Buy/Drive/Burn: Economical American Compacts From 1982

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Our recent Rare Rides coverage of the Chevrolet Citation made one thing very clear: We need more Citation content. Today’s 1982 Buy/Drive/Burn lineup was suggested by commenter eng_alvarado90, who would like to see all of you struggle. Citation, Aries, Escort, all in their most utilitarian formats. Let’s go.

Chevrolet Citation

The Citation is in its third model year for 1982, and sales have already fallen far from their initial peak of 800,000. The bloom is off this rose, but GM is still on track for six-digit sales this year. Sticking firmly to economy and utility, today’s Citation is a five-door hatchback equipped with the 2.5-liter Iron Duke inline-four and paired to a four-speed manual. Throttle-body injection is new this year and means 90 horses are underfoot. There’s also a new horizontal slats grille.

Dodge Aries K

The Dodge Aries is still new and is in its second model year for 1982. Chrysler started out strong last year with over 300,000 sales, and will likely reach that number again in ’82. Today’s Aries is the four-door wagon, as Chrysler does not offer a hatchback K-car at this level. Underhood is the base 2.2-liter Chrysler inline-four, which uses a two-barrel carb. Eighty-four horses are at the driver’s command, shifted through a four-speed manual. New this year: rear windows roll down on sedans and wagons, replacing the fixed glass.

Ford Escort

Ford’s Escort is also in its second model year for 1982. The American market Escort was supposed to be very similar to the European one for parts sharing purposes. However the respective design teams each headed their own direction, and the two cars share only an engine and transmission. Today’s five-door Escort hatchback is new for ’82, along with a new grille and presence of the familiar Ford Blue Oval. The base 1.6-liter CVH engine gets a high output version this year, which increases power by about 10 horses, to 80. Power is delivered to the front via a four-speed Ford MTX manual.

Economy and cheap driving are available to you, and they’ll probably hold up for at least three years before falling apart. Which gets the Buy?

[Images: GM, Chrysler, Ford]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 51 comments
  • Hydromatic Hydromatic on Sep 11, 2021

    I'd go against B/D/B orthodoxy and buy a 1979 Chevy Nova. Used, yes. Likely to be more reliable and comfortable than any of the above-mentioned B/D/B fodder of the time? Most definitely.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Sep 11, 2021

    I'll take the bus, thanks Seriously, Drive the Citation because those who don't learn History are doomed to repeat it. Buy the K car. I was always partial to Lee Iacocca pointing at the camera in those ads doing the "If you can find a better car, buy it.". There were plenty of better cars for sure, but I respect that. Burn the Escort. My High School girlfriend had one of these crap boxes. Burn it.

  • Akear I am counting the days when Barra retires. She has been one long nightmare for GM. People don't realize the Malibu outsells all GM EVs combined.
  • Redapple2 you say; most car reviewers would place it behind the segment stalwarts from Honda and Toyota,........................... ME: Always so. Every single day since the Accord / Camry introduction.
  • Akear GM sells only 3000 Hummer EVs annually. It is probably the worst selling vehicle in GM history.
  • Amwhalbi I agree, Ajla. This is theory, not reality - hence my comment that Americans don't like hatchbacks. But one of my neighbors bought one of the last Regal hatchbacks that were available for sae, and it is a darn nice car. I still think the idea makes sense, even if history is proving me wrong. And my sister does have a Legacy, which rides a bit higher than my Sonata, and that also is an excellent driver. Even if the general public doesn't concur with me.
  • Hermaphroditolog The tycoons and Nazis hid the IMPLOSION ICEs and propagated the compression ICEs to consumers.GEET engines are more IMPLOSION than compression. Also the ICEs of the Shell-ecomarathon. Classic hot-bulb ICEs are more IMPLOSION than compression - Ford assembly lines do not accept to produce tractors with these simple ICEs.