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.

Not So Lost Cars of the 1980s

The always interesting Hemmings Daily blog runs a regular feature titled as Lost Cars of the 1980s. Usually, it talks about at least somewhat unloved cars like the Cadillac Cimarron. This week, one of the cars written about was the 1987 Buick GNX. Many comments on the blog post mentioned that the GNX wasn’t really lost—that it was much loved and that the prices were holding up just fine, thank you.

This particular post got me thinking. What are the “not lost” cars of the 1980s? I started a list of cars that retain significant portions of their original value and interest (in alphabetical order with years listed where it matters):

What do you think? I’ve got many of what I think are the marginal “not lost” cars: any C4 Corvette, the Fiero GT, the IROC-Z, and the 944 Turbo. What cars am I missing?

1980 AMC Eagle

“The Eagle has landed … on all fours!”

Essentially (and brilliantly) an AMC Concord with 4-wheel drive, the 1980 AMC Eagle came standard with AMC’s 4.2 liter carbureted inline 6-cylinder, making a grand 100 bhp, giving a 0-60 time of around 15 seconds, and returning 16 mpg by the standards of the day. A three speed automatic was the only transmission available to help move the almost 3,500 pound vehicle.

The Eagle was available in all the Concord’s body styles, so buyers had a choice between the 2-door sedan, the 4-door sedan, and the 4-door station wagon. Standard equipment at a base price of $7,168 (for the 2-door) included power steering, power front disk brakes, and 15-inch wheels. Moving to the Limited trim level (an extra $400 or so) added a tilt steering wheel, power door locks, and snazzier interior appointments. Options included air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and an Eagle Sport package.

Station wagon page from the 1980 AMC Eagle brochure, courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Eagle had a 3-inch taller ride height than the Concord and came with a stone/gravel deflector under the front bumper and 3-inch wide fender flares. It was a major hit for AMC in 1980, selling over 46,000 units, with the station wagon configuration selling about 56% of that total. AMC would sell them through the 1988 model year for a total of almost 200,000 built.

AMC Eagles show up with some consistency in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in January 2014, there are no 1980 Eagles but there is a Cardinal Red 1982 2-door sedan with 44,000 miles for sale for around $7,000.

1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo

“Low, sleek, ultra-competitive.”

The 1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo finally brought the performance that the original Esprit’s supercar looks had promised over half a decade before.

Horsepower was up to 205 bhp from the 140 bhp that had come with the debut of the Esprit in 1977. The engine was still the type-910 2.2 liter carbureted inline 4 cylinder but a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger making 8.0 psi of boost was attached. Other engine technology included an aluminum block, aluminum heads, and four valves per cylinder.

Performance for the almost 3,000 pound exotic was substantially improved: a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds was about 1.5 seconds quicker than the original naturally aspirated car. The Esprit Turbo’s top speed was about 140 mph.

From the perspective of 2013, mileage wasn’t so great for a small turbocharged four (14 city/25 highway by the standards of the day) but the 22.7 gallon gas tank helped with range.

The Esprit’s looks were updated in the same way that many 1970s designs were as they headed into the 1980s. Ground effects were added to the original Giorgetto Giugiaro design and of course there were huge Esprit Turbo logos on the rear quarters.

Car and Driver recently reprinted their story on the Esprit Turbo from November 1983 and it is interesting and instructive to read (though it is notable that they put the Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo on the cover that month instead of the Lotus). They believed that the car would find a hole in the exotic market even at a relatively dear price of $47,984 (about $112,000 in 2013 dollars). For reference, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1983 Esprit Turbo in #1 condition is $30,700.

Happy Holidays For 2013!

Happy holidays for 2013!

This has been an interesting few months for me as I try to kick off this blog. Some things I’ve found:

  1. Merely doing this blog has made me a lot more aware of other good and interesting work on eighties cars being done by other folks. In particular, Curbside Classics and the Hemmings Daily blog often have very interesting 1980s related material, though they often have a different viewpoint than I do.
  2. It’s hard to come up with regular content that I feel is worth posting. As I write this, there are twenty draft posts in various stages of completion, but still found wanting in some way. Maybe there’s not enough visual appeal, maybe I don’t feel like I’m saying anything distinctive, maybe there just isn’t enough content to make a real post.
  3. I still haven’t found a WordPress look I’m happy with. My favorite so far is the 2014 theme, but it’s not quite what I’m looking for.
  4. I am looking to get a little more serious about this blog in the new year. I’m considering other contributors and I’m going to do some things to increase visibility. We’ll see what happens …

Again, happy holidays!

1984 Honda Civic CRX

“Are you using the right car for your gasoline?”

Even for the 1980s, the 1984 Honda Civic CRX two-seater was absolutely tiny, with a length of a little over 12 feet and a weight of around 1,800 pounds. The CRX debuted as a new model included with the introduction of the all new third generation Civic line.

There were two engine choices for the CRX in 1984. The CRX HF (High Fuel economy) got a carbureted 1.3 liter inline 4 cylinder with all of 60 bhp – but this got you 46 city/52 highway by the standards of the day (still 38/47 by today’s standards). It also got you a 0-60 time of about 12 seconds.

Moving up to the DX got you the EW1 carbureted 1.5 liter inline 4 cylinder with 76 bhp – enough to reduce the 0-60 time to a little over 10 seconds and still get 32 city/38 highway by the eighties standards (28/35 by the current standard).

Standard was a five-speed manual, but you could get a three-speed automatic with the DX – though I’m not at all sure why you’d want one.

The first generation CRX found its markets and sold quite well, with over 48,000 in 1984 and a total of 218,000 over four years. In 1985, the fuel injected 91 bhp Si would come along – but that is a topic for another blog post.

I see early CRX’s occasionally, but they’ve become rarer and rarer on the roads in the northeast. I have yet to see one at an auto show, but I’d love to.

Make my 1984 CRX a DX in blue (with the standard metallic gray lower rocker panels), please.