1984 Honda Civic DX hatchback coupe

The 1984 model year brought the third generation Honda Civic, which was available in hatchback coupe, notchback sedan, and wagon versions—along with the CRX, of course. The topic of this post is the hatchback coupe in the upscale DX trim. With its Kammback design, Honda’s new hatchback brought unprecedented style to the compact car segment.

The Civic’s standard powertrain was a 60 bhp 1.3 liter/82 ci inline four with a CVCC three-barrel carburetor and a four-speed manual. However, the DX received a more powerful EW 76 bhp 1.5 liter/91 ci inline four with three valves per cylinder and a CVCC three-barrel carburetor along with a five-speed manual. DX purchasers could also choose an automatic. In a DX with the manual transmission, 0-60 came in about 11 seconds—more than competitive in class in 1984.

With its standard manual transmission, fuel economy ratings for the DX were an excellent 35 city/45 highway by the standards of the day and a still respectable 27/32 by today’s standards. Despite the small 11.9-gallon fuel tank, a new DX owner could expect a range of from 315 to 425 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1984 Honda Civic Hatchback advertisement

At the beginning of the model year, the base Civic hatchback coupe went for $5,242—about $13,500 in 2020 dollars. Standard mechanical equipment on every Civic hatchback included front-wheel-drive, rack and pinion steering, and 155/80R13 steel-belted radial tires (a size still available thanks to Kumho) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, every Civic hatchback included a day/night rearview mirror and reclining front bucket seats.

The $6,292 DX—about $16,200 in today’s dollars and almost exactly what a base 2020 Honda Fit hatchback sedan goes for—added the aforementioned engine and transmission upgrades. It also included tinted glass, a rear window defroster, and reclining rear seatbacks.

There were few factory options beyond the automatic transmission, but many accessories listed in the brochure. Air conditioning was a dealer-installed option for the Civic—and would be so well into the 1990s.

Overall, the 1984 Civic sold very well—at 184,846, it set a new sales record for Honda. Third-generation Civics rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds but have more of a presence on eBay Motors—though most are either highly modified or with substantial miles.

Make mine Claret Red Metallic, please.

Other Hondas I have written about include the 1983 Civic S hatchback coupe, the 1984 CRX hatchback coupe, the 1985 CRX Si hatchback coupe, the 1986 Accord sedan, and the 1988 Civic sedan.

1980 Chrysler Cordoba coupe

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a 1980 Cordoba—can that be true?

“A singular tradition.”

Chrysler’s Cordoba personal luxury was heavily revised for 1980, moving from the first-generation’s somewhat baroque styling to a more angular design. There was also a change in platform, with the Cordoba now based on the 1979 LeBaron coupe.

For the first time, the Cordoba’s base engine was a six—a 90 bhp 3.7 liter/225 ci version of the famous inline Slant Six with a one-barrel carburetor. Power options included a 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with either a two-barrel carburetor (120 bhp/$230) or a four-barrel carburetor (155 bhp/$291) and a 185 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor (which required the $192 Sport Handling package option package and less than 100 buyers paid $545 for). The 5.2 liter with the four-barrel carburetor was California and high altitude only. Chrysler paired all engines with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

With the Slant Six, the Cordoba was brutally slow even by 1980 standards—0-60 was likely in the 18 second range with a top speed of 90 mph. Performance was notably better with the two 5.2 liter V8s and might even be described as spritely with the rare 5.9 liter engine. None of the powerplants yielded good fuel economy as they dragged around a 3,300-pound plus car with a three-speed automatic. The best was the Slant Six, rated at 17 mpg city, with the 5.9 liter getting a mere 13 mpg. With an 18-gallon fuel tank, Cordoba buyers could expect a range of between 210 and 275 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The 1980 Cordoba’s base price was $6,978—about $24,100 in 2020 dollars, or about $4,000 less than a base 2020 Dodge Challenger coupe (close to the same size and still rear-wheel-drive) goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Cordoba included tinted glass, power steering, power front disk/rear drum brakes, and P195/75R15 white sidewall tires on 15-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, a heater and defroster, coat hooks, a cigarette lighter, and an AM radio were included. Standard upholstery was a cloth-and-vinyl split-back bench seat with a folding center armrest.

For a little less money than the standard Cordoba, Chrysler offered the LS ($6,745). It deleted the sill molding and carpeted trunk and changed the tires to black sidewall. The LS was upholstered with a cloth-and-vinyl bench seat.

Heading upmarket, the $7,248 Cordoba Crown added a padded Landau vinyl roof and Premier wheel covers. Inside, the Crown was upholstered with cloth-and-vinyl 60/40 seats with a folding center armrest and a passenger-side seatback recliner.

Corinthian Edition pages from the 1980 Cordoba brochure

Only available for the Cordoba Crown, the $1,818 Corinthian Edition package included chrome remote side mirrors and P205/75R15 “wider” whitewall tires on 15-inch wheels with wire wheel covers. A choice of two colors was available—Black Walnut Metallic or a Designer’s Cream over Designer’s Beige paint treatment. Inside, deep cut-pile carpeting and a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel were included. Of course, the package included leather/vinyl 60/40 seats and Corinthian Edition identification.

Options and Production Numbers

Individual exterior and mechanical options included an electric glass sunroof ($787) and forged aluminum road wheels ($334). Inside, air conditioning ($623), automatic speed control ($116), power windows ($148), and power door locks ($96) were available. The top-of-the-line radio was an AM/FM stereo with a CB transceiver and four speakers ($383), though the Cordoba’s brochure hyped the new $240 AM/FM stereo with cassette player and Dolby noise reduction. A final option was an extra cost 5/50 protection plan.

Cordoba sales dropped by about 37% to 46,406 in 1980, but I’m not willing to blame this entirely on the new design—very little was going right for the Chrysler division in 1980. The Cordoba’s percentage of overall Chrysler division sales actually increased in 1980—but Oldsmobile sold four times as many Cutlass Supreme coupes. Chrysler continued to make the Cordoba through the 1983 model year, with sales dropping each year. Its putative replacement for 1984 was the far different front-wheel-drive Laser XE hatchback coupe.

The View From 2020

Hagerty does not track values for any Cordoba, but they do show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, Hemmings lists a Charcoal Gray Metallic 1983 with red cloth bucket seats and 44,000 miles for sale, asking $9,000.

Make mine Crimson Red Metallic, please.

Other rear-wheel-drive Chrysler products I have written about are the 1980 Plymouth Volaré station wagon and the 1983 Imperial coupe.

Eighties Vehicles at the 2020 Mecum Houston

Mecum’s Dallas auction in December 2020 provided some interesting fodder for commentary. It’s important to remember that Mecum auctions are not “no reserve” auctions—a black 1983 Mercedes-Benz G300 SUV with white bucket seats was a no-sale bid up to $52,000. I’ll concentrate on the at least reasonably stock 1980s vehicles that sold and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 11% of the 364 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Thursday, December 3rd:

  • 1984 blue BMW 318i coupe with tan bucket seats, a 101 bhp 1.8 liter/108 ci inline four with fuel injection, an automatic, and 47,000 miles—$4,000 hammer price.
  • 1985 Cotillion White Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible with a white top, red leather “tufted multi-button” seats, an HT-4100 135 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 57,000 miles—$15,000 is #2/Excellent money, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools.
1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz interior, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1982 blue/white two-tone Ford F100 pickup truck with a blue bench seat, a 133 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, and an automatic—$6,500
  • 1983 brown Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a brown interior, an unknown V8, and an automatic—$9,500
  • 1982 blue Datsun 280ZX Turbo 2+2 hatchback coupe with gray bucket seats, an L28ET 145 bhp 2.8 liter/168 ci inline six with a turbocharger and fuel injection, and an automatic—$10,500
  • 1982 Silver Beige Chevrolet Corvette coupe with silver beige leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 36,000 miles—$14,500
  • 1982 white Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce convertible with a brown top, brown bucket seats, a 111 bhp 2.0 liter/120 ci inline four with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 97,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1985 Shelby GLHS custom (engine, interior) hatchback coupe with gray cloth bucket seats, a 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with a turbocharger, an intercooler, and fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 32,000 miles—at $19,500, the highest eighties vehicle sale on Thursday
  • 1989 pearl white Chevrolet 1500 custom (exterior) pickup truck with an unknown V8—$7,000
  • 1984 beige/black two-tone Chevrolet Suburban custom (suspension, wheels/tires) SUV—$5,000
  • 1984 red Toyota Celica hatchback coupe with red cloth bucket seats, a 22R-E 105 bhp 2.4 liter inline four with fuel injection, and an automatic—$14,000
  • 1982 blue Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser mild custom SUV with tan seats, a 2F 4.2 liter inline six, and a four-speed manual—$15,000
  • 1986 white Nissan Spartan II coupe with a gray interior, a 3.0 liter V6 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$11,500 for this 300ZX-based neo-classic
  • 1983 sky blue Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with blue bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 92,000 miles—$3,000 for this SL stated to not be in running condition
  • 1985 chocolate Chevrolet C10 custom (just about everything) pickup truck with tan leather bucket seats, a 6.3 liter/383 ci V8, and an automatic—$16,000

Friday, December 4th:

  • 1985 black/silver two-tone Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with 65,000 miles and little other description—$7,000
  • 1982 Red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 67,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1987 red/white two-tone Chevrolet C10 custom (suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a black cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 65,000 miles—$23,000
  • 1982 Dark Brown Metallic Datsun 280ZX Turbo hatchback coupe with tan cloth bucket seats, an L28ET 145 bhp 2.8 liter/168 ci inline six with a turbocharger and fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—at $28,000 the first vehicle in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 1980s collectability of original cars or trucks: selling for equal to or above its original base list price. I’ll mark these vehicles in bold green.
1982 Datsun 280ZX Turbo, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1984 white Zimmer Golden Spirit coupe with red leather bucket seats, a Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$21,000
  • 1989 maroon/white two-tone Dodge Ramcharger SUV with red cloth seats, an unknown V8 (could be a 5.2 liter or a 5.9 liter), an automatic, and 57,000 miles—$9,500
  • 1987 blue metallic Chevrolet K10 custom (exterior, engine, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a carburetor, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1984 Apple Red Chevrolet C10 pickup truck with a charcoal vinyl bench seat, an LE9 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1983 Rally Red Jeep CJ-7 custom (just about everything) SUV with red bucket seats and a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a supercharger—at $37,000, the highest eighties vehicle sale on Friday
  • 1980 beige Mercedes-Benz 450SL convertible with a black soft top, brown bucket seats, a 160 bhp 4.5 liter/276 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$19,000
  • 1984 black GMC 1500 custom (engine, suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$19,500
  • 1981 Chevrolet C10 custom (just about everything) pickup truck with blue cloth bucket seats, a 6.0 liter V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$22,000
  • 1988 Salmon Silver Metallic BMW 325i convertible with a black top, black leather bucket seats, an M20B25 168 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four with fuel injection, and an automatic—$7,000.
  • 1983 beige Jeep CJ-7 SUV with tan bucket seats, a manual, and 132,000 miles—$13,000
  • 1985 Apple Red/Frost White two-tone Chevrolet K5 Blazer Silverado SUV with red cloth bucket seats and an automatic—$25,500
  • 1987 Medium Gray Metallic Chevrolet El Camino pickup truck with a gray cloth seat, an LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 29,000 miles—$9,000
  • 1983 tan Jeep Scrambler custom (just about everything) pickup truck with gray bucket seats, a 5.9 liter V8, and an automatic—$15,500
  • 1986 white Volkswagen custom (exterior, wheels/tires) cabriolet with gray/white bucket seats, a 90 bhp 1.8 liter inline four, a five-speed manual, and 122,000 miles—$4,000

Saturday, December 5th:

  • 1982 Silver Beige Chevrolet Corvette coupe with silver beige leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 11,000 miles—$24,000 is solid money for a 1982 CE.
  • 1984 Chevrolet C10 custom (engine, suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a 7.4 liter/454 ci V8 and an automatic—$22,000
  • 1986 blue/tan two-tone Chevrolet C10 custom (powertrain, interior, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a gray bench seat, a 6.0 liter V8, and an automatic—$31,000
  • 1987 black Porsche 930 Turbo coupe with brown bucket seats, a 282 bhp 3.3 liter/201 ci flat six with a turbocharger and fuel injection, a four-speed manual, and 28,000 miles—$120,000 for this factory slant nose made it the highest eighties vehicle of this auction
1988 Porsche 930 Turbo, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1983 Chevrolet C10 custom (engine, suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a cloth bench seat, a 6.3 liter/383 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$30,000
  • 1987 red orange Land Rover Defender 90 custom (just about everything) SUV with orange/black leather bucket seats, a 2.5 liter diesel inline four, and a five-speed manual—$41,000

Houston was another Mecum auction in Texas that featured many Chevrolet trucks. This profusion of bowtie trucks meant that Chevrolets were 44% of the eighties vehicles sold. Other prevalent marques were Jeep and Nissan/Datsun. What do you think?

1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 15th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe

I clearly remember a 15th Anniversary Edition Trans Am being displayed inside Marsh Pontiac’s small showroom on the Lincoln Highway in Ardmore, PA.

“… leaves the also-rans even further behind …”

1984 Trans Am press release
15th Anniversary Trans Am press materials

For 1984, Pontiac announced a special edition Trans Am to commemorate the Firebird sub-model’s 15th year.

The $3,499 15th Anniversary Edition featured white paint with blue graphics that hearkened back to the original 1969 Trans Am. Other exterior components included the Aero Package optional on normal Trans Ams and T-tops. Mechanical features included the LG9 HO 190 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, the WS6 special handling package, four-wheel power disc brakes, and P245/50R16 tires (a size still readily available) on 16 x 8 inch white hi-tech turbo aluminum wheels.

As had been true in many previous Trans Am special editions, the 15th Anniversary Edition Trans Am featured Recaro front bucket seats—these were leather with cloth inserts. Other interior features specific to the special edition included a white leather steering wheel and shifter knob. Standard equipment on all 1984 Trans Ams included sport mirrors, a rear deck spoiler, tungsten halogen headlamps, rally gauges, a console, and power steering.

Only the top of the line engine was available with the 15th Anniversary Edition, but there was a choice of transmissions. A five-speed manual came standard, with an automatic being a $295 option. 0-60 came in less than seven seconds—two to three seconds better than it had been in 1982. Fuel economy ratings were 16 city/27 highway by 1984 standards (13/20 by today’s measures). With a smallish 13.3-gallon gas tank, a Trans Am owner could expect a range of 200 to 255 mikes with a 10% fuel reserve.

Options and Production Numbers

Trans Ams (even special editions ones) did not come loaded in 1984—by the time the 20th Anniversary Edition came around in 1989, that would no longer be so. Exterior and mechanical options included Soft-Ray tinted glass ($110), an electric rear window defogger ($140), and a limited slip differential ($95).

Interior options included air conditioning ($730), power windows ($215), a power antenna ($60), and a Delco AM/FM stereo cassette with a five-band graphic equalizer ($590). Upholstery and trim options included six-way power seats ($215 each), a tilt steering wheel ($110), luggage compartment trim ($110), and cloth floor mats ($20 front/$15 rear).

Pontiac built a symbolic 1,500 15th Anniversary Editions—500 with the five-speed manual and 1,000 with the automatic. Those 1,500 were a small part of the 55,374 total Trans Ams made in the 1984 model year, with those sales less than half of 128,304 Firebirds sold (Pontiac sold a lot of base Firebirds). Both the Trans Am numbers and the overall Firebird sales marked an eighties peak for Pontiac, with only 1980 and 1982 coming close.

The View From 2020

15th Anniversary Edition Trans Ams do attract some collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 15th Anniversary Edition Trans Am with the five-speed in #1/Concours condition is $28,400, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version with an automatic going for $9,500. These Trans Ams are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction.

Make mine White, please—it’s not like I have a choice.

I evidently can’t help myself with eighties Trans Ams; I’ve also written about the 1981, the 1982, the 1985, and the 1989 Turbo. I probably should write about the Formula and the S/E at some point—perhaps even the base car.

Eighties Vehicles at the 2020 Mecum Dallas

Mecum’s Dallas auction in October 2020 provided some interesting fodder for commentary. It’s important to remember that Mecum auctions are not “no reserve” auctions—a yellow 1982 Toyota FJ-45 Land Cruiser SUV with a black bench seat was a no-sale bid up to $42,500. I’ll concentrate on the at least reasonably stock 1980s vehicles that sold and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 7% of the 529 vehicle lots sold in this auction.

Thursday, October 15th:

  • 1982 Silver Metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe with silver gray leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 36,000 miles—$12,000 hammer price
  • 1985 silver Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a blue interior, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$7,500
  • 1980 red Jeep CJ-7 SUV with tan bucket seats, a 119 bhp 5.0 liter/304 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—at $18,000 the first vehicle in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 1980s collectability of original cars or trucks: selling for equal to or above its original base list price. I’ll mark these vehicles in bold green.
  • 1985 yellow Cadillac Eldorado coupe with a yellow vinyl top, tan leather seats, an HT-4100 135 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$6,000
  • 1981 red/white two-tone Ford F150 Explorer pickup truck with a plaid cloth bench seat, a 120 bhp 4.9 liter/300 ci inline six with a carburetor, an automatic, and 51,000 miles—$20,000 for this truck with it’s original “big six.”
1981 Ford F150 Explorer, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1986 red/white two-tone Dodge Ramcharger Royale SE SUV with red cloth seats, a 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$10,500
  • 1985 red Chevrolet K10 mild custom pickup truck with a red cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$38,000
  • 1987 Black Buick Regal Grand National coupe with black/silver cloth bucket seats, an LC2 235 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection, turbocharger, and intercooler, and an automatic—$27,500
  • 1989 black Ford F150 custom (engine, wheels/tires) pickup truck with gray cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 87,000 miles—$10,000
  • 1986 Dark Cordovan Chrysler LeBaron convertible with a tan top, cordovan vinyl bucket seats, an unknown inline four (could be a 2.2 liter or a 2.5 liter), an automatic, and 26,000 miles—$7,000
  • 1989 dark green/beige two-tone Chevrolet Blazer mild custom SUV with beige cloth bucket seats, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$11,500
  • 1989 white with woodgrain Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon with a dark sapphire blue 55/45 cloth seat, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 42,000 miles—$9,000

Friday, October 16th:

  • 1980 Carousel Red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe with dark camel cloth bucket seats, a W72 150 bhp 4.9 liter/301 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$23,000
  • 1986 Light Regatta Blue/Colonial White two-tone Ford F250 XLT mild custom pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, a Lima 7.5 liter/460 ci V8, and an automatic—$17,000
  • 1988 Black Ford Mustang convertible with a black top, medium gray cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 38,000 miles—$14,000
  • 1989 Medium Red Toyota SR5 custom (engine) pickup truck with gray cloth bucket seats, a 3.4 liter V6, and a five-speed manual—$14,500
  • 1987 black Chevrolet Silverado custom (exterior, suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a red interior, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, an automatic, and 87,000 miles—$30,000
  • 1982 yellow Chevrolet Corvette coupe with camel leather bucket seats, an L83 Cross-Fire 200 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, and an automatic—$13,000
  • 1981 Red Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe with red vinyl bucket seats, an LM1 175 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 36,000 miles—$22,000
1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, linked from Mecum’s website
  • 1988 gray Dodge Ramcharger mild custom SUV with red cloth bucket seats, an LA 170 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 38,000 miles—$8,500
  • 1986 red Chevrolet K10 custom (engine, suspension, exterior, interior) pickup truck with a gray cloth bench seat, a 427 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 27,000 miles—$40,000
  • 1984 Le Mans Blue Chevrolet K10 custom (engine, suspension, exterior, interior) pickup truck with blue cloth seats, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$25,000
  • 1981 orange Jeep CJ-5 custom (just about everything) SUV with black seats, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1981 black Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck with black bucket seats, a 110 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a two-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 47,000 miles—$24,000
  • 1984 Light Blue Metallic/Silver two-tone Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with blue cloth bench seat, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and an automatic—$24,000
  • 1986 Bright Red Chevrolet Corvette convertible with medium gray leather seats, an L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$18,000 is substantial money for a C4 Corvette convertible without a lot of provenance.
  • 1981 white/black two-tone Chevrolet Blazer SUV with blue cloth bucket seats, a V8, and an automatic—$22,000
  • 1986 red Dodge SLE pickup truck with a red cloth bench seat, a 5.8 liter/360 ci V8, and an automatic—$20,000
  • 1988 Medium Blue Metallic Chevrolet Corvette convertible with a black top, blue leather seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$7,500

Saturday, October 17th:

