Car Show Classics: The First Malaise Invitational In Eugene

The First Malaise Invitational took place on a hot Sunday afternoon this past weekend, and there was plenty of malaise-inducing goodness to go around. I’m going open the post wiht these two X-Bodies, a Pontiac Phoenix and Chevy Citation along with their proud owner and the organizer of the show, Daniel Lombardo, on a color-coordinated outfit. The Citation arrived just that very morning from Alaska, still wearing its snow tires.  More on them later.

Please note: the application of term “malaise” and the dates of the cars shown (1972-1995) are not worth debating. The term is just a way of categorizing cars from this general time period, those that would not been seen (or perhaps made to feel welcome) at the rather very traditional car shows in this area, which is a bit heavy on the usual suspects (hot rods, hot pony cars, muscle cars). This is a show for the mostly mundane cars that were everywhere during this period, and the average age of participants suggests that they grew up with these kinds of cars.

We started the tour on the right side, with this bright red Explorer.

It represents the late part of this era as well as anything, given its massive popularity.

This Daihatsu Mira falls a bit outside the age brackets, but who would throw this cute little kei car out?

It doesn’t get more malaise than this Chrysler Fifth Avenue.

Rich Corinthian leather.


A 280 ZX for those lovers of sporty malaise.

This GMC van with NY license plates brought along some recreational gear.

And it sported genuine NY rust; gobs of it.

Chevy pickup.

It wouldn’t be complete without a Gremlin.

The gremlins got to his wiper knob.

As I said, Daniel’s 1980 Citation had just arrived that morning, and there’s at least two exceptional things about it. It was a very early build, and sent to Hertz Rent a Car some time before the Citation formally hit the market, presumably to get some feedback on issues. One wonders how long that list was. And it’s got very rare rear window louvers, sometimes seen on the 2-door X-11, but not typically on brown four doors. It came from a Citation collector in Alaska that had ten of them.

It’s got the 2.8 V6 and automatic.

Daniel’s Phoenix arrived a bit later, and by its fruity exhaust, there was no doubt that it had an Iron Duke.

But we had made sure to confirm that.

That upholstery is a bit malaise-inducing.

I always wondered who designed these…

This Mazda 626/Capella was of special interest, as it’s like the one I bought for my son Ed as his first car, for $400 from the Saint Vinnies car lot. This is a stellar example.

That brings back memories; good and bad.

The badging is of course not US-market correct.


Something from the other end of the spectrum, a 1985 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, and in superb condition.

It was parked next to an equally fine Fleetwood Brougham D’Elegance.

The end of the row was taken up by a very original F100 Explorer.


Starting up the other side, a yellow Volvo 244 certainly represents the era well.

This Buick coupe has been the beneficiary of some performance mods.

And a homemade console out of genuine wood.

It’s easy to forget just how much room is in front of these V6s, even in a relatively short downsized 108″ wb car.

As we moved to the next car, a blue Prizm, its owner held out something very vintage too: a Sony Mavica, the first digital camera that recorded unto a floppy disc. And this camera still worked.

As we were talking, he suddenly said: “You’re Paul Niedermeyer, aren’t you?”. It turns out this was Mike Hayes, one of our oldest Cohort posters, whose great shots from his home northeast of Seattle I’ve used many a time.

If I’d looked at the sign on his Prizm, I would have instantly recognized Betsy, as Mike did a write-up on this car here. He helped his mom buy it in 1992, and then inherited it after she passed on a dozen years later. It’s been his only car since.


Mike also displayed a collection of miniatures and a few other things.

Betsy still looks terrific. I invited Mike over for dinner, and we had a lovely evening.


An AWD Ford Aerostar that’s been modified for the popular Gambler 500.

Next up was a real gem; a 1972 Maverick with the LDO (Luxury Decor Option). I always associated ’73 as the first year for that package, but here it is, in full splendor.

Next to it was its polar opposite; a Toyota MR2.


A fine gen1 prelude.

A Corolla SR5 coupe from about 1971-1972 r so. I don’t remember these particular tail lights on the US version; maybe this was imported from? Not Japan, as it’s LHD. Or maybe my memory is failing me again.


I’m quite familiar with this fine Celica coupe, as I’ve shot it twice now in the past few months but haven’t gotten around to writing it up.

A superb condition Plymouth Reliant. Suddenly it’s 1988!

It’s got 63,000 miles, and very pampered ones, at that.

A Toyota Cressida that’s sporting some extra zip under the hood.

A turbocharged and intercooled engine out of a Supra, IIRC.

A Suzuki Cappuccino.


Sadly, it’s vulnerable front hood has some damage. Not sure why it’s white either.



Mercedes 190 2.3

Oh my…swoon.  A Cadillac Fleetwood Coupe.

This Chevy LUV caught my attention, especially when I saw its interior and looked under the hood.

Stephanie loved this.

The Isuzu gas four sported a Weber carb and Hooker headers, recently added. Who would have thought that they would still be available?

Still my beating heart! A genuine Pinto Cruising Wagon!

And it’s sporting a turbo 2.3 out of an ’88 Turbo Coupe that’s bee tweaked to some 250 hp.


I’ve never looked inside one of these; it’s still got the original shag carpet on the side walls.

I’ve seen this Silhouette around for some time, but never so close and intimate.

There were some late additions, so we’ll get them in too:

The hot dogs were good, and the water was cold. It was a fun way to spend a few hours on the first hot Sunday of the summer. I experience no sensations of malaise whatsoever.


Daniel emailed me pictures of the winners in the various categories:

Most Brown: Daniel “Bones”- 1980 Citation.

Rustiest in show: Annukai – 1993 GMC Vandura

Best in Show: Jeffery Brown – 1985 Cadillac Eldorado

Best 80s: Tom Sarpola – 1988 Plymouth Reliant

Traveled Furthest:  Mike Hayes – 1992 Geo Prizm

Best 70s: Mike Ignatius – 1972 Ford Maverick

Best Asian: Skye Bergstrom  – 1986 Toyota Cressida

Most Malaise:  John Di Grazia – 1988 Chrysler Fifth Avenue

Cutest Car:  Duncan Nodarse – 1996 Daihatsu Mira

Best 90s: Eric Stapelfeld – 1992 Ford Explorer

Best European & Best Malaise Accessory: Mike Reed – 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Sportruck

Best American: Michael DeMattia – 1988 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

Longest in Show: Kienda Valbracht – 1989 Ford Econoline Fiesta Camper

Most Unusual: Alex Gross – 1988 Mitsubishi Delica