1984 BMW 325e Coupe

Murilee Martin of The Truth About Cars posted a Junkyard Find on a BMW 325e recently, so I’ve updated this two-year old post.

“High technology dedicated to heightening your pulse rate.”

I see BMW’s 325e as a rare misstep for BMW in the eighties, a decade where BMW generally could do no wrong.

The e stood for efficiency and the engine was BMW’s torque-optimized M20B27 2.7 liter inline 6 with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, making 121 bhp and 170 lb-ft of torque with a fairly low 4,700 rpm redline. Mileage by the standards of the day was pretty good: 21 city/28 highway (18/26 by 2016 standards) with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Proud new owners of a 325e could expect about 320 miles of range with a 10% reserve.

0-60 mph with the five-speed manual took between 8.5 and 9 seconds and the top speed was 116 mph—not exactly the kind of numbers one would expect from the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” As Car and Driver wrote, “the 325e is less of a goer than you would imagine.”

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,700 325e (about $47,700 in 2016 dollars) included power four-wheel disk brakes, bumper-mounted fog lights, and 195/60R14 tires (the same size as those on the Isuzu Impulse). Inside, the 325e came well-equipped: power steering, cloth or leatherette manual sport seats, a power sunroof, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a three spoke leather sport steering wheel, and a BMW/Alpine four-speaker AM/FM stereo with cassette and power antenna were all included.

Available options for the 325e were relatively few: a four-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, many choices of metallic paint, and a limited slip differential.

BMW did their best to present the 325e as a legitimate part of their overall product line.

BMW would continue with the 325e as the top of the line 3 series until 1987, when the 325i and 325is were released with the 2.5 liter M20B25 inline 6 featuring a much more sporting 168 bhp. Horsepower for the 325e would climb just a little in 1988, but by 1989 it would be gone, replaced completely in the 3-series model line by the 325i.

Hagerty does not follow 325e values and the 325e is rarely seen in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. Examples do show up on eBay Motors—as I update this post in August 2016, there is a Bronzit Beige 1984 with a tan leatherette interior, an automatic transmission, a sunroof, and 49,000 miles available for $9,850.

1988 Cadillac Cimarron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1980 Chevrolet Citation 4-Door Hatchback Sedan

Today’s Hemming Daily blog included an entry on their Find of the Day—a Dark Blue Metallic 1980 Chevrolet Citation 4-Door Hatchback Sedan with 70,000 miles available for $7,000. This officially fits it in my “Who Saves These Cars” category.

“The first Chevy of the ’80s”

For 1980, the Chevrolet Citation was truly all new. It may have been the “most thoroughly tested new car in Chevy history”, but the Citation quickly became the most recalled car in history, with an absolutely astounding nine recalls.

The standard powertrain on the 2,491 pound sedan was the GM’s 2.5 liter Iron Duke 2-barrel carbureted in-line four cylinder engine with 90 bhp, paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy was 24 city/38 highway by the standards of the day (21/34 by today’s standards). 0-60 times for the Iron Duke are hard to find, but were likely over 12 seconds for the four-speed manual transmission and likely about 15 seconds (oog) with the three-speed automatic transmission.

Upgrading to the LE2 2.8 liter V6 with 2-barrel carburetor got you 115 bhp and a 0-60 time of a little over 10 seconds. Fuel economy dropped, but not by that much: to 20 city/34 highway with the four-speed manual transmission. Moving to the profligate three-speed automatic transmission dropped highway mileage to 30 mpg.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $5,153 sedan (about $14,900 in 2014 dollars) included the heavily advertised front-wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, glass-belted P185/80R13 radial tires, and a Delco Freedom battery. Inside, sliding door locks, a lockable glove box, and an AM radio were considered worth mentioning as standard features. Chevrolet also shamelessly stated that the sedan’s .417 drag coefficient was a sign of “Efficient Aerodynamics”.

Exterior and mechanical options were many, including cruise control ($105), an electric rear window defogger ($101), intermittent wipers ($39), power brakes, power steering, sport mirrors (both manual and power), and tinted glass ($70). Inside, a custom interior, a gauge package ($70), bucket seats, air conditioning ($564), a reclining front passenger seat, power door locks ($123), power windows ($189), a tilt wheel ($75), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($188) were all available.

As Hemmings showed today, Citations do sometimes come up for sale, though I see few in the condition of the one they highlighted.

1986 Cadillac Eldorado

“Imaginatively new. Decidedly Cadillac.”

Is it possible to miss the market more than this? For, 1986 Cadillac downsized the front wheel drive Eldorado coupe again. This time, wheelbase dropped to 108 inches and overall length was down by over 16 inches to 188 inches—what was supposed the top of the non-limousine Cadillac line was now about the size of a 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity (or only about six inches longer than a 2014 ATS) and a full three feet shorter than the (admittedly huge) 1978 Eldorado.

Predictably, Eldorado buyers didn’t go for it. Sales collapsed from about 74,000 in 1985 to about 21,000 in 1986—definitely not what would be expected from a complete model revision.

EightiesEldoradoSales

So, what did those relatively few buyers get with their $24,251 (about $52,600 in today’s dollars)1986 Eldorado? Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included power four wheel disc brakes, power steering, and aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, front bucket seats, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, a power trunk release, cruise control, electronic climate control, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included, so the Eldorado was at least pretty well equipped.

Moving up to the Biarritz (almost always the top if the line Eldorado since 1956) cost either $3,095 (with cloth seats) or $3,495 (with leather seats) raising the price to either $27,346 ($59,400 today) or $27,746 ($60,200 today). Standard equipment on the Biarritz included nicer seats with power lumber support, two-tone paint, and real walnut accents.

