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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1983 Renault Alliance sedan

A girlfriend of mine owned a light blue Renault Alliance, which she named “Pierre.”

“Driver appeal and room for five.”

Renault’s Alliance sedan debuted in 1983. Based on the Renault 9 and 11, the Alliance was re-engineered for the North American market and built in AMC’s Kenosha, WI assembly plant—the first front-wheel-drive car built there. The Alliance was available in four-door sedan and two-door coupe versions.

The Alliance’s only engine was Renault’s Cléon-Fonte 64 bhp 1.4 liter/85 ci inline four with Bendix central fuel injection, already over two decades old in its basic design. Transmissions for the sedan varied depending on equipment level; the L (there was no absolutely base sedan—only a coupe) came standard with a four-speed manual, while the better equipped DL and Limited came with a five-speed manual. All three models could be ordered with an automatic ($420 for an L/$325 for others).

Despite a curb weight of around 2,000 pounds, the Alliance was not a fast car. 0-60 times ranged between 15 and 17 seconds depending on transmission. On the other hand, fuel mileage ratings were impressive: the four-speed manual returned 37 city/54 highway by the standards of the day. Of course, applying modern standards lowers the numbers, but what would now be 29 city/37 highway still isn’t that bad. Interestingly, the five-speed manual didn’t do any better, despite the extra gear (it did help a little bit with acceleration and lowered noise at highway speeds). Even the automatic was reasonably efficient at 29 city/38 highway. With a 12.4-gallon gas tank, a new Alliance owner could expect a range of between 370 and 505 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

1983 Renault Alliance advertisement

Standard equipment on the $6,270 Alliance L (about $16,500 in today’s dollars or about what a 2020 Toyota Yaris sedan goes for) included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, and 155/80GR13 tires (a size still available thanks to Kumho) on 13-inch wheels. Inside, vinyl bucket seats, a soft-feel steering wheel, a day/night mirror, and a trip odometer were included.

Moving up to the $6,905 DL added tinted glass, a dual-note horn, and 175/70SR13 tires (still readily available) with wheel trim rings. Inside, DL buyers got Deluxe six-way cloth reclining bucket seats, a color-keyed remote left mirror, a soft-hub steering wheel, a tachometer, and a digital clock.

The top-of-the-line Limited ($7,470) included halogen headlamps and Luxury wheel covers. Inside, Light Group, Visibility Group (dual remote mirrors, lighted visor mirror, and intermittent wipers), textured cloth reclining bucket seats, a rear center armrest, and luxury door panels were included.

Individual exterior and mechanical options for the Alliance included two-tone paint ($199) and power steering ($199). Inside, power door locks ($170), speed control ($170), rear defroster ($130), air conditioning ($630), and a variety of radios were available. Leather bucket seats were available for the Limited only and set the buyer back $413.

Early on, the Alliance received many good reviews—in fact, it was Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year for 1983. Obtaining this particular plaudit led Renault to (really!) build an MT special edition for the Alliance late in the model year. MT-specific equipment included charcoal gray metallic paint, a decklid luggage rack, painted aluminum wheels, and a right-hand remote mirror. Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an electronic-tuning stereo radio with six speakers were included.

Those initial positive reviews of the Alliance have not aged well, and many disparaging articles have been written about MT‘s choice. They were not alone—Car and Driver included the Alliance on their 1983 “10 Best” list (26 years later they apologized). Perhaps reviewers of the day wanted the idea of the Alliance to work so much that it clouded their judgment of the actual product delivered.

I have not seen an Alliance in over a decade. Alliances rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have virtually vanished, despite the 623,573 made between the 1983 and 1987 model years.

Another Renault I have written about is the 1982 Fuego hatchback coupe. I’ve also covered the 1980 AMC Eagle station wagon and the 1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck.

Eighties … Colors?

For almost eighteen months, I’ve been working on an automotive book independent of Eighties Cars, with only 28% of this vehicle’s history occurring in the 1980s. One of the parts of the book that I’ve been working on recently is color charts of the exterior paints, which will likely be in an appendix.

One of the many ways to describe a particular color is the HSB color space—Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. Also named as HSL (Hue, Saturation, and Lightness), HSB is a different way of measuring the RGB color space. The key here is that it nicely separates hue from other color factors over 360 degrees, with the red in ROYGBIV starting at about 345 degrees. So, I’ve been using the Hue in HSB to build all the color charts once I get past the blacks, grays, silvers, and whites.

