(first posted 3/17/2016) The FWD GM A-Bodies are perpetual fodder for CC. We’ve found and looked at just about every variation of the theme in A-major, except for the elusive Pontiac STE, and the true unicorns in the family, like the Gran Sport version of this
coupe two door sedan. I’ve long given up on the quest, but I’m pretty sure we’ve never had one of these two door sedans either, so we’ll just have to satisfy ourselves with it for our monthly A-Body fix. And yes, this is a genuine two-door sedan, regardless of Buick’s efforts to tell us otherwise.
Why am I so adamant about this point? Well, when a two-door shares the exact same roof line and C-pillar as the four door, it really is a two door sedan. And is this one of the last American two-door sedans?
The Century did eventually get a genuine coupe roof in 1989, and we gave it it’s day of fame here. Curiously, the Olds Ciera got it several years earlier, for 1986, but Buick stood pat with their two-door sedan as well as their fibbing. Why they did so is another question, as they sold terribly.
Out of some 275k Centuries sold in 1986 (the best year ever for this generation), a mere 14,781 of them were two-doors, and that includes 1,029 Gran Sports. That’s all of 5.7% of the total. It appears Buick “coupe”buyers were gobbling up the old-school Regal; almost 100k of them, actually. The Century made a fine sedan, but it just didn’t tickle the coupe bone.
Here’s that Gran Sport; as sinister as one of these spinster-mobiles ever got, with full monochrome paint job and a wicked 150 hp 3.8 L V6. Undoubtedly it was trying to chase after Ford’s successful Thunderbird Turbo-Coupe. And failing. Which explains the rather T-Bird inspired new cap that finally came a long in ’89.
Let’s face it; these Centuries decidedly skewed to an older demographic. Which undoubtedly explains this particular example, which I found parked in an area inhabited only by students and some homeless street people who fight over the almost endless beer cans and bottles to be had for their nickel refund. Which is somewhat convenient, because when there’s vomit on the sidewalks on the weekends, it’s easy to blame the bums, especially if the folks are in town for a visit.
This pristine example just had to be a hand-me-down from Grandma or Great Aunt Nonie; it’s just too obvious. What’s not so easily explained is why the venerable Buick coat of arms is upside down.
Check out the unsullied interior; nobody ever lost their cookies and beer in here. Yet. It even has a sport steering wheel; was Grandpa feeling a bit frisky when he ordered it? Or is this owned by a budding Buick aficionado who went out and found one?
The yoga mat in the back suggests not, to the latter question. Especially in that shade, since yoga is hardly an exclusively woman’s undertaking. Ask me how I know. And there’s the box of hankies on the front seat. It obviously belongs to a female student, or a co-ed, they were once referred to in the distant past. And a neat one, at that.
There’s no call-out on the front fender to tell us what’s under the hood. Hopefully not the 2.5 L Iron Duke; this is just too nice of a car to be sullied by that crude implement of noise, vibration and a limited degree of propulsion. More likely either the 2.8 60° V6, which was still burdened with a carburetor (and hence not available in clean California), or the 3.8 V6. That really is the only one that could do this fine example of a GM roadmaster justice. In 1986, the 3.8 was already graced with genuine sequential fuel injection, hence the lofty 150 hp rating.
Who would have guessed when these A-Bodies arrived in 1982 that they would be with us for…fifteen years! That was an automotive eternity back then; or at least a century. Well, if you’re GM and want to prove it to the world that you can actually build a reliable front wheel drive car, that’s the way to do it; keep building them forever. It’s a habit GM became rather addicted to.
Given that these are really X-Bodies under the skin, perhaps it was GM’s way of getting back at everyone without folks knowing it. And in the process, they became genuine Roaches of the Road™, although that really applies more to the later ones, which so often were reincarnated rental cars. These early ones are rare now, even in four door guise.
No; it’s not a Grand Sport by any means; more like Grandpa Sport. Hey, it does have the wire wheel covers. And then there’s the half vinyl top, and sporty chrome band over the roof, in an effort to try to justify Buick’s determination to call it a coupe. I’ll bet Grandpa and Grandma felt pretty chuffed when they drove off the lot with it, in their fancy new Century Limited…two door sedan.
Wow, what a time warp. It’s been ages since i’ve seen a square roof Century two door, let alone one in this condition. I can’t believe i’m saying this, but I rather like it! The half vinyl roof even seems to suit it well. Now this car has got me reminiscing over Grandma’s copper ’82 Pontiac 6000 LE two door I used to wax every fall…
Did anyone notice in the pic of the Gran Sport that it has “Grand National” callouts on the front fender and the head restraints? Was this a concept car? Great write up Paul – I’ve never realized how “rare” these two-door sedans were. Heck, I can’t recall when I seen one last. I will tell ya guys, there sure is a heck of a lot of A-bodies still running around down here in sunny Albuquerque….
