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. There was an interesting write-up on the Fuego in OldMotors last year.

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 …

1982 Pontiac Phoenix SJ coupe

In this post, we’re once again revisiting interesting versions of mass-market eighties vehicles that just about nobody bought. This one is a sporty version of Pontiac’s X platform entry and means I have now treated every GM marque’s X car entry at least once.

… for people who absolutely love to drive.

For the 1982 model year, the sporty SJ version of Pontiac’s Phoenix compact became its own model, instead of the trim option it had been for the previous two years. Aside from being a specific model, the biggest news was almost certainly that the 2.8 liter High Output V6 was standard for the SJ.

That new standard engine was the GM corporate LH7 135 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 with a Rochester E2SE two-barrel carburetor. It was paired with either a standard four-speed manual or an optional three-speed automatic. With the manual, 0-60 came in about 9 seconds—respectable for 1982.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all Phoenix coupes included body-color front and rear bumpers, front-wheel-drive, single rectangular halogen headlamps, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/80R13 tires on 13-inch wheels with hubcaps. Inside, Pontiac included a full-width front seat, a Deluxe steering wheel, and a Delco-GM AM radio with dual front speakers.

The mid-range LJ coupe included custom wheel covers, additional acoustical insulation, a Luxury cushion steering wheel, and a full-width luxury notchback front seat with center armrest.

1982 SJ pages from the Pontiac Phoenix brochure
SJ pages from the 1982 Pontiac Phoenix brochure

For $8,723 (about $24,100 in today’s dollars), the top-of-the-line SJ coupe added two-tone paint and specific graphics, a front air dam, power brakes, power steering, a special suspension, and 205/70R13 tires (now essentially unavailable) on 13-inch cast-aluminum wheels. Inside, additional standard features for the SJ included gauges (rally cluster, clock, tachometer, and trip odometer), a Formula steering wheel, and bucket seats.

Exterior and mechanical options for the SJ coupe included a removable glass sunroof, tinted glass, and a rear deck spoiler. Inside, Custom air conditioning, an electric rear window defogger, power door locks, power windows, a six-way power driver’s seat, a tilt steering wheel, and a Delco-GM AM/FM stereo with a cassette stereo tape player were among the many options available.

Of course, the SJ designation had been around a long-time and not just for Pontiac. Duesenberg had used SJ in the early 1930s to describe the supercharged versions of their spectacular cars. By 1969, Pontiac had started (shamelessly—no surprise) using SJ for the top-of-the-line version of their Grand Prix coupe. The SJ designation for the top-of-the-line Grand Prix continued through the 1980 model year.

Despite Pontiac’s evident efforts to market the Phoenix SJ, it simply did not sell. With 994 produced, it was less than 6% of Phoenix coupe sales, with the vast majority going to the base version. Obviously, Pontiac has other things going on in 1982, including the introduction of a brand new Firebird and Trans Am. Front-wheel-drive Phoenixes of any sort are now almost completely vanished from the nation’s roads, and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors.

Other X platform cars I have written about include the 1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe, the 1983 Buick Skylark T Type coupe, the 1984 Oldsmobile Omega sedan, and the 1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan.

1985 Oldsmobile Firenza ES sedan

In this post, we’re once again revisiting interesting versions of mass-market eighties vehicles that just about nobody bought. This one is a sporty version of Oldsmobile’s J platform entry.

“A sporty way to tame the open road.”

For 1985, Oldsmobile offered three different Firenza body styles: a three-door hatchback coupe, a four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon. Both the hatchback coupe and the sedan had sporty versions: in the case of the hatchback, it was the GT, while for the sedan, it was the ES. I am going to write about the ES in this post.

The Firenza’s standard powertrain was an 88 bhp LQ5 2.0 liter/121 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Engine options included a $50 84 bhp LH8 1.8 liter/110 ci inline OHC four with the throttle-body fuel injection and a far more interesting $560 130 bhp LB6 2.8 liter V6 with multi-port fuel injection. Transmission options included a $75 five-speed manual (available for the LH8 only) and a $425 three-speed automatic (available for all three engines).

Standard equipment exterior and mechanical equipment on all Firenzas include front-wheel-drive, rack and pinion steering, and P175/80R13 blackwall tires on 13-inch wheels. Inside, contour-reclining bucket seats and an AM push-button radio with two front speakers and a fixed mast antenna were included. With a base price of $7,679 (about $18,900 in 2020 dollars), Firenza sedans added Deluxe wheel discs and a Deluxe steering wheel.

Firenza ES page from a 1985 Oldsmobile brochure

Standard exterior equipment on the ES sedan included amber turn signals, a Firenza ES nameplate on the front fenders, and blacked-out trim all around. Mechanical equipment included the 1.8 liter inline four, a five-speed manual transmission, tungsten halogen high-beam headlamps, a firm ride and handling package, and Goodyear Eagle GT P205/60R14 blackwall tires (a size still readily available, though generally not from major manufacturers) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe styled wheel discs.

Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a Rallye instrument panel cluster were included. Only three exterior colors were available for the ES: Silver Metallic, Light Teal Blue Metallic, and Carmine Red.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options available for the ES were Soft-Ray tinted glass, a Vista-Vent glass-panel sunroof ($310), and two-tone paint. Inside, Oldsmobile offered a Four-Season air conditioner, power door locks, and a choice of three optional radios. A special contoured hood was added if the V6 was selected.

For Oldsmobile in 1985, the Firenza was emphatically not the center of the product line, with every other model—all of them at least somewhat larger—selling better. Of the Firenzas that sold, the vast majority were base sedans, not the GT hatchback coupe (498 sold) or the ES sedan (863 sold). Firenzas of any sort are now almost completely vanished from the nation’s roads, and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors.

Other J platform cars I have covered this blog include the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe, and the 1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird S/E hatchback coupe. I will not ignore the Buick Skyhawk forever.

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.

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.

1987 Sterling 825 sedan

“… such effortless motion, …”

The Sterling 825 sedan was an interesting (perhaps desperate) attempt at re-introducing Rover cars to the North American market, but with different branding than the brutally unsuccessful Rover 3500 hatchback sedan from 1980. Based on the same platform as the acclaimed Acura Legend, the Sterling featured an angular exterior design and an interior with traditional British luxury cues such as Connolly leather seats and burled walnut trim. On the exterior, only the door handles were obviously shared between the Acura and the Sterling.

A Honda-built 151 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci V6 with fuel injection combined with a five-speed manual transmission yielded mpg ratings of 18 city /24 highway by the standards of the day (16/22 by modern standards). The four-speed automatic transmission dropped mpg incrementally to 17 city/23 highway.

The $19,200 (about $30,700 in today’s dollars or about $6,000 less than the price of a base 2019 Jaguar XE sedan) 825 S came with remote locking, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and 195/65R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch alloy wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, an electric moonroof, cruise control, velour cloth seats, and a Phillips AM/FM stereo cassette with six speakers were all included.

Moving up to the $23,900 (about $38,200 in 2018 dollars) 825 SL added a four-speed automatic transmission, Bosch anti-lock brakes, a trip computer, leather upholstery with a heated driver’s seat, and an eight-speaker stereo.

Advertised as “The inevitable British road car.” Sterling sold 14,171 units of the 825 in the 1987 model year—not a bad debut. But, trouble was brewing; in an attempt to generate more jobs in the United Kingdom, Rover had decided to use Lucas electronic systems instead of those from Honda. Predictably, those electronics weren’t reliable, and there were also issues with the interior plastics and the exterior paint. Finally, rust came much too quickly.

All this meant that sales dropped rapidly. In 1988, only 8,901 were sold, and every year following things got worse. In August 1991, Sterling announced they were leaving the North American market after selling a total of about 35,000 cars over five years.

In 2018, the Sterling 825 rarely comes up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. I haven’t seen one in many years, but I believe I’d still notice that handsome styling if I did. Make mine silver, I think.

1983 Buick Skylark T TYPE coupe

“A road car with a very distinct personality.”

Buick offered five separate T TYPE models (their spelling) in 1983. One of the new ones was the Skylark coupe, Buick’s version of the X-car.

