror. A Brougham with Option Package 2, the V8, and the four-speed automatic came to a non-trivial $15,362 (about $35,100 in today’s dollars or about what a 2019 Buick Regal Avenir sedan goes for).

Individual exterior and mechanical options included a rally-tuned suspension ($50), a power sunroof ($925), a hatch roof with removable glass panels ($905), a power antenna ($70), two-tone paint ($205 to $295) and turbo-finned cast aluminum wheels ($246). Inside, you could get bucket seats with recliners and console ($292 with Ripple cloth in the base coupe, $69 with Pallex cloth in the LE, or $369 with leather in the LE), and a rally gauge cluster with tachometer ($153) along with a range of stereos up to a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and graphic equalizer ($450).

Grand Prix page from the 1987 Pontiac brochure.

The 1987 Grand Prix did not sell well—sales were about 41% of the 1986 total, and, at 16,542, the typical Pontiac dealer sold more Grand Ams, 6000s, Bonnevilles, Sunbirds, Firebirds, and Fieros.

Evidently (based on my observation this morning) someone is saving these cars! Hagerty declines to value any Grand Prix after 1977, but this generation does come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. As I write this in February 2019, there’s a 1985 Silver/Medium Gray two-tone Grand Prix LE with gray cloth notchback seats, a 3.8 liter/231 ci V6, an automatic, and 54,000 miles available for $12,900.

Make mine Dark Maroon Metallic, please.

Other rear-wheel drive G-platform (designated A-platform before 1982) cars I have written about include the 1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe, the 1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, and the 1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe.