Threes And Sevens: 1983

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my (i)ncomparable niece! For the next year her age will be the square of an integer.

Second, despite not really being forecast we did receive a light rain yesterday for 5-10 minutes. As I have written before, living in the desert has made me a rain watcher and rain fan. Late afternoon the skies to our north and northeast turned quite dark and the weather radar did indicate heavy rain in those areas. As most of the precipitation here is not the product of a front creating lift, the movement of rain, or lack thereof, can be difficult to predict. The movement of this precipitation did seem to be headed our way and, lo and behold, we had rain.

We also had quite a lot of wind, which opened the lid of the recycle bin in the backyard and blew my wonderful wife’s pool floatee quite a distance. Anyway, below are three pictures. One that is supposed to show raindrops on the window in the second floor bonus room and two that show the aftermath of the rain.



So, what was significant about 1983 in the US automobile industry? Well, the convertible returned to the marketplace. The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado had been the “last” American ragtop, but once again history is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future. Ford offered a convertible Mustang and sold about 23,000 of them. However, the ragtop I want to show is not a favorite of mine, per se, but has significance to me, anyway. From The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®:



Yes, production was a “scant” 1,750 units, but at $24,960 this model was $9,000 more than Buick’s next most expensive offering. It was also more expensive than any non-limousine Cadillac or Lincoln. I don’t have the patience to calculate a production/sales weighted average price for 1983 Buicks, but most of the Skyhawk and Skylark models could be purchased in the $7,500 neighborhood.

The base engine for the Riviera ragtop produced 125 HP/205 LB-FT of torque and the car weighed about 3,900 pounds. Obviously, my association with Buick, a major factor in the recent purchase of my Buick Cascada convertible, led me to show this car in this post. A note: the Cascada has been criticized for being underpowered, but has 75 more horsepower than the ’83 Riviera and similar torque at a similar weight. Besides, these automobiles are cruisers, not sports cars.


About 9.2 million cars were sold in the US in 1983 and 6.8 million of those were built in North America, some by foreign manufacturers. Speaking of foreign automakers, those from Japan agreed to a fourth consecutive year of import restrictions.

General Motors took the top three spots among domestic car companies in production/sales in 1983. Chevrolet was first and the only make to surpass one million (1.175 million). Oldsmobile was second at about 917,000 units and Buick was third with 808,000. What was the best-selling Chevy model that year?


See the source image


Keeping with the theme of the re-entry of ragtops in the US auto market, here is a picture of a 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier CS convertible. Chevrolet produced approximately 218,500 Cavaliers, of which only 627 were convertibles. These cars had an MSRP of $10,990; the rest of the Cavalier line sold for between $5,900 and $6,600. As far as I can tell, this model was available with only one engine: a 121 cubic-inch inline-4 cylinder that produced 88 HP/110 LB-FT of torque. They’re not ugly cars to me, but I have no desire to run out and to buy an ’83 Cavalier ragtop.

For the first time, the average price of a new car sold in the US reached five figures at $10,700. JD Power reported that buyers of new domestic cars had a median age of 49.5 and an annual income of $34,790. Perhaps not surprisingly, buyers of imports were younger, but somewhat surprisingly had a higher average income. Age and income are positively correlated, at least until people reach their 60s. A sign of the inflation rampant in the US economy then (sound familiar?), the 1983 average price was 54 percent higher than the price from just four years earlier.

Chrysler Corporation paid off its $1.2 billion in federally guaranteed loans–seven years early. The K-Car platform, while reviled today, saved the company, at least until the first decade of the 21st century.


Of course, there were no 1983 model year Corvettes although Vettes were built in calendar year 1983. Mercedes-Benz used this technicality to claim that its SL models were the longest-running car line built in the world, until it stopped making that model after the 2020 model year. Ironically, M-B has brought back the car after a one-year hiatus as a limited-production automobile all with the AMG designation. From the Corvette Black Book:


“The 1984 Corvette was introduced in March 1983. Because of its late introduction and since it met all 1984 federal requirements, Chevrolet General Manager Robert Stemple decided to skip the 1983 model year.”


The 1984 Corvette would be the first of the fourth generation Vette or C4. That generation was produced through the 1996 model year.


That’s all for today, folks. Just three more posts remain in the Threes And Sevens series.






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3 thoughts on “Threes And Sevens: 1983

  1. 1983 was also important in that was when performance was starting to make a comeback: Corvette, Camaro, Mustang and Charger (Shelby version). While anemic by the standards of 15 years previous, and of today, it was a step in the right direction. Since then it has brought us to today, where a Toyota Camry sedan can spank a 68 Roadrunner at the drag strip.

    That said, I still prefer the late 60’s muscle. I like the “in your face” brashness of a dual quad intake, a lumpy solid lifter cam, the whine of a big ole blower all dumping out of open headers. Practical? Not on your life. But for thousands of us, more fun than homemade sin. 🙂


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