1987 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe

While dropping my parents off at church this Sunday morning, I saw a stock-appearing facelifted fourth-generation Grand Prix with two-tone paint out of the corner of my eye—heading west on the Lincoln Highway. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog post that I’ve been working on for over six months.

“… a Pontiac classic …”

1987 marked the final model year for the G-body Grand Prix coupe—it would be replaced in 1988 by an all-new W-body front-wheel-drive model. Changes were few; the Grand Prix portion of Pontiac’s 1987 brochure emphasized a new sport steering wheel and new 45/55 seats for the LE.

The standard Grand Prix powertrain continued to be the LD5 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor paired with a three-speed automatic. Optional engines included the LB4 140 bhp 4.3 liter/263 ci V6 with fuel injection ($200 and available with either a three-speed or a four-speed automatic) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor ($590 and only available with a $175 four-speed automatic). With the V8, a Grand Prix owner could expect a 0-60 time of a little over nine seconds in a coupe with a shipping weight of 3,231 pounds.

Mileage wasn’t good with any engine/transmission combination: the best was the 4.3 liter/four-speed automatic combination with 19 city/26 highway (17/24 by today’s standards). Predictably, the V8 was the worst, at 17 city/24 highway—with a 13.6-gallon gas tank the owner of a V8 Grand Prix could expect a range of between 225 and 250 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $11,069 Grand Prix (about $25,300 in 2019 dollars) included power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P195/75R14 blackwall tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels. General Motors was moving to option groups in the late eighties, and the base Grand Prix had two. Option Group I $1,313) included dual sport sideview mirrors, body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel that was also a luxury cushion steering wheel, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($1,867) added cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, and power windows.

Moving up to the LE ($11,799) added dual sport sideview mirrors, 45/55 notchback seats in Pallex cloth, and a four-spoke sport steering wheel. For the LE, Option Group I ($1,844) included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, power windows, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,117) added halogen headlamps, a deck lid release, and a power driver’s seat, and made the visor vanity mirror illuminated.

The top-of-the-line Brougham ($12,519) added 45/55 notchback seats in Majestic cloth, power windows, special trim, and a luxury cushion steering wheel. Option Group I ($1,874) for the Brougham included body side moldings, air conditioning with Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, lamp group, controlled cycle windshield wipers, power door locks, a visor vanity mirror, and a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio. Option Group II ($2,078) added halogen headlamps, cornering lamps, luggage compartment trim, a deck lid release, dual remote mirrors, and a dome reading lamp, and added illumination to the visor vanity mirror. A Brougham with Option Package 2, the V8, and the four-speed automatic came to a non-trivial $15,362 (about $35,100 in today’s dollars or about what a 2019 Buick Regal Avenir sedan goes for).

Individual exterior and mechanical options included a rally-tuned suspension ($50), a power sunroof ($925), a hatch roof with removable glass panels ($905), a power antenna ($70), two-tone paint ($205 to $295) and turbo-finned cast aluminum wheels ($246). Inside, you could get bucket seats with recliners and console ($292 with Ripple cloth in the base coupe, $69 with Pallex cloth in the LE, or $369 with leather in the LE), and a rally gauge cluster with tachometer ($153) along with a range of stereos up to a Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and graphic equalizer ($450).

Grand Prix page from the 1987 Pontiac brochure.

The 1987 Grand Prix did not sell well—sales were about 41% of the 1986 total, and, at 16,542, the typical Pontiac dealer sold more Grand Ams, 6000s, Bonnevilles, Sunbirds, Firebirds, and Fieros.

Evidently (based on my observation this morning) someone is saving these cars! Hagerty declines to value any Grand Prix after 1977, but this generation does come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. As I write this in February 2019, there’s a 1985 Silver/Medium Gray two-tone Grand Prix LE with gray cloth notchback seats, a 3.8 liter/231 ci V6, an automatic, and 54,000 miles available for $12,900.

Other rear-wheel drive G-platform (designated A-platform before 1982) cars I have written about include the 1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe, the 1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe, the 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, and the 1980 Pontiac Grand Am coupe.

Make mine Dark Maroon Metallic, please.

1987 Buick LeSabre T Type coupe

“… ranks as the most exciting new LeSabre ever”

1987 was the first year for the T Type version of Buick’s sixth-generation LeSabre. Looking toward a looming future where the rear-wheel-drive Regal would no longer exist, Buick did its best to inject some sportiness into these big front-wheel-drive coupes.

Power wasn’t great—the only engine available on any LeSabre was the 3.8 liter/231 ci sequential fuel injected V-6 making 150 horsepower and mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 came in a little over 10 seconds in the 3,250-pound coupe—sprightly but not speedy in 1987. Fuel economy was 18 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (16/25 by 2018 standards). With an 18-gallon fuel tank, a LeSabre owner could expect a range of about 330 to 365 miles.

Exterior and mechanical features specific to the $15,591 T Type (about $35,500 in 2018 dollars or about what a 2019 Buick LaCrosse Preferred sedan goes for) included blackout trim treatment, a front air dam, a rear deck spoiler, a Gran Touring suspension, a 2.97 performance axle ratio, and 215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT blackwall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, gray/black 45/45 cloth seats, a gage package with red backlighting, and an ETR AM-FM stereo radio with graphic equalizer, cassette tape, and more red backlighting were included.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on all LeSabre coupes included composite tungsten halogen headlamps, power rack and pinion steering, clearcoat paint, dual horns, Soft-Ray tinted glass, and a fixed-mast radio antenna. Inside, air conditioning, adjustable front-seat headrests, and cut-pile carpeting were standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included an anti-lock brake system ($925), flip-open Vista-Vent removable glass sunroof ($350), electric side mirrors ($91), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), and power antenna ($95). Inside, automatic climate control ($165), power door locks ($145) power windows ($210), tilt steering column ($125), and electronic cruise control ($175) were available.

LeSabre pages from the 1987 “Hot Buick” brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The automotive press and the auto market itself weren’t quite sure what to make of the LeSabre T Type—Consumer Guide said: “it had nothing exceptional to rave about.” Sales were not good in a year when the LeSabre overall sold quite well; only 4,123 out of the 16,899 coupes sold.

A few folks do collect these cars, but I haven’t seen a LeSabre coupe of any type for many years. This generation of LeSabres does maintain some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—however, there are none for sale as I write this in February 2019.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

1980 Ford Mustang Cobra hatchback coupe

“A sports car for the 80’s.”

1980 was the second year for the Fox-body Mustang and brought few changes from the debut year—and some of those weren’t great, such as a downgraded V8. The Cobra inherited some features from 1979 Pace Car, including a front spoiler, dual fog lamps, and a rear deck spoiler.

The standard powertrain on the base Mustang was Ford’s Lima 88 bhp 2.3 liter/140 ci inline four with a Motorcraft 5200 two-barrel carburetor matched with a four-speed manual. A Windsor 119 bhp 4.2 liter/255 ci V8 with a Motorcraft 2150 two-barrel carburetor was available with a three-speed automatic, but the top-of-the-line powertrain was a turbocharged version of the Lima inline four with a Holley 6500 two-barrel carburetor making 132 bhp paired with the four-speed manual. Thus, for 1980 the fastest available Mustang had a 0-60 time of a little under 11 seconds. With a 12.5-gallon fuel tank and 18 city/30 highway fuel mileage (about 15/25 by today’s standards), a Cobra‘s proud new owner could expect a range of about 225 to 270 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $7,098 Cobra (about $23,700 in today’s dollars) included the turbocharged inline four, the four-speed manual, a “special suspension system” with heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars and special shock valving, a sport-tuned exhaust with bright tailpipe extension, and Michelin TRX 190/65R390 tires (they’re still available!) on 15.3-inch forged aluminum wheels. Exterior equipment included dual remote styled mirrors and black lower bodyside paint. A Cobra‘s interior didn’t have many upgrades, but you did get an 8,000-rpm tachometer and a black engine-turned instrument panel applique.