The Skylark T TYPE‘s standard powertrain was the LH7 “high output” 135 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 with a Rochester E2SE two-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed manual. The 0-60 time was a little over 9 seconds—respectable but not great in 1983. Mileage was 21 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (17/23 by today’s standards). With a 15.1-gallon fuel tank, a T TYPE owner could expect a range of 270 to 375 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $9,337 T TYPE coupe (about $24,000 in today’s dollars or about what a base 2018 Regal Sportback costs) included a Sport suspension (stiffer rate springs, stiffer shock absorbers, a more rigid front stabilizer bar, and added rear stabilizer bar), a “special tuned” exhaust, a 3.65:1 final drive ratio, and P215/60R14 steel belted radial tires (a size still available from BFGoodrich and Riken) on 14-inch styled aluminum wheels. Exterior equipment specific to the T TYPE included a blacked out grille, smoked tail lamp lenses, and charcoal lower body accent paint. Inside, vinyl or cloth bucket seats with backrest recliner, full-length operating console, special sport steering wheel, and color-coordinated seat belt buckles were included.

Standard equipment on all Skylarks included front wheel drive, power rack and pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, tungsten-halogen high/low beam headlamps, a Delco Freedom II Plus battery, and an AM radio with two front speakers and a fixed-mast radio antenna.

Options included dual electric remote mirrors ($78), Vista-Vent flip-open removable glass sunroof ($295), air conditioning ($725), Cruise Master speed control with resume ($170), power windows ($180), tilt steering ($105), and an ETR AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player and graphic equalizer ($505).

Skylark pages from the 1983 Buick T TYPEs brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Despite Buick’s commitment to extending the T TYPE line (they even went to the trouble of creating a T TYPE brochure), sales were not impressive—about 3.5% of the sales of the Skyhawk, Skylark, Century, Regal, and Riviera. Of the T TYPEs, the Skylark was comparatively successful, with 2,489 sold—about 6.1% of overall Skylark sales.

I haven’t seen a Skylark T TYPE since they were new and I saw one parked outside of the long-gone Crown Buick on the Lincoln Highway in Ardmore, PA. Skylarks of this era are rarely seen in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—when one does come up for sale Hemmings considers it worthy of a portion of a blog entry.

There were only four exterior colors available for the Skylark T TYPE: White, Silver, Dark Red, and Light Sand Gray. Make mine Silver, please.

1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan

“One car that does it all.”

1985 was, mercifully, the last year for the Chevrolet Citation. It was also, in a sad General Motors tradition, the best Citation (the 1985 Citation had no recalls after the nine that the 1980 had). Half-heartedly renamed Citation II in 1984, the X-car would be replaced by the Nova in 1986. There were some changes: new colors were available, and the dashboard was revised, allowing the “normal” horizontal Delco radios.

For 1985, the Citation II’s standard powertrain remained the LR8 “Iron Duke” 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual (the Citation never got a five-speed—even as an option). With the standard powertrain, 0-60 came in a little under 12 seconds in the 2,500-pound car with a theoretical top speed of 101 mph. Mileage was competitive: 24 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (21/31 by today’s standards). With a 14-gallon fuel tank, the owner of a base Citation could expect a range of between 325 and 365 miles with a 10% field reserve.

Powertrain options included two different 2.8 liter/173 ci V6’s (why?): the LE2 112 bhp version with a two-barrel carburetor ($260) and the LB6 130 bhp type with fuel injection ($435). A three-speed automatic was—of course—available ($425). The V6 in general, and especially the fuel injected version, made the Citation II substantially more spritely: 0-60 times of about 9 seconds and a top speed of about 118 mph. You paid a mileage price for that performance: 19 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (17/24 by today’s standards).

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $7,090 Citation II hatchback sedan (approximately $16,900 in 2019 dollars—about what base 2019 Chevrolet Cruze L sedan goes for) included halogen headlamps, rack-and-pinion steering, front disk/rear drum brakes, and P185/80R-13 radial tires (now a trailer size) on 13-inch by 5.5-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, sliding door locks, a lockable glove box, a folding rear seat, and an AM/FM radio with two speakers were included.

Exterior and mechanical options included tinted glass ($110), two-tone paint ($176), power brakes ($100), power steering ($215), and the F41 sports suspension (acknowledged to be a bargain at $33). Inside, a quiet sound/rear decor package ($92), air conditioning ($730), cruise control ($175), Comfortilt steering wheel ($110), an electric rear defogger ($140), and an electronic-tuning AM/FM stereo radio with cassette, clock, and seek/scan ($319) were all available.

