For some, the so-called Malaise era, loosely defined as the automotive period between 1973 and 1983, was an irredeemably dark time in American automotive record. As a outcome, few cars from the time are celebrated and many have even been forgotten–though, to be fair , not a great number those vehicles survive today. But as we careen towards the 1970 s’ golden anniversary, we think it’s high time unsung classics from the era were treated with a little more respect( or at least a little less disdain ). Let’s begin with this, the Oldsmobile Starfire.
Prepare yourself, here is everything you never knew you wanted to know about the 1975-1980 Starfire.
Reviving the Starfire name, which was last used on a 1960 s two-door Oldsmobile, the malaise-y Oldsmobile was a badge-engineered version of the Chevrolet Monza. Unlike the Monza, which was offered in a number of different body modes, the Starfire was sold exclusively as a two-door, 2+2 hatchback. The Starfire received a unique grille and Oldsmobile badges, but otherwise it was practically identical to the Monza. So, if you’ve never heard of it( like this author) but think it seems vaguely familiar, that’s probably why.
The example portrait here( which is for sale on Facebook Marketplace) is an even more obscure Starfire Mirage–which, according to Google, was never officially a thing. At least , not the government officials General Motor thing. Instead, the Chevy Monza offered a Mirage body kit available as a dealer-installed option, but it’s unclear if Oldsmobile ever offered the same thing for the Starfire. Apparently, some dealerships did, as the dealer( who’s the second owner) says his car was originally acquired from Gil Lieber Buick-Oldsmobile in Ashtabula, Ohio, with the Monza’s Mirage body kit installed, plus the sweet Harvest Gold graphics. Again, given that the Oldsmobile shared its bodywork with the Chevy Monza, it hardly bends credulity to imagine that the Mirage package induced its path onto some Starfires back in the day.
The Starfire in these photos also features the optional 305 -cubic-inch( 5.0 -liter) V-8, available from 1977 to 1979. Though it’s now infamous for its power-choking emissions equipment, the 305 V-8 likely was a decent upgrade over the base “Iron Duke” four-cylinder and 3.8 -liter V-6 that was also available. Oldsmobile even offered a five-speed manual transmission on the Starfire from 1976 to 1979, though this example comes with a four-speed manual. We’re willing to look past that minor shortcoming for its glorious red-on-red-on-red interior.
Another cool Starfire that was officially offered by Oldsmobile? The 1978 Firenza package, which included a special “rallye” suspension, unique front valance, rear spoiler, fender flares, athletic wheels, and special two-tone paint and graphics. Apart from a Monza IMSA race car, the Starfire Firenza might be the coolest-looking H-Body hatch ever made.
If you’ve induced it this far, we hope we’ve instilled in you a newfound appreciation for this lesser-known artifact from GM’s badge-engineering past. We’d love to see more