Back in April I did a post on a green 1980 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency with the 350 CID diesel V8. At the time it was available on Craigslist. Well, it sold. During this past summer the new owner, Ed Kelly, dropped me a line via FB. He’d seen the original article while doing a web search, and went, hey, that’s the same car! My car!
The Granada, like many ’70s cars that once were everywhere and now are rarely seen, gets its share of hatred, fear and loathing from some quarters. But I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Why? Well, as a kid growing up in the 80s, there were still tons of them around, with approximately 50% rusty, 40% decent and 10% mint, little old lady driven time capsules. But they are few and far between these days, because like most popular cars, most were purchased and unceremoniously traded in 2-3 years later, or driven into the ground and junked. Oh, and they liked to rust.
Around 1995-97, our neighbor down the street, Jim Carlson, got a very well kept base 77 Granada coupe as a daily driver. They also had a then-new Town & Country minivan, but that was the ‘good car’ and Jim’s new acquisition was basically a work car. I remember he took me around the block in it, and it had a blue vinyl bench seat and pretty much zero options. Later, when he got rid of it, he gave me the mint condition owners’ manual and certicard; I still have it somewhere. As I recall, he replaced it with a nonmetallic tan 1977 Caprice Classic sedan that was slightly rough but nice, and had functional A/C, a big plus.
One night back in August of 2013, I was on my way to one of my preferred Mexican restaurants for some takeout pico de gallo and homemade chips to enhance movie night. I detoured through a residential area to avoid a feckless snail on the main road. In so doing, I saw what appeared to be a late-’70s or early-’80s Celica.
Wow. That’s not something you see in the Midwest these days. Those early Japanese cars may have had robust engines, but rustproofing was, shall we say, not ideal? At any rate, most ’70s and early ’80s Toyotas, Datsuns and Hondas were either gone or seriously Swiss-cheesed here by the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Of course, as it was dark, there was to be no picture taking, but I made a mental note to return, and did so, later that week.
The all-new 1978 Celica replaced the Mini-Me Mustang variant after ’77. It was also the first Toyota designed at the new Calty design studio in California. The look was now smooth and modern, but lacked many of the cool JDM-style detail fillips of its predecessor.
What can I say about the GM diesel V8 of the late 70s and early 80s that hasn’t been said by countless others? Many people hate them, some love them, but most either want to forget them, or already have.
But tonight I saw this on a Facebook group I’m in which is called Finding Future Classic Cars. As a big fan of these full-size top-of-the-line Oldsmobiles, I had to check it out.
I’ve always loved triple yellow Cadillacs. And in its various guises from approximately the late ’60s to the early ’90s, it was always a classy color, in your author’s opinion. The matching pastel yellow leather interior was not always available each year, but it usually was. You’ve got to have the matching yellow leather and top for the full effect, you see. As a friend of mine once told me, you can’t drive a triple yellow Cadillac and not feel good. They’re so bright and cheerful!
So I was instantly infatuated this past Thursday morning when another Cadillac-obsessed friend, Ron Schweitzer, sent me a link to this fine Colonial Yellow 1980 Fleetwood Brougham. As Frank Costanza once said, hoochie mama!
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.
Ford pickups have been the top selling full size truck for years, starting in the late 1970s. Why? Mass appeal. Just like the Chevrolet pickups, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Dodge/Ram pickups, they offer variety. Plain or fancy, two- or four-wheel drive, and more recently, two- or four door, you can, much like the original Ford Mustang, equip them as basic or as loaded as you please.
For 1980, all F-Series pickups were redesigned and very modern-looking, considering the Dodge D-Series dated to ’72 (albeit with a couple of refreshes) and the Chevy/GMC pickups were last redesigned in 1973, although a more square-rigged facelift was only a year away for the GM trucks.
This was a time when these cars were referred to by its maker as “The Chevrolet”, not Impalas or Caprices. For decades, the full size Chevrolet had been the standard bearer of the Chevy lineup, the meat and potatoes American family car. But the writing was on the wall, when in 1980 the hot new Citation sold over 800,000 units, (a staggering 811,540 to be exact, over an admittedly long model year but still quite a feat). As they say…things would never be the same again. For the Chevrolet, for GM, and for the way that people looked at full size cars.
The timing of the launch of the Citation couldn’t have been better. Introduced as an early 1980 model right after the 1979 oil embargo, the Citation and its X-Car brethren represented the wave of the future: front wheel drive, space and fuel efficient with transverse mounted 4 and 6 cylinder engines. With the Citation and its most modern layout and packaging, cars like the Caprice and its competitors were done for. What was new and revolutionary just three years before in 1977 was now the dinosaur staring at the comet of the 1980’s raining down on it.