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A MODEL YEAR

THE ’85 CAR LINEUP SPORTS INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION
By PHIL BERG |

ONE HUNDRED AND eighty blinding miles per hour. That’s the estimated top speed of the new road-going Porsche 911 computer-controlled, four-wheel-drive “Group B” homologation special Only a handful will be destined for U.S. highways next summer, out of just 200 that were built to qualify the car as a production racer. Even if you never see one, let alone ride in one (heaven forbid ever buy one), it’s important that you know it will be here. It’s important because the engineers who design the cars you will buy know that the super-Porsche exists. It inspires the engineers. It makes them strain their imaginations to improve our cars, and we’ll soon see their efforts down the street an the local dealer’s bt.

The 1985 new car model year will reflect inspiration and display more mechanical variety than ever before. Shopping for an ’85 will be as much fun as a day at the amusement park. It’s a joy that new car buying has lacked for the past decade.

You’ll be able to buy a turbocharged engine on everything from the smallest Ford Escort to the midsized Dodge 600 convertible and Pontiac Sunbird up to grand touring-sized Lincoln Mark VIIs. If one isn’t enough, twin turbochargers are available from Maserati on three different models. Buick has developed a new electronically controlled V-6 engine for the newest General Motors compact car sold by three of its divisions: the Buick Somerset Regal, Oldsmo-bile Calais and Pontiac Grand Am.

Mitsubishi’s Galant sedan will have electronically variable power steering and an electrically controlled suspension. On Buick’s Riviera, even a touch-screen CRT (TV tube) display to control climate and stereo functions will be available.

You can get front-, rear- and four-wheel-drive cars and automatic anti-locking brakes on Lincoln Continentals and Mark VIIs. Four-speed automatic overdrive transmissions will be in Ford, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Nissan cars.

All four major U.S. manufacturers are now selling at least one sporty convertible each, and topless cars are coming in from Toyota, Volkswagen, Pinninfarina, Alfa Romeo and, after more than a year’s wait, Jaguar.

You can buy slick-looking cars with sharp lines or smoother bodies with softer curves. The radical new Lincoln/Mercury Merkur (pronounced mare-coor) has twin rear spoilers behind its rounded body, all in an effort to cut through air the way a kayak parts water.

Ford’s top-of-the-line Mustang, the SVO, was the first American car to use the biplane rear aero trick, and for 1985, the SVO will get a dose of vibration elimination tuning. The Mustang GT will get a healthy 10-horse-power boost to 215 horsepower in its base V-8 engine.

Other manufacturers are increasing power outputs of their engines, too, and with the constant refining, they’re increasing efficiency at the same time. The Pontiac Fiero midengine two-seater is scheduled to get a 145-horsepower V-6 engine as an option, and a Fiero GT model will get a firmer suspension, larger tires and quicker steering along with the more powerful engine.

Volkswagen will have an all-new Rabbit successor, called the Golf, as well as a new Jetta sedan. The VWs feature redesigned front suspensions and smoother, more aerodynamic bodywork. They are an inch or two larger in all dimensions and create more of a roomy impression from the inside. Volkswagen engineers have gone over the two new cars with fine-toothed combs, and the result is a noticeably smoother ride.

Coming in January will be the new GTI version of the Golf, which will get a more powerful engine; the Jetta version of this little stormer, the GLI, will be here next spring.

Audi will introduce new aerodynamic 4000-series cars that will come closer in appearance to their advanced 5000-series sedan and wagon, and for the United States exclusively there will be a Porsche 928 with a new four-valve-per-cylinder V-8 engine, giving one of the fastest cars available in this country even more power. It will be introduced just before the new year. Porsche’s 944 will get a turbo and a major suspension redesign, but it won’t make it to the United States until spring.

Both Ford’s and Chevrolet’s counter to Chrysler’s hugely successful Voyager and Caravan mini-vans will be on sale in 1985. Chevy’s Astro van will have an optional 4.3-liter V-6 engine and rear-wheel-drive, enabling it to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Aerostar mini-van from Ford will also be available this spring.

Obviously, nobody in the engineering and design departments in Detroit, Japan or Europe took the year off. They’ve been hard at work refining, detailing and creating. This fall, you’ll be able to walk around the car dealerships and think about what you would really like to own. Enjoy yourself!

CHRYSLER LeBaron GTS

From the top-of-the-line sports Chryslers, the popular Laser and Daytona, come two four-door versions. The cars are slightly longer, and both are front-wheel-drive sedans, offered with either the standard 2.2-liter normally aspirated or turbocharged Laser and Daytona engines. The LeBaron GTS and Lancer share the running gear and suspension with the two-door coupes, and five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions are available with either engine. Alloy wheel and tire options are also available, as are digital dashboards.

DODGE Lancer

TOYOTA Corolla GT-S

The good things Toyota did last year to the two-door Corolla Coupe GT are magnified for 1985 by a 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a beefed-up suspension. The clean-looking coupe has rear-wheel-drive and is available with a sunroof, electric windows and other luxury extras-but the best reason to drive one is for excitement.