The Century GS and LeSabre Grand National used the GN V6 emblem but they were solid red instead of red and yellow.
LeSabre Grand National
G Body Grand National
Always liked the ’86 restyle, with its forward-slanting front fascia. Agree that these earlier FWD Centurys (“Centuries”?) looked best as four-doors.
I would argue that because Century is a proper name, in this case the plural would be “Centurys.”
Point taken, but “-ys” on the end of a plural is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. 🙂
Very nice find! That interior is superb and I’ve never seen one with a console in the place of the middle front bench seat bottom. On that note, those types of factory consoles where the seat cushion was merely taken out but the folding armrest/seatbacks were left and still moved with the seats were an interesting trend in early 1980s. Ford had split ones with the Fox body sedans and Chrysler with the E-bodies.
Yep, Roaches of the Road, because they were damned good cars. I had two 86’s: The first was a fully equipped Century Estate Wagon (V-6, four speed auto, wood paneling, fake wire wheel covers, red velour interior, pretty much every option in the book) which at that time was the best car I’d ever owned. And the most embarrassing, given I was 37 at the time and still (unsuccessfully) trying to settle down into a first marriage. Left to me by my late mother (I called it “mom’s last shot at embarrassing me”) and forced to take it by my father.
The second was a bare bones four door sedan (I-4, three speed auto, AM/FM, A/C and that was it) which I actually liked a lot better. This one was inherited from dad and came from his girlfriend. There was something about the honesty of that car that I really enjoyed.
The GM A-bodies never seem to get much respect, which I’ve always felt was due to their longevity and source of origin. If this same car had been an Audi, auto buffs everywhere would have been falling all over it.
Yes, I can just see the hard-core auto buffs falling all over this if it had an Audi badge, what with its “Eisener Herzog” four cylinder engine that shook and rattled, the V6 with a carb, its acres of plastiwood inside, the loose-pillow seats, the halo vinyl roof and “Targa band”, its soft ride, vague steering and wallowy understeer. Yes, this just screams “Audi” all over.
It could be an Audi, in a different way. Audi 80 in the early ’80s came with similar level of the overall refinement, ( however I only drove the VW derivatives, and rode in Audi versions ) , with slightly more engineering efforts and slightly less comfort/roominess. 2.2 L4 with 113bhp or 5 more with four wheel drive ( even though Century doesn’t have the optional four wheel drive, Pontiac 6000 does.) The driving dynamics of the VW Quantum didn’t have much of an advantage, it’s slightly more precise than the Buick Century of the ’80s, but the driving experience will be really ruined by the seats, and passenger got even worse seat on the back. Power steering is optional too, and sealed little triangle on the front-side windows further showed its age. Either VW Quantum, Audi 80 or FWD A-Body, they are all the typical humble cars belonging to the ’80s.
However, Audi somehow made Quattro out of it and GM had a distant CUCV. Just different needs, and different results.
Yea, I have to agree–these have exactly nothing in common with an Audi, not styling, not engineering, not reliability (these are better!). Swing and a miss Syke…
To be fair you could buy an Audi (80) as late as the 90s with a carburated four that wasn’t excactly smooth to say the least. 1,8 S. That too rattled and shaked, and the VAG-engines carburators was not the best in cold weather.
This american car was quiet, reliable (at least after a while…), comfortable og well equipped at a low price. In European standards the engine was BIG, even with the iron duke.
The Audi was more expensive, a much harder riding vehicle, with better handling/brakes/steering, better interior finish and materials, not very quiet in the 80s, and not very well equipped if you didn’t pay for it.
Somehow I can’t imagine Audi calling an engine “Eisener Herzog”. Or anything else, for that matter. 🙂
I don’t know that I would describe them as “damned good cars”. I think these are roaches of the road because of the volume produced, not any inherent virtue of their own. I had an 83 Century Limited couple about 95% similar to this one, bought at 8 years old with 65,000 miles, and it was utter junk. I had a another A-body as well, a 96 Cierra wagon bought at 3 years and 30,000 miles, and while I wouldn’t describe it as utter junk it was definitely not a very good car.
The tri shield badge in the upside down position is probably indicative of how a once great company,renowned for its styling and early engineering advances,has sunk so low.To me it is as ugly as that Bertone Volvo coupe from the early 1980s.The dashboard,flat,square,no style,bland.I often wonder if Buick cars will ever regain a sense of style or will they just be clones of Japanese car design,there is little difference in my opinion.
I think the upside down shield my be the result of a replace vinyl roof. From the looks of the paint I think it possibly that it a very high quality repaint job.
As to st my understanding is that Buick is basically building for the Chinese market and any sales they get here are just gravy.
Buick wise, their smaller products are more Chinese market oriented, and the larger models are more USDM oriented, with exception of specialty models and LaCrosse. Buick LaCrosse is the only model very popular in both countries, as it’s the largest possible common car in the market there, while it’s marginally large enough in the US to replace the role of Buick LeSabre/Lucerne.
So since Buick is so big in China, should Buick become a China-only brand?
Or am I showing my ignorance? How is Buick perceived in 2016 America? Is there still room for a brand between Chevrolet and Cadillac?
(There – I’ve used up my question-mark quota for the week!)
Even though current Chevrolet Impala is more premium than before, it’s still marketed as an affordable larger car, and Cadillac CT6 is pretty expensive and too flashy for many, Buick LaCrosse sits in between. Buick LaCrosse is perceived just like how LeSabre/Electra/Park Avenue were decades ago, and Buick Enclave is perceived like Buick Estate/Roadmaster wagon decades ago.
Buick Verano itself is a form of continuation of N-Body Buick Skylark, and it became instant hit in China somehow.
Buick LaCrosse and popular just don’t mix in my mind. I’m trying to remember last time I saw here in a city of 3+ million
Well, it’s a trivial point, but I’d put this in the coupe category. Traditionally a two-door sedan (aka coach) had front and rear side windows about equal, while a coupe had no rear window or a shorter rear. This has a shorter rear side window, so it’s more coupe than sedan.
A coupe is defined by the International Standard by the amount of space in the rear seat as well as number of passengers, two or three. It refers to the interior volume not the body styling.
Buick was using marketing lingo to romanticize a two door sedan.
And your novel definition is one I’ve never heard either.
Many genuine coupes had a shortened roof (think 1970s-1980s Cadillac Coupe deVille) but the rear seat was in the same position; there was just less area behind the rear seat (parcel tray). The key thing is that the roof is either shorter and/or lower than the sedan roof.
occam24: I’ve heard many attempts at defining a coupe, but that’s a new one. If you think about it, just about every car called a two-door sedan used a longer front door to allow better access to the rear, which intrinsically meant that the front side window was longer than the rear one, especially in relation to the four-door sedan version.
The word “coupe” has origins in French, meaning to “cut down”, and the most appropriate application to an automotive body style is that the roof is “cut down” or shortened/lowered compared to the sedan version. That’s clearly not the case here.
Oh my gosh, I love this. Buick’s take on the two-door sedan A-body looked best, I think.
It would be interesting to see how the popularity of A-body 2-doors changed over the years. Undoubtedly they were much more popular when the cars arrived in 1982.
I recently looked at sales figures for 1980s C-body Cadillac Sedan & Coupe deVilles (or “2-door Sedan deVilles,” possibly). When the C-body was introduced in 1985, Coupes accounted for one-quarter of total sales, but that % shrank to almost negligible levels within 5 years. I doubt any A-body 2-door achieved a quarter of it’s model’s total sales, but I bet their initial popularity tanked pretty fast as well.
It’s odd in retrospect that they bothered with a two-door model at all, since there wasn’t really a sweet spot for it between the J/X two-doors and the G Special coupes. Money would’ve been better spent delivering the wagons on time in 1982 rather than two years later.
It probably cost them peanuts, since the basic structure/doors were essentially the same as the 2-door X Bodies.
Probably the A body “coupes” were planned while the Personal Lux era was still strong. i.e. 2 doors still sold well to younger buyers.
But, by the 80’s, 4 door imports sold better, and were no longer unappealing to young adults of the time.
The original plan was to phase out the A/G bodies when these came around. But GM still wanted to offer a well rounded car family so they kept the coupe (I still think the A body coupes and the later Lesabre/ Delta FWD coupes were a waste of time)
However the Oldsmobile and Buick G body coupes were selling selling very well so GM decided to keep them around longer.
The FWD Ninety-Eight and Electra two-doors were probably a waste of time, given how many actually sold and have survived to today, but the LeSabre/Delta 88 coupes were just barely worthwhile, especially when you factor in the LeSabre Grand National and T-Type.
