1984 Chrysler Laser hatchback coupe

“The competition is good. We had to be better.”

The 1984 Chrysler Laser was intended to be the upscale complement for the Dodge Daytona. Equipment was not notably different from the Daytona, but the Laser had more of a luxury emphasis with a slightly softer suspension.

Two engines were available. The base engine, Chrysler’s 93 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four, was available with a standard five-speed manual transmission or a three-speed automatic transmission ($439). Mileage with the manual was 22 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (19/29 by today’s standards). Moving to the automatic helped city mileage a bit but dropped highway mileage significantly—23/27.

The more interesting engine was the optional 2.2 liter/135 ci turbocharged inline four cylinder with 142 bhp and the same transmission choices as the base engine. Depending on whether you were adding the turbo to the base Laser or the XE, the extra cost was either $934 or $872. Mileage with the hot setup (turbo and manual) was 20 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (18/25 by 2015 standards) while the 0-60 time was about 8.5 seconds. Moving to the three-speed automatic once again killed highway mileage, making the ratings 20 and 23.

Standard equipment on the base Laser (priced at $8,648 or about $19,700 in today’s dollars) included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, intermittent wipers, and an AM radio with digital clock.

Moving up to Laser XE ($10,546 or about $20,400 in 2015 dollars) added features such as an electronic instrument cluster, tilt steering wheel, driver’s side sport seat, dual power side mirrors, and an AM/FM stereo radio.

Optional equipment included air conditioning ($737), cruise control ($179), rear defroster ($168 base/$143 XE), power windows ($185), power door locks ($125), and AM/FM stereo cassette ($285/$160). With all the trimmings, a Laser XE could fairly easily get to $12,900 or so or about $29,500 in today’s dollars—about what a 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT costs.

The Laser sold decently in its first year, with almost 34,000 base coupes and nearly 26,000 XEs crossing dealer lots. This was actually more than its Dodge Daytona sister car (with a total of almost 50,000 sold).

However, Chrysler must have been disappointed—this was an era where the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Pontiac Firebird were routinely selling in the hundreds of thousands (the three models combined for 530,000 sold in 1984).

Chrysler would never see these first-year totals again—by 1987 the Laser would be gone, with the Daytona hanging on through the 1993 model year after a few pretty good years in the late 1980s.

DaytonaLaserSales

Lasers rarely show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay. You see some Daytonas on eBay, but even they are relatively uncommon.

Not surprisingly, allpar.com has an interesting and detailed article on the front-wheel-drive Lasers and Daytonas—it is here. Make mine Black, please.

1985 Honda Civic CRX Si hatchback coupe

“Fuel injected fun.”

For 1985, Honda put one of its hottest four-cylinder engines into its tiny CRX, creating the Si. Si stood for Sports, injected and the new EW3/4 engine was a multiport fuel injected version of the carburetted 1.5 liter/91 ci engine that had been the top of the line in 1984.

Horsepower was 91 bhp at 5,500 rpm, up 20% from the carburetted engine. This increase doesn’t sound like much, but the CRX only weighed about 1,800 pounds—to get the same power to weight ratio in a 2014 Honda Civic coupe you would need 143 bhp (interestingly, the 2014 Civic coupe has a … 143 bhp engine). Car and Driver recorded a 0-60 time of 9.1 seconds (Motor Trend reported 8.5 seconds) and a top speed of 112 mph. The EPA fuel economy rating with the required five-speed manual transmission was 32 city/36 highway by the standards of the day (27/33 by today’s standards).

The $7,999 base price (about $17,700 in 2014 dollars) included a power sunroof, a rear wiper/washer, 175/70R13 tires (a size last seen on the 2005 Hyundai Accent) on 5.0-inch-wide alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler molded of soft urethane instead of the hard plastic in other CRXs.

