1983 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer

“Tough Chevy trucks are taking charge”

1983 was the first year for Chevrolet’s S-10 Blazer (along with its sister, the GMC S-15 Jimmy). Intended as a smaller compliment to the full sized K5 Blazer that had been in production since 1969, the S-10 Blazer found a ready market. Styling was good—derivative of the K5, but clean and appropriate for the size.

For 1983, the S-10 Blazer’s standard power was provided by the LQ2 83 bhp 2.0 liter inline four cylinder with 2-barrel carburetor. Optional power was quite a step up: the $243 LR2 110 bhp 2.8 liter V6 with 2-barrel carburetor was available (and very popular) and required power steering (an additional $247). Mileage with the V6 and the four speed automatic transmission was 17 city/23 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards).

The S-10 Blazer buyer had a choice of two or four-wheel-drive, with four-wheel-drive costing an additional $1,194. The four-wheel-drive versions came with “Insta-Trac“, meaning the driver could shift into (or out of) four-wheel-drive high at any speed. Selecting four-wheel-drive low (for very slippery, rough, or steep terrain) required stopping the Blazer.

Three trim levels were offered: base, Tahoe and Sport. Standard equipment on base version ($9,423 with four-wheel-drive or approximately $22,400 in 2014 dollars) included a heater, high back vinyl bucket seats, and color-keyed rubber floor mats. For $576, moving up to the Tahoe trim upgraded the truck with chrome trim, wheel trim rings, carpeting, and a gauge package.

At $910, the top-of-the line Sport trim included features such as a wheel trim rings, two-tone paint, color-keyed bumpers, reclining seat backs, console, a sport steering wheel, a gauge package, and additional sound insulation.

Optional equipment included air conditioning ($690), cruise control ($185), tilt steering wheel ($105), the Operating Convenience Package ($300 for power windows and power door locks), and an AM/FM stereo cassette ($555). Mechanically, you could get the Off-Road Package ($571 with the Tahoe or Sport trim), the Heavy-Duty Trailering Package ($193), and the Cold-Climate Package ($69 with the upper level trims and air conditioning).

All of these options meant you could make an S-10 Blazer rather pricey—I fairly easily configured a four-wheel drive Sport with the V6 and the four speed automatic transmission to $15,039 or about $35,700 in today’s dollars.

First year S-10 Blazer sales were quite strong, with over 106,000 sold of a model that dropped over 1,000 pounds in curb weight compared to its big brother.

You rarely see Blazers for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds. They are more prevalent on eBay Motors, but it is rare to see one that has not been modified in some way.

1989 Nissan Maxima sedan

Familiar and comfortable with things Japanese at least partially from his time serving in the occupation forces following World War II, my grandfather purchased a couple of first Datsun and then Nissan Maximas over the years. When Nissan announced the new and much sportier third-generation version of the Maxima for the 1989 model year, I (firmly convinced of my twenty-year-old hipness) assumed that he would not purchase one. I was wrong: within a year, my grandfather was driving one of those new Maximas with the “4DSC” logo (an abbreviation for “4-Door Sports Car”) on a side window—an at least somewhat instructive lesson for this young man.

“Big enough to hold a meeting. Fast enough to keep it short.”

New for 1989, the third-generation Nissan Maxima was a significant change toward a more sporty image and reality, with attractive new styling and an independent rear suspension. I remember wondering if they had moved too far away from their previous conservative designs for their market. They hadn’t—the 1989 Maxima got good reviews and sold quite well, despite the elimination of the station wagon version.

The Maxima’s engine, a version of Nissan’s VG30E 3.0 liter/181 ci multi-port fuel injected V6 (closely related to the standard powerplant in the Nissan 300ZX), was slightly upgraded for 1989 to 160 bhp and 182 lb.ft of torque.

As they had in previous years, Nissan sold two differentiated Maxima models for 1989: the luxury-oriented GXE and the significantly more sporty SE.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $17,499 (about $36,700 in today’s dollars or about what a 2019 Nissan Maxima SV goes for) GXE included rack and pinion steering, keyless entry (a GXE-only feature), and 205/65R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you got air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, and a rear window defogger. Fuel economy with the standard four-speed automatic transmission was decent at 19 mpg city/26 highway by the standards of the day on premium gasoline (17/24 by today’s standards). With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, a GXE owner could expect a range of between 340 and 375 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Moving to the $18,549 SE added a five-speed manual transmission (the four-speed automatic was optional on the SE), four-wheel disc brakes, wider wheels, and a spoiler, along with stiffer springs and sway bars. Inside, a moonroof, a Bose stereo, leather steering wheel, and white-faced gauges with black markings were all included. With the five-speed, 0-60 mph came in a little under 9 seconds, and fuel economy (also on premium gasoline) was 20 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (18/24 by today’s standards).

Options available for the Maxima included a sonar suspension system that adjusted damping based on road conditions, a fairly primitive heads-up display, and anti-lock brakes (SE only).

People seem to remember these cars with affection, and I (and others) think the exterior styling has aged rather well, but I don’t see a lot of collecting, at least not yet. Nissan Maximas of this era only occasionally show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—you do see them a little more often on eBay Motors. Make mine my grandfather’s Winter Blue Metallic, please.

1986 Ford Taurus sedan

“An automobile that evolved from a new way of thinking.”

Ford’s 1986 Taurus marked an almost unbelievable change from the Fox-platform LTD that it replaced. Gone was the rear wheel drive and squarish looks, replaced by something front wheel drive with Jack Telnack’s completely different design.

The Taurus definitely looked different on the road, especially for a Ford. Getting beyond the looks, the base engine on the Taurus was the central fuel injected (CFI—otherwise known as throttle-body injection) 90 bhp HSC 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four. Optional was the fuel injected 140 bhp Vulcan 3.0 liter/182 ci V6. Mileage with the base engine and the standard three-speed automatic transmission was 20 city/27 highway by the standards of the day (18/24 by 2014 standards). Mileage with the top of the line V6 and four-speed automatic transmission combination was rated at 20 city/28 highway.

Standard equipment on the $9,645 (about $22,300 in today’s dollars) base Taurus L was … fairly basic. Mechanical features include halogen headlamps, power steering, and power brakes. Inside, cloth seats (either bench or bucket) were standard, along with a rear window defroster and an AM radio with two speakers.

Intended to be the sportiest Taurus, the Taurus MT5 ended up being quite rare. It added a five-speed manual transmission with a floor console but paired that with the base engine. Power mirrors, intermittent wipers, tilt steering wheel, bucket seats, a tachometer, and AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were also included.

The Taurus GL was the usual step up from the L and included the Vulcan V6 and the four-speed automatic as standard equipment. With a GL, you also got power mirrors, intermittent wipers, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers.

The top of the line for 1986 was the Taurus LX (there was as yet no SHO). Beyond all the GL features, every LX included lower body cladding (you’ll have to believe me that it was at least a little hip at the time) and front cornering lamps. Inside, the LX came with air conditioning, power windows, and a tilt steering wheel.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment available for every Taurus included 15-inch aluminum wheels, power antenna, power moonroof, keyless entry system, and an engine block heater. Inside, you could upgrade to six-way power seats, cruise control, and the Premium Sound System. An interesting option was the extended range fuel tank, which added 2.5 gallons to the standard 13.3-gallon tank—perhaps another 55 miles of range in the real world.

Options only available on the upmarket GL and LX models included an electronic air conditioner and leather seating surfaces (LX only).

A car that could have killed (or at least severely wounded) Ford if it had failed, the first generation Taurus was instead very successful. Over 230,000 were sold in the 1986 model year alone, and the Taurus made Car and Driver‘s “10 Best” in 1986 in addition to being Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” (one of the few choices that MT made in the 1980s that hasn’t ended up being embarrassing).

Make mine Silver Clearcoat Metallic, please. If (as many claimed) the Taurus was imitating the Audi 5000, we might as well go all the way and use a proper German color.

Update February 2019.

1989 Cadillac Allanté convertible

(talking with a loyal and enthusiastic Allanté owner at the AACA Annual Meeting last week inspired me to write this entry about the last of the 1980s Allantés)

“The only way to travel is Cadillac Style.”

