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Out of Print-Climbing Out of the Malaise

Robert Emslie November 20, 2009 Out of Print 17 Comments

Getting Better_Lead

By 1983, Reagan had been in office for a couple of years, the shock of OPEC flexing their muscles had begun to die down, and auto makers stopped fighting emission control regulations, and started focusing their engineers on actually making their cars work with them.


Fuel economy continued to be a strong driver in advertising, however consumers were ready, once again, for performance as well. This ad for the 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger (a derivative of the front-wheel drive Omni) even leads with a headline denigrating what,  at that time had been the extent of a sport package- paint and tape.

Starting with the price point – $8,290 in this case – the ad then delves not into fuel mileage or quality, but performance. Touting what for the period was pretty substantial numbers – 107-bhp, 127 ft-lbs of torque, and a zero to fifty (remember the national limit was 55-mph back then) time of only 5.5 seconds.

Described as quick as a quarter horse, but agile as a cutting pony, Chrysler hypes the handling of the Charger, tossing out terms such as skidpad, and slalom like it was old hat for the company.

It’s not until you get three-quarters of the way through the ad that gas mileage even comes up, and at 40 hwy/25 city it is worth mentioning. Still, the fuel economy is positioned after the performance, and for the first time in many years, it is real performance that they’re selling. Even the tag America’s Driving Machines speaks of a new era for the car maker.

So, as the darkest days of long gas lines and american car makers dragging their feet into modernity were ending, a new age arrived, and brought with it efficiency with performance. Starting around this time, cars began become kind of fun again, and sporty cars such as the Charger, the Ford Mustang GT, Chevy Camaro and Firebird led the way.

  • For those too young to remember, let me put this in context for you by showing you the Blue Oval's competing Sports Coupe — a heavier, slower Escort with no back seat.

    <img src="http://www.fordexp.com/images/display/adv_Red82EXP.jpg"&gt;

    Not that I'm hating on the Froggy The Wonder Coupe. It was just a weird-alice econocoupe, not a sports car, that's all.

    • LTDScott

      I'm all about the luxury, so I'm an LN-7 man.

    • don't forget the later ones lost the frog eyes and gained a turbo, although i would rather have a frog eye – hot rod magazine had a comparo with a turbo in it(mostly just posting this because of the awesome thunderbird on the front): http://cgi.ebay.com/Hot-Rod-SEP-84-T-Bird-is-Back

      • Who wants an EXP that looks like any other Escort from the front?

        Trivia: Speaking of Escort-derivative coupes, did you know that Ford briefly considered reviving the Falcon name for what ultimately became the Escort ZX2? The idea was rejected because didn't want to make the iconic Falcon name a segment of the Escort line, and conversely they didn't want to remove the "Escort" and then have to exclude ZX2s from Escort sales numbers.

        • Nice bit of trivia…. that I did not know!

          (I have a cool bit of trivia for the name of the Taurus… I'll have to wait for a time to bring that one up)

        • Nice bit of trivia…. that I did not know!

          (I have a cool bit of trivia for the name of the Taurus… I'll have to wait for a time to bring that one up)

  • My mother had a Charger identical to this one. (But with the turbo 2.2 – I think it was an '85. Same colours.) Sadly, she sold it because of the snow and ruts on the farm road they lived on at the time – even with snow tires, the gearing and ground clearance just wouldn't do it.

  • experimenting here to see why I have problems posting comments that have pictures……

  • Those wheels were pretty cool…. and they carried over to the Dodge Daytona also.

    They are also a (as close to it as you can get) perfect match for the wheels that came on the Matchbox car!

    I've tried to link to a photo, but whenever I do this, my comment disappears. I don't know what's going wrong, so this time, here's the link, you'll just have to click on it to see what I mean.

    http://cdn2.ioffer.com/img/1100764800/_i/4388495/

  • I like the wheels on that Shelby Charger… and another thing that makes it cool, is that the Matchbox version imitates it very well!

    (Yeah, I know that's a Daytona, but they're similar, and the wheels were the same)

  • Mark Penrice

    8 seconds to sixty with that power and torque? Either you’re already at the top of fourth gear in the fastest, smoothest shifting, most economical automatic ever at 61mph, or that thing weighs no more than 3/4 of a tonne (ie about 1600lbs). Which I sincerely doubt.

    I had a Renault a few years ago that was just a little over the tonne, net weight (let’s call it a 2500lbs kerb weight with fuel and driver). Same power, slightly less torque, manic gearing (anything over 65mph was noisy even in 5th). It just about managed 10s on that sprint.





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