1980 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Diesel: A Survivor!

Do you remember the GM 5.7-liter Diesel? Even those of a certain age who haven’t directly experienced one undoubtedly have heard of them. My parents’ friends down at the marina had a Dark Jadestone 1982 Delta 88 Diesel coupe, and I can distinctly remember its lud-lud-lud-lud engine beat. The Werthmanns had good luck with that car, and kept it for 10 years. While theirs ran like a top, that wasn’t exactly the most common experience…

Oldsmobile was the pioneer in engineering GM’s Diesel V8. The engine was also available for the Cadillac Seville in 1978, and for the Eldorado, Fleetwood Brougham, Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille in 1979.

Despite many horror stories over the years, the much-maligned 5.7 Diesel, when properly maintained, could be reliable. However, many of the buyers of GM cars fitted with this engine were quite unfamiliar with the additional care and feeding diesel engines required vis a vis the gasoline V8s many of them traded off for one of these. As a result, many of them experienced headaches from their cars. The whole GM Diesel V8 episode turned many Americans off to Diesel engines for years. Though by 1982 they had been reengineered and as a whole were much less needy. But by them it was too late; people were staying away.

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1974 Chevrolet Nova: Green Machine

Nova. A memorable Chevrolet from the past. Today, it’s mostly due to the high octane two-door variants: Super Sports, Yenko Deuce, and the like. But the majority of these compact Chevys were garden variety two- and four-door sedans. The 1962 Chevy II was GM’s second, and far more successful attempt, at cashing in on the compact scene of the early ’60s. Sure, we all love the Corvair, but were Ned and Betty Smith of Olathe, Kansas, going to buy one? Surely not. So the II and its tonier Nova version entered stage left, and sold like beer at a baseball game. By 1974, the Nova still was going strong, but was getting a tad long in the tooth, wearing most of its 1968 sheetmetal. But it was still fighting the good fight against the Dart/Valiant and Maverick.

The first-gen 1962-65 Chevy II/Nova and the redesigned 1966-67 version were both very squared off, but the new 1968 model had the same flowing lines and Coke-bottle flanks of the also-new Chevelle line. It was quite an attractive car, both in two- and four-door versions.

For several years in the early Seventies, the Nova was touted similarly to the VW Type I “Beetle,” in that no major changes were made to styling. Refinement, not change for the sake of change, was the watchword. That continued with the facelifted 1973 models, for the most part.

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1984 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe: Activate The Turbo Boost!

The Thunderbird has always been something special. And while some are more interesting, cool looking or collectible than others, they always were a cut above basic transportation. Not the usual Falcon, Torino, Fairmont or mini-me LTD.

When the aerodynamically styled 1983 Thunderbird appeared in Autumn ’82, it was a revelation. With rare exception, most 1982 domestic rolling stock were rectangular, with additional chrome edging along the 90 degree angles the higher the trim level you purchased.

This was certainly true for the 1980-82 T-Bird, which could almost have been the box the ’83 came in.

A turbocharged four-cylinder was likely the biggest surprise to traditional Thunderbird buyers. A four-cylinder engine in a Thunderbird? It was a shock to T-Bird customers used to wafting along in cool, air-conditioned V8 comfort and silence in their ’60s and ’70s Nimitz-class Flair Birds and Glamour Birds. But the Turbo Coupe was the new top of the line ‘Bird.

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1971 Ford LTD Country Squire: Vintage Suburbia

Today, most family haulers are silver silvermist or beige beigemist crossovers. But 45 plus years ago, things were different.

Yes, in 1971 Ford was Wagon King. Sure, GM sold tons of wagons too, but despite their being all new, not everyone was sure about GM’s new disappearing tailgate, where it retracted behind the rear bumper instead of folding down. Though GM still trounced FoMoCo in overall production.

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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo: Front-Engine Rocket

Before the 944, there was the 924. Originally it was planned as a VW-only model to replace the 914. It was designed by Porsche and used many more VW and Audi parts than its predecessor, at Volkswagen’s request. After everything had been designed and engineered, and was essentially ready for production VW backed out of the deal. Nice. So Porsche decided to sell it themselves, though VW contracted to build the cars for Porsche. It was introduced for the 1976 model year.

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1992 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special: Of Course You Need 22-Way Seats!

The 1989-1993 Cadillac sedans have always been a favorite of mine. I drove several when they were late model used cars, and even considered buying one in the late ’90s. The 1985-93 GM C-body was a nice package, with front wheel drive traction, ample interior space, and tidy exterior dimensions. In 1989, the Cadillac De Ville and Fleetwood got some much-needed lengthening to make them more Cadillac-like, and the upper-crust Fleetwood even got fender skirts, for the first time since 1976.

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1981 AMC Eagle Limited Coupe: Who The Heck Ordered This?

Well, realistically, who else but AMC could take so many dissimilar parts and turn it into a fully functional vehicle. Whitewalls, opera windows, stand-up hood ornament, two-tone paint, landau vinyl top…and so on.

1978 Concord, spotted at the annual car show in Bishop Hill, IL, July 2014.

The entire car itself was built in much the same way, at its core a 1970 AMC Hornet with a four-wheel drive system. In 1978, the venerable Kenosha-built compact went upscale and was renamed the Concord, with available color-keyed wheel covers, landau top, and opera windows.

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1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan – A Special Feel

After the GM A-bodies became G-bodies, each division did its own thing when it came to deciding what models stayed in the lineup. Consider the sedans: The Chevy and Buick versions departed after ’83. Pontiac’s G-body Bonneville lasted until 1986, after which it became an H-body. But Oldsmobile, arguably the purveyor of the best A/G-bodies in the corporation, kept its sedans going all the way to 1987. All in all, not a bad run for an Olds model that had flopped (at least in four-door form) when it first appeared in 1978.

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1984 Volvo GL: Burgundy Box

1976 264 GL

The 264GL replaced the 164E for 1976. In addition to the new nose, instrument panel and suspension upgrades, the 3.0 straight six of the 164 was replaced with the B28 2.8 liter ‘PRV’ V6. PRV stood for Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, who created the engine in a joint venture.
The issue with Volvo’s top of the line model was that this new engine was not quite in the same league as Volvo’s earlier, stone reliable four cylinder engines, and sales never really took off. By 1980 it was producing 130 hp and 153 lb ft of torque.

1981 GL

Finally Volvo decided that they would combine the engine of the 240 and premium features of the 264 to create a new model, the GL. Introduced in 1980, the GL’s exterior was the same as the 264GLE, complete with the extra chrome trim, chrome grille and exterior paint choices. Inside, velour replaced the DL’s cloth, and there was additional color coordination of the door panels, hardware and carpet.

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