Options included a power Astroroof ($1,255), a nicely integrated cellular phone ($2,850), the FE2 touring suspension with 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels and 215/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires ($155), and the Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System ($895).

The Eldorado’s engine was Cadillac’s 130 bhp HT-4100 throttle body fuel injected 4.1 liter V8 paired with a four speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 17 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (15/24 by today’s standards). Since the engine and transmission remained the same and the Eldorado was smaller and lighter, performance was better but still not very impressive: 0-60 improved to about 11 seconds.

Page from the 1986 Cadillac Eldorado brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Eldorados of this age come up for sale often in Hemmings Motor News, so folks are saving them. As I write this in June 2014, four 1986 Eldorados are for sale, with prices ranging from $7,750 to $11,995.

1985 Buick Somerset Regal

I saw a fairly original Buick Somerset Regal with Dark Gray Metallic paint on a side road in Philadelphia about a week ago. It was the first one I’d seen in many years.

“There has never been a Buick quite like the Somerset Regal”

Buick’s Somerset Regal was a new model for 1985. Available initially in coupe form only, Buick’s version of the N-body (Oldsmobile had the Calais and Pontiac had the Grand Am) was designed to at least partially replace the Skylark. It failed miserably, only surviving for three years before being subsumed into the Skylark product line.

1985BuickSomersetRegalExterior
1985 Buick Somerset Regal Limited, courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Somerset Regal was not a big car by today’s standards. With 180 inches of length and a 103.4 inch wheelbase, it is within shouting distance of a 2014 Honda Civic coupe, which is 177.9 inches long and has 103.2 inch wheelbase. Of course, cars in general have gotten a lot bigger in these thirty years—the Somerset Regal was notably larger than the 1985 Honda Accord.

The standard powertrain was a 92 bhp Tech IV 2.5 liter inline 4 with throttle body fuel injection (a slightly upgraded Iron Duke) paired with a five-speed manual transmission, but I believe most buyers went with the optional ($425) three-speed automatic instead. The hot set-up (if you could call it that) was the optional ($560) 125 bhp LN7 3.0 liter multi-port fuel injected V6, only available with the automatic.

Mileage for the inline 4 and five-speed manual combination was an impressive 24 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (21/31 by 2014 standards). Choosing the more realistic three-speed automatic cost 2 mpg while upgrading to the V6 dropped you all the way down to 20 city/26 highway.

For the Somerset Regal’s $8,857 base price (about $20,300 in today’s dollars), standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, tungsten-halogen headlights, and body-colored bumpers. The interior included bucket seats and electronic digital instrumentation (somewhat upmarket at the time). Moving up to the Limited trim added dual horns, chrome bumpers, and courtesy lamps, along with snazzier seats and steering wheel.

1985BuickSomersetRegal
1985 Buick Somerset Regal interior, courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Standard features that date the Somerset Regal included the Delco Freedom II Plus battery, front and rear ashtrays in the console, and the P185/80R13 tires (now considered a trailer size).

Options included the $645 air conditioning (in the mid-1980s not yet standard on most cars), cruise control ($175), leather seats ($275 and only available with the Limited), power door locks ($130), power windows ($195), Vista-Vent sunroof, Delco GM/Bose Music System AM/FM stereo cassette ($995!), cast aluminum wheels ($229), and a Gran Touring suspension ($27).

1982 Cadillac Cimarron

Hemmings Motor News published an extended discussion on the Cadillac Cimarron today in their always interesting Hemmings Daily blog, so I figured I’d bring one of my first posts up to a more current location.

“A new kind of Cadillac for a new kind of Cadillac owner.”

Ah—the poor Cadillac Cimarron, rushed to market for CAFE and other reasons without much thought as to who would actually buy it. When released in 1982, it was really just a nice as possible, fairly well equipped Chevrolet Cavalier.

Inside page from the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The only engine available for 1982 was the 88 bhp L46 1.8 liter/112 cubic inch inline four cylinder with Rochester 2-barrel carburetor. When paired with the standard four-speed manual transmission, mileage was an impressive 26 city/42 highway by the standards of the day but the car was slow, slow, slow—0-60 mph took a little under 16 seconds. A three-speed automatic transmission was optional and presumably even slower.

The $12,181 base price (about $29,600 in today’s dollars) included standard exterior and mechanical features such as power brakes, power steering, power mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, and 13-inch aluminum wheels. Air conditioning, leather seating areas, a leather steering wheel, a tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were all standard in the interior.

Options included a sunroof ($261), cruise control (about $150), power door locks ($12—why bother making it an option?), power windows (yes, the base 1982 Cimarron came with roll-up windows—power windows were an extra $216), six-way power seats ($366), tilt steering wheel ($88), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($153). It wasn’t hard to load a Cimarron up to almost $13,500—real money in 1982 and about $35,100 in 2015 dollars.

In typical General Motors fashion, the Cimarron definitely improved each year (sometimes significantly). However, the stench of that horribly failed initial release stayed with the car until Cadillac finally stopped selling them at the end of the 1988 model year. By that point, the Cimarron had upgraded from the fairly awful four cylinder to a decent (and standard) V6 and had exterior styling that was at least somewhat more differentiated from Chevrolet’s.

So, the Cimarron remains a spectacularly easy target—routinely making those “worst 10 cars of all time” lists and suchlike.

I have yet to see a Cimarron at a serious antique car show, but I’m betting some intrepid soul will save one and bring it back. I can’t remember ever seeing one for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds—they’re treated by Cadillac folks like Ford folks treat the Mustang II from the 1970s. You do occasionally see them on eBay Motors.

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