Agree with you on that one. Especially considering that the Ninety-Eight/Electra were more “two door sedans” in the vein of this Century, yet somehow even less appealing with their super boxy rooflines. The LeSabre/88 coupes were actually attractive, plus the GN/T-Type as you mention.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 2-door Century (or Cutlass Ciera, for that matter), and certainly never in as good a shape as this.
There’s a 2dr Ciera in Amarillo. I’ll be up there Saturday and I’ll take a shot and post it. Its clean, but has not moved in at least a year.. Its a later rounded rear window model.
If there is ever an award for the dullest two-door styling, the pre-’89 Century is certainly a contender. The vinyl landau roof on the featured car does not help.
These A bodies were some of the first 2 doors that I just didn’t get excited about. And so did buyers. Was really not “more stylish/sporty” as previous generations versus the 4 doors. The Century GS model really looked too plain, IMO.
Why bother getting one, when the 4 door version actually looks better and is more practical?
On the question of what makes a coupe vs a sedan, one can google “coupe” which yields a number of websites with a variety of answers. Wiki says that the first coupe was a shortened horse drawn carriage and then they have an assortment of automobile coupes that don’t help.
A couple of dictionary answers suggest a rear seat space may/should be less than the comparable sedan.
So, going to the GM Heritage site, I looked at the early to mid fifties Cadillac details to see what it says. The 2 door series 62 vs 4 door sedans have much the same roof lines. The bodies are longer for the “coupes” than for the sedans. The rear seat leg room is less for the coupes than for the sedans. Looking at the early sixties (1961) the body length is not different, but the rear seat leg room is still less for the 2 door vs 4 door models. Roof lines for the coupes are different, with two styles available for the sedans.
Which brings us to the Century. Buick’s data (1987 brochure) shows the 2 doors with more leg room than the 4 doors. So this is a 2 door sedan, not a coupe.
Love to find one with the 4.3L V-6 diesel.
You know, that 4.3 V6 diesel did not get the horrible reputation the 350 V8 did. Even CR when they tested one in a 82 Ciera liked it. It was only 1/2 second slower to 60 than the 3.0 V6 Century also tested at the time, got 45 mpg at 55 mph, did not smoke or idle rough and the glow plugs did their job in 6 seconds on a 0 degree day. They recomended it.
Yes! By the time GM introduced the 4.3L V6 diesel, they knew about all the problems the 350 diesel had. The 4.3L V6 was a much improved design, and wasn’t a bad engine at all save for being ‘tainted’ by the 350 diesel debacle.
The ultimate unicorn car, even if it wasn’t in great condition.
Wow, that’s a rare one, alright. Only now have these gotten to the point where I might (might, mind you) walk across the street to look at one. These were never favorites of mine, although they turned out to be very durable cars.
This 2 door body style had one of the least attractive 2 door rooflines since the 1960-61 Ford. I think the problem with both is a too-long rear side window and a too-small/too-upright C pillar.
That’s exactly what I thought, the roofline on this Century two door is pretty awful in that generic bottom-of-the-line two door sedan sort of way. GM’s “personal” mid-size coupes had a tendency to suck the air out of their standard mid-size two door sales. This Century two door helped that by making a compelling case for buyers to look at the Regal coupe.
My parent’s street mirrored the typical sales of these cars. As the neighbors became empty nesters, two houses switched from Chevy (Impalas and a Malibu) to Buick. One house bought the Regal coupe, the other a Century sedan.
As much as I hate to say it, the easy solution for Buick to widen the C pillar as you suggest would have been to use a filler panel and vinyl top. I think there were a few “Landau” roofs you could buy that would do that, but it seemed like GM was rather desperately trying to get out of the Brougham mode at the time, and they did downplay some of the more egregious tarting up of these cars.
Now that I think about it, these blocky Century “coupes” were the direct replacements for the Aerobacks of 1978-80. From one extreme to the other.
Buick didn’t offer this on the Century, but Pontiac did on the 6000 Landau as seen here. Similarly with the ’80-81 Bonneville and ’78-80 Grand Prix, which I believe were all Pontiac exclusives.
Buick and Oldsmobile both offered that Landau top treatment. In fact, Oldsmobile had the Holiday coupe version which had that exact roof treatment exclusively as part of the package.
I don’t know why, but I like these a heck of a lot more than I did when they were new. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor.
