1985 Ford LTD LX

“Because Mr. Bondurant shouldn’t have all the fun.”

Late in the 1984 model year, Ford added a performance-oriented model to the LTD line. The LX was loosely based on a few sedans that Bob Bondurant had cobbled together for use at his high performance driving school.

The engine was Ford’s 165 bhp 302 cubic inch Windsor V8 with electronic fuel injection. The only transmission available was a four-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 came in a respectable 9 seconds—faster than the Dodge 600ES and competitive with the Pontiac 6000 STE. Mileage was 19 city/23 highway by the standards of the day (17/22 by today’s standards). With a 16 gallon fuel tank, range was about 300 miles with a 10% reserve.

For 1985, the LX wore the updated nose and tail that came along with all 1985 LTDs. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $11,421 LX (about $26,500 in 2016 dollars) included quad rectangular halogen headlamps, power brakes, a Traction-Lok rear axle, a rear stabilizer bar, and P205/70HR Goodyear Eagle tires on 14-inch styled road wheels. Inside, dual power mirrors, lumbar-support bucket seats, a center console with a floor shifter for the transmission, brushed aluminum trim on the dash bezels, a special instrument cluster with tachometer, a Tripminder computer, and an AM radio with dual front speakers (ah, the glamor!) were included.

Options included cast aluminum wheels ($224), air conditioning ($743), power windows ($272), power locks ($213), and an electronic AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($409).

Page from the 1985 LTD brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochure pages.

Like some other interesting Ford performance cars from the 1980s, LTD LX’s did not sell well, with only 3,260 sold over the 1984 and 1985 model years (there would be no 1986 LX). Likely because of the limited production numbers, you rarely see them in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

Make mine Medium Charcoal Metallic, please.

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1980 Pontiac Grand Am

“One exhilarating road machine”

The last of the rear wheel drive Grand Ams came in 1980. Unlike in 1978 and 1979, the sedan was no longer available— only the coupe remained.

The standard engine in non-California cars was the 155 bhp 301 cubic inch L37 V8 with four-barrel Rochester carburetor and electronic spark control (California cars got the Chevrolet-sourced 150 bhp 305 cubic inch LG4 V8). The only transmission available was a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic TH200 automatic transmission. Mileage was 17 city/25 highway by the standards of the day. With the 18.1 gallon fuel tank, range was about 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. Period performance tests of the Grand Am are hard to come by, but 0-60 likely came in around 9 seconds.

New features for 1980 included a revised soft-fascia front end with three sections per side, an Ontario Gray lower accent color for the exterior, a silver upper body accent stripe, larger wraparound black-out tail lamps, and larger front and rear stabilizer bars for the optional ($45) Rally RTS handling package.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $7,299 car (about $23,900 in 2015 dollars) included dual sport mirrors, dual horns, power steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 205/75R14 black sidewall radial tires on Rally IV cast aluminum wheels. Inside, Grand Am purchasers could expect cut-pile carpeting, custom vinyl front bucket seats with center floor console, rally gages with clock embedded in a brushed aluminum instrument panel, and a custom sport steering wheel.

Available exterior and mechanical options included a power sunroof —either metal ($561) or glass ($773), dual remote sport mirrors ($73), Soft-Ray tinted glass ($107), and electric rear window defroster ($107). Inside, air conditioning ($601), power door locks ($93), power windows ($143), a six-way power driver’s seat ($175), a tilt steering wheel ($81), automatic cruise control ($112), and an AM/FM stereo radio with stereo cassette player ($272) were all available. A nicely configured Grand Am could easily push past $9,600—real money in 1980 and over $31,000 in today’s dollars.

Page from 1980 Pontiac full-line brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Grand Ams didn’t sell at all well in 1980—Pontiac moved only 1,647 of them, after selling almost five times as many coupes only two years prior in 1978. Despite this, Pontiac would not give up on the Grand Am name—it would be back in 1985 as a small front-wheel drive coupe.

Most of the Grand Ams being collected are the larger and more powerful first-generation Colonnade versions sold from 1972 to 1975. You do occasionally see second-generation Grand Ams for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors.

Make mine Starlight Black, please.

Other G-bodies in this blog:

1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe

1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan

1984 Buick Regal Grand National coupe

1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe

“Camaro Z28 Is Its Big Brother”

Chevrolet’s Cavalier Z24 was announced for the 1985 model year, but didn’t actually become available until the 1986 model year. The most important feature of the Z24 was definitely the engine—GM’s corporate LB6 120 bhp 2.8 liter V6 with multi-port fuel injection. Paired with the standard four-speed manual transmission, 0-60 came in about 8.5 seconds in the 2,450-pound car—decent for a sporty compact car in 1986 (the 102 bhp Volkswagen GTI hatchback of the same year was about as fast).