Standard equipment on all Mustang hatchback coupes included dual rectangular halogen headlamps, wraparound taillamps, a modified MacPherson strut front suspension, front disc/rear drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering. Inside, full instrumentation (tachometer, trip odometer, fuel/temperature/oil/alternator gauges), a sports steering wheel, color-keyed cut pile carpeting, all vinyl high-back bucket seats, a lockable glove box, and a cigarette lighter were included.

Exterior and mechanical options included Cobra hood graphics ($88), a flip-up open air roof ($219), black liftgate louvers ($141), and a rear window/wiper washer ($79). Inside, you could choose SelectAir conditioning ($538), Recaro high-back bucket seats ($531), an electric rear window defroster ($96), interval windshield wipers ($39), tilt steering wheel ($78), and the power lock group ($113). A series of stereos were available, with the most capable being an AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette tape player ($271). Higher end stereos could be paired with the Premium Sound System ($94), which added a higher-power amplifier and more capable rear speakers.

Cobra pages from the 1980 Ford Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

1980 Ford Mustangs sold decently, accounting for about 23% of Ford’s overall sales in a down year. Reviews of the day were unhappy, but understanding about the loss off the 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 in the middle of the second oil crisis—Car and Driver stated that “Whether you like life with turbochargers or not, you might as well get used to it.”

Folks are definitely collecting these early Fox-body Mustangs. Cobras come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though there aren’t any available right now.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Cobra in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $23,100, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $9,800. Make mine Black, I think, perhaps with those extra-cost Cobra hood graphics.

Later Fox-body Mustangs I have covered include the 1982 GT hatchback coupe, the 1983 GT convertible, and the 1984 SVO hatchback coupe. I guess I’ll have to get to the second half of the Mustang’s decade at some point.

1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan

“Owning a Cadillac is a satisfying experience.”

For 1986, Cadillac transitioned the Fleetwood Brougham from the Cadillac-built HT-4100 130 bhp 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 with fuel injection to the Oldsmobile-built 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a Rochester four-barrel carburetor. Production for the model year started late—it didn’t get going until February 1986.

The only powertrain available mated the aforementioned V8 to a four-speed automatic transmission. Mileage was rated at 18 city/25 highway by the standards of the day (16/23 by today’s standards). With a 20.7-gallon fuel tank, a Fleetwood Brougham buyer could expect a range of between 365 and 400 miles with a 10% reserve. The target market didn’t really care about performance, but the 0-60 time was a little under 13 seconds.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $21,265 Fleetwood Brougham (about $48,900 in today’s dollars or about what a base 2019 Cadillac CT6 sedan goes for) included rear wheel drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, Soft Ray tinted glass, a full padded roof treatment, and P215/75R15 steel-belted all-season radial whitewall tires (a size still readily available, including in whitewall) on 15-inch wheels. Inside, an illuminated entry system, power door locks, power windows, electronic climate control, and dual comfort 55/45 heather cloth seats with six-way power adjuster for the driver were all included in these comfortably equipped cars.

Upgrading to the Sedan d’Elegance added adjustable rear seat reading lamps, controlled cycle wipers, tufted pillow-style seating areas, a six-way power seat and manual recliner for the front passenger, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options were the electrically powered Astroroof ($1,255), electronic level control ($203), and wire wheels ($860 to $940). Inside, Twilight Sentinel ($85), automatic door locks ($170), power trunk lid release ($40), and driver’s side memory seat ($215) were available.

Sedan d’Elegance pages from the 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

The 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sold decently, especially considering the short year—49,115 examples went out the door. In 1987, the name was shortened to just Brougham, but Cadillac would sell the same basic model through the 1992 model year with only one notable update in 1990.

Folks are collecting these rear wheel drive eighties Cadillacs, but values do not approach those of Fleetwoods from previous decades. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Fleetwood Brougham sedan in #1/Concours condition is a painfully low $8,000, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $4,200. Eighties Fleetwood Broughams and their ilk are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in February 2019 there’s a Cotillion White 1986 with burgundy velour seats and 44,000 miles available on Hemmings for $11,000.

Make mine Autumn Maple Firemist, please.

1986 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

“Yes to wind. Yes to sunshine.”

