1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11

I walked past a small junkyard in Philadelphia yesterday. A maroon Citation X-11 was recognizable though not really well-preserved, but it did encourage me to finally publish this blog post.

“It gives you goose bumps.”

Chevrolet’s Citation X-car is now known mostly for being constantly recalled, but there were some positive points. The X-11 sporty version was a definite glimmer of hope.

The Citation X-11 was built around a specific engine for its entire life. For 1981, the $1,498 X-11 package featured the LH7 2.8 liter/172 cubic inch “HO” V6 with Rochester two-barrel carburetor, making 135 bhp, instead of the 110 bhp that the “generic” LE2 V6 made in other Citations. Upgrades from the LE2 to the LE7 included a higher compression ratio (8.9:1 versus 8.5:1). The standard transmission was the four-speed manual with a three-speed automatic optional. The four-speed along with the X-11’s special axle ratio was good enough to give a 0-60 time of around 8.5 seconds.

Other changes for 1981 were the addition of a hood bulge and aluminum alloy wheels. The X-11 also received power brakes and the F41 Sport Suspension, which featured revised shock absorbers, stiffer anti-roll bars, and P215/60R14 tires. Inside was an instrument panel that included a five-gauge cluster, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, and cloth bucket seats. Exterior X-11 specific appearance items included a black grill and body accents, sport mirrors, and a rear spoiler.

X-11 page from the 1981 Chevrolet Citation brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Options available included air conditioning ($585), cruise control ($123), intermittent wipers ($41), rear defogger ($107), and tilt steering wheel ($81).

X-11’s do sometimes show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds but, as I write this in February 2014, there are none for sale.



Eighties Cars At The 2014 Mecum Kissemmee, Part One

As always, the January auction at Mecum Kissimmee provides much interesting fodder for commentary. I’ll concentrate on the at least fairly stock 1980s cars (and a few trucks) that sold (remember that this is not a no reserve auction) and add some of my opinions. Mecum Kissemmee is a huge event, so I’m going to separate it into two posts—this first covers from Friday to Sunday.


  • 1984 brown two-tone Cadillac Seville sedan—$6,000 hammer price.
  • 1980 brown two-tone Lincoln Mark VI Givenchy edition coupe—$5,500
  • 1987 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe—$7,500
  • 1980 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe—$11,000
  • 1986 yellow Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe—$4,500
  • 1984 yellow Alfa Romeo Veloce convertible—$6,000
  • 1983 red Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 pickup truck—$11,000
  • 1984 Firemist Red Buick Riviera convertible—$7,500
  • 1989 blue Jeep Wrangler custom SUV—$15,500
  • 1988 red Chevrolet Corvette convertible—$8,750
  • 1982 red Rolls-Royce Silver Spur sedan—$5,000
  • 1988 Astral Silver Metallic Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible—$15,000


  • 1989 gold Nissan Pulsar NX coupe with 12,000 miles (is it the nicest Pulsar remaining in the world?)—$6,000
  • 1986 silver Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with 118 miles—at $84,000 the first car in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 1980s collectability of original cars: selling for equal to or above its original base list price. I’ll mark these cars in bold green.
  • 1985 red Chevrolet Corvette coupe with 39,000 miles—$7,500
  • 1986 black Buick Grand National coupe with 30,000 miles—$19,250
  • 1983 yellow Jeep CJ-7 custom SUV—$17,000
  • 1982 Silver Blue/Dark Blue two-tone Chevrolet Corvette coupe with 17,000 miles—$25,500 (interesting to see a non-Collector Edition 1982 hold its money)


  • 1982 Dark Blue Metallic Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe with 7,000 miles—$9,500
  • 1986 white/blue two-tone Cadillac Eldorado coupe with 15,000 miles—$7,250
  • 1985 beige Ford LTD Country Squire wagon—$3,000 (is it worth more than that just for the metal?)
  • 1987 red Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible—$11,000
  • 1985 beige Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Camper van—$9,750
  • 1988 white Jaguar XJS coupe with 52,000 miles and a flood title—$4,250
  • 1986 red Porsche 944 coupe—$8,250
  • 1988 black  Rolls-Royce Silver Spur sedan—$11,000
  • 1988 beige Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV with wood paneling—$11,500

What do you think of this year’s results?

1989 Cadillac Allanté

(talking with a loyal and enthusiastic Allanté owner at the AACA Annual Meeting last week inspired me to write this entry about the last of the 1980s Allantés)

“The only way to travel is Cadillac Style.”

