Would Ya, If Ya Could?
After you've bought your mansion on Lake Road, your sprawling villa in South Beach, flats in London, Paris and Manhattan, along with multiple yachts and who knows what else rich people spend their money on, what do you drive? Or what did you drive if you were Mr. Got Rocks in the "Go-Go" '80s?
If you had about $110,000 to spend on one car in 1985, perhaps you found the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit to your fancy. That would be approximately $240,000 in today's money. $240,000 would buy a nice house here in Cleveland.
Perhaps it's just me and my Chevy Impala taste in cars but, I'd rather have the $240,000 house. If I was smart (or lucky) enough to have that kind of money to buy something so utterly ostentatious, showy and ridiculous, it would go against those smarts to spend that much money on a depreciating asset.
I did a nationwide search on RR's of similar vintage to our '85 Silver Spirit and I couldn't find one that broke the $20,000 asking price threshold. Ruh-roh. That's not good.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, if you dropped $110,000 in 1985 on a house facing Lake Erie in Bay Village, Rocky River or Avon Lake, chances are you're in a position now to spend $240,000 on a new Rolls.
Would ya, if ya could?
Although I would love to try and get the best price I can on an old one like this. After I found a good mechanic who could work on it for me.
What's the asking price?
Reminds me of the time I wrecked my Cordoba!
And the Demise of the 2+2
Several years ago, a chance encounter with a 2003 Honda Accord V-6 sedan convinced me to trade in my 2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 2+2 sports coupe. The Accord was comfortable, fast, handled flawlessly, had brilliant brakes. Like that high school "senior celebrity" who did everything right, that Accord even got good gas mileage. That Accord was spectacular and everything I wanted my Camaro to be but it wasn't. Weeks later I traded the Camaro for that bastion of practicality, a Chevrolet Tahoe. It was less expensive than an Accord.
When our Mitsubishi Starion was young, sports coupes did everything better than "ordinary" cars. They were faster, handled better, had better brakes and many times, depending on the engine they had, got better gas mileage. Buyers bought them because they offered performance above and well beyond what ordinary cars could muster. They also looked great. Bonus.
The only thing they wasn't, was as practical as a sedan. 2+2's, 2 people up front and 2 in back, might have been comfortable for the front passengers but not so much for those subjected to the torture chamber "back there". While many 2+2's came with a handy hatchback (like our Starion) to give a modicum of practicality, many did not instead offering a trunk that was vestigial at best.
Fast forward a generation or so and sedans do everything well that "sports coupes" did years ago. What's more, they do it with zero compromise. Cars like our Starion offered huge helpings of compromise along with a whoosh of turbo power. That was, honestly, part of what what drew fans like myself to them. After awhile, though, that compromise had us scratching our collective heads asking, "why am I doing this?" You scratch harder when you drive a four door, "family car" that sucks the doors of your "sports car".
Are today's sports coupes better than sedans? Some are, yes, but...where they excel is at the outer limits of performance; places where people rarely push their vehicles. Today's "sports sedans" are so good, that more than ever, a "sports coupe" is more of a fashion statement than ever before. Who needs a sports coupe when sedans offer everything a coupe does without any compromising? Slaves to fashion and image, yes. But those folks are few and far between. Niche.
Those "sports sedans" and let's not forget, "sport utility vehicles" (SUV) pushed sports coupes, metaphorically, to the back of showrooms. Dealerships still put them at the front of their showrooms but they're at the bottom of the monthly sales ledger.
The Mitsubishi Starion was born into a world (1982) where the sports coupe market was healthy and strong. In fact, the market for two door cars in general was still vibrant although it was beginning to wane after the boom in the "personal luxury car" market of the 1970's. Still, the Starion was a bit of an oddity. A styling mashup of part Toyota Celica Supra, Nissan Z, Mazda RX7 and even 1984 Chevrolet Corvette.
While the Starion's styling was derivative, a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine was a point of differentiation. Many consider the Starion one of the originators of the modern Japanese turbocharged performance automobile genre, and the first to use electronic fuel injection.
Many of the performance features of the Starion were integrated into later vehicles like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Galant VR-4. Both of which, for those keeping score, are four door sedans, not two door coupes.
pictures n words charles connolly
Every Car (Purchase) Has a Story
There were six Skylarks offered by General Motors' Buick division between 1953 and 1998. Our homely red coupe here was part of the last generation of Skylarks built between 1991 and 1997 and was built on GM's "N-body" platform. It's mechanically identical to the Oldsmobile Achieva and Pontiac Grand Am.
It's rude of me to ask, "who would buy this car"? Apparently someone did and assuming its still in the hands of its original buyer, that person has taken very good care of it. As well they should. As well we should all take care of our vehicles as well as this little appliance has been cared for.
Again, this is rude of me, if I had the chance, I would like to ask the owner why they bought this car. Every car's purchase has a story, you know. I found these 1991 vintage Skylark to be ugly as sin. The styling was, allegedly, to evoke the spirit of Buicks of yore. This is an "updated" '96-'98 version where Buick got rid of much of that avant garde styling in the hopes of making the car less weird. Maybe, just maybe, this otherwise non-descript Buick Skylark was the apple of someones automotive eye. Or someone liked red. Or someone got a good deal on it.
Folks are leery of people they see taking pictures of their car. The owner of this car, a pleasant woman who looked to be in her early sixties, was at first incredulous when she came out of Auto Zone and saw me walking around her car snapping pictures. After I explained that I blog about cars and offered to delete the photos off my phone, she shrugged her shoulders and said she was fine with my picture taking. Between us, I think she was actually quite flattered. Taking advantage of our chance meeting, I asked her how long she had the car and why she bought it. Turns out she bought it brand new in 1996 from a dealership that was in walking distance from her home. That worked our nicely since she didn't have a car nor anyway to get around at the time. She said her salesperson was very nice and gave her good deal on it because it was red.
words and photographs charles connolly
They Can't All Be Classics
photos and words by charles connolly