1980 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

“How many other cars can you name at a single glance?”

For the 1980 model year, the Corvette’s long-running “shark” body style was substantially redesigned for the third time since its debut in the 1968 model year. The front and rear bumper caps were modified with integrated spoilers that decreased the drag coefficient by 14% to 0.443. Chevrolet engineers also managed to remove 167 pounds of curb weight from the Corvette by reducing the thickness of body panels and using aluminum for more parts.

There were two engine options for all states but California, both 5.7 liter/350 ci small blocks with four-barrel carburetors: the standard 190 bhp L48 and the optional ($595) 230 bhp L82. The four-speed manual transmission was only available with the L48—the L82 and the California-only 180 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci LG4 could only be combined with the three-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 14 city/20 highway by the standards of the day with either 350 ci and either transmission. With the relatively rare (about 12% of production) L82 and automatic transmission combination, 0-60 came in about 7.5 seconds.

For the $13,140.24 base price at the beginning of the model year (about $42,800 in 2015 dollars), Corvette buyers got T-tops, power disc brakes, power steering, dual sport mirrors, and a choice of transmissions. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, a tilt-telescopic steering column, an AM/FM radio, and a choice of either cloth/leather or all leather interior were all standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included aluminum wheels ($409) and power antenna ($56). Inside, buyers could add power door locks ($140), cruise control ($123), rear window defogger ($109), and dual rear speakers ($52). 1980 would be the last year that the AM/FM stereo radio with 8-track player ($155) would be more popular than the AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player ($173).

Cover of the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The redesign probably kept Corvette sales from dropping as much as they otherwise would have, but they were still off more than 13,000 units from 1979 as the shark aged. The tagline for Car and Driver‘s review of the 1980 Corvette was “America’s only sports car, but that doesn’t excuse everything.”

There is strong club support for the 1980 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Corvette with the L82 engine in #1/Concours condition is $30,200, with a more normal L48-engined car in number #3/Good condition going for $13,500. 1980 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in June 2015, there’s a white one with a red leather interior and 67,000 miles available for $14,000. Make mine just like that, please.

1987 Chevrolet Chevette CS hatchback sedan

My wife and I were taking a walk early this Saturday morning and passed a Chevrolet Chevette parked at the end of our street. Reason enough to finally complete this blog entry.

“… one of America’s best known cars …”

1987 was the final year for the somewhat antiquated rear wheel drive Chevette—in North America, at least. The 1.8-liter diesel engine was no more, but otherwise little was changed from 1986.

The only engine available was the L17 1.6 liter/98 cubic inch inline four with a Holley 6510c two-barrel carburetor and 65 bhp, but you did have a choice of transmission: the standard four-speed manual, an optional three-speed automatic ($450), or an optional five-speed manual ($75). Mileage with the standard transmission was 28 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (24/31 by today’s standards). With the 12.2-gallon fuel tank, Chevette owners could expect a 340-mile range with a 10% reserve. Predictably, 0-60 mph took a little under 16 long seconds.

The Chevette was a small car, classified by the EPA as a sub-compact. Curb weight for the sedan was 2,137 pounds, with a 97.3-inch wheelbase, a 164.9-inch overall length, a 61.8-inch width, and a 52.8-inch height.

The truly “base” Chevette had been gone since 1985, but standard equipment was spare even on the supposedly upmarket CS. For your $5,495 base price (about $11,400 in 2015 dollars), you got four doors, a rear hatch with a single strut, rack and pinion steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, and P155/80R13 tires (a size still available from Kumho) on 13-inch by 5-inch steel wheels. Inside, there were vinyl front bucket seats and vinyl rear bench seats, along with a floor console.

Because the standard equipment was so spare, there were a lot of options. Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included power brakes ($105), power steering ($225), an engine block heater ($20), and a custom exterior package ($154). Inside, the buyer could add air conditioning ($675), a tilt steering column ($125), custom cloth bucket seats ($130), a rear defogger ($145), and an AM/FM stereo radio ($119).

Despite being on its last legs, Chevrolet still sold a little over 20,000 Chevette sedans in 1987, along with slightly more than 26,000 coupes. Chevettes rarely show up in either the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

1982 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

“Cross-Fire injection adds to the Corvette performance equation.”

1982 was the final year for the “shark” Corvette but the first year for the L82 Cross-Fire 5.7 liter/350 ci V8—a throttle body fuel-injected design that put out a respectable for the day 200 bhp and 285 lb-ft of torque. The downside was that it was only available with a four-speed automatic transmission; a manual transmission would not return until the middle of the 1984 model year. Top speed for the 1982 Corvette was 125 mph, and Road & Track managed a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. Estimated fuel economy was 15 city/26 highway by the standards of the day—not bad for a fairly large V8 with primitive engine controls.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $18,290 base Corvette (about $45,100 in today’s dollars) included a Delco Freedom II battery, power steering, power disc brakes, and P225/70R15 tires on 15-inch by 8-inch steel rally wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, quartz analog clock, and an AM/FM stereo radio were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included power sport mirrors ($125), power door locks ($155), cruise control ($165), electric rear window defogger ($129), gymkhana suspension (only $61 for specially tuned shock absorbers, higher-rate rear spring, and a rear stabilizer bar), two-tone paint ($428), aluminum wheels ($458), and  P255/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires ($543). Optional interior equipment included a six-way power driver’s seat ($197) and an AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player ($423).

Options that date this car include the stereo radio with cassette and Citizens Band  ($755) and the stereo radio with 8-track player ($755). Corvette buyers piled on the options: the average buyer ordered $2,195 worth, raising the sticker to $20,485 (about $50,500 in 2014 dollars).

Rear cover of the 1982 Corvette brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

There is strong club support for the 1982 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a non-Collector Edition 1982 Corvette in #1 condition is $29,000, with a more normal number #3 condition car going for $13,900. 1982 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I write this in September 2014, there’s a black car with a red leather interior with 39,000 miles available for $18,000.

Make mine one of the relatively rare (and absolutely gorgeous) Silver Green Metallic cars, with the Silver Green interior.

1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan

Today’s Hemming Daily blog included an entry on their Find of the Day—a Dark Blue Metallic 1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan with 70,000 miles available for $7,000. This officially fits it in my “Who Saves These Cars” category.

“The first Chevy of the ’80s”

For 1980, the Chevrolet Citation was truly all new. It may have been the “most thoroughly tested new car in Chevy history,” but the Citation quickly became the most recalled car in history, with an absolutely astounding nine recalls in an era when manufacturers did not readily initiate recalls.

The standard powertrain on the 2,491-pound sedan was the GM’s Iron Duke 90 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci four with a Rochester Varajet two-barrel carburetor, paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy was 24 city/38 highway by the standards of the day (21/34 by today’s standards). 0-60 times for the Iron Duke are hard to find, but were likely over 12 seconds for the four-speed manual transmission and probably almost 16 seconds (oog) with the optional ($337) three-speed automatic transmission.

Spending $225 to upgrade to the LE2 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 (also with a Varajet two-barrel carburetor) got you 115 bhp and a 0-60 time of a little over 10 seconds. Fuel economy dropped, but not by that much: to 20 city/34 highway with the four-speed manual transmission. Moving to the profligate three-speed automatic transmission dropped highway mileage to 30 mpg.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $5,153 sedan (about $17,300 in 2018 dollars) included the heavily advertised front-wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, glass-belted P185/80R13 radial tires (now a trailer size), and a Delco Freedom battery. Inside, sliding door locks, a lockable glove box, and an AM radio were considered worth mentioning as standard features. Chevrolet also shamelessly stated that the sedan’s .417 drag coefficient was a sign of “Efficient Aerodynamics.”

Exterior and mechanical options were many, including cruise control ($105), an electric rear window defogger ($101), intermittent wipers ($39), power brakes, power steering, sport mirrors (both manual and power), and tinted glass ($70). Inside, a custom interior, a gauge package ($70), bucket seats, air conditioning ($564), a reclining front passenger seat, power door locks ($123), power windows ($189), a tilt wheel ($75), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($188) were all available.

As Hemmings showed today, Citations do sometimes come up for sale, though I see few in the condition of the one they highlighted. Other X-bodies I’ve written about in this blog included the 1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe, the 1983 Buick Skylark T TYPE coupe, and the 1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan. Perhaps the Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix deserve some attention.

Updated in December 2018.

1988 Chevrolet Beretta GT coupe

“A car with performance that fulfills the promise offered by its exterior appearance.”

I always liked the Chevrolet Beretta’s styling. It was among the purest executions of the wedge in the 1980s (along with the Bertone/Fiat X1/9, the Pontiac Fiero, and the Triumph TR-8).

For its debut year in 1988, there were two kinds of Berettas available—the base coupe and the GT. The Beretta GT came standard with the LB6 130 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci multi-port fuel injected V6: a notable step up from the LQ5 90 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci throttle body fuel injected inline four that came standard with the coupe. 0-60 mph came in a little over 9 seconds with the five-speed manual transmission and the V6—not that bad, but not certainly not stunningly fast either. Fuel economy with the same powertrain combination was 19 city/29 highway by the standards of the day (17/27 by today’s standards). With a 13.5-gallon gas tank, a GT owner could expect a range of 265 to 290 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $11,851 GT (approximately $23,700 in today’s dollars) included dual sport mirrors, power brakes, and P205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, the Custom interior, tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio were all standard.