For 1989, the Cadillac Allanté received its first engine upgrade, moving from the 4.1 liter HT-4100 V8 to the 4.5 liter HT-4500 V8 but remaining connected to the 4T60 4-speed automatic transmission. Power climbed to 200 bhp while mileage declined slightly to 15 city/23 highway by the standards of the day. Acceleration improved to about 8.5 seconds to 60 mph with a claimed top speed of 134 mph (probably with the aluminum top on) for Dave Hill’s baby.

1989 Cadillac Allante
1989 Cadillac Allanté, courtesy of the GM Media Archives.

For 1989, the Allanté’s base price remained non-trivial: $57,183 (about $107,000 in 2014 dollars) for the 3,296 buyers. However, just about everything came standard, including ABS, traction control, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the aluminum hard top/cloth convertible top combination. The interior included 10 way leather covered Recaro bucket seats, electronic climate control, and Symphony Sound System AM/FM stereo with cassette player. Because it was a Cadillac you also got air conditioning, power steering, power windows, and power door locks. You could choose either an analog or a digital instrument cluster at no extra charge.

Allantés have a good club following and consistently show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in February 2014, there’s a Pearl White Allanté with a Burgundy interior with 66,000 miles for sale for $10,000. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1989 Allanté in #1 condition is $16,500.

I think the Allanté body style (by Pinanfarina, of course) has aged well. It certainly still looks like nothing else on road—which was definitely one of Cadillac’s goals.

Make mine Pearl White, please.

2014 AACA Annual Meeting

The Antique Auto Club of America’s Annual Meeting began this Friday morning in Philadelphia, PA. This is the first annual meeting of theirs that I’ve attended – the main AACA event that we’ve been to is the annual (and magnificent) Hershey national meet in the fall. There’s not a lot of content specific to eighties cars, but there is a lot of content that is relevant (all 1980s cars are now eligible for AACA judging).

AACA logo projected on a wall at the host hotel.

I’ve already attended a bunch of seminars, including ones on how to prepare effectively for an extended road tour, General Motors literature, the complete story of MG, and the AACA library‘s multimedia resources (including a 20 minute advertising video from 1984).

My wife and I skew young among the hundred of attendees here, but all of us here share a love of old cars and everybody has been really nice. We’re “auditioning” this event and we’ll see if we do it again.

1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

560SLs were a notable presence in the January 2014 auctions at Scottsdale and Kissimmee, so I decided to finally post this short entry on the last of third-generation SLs.

“Engineered like no other car in the world”

The 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL marked the end of the R107 generation that had begun way back in 1972 with the 450SL. There had been a moderate restyling for 1986, but the basic bones were definitely aged.

The base price for 1989 was $64,230 (about $121,000 in today’s dollars). For your money, you got a plethora of standard features including ABS, a driver’s side air bag, cruise control, power steering and brakes, power locks and windows, leather upholstery, and (of course) a first aid kit. About 8,300 buyers took home this last of the line example.

Motive power was provided by a Bosch fuel injected 227 bhp 5.5 liter/338 cubic inch V8 connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. Mileage wasn’t exactly great for the 3,700-pound car—the ratings of the day were 14 city mpg/17 highway (adding a $1,300 gas guzzler tax to every vehicle), by today’s standards that would be 12 city/16 highway. With the 22.5-gallon gas tank, 560SL owners could expect a range of between 280 and 315 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 did come in about 7 seconds, but the 560SL was closer to a muscle car than to a sports car.

There is decent club support for the 560SL, as there is for almost all Mercedes-Benz’s. 560SLs maintain a substantial presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this in January 2014, there are 56 available, including 10 of the 1989 models. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1989 560SL in #1 condition is $31,100. Make mine Astral Silver Metallic, please.

Eighties Cars at the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale

As always, the January auction at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale provided much interesting fodder for commentary. I’ll stay away from the “Salon Collection” and concentrate on the 1980s cars (and a few trucks) that sold and add some of my opinions.