Since the CRX Si came pretty loaded by Honda standards, there were few options. The Si received an exclusive black paint option in place of the white available in other CRXs—red or blue were also available. Air conditioning was available only as a dealer accessory, as were a rear speaker and a choice of various car stereos: Honda would continue to sell AC as a dealer accessory well into the 1990s.

I don’t see a lot of first-generation CRX Si’s come up for sale in either the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors. However, there is good club support for the CRX at Red Pepper Racing.

Make mine black, please. It looks sharp with the red band on new for 1985 charcoal gray body cladding.

1982 Ford Mustang GT hatchback coupe

This post was one of my earliest in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“If excitement is your master key, this one opens all the doors.”

The 1982 Ford Mustang GT marked the return to form of America’s definitive pony car and ignited a second round of the power wars with the then brand new third generation Camaro and Firebird. Along with the new GT trim level, the new high output (H.O.) version of the venerable 4.9 liter/302 ci V8 was up to 157 bhp—quite an upgrade from 1981’s 4.2 liter/255 ci engine.

Mustang GT page from the 1982 Ford Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

157 bhp feels quaint in 2014 (the lowest horsepower engine for the 2015 Mustang is the 300 bhp 3.7 liter V6), but the 1981 Mustang had topped out at (oog…) 115 bhp and as tested 0-60 times in the 2,600 pound GT dropped by over 3 seconds for 1982.

You could get the H.O. engine with any Mustang, but the hot setup was with the GT, which offered a four-speed manual transmission and a 3.08:1 rear axle ratio with Traction-Lok limited slip differential. Other options that were standard with the $8,308 GT (about $20,500 in today’s dollars) with the 302 were power steering and traction bars. The GT also received cast aluminum wheels, dual fog lamps, a forward-facing hood scoop, and the same spoiler initially featured on the first-year for the Fox-body Mustang 1979 Pace Car.

Options for the Mustang GT included air conditioning ($676), snazzy Recaro high-back bucket seats ($834), power windows ($165), and an AM/FM stereo with either 8-track or cassette player ($178)—it seems that 1982 was Ford’s crossover year for 8-track versus cassette.

The Mustang GT shows up often in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds.  As I write this in August 2014, there are no 1982s, but there is a white 1985 with 28,000 miles on sale for $11,500. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1982 Ford Mustang GT in #1 condition is $14,700, with values sliding up.

I only have four exterior color choices with a 1982 Mustang GT—make mine Bright Red, please.

1985 Toyota MR2 coupe

One of my favorite high-school teachers had an MR2 in red—she caused somewhat of a stir when she showed up in it the first time.

“Fun is taking the all-new MR2 out to play.”

The MR2 was undoubtedly one of the most interesting cars Toyota brought to market in the 1980s (development had begun in 1976). Visually evolved from the SV-3 concept car shown at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show, MR2 stood for “midship runabout 2-seater”.

A small sports car (almost six inches shorter than a 2015 Honda Fit) with an angular wedge body, the MR2 became available for the 1985 model year, entering a market that already included the Bertone (formally Fiat) X1/9 and the Pontiac Fiero. MR2s got really good reviews from the likes of Motor Trend (winning “Import Car of the Year”), Road & Track, and, later, Automobile—who famously compared it to a Ferrari 308 and found the MR2 to be the winner.

The MR2’s engine was the 16-valve 1.6 liter 4A-GE fuel injected double overhead cam inline four, with 112 bhp. Paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic transmission was optional) in the 2,350 pound “Mister Two,” this engine was good for 0-60 in under 9 seconds and a top speed of about 120 mph. Mileage was very good: 27 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by modern standards). With a 10.8-gallon fuel tank, an MR2 owner could expect a range of 250 to 285 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment in the $10,999 car (about $24,300 in 2014 dollars) included power disc brakes and 14-inch alloy wheels on 185/60R14 tires. Inside, automatic climate control, power side mirrors, tinted glass, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included in an interior that was considered roomy for the MR2’s size.

