This week the old car that drew my attention on the Finding Future Classic Cars group was this silver over red 1986 Cimarron available in Middletown, CT for a mere three grand. Yep. A Cimarron. And I like them. So buckle up.
The Parisienne. The final big Pontiac. Though essentially a stopgap, they kept interest-and sales-up for those wanting something a little fancier than a Caprice Classic in the mid 1980s. So, how did the big Pontiac become a Parisienne and not a Bonneville? I’m glad you asked.
See, back in the early ’80s, the brain trust over at Pontiac Motor Division decided that full-size cars were on the way out. Historically, Pontiac had sold the least B-body cars of all the other divisions since about 1971-72, though they got a healthy bump when the fresh, downsized 1977 Bonneville, Catalina and Grand Safari appeared. But the ’74 and ’79 gas crises increased interest in smaller cars (for a while), and with sportier models like the Trans Am (aided and abetted by that ’70s classic, Smokey and the Bandit) selling at a rapid clip, it was decided that Pontiac would have a leaner, lighter model line.
And so, the midsize LeMans received a Mini-Me version of the 1980-81 Bonneville nose, got a much plusher interior, and was introduced in 1982 as the “Bonneville Model G.”
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.
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.
There is a certain website out there that is trying, desperately, incessantly, to bash successful GM cars. Why is anyone’s guess. But despite popularity, despite corresponding sales figures, it doesn’t matter for these guys. Bitter, angry people make for bitter, angry car posts. So in my own way, I’ve been trying to counterpoint these surly rants. Today’s subject is the redesigned 1985 front wheel drive C-body GM cars: De Ville/Fleetwood, Electra, and of course the Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight.
“Oh ho, aha!” some folks may rant: “They were shrunken, stupid, unreliable maaaan! No one bought them!” Big talk from persons who only got brand new cars when they conned them out of their employer. But I digress. The simple, plain truth is despite a completely new look, smaller dimensions in nearly every area, and a major change from V8 and rear wheel drive to V6 and front wheel drive, these newly minted GM lux cars sold well.
Today, we’re going to talk about the Lincoln Mark VII, a car I still find timeless and attractive today. It is the longest-lived of the Mark Series, available from 1984 through 1992. Lincoln has definitely changed since I was a kid in the ’80s. For most of my childhood and early adulthood, there were three Lincoln models: The Continental, the Town Car, and the Mark. All were clearly defined in the lineup, and had a specific clientele. Even the dealer brochure made note of this.
As the 1986 Mark VII brochure said: “While what Lincoln automobiles have in common is impressive, what perhaps is more impressive is how they are different from each other. For each addresses and fulfills a different luxury need. The 1986 Lincoln Mark VII, for example, satisfies not only the craving for comfort, but the passion for performance…the Lincoln Continental is a truly contemporary luxury automobile, a marvelous commingling of high technology and high fashion. And the Lincoln Town Car continues its tradition of uncompromising ride, room and comfort.” I’ve already done the mid-’80s Town Car, and the Continental will get its time in the spotlight here on RG sometime soon. But today, it’s all about the Mark VII. Continue Reading →
Since the late ’90s, things have gone pretty well for Audi, but it took some doing to bring back their luster. That is primarily due to the TV “expose” on their 5000 model in 1986. The resulting bad press likely set them back 15 years. None of it needed to happen.
Options. It’s always nice to have options, especially when you’re talking Detroit luxury like Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler. Take Cadillac in the mid-1980s, for example. Between 1980 and 1986, Cadillac Motor Division went through some major changes. It arguably had to be done, but by 1986 most people used to Cadillacs being large, plush and heavily chromed were in for a surprise. Sure, they were still plush, but a crash diet program in anticipation of major gas price increases (that never happened) made for a very different showroom experience. Except for one holdout.
The De Villes and Fleetwoods introduced as very early ’85 models were completely different from their ’84 iterations. Smaller, yes, but also more space efficient-and front wheel drive! Despite the huge change in design, they sold well.
The 1980s were not precisely Cadillac’s decade. While in the 1960s Cadillac, the creme de la creme of General Motors, could do no wrong, in the 1980s it seemed they made misstep after misstep. True, changes had to be made. Fuel economy had to be improved, dimensions reduced, and technology added. But there is no doubt that the first half of the decade was exceedingly painful at Cadillac Motor Division.
Cadillac could do no wrong in the ’50s and ’60s. They consistently outsold both Lincoln and Imperial and were essentially in a class of their own. But as the 1960s progressed into the early 1970s, they perhaps became a victim of their own success. The cars slowly became less special as Cadillac chased ever higher profits. Starting around 1969, Cadillac started skimping on interior materials.
Here is a highly uncommon sight here in the Midwest, at least outside of big cities like Chicago, Des Moines or St. Louis. Spotting a Lotus Turbo Esprit in the small town of Geneseo, IL (pop. 6,586), a mere twenty minute drive from the Quad Cities, is a rather rare experience.
If, like me, you grew up in the totally awesome 1980s, your most vivid memory of the Esprit could be of the white S1 from the film The Spy Who Loved Me. Kind of funny, thinking a British car could be watertight, eh? Ha! I guess Q Branch had really stepped up their game. “Now 007, we’ve installed rather numerous gaskets and grommets to ensure your car will stay leak-free. Do try not to destroy it this time!”