The King of Badge-Engineering, and Proud of It

In a nutshell, that was General Motors for 1985.

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Today, the only valid reason for somebody to drive one of GM's front-wheel drive N-cars would be that a crafty neighbor driving up with a gutted rolling chassis, thus creating a true Superleggera. But the situation in 1984 was very different, in the sense that people were willing to pay real money for GM's latest offerings.

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Some featured advanced features like a semi-independent suspension at the rear, a five-speed manual from Isuzu, a Buick-designed, optional 3.0 V6 with multiport fuel injection, and a digital dash that also cost you extra. Further great news included that the Iron Duke four-cylinder was renamed Tech 4, aimed at fans of the base trim.

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FlickrGeneral Motors via Alden Jewell

While the N platform was only available with a two-door notchback body for 1985, GM gave you three variants to choose from: The Pontiac Grand Am if you were an import-oriented buyer, the Buick Somerset Regal if you were all about that computer-age luxury vane, and the Oldsmobile Calais, if you were simply an old person looking for new thrills.

And talk about being old, the 1985 Chevrolet Caprice! Just in case GM's N-line wasn't big and rear-wheel drive enough for your needs, "the General" had a complete fleet coming to your rescue. Parisian, La Sabre, Delta 88, Cutlass 422, Bonneville, Grand Am, Monte Carlo, and the best-selling Cutlass Supreme, of course.

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FlickrGeneral Motors via Alden Jewell

If decade-old rear-wheel drive hatchbacks were your thing, the Chevette and the Pontiac 1000 were still around to satisfy your desires. Along with a bunch of front-wheel drive compacts, courtesy of Suzuki, Isuzu and Toyota. Like the "ultra-high milage" Chevy Sprint on the West Coast, and the Chevy Spectrum on the East. But let's not forget that those looking for real domestic breeds also had the Chevrolet Cavalier, the Oldsmobile Firenza, the Buick Skyhawk and Pontiac Sunbird waiting for them at GM's dealer network. Some of which with not one, but two extra cylinders!

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X marked the Buick Skylark and the Chevrolet Citation. The X11 turned the platform to Spinal Tap levels, no doubt. And if you've lost track in this front-wheel drive wilderness already, let's just say that the A-body was also available with a Euro Sport package, despite being neither of those things.

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Poise and finesse in one package, from Pontiac.
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C beats A in the automotive world, so if you wanted the full-size front-wheel drive luxury treatment, that's the platform you went for. The Tornado and the Riviera were so huge within the line that GM felt no need for upgrades there. Expect for a limited edition, cathode-based touchscreen that felt bulletproof right off the drawing board. But hey, Riviera meant you got a factory-installed phone in white, the color of your favorite things.

But let's get serious and talk Corvette '85. Tuned port injection! That's right. 230 horses from a 5.7 V8. GM also threw in bolder graphics for the all-electric dash, and reduced spring rates for those older gentlemen. "No apparent compromise in handling!"

And if you rock, so will your Camaro, getting the same "boost without turbo" intake as the Corvette. 215 horsepower in IROC-Z trim, positioned above the Z28. The Pontiac Firebird, aka K.I.T.T. also got upgrades for 1985, but honestly, who cared when the V6 Fiero was finally ready to hit the market? Not even David Hasselhoff.

Van fans got the Astro, while Cadillac made sure that "front-wheel drive luxury will never be the same," introducing the Fleetwood Coupé and the stretched 75 Limousine. Oh, and the V6 Cimarron. We mustn't forget about that. While for the real conservatives, there was the trio of the Seville, the Eldorado and the Fleetwood Brougham. Frankly, the Eldorado ragtop must have been hard to beat.


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