Sixth-generation Buick Riviera color chart
Draft sixth-generation Buick Riviera color chart

To dive a little further down the rabbit hole, HSB was initially conceived as a way to add color information to black-and-white television transmissions without changing the signal that the black-and-white sets were receiving. It has been around for quite a while—French engineer Georges Valensi invented it in 1938, pre-dating the first consumer color televisions by 16 years. Those first color televisions were astoundingly expensive—the Admiral C1617A’s $1,175 price (about $11,200 in 2020 dollars) gives a hint of why substantial color television adoption would take almost 15 years.

I recently completed the basics of a chart of the sixth-generation (1979 to 1985) Buick Riviera’s colors. Though I have not yet calibrated the color reproduction to my satisfaction, some eighties color trends are readily apparent. There’s a lot of brown and beige, with reds, greens, and blues also notably represented. Rivieras also featured three extra-cost Firemist paints each year (four in 1985).

The charts also show examples of the somewhat confounding color naming inconsistencies that prevailed throughout the Riviera’s life—and in many other cars. A color can keep the same marketing name (i.e., Red Firemist), but be a different painting formulation (changing from PPG 3437 to PPG 3532). Another color can alter its marketing name (Light Blue becomes Medium Blue) but remain the same paint formulation (PPG 3310).

1980 Cadillac Seville sedan

“Introducing Seville for the 80’s”

For 1980, the Cadillac Seville sedan could justifiably be called all-new. It switched from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive, used a completely different platform, and made a diesel engine standard.

Of course, the Seville’s exterior look was also completely changed. That styling—by Wayne Cady under Bill Mitchell’s direction—was instantly polarizing; words used in period reviews included striking, astonishing, controversial, and odd. Despite my pre-teen bent toward classically-influenced cars, I did not like the new Seville’s design. Perhaps this was because I really liked the styling of the first-generation Seville.

The 1980 Seville’s standard engine was an LF9 105 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8. An L61 145 bhp 6.0 liter/368 ci V8 with fuel injection was a no-cost option. In California, the gasoline engine choice was a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection.

As might be expected, fuel mileage ratings for the standard diesel were impressive, especially for a car with a 3,911 shipping weight. A Seville owner could expect 21 city/31 highway. With a 23-gallon gas tank, range was an astounding 540 miles with a 10% fuel reserve—at least in theory. What wasn’t impressive was the Seville’s performance; Road & Track clocked a 0-60 mph time of 21 seconds.

The story was different but not necessarily better with the gas engine. With it, mileage was 14 city/22 highway, so range dropped to about 375 miles. Performance was notably better, but still not good with the 0-60 time at about 13 seconds.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,662 Seville (about $67,000 in 2020 dollars) included Soft-Ray glass, tungsten-halogen headlamps, a four-wheel independent suspension, electronic level control, four-wheel disc brakes, and P205/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels. Inside 50/45 Dual Comfort front seats, electronic climate control, and a tilt and telescope steering wheel were included.

Seville Elegante brochure page
Seville Elegante page from the 1980 Cadillac brochure

The $2,934 Elegante package included two-tone paint and 40/40 leather seats. Chrome-plated wire wheel covers were available at no extra cost.

Options included an Astroroof ($1,058), power door locks ($129), the Cadillac trip computer ($920), and an AM/FM stereo cassette ($225).

Famously, the Cadillac with the Deadhead sticker that passes Don Henley when he sings about “The Boys of Summer” was a second-generation Seville—likely a 1980 or a 1981.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Cadillac Seville with the gas engine (they don’t list values for the diesel) in #1/Concours condition is $15,500, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $3,500.

Second-generation Cadillac Sevilles are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a silver/gray two-tone 1983 Seville with gray bucket seats and 31,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $8,000.

Make mine an Elegante in its Sable Black/Sheffield Gray Firemist two-tone, please. Over time, the second-generation styling has grown on me—especially with two-tone paint. Mecum sold a striking Seaspray Green/Neptune Aqua two-tone at their Harrisburg auction in 2019.

