If you’ll recall my recent post on the baby blue 1973 New Yorker Brougham, it was sold by my friend Anthony Rose, of the greater Cleveland area. Well this morning, just before I clocked in to the office, he posted this survivor of ’80s suburbia: a very above-average condition Caprice woody wagon. I immediately tagged my friend in Boston, Matt Smith. “Issa Caprese.” Oh, sorry. Private joke.
Pop quiz, hotshot: What is the most boring 2020 model car in existence? Probably a Corolla, right? But what was the most boring, yet competent and efficient car of the 1980s? Not the Accord or Camry, for they hadn’t nailed rustproofing down yet. Those suckers dissolved like Alka Seltzer in the salty Midwest.
For those of you who missed the ’80s or were too young at the time to remember them, may I present the 1984 Volvo DL. It’s not a hot rod, not fancy, not exciting. But by God, it was competent, had comfortable seats, and were actually rust resistant, unlike some other ’80s fan favorites. There was good reason why in the ’80s, Volvo was known as “the car for people who think.” Well, as long as you didn’t mind paying Delta 88 money for one of these, ha ha.
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.
In 1979, GM debuted its newly downsized personal luxury trio: The Cadillac Eldorado, the Buick Riviera, and the Oldsmobile Toronado. All three had been valued members of the General Motors fleet by that time, but in ’79, they all became front wheel drive.
It wasn’t always that way. The original Buick Riviera started out as its own model, albeit borrowing heavily from the full-sized Buicks, from inaugural 1963 through 1965. Then the Toronado appeared in 1966, with front wheel drive. The redesigned ’66 Riviera was on the same body, but retained rear wheel drive. Finally, in ’67 the front wheel drive Fleetwood Eldorado coupe came onto the scene.
From ’67 until 1976, all three E-coupes stayed this course: same body, but with the Olds and Cadillac front drive and the Riv rear wheel drive.
Note: Today’s post is by my friend Jayson Coombes. You may remember him from the excellent photos he provided for several of my Cadillac posts earlier this year, including the 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, 1957 Coupe de Ville and 1977 Seville. Those cars were at the Cadillac LaSalle Club Grand National meet in San Marcos, Texas, and Jayson drove the subject of this article, a 1984 Seville Elegante, all the way there and back, with nary an issue. Here’s its story. -TK
I’ve had the Seville Elegante for a little over 5 years. I’m the third owner and it was sold new in June, 1984 at Frank Kent Cadillac in Fort Worth, Texas. Still has the original dealer emblem on the trunk. It has every option offered for a Seville in 1984, except for the Touring Suspension.