Options available for the 1985 MR2 included air conditioning ($840), a moonroof ($300), cruise control ($185), power windows and locks ($305), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($365).

MR2s do have club support, including a fairly active forum. Though there are slim pickings in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, first-generation MR2s (sold up until the 1989 model year) show up fairly often on eBay Motors. As I write this in July 2014, there’s a blue 1985 with 92,000 miles with a $3,333 “Buy It Now” price.

Make mine the same red as that high school teacher owned, please.

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.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra

This post was one of my first entries in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“The ultimate performance Toyota.”

Remember when Toyota made a reasonable amount of cool sporty cars?

I do—I believe they nailed it with the Mark II Celica Supra. First, the styling: though based on the Celica, the longer hood (to accommodate the Supra’s inline six) along with the pop-up headlights (you’ll have to believe me that they were very cool in the 1980s) substantially changed the look of the car. It wasn’t just the styling—Supras also included a notably higher level of interior equipment.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra, the 1982 Motor Trend Import Car Of The Year.
1982 Toyota Celica Supra, picture courtesy of Motor Trend from their Import Car Of The Year photo shoot.

The engine was Toyota’s 145 bhp 5M-GE 2.8 liter/168 ci dual overhead cam fuel injected inline six, giving a 0-60 time of about 9 seconds (spritely for 1982) and a top speed of approximately 125 mph. Over the next few years, engine power would climb to 161 bhp.

Mileage with the standard five-speed manual transmission was 21 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (19/31 by today’s standards). Choosing the optional four-speed automatic transmission reduced highway mileage to 32 highway. With a 16.1-gallon gas tank, Supra drivers could expect to drive 360 to 395 miles before seeking more fuel.

All Celica Supras included a four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel. Two models were available: the L– (for “Luxury”) Type and the P– (for “Performance”) Type. The $13,598 L-Type (about $36,700 in 2018 dollars) included standard power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, and P195/70R-14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 5.5-inch wheels.

Moving up to the $14,598 P-Type (about $39,400 in today’s dollars) added fender flares, a limited slip differential, eight-way adjustable sport seats, and P225/60HR-14 tires (a size currently available only from BFGoodrich) on 14 x 7 inch aluminum wheels.

Here’s a classic commercial, with legendary (and very tall) race car driver Dan Gurney shilling for the brand new Supra.

The second-generation Supra was well-received—Car and Driver made it part of their first 10Best in 1983. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Toyota Celica Supra in #1/Concours condition is $17,300. The value for a more “normal” #3/Good condition example is $7,200.

This generation of Supras maintains some presence in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I update this post in December 2018, there’s Silver 1985 Supra with Gray cloth seats and 109,000 miles for sale in Hemmings asking $12,500.

Make mine Silver, please.

Updated December 2018.

Short Take: 1983 Honda Civic 1500 S hatchback coupe

Finding detailed information about the 1983 Honda Civic 1500 S turned out to be surprisingly hard, so this is my first “Short Take”—a post that I don’t consider long enough to be a full discussion.

“We Make It Simple”

Honda continued to hit on all (four) cylinders in 1983 with the introduction of the Civic 1500 S. At $6,399 (about $15,700 in 2014 dollars), the 1500 S was the top of the two door hatchback line and over 30% more than the base 1300 model.

A handsome little car, the Civic 1500 S was fitted with firmer suspension (with rear stabilizer bar) and 165/70R13 Michelin tires (a size still available thanks to Vredestein). A red accent encircled the 1500 S and set it apart from other Civics as well as a black grille and blackout paint around the window frames.

The 1500 S’ engine was not specific to it, but was the optional EM 1.5 liter inline four cylinder with three barrel carburetor, making 63 bhp. Mileage with the standard five speed manual transmission was 35 city/46 highway by the standards of the day.

Standard equipment included a tachometer and front spoiler. 0-60 came in a little under 13 seconds and top speed was about 99 mph for the last of second-generation Civics.

Make mine black, please.