After taking a few years off, Oldsmobile introduced a new limited-edition Hurst/Olds model for the 1983 model year. The Cutlass was the only mid-size rear-wheel-drive platform that could serve as the basis for a muscle car after Oldsmobile’s smaller offerings switched to front-wheel drive.
Under the hood was a 307 V8 with 180 HP that delivered a relatively swift performance and 0 to 60 mph times of under eight seconds. The secret was the famous Oldsmobile Lightning Rod shifter. It was an automatic with three levers, one main and two separate sticks for manual shifting of the first and second gears. The 1983 Hurst/Olds proved to be a popular car and Oldsmobile sold 3001 examples. They didn’t change the car for the 1984 model year and production rose to 3,500 units. Today, both model years are highly-prized collector cars.
Despite being in production for just two short years, the Aerocoupe is one of the most interesting 1980s muscle cars. Basically, it was a regular Monte Carlo SS with a few design tweaks. Chevy introduced the Aerocoupe in 1986 and even homologated it for NASCAR races. The GNX featured a panorama-style back window with a back spoiler.
The new rear glass provided a slight fastback profile, improving the aerodynamics on NASCAR superspeedway tracks. Mechanically speaking, the Aerocoupe had the same 180 HP 305 V8 engine as the regular SS. The production for the 1986 model year was just 200 examples. This was enough to homologate the car, but for 1987, Chevrolet produced an additional 5,852 cars.
Dodge combined two of the greatest names in the American performance portfolio in the 1980s – Shelby and Charger. With front-wheel drive, a Dodge Omni platform, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Shelby Charger wasn’t your typical muscle car. However, it provided strong performance as well as decent power and acceleration times.
Based on the Dodge Omni GHL, the Shelby Charger shared the drivetrain and 2.2-liter turbo engine which pumped 175 HP. For such a small, light car this was loads of power. The Shelby Charger could accelerate to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating American production cars for 1987. Despite the famous name and good performance, this edition of Chargers aren’t that collectible, but they deserve recognition and respect. After all, they are a part of the American performance portfolio from the ’80s as well as a budget-friendly way to obtain a genuine Shelby car.
The early ’80s brought some much-needed downsizing to American sedans. Those enormous cars with monster engines were a thing of the past. Lincoln responded by presenting the popular Town Car they built on Ford’s venerable Panther platform. They powered it with a 5.0-liter V8.
The Town Car was a recognizable boxy shaped sedan with a big chrome grille and bumpers. A comfortable ride, it was a typically-styled luxury model and buyers loved its proportions, soft ride, and plush interior.
The introduction of the third-generation Mustang had a big influence on Mercury. This is because the brand got its own version in the form of the Capri in 1979. But from 1970 to 1977, Mercury sold the Capri. It was a model they imported from Germany with four and six-cylinder engines.
However, in 1979, thanks to the Mustang, the Capri was new and featured a unique front-end design. Since it was a Mercury product, it was more upscale than Ford. But other than a few aesthetical changes, it was identical to the Mustang. As the performance version, Mercury introduced the RS model featuring a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine delivering just 135 HP. Performance was expectedly bad, but the car looked cool with a big air intake on the hood, RS badges, and a rear spoiler. Today, those RS models are quite rare although not that valuable or sought-after by car collectors.
The Chevrolet Citation X-11 is an interesting car. It is a compact, front-wheel-drive hatchback Chevrolet produced from 1980 to 1985. But it had a somewhat powerful V6 engine and muscle car looks. This car was a fine line between an American hot hatch and a compact muscle car since it featured aspects of both segments.
The Citation was a modern model that Chevrolet needed to fight the import models. And it came in a wide arrange of flavors. The X-11 featured a 2.8-liter V6 engine and 135 HP. Despite the fact it doesn’t sound like much today, it was solid power for the time. But the X-11 had a few more features, such as a sports-tuned suspension, sharper steering, and better brakes. From the outside, you can differentiate the X-11 by its special bulged hood and trim details. However, the magazine testers of the day spoke highly of the X-11. In fact, they said it was much more than just a stronger engine and appearance package.
The Plymouth TC3 and its twin brother, the Dodge Omni 024 are forgotten Mopars. And they came from the time when American performance was a pale shadow of its former self in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The idea behind this car was to offer a compact, modern-looking sports model with a small engine and cool features. Unfortunately, the engine displaced only 1.7-liters. And it had the diminutive power of just 63 HP. This meant the TC3 was a slow, forgettable model.