For 1986, the big news for Corvette was the return of the convertible, gone since 1975. Other improvements included Bosch ABS II anti-lock brakes, a Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS), and the mid-year introduction of aluminum cylinder heads.

The standard powertrain was the L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a Turbo-Hydramatic four-speed automatic transmission. Car and Driver recorded 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. Estimated fuel economy was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette convertible’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 335 and 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Built in collaboration with ASC, the convertible included a manual top, a rear-hinged deck panel to cover the top, and an X-brace underneath the floor. The newly-required high-mounted rear brake light was integrated into the rear fascia. Even the gas filler cover was different from the coupe—square because there was no rounded rear hatchback glass for it to wrap around.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $32,032 Corvette convertible (about $76,700 in today’s dollars or about what a well-equipped 2019 Corvette Stingray convertible goes for) included a Delco Freedom Plus II battery, power operated quartz-halogen retractable headlamps, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and P255/50VR-16 tires on 16 x 9.5 inch cast alloy aluminum wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, Tilt-Telescopic steering wheel, driver information system, cloth seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included performance axle ratio ($22) and Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers ($189)—the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission was a no-cost option. Optional interior equipment included cruise control ($185), power door lock system ($175), electronic control air conditioning ($150), a six-way power driver’s seat ($225), and the Delco-GM/Bose Music System ($895). The Z51 Performance Handling Package was not available with the convertible.

Pages from the 1986 Corvette convertible, linked from the always useful PaintRef.com.

The return of the Corvette convertible was well-received—Chevrolet sold 7,315 in about half a model, even at $5,000 more than the coupe. Reviews were also good; Car and Driver stated that the convertible was “a mighty hospitable carriage.”

There is strong club support for the 1986 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Corvette convertible in #1/Concours condition is $20,200, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $7,700. 1986 Corvette convertibles are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in December 2018, there’s a Yellow car with black leather seats and 29,000 miles available on Hemmings for $17,900.

Make mine White, with red leather seats—the “heritage colors” that match the first Corvette back in 1953.

1986 Buick Century sedan

For the last few weeks, there’s been a white Buick Century sedan parked outside one of my local supermarkets. Followers of Eighties Cars know that is likely to generate a blog entry.

“… truly satisfying motoring in the European tradition.”

For 1986, Buick’s Century gained a new slanted grille along with lower profile headlamps. The other major news was the T Type coupe had been discontinued, though the sedan version remained alive. Both the sedan and the coupe were available in Custom (base) and Limited trim, while the wagon was available in Custom (base) and Estate versions. We’ll concentrate on the sedan in this post.

Standard power on the Century remained the Iron Duke 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection. Two different V6 engines were available: a $435 112 bhp 2.8 liter/181 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor and a $695 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with sequential fuel injection. A three-speed automatic transmission was standard with the 2.5 liter inline four and 2.8 liter V6, but buyers could add a four-speed automatic for an additional $175.

With these three engines, two transmissions, and curb weights in the 2,750 to 2,850-pound range, there was a wide variance in performance. 0-60 mph with the inline four/three-speed automatic combination was about 13.5 seconds, while 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 owners with the four-speed automatic could expect to get from 0-60 in about 10 seconds.

Mileage with the base four and three-speed automatic was 22 city/32 highway (19/29 by today’s standards) while owners of the top-of-the-line V6/four-speed automatic combination could expect 19 city/29 highway (17/26 by 2018 standards). With a 15.7-gallon fuel tank, Century V6 drivers could expect a range of between 305 and 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $10,228 Century Custom (about $23,800 in 2018 dollars—just slightly under what a 2019 Regal Sportback goes for) included front-wheel drive, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/75R14 tires (a size still available from Hankook) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a cloth notchback front bench seat and a Delco AM radio with dual front speakers and a fixed antenna were included.

Moving up to the $10,729 Limited (about $25,000 in today’s dollars) added 55/45 notchback velour seats and a hood ornament.

The relatively rare $13,714 T Type (about $31,900 in 2018 dollars) included the 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 and four-speed automatic combination, along with a Gran Touring suspension and 215/60R14 tires on 14-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel, a full length storage console, and reclining cloth bucket seats were included.