Unless the fuel injection sign fell off I would say this had the Chevy 2.8 2BBl V6 which was actually a decent motor by this point replacing the junk Buick 3.0 liter 2BBL V6. It’s interesting to note that despite these cars being very similar they each went in different directions on engines for 1986. The Olds Ciera for example made both 2BBL and Multport 2.8 V6’s available with a choice of 3 or 4 speed automatics in addition the Tech IV. The Buick 3.8 was reserved for GT coupes and sedans. The Century had the same engines offered minus the MFI 2.8 but the 3.8 was offered on every model. If you bought a Celebrity or 6000 the MFI 2.8 was the top dog engine but with a few more horses in STE trim on the Pontiac.
The 2 doors were indeed more rare over at Buick. I spent a lot of time in my high school friend’s 1986 maroon Century Custom with the 2.8 and 3 speed automatic which replaced his 1980 Ford Granada. It was a very reliable car with the only failure items being the A/C compressor at 130K miles and we had to drain and refill the steering rack several times with some trans X to free up the famous left hand rack binding issue. Other than that it never left us stranded and got about the same economy as the iron Duke which was a slower more anemic thrash box in comparison.
Mine had the junk 3.0. It died at 80,000 miles (a month after I had the transmission rebuilt).
FYI: The Century GS was only offered for one year, ’86.
I forgot about the more stylish rear windows of late 80’s/90’s and back then wished the A’s had them from the beginning. But, since the 1978 Aeroback mid-sizers flopped, GM played it [too] safe with all the early 80’s square-backs
A mechanic shop around the corner of my house they have a black Century GS, and I almost sigh every time I notice it.
I did forget to point out the other Century GS models, the RWD ones in 1973-75. The 73-74 could be had with potent [for the time] Stage 1 455 V8.
The FWD A body version was a far cry from these.
Okay, we’ve located our unicorn. Get some photos and write it up, or at least post them to the cohort…
I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these 2 doors, be it Olds, Buick, Pontiac, or Chevy. I did see a 4 door just this week, but I couldn’t tell which engine it had. The car in question had a copper body with a tan vinyl roof. While I like these cars, I STRONGLY prefer the more “aero” version, and make it a 2 door with a V6….and any color except white.
Was the Ford Fairmont the last 2-door sedan to actually be advertised as such?
Some 1979-93 Fox Mustang fans call the notchback version the “sedan”. But was not promoted as such.
Mustang sedan – an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one.
I know this may not be read by anyone, but I’m pretty sure my ’92 Mustang non-hatchback was referred to as a sedan in the owner’s manual.
I remember finding it odd at the time.
For most of the ’70s Ford was much more willing to use the term “2-door sedan” than GM was. Even the Maverick, which was a semi-fastback and rode a shorter wheelbase than the 4-door Mav, was advertised as a 2-door sedan while its’ Chevy Nova counterpart was billed as a coupe.
I had pretty much the exact car in the picture, except mine was an 83, so it didn’t have the inward-sloping grille or the more restrained wire hubcaps (mine were even tackier, if you can believe that). Otherwise, pretty much the exact same car – same trim level, same color scheme, same vinyl half-roof. Bought new by the proverbial little old lady, who sold it to me when it was 8 years old with 65,000 miles. It was nothing but trouble for me, a huge piece of crap.
My in-laws bought a 4-door Century somewhere around 1986 or 1987. It was a basic Century sedan, a dealer demonstrator, I think, with a four-cylinder engine and the usual basic amenities: automatic, power steering and brakes, radio, A/C. I’m remembering it as fairly quiet, but with a jiggly, rubbery ride. The whole thing felt cheap and insubstantial. And that’s the way all the GM A-bodies have always seemed to me.
My in-laws kept the car for a number of years, but they found it a disappointment. They thought a Buick should have had some more presence and solidity.
Suspension upgrades were sort of mandatory during the 80’s on these, especially the 4 cylinder cars which per usual GM practice got softer lighter duty springs and soft shocks. The $27.00 firm ride upgrade along with the P195/70R14 tire option helped quite a bit. We used to replace the rear shocks with HD gas units which were dirt cheap during the 90’s, upgrade the P185/75-14 tires to the 195/70-14’s and if you wanted to be really sneaky order front loaded struts for a Ciera GT or Century GS/T-Type that cost about the same as the base units.
Dead clever, those GM marketing people. I ask you: what other auto company would have thought to name a car model after the median age of its purchasers?
My understanding was that the definition of coupe was based on EPA classifications and a car with something like less than 33 cubic feet of rear seat room was considered a coupe. If it wasn’t an EPA classification, i thought it was some government agency. Therefore, this would be considered a two door sedan.
