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I spotted an (insert obscure car name here) classic car today!



  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    In '85 when I lived in Atlanta and was single, I put a deposit on a burgundy new Monte Carlo SS. This was after having new '81 and '82 Montes. At that time, the SS was a hot ticket.

    I had reconsidered taking that car back up to greater Cleveland for good at the end of that summer, since my '81 was stolen there and never recovered, and my '82 was broken into but not stolen.

    I went back and said I wanted my deposit back. In the meantime, they had sold the actual car I put a deposit on and had gotten the same car from a dealer in Alabama. I told them it wasn't like I was sticking them with a Citation; they'd sell it shortly. I also said that wasn't the car I put the deposit on. I got the deposit back and three months later ordered a Celebrity Eurosport (about $4K cheaper) at a dealer across town--Timmers Chevrolet in Norcross, GA.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    Now that I think back on it, my great-aunt had two Monte Carlos. The first was an '83 or '84 with a V-6 that they didn't have long, and then an '85 with a V-8 that she had for a pretty long time, until it was in an accident and totaled.

    The V-6 Monte replaced a '74 Impala coupe (can't remember if it was the hardtop or stationary-window) with a 400, so I imagine it was a bit of a culture shock. I don't remember the V-6 very well, but its V-8 replacement was white with a dark blue velour interior, and really nice.

    I forget what she got after the second Monte was wrecked, but the last two cars she had were a burgundy 2001 Intrepid, that she didn't keep for long because it messed up her beehive hairdo, and then an '00-05 style Impala. She gave up driving a few years ago, and her daughter still has the Impala.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    My friend's is black on dark red. He bought it around 1999-2000, with about 50K miles on it. I think he paid something like $5700 for it, which seemed like a good deal (I looked at it with him, and gave him my approval, as if it mattered). It now has maybe 70K on it, but doesn't get driven much, as he has a very busy wife and enslavement to family matters now. The 83 hasn't been driven in ages, and I think is living in his dad's barn. The SS got repainted, in 01-02, a dumb teenage girl ran a stop sign and hit him, messing up the passenger side pretty well. I think he got like $4500 for a paint job and bodywork.

    I drove it once, on a summer evening with the t-tops off. It has an aftermarket exhaust, and sounds pretty good, but the handling was really vague to me even compared to a MB sedan. I drove the 83 once, it was really odd for me, numb steering and brakes. I haven't driven a big old American car for a long time.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,744
    I remember looking at my first '78 Grand Prix stuck out back of the Pontiac-Olds dealer in Clarion, PA, where I went to college. I was pretty shocked at it too. They really took the '78's farther than they took the full-sizes in '77 I think.

    That reminds me of our family's experience. Dad was driving his '75 Hornet Sportabout and wanted a new wagon in the fall of '77 for some reason. I don't think he was ever in love with the AMC, and he had long been a GM man. Mid-70s he went astray for a few years, first buying our '74 Maverick LDO, then the Hornet.

    I remember we went car shopping just before introduction day in the fall of '77. We drove a Dodge Aspen SE wagon, which was nice enough but I remember it feeling nose-heavy, and they were not thrilled with it for some reason. Then we went to the Ford dealer to look at the new Fairmont wagon, but they had none available yet. We found a '77 LTD II wagon there and that drove nice enough, but was a bit big, and I remember the driver's floor under the brake pedal area oilcanned when I pushed on it.

    He then went to the Pontiac dealer, who didn't have their '78 inventory yet. But the sales manager showed him the brochures for the downsized '78s, and i had read the long-lead stories in the car magazines that were very positive. He bought, sight unseen, a '78 Grand Lemans wagon in white with a red vinyl interior. When it arrived it looked really nice, but I think it must have been a pilot car or something, since it had all kinds of things that didn't fit right or work right, and had terrible build quality. But it drove nicely and until the rear tailgate/hatch started to rattle like crazy, was smooth and quiet. I thought the wagons looked the best of those downsized intermediates, and the Pontiac had that unique dash and nice styling.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    Good friends of mine (the ones I talk about with a Benz now) had a one or two-year-old '84 Monte Carlo, loaded to the hilt but with a V6. A V8 totally transformed those cars IMHO, but probably a year after I had driven my '85 Celebrity Eurosport, Eagle tires and stiff suspension, I was driving their Monte to help the wife find an apartment while the husband was at work. I went to turn right in the Monte and felt like I was almost going to roll it over!