1985 Citation II brochure cover, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

The 1985 Citation II did not sell—overall sales in this last year fell to a mere 8% of the first year sales. At an average Chevrolet dealership, you could expect it to be outsold by the Chevette, the Cavalier, the Camaro, the Celebrity, the Monte Carlo, and the Caprice Classic.

I haven’t seen a Citation in years—the last one was an X-11 in early 2014. They rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one shown, though I’m not betting against that at some point.

Updated in February 2019.

1987 Mercury Lynx XR3 hatchback coupe

“… the sporting side of Lynx.”

1987 was the last year for Mercury’s version of Ford’s Escort. The Escort would soldier on for many more years (through model year 2002), but from 1988 forward the smallest American-built Mercury would be the Topaz. For 1986 and 1987, the top of the line Lynx was the XR3 hatchback coupe.

The Lynx XR3‘s standard powertrain was a “High Output” 115 bhp 1.9 liter/113 ci inline four with Bosch fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. Mileage was good—25 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (about 22 city/31 highway by 2018 standards). Acceleration was reasonably quick: 0-60 came in about 10 seconds in the approximately 2,400-pound car. With a 13-gallon fuel tank, Lynx XR3 drivers could expect a range of from 310 to 345 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,808 Lynx XR3 (about $20,100 in today’s dollars and close to what a 2018 Fiesta ST hatchback costs) included an asymmetrical grille, aerodynamic front air dam with built-in fog lamps, wide wheel flairs, rear spoiler, dual power mirrors, and P195/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels. Inside, cloth sport bucket seats, power steering, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and locking fuel filler door with remote release were included.

Standard equipment on every Lynx included front wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, independent four-wheel suspension, aero halogen headlamps, low-back individual reclining seats, and a folding rear seat.

1987 Mercury Lynx XR3, from the 1987 Mercury Lynx brochure.

Exterior and mechanical options included tinted glass ($105), rear window wiper/washer ($126), and engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($688), speed control ($176), and tilt steering wheel ($179) were available.

The final-year Lynx didn’t sell very well: a total of 39,039 in a year when Ford sold 374,765 Escorts. First-generation Escorts and Lynx’s were once so prevalent on American roads, but have virtually disappeared by now. You do occasionally see Lynx’s for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there were none out there as I write this in July 2018.

1985 Pontiac Grand Am coupe

“Introducing a brilliant new driver’s coupe”

The Grand Am name returned for the 1985 model year. Instead of the rear-wheel-drive coupe and sedan that it been in its previous two lives from 1973 to 1980 (with none in 1976 or 1977), it was now a front-wheel-drive coupe, part of GM’s N-body offerings. As such, it’s first relatives were the Buick Somerset Regal and the Oldsmobile Calais.

The standard powertrain on the Grand Am was GM’s Tech IV 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection connected to a five-speed manual. For $560, optional power was a 125 bhp 3.0 liter/181 ci V6 with fuel injection which required the $425 automatic transmission (also available with the base engine). 0-60 times for early N-body cars are hard to come by, but were likely about 10.5 seconds for the standard powertrain and about 9.0 seconds for the V6/automatic combination—the 2,419 pound shipping weight helped. Mileage with the standard powertrain was rated at 24 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (21/31 by today’s standards). With the 13.6-gallon tank, Grand Am buyers could expect a range of 310 to 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $7,995 base coupe (about $19,100 in 2019 dollars) included power rack and pinion steering, power front disc brakes, and P185/80R13 tires (now a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, reclining bucket seats and an integral floor console were included.

The LE (starting at $8,495 or about $20,200 in today’s dollars) included “substantial body side moldings,” upgraded front bucket seats with adjustable headrests, deluxe door trim, and a fold-down rear seat armrest.

Options included rally tuned suspension ($50) and cruise control ($175). A Driver’s Package was also available, which included 215/60R14 Goodyear Eagle GT radials (a size available thanks to BFGoodrich and Riken) on 14-inch turbo cast aluminum wheels, “sport-tuned” front and rear stabilizers, and a Driver Information Center.

I think these were handsome cars, especially with those turbo cast aluminum wheels—Pontiac had great wheel designs in the eighties. Like many America cars of the era that aren’t considered to be collectible, they have essentially vanished despite over 82,000 sold in 1985 alone. They’re invisible in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors and are hard to find anywhere.

Make mine Red, please.