  • 1981 green two-tone Cadillac Seville sedan—$1,000 hammer price.
  • 1984 Light Briar Metallic Oldsmobile Toronado coupe with 32,000 miles—$6,200
  • 1987 green Toyota custom pickup truck—$2,500
  • 1987 Copper Chevrolet Corvette coupe—$5,750
  • 1980 black Mercedes-Benz 450SLC coupe—$9,500
  • 1989 Signal Red Jaguar XJS convertible (the real convertible, not the earlier targa convertible)—$6,200
  • 1986 white Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible—$17,500
  • 1986 black Mercedes-Benz 560SEL sedan—$7,500
  • 1987 black Buick Grand National coupe with 15,000 miles—at $23,000 the first car in this auction to meet my criteria for serious 1980s collectability of original cars: selling for equal to or above its original list price. I’ll mark these cars in bold green.
  • 1987 black Buick Grand National coupe—$25,000
  • 1987 Bright White Buick Regal Turbo coupe with T-tops and 39,000 miles—$18,500
  • 1987 black Buick Grand National coupe (was somebody dumping Grand Nationals at Scottsdale?)—$18,500
  • 1989 white Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition coupe with 10,000 miles—$28,500
  • 1988 red Ferrari Mondial convertible (always the 80s Ferrari stepchild)—$29,000
  • 1985 Chevrolet Camaro very custom coupe—$8,000
  • 1986 Dark Chestnut Metallic Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe—$5,200
  • 1988 silver Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible—$11,500
  • 1984 Bright Red Chevrolet Corvette coupe—$10,000
  • 1988 gray Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible —$12,000
  • 1981 Beige/Dark Bronze Chevrolet Corvette coupe—$13,000
  • 1987 white Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS aero coupe with 11,000 miles—$17,600
  • 1988 Dark Red Metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe with 10,000 miles—$12,500
  • 1988 red Ford Mustang Saleen coupe—$24,500
  • 1985 white Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z Live Aid coupe—$29,000
  • 1988 beige Lincoln Continental limousine with 16,000 miles—$16,000
  • 1982 Toyota custom pickup truck—$4,200
  • 1987 black Alfa Romeo Veloce convertible—$12,000
  • 1981 Charcoal Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe (really nice late second generation F-cars are beginning to come on—this one sold for $5,000 more than Hagerty’s “all the money” price)—$30,000
  • 1982 gray Ferrari 400i coupe (maybe all 2+2 Ferraris get killed on the market)—$24,000
  • 1981 red Porsche 911 custom coupe—$36,000
  • 1980 black Mercedes-Benz 380SL very custom (it has an LS2) convertible—$30,000
  • 1989 white Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition coupe with 7,000 miles—$27,000
  • 1989 white Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition with 677 miles—$25,000
  • 1982 Dune Beige Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40 SUV—$29,000
  • 1982 red Pontiac Trans Am custom with Gale Banks 611 bhp twin turbo V8 (the Car & Driver 200 mph cover car for those that remember). I think this was a huge bargain at $23,000.
  • 1982 blue Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40 SUV—$45,000
  • 1989 Rosso Corsa Ferrari 328 GTS targa—$59,000
  • 1981 black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe—$35,000
  • 1986 red Mercedes-Benz 560SL convertible with 9,000 miles—$20,000
  • 1980 Georgian Silver Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible with 16,000 miles (Dean Martin/Dennis Farina owned; did this add much to the price?)—$57,000
  • 1987 black Buick GNX coupe with 11 miles (the top 1980s sale—it doesn’t seem like the GNX is a “Lost Car“—almost exactly at Hagerty’s #1 condition money)—$95,000
  • 1986 black Ferrari Testarossa convertible conversion by Straman, driven by Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial. This drew just a little over Hagerty’s #1 condition for a “normal” 1986 Ferrari Testarossa coupe.—$67,000
  • 1986 red Chevrolet El Camino custom—$17,000
  • 1987 Pearl White Porsche Gemballa Cyrrus custom convertible—$43,000
  • 1985 red Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible—$10,000

Looks like a lot of Mercedes-Benz SLs, turbo Buicks, and 20th Anniversary Trans Ams. What do you think of this year’s results?

1983 Chevrolet Malibu Sedan

Today’s Hemmings Daily blog had an entry that mentioned that the Chevrolet Malibu turns 50 years old this year, so I thought a post about the last of the 1980s Malibus would be appropriate.

“… a beautiful and practical choice …”

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

Standard motivation for the 3,100 to 3,200 pound sedan (weight largely depended on engine choice) was provided by the evergreen 3.8 liter LD5  2-barrel carburetor V6 hooked up to a three speed automatic transmission, making 110 bhp and getting 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day. Power options included two diesels (a V6 and a V8 that just about no one purchased) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter V8 with 4-barrel carburetor rated at 18 city/26 highway.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,084 Malibu V6 sedan (about $19,300 in today’s dollars) included quad rectangular headlamps, high-energy ignition, a Delco Freedom II battery, power brakes (front disc/rear drum), power steering, and P185/75R14 glass-belted radial tires. Inside, a base Malibu came spare—highlights were the cigarette lighter, the locking glove compartment, and the day/night rear view mirror.

Moving to the V8 brought the Malibu sedan’s base price up $225 to $8,309 (about $19,800 in 2014 dollars). Options that were ordered in more than 50% of 1983 Malibus included air conditioning (the most expensive option at $725), tinted glass, remote left-hand side-view mirror, and rear window defogger.

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

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