Mileage was 19 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (19/24 by today’s standards). The Z24’s range was an unimpressive 225 miles with a 10% fuel reserve—like all Cavaliers, the fuel tank was only 11.6 gallons (the same size as a modern Mini).

Standard equipment on the $8,878 Z24 (about $19,600 in today’s dollars) included the aforementioned engine and transmission, a ground effects package, black grille, dual black sport mirrors, the F41 sports suspension, and P215/60R-14 Eagle GT radial tires mounted on 14-inch Rally wheels. Inside, all Z24 buyers received digital instrumentation fed from “a 16K computer,” including a tachometer and trip odometer, along with reclining front bucket seats, a rear window defroster, and an AM radio.

Available options included 14-inch aluminum wheels ($173), tinted glass ($99), air conditioning ($645), cruise control with resume ($175), power door locks ($130), power windows ($195), Comfortilt steering wheel ($115), and an electronic-tuning AM stereo/FM stereo seek/scan radio with cassette player, graphic equalizer, and clock ($494). A comfortably optioned Z24 could easily reach almost $11,000 (about $24,100 in 2016 dollars or about what you’ll pay nowadays for a loaded Chevrolet Sonic RS).

Page from 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Handsome in a broad-shouldered sort of way, the Z24 coupe sold pretty well for 1986—about 36,000 units. The slightly more expensive hatchback added another 10,000 units: the two models accounted for about 11% of total Cavalier production.

There are a few folks collecting these cars, but they certainly aren’t common at shows. You do occasionally see Z24s for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in November 2015, there’s a white 1988 Z24 convertible with a gray interior and 52,000 miles listed on Hemmings for $7,000.

Other J cars in this blog:

1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan

1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan

1984 Buick Regal Grand National

Last Sunday morning, I saw a Grand National actually being driven. The silhouette was distinctive even from a quarter of a mile away. In a strange way, they look tall and even a little bit fragile in 2015.

“The hottest Buick this side of a banked oval.”

1984 was the first year that Buick offered a Grand National package for the Regal. The Regal T Types had debuted in 1983, but the Grand National definitely kicked things up a notch.

The star was, of course, the engine. For 1984, Buick’s 3.8 liter V6 gained sequential fuel injection, bumping horsepower up from 180 bhp to an even 200 bhp. Paired to a four-speed automatic transmission, 0-60 came in a little under 8 seconds. Mileage was 18 city/22 highway by the standards of the day (16/20 by 2015 standards).

Standard mechanical equipment on the $13,400 Grand National (about $32,100 in today’s dollars) included power brakes, power steering, dual exhausts, performance rear axle, Gran Touring suspension, and P215/65R15 blackwall tires on black-accented aluminum wheels. A Grand National’s exterior equipment included a turbo “power bulge” on the hood, dual mirrors, dual horns, front air dam, rear decklid spoiler, and that distinctive black paint with black accents—responsible for the “Darth Buick” nickname. Air conditioning, Lear Siegler cloth/leather seats, a tachometer, a turbo boost gauge, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel were all included inside.

Optional equipment included dual remote sport mirrors ($30), electric rear defogger ($140), touch climate control air conditioning ($150), tilt steering ($110), power windows ($185), Twilight Sentinel ($57), and electronic tuning AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and graphic equalizer ($605).

1984 Buick Regal Grand National flyer, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s wonderful brochures section.

Buick Regal Grand Nationals have a fanatical following. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1984 Grand National in #1 condition is an astounding $38,700, with a more normal #3 condition car going for $12,700. Grand Nationals frequently show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this in July 2015, there’s a 1986 with 28,000 miles available for $28,000.

I don’t have to tell you what color I want mine in.

1985 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Station Wagon

For Independence Day 2015, here’s an all-American eighties wagon from thirty years ago.

“Big wagon convenience that drives like a Caprice.”

1985 was a year of refinement for Chevrolet’s full-size wagon. The standard engine was Chevrolet’s LG4 5.0 liter V8, uprated to 165 bhp but still struggling to haul around about two tons and eighteen feet of metal. Paired with a four-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy was 15 city/22 highway by the standards of the day (14/20 by today’s standards). With the 22 gallon fuel tank, range was about 365 miles with a 10% reserve.

The full-size Chevrolet interior was also modernized for 1985, with an updated satin finish dash design that added the ability to use more capable DIN style radios instead of the previous two-knob style.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $10,714 wagon (about $24,500 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power brakes (disk front/drum rear), a three-way tailgate with power window, heavy-duty front and rear suspension, a Delco Freedom II battery, full wheel covers, and white-striped P225/75R-15 all-season radial tires.

Inside, Quiet Sound Group, a quartz electric clock, a headlamp-on reminder chime, a lockable glove box with light, a full-width front bench seat with center armrest, a third row seat, and an AM push-button radio with dual front speakers were all part of a base Caprice Classic wagon.

