It’s time again for another visit to the Chicago Auto Show, thanks to my friend Jim Smith. You see, he’s been attending the event for fifty years. And took quite a few pictures in that time. Lucky for us! So let’s dive into a world of Broughamage and wood-sided wagons, and see what kind of new rolling stock is on display!
Let’s start off at the Chrysler section, shall we? This year, it was all about the K-Car. Though the Dodge and Plymouth versions had appeared a year earlier, plush Chrysler variants joined them in ’82. LeBarons were offered in four body styles, including a coupe, sedan and this handsome faux-wood Town & Country station wagon.
The big news, however, was the convertible, which was finally offered by an American manufacturer for the first time since the 1976 Eldorado was discontinued. GM would respond almost immediately, however, with Eldorado and Riviera convertibles.
A Dodge 400 convertible was also offered for a bit less than the LeBaron. And there was even a K-car limousine! Known as the Executive, this Mini-Me limo was based off of a LeBaron coupe, with an appropriately stretched wheelbase and fold-out jump seats. Color-keyed wheel covers a la Mercedes-Benz were available on all LeBarons, not just the Executive.
The R-body Chrysler New Yorker and Newport were cancelled after 1981, so what had been the ’81 RWD LeBaron gained a new roofline with a landau top and became the 1982 New Yorker. This only lasted one year though, as the New Yorker would migrate to a stretched LeBaron platform for ’83. This car would remain in the lineup-all the way to 1989-as simply the Fifth Avenue.
Meanwhile, over at GM, Cadillacs were about the same as they had been since 1980, except for one minor detail. The 368 CID V8, which had powered most Cadillacs since ’80, was replaced with the HT4100 V8. Which, as most here know, was perhaps not the greatest engine Cadillac made.
It was somewhat slow and weak compared to recent 368- and 425-powered Caddys, and of course its reliability would prove somewhat lacking. But in ’82 it was new, fuel-efficient and probably interesting to new Cadillac shoppers. The hangover would come later…
Only one Cadillac still retained the 368, with V4-6-8 electronics intact: The Fleetwood Seventy-Five sedan and limousine. They were available either with or without a divider window. Most were black. All were plush!
Of course, that didn’t stop coachbuilders from making their own Cadillac stretch limousines. These were displayed by Hanley Dawson Cadillac, which was for years the big downtown Chicago Cadillac dealer. Long gone now, sadly.
As previously mentioned, Buick had a new Riviera convertible to show off. It was the first Buick soft top since the 1975 LeSabre.
Only two colors were initially offered: White and Red Firemist. 1,248 were built for 1982, due in part to the MSRP: $24,064. That was about ten grand more than a Riviera coupe, which had a base price of $14,468. So you really had to want the convertible.
As with many Detroit special editions, these were farmed out to American Sunroof Corporation (ASC). Coupes were sent off, and they were converted (ha!) into luxury drop-tops like the one seen here.
And here we have one of the most popular U.S. cars of the early 1980s: The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe. These were absolutely everywhere when I was a kid I especially remember a school friend’s mom had one of these, triple burgundy metallic. It was, naturally, a Brougham.
But the Broughamiest Olds of the year was the Ninety-Eight Regency. These were preferred by Midwestern professionals, who wanted to let people know they were “doing well” but didn’t want to look like a bunch of pretentious snobs.
And it was a pretty darn nice car in its own right. And unlike Cadillac, the Olds retained its 5.0L V8, though the 4.1L V6 was the standard engine. You could also get the 5.7L Diesel if you were so inclined, but by the early 80s the appeal of a Diesel GM product had waned considerably. Kind of a shame, as by this time all the bugs had been worked out.
Over at the Ford display, LTDs were well in evidence. This year marked the return of the historic Ford “blue oval” emblem, and it appeared on all 1982 models, from Escort to Econoline to the top-drawer LTD Crown Victoria, as seen here. A coupe was also available, but the four-door sedan far outnumbered it in demand. Despite this, the LTD coupe would last all the way through the 1987 model year.
And when it came to Ford longroofs, none were nicer than the LTD Country Squire, with its famous Di-Noc vinyl woodgrain sides. The interiors on these were quite nice, almost to a Lincoln Town Car standard.
You could even get leather as an option. It and the slightly flossier Mercury Colony Park were FoMoCo’s best family haulers. No crossovers, and even the Aerostar minivan was still a few years away. Just wagons, in small, medium and large. The only other options for family hauling would have been an Econoline Club Wagon or Chateau full-size van.
Meanwhile at Lincoln, a new Continental appeared, more or less replacing the Versailles, which was discontinued in 1980. It was smaller than the Town Car and Mark VI, and clearly meant to compete with the Cadillac Seville, right down to the bustleback styling out back. It would last until 1987, and would be the last V8-powered, rear-wheel drive Continental.
Finally, let’s take a look at the top of the line Continental Mark VI. It rode the same Panther chassis as its Town Car sister, but with the spare-tire hump and hidden headlamps that had been a Mark feature for decades. It was also the last two-door, as the Town Car coupe lasted only for 1980-81 and disappeared for good. The ’82 Continental Mark VI was pretty much the same as it had been since its 1980 introduction, with the exception of new colors and genuine wire wheels, which had become available in 1981.
I see our time is up for this week. But rest assured there are still many more vintage pictures from Jim’s cache to share in the future! Until then, keep calm. And Brougham on!