Century buyers had many choices to personalize their sedan. Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included aluminum wheels ($199), tinted glass ($115), and engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($750), cruise control ($175), Twilight Sentinel ($57), power windows ($270), and six-way power driver’s seat ($225) were available.

Century page from the 1986 Buick full-line brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

The 1986 Buick Century sedan sold rather well—sales inched up slightly from 1985 as Buick moved about 232,000, with 5,286 being the T Type version.

I think of these A-body cars as basic and honest. Centurys sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. Make mine dark blue metallic.

Other A-bodies I’ve written about in this blog (I guess I owe the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera some attention):

1983 Pontiac 6000 STE sedan

1989 Chevrolet Celebrity sedan

1980 Buick Riviera S TYPE coupe

I’ve been on a Riviera kick recently, brought on (no lie!) by the appearance of a 1965 model in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie a couple of days ago. I covered the 1984 T-Type a few years ago—here’s the 1980 S TYPE.

“… an impressive road car.”

In its second year, Buick’s sixth-generation Riviera gained little but revised body mounts and new side mirrors with a notably more integrated look. Buick continued to offer Riviera fans a slightly more sporty S TYPE version, returning to a theme first present with the 1965 Riviera Grand Sport.

The S TYPE‘s standard powertrain was the LD5 170 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with turbocharger and a Rochester M4ME four-barrel carburetor paired with a Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmission. The LG4 155 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a Rochester M4ME four-barrel carburetor was optional (it was standard on the base Riviera). The S TYPE was spritely for a big (3,633 pound) coupe by 1980 standards, but not fast: 0-60 came in about 11 seconds, which compared well with the Cadillac Eldorado, [Chrysler] Imperial, Lincoln Continental Mark VI, and Oldsmobile Toronado. Fuel mileage was rated at 16 city/23 highway by the (rather unrealistic) standards of the day—with a 21.2-gallon fuel tank, range was about 305 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The $11,823 S TYPE (about $39,800 in 2018 dollars, or about what a 2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring sedan goes for) came with amber front park and turn signal lenses, tungsten-halogen high-beam headlights, dual remote black mirrors, and GR70-R15 tires (equivalent to P225/70R15, which is still a readily available size) on 15-inch wheels with Designer’s Sport wheel covers. Inside, cloth or vinyl bucket seats, sport steering wheel, storage console, and black-trimmed instrument panel were all standard. The 1980 S TYPE also included a Rallye ride-and-handling suspension with larger front and rear stabilizer bars and stiffer shock absorbers.

Standard exterior and mechanical features on all 1980 Rivieras included front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, automatic level control, Soft Ray tinted glass, power steering, and power front disc/rear drum brakes. Inside, every Riviera had air conditioning, electric door locks, power windows, a driver’s-side 6-way power seat, and an AM/FM stereo radio with automatic power antenna.

Exterior and mechanical options included four-wheel disc brakes ($222), electric rear window defogger ($109), and the Astroroof ($1,058). Inside, automatic air conditioner ($150), Cruise-Master speed control ($118), Twilight Sentinel ($51), a passenger-side 6-way power seat ($179), and leather with vinyl bucket seats ($360) were all available. You couldn’t get the tilt and telescoping steering column on an S TYPE, but you could get a tilt only steering column ($83).

Sales of the S TYPE were decent in 1980—with 7,217 made, it accounted for about 15% of overall Riviera sales. For 1981, the Riviera S TYPE was supplanted by the T-Type.

S TYPE pages from the 1980 Buick Riviera brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Folks are collecting the sixth generation Rivieras—there’s robust discussion and support on the AACA’s Buick Riviera page, which is affiliated with the Riviera Owners Association. S TYPEs also come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though there aren’t any right now. As I write this in November 2018, there is a “civilian” 1980 with a white exterior, burgundy leather seats, a V8, and 19,000 miles for sale on Hemmings, asking $11,500.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Riviera in #1/Concours condition is $11,800, with a more normal #3/Good car going for a mere $4,000. Make mine the extra-cost ($186) Gray Firemist, please. I love those Buick color names and believe everyone should have at least one Firemist.