Posts from ‘Review Flashback!’

1984 Saab 900 Turbo

1984 Saab 900 

By 1984, the term “yuppie” was officially part of the American vernacular. Almost always applied in the pejorative, anyone dubbed a yuppie was expected to be self centered and profit motivated. Riding a wave of Wall Street growth, many of these young business successes were wont to flaunt their gains, often by dressing well, and driving well.

1986 Pontiac Grand Am

1986 Pontiac Grand Am LE

It would be difficult to find another Eighties car that better illustrated the occasional gap between auto-critic opinion and actual sales than the Pontiac Grand Am. 

1980 Plymouth Volare

1980 was the last year for Plymouth’s “compact” Volaré.

I think it’s fairly typical of people to group memories into convenient categories. Most people probably look back at their lives thus far and see periods of time easily identified by markers such as childhood, high school, post-acne, and marriage—or something akin to that. But, our memories can play tricks on us.


1980 Plymouth Gran Fury

When Chrysler Corporation rolled out its redesigned big car for 1979, it did so without including a Plymouth in the lineup. New for 1979—though arguably not new enough—were the Dodge St. Regis, replacing the Royal Monaco, and the Chrysler New Yorker and Newport, the latter of which was intended to be the affordable big car in Chrysler/Plymouth showrooms.

1975 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL.

The Mercedes-Benz 450SEL was the 1975 Consumer Guide luxury-category Best Buy.

According to Consumer Guide© Auto ’75, Best Buy selections are, “chosen on the basis of market research into what buyers in each category are seeking in their cars; and on a straight-forward, dollars-and-cents evaluation of what buyers are getting in quality, durability, economy, and function.”


1985 Buick Riviera

It happened to the Ford Thunderbird in 1980, and it was about to happen to General Motors’ “E-Body” cars in 1986–a downsizing so dramatic and so incredibly unpopular as to render classic model names moot in the eyes of new-car shoppers.


Accord prices started at $8,245 for the base sedan with manual transmission. A 2-door hatchback was also offered.

I would argue that it was the ’82 Accord that changed the way Americans thought about Japanese cars. By this time many car shoppers had heard good things about Honda, but the cars were still a little too small, a little too modestly powered, and a little too, well, Japanese-looking. That all changed for 1982. All new that year, Accord grew up before shoppers’ eyes. The car now stood taller, boasted substantial-looking creased lines, and offered a decent increase in horsepower and torque. Also worth noting, 1982 was the first year for U.S. Accord production.

1991 Chevrolet Caprice

1991 Chevrolet Caprice

The era of downsizing was a period of mixed blessings for automakers. Some vehicles were transformed into blockbuster sales successes, and met with enormously positive critical reviews. Other slimmed-down vehicles didn’t fare as well with shoppers or reviewers, however.

Think of the 1977 redesign of Chevrolet’s bread-and-butter Impala and Caprice. An instant success, the big “B-Body” sedans, coupes, and wagons, perfectly balanced size, economy, and price. Now, consider the 1980 update of the Chrysler Cordoba. Following the popular luxury coupe first seen in 1975, the newly slimmed and overtly aerodynamic two-door seemed to eschew the traditionally baroque trappings that made the first-generation car a success, and sales suffered as a result.


1985 Lincoln Mark VII Turbodiesel

It was a marketing experiment gone horribly wrong—but the thinking was sound. If German luxury-car makers sell diesel engines in premium automobiles, shouldn’t Lincoln?

Taking no chances, Lincoln secured a suitable engine from BMW, and placed it in its two most sophisticated vehicles, the Continental Sedan and the Mark VII coupe.


1973 Dodge Sportsman

Long before the names Caravan and Voyager would end up on a car-based front-wheel-drive platform, Dodge referred to this people mover as a, “domestic compact wagon.”

Regardless of how accurate that description seems in retrospect, Consumer Guide was impressed enough to dub the 1973 Dodge Sportsman a Best Buy.

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