  • 1980 Black Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe with red cloth bucket seats, an LM1 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 37,000 miles—$22,000
  • 1985 black Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a burgundy cloth bench seat, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and an automatic—$13,500
  • 1984 red Chevrolet Silverado custom (body, engine) pickup truck with a gray cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$28,000
  • 1987 amber/cream two-tone Chevrolet Silverado custom (paint, engine) pickup truck with a tan vinyl bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$29,000
  • 1985 orange/white two-tone Chevrolet Silverado custom (paint, engine) pickup truck with a chocolate vinyl bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$30,000
  • 1985 red with flames Chevrolet Silverado custom (just about everything) pickup truck with bucket seats, an LS V8, and an automatic—$40,000
  • 1984 gray/white two-tone Chevrolet Silverado custom (paint, engine, suspension) pickup truck with an olive green bench seat, an LS V8, and an automatic—$40,000
1984 Chevrolet Silverado custom, linked from Mecum’s website.
  • 1984 green/cream two-tone Chevrolet Silverado custom (paint, engine, suspension, interior) pickup truck with a tan bench seat, an LS V8, and an automatic—$43,000
  • 1988 red Chevrolet 2500 custom (paint, engine, suspension, interior) pickup truck with a red bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$24,000
  • 1980 black Land Rover Defender 110 custom (paint, engine, interior) SUV with black leather bucket seats, a V8, and an automatic—$85,000

This particular auction contained many Chevrolet trucks—most from the Hill’s Hot Rods Square Body Collection. This profusion of bowtie trucks meant that Chevrolets were 55% of the eighties vehicles sold. Other prevalent marques were Ford, Dodge, and Jeep. What do you think?

1983 BMW 633CSi coupe

A neighbor of mine owned a BMW 633CSi for many years. I think all 6-series coupes from the seventies and eighties are good-looking, but this one was exceptionally attractive, with a dark blue exterior and a tan interior.

“A conspicuous exception”

For the 1983 model year, BMW changed the platform of the 6-series coupe in North America. This substantial update—the first since the introduction of the series in 1977—resulted in changes to the exterior styling, the engine, the chassis, the suspension, the electronics, and the interior. These changes still left the 633CSi both very recognizable to and quite comfortable for its intended market.

BMW updated the 633CSi’s engine to the M30 181 bhp 3.2 liter/196 ci inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection. This engine was available with a standard wide-ratio five-speed manual or an optional automatic. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the fuel economy rating of 19 city/29 highway mpg meant a range of between 360 and 400 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph came in about 8.5 seconds—competitive performance for a luxury coupe in 1983.

The updated front suspension featured double-linked struts, making the big coupe less likely to dip under hard braking. The new rear axle assembly added a top-mounted link to the trailing arm layout of the E28 528i. BMW replaced the ventilated rear disc brakes seen in previous years with solid ones in a token bid at simplicity.

1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement
1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement

The 633CSi’s base price was $39,210—about $103,900 in today’s dollars, and about 18% more than a base 2021 840i coupe goes for. Notably, this price was still less than it’s putative German competition; a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SEC was almost $15,000 more. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included quad headlights with halogen high beams, power steering, four-wheel power disc brakes, and 205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 6.5 inch light-alloy wheels.

Inside the 633CSi, BMW paired leather reclining front bucket seats with leather rear bucket seats. Other interior accouterments included air conditioning, power heated side mirrors, power door locks, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, and a digital clock.

BMW would build the 6-series coupes through the 1989 model year. Like many BMWs, the 633CSi does attract collector interest, and there is series-specific club support along with that of the bigger BMW car clubs. 633CSi’s are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, an Atlantic Blue Metallic 1984 633CSi with blue leather seats and 231,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $6,900 firm. Bring A Trailer auctioned a Sapphire Blue 1984 633CSi with a five-speed manual and blue bucket seats for $11,500 in June 2020.

Make mine Lapis Blue, please.

Other BMWs I have written about include the 1984 325e coupe, the 1988 M3 coupe, and the 1988 750iL sedan.

1982 Ford EXP hatchback coupe

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

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

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

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

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

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

1982 Ford EXP brochure cover
1982 Ford EXP brochure cover

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

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

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

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

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

Make mine Bright Red, please.

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

1985 Chevrolet Blazer SUV

“Finding the back country is up to you.”

For 1985, Chevrolet’s Blazer SUV gained a new grille and the availability of a color-keyed top, but not many other changes.