For 1989, the Cadillac Allanté received its first engine upgrade, moving from the 4.1 liter/249 ci HT-4100 V8 to the 4.5 liter/273 ci HT-4500 V8 but remaining connected to the 4T60 4-speed automatic transmission. Power climbed to 200 bhp while mileage declined slightly to 15 city/23 highway by the standards of the day. Acceleration improved to about 8.5 seconds to 60 mph with a claimed top speed of 134 mph (probably with the aluminum top on) for Dave Hill’s baby.

1989 Cadillac Allante
1989 Cadillac Allanté, courtesy of the GM Media Archives.

For 1989, the Allanté’s base price remained non-trivial: $57,183 (about $107,000 in 2014 dollars) for the 3,296 buyers. However, just about everything came standard, including ABS, traction control, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the aluminum hard top/cloth convertible top combination. The interior included 10-way leather-covered Recaro bucket seats, electronic climate control, and Symphony Sound System AM/FM stereo with cassette player. Because it was a Cadillac, you also got air conditioning, power steering, power windows, and power door locks. You could choose either an analog or a digital instrument cluster at no extra charge.

Allantés have a good club following and consistently show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in February 2014, there’s a Pearl White Allanté with a Burgundy interior with 66,000 miles for sale for $10,000. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1989 Allanté in #1 condition is $16,500.

I think the Allanté body style (by Pininfarina, of course) has aged well. It certainly still looks like nothing else on the road—which was definitely one of Cadillac’s goals.

Make mine Pearl White, please.

1980 AMC Eagle station wagon

“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/258 ci carbureted inline six, 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.

1984 Honda Civic CRX hatchback coupe

“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 1.3 liter/82 ci inline four with a three-barrel carburetor and 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 76 bhp 1.5 liter/91 ci inline four with a three-barrel carburetor—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).

A five-speed manual was standard, but you could get a three-speed automatic with the DX—though I’m not at all sure why you’d want one. All CRXs included a front air dam, rear spoiler, flush-mounted glass, vented front disc brakes, and front and rear stabilizer bars.

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.

Updated February 2019.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z hatchback coupe

“Make the earth move.”

In 1985, Chevrolet kicked the third-generation Camaro up a notch (or more) with the release of the IROC-Z, inspired by the International Race Of Champions race series. The IROC-Z was an option package (B4Z) for the Z28 and cost $695.

Suspension upgrades specific to the IROC-Z were Delco/Bilstein shock absorbers for the rear wheels and 16-inch wheels all around with Goodyear Eagle GT P245/50VR16 tires—large for the day and a size still readily available.

The IROC-Z also included louvered hood inserts and more aggressive ground effects and spoilers than the Z28. Finally, it was lowered half an inch compared to the Z28.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z, courtesy of M62 from the Wikimedia Commons.

Three engines were available in 1985 for the IROC-Z, all sized at 5.0 liter/305 ci: standard was the LG4 carbureted motor at 155 bhp. The optional engines available depended on transmission—if you chose the five-speed manual, you could get the High Output carbureted L69 with 190 bhp (not available on the garden variety Z28) while if you went with the four-speed automatic, you could choose the Tuned Port Injection LB9 at 215 bhp.

If you cared (and I think most of the target market did not), mileage wasn’t great: the EPA ratings of the day were 16 city/22 highway for the LG4, 15/24 for the L69, and 16/22 for the LB9.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 IROC-Z in #1 condition is $19,400. IROC-Zs make regular appearances in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds. As I write this in November 2013, there’s a red 1986 with 89,000 miles for sale for $8,000. Please make mine Blaze Red, with the optional and expensive when new ($821) t-tops. I know they often leak, but I like the look.

Interestingly, Hemmings also has a white 1985 IROC-Z for sale. It has 765 miles, and the seller wants $50,000 for it. At first, this seems ridiculous, but then this particular IROC has special provenance: it is one of the two Live Aid cars from July 1985, with almost 100 signatures of folks such as Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, and Jimmy Page preserved in clear coat.