Nov
21
1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic Wagon

1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic Wagon

The strangest thing about the 1981 midsize-wagon market is the absence of Ford products from the segment. While Ford was still very much in the wagon business, the company no longer produced a wagon to compete directly with longroof versions of the Chevrolet Malibu or Dodge Diplomat.

The Ford Fairmont (and its corporate clone, the Mercury Zephyr) were technically compacts, and thus the wagon variants of those popular models don’t quite qualify for this list.

It was close–really a matter of inches–but neither the U.S. Government nor Consumer Guide were quite willing to push the Ford Motor Company twins into the midsize category. You can check out the Fairmont wagon’s relative dimensions in the chart below:

Fairmont vs. Malibu

Also missing for 1981 was a midsize Plymouth wagon. This may seem a little strange, as both Chrysler and Dodge sold wagon versions of the mechanically similar LeBaron and Diplomat, respectively. However, Plymouth’s Gran Fury came only as a sedan in the early Eighties, so the division had to make do with a wagon version of the popular K-Car Reliant instead.

This leaves us with a field dominated by General Motors products, with a couple of Mopar vehicles tossed in for good measure. If you’ve spent time with any of these family-friendly midsize rides, please tell us about it. We’d love to hear more about the days before SUVs and minivans took over the people-moving tasks for most American families.

The Midsize Wagons of 1976

 

Buick Century and Estate

1981 Buick Estate Wagon

1981 Buick Century Wagon (background) and Estate Wagon

Base Price: $7391 (Century), $7735 (Estate)

Wheelbase: 108 inches

Overall Length: 197 inches

Curb Weight: 3400 pounds

Base Engine: 110-horsepower 3.8-liter V6

Optional Engine: 120-horsepower 4.3-liter V8

Optional Engine: 135-horsepower 4.9-liter V8

 

Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Classic

1981 Chervrolet Malibu Classic Wagon

1981 Chevrolet Malibu Wagon

Base Price: $6792 (Malibu), $7735 (Malibu Classic)

Wheelbase: 108 inches

Overall Length: 193 inches

Curb Weight: 3300 pounds

Base Engine: 110-horsepower 3.8-liter V6

Optional Engine: 115-horsepower 4.4-liter V8

Optional Engine: 150-horsepower 5.0-liter V8

10 Most-Expensive Wagons of 1983

 

Chrysler LeBaron and Town & Country

1981 Chrysler Town & Country

1981 Chrysler Town & Country

Base Price: $7346 (LeBaron), $8008 (Town & Country)

Wheelbase: 113 inches

Overall Length: 206 inches

Curb Weight: 3600 pounds

Base Engine: 85-horsepower 3.7-liter six

Optional Engine: 130-horsepower 5.2-liter V8

Optional Engine: 165-horsepower 5.2-liter V8

 

Dodge Diplomat and Diplomat Salon

1981 Dodge Diplomat Salon Wagon

1981 Dodge Diplomat Salon Wagon

Base Price: $7089 (Diplomat), $7670 (Diplomat Salon)

Wheelbase: 113 inches

Overall Length: 206 inches

Curb Weight: 3600 pounds

Base Engine: 85-horsepower 3.7-liter six

Optional Engine: 130-horsepower 5.2-liter V8

Optional Engine: 165-horsepower 5.2-liter V8

 

Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser and Cutlass Cruiser Brougham

1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Brougham

1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Brougham

Base Price: $7417 (Cutlass Cruiser), $7726 (Cutlass Cruiser Brougham)

Wheelbase: 108 inches

Overall Length: 198 inches

Curb Weight: 3400 pounds

Base Engine: 110-horsepower 3.8-liter V6

Optional Engine: 115-horsepower 4.4-liter V8

Optional Engine: 150-horsepower 5.0-liter V8

Optional Engine: 105-horsepower 5.7-liter diesel V8

 

Pontiac LeMans Safari and Grand LeMans Safari

1981 Pontiac Grand LeMans Safari

1981 Pontiac Grand LeMans Safari

Base Price: $7316 (LeMans), $7726 (Grand LeMans)

Wheelbase: 108 inches

Overall Length: 198 inches

Curb Weight: 3400 pounds

Base Engine: 110-horsepower 3.8-liter V6

Optional Engine: 120-horsepower 4.3-liter V8

Optional Engine: 135-horsepower 4.9-liter V8

The 5 Most-Expensive American Wagons of 1974

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