Other eighties Cadillacs I have covered include the 1982 Eldorado Touring Coupe, the 1986 Eldorado coupe, the 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sedan, the 1988 Eldorado coupe, the 1989 Allanté convertible, and the 1989 Cadillac Sedan deVille.

Eighties Vehicles at the 2020 Mecum Indianapolis, Part Two

As usual, Mecum’s huge auction in Indianapolis provided much interesting fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s vehicles that sold (remember that Mecum auctions are not “no reserve” auctions—a Rossa Corsa 1984 Ferrari 512 BBi coupe with tan leather bucket seats and 8,400 miles was a no-sale bid up to $250,000) and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 8% of the 1,191 vehicle lots sold in this auction—this post covers the final four days of automotive sales.

Wednesday, July 15th:

  • 1981 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with an unknown interior, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$16,000 hammer price.
  • 1988 White Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition hatchback coupe with white leather bucket seats, an L98 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 43,000 miles—$10,500
  • 1987 silver Pontiac Firebird Formula hatchback coupe with a gray/black interior, an unknown 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and an automatic—$4,500
  • 1984 White Chevrolet Corvette custom (exterior, wheels/tires) hatchback coupe with a red interior, an L83 Cross-Fire 205 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 75,000 miles—$5,500
  • 1988 white Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with gray leather bucket seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 79,000 miles—$10,000
  • 1988 black Ford Mustang Saleen hatchback coupe with gray cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—$18,000
  • 1985 light brown Cadillac Eldorado coupe with a dark brown vinyl top, tan leather seats, an HT-4100 135 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 44,000 miles—$6,000
  • 1980 Dark Claret Metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe with claret leather bucket seats, an L48 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$13,500 for this good-looking ‘Vette.
Chevrolet Corvette coupe photo
1980 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1985 black Ford Bronco XLT custom (period-correct modifications) SUV with tan cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, and an automatic—$21,000
  • 1983 black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am custom (KITT replica, convertible) convertible with tan cloth bucket seats, a Cross-Fire 175 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with throttle body fuel injection, an automatic, and 70,000 miles—$27,000
  • 1982 blue GMC custom (lift kit) pickup truck with a 5.7 liter/350 ci engine and an automatic—$11,000
  • 1986 blue Chevrolet C10 custom (body, paint, engine, suspension, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a 425 bhp 7.4 liter/454 ci V8 and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1984 blue/silver two-tone Chevrolet K20 custom (engine, suspension) with a blue cloth bench seat, a Vortec 6.0 liter V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$16,000
  • 1987 red Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with black leather bucket seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$16,000
  • 1984 brown Jeep Wrangler Renegade SUV with tan bucket seats, a 112 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a two-barrel carburetor, and a five-speed manual—$20,000
  • 1989 White Pontiac 20th Anniversary Turbo Firebird Trans Am hatchback coupe with saddle leather bucket seats, a 250 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with fuel injection, a turbocharger, and an intercooler, an automatic, and 9,400 miles—$27,500
  • 1980 Cameo White Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe with oyster gray cloth bucket seats, an LU8 205 bhp 4.9 liter/301 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor and a turbocharger, an automatic, and 18,000 miles—$30,000
  • 1980 blue Chevrolet C10 pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, an automatic, and 20,000 miles—$14,000
  • 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, an automatic, and 23,000 miles—$37,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 15th.
  • 1988 white Ford Mustang Saleen convertible with a white top, gray cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch V8 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 14,000 miles—$20,000
  • 1985 red Chevrolet Camaro Z28 hatchback coupe with red cloth bucket seats, an unknown 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, an automatic, and 29,000 miles—$10,000
  • 1989 black Chevrolet custom (engine, suspension) pickup truck with a 468 ci V8 and an automatic—$14,000
  • 1981 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with a red interior, an L81 190 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$10,000
  • 1981 green Chevrolet custom (exterior, engine, suspension) pickup truck with black interior, a 402 ci V8, and an automatic—$16,000

Thursday, July 16th:

  • 1989 Bright Red Chevrolet Corvette convertible with a black convertible top, black leather bucket seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$6,500
  • 1985 blue Chevrolet Corvette custom (paint, wheels/tires) hatchback coupe with gray leather bucket seats, an L98 230 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, the Doug Nash 4+3, and 83,000 miles—$6,000
  • 1985 Doeskin Tan Chevrolet C10 Silverado pickup truck with a saddle tan Custom cloth bench seat, an LE9 160 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, an automatic, and 11,000 miles—$26,000
  • 1983 white Jeep Scrambler very custom (just about everything) pickup truck with a Vortec 345 bhp 5.3 liter V8 and an automatic—$42,000
  • 1989 gray Nissan Skyline GT-R custom (engine, suspension) coupe with gray leather bucket seats, a 2.6 liter inline six with twin turbochargers, and a five-speed manual—$48,000
  • 1985 Midnight Black Chevrolet K5 Blazer Silverado SUV with slate gray cloth bucket seats, an LE9 160 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, an automatic, and 11,000 miles—$26,000
  • 1989 red Dodge Shelby Dakota pickup truck with red/silver cloth seats, a 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with throttle-body fuel injection, an automatic, and 5,900 miles—$27,500
  • 1980 Black/Gold Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe with black cloth bucket seats, an LU8 205 bhp 4.9 liter/301 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor and a turbocharger, an automatic, and 10,000 miles—$60,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 16th. Remember when even the nicest late second-generation F-cars were inexpensive?
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe photo
1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1987 White Chevrolet Corvette convertible with a black convertible top, black leather bucket seats, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 56,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1986 silver Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe Richard Petty Edition with charcoal cloth bucket seats, an LG4 165 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$10,750
  • 1985 Midnight Black/Frost White two-tone Chevrolet K5 Blazer Silverado SUV with slate grey cloth bucket seats, an L05 210 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$30,000 for this loaded SUV.

Friday, July 17th:

  • 1981 white Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler pickup truck with tan bucket seats, a 110 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a Carter two-barrel carburetor, and a manual transmission—$17,500
  • 1986 cream Zimmer Golden Spirit coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, and an automatic—$22,000
  • 1986 red Zimmer QuickSilver coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a 140 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$12,500. Out of four (!) Zimmers at this year’s Mecum Indy, this was the only Fiero-based one.
  • 1981 red Dodge Colt/Plymouth Champ custom (wow!) sedan with red/black bucket seats, two 1.6 liter inline fours, and at least one functioning four-speed manual—$18,000
Dodge Colt/Plymouth Champ "double-header" custom photo
1982 Dodge Colt/Plymouth Champ “double-header” custom, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1981 Bright Red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe with medium red bucket seats, an LG4 145 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual, and 3,700 miles—$28,000
  • 1989 silver Toyota Supra Turbo hatchback coupe with gray leather bucket seats, a 7M-GTE 232 bhp 3.0 liter/180 ci inline six with fuel injection and a turbocharger, an automatic, and 39,000 miles—$16,000
  • 1987 burgundy Chevrolet C10 custom (just about everything) pickup truck with a black bench seat, a 6.2 liter V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$17,500
  • 1986 red Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with cream leather bucket seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$11,000
  • 1989 blue and white Ford Mustang SSP police car with blue bucket seats, a 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, and a five-speed manual—$22,000
  • 1982 stainless steel DeLorean DMC-12 coupe with gray leather seats, a 130 bhp 2.8 liter/173 cubic inch V6 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 165 miles—$62,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 17th.
  • 1984 Red Pearl Rolls-Royce Silver Spur sedan with a saddle top, tan leather bucket seats, a 6.75 liter/412 ci V8, an automatic, and 36,000 miles—$8,500

Saturday, July 18th:

  • 1986 black Chevrolet C10 custom (body, wheels/tires) pickup truck with a black vinyl bench seat, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1986 white Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan with red leather seats, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 79,000 miles—$9,000
  • 1986 Light Blue Metallic/Midnight Blue two-tone Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a blue Custom cloth bench seat, an unknown V8 engine, an automatic, and 16,000 miles—$18,000
  • 1985 dark red Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with tan bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$14,000
  • 1982 white/red/yellow March 82C racing car with a 3.3 liter V6 with fuel injection —$72,000
  • 1989 Rosso Corsa Ferrari Testarossa coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a 380 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V12 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 105 miles—$210,000
  • 1984 Rosso Corso Ferrari 512 BBi coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a 335 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci flat 12 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 8,000 miles—at $340,000, the highest eighties vehicle sale of July 18th and of this auction.
Ferrari 512 BBi coupe photo
1984 Ferrari 512 BBi coupe, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1988 Imperial Red Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with tan leather bucket seats, a 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 36,000 miles—$27,500

In this strangest of all Mecum Indy auctions, some things stayed the same. Cars from Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, and Mercedes-Benz dominated the eighties vehicle counts, with those four marques accounting for almost two-thirds of the total.

