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.