CHEVROLET Corvette

America’s most advanced sports car, the Corvette, will have more ride refinement, both in standard trim and with the optional Z-51 handling package. The V-8 engine will get port-fuel injection, making 230 horsepower available in the fiberglass-bodied two-seater. Inside, instruments have been made easier to read, and outside both the red and silver paint has been made brighter.

CHEVROLET Camaro IROC-Z



The fastest and best-handling Camaro is named after the International Race of Champions series, where top-name drivers compete in identical race-prepped Camaros. This version of the familiar coupe isn’t just tape stripes and stickers, but a serious road car. A 5.0-liter Corvette V-8 engine has been tucked under the Camaro hood, and whopping 16-inch diameter by 8-inch-wide wheels and tires held on by a much-modified suspension make this Camaro as close to a race car as anything with interior upholstery can get.

PEUGEOT 505 Turbo



After years of establishing a reputation for durability in medium-sized luxury cars, the giant French auto maker is trying to establish more of a sporty image. The 505 Turbo has a top speed of 119 mph and a suspension capable of handling even the worst of roads while keeping passengers comfortable. If sales of the 2.2-liter fuel-injected turbo-engined car go well, the company will ship its small 205 GTI-a flyer that’s a big hit in Europe-to the United States.

CHEVROLET Sprint

Surprisingly quick is Chevrolet’s Suzuki-built Sprint, a tiny 1.0-liter, three-cylinder-powered economy car. The looks are deceptive: You feel you’re in a larger car when you’re behind the wheel of a Sprint. At about 1 1/2 tons, it’s very light, and that makes it easy to maneuver. Parking is an experience to look forward to in the Sprint, and fuel mileage is up in the 60-miles-per-gallon range. Priced at under $5,000, the Sprint is one of the least expensive cars on the market.

PONTIAC Grand Am

General Motors’ new compact coupe, which will replace the aging X-cars in most of the company’s divisions, gets a performance treatment from Pontiac. There will be a 125-horsepower V-6 engine available for it, along with a five-speed transmission and 14-inch wheels. The new car handles very well and is intended to make sporty import buyers double-take when they pass a Pontiac store. The Y99 handling package is a “must-get” option.

MASERATI Biturbo E

This small Maserati is a breakthrough in affordable exotic cars. It has sumptuous leather stitched onto the dashboard, doors and seats, along with a twin-turbo-charged V-6 engine that propels the car to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. For 1985, the Biturbo E coupe, with a base price of well under $30,000, is a good buy for someone who wants the luxury and excitement of a thoroughbred Italian car without the expense. The four-door Biturbo 425 and the two-door Cabriolet will be available for the first time in 1985.

TOYOTA Cressida

Toyota’s luxury highway cruiser has new skin and has been completely refined underneath. Features include a 2.8-liter twin-cam six-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic transmission with electric overdrive. The suspension is also electrically adjustable from the interior. An all-independent suspension gives a smooth ride for five people, and it comes equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. For audio-philes, Toyota is making available a stereo system made by Technics that should rival the best in-car systems.

LINCOLN/MERCURY Merkur

As controversial as the aerodynamic Merkur body is in Europe, Ford is bringing the car to the United States anyway. Good for Ford. The Merkur has the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe instead of the 2.8-liter V-6 that the Sierra (the European name for the car) has, but otherwise it’s identical to the overseas car. Other features include rear-wheel-drive, four-wheel independent suspension, standard air conditioning, five-speed transmission and power brakes and steering.

CHEVROLET ◆Cavalier Z24



Not only will the Cavalier look more potent with the Z24 trim, but it will also have an optional 2.8-liter V-6 engine that puts out 145 horsepower. Flared rocker panels and sporty trim will jazz up the outside. Chevrolet describes the instrumentation as “Star Wars,” and the car is intended to be a junior Camaro Z28. The Z24 will be available in the spring.

AMC/RENAULT Alliance Convertible



Following a sure-fire formula for sportiness, AMC has chopped the roof off its very successful Alliance and made larger 1.7-liter engines available for both the Alliance sedan and the Encore hatchback. The new ragtop is raised and lowered electrically, and wind noise is low with the roof up or down. The faster engine brings the performance of the small Renaults up to par with the best of economy cars.

MITSUBISHI Mirage Turbo



Replacing the outer skin of the Colt Turbo, which was sold last year by Chrysler, with new, sleeker sheet metal took nothing away from the speedy soul of this car. A welcome change in the suspension makes the 102-horsepower lightweight engine easier to handle, yet leaves it just as much fun. It will sell at Mitsubishi dealers for $7,700, which qualifies it as the bargain of the year. Chrysler will also sell the car as a Colt.

DODGE Shelby TurboCharger



Longtime racer and car builder Carroll Shelby has taken Dodge’s small, plain sport coupes and transformed them into 100 percent fun cars. The Chrysler 2.2-liter turbo engine is now available in the Shelby Charger, a car with plenty of good handling to keep up with the 150-horsepower engine. A bulge on the hood distinguishes the TurboCharger from normally aspirated Chargers.