The Blazer’s standard powertrain for everywhere but California was the LE9 160 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor mated to a four-speed manual. Mileage was rated at 14 city/17 highway by the standards of the day (12/16 by 2020 measures). With a 25-gallon gas tank, a Blazer owner could expect a range of 315 to 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The heavy (4,846 pound) Blazer was not quick—0-60 took about 12.5 seconds.

Optional power included a $2,730 LH6 130 bhp 6.2 liter/379 ci diesel V8, which came with a four-speed automatic with overdrive. The diesel came bundled with many other features, including an engine block heater, a heavy-duty radiator, an engine oil cooler, and a dual exhaust system. Mileage for the diesel was rated at 17 city/21 highway.

1985 Chevrolet Blazer brochure cover
1985 Chevrolet Blazer brochure cover

Designated as the Custom Deluxe, the base 1985 Blazer’s price was $11,223—about $27,700 in today’s dollars or almost exactly what a base 2021 Blazer L costs. Standard exterior equipment included a removable fiberglass top and Soft-Ray tinted glass. Mechanical equipment included variable-ratio power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P215/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6 inch white painted wheels with bright metal hub caps. Inside, vinyl high back bucket seats and a heater were standard—the base Blazer was relatively spare inside.

The $1,015 Silverado trim required Custom cloth or Custom vinyl seats and included Silverado nameplates inside and out, the Deluxe Front Appearance package, the Deluxe Molding package, bright body side moldings, dual horns, a color-keyed console, a cigarette lighter, an interior headliner, and a Custom steering wheel.

Individual exterior and mechanical options included deep tinted glass ($194), halogen hi-beam headlamps ($17), a 31-gallon fuel tank ($43), and 15 x 7 cast aluminum wheels ($299). Inside, all-weather air conditioning ($740), electronic speed control ($195), power side windows ($190), a power tailgate window ($43), power door locks ($135), and an AM/FM stereo radio with a stereo cassette tape player ($298) were all available. Upholstery options included Custom vinyl high back bucket seats, Custom cloth high back bucket seats (available only with the Silverado trim), a second row bench seat ($369), and a Comfortilt steering wheel ($115).

1985 ended up being the Blazer’s best sales year in the eighties, with 40,011 exiting dealer lots—up almost 2% over 1984’s total. This performance helped Chevrolet gain the lead in 1985 sales among manufacturers of light-duty trucks.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Blazers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Blazer Silverado in #1/Concours condition is $45,800, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $16,200. Blazers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Midnight Black 1985 Blazer with slate gray cloth bucket seats and 154,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $27,500.

Make mine Midnight Blue, please.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII coupe

On a driveway about three blocks from my house sits a Silver Blue Lincoln Mark VII. The sporty LSC version attracts most of the attention with these cars—it has previously attracted mine. However, this post is about the “base” coupe.

“The most completely equipped car sold in America”

Lincoln dropped the Continental sub-marque name from the Mark series in 1986. That was probably the biggest news in the Mark VII’s third year, but there were other enhancements and changes. The standard V8 gained 10 bhp, while the LSC got a 60 bhp bump. Lincoln added the newly-required high mount rear stop lamp, and both anti-lock brakes and keyless entry became standard across the line. Inside, power front seat recliners and the Premium Sound System were newly standard. The Versace Designer Series was no more, but the Bill Blass Designer Series continued.

The base Mark’s only available powertrain was a Windsor 150 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection mated with a four-speed automatic with overdrive. 0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds in a car with a curb weight that approached 3,700 pounds. Fuel economy was respectable: 18 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (16/24 by 2020 measures). With a 22.1-gallon gas tank, a Mark VII owner could expect a range of 400 to 440 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure pages
Pages from the 1986 Lincoln Mark VII brochure

The Mark VII’s base price was $22,399 for 1986—approximately $53,600 in today’s dollars, or about 15% more than a 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard sedan goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included flush-mounted aerodynamic halogen headlamps, tinted glass on all windows, a power antenna, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, an Electronic Air Suspension with automatic level control, and P215/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch cast-aluminum road wheels. Inside, every Mark VII included fingertip speed control, interval windshield wipers with speed controls, Electronic Automatic Climate Control, cloth six-way power seats, and an AM/FM stereo cassette radio with four speakers.