Eighties Vehicles at the 2020 Mecum Indianapolis, Part One

As usual, Mecum’s huge auction in Indianapolis provided much interesting fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s vehicles that sold (remember that Mecum auctions are not “no reserve” auctions—a Rossa Corsa 1984 Ferrari 512 BBi coupe with tan leather bucket seats and 8,400 miles was a no-sale bid up to $250,000) and add some of my opinions. Eighties vehicles were about 8% of the 1,191 vehicle lots sold in this auction—this post covers the first four days of automotive sales, and another will follow with the rest.

Friday, July 10th:

  • 1987 Silver Metallic Chevrolet Corvette convertible with graphite bucket seats, a black convertible top, an L98 240 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$5,000 hammer price
  • 1984 black Ford Mustang SVO hatchback coupe with charcoal cloth bucket seats, a Lima 175 bhp 2.3 liter/140 ci inline four with turbocharger, intercooler, and fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—$8,500
  • 1989 blue Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce convertible with a black top, tan leather bucket seats, a 115 bhp 2.0 liter/120 ci inline four with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 31,000 miles—$1,500 for this beat-up looking Alfa.
  • 1985 Medium Sand Beige Metallic Mercury Cougar coupe with a sand beige vinyl top, a sand beige interior, an Essex 120 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with throttle-body fuel injection, an automatic, and 40,000 miles—$5,000 for this base (non-XR7) sixth-generation Cougar. How many are left?
  • 1980 Platinum Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe with black vinyl bucket seats, a W72 150 bhp 4.9 liter/301 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$14,500
  • 1983 cream Zimmer Golden Spirit coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, an automatic, and 14,000 miles—$15,500 for this Mustang-based “neo-classic.”
  • 1981 Astral Silver Metallic Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 69,000 miles—$8,000
  • 1985 Anthracite Gray Metallic Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with gray bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 27,000 miles—$27,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 10th.
  • 1983 brown Zimmer Golden Spirit coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a Windsor 4.2 liter/255 ci V8, an automatic, and 8,000 miles—$17,000
  • 1984 blue Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with brown bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 70,000 miles—$18,000
  • 1985 red Toyota Celica convertible with a black convertible top, a gray interior, a 22R-E 112 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 69,000 miles—$10,500
Toyota Celica
1985 Toyota Celica convertible, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1987 Doeskin Tan/Apple Red two-tone Chevrolet K5 Blazer Silverado SUV with tan cloth bucket seats, an L05 210 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and 64,000 miles—at $15,000 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.
  • 1983 maroon Pontiac Firebird Trans Am hatchback coupe with tan cloth bucket seats, an unknown 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, an automatic, and 99,000 miles—$5,000
  • 1980 white Chevrolet El Camino custom (paint) pickup truck with maroon vinyl bucket seats, an LG4 155 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$10,000
  • 1984 Black Ford Mustang GT convertible with a black convertible top, canyon red bucket seats, an unknown Windsor 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, a five-speed manual transmission, and 87,000 miles—$7,000

Saturday, July 11th:

  • 1985 Apple Red Chevrolet K5 Blazer custom (engine) SUV with gray cloth bucket seats, a 7.4 liter/454 ci V8, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1987 black/gold two-tone Dodge Ramcharger SUV with tan cloth bucket seats, an LA 143 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1985 charcoal Ford Bronco II SUV with red cloth bucket seats, a Cologne 115 bhp 2.8 liter/170 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$8,500
Ford Bronco II
1985 Ford Bronco II SUV, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1989 blue Ford Ranger custom (exterior, engine, wheels/tires) pickup truck with tan cloth bucket seats, a 4.9 liter/302 ci V8, and a five-speed manual—$8,000
  • 1984 silver Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible with gray bucket seats, a 155 bhp 3.8 liter/234 ci V8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$5,250. Bidders evidently saw a wide variety in the quality of SLs available at Mecum Indy.
  • 1988 red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am hatchback coupe with gray cloth bucket seats, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, an automatic, and 38,000 miles—$9,500
  • 1985 Walnut Metallic/Polar White two-tone Ford Bronco SUV with tan cloth/vinyl bucket seats, a Windsor 210 bhp 5.8 liter/352 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$18,000
  • 1985 Apple Red/Frost White Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a burgundy cloth bench seat, an L05 210 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci v8 with fuel injection, and an automatic—$44,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 11th.
  • 1989 Black Ford Mustang LX convertible with a tan convertible top, beige bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 32,000 miles—$14,000
  • 1989 Black Ford Mustang ASC/McLaren convertible with gray bucket seats, a 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, and a five-speed manual—$11,500
  • 1980 Red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with oyster leather bucket seats, an L82 230 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and an automatic—$10,000
  • 1989 gray/white two-tone Dodge Ram W250 very custom (just about everything) pickup truck with a gray cloth bench seat and a 5.9 liter Cummins diesel V8 with a turbocharger and an intercooler—$25,000
  • 1985 gunmetal Land Rover Defender custom (exterior, interior, wheels/tires) SUV with a 2.5 liter/152 ci diesel inline four and a five-speed manual—$23,000

Sunday, July 12th:

  • 1986 Black Ford Mustang SVO hatchback coupe with charcoal/gray leather bucket seats, a Lima 200 bhp 2.3 liter/140 ci inline four with turbocharger, intercooler, and fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 31,000 miles—$12,500
Ford Mustang SVO interior photo
Ford Mustang SVO interior, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1985 Black Mercury Capri ASC/McLaren convertible with a tan convertible top, tan leather bucket seats, a 180 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 33,000 miles—$10,500
  • 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, an automatic, and 74,000 miles—$22,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 12th.
  • 1980 yellow with flames Chevrolet C10 custom (paint, exterior, engine) pickup truck with a tan cloth bench seat, an unknown V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and a four-speed manual—$13,500

Tuesday, July 14th:

  • 1982 White Buick Riviera convertible with a white convertible top, maple 45/45 leather seats, an unknown engine, and an automatic—$6,500
  • 1984 black GMC mild custom (suspension) pickup truck with maroon cloth bucket seats, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$15,000
  • 1985 white GMC S15 Jimmy mild custom (exterior, wheels/tires) SUV with gray cloth bucket seats, a 2.8 liter V6, and an automatic—$3,000
  • 1985 gray Dodge W150 pickup truck with gray bucket seats, an unknown engine, and an unknown manual transmission—$10,000
  • 1989 Oxford White Ford Mustang GT hatchback coupe with scarlet red cloth bucket seats, a Windsor 225 bhp 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 with fuel injection, an automatic, and 23,000 miles—$11,000
  • 1989 light blue/medium blue two-tone Dodge Dakota pickup truck with a blue cloth bench seat, an LA 3.9 liter/239 ci V6 with throttle-body fuel injection, an automatic, and 56,000 miles—$5,500
  • 1981 blue Cadillac Sedan DeVille with blue cloth seats, an L62 140 bhp 6.0 liter/368 ci V8-6-4, an automatic, and 25,000 miles—$9,500
  • 1984 red Chevrolet K10 mild custom (engine, suspension) pickup truck with a black interior, a 5.7 liter/350 ci V8, and an automatic—$14,500
  • 1987 Lemon Yellow Porsche 944 hatchback coupe with black bucket seats, a 150 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 43,000 miles—$20,000 for the only eighties Porsche that actually sold at this auction. This is almost exactly #2/Excellent condition money, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools.
Porsche 944 hatchback coupe photo
1987 Porsche 944 hatchback coupe, photo courtesy of Mecum
  • 1981 red Chevrolet Camaro custom (engine, wheels/tires) coupe with red bucket seats, a 383 ci V8, and a four-speed manual—$18,500
  • 1987 Light Brown Metallic Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon with beige cloth 50/50 seats, a 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic, and 75,000 miles—$7,000
  • 1987 silver Monte Carlo SS custom (engine, suspension) coupe with gray cloth bucket seats, a 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, and an automatic—$8,000
  • 1983 Rosso Corsa Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole coupe with tan leather bucket seats, a 230 bhp 2.9 liter/173 ci V8 with fuel injection, a five-speed manual, and 28,000 miles—$50,000 made this the highest eighties vehicles sale of July 14th.
  • 1982 Silver Beige Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition hatchback 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 23,000 miles—$17,500

1985 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

A few days ago, my wife and I were out for a walk. As we headed down my town’s portion of the Lincoln Highway, we saw a glorious Iris Blue Metallic Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with a dark blue top and blue leather seats. I, of course, neglected to take a picture.