Why did this exist? It didn’t sell in any great numbers. BUT, as was mentioned, it didn’t cost much to tool up for. GM had planned for the fwd A cars to replace the A/G bodies, and when the G bodies continued to generate high profits, GM planned for the N bodies to replace the G bodies, and then the G bodies went on until 87/88. The two doors far outsold the four doors for the G bodies, so they needed a two door for the replacements for the rwd A/G cars. Hence, this car. The four door G bodies had the infamous windows that didn’t roll down, so the four door A body may have been a better choice- honestly, how often do you drive around with the rear windows rolled down? But you still want that feature. The two door G body was better than this; it handled better, particularly with a few upgrades; felt roomier, and had a cushier ride and creamier power.
If there are young folks who read this site, two door cars were very popular as family sedans in the ’70’s and ’80’s prior to the advent of the minivan/CUV/SUV. Two doors were the way that families protected young kids riding in the back before child safety seats became mandatory. The thinking was that the door wouldn’t fly open/the kid couldn’t open the door while you were driving and so two doors were safer, and also a two door had more style for young folks with kids. Doors did fly open on cars then.
Marketing research rarely accurately predicts the future; it can tell you a little about what people think now, and a lot about what people THINK they think. The X body Phoenix sold a small fraction of what the Skylark and Omega did but its Grand Am replacement blew the other two out of the water. People may have asked for a two door in marketing clinics and then bought a four door, or the still available G body. GM wisely hedged its bet at little cost by producing a variety of body styles for this car.
It’s not an Audi, but why does everything have to be an Audi? I love the pillowy seats and classic lines with lots of windows and straight, thin pillars. To me it looks roomy, strong, and confident. It does understeer and wallows, but it had a lot more power than an Audi in ’86 and was a lot more reliable, and a lot cheaper.
Most cars from the ’80’s were pretty worn out by 8 and you were lucky to get them up to 10 years of age.
That’s a new one, about the EPA. Maybe they use something like that, but that doesn’t make them the arbiter of the definition. “Coupe” has been used for a very long time, long before anyone ever imagined an EPA.
The 1971-1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille was a genuine coupe (like so many others of the time) because its roof line was decidedly unique compared to the sedan roof.
This “coupe” issue gets debated endlessly, but as far as I’m concerned, it comes down to whether or not the same basic roof line is shared or not. And that’s how it was in the 20s and 30s, when the coupe name was first commonly applied to cars. The sedans (two and four door) had the same roof, going all the way to the back of the body, back then. The coupe had a shorter roof; often with no back seat at all, or a smaller back seat than the sedan. Eventually coupes commonly came to have the same or almost the same rear seat size as sedans, but their hallmark was a distinct roof.
That’s the definition I’ll stick to. The EPA can keep theirs. FWIW, coupe has come to mean any two door fixed roof vehicle, since “2-door sedan” has become archaic. So maybe that’s why they use it, to define any two door. It just reflects current parlance.
The current EPA guide does not specify anything about 2 door vs 4 door cars. The classifications are 2 passenger (any size): then
Station wagons range from small to large (midsize in the middle).
The original coupe was a horse drawn carriage with a smaller body than a larger carriage that it was based on. A rear facing seat was removed.
In the automobile context a coupe was smaller than the sedan it was based on. However, this has changed since World War Two. It is all well and good to say that it has to be this or that, but nothing stays the same.
Going off topic here, but how the heck does the EPA (Environment Protection..) come to be classifying cars’ size anyway? Mission creep to end all mission creep? 🙂
It makes sense that they’d want to have hard-and-fast categories when it comes to determining MPG targets for different size segments. What is a little weird is that they seem to be the only ones we look to when it comes to determining those segments.
Calling this a ‘coupe’ as opposed to a 2dr sedan is indeed a ‘fib’ for all the reasons brought up. That said, its no near as far flung as the VW CC, BMW gran coupe and a few others. Those are blatant LIES.
Another thought: in the automotive bizarro world we apparently live in, I think this car is the exact polar opposite of the LX Dodge Charger.
As far as I know the Society of Automotive Engineers are the only authority on what a car is, and apparently their current standard for coupes requires the rear seat volume to be less than 33 cubic feet. I don’t think that anyone polices what the manufacturers choose to call their models (except of course lawsuits are filed if one pilfers someone elses name).
I think the 33 cubic feet standard is silly, but is quite new (2009?).
Seeing a Century in this condition brings back memories of why these were so popular (well not the 2-door, but the A bodies in general). In 1986, though the design was at the end of its cycle (instantly dated by the Taurus/Sable), it was still contemporary enough. Had it been replaced in 1987 with a new design for coupes (real ones, not 2-door sedans), 4-door sedans and wagons, but keeping roughly the same A-body dimensions (the W-body was too big), GM’s story in the late 1980s could have been different.
I love it. Its so clean. That’s my kinda ride for sure. I’d take it in a heartbeat. Even with the “DUKE”.
The timing of this couldn’t be weirder, last time I ordered pizza the delivery dude pulled up in a mint sealed beam Century 2 door. My jaw dropped. They may be the only two left on the road.
I’m with you 100% on this Paul, that’s a sedan. Shame mighty GM, historical home of some of the best styling this side of the Atlantic had to bs the name for these utterly bland boxes. At least the not-coupes BMWs and Mercedes are peddling as “coupes” were distinctive, these actually look cheaper and less substantial than the 4 doors.
It’s a 4dr, but there is a sealed beam Century here in Wichita Falls In decent shape. I’ll get ya a photo.
That makes four. There’s one here in Richmond, a brown 2-door that may be the same year as the featured car–it has the forward-angled nose, but sealed-beam lamps. No vinyl, not a limited, but in good shape. I have a photo somewhere.
It’s in another part of town, but the last time I was over there (November? December?) it was parked in front of the same house as always, and it moves at least occasionally.
Does anyone know if there was a Pontiac 6000 coupe produced with the swoopier roof line? I could SWEAR I saw one many years ago, but I’ve never been able to find one in Google image search.
None from the factory. The 2-door 6000 was dropped in 1989, the same year the 4-door adopted the aero roof used by the Ciera and Century.
Wow, what a clean car! Light color velour usually shows a tonal change between driver’s & passenger’s seats. Even the door pulls are nice and intact. Definitely was a Timer’s ride until very recently – mudflaps, door edge guards etc. I’m surprised at the lack of decals/stickers – I would expect to see an AAA or AARP or something – especially the ubiquitous Dealer’s badging. What’s the foofoo on the rvm, little wind chimes? I like this car, I would buy it. They are great daily drivers. As far as the coupe debate – I consider a proper coupe to have one door per side, and no B pillar presence when all of the side glass is lowered. For example, an XJ12C, or a 230CE. Of course that’s just my opinion –
That would be a pillarless hardtop coupe.
Wonderful find. I really like this generation Century, with their styling that neither retains the excesses of the 70s, nor goes into the blobmobile styling of the soon to appear Tempo and Taurus. Clean, for the era, with a bit of plush here and there, and good outward visibility that you will never get from all the TV cameras in the world.
Saw a Century pulling into the local Wendy’s a month or two ago. First one I have seen in years. Looked pretty sad after 30 years of Michigan road salt, then there was the death rattle, more like a death clunk, emanating from the engine.
If it was a constant rattling while it was idling, thats just the normal Iron Duke rattle. My friends 80 Sunbird had it to. I always knew when he pulled up into the driveway because of it. It’s a distinctive sound we both recognize even now.
Just to muddy the waters a bit more I found a Hemmings webpage on coupes.
Here is a LINK
To sum up: a two door sedan should have the rear seat space similar to the 4 door sedan. If there is no 4 door sedan then the car is a coupe.
Strangely, I quite like it……
I will always have a special place in my heart for the Century Coupe. I actually owned a 1984 Century Limited Coupe – it was black with a black top and burgundy cloth interior. I was a sophomore in college, year 1986. My parents wanted to get me a car to commute and my brother-in-law was working at a local Honda dealer at the time. He got the car I eventually got in trade from a middle-aged woman who had special ordered it because the Regal was too big. She thought it was still too big so she decided to trade it in for a Prelude. I remember the ‘brat’ that I was, saying to my parents “It better not be an old person’s car.” Well, when I saw it I fell in love with it. It was far nicer than anything I would have imagined. It was loaded, too. Even a sunroof. The only options it didn’t have were cruise control, lamp monitors, Twilight Sentinel and a power trunk release. It even had the rare gauges and power driver’s seat with dual recliners. You could really load these cars up, similar to a Cadillac. Honestly it was so comfortable and rode like a dream. After a few months however, the love affair started to diminish. Reason? It had the god-awful 3.0 litre V-6 engine. Three rebuilds in 50k miles. Buick helped with the first two, but after the third it was time to go. It probably had about 80k miles on it when I traded it for a brand new Escort GT in 1989.
The rarity of the coupe made that car special. I often had people ask me what kind of car it was. With the black top and burgundy Limited interior it was a classy looking car. I always felt that with a better/more reliable engine it would have been the perfect car.
In 1995 I needed transportation as our family business was being sold and I could no longer lease cars through the company. I often thought about my ’84 Century. In searching for a replacement vehicle I came across a loaded, white with blue interior, mint condition 1987 Century Limited ‘T” sedan that was a one owner car. My neighbor had a small used car dealership and one day he brought that car home so I inquired about it. Apparently the gentleman had special ordered it, as his wife had Cadillacs for years but they were too big for her. He didn’t like the new down-sized Cadillacs so he decided to get her the Century. I ended up buying it with about 79k miles on it, ironically close to the mileage on my ’84 coupe when I had traded it in. The one big difference – the ’87 had the 3.8 SFI V-6. What a difference from my old ’84! It actually got better gas mileage than the pig 3.0, was extremely fast and ultra reliable. I put nearly 150k miles on that car before I sold it. It was starting to rot out so I didn’t want to put much money into it. But I enjoyed the heck out of that car. It was ultra loaded, too – even had rear seat reading lamps and Twilight Sentinel! Probably one of the best cars I have ever owned.
I bought a 89 Escort GT from the local Chrysler dealer in April 92. Paid $5495 with 31,000 miles. It was ok. Only problem I had was waiting for 30 minutes or more in line at the bank, with the AC on, it would put the temp gauge at the top. The little electric fan just couldn’t move enough of the dry Texas heat to keep up. But it would take 1/2 an hour or more. Other than that, no problems. Traded it in in August 92 on a new Ranger SuperCab XLT with the 3.0 and a five speed. Don’t remember what the trade in value was.
“It even had the rare gauges and power driver’s seat with dual recliners.” But no cruise control. No wonder the domestics all gravitated towards the Japanese model-equipment system.
Interesting about your Escort GT. In a fit of lack-of-knowledge, my brother bought a new 1988.5 EXP. It was quite underwhelming, and a POS overall. I used to chide him that he could of gotten a Civic Si or Talon for the same money, plus a host of others.
It is funny how I tried the domestics and have gravitated back to Hondas. My Escort GT’s were two year leases done through my Dad’s business. I had a red one, a white one then a blue one. The red 881/2 crapped out on a trip to the Cape with only 13k miles on it . The power steering rack developed a nice leak and I couldn’t steer the car. It also had a water leak that the dealer couldn’t find so the Ford reps did a buy-back and I ended up getting the white ’89. Overall that car was fine. I had an issue with the A/C getting warm on very hot days but other than that no troubles in about 40k miles. I then got a 1991 GT that had the Mazda engine. Fantastic little car. 50k miles and not one bit of trouble at all. Just cheap sheet metal, it would dent if you looked at it wrong.
Dave, isn’t it strange how cars were optioned back then? Made them much more interesting than the cars of today. Especially the customer’s special ordered cars which were quite common. Option packages do make ordering and building cars much easier for both dealers, consumers and manufacturers. Just takes the customization and rareness out of them.
I would argue these weren’t widely considered old people’s cars until the 90s, or the late 80s at the earliest (after the W body came out).
I’d agree, since many middle age folks still bought domestic mid size cars in the 80’s, until bigger 90’s Camrys and Accords. And they certainly were not ‘old folks’ back then.
Vinyl roofs and wire wheels were already passee. Compared to even its sister Pontiac 6000, this car was def targeting an older buyer. (Which was fine, GM’s brand positioning still was functional in those days.)
By coincidence, I happened to catch this 1986-88 Century sedan apparently broken down by the side of the road last week. I didn’t check the VIN, but clearly the car is pre-1989 because of the 6-window styling and post-1985 because of the forward-canted grille.
These would be on my list as potential cars in my retirement, if they still were being made…
Wouldn’t mind a 2 door, as long as it had painted rather than vinyl roof, and it looks like a few of them did, but not sure how common they are, since it has been a long time since the 2 door went away, and vinyl was still pretty popular. Actually a wagon would be another I’d strongly consider; the 4 door sedan…not so much (for me).
I strongly prefer the ’82-’96 versions over the ’97 and above, maybe partly due to there only being the 4 door sedan, but I think I’d really like to get one with the 3.8 litre which I don’t think they offered in the later generation. Yeah, I’m pretty picky…just get me a 2 door with no vinyl roof and the 3.8 and I’ll go away happy…I’m a bit of a contrarian I guess, when these were available (won’t say “common” since the 2 doors weren’t) I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at them but now that you can’t find them, they’re what I want.. Maybe I was just born a generation too late.