I told you in the last instalment that there would be rarities in Part II, and I delivered. Well, more accurately, Curbsider canadiancatgreen delivered once again with his series of junkyard photos taken in Canada. When was the last time you saw a Pontiac 6000 STE? A critical darling, the STE was sold from 1983 all the way until 1989 but generally only represented a fraction of 6000 sales.
A quite compelling effort to offer a European-themed domestic sport sedan and also easily the best A-Body, the 6000 STE received numerous meaningful updates during its lengthy run, including multi-port fuel injection (1985), an optional 5-speed manual (1987), all-wheel-drive (1988) and a bigger 3.1 V6 (1988). The 6000 STE was supplanted in 1990 with the Grand Prix STE sedan, a similarly Euro-themed sport sedan boasting a turbocharged 3.1 V6. As the 1990s wore on, though, Pontiac shifted further and further away from its “budget Euro-fighter” aspirations and instead emphasized “visual” performance improvements. Quite a shame, as they had something good going on both dynamically and stylistically. The 2008 G8 would signal a return to this “cut-price Euro-fighter” ethos, but sadly Pontiac was axed just a year later.
Sedans had overtaken coupes in popularity by the time of the 6000 STE, but they weren’t always the desirable option. Long before the 6000 and Grand Prix STE models, and the Cutlass Salon and Grand Am sedans of the 1970s, there was no European performance-themed four-door intermediate sold by the General. Instead, four-door sedans were humble family and fleet transport, as exemplified by this Oldsmobile Cutlass. I always found the 1968-72 A-Body sedans to look a bit too lumpy, a victim of the coke bottle contours that made their coupe counterparts so damned sexy. Despite its close proximity to a yard of cars being picked apart, this Cutlass appears neat and driveable. Good.
Our photographer captured a couple of photos of cars definitely not destined for the slow boat to Guangzhou. $1,049 would buy you this pristine 1982 Ford LTD wagon sans woodgrain. One hopes it isn’t powered by a certain 255 cubic-inch boat anchor that Ford foisted upon its cars that year while chasing better gas mileage.
Those with an extra few hundred to spend could buy this 1976-77 GMC Sprint complete with a topper out back. These Colonnade Sprints and El Caminos sure were rakish, almost resembling coupes more so than pickups. It’s such a shame the front of these was so ugly: I’ve always maintained the Chevrolet Colonnades were the least attractive, and I’m a vocal fan of GM’s 1973-77 A-Bodies. The rarer GMC Sprint was scarcely differentiated from the El Camino, and until I spotted the GMC logo I presumed it was an Elky. Engines were the same as the Chevy, with a 250 cubic-inch inline six and V8s of 305, 350, 400 and 454 cubic inches. I’d love to see some production figures of the Sprint and the later Caballero, because I imagine the Chevy outsold it dramatically.
Another example of Dodge receiving more spoils from Chrysler corporate overlords than sister division Plymouth, the Shadow convertible was launched in 1991. These were modified by the American Sunroof Company but sold in Dodge showrooms, and were Dodge’s first mainstream convertible since the 1986 600. Sticker price was a sizeable $3-4,000 higher than a similarly-specced hatchback, and 19,528 examples were produced for their debut year, around a quarter of Shadow volume that year. But production dropped to 3,152 for 1992, before rising to a still mediocre 6,307 units in 1993. The convertible didn’t live to see 1994.
Considerably more popular more than a decade prior was the Ford Mustang II. A lot has been said about Ford’s smallest Mustang yet – much of it bad – but it hit a sweet-spot in the market with its blend of distinctive styling, fairly plush interior, low price and fuel economy. This would appear to be a Ghia model in Ford’s distinctive midnight blue and chamois color scheme, which they also employed on the Mercury Cougar of the time. Engine offerings were a 2.3 inline four, a 2.8 V6 or a 5.0 V8. Interestingly, sales trailed off quite significantly after a bumper 1974, but it still sold in superior volumes than the big Mustang of 1971-73. And, as defenders are known to say, the Mustang II kept the nameplate alive. Personally, I think they’re pretty cute. Of course that begs the question, is a Mustang supposed to be cute?
Part II started with a 1980s Pontiac that has become a rare sight, and so Part II will end with a similar vehicle. This is, of course, the front-wheel-drive X-Body Phoenix. Launched in 1980 to much fanfare, the GM X-Cars were crippled by disastrous reliability and quality control. What a shame, as if these had received more attention from GM prior to launch, they would have been quite a compelling entry. The aforementioned 6000 and its A-Body siblings were actually derived from the X-Cars and showed that the basic platform wasn’t that bad. The Phoenix was the only other GM division other than Chevy to receive the hatchback body (five-door only) but also came as a two-door notchback coupe. These were, in my opinion, the most attractive FWD X-Bodies, particularly when you selected the sporty SJ coupe or luxury LJ hatchback with Pontiac’s classic snowflake alloy wheels. The interior was cheap and plasticky, but it was nicer than the Citation’s and resembled the contemporary Grand Am’s interior.
That was quite an impressive haul of vehicles! Who is in favor of our man in Canada taking a trip back there sometime?