“Driving in its most beautiful form.”

Not much was changed for 1985 for Porsche’s 911 Carrera Cabriolet—the fuel tank size increased from 21.1 to 22.5 gallons, and the pricey “Turbo Look” optional body style was extended from the coupe to the Targa and Cabriolet models. The Cabriolet entered its third year, having debuted in the final year of the 911 SC generation.

The Carrera continued with the 200 bhp 3.2 liter/193 ci flat six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection that had debuted in 1984. With the standard Getrag five-speed manual transmission, 0-60 mph came in about 6.3 seconds, with a claimed top speed of 146 mph in the 2,750 pound Carrera (the 2020 911 Carrera Cabriolet is over 3,500 pounds). Fuel mileage was 17 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (15/23 by today’s standards) with premium gas. With a 22.5-gallon gas tank, a 911 Carrera’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 385 and 425 miles.

Porsche Carrera Cabriolet advertisement

For the 911 Carrera Cabriolet’s $36,450 base price (about $88,800 in 2020 dollars), exterior and mechanical equipment included tinted glass, halogen headlights, fog lights, and power four-wheel vented disc brakes. The front 185/70VR15 tires sat on 15 x 6 inch pressure-cast light alloy wheels, while the rear 215/60VR15 tires sat 15 x 7 inch pressure-cast light alloy wheels (Pirelli still makes these tires sizes). Inside, heated power mirrors, power windows, air conditioning, and reclining bucket seats were all standard. A stereo was not included—Porsche evidently assumed that 911 buyers had their own ideas about what should be in that part of the dash—and Crutchfield still provides. Stuttgart did deign to provide four “high-quality” speakers, a fader control, interference suppression, and a power antenna.

Exterior and mechanical options for the Cabriolet included a color-coordinated tonneau cover, a limited slip differential ($595), front and rear spoilers, and 16-inch forged alloy wheels (6 inches wide in the front, 7 inches wide in the back—and setting the buyer back $1,580). Inside, options included automatic cruise control ($320), power door locks ($250), a passenger power seat ($380), an alarm system ($200), and a Blaupunkt Monterey digital cassette radio ($625).

It’s little surprise that 911 Cabriolets from the 1980s have held their values quite well. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet in #1/Concours condition is $62,000, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $31,000.

Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolets have (of course) excellent club support from many sources and are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and at auction. As I write this post, an India Red 1986 Cabriolet with black bucket seats and 61,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $44,500.

Make mine the exact same color scheme we saw a few days ago, please. I have previously written about the 1987 Carrera coupe.

The Posts That Attract Interest, Part 4

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Earlier this week, my write-up on the 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Sport Hatch went over 1,000 views. This degree of interest is relatively rare for Eighties Cars—the three other posts that have preceded it to greater than 1,000 views are on the 1986 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta hatchback coupe, the 1985 Buick Somerset Regal coupe, and the 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic coupe.

I have many theories—and almost no real data—about what makes a particular post more popular than others on Eighties Cars. One belief is that the key to the popularity of an individual post is generally the rarity of the other coverage available for that particular vehicle or variant thereof. That theory works for the Berlinetta (all of the attention is on the Z28 and IROC-Z versions of the eighties Camaro) and for the Somerset Regal—though most of the interest in that particular post is because of a Jalopnik Meh Car Monday write-up that referenced this site. It doesn’t work for the Caprice Classic, but that’s a discussion for another post.

The “rarity of other coverage” theory definitely seems to apply to these first-generation Pontiac Sunbirds, with my post often showing up on the initial page of a Sunbird-related Google search (I probably not have done as well with the more popular Chevrolet Monza). Autopolis did have an interesting article on all five years of the first-generation Sunbird several years ago. There’s always the Wikipedia article, which covers both Sunbird generations—I’ve also written about the second-generation cars.

As always, I am grateful for the views—and our readers.

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 …

1984 Plymouth Voyager van

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

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

“The Magic Wagon.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make mine Gunmetal Blue Pearl Coat, please.