Feb
20
1981 Oldsmobile Toronado

Slurping gas at a 16.8-mpg rate, the Oldsmobile Toronado was the 8th thirstiest vehicle tested by Consumer Guide in 1981.

A lot can happen in the span of eight years. An industrious student can get through medical school, the United States can elect two presidents, and the television show Full House can run its full eight-season course.

But, unlike Full House—which arguably failed to improve over its 1987-1995 run—the auto industry managed to do something rather spectacular with the same amount of time from 1973 to 1981: improve the fuel economy of its worst gas guzzlers by almost 100 percent.

I remind you of our Worst Gas Guzzlers of 1973* post, which you can revisit here. The miles-per-gallon range of vehicles on that list spanned from 7.0 to 9.0 mpg—truly horrible stuff.

Skip forward to 1981. The fuel-economy range of the worst-performing vehicles mileage was 14.8 to 17 mpg—almost doubling the 1973 observed numbers.

Shared here are all ten of the thirstiest rides tested by Consumer Guide back in ’81. The asterisk in the title of this article is to denote that CG didn’t get around to testing every last 1981 vehicle out there—though we got close—so even less-efficient stuff may have gone unreported.

If you spent time with any of these vehicles, be sure to tell us what sort of fuel economy you observed.

12 Worst Gas Guzzlers of 1973*

 

Triumph TR8: 14.8 MPG

1981 Triumph TR8 Roadster

1981 Triumph TR8 Roadster

Body Style Tested: Convertible

Curb Weight: 2655 pounds

Engine: 3.5-liter V8

Horsepower: 148

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Axle Ratio: 3.08:1

 

Buick Riviera: 15.1 MPG

1981 Buick Riviera

1981 Buick Riviera

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 3706 pounds

Engine: 5.0-liter V8

Horsepower: 140

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.41:1

 

Mercedes-Benz 380SEL: 15.4 MPG

1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SEL

1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SEL

Body Style Tested: Sedan

Curb Weight: 3715 pounds

Engine: 3.8-liter V8

Horsepower: 155

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.47:1

 

Buick Regal: 16.0 MPG

1981 Buick Regal

1981 Buick Regal

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 3353 pounds

Engine: 3.8-liter turbocharged V6

Horsepower: 170

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.73:1

 

Camaro Z28: 16.5 MPG

1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 3600 pounds

Engine: 5.7-liter V8

Horsepower: 175

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 3.08:1

5 Most-Fuel-Efficient Cars of All Time

 

Chevrolet Corvette: 16.5

1981 Chevrolet Corvette

1981 Chevrolet Corvette

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 3334 pounds

Engine: 5.7-liter V8

Horsepower: 190

Transmission: 4-speed manual

Axle Ratio: 2.72:1

 

Volvo GLE: 16.5 MPG

1981 Volvo GLE Wagon

1981 Volvo GLE Wagon

Body Style Tested: Wagon

Curb Weight: 3245 pounds

Engine: 2.8-liter V6

Horsepower: 130

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 3.54:1

 

Oldsmobile Toronado: 16.8 MPG

1981 Oldsmobile Toronado

1981 Oldsmobile Toronado

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 3677 pounds

Engine: 5.0-liter V8

Horsepower: 140

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.41:1

 

Lincoln Mark VI: 17.0 MPG

1981 Lincoln Mark VI

1981 Lincoln Mark VI

Body Style Tested: Coupe

Curb Weight: 4051 pounds

Engine: 5.0-liter V8

Horsepower: 130

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 3.08:1

 

AMC Eagle: 17.0 MPG

1981 AMC Eagle

1981 AMC Eagle

Body Style Tested: Sedan

Curb Weight: 3333 pounds

Engine: 4.2-liter six

Horsepower: 110

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.73:1

5 (Real) Ways to Make Your Car More Fuel Efficient

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