QOTD: What Mid-1980s GM Car Would You Buy?


Earlier this week we looked at a 1985 Oldsmobile Toronado.  In that article’s discussion, CC reader Lokki commented that if he were at his “current age and station” in 1985, he might have bought such a Toronado.  Lokki continued by adding: “I sometimes ponder where in the Sloan hierarchy I would have fallen (in an American-car-only world) at various points in my life.”  Good question.  Other readers followed up and shared what mid-1980s GM car they would buy if they were suddenly transported back in time.  It is, of course, and interesting topic for us to ponder, so let’s have at it: What Mid-1980s GM car would YOU buy?

For our QOTD we’ll look at the mid-1980s – let’s say 1983 through 1987 – and assume that we are at our current age with our current vehicle needs.  This period was an interesting time for GM, featuring a wildly diverse range of cars and trucks.  Traditional rear-drive cars were still plentiful in the mid-1980s, along with smaller front-drive models.  Two-doors, four doors, wagons, sport coupes, trucks, you-name-it.  The Sloan hierarchy of GM divisions, while somewhat muddled, was still operational, from bargain-priced Chevrolets to aspirational Cadillacs.


For me, at my current age and vehicle needs, I would choose a Monte Carlo.  It might not seem an intuitive choice for someone who is middle-aged and with two kids, so I’ll explain.  Part of my affection for Monte Carlos was imprinted at an early age – I grew up in a neighborhood where GM G-Special coupes were very popular, and still roam the streets in fairly high numbers today.  Furthermore, since I’m frugal and prefer conservative cars, the Monte fits the bill – it was a good value, conservatively styled, and a traditional RWD, body-on-frame construction.  And a two-door car wasn’t all that unusual for family transportation 30 years ago.  My ideal Monte Carlo would be a base model with the optional 305 V-8 and sport suspension.


To make this a more interesting exercise, I posed this question to my wife.  She unhesitatingly said that her pick would be a conversion van.  Vans like these served a great purpose in their day, and made a great family travel vehicle – filling the purpose that our Honda Odyssey serves today, but with more space, living-room-style amenities, and maybe even a swoopy graphics package.  My wife’s family owned a 1983 GMC conversion van (conversion by Behlmann in St. Louis) for just this purpose, and that vehicle served them very well for 12 years.

So there you have it – instead of owning a Crown Victoria and a Honda Odyssey as we do today, we would drive a Monte Carlo and a conversion van.


So, back to our Question.  Imagine yourself walking into a GM dealership like the one above 30 years ago.  With GM offering at least 50 models for sale in any given year, there ought to be something for everyone.  Well then: What mid-1980s GM car would you buy?