    When new, the Monte SS was stiffer, but in hindsight I don't like the cheesy graphics on those cars now--inside or out. Look online in '' at a '70 or '71 Monte Carlo SS, and all it had was subtle "SS454" emblems at the bottom of the front fenders and a black panel between the taillights. Now that was classy IMHO.

    I will say that when the '83 Monte Carlo SS came out, it was somewhat novel to have a H.O. V8 in a GM family car (so to speak). I think that's one reason they seemed so popular for awhile.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    I can just picture that Grand LeMans wagon--a nice car. I thought those cars seemed like a smaller big car, while the Fairmont seemed like a bigger small car to me. The GM's no-roll-down rear windows were indefensible, though, and at the time, Dad and I hated the mini spares.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    I'd imagine a V8 is more or less needed in something like a Monte - it is a car that needs to cruise in a relaxed manner.

    I remember when I was in school, there was a maybe 87 or so aero model with the checkerboard style wheels, that my friend really liked. There was also another similar late car in town with those wheels, and t-tops. Don't see any of those around anymore.

    Cheesy graphics are really a 70s-80s thing that come back for some cars.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    My only real experience with a Fox-based car was the 1985 LTD my grandparents had. I spent a lot of time practicing parallel parking in it as a teen, driving in general, and one year when my grandparents took me to Florida, they let me do most of the driving.

    It was actually a nice car in many respects. Handling seemed decent, nice interior, adequate room, performance not bad considering it was a 120 hp 3.8 V-6 and, IIRC, just a 3-speed automatic. But, I still preferred my 1980 Malibu coupe, which just had more of a bigger-car feel.

    That LTD was upgraded considerably from what a Fairmont would have been, so I imagine the Fairmont's compact roots must have really shown through!

    I think your "small big car" versus "big small car" is a good analogy.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    I'd imagine a V8 is more or less needed in something like a Monte - it is a car that needs to cruise in a relaxed manner.

    My 1982 Cutlass Supreme, the same essential car as a Monte, just had a 231 V-6 so yeah, I can vouch, these cars really need a V-8. And a ~5 liter V-8, not those 260/265/267's they were pushing for a few years.

    My Mom's '86 with the 150 hp 305 and 4-speed automatic was a fairly well-balanced car. 0-60 seemed to come up in about 10 seconds. And fuel economy was usually around 15 local, maybe 22 or so on the highway. About what the Cutlass had been. Or my old 1980 Malibu, which had the Chevy 229 V-6...a bit more hp than the 231, but less torque.

    I always thought it was interesting though that my grandmother's '85 LeSabre, a considerably larger, heavier car, got about the same economy with its 307 and 4-speed automatic. Around 15 local (got it down to around 14 once when I delivered pizzas with it), and lower 20's on the highway. It got better highway economy when it was newer, but it was getting old by the time it was handed down to me.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,744
    I can just picture that Grand LeMans wagon--a nice car.

    You don't have to picture it... here is the pic from the brochure that sold him:


    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    Would a big car like one of your NYers, on a platform that could be ordered with a slant 6, be better with that engine than a big GM car with a 6?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    Would a big car like one of your NYers, on a platform that could be ordered with a slant 6, be better with that engine than a big GM car with a 6?

    I think it would depend on the year, as even in that short timeframe, things changed quickly. In 1979, the Newport and St. Regis came standard with a 2-bbl version of the slant six that put out 110 hp. A Caprice or Impala would have had a 250-1bbl inline six with around 105-110 hp, while a Catalina, LeSabre, or Delta 88 would've had the 110 hp 231-2bbl V-6. They would've all been fairly comparable in acceleration, although I don't think I've ever seen any acceleration times for these weaklings.