The well-equipped Mark VII offered relatively few options for 1986. Items buyers could choose included a power glass moonroof ($1,319), a Traction-Lok differential ($165), strange-looking geometric cast-aluminum wheels ($298), wire-spoke aluminum wheels ($693), and leather seating surfaces ($551).

1986 was a solid year for Lincoln’s big coupe. Sales increased by 9% of the previous yeaar and Car and Driver chose the LSC variant as one of their 10Best. All of this happened while sales of the newly downsized Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado collapsed.

Mark VIIs do attract collector interest, and there is model-specific club support along with the bigger Lincoln car clubs. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Mark VII in #1/Concours condition is $16,400, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $11,300. These Marks are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, a mahogany 1988 Mark VII with tan leather seats and 51,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $8,500.

Make mine the extra-cost ($268) Flemish Blue Glamour Clearcoat Metallic, please. What a name!

1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan

We’ve got a lot of road work going on in our area. Two days ago, I had to take a short detour, which sent me down a route that included a few blocks I’ve never traveled. I saw a white Dodge Aries sedan parked on the side of the road. Yesterday, I went back and took a couple of pictures. The Aries was in pretty good shape and sported a Pennsylvania classic car plate.

“More car for the money than you thought possible.”

For 1987 changes to the Dodge Aries sedan were minor. A stainless steel exhaust system was new, as were standard front bucket seats.

The Aries’ standard powertrain was an E86 97 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with central fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. A 100 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four was a $287 option for the LE only and required the $534 TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 25 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (22/29 by 2020 measures), while ratings for the 2.5 liter/automatic combination dropped to 22/27. With a 14-gallon gas tank, the owner of a base Aries sedan could expect a range of 320 to 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The driver of a 2.5 liter Aries could expect about 50 miles less. Best case 0-60 times were about 10.5 seconds in a car with a shipping weight of just under 2,500 pounds.

1985 Dodge Aries LE sedan photo
1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan circa 2020

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $7,655 Dodge Aries sedan included halogen headlights, manual rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a compact spare tire, and P175/80R13 black sidewall tires (now generally a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels with hubcaps. Inside, a manual left exterior mirror, a Deluxe two-spoke steering wheel, a mini console, and cloth with vinyl trim low-back bucket seats with reclining seatbacks were included.

Moving up to the $8,134 LE (which 93% of Aries sedan buyers did) added Deluxe wheel covers, a power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, a trunk light, cloth door trim panels, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. The LE could get a vinyl bench seat at no extra charge.

Chrysler corporation had begun to move to more options packages by the mid-eighties. The Aries sedan had four for 1987:

  • Basic Equipment Package ($261) included Deluxe 13-inch wheel covers, a black power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. It was (natch!) only available for the base sedan.
  • Popular Equipment Discount Package included tinted glass, bodyside tape stripes, an automatic transmission, power-assisted steering, and P185/70R14 black sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, the package included black dual remote exterior mirrors, special sound insulation, trunk dress-up, and an AM stereo/FM stereo electronic tuning radio with a cassette player, four speakers, and a digital clock. This package was LE-only and went for $740.
  • Premium Equipment Discount Package ($1,312 and LE-only) included everything in the Popular Equipment Discount Package and added an electric rear window defroster, electronic speed control, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, a tilt steering column, and power door locks.
  • Light Package ($59 and LE-only) included an ash receiver light, a cigar lighter light, a headlights-on warning buzzer, an ignition switch light with time delay, and an underhood light.

Individual options included tinted glass ($121), 14-inch cast aluminum road wheels ($332 with either the Popular or Premium packages/$381 without), a conventional spare tire ($75 for 13-inch wheel/$85 for $14-inch wheel), and air conditioning ($790 and requiring tinted glass). Between the packages and the options, a loaded LE sedan could surpass $11,000 on its window sticker.

The Aries sedan continued to sell respectably in 1987, with 71,216 sold. It remained by far the best-selling Dodge sedan. Interestingly, K cars have not entirely disappeared from the road—quite unlike many of their eighties peers. Examples of the Aries rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though they do appear on cars.com.

Make mine the extra cost ($41) Twilight Blue Pearl Coat, please.

Other K and K-based cars I have written about include the 1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe, the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the 1984 Chrysler Laser hatchback coupe, the 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan, the 1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe, and the 1986 Chrysler Town and Country convertible.