Exterior and mechanical options included Estate Equipment ($307), roof carrier ($110), rear air deflector ($40), power tailgate lock ($50), heavy duty battery ($26), heavy duty cooling ($40), engine block heater ($20), cornering lamps ($55), and high and low beam halogen headlamps ($22).

Inside, buyers could add air conditioning ($730), electronic speed control ($175), Comfortilt steering wheel ($110), power windows ($185), power door locks ($125), deluxe rear compartment decor ($59), and a GM-Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio with seek and scan, cassette tape, clock, graphic equalizer and extended range sound system ($394).

Page from 1985 Chevrolet full-size brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Chevrolet sold almost 56,000 Caprice Classic  wagons in the 1985 model year, marking about 21% of total full-size Impala/Caprice production. I sense that there actually are a few folks preserving these cars, but they certainly aren’t common at shows. You do sometimes see Caprice wagons for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in July 2015, there’s a rather rough white wagon with a burgundy interior and 77,000 miles listed on eBay.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic please.

1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

 “America’s favorite Cutlass for flair, value and price”

For 1981, the exterior of Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme was substantially revised, with a lowered front, a slightly higher decklid, and quad headlamps. With the new styling, aerodynamic drag dropped by about 15%.

The standard engine remained the 110 bhp 3.8 liter V6 with two-barrel Rochester carburetor. The optional engines, a 4.3 liter gasoline V8 ($50) and a 5.7 liter diesel V8 ($695!), both had (this makes no sense) five less horsepower than the V6. A three-speed automatic transmission was the only transmission available. Mileage with the V6 was 21 city/30 highway by the standards of the day.

Standard equipment on the $7,484 Cutlass Supreme (about $21,500 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power front disc brakes, bench seats with a choice of vinyl or cloth, and P195/75R14 radial tires (a size last seen on nineties Volkswagen vans).

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included cast aluminum wheels, tungsten halogen high-beam headlamps, engine block heater, limited slip differential, power antenna, dual sport mirrors, electric rear window defogger, and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add either Four-Season or Tempmatic air conditioning, Tilt-Away steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, bucket seats, digital or regular electric clock, and a series of radios.

Page from the 1981 mid-size Oldsmobile brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Cutlass Supreme sure was popular—Oldsmobile sold almost 189,000 of them in the 1981 model year along with another 94,000 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupes for a total of over a quarter of a million.

There are a few folks collecting these cars, but they aren’t common at shows. You do see Cutlass Supremes for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in June 2015, there’s a brown/beige two-tone Cutlass Supreme with a beige interior and 28,000 miles listed on Hemming’s for $13,000.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

1988 Cadillac Cimarron

This afternoon I was walking in the University City portion of Philadelphia and I saw a later Cadillac Cimarron driving towards me in surprisingly good shape. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog entry.

“… built for those who consider driving a sporty pastime.”

It is an article of faith in the automotive world that General Motors often finally gets a car right just before killing it. Examples that spring to mind are the last of the Pontiac Fieros and the last of the Cadillac Allantes. However, in the case of the Cadillac Cimarron, all GM was able to do was make it less awful and embarrassing.

The only engine available for 1988 was the 125 bhp LB6 2.8 liter V6 with multi-port fuel injection. When paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission, mileage was 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day (18/27 by today’s standards). A three-speed automatic transmission was optional and rated at 20 city/27 highway. 0-60 in the 2,800-pound car came in about 9.5 seconds with the manual transmission and about 10.5 seconds with the automatic transmission.

The $16,071 base price (about $33,500 in today’s dollars) included standard exterior and mechanical features such as power brakes, power steering, power mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, and 13-inch aluminum wheels. Air conditioning, leather seating areas, a leather steering wheel, a tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were all standard in the interior.

Options included a sunroof, cruise control, power door locks, power windows, six-way power seat, tilt steering wheel, and the Delco-GM Bose Symphony Sound System.

Exterior styling that was at least somewhat more differentiated from the Chevrolet Cavalier sedan than the earliest Cimmarons had been. A more aggressive and distinctive grille had been added in 1984, the front end had been lengthened in 1985, and ribbed lower body cladding had appeared in 1986.

Page from the 1988 Cadillac brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochure’s section.

By 1988, sales of the Cimarron had completely collapsed. After a first year peak of almost 26,000 unit sold in the 1982 model year, sales dropped to a sad 6,454 in the Cimarron’s final model year.

I have yet to see a Cimarron at a serious antique car show—they’re treated by Cadillac folks like Ford folks treat the Mustang II from the 1970s—but I’m betting some intrepid soul will save one and bring it back for judging. You occasionally see them for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in June 2015, there’s a Glacier Blue 1987 Cimarron with a Dark Blue leather interior and 11,300 miles listed on Hemmings for $14,900.