The Beretta was one of the early examples of General Motors’ move to option packages as the preferred way to reduce the number of possible equipment combinations. The GT‘s option packages were:

  1. Air conditioning
  2. Floor mats, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, intermittent wipers
  3. Auxiliary lighting, power door locks, power trunk opener, power windows, AM/FM stereo cassette with digital clock

Optional equipment included the GT-only Z51 Performance Handling Package ($153 for larger stabilizer bars, firmer bushings, tuned struts and shocks, and Goodyear Eagle GT + 4 P205/60R15 tires on 15-inch styled steel wheels), rear window defogger ($145), electronic instrumentation ($156), two-tone paint ($123), and AM/FM stereo cassette with digital clock and graphic equalizer.

Not a lot of folks seem to be collecting Berettas, at least not yet. I have not seen one on the road in a few years. Berettas are rarely seen in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors.

Make mine Maroon Metallic, please.

Some Long Distance Travel In An Eighties Car

Last month, my wife and I took a 6,281 mile “jaunt” in my eighties car – a 29 1/2 year old 1985 Light Blue Metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe.

Last year, Lauren challenged me, causing me to me to write this … screed in May 2013:

“It’s Not The Same As It Was In 2004 …

… I took the 1985 out for some miles today and I noticed some things.

It’s a more tenuous feeling taking her out than it was in 2004. Of course, that was 33,000 miles ago, but the car seems more … fragile. I’m mindful of all that sweat equity (mine and many others) in it and the knowledge that it is now so … old. Less and less early C4s on the road for any reason and she’ll be thirty (!) years old in November 2014.

The car judges well and drives acceptably but the problems remain present and they are a litany: the “dumb as a bag of rocks” computer, the creaks and rattles in the interior, the passenger side power window near death, the console light that keeps slowly melting the console plastic, the seats and steering wheel not far from a recovery, the repaint that is who knows how many thousands of miles out, the characteristic droops on both front and rear bumpers that will need to be fixed with the repaint. They’re known problems and they can get fixed: but some of them (seats, repaint, bumpers) will require cubic dollars.

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1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe

I saw a white 1980 or 1981 Z28 with blue graphics (I believe the only way you can tell them apart is to get close enough to see the length of the VIN) out driving today, not once but twice. It wasn’t quite in show condition, but it still looked pretty sharp, and you so rarely see these cars on the road in 2014. We’ll go with the 1980 version for this post because it had slightly more horsepower.

“The Maximum Camaro.”

For 1980, the aging second-generation Chevrolet Camaro (the title of Car and Driver‘s road test for the 1980 Z28 was a cruel “A medieval warrior on the path to a rocking chair“) received some updates, including exterior styling changes and a more powerful engine for the Z28. Not much could be done about the general lack of space efficiency, the high weight, and the fairly primitive technology.

The standard (and only) Z28 powertrain for states other than California was the LM1 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a four-barrel Rochester carburetor and 8.2:1 compression matched with a four-speed manual transmission. At 190 bhp, this engine had the most horsepower that had been seen in a Camaro since 1974 (sigh). For 1980, a solenoid-driven air intake was added to the back of the redesigned hood scoop. Car and Driver managed to get the 3,660 pound Z28 from 0-60 in 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. Fuel mileage was predictably bad—14 city/21 highway by the standards of the day.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included in the $7,121 base price of the Z28 (about $20,500 in today’s dollars) included heavy duty shocks and springs, sport mirrors, a front air dam, a rear spoiler, body-colored wheels, and white-lettered radial tires. Inside, power steering, full gauges, center console, cut-pile carpeting, and vinyl bucket seats were standard.

External options included 15 x 7 aluminum wheels ($184) and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add air conditioning ($566), intermittent windshield wiper system ($41), electric rear window defogger ($107), automatic speed control ($112), power door locks ($93), power windows ($143), Comfortilt steering wheel ($81), and an AM/FM stereo radio with stereo cassette tape ($272).

Z28 page from the 1980 Camaro brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Long neglected by the collector market and with most now used up, late second-generation Z28s in good or great shape are starting to get interesting numbers at auctions. A red 1980 Z28 went for $13,000 at Mecum’s January 2014 auction in Kissimmee. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Z28 in #1 condition is $26,800. A more normal #3 condition version is valued at $13,100.

Make mine red, I think. Surprisingly, the most popular color in 1980 was dark blue.

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