    In 1980, however, the R-body got the 1-bbl version of the slant six, and it was choked down to 85 hp. The Caprice/Impala moved to the 115 hp Chevy 229 V-6, while the B-O-P cars retained the 231. So the Mopars had to be real dogs with those engines. The 229 had more hp, but less torque than the old inline 6. But, in 1980, GM trimmed a couple hundred pounds off their big cars, which no doubt helped a bit, so they should have all been quicker, and a bit more economical, than the Mopars.

    In 1981, things didn't change much. The slant six was rated at 90 hp, but I don't think that made much difference. Chrysler also played around with gearing in the V-8, non-police cars that year, replacing the 2.41:1 axle with a tall 2.26:1, but putting in a faster 1st and 2nd gear to compensate. The slant six, I believe, used a 2.94:1 axle, and I don't think that changed for 1981, so it may have retained the old transmission ratios.

    Now reliability-wise, I'd say the advantage, for powertrains at least, would have gone to the Mopar. The Chevy 250 was a pretty good engine though, and I believe they tended to put the sturdier THM350 transmission with it. The 229 was decent as well, but was mated with the lightweight THM200, which was more likely to fail...and I would think would be even more likely in a heavier car like an Impala. And the Buick 231 was pretty bad in those days, not really getting improved until 1985, when the regular engines got the turbo block and revised oil passages and such. I think they tended to mix and match transmissions with the 231, as well, with some having the THM200 and some having the THM350.

    The Mopars would have been more likely to rust, leak, have other body issues, and so on though, be crankier in cold weather, wet weather, and so on. So the choice could very well have been between a GM car that would be nice for a few years and then crap out catastrophically, or a Mopar that would nickel and dime you to death and aggravate you, to the point that you just wish it would die!

    Often, with those Mopars of that era, even if the EPA said otherwise, the 318 often got better economy in real world driving, thanks to the taller gearing, not having to rely on the lower gears as much and not having to struggle as hard to move all that weight. The slant six was a good engine in its day, but it like to run cool, which meant emissions controls really hurt its performance. And it didn't like to rev, which it had to do, to move those heavier weights.

    I would imagine that some of the worst of these cars had to take at least 20 seconds to get from 0-60. I'm basing that though, on an old CR test of a 1977 Cutlass Supreme sedan that CR did with a 260 V-8. 0-60 was around 21.6 seconds.

    Also, throwing the Ford LTD into the mix, I imagine that the tiny 255 CID V-8 they started using had to be a dog in these bigger cars. Lemko's Dad had a T-bird with that engine, and he's mentioned how bad it was. I don't think Ford started putting that one in the big cars until 1981 though. In 1979-80, I think a 130 hp 302 was standard.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    There was a performance version of the smaller LTD, at least by mid-80s standards. That small LTD had the exact same instrument panel as my Dad's 1981 Thunderbird.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    Bad doesn't even begin to cover how awful that 255 V-8 was in Dad's T-Bird. I can't imagine how dreadful it would've been in a full-size LTD Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis! I hope Ford didn't put that engine in Lincolns!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    edited October 2013
    I remember Consumer Reports doing a test in 1979 of an LTD with a 129 hp 302, a Caprice with a 130 hp 305, and a St. Regis with a 135 hp 318. 0-60 was something like 13.9 seconds for the Crown Vic, 15.4 for the Chevy, and a sad 15.9 for the St. Regis.

    FWIW, horsepower seemed to go down across the board in 1979; I wonder if a stricter set of emissions standards was enacted? For example, the Chevy 305-2bbl had put out 145 hp in 1977-78, but was cut to 130 for 1979. To somewhat compensate, a 305-4bbl with 160 hp was released, but I think only in the Malibu/Monte Carlo. 1979 was also the year the small 267-2bbl came out, and I think it had 120 hp. Mopar's 318-2bbl was cut from 145 to 135 hp that year. Not sure if the Ford 302 was cut that year or not. For some reason, I remember multiple versions floating around though, with ratings like 129, 134, and 139-140 hp. lists a 1980 Caprice at 0-60 in 18.5 seconds and a quarter mile of 21.1. Doesn't say which engine though. They also list a wagon with the Diesel 350 at 0-60 in 19.5 seconds, and the quarter mile in 21.4. So I imagine that other '80 was a sedan, with the 229 V-6? I'd hope a 267 wouldn't be THAT slow, but you never know. MT or C&D did a test of a 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix with the Pontiac 265, and 0-60 came up in 14.9 seconds. And I seem to remember CR testing a 1980 Malibu with a 229 and a LeMans or some other midsize with a 231, and both had 0-60 times of around 15 seconds.

    I've always wondered if there was some extenuating circumstance behind their 1979 big car test, that made the numbers come out worse than they should have? I had a 1979 Newport with the same setup as their test St. Regis, and while it wasn't all that fast, it wasn't THAT slow. It was about as quick as my grandmother's '85 LeSabre 307. Consumer Guide tested a Delta 88 with the same drivetrain and got 0-60 12.0 seconds. It's possible, I guess, that the weather could have been extra hot and muggy, and that threw off their tests. The Michigan state police ran into a similar circumstance when they did their 1985 police car test. I think they did the tests at the same time every year, but that particular year, the weather was extra hot and humid, and as a result, all the cars they tested did worse than their 1984 counterparts.

    Extreme weather probably doesn't affect performance on modern cars all that much, but it could play hell with those older ones, especially if they started bucking, sputtering, trying to stall out, etc.

    **Edit: one other test I remember from that era, was when MT or C&D did a luxury flagship comparison in 1980. They trotted out a Mark VI coupe with a 351, a Seville with a 368, and a New Yorker 5th Ave with a 120 hp 318. The Caddy did 0-60 in a respectable 10.5 seconds. 10.9 for the Lincoln. The poor Chrysler could only muster up 14.1.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    I can't imagine having a 6 in an R-body. Were many built that way, for non-fleet use, anyway? It's an engine I associate with Darts, Dusters, and maybe Volares, not something larger.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    Believe it or not, growing up back in the 60's quite a few full sized sedans in our area had 6 cylinder engines. However, the engines were simple and the cars may have been less weighed down. I seem to recall that all of the Big 3 large car 6 cylinders had a decent reputation at the time. Of course there were still 3 on the tree's too!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    I can't imagine that very many of those things were built with the slant six. A few years back I remember seeing one, a Gran Fury I think, in dark green metallic, at Carlisle. It was for sale, although I forget how much. There was a big sign in the window bragging about 6-cyl fuel economy. I remember the car was pretty worn-out looking.

    The vast majority of R-bodies that I come across (not like they're a common sight) are 318's. The 360-2bbl was standard in the 1979 New Yorker, although a 318-4bbl was substituted in California/high altitude areas. I've also run across an occasional '79 St. Regis or Newport with the 360-2bbl as well, so apparently it wasn't that rare of an option.

    And yeah, a slant six really doesn't belong in anything bigger than a Dart, Valiant, or Duster IMO. Supposedly the 110 hp "Super Six" 2-bbl version offered from 1977-79 wasn't *too* bad. My grandmother's cousin had a '79 Volare wagon with that setup. On the surface, you'd think it would be comparable with something like a V-6 Malibu, or a Fairmont or Granada with the inline-6, but those Aspens and Volares, especially the 4-doors and wagons, were notably heavier. And worse still, was the Diplomat/LeBaron and Cordoba/ no way did that engine belong in cars of that size/weight!

    In the Diplomat/LeBaron and Cordoba/Mirada, I'd guess the 318 was by far the most common least judging from what I see at shows.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    Yeah, I think 60s cars weren't as heavy and strangled as 70s mastodons. I've seen a few big 60s cars with 6s, mostly Chevy and Ford. Must have been the granny special. Through the mid 90s, I remember seeing a 6cyl full sized 61 Ford sedan in the town where I lived. Maybe around the year 2000, I went to look at a 63 Impala 4 door HT with a friend. Opened the hood - it was a 6. The car wasn't very nice either, I told him to pass.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,508
    It's still funny for me to think of Miradas and Diplomats at shows! :)

    Maybe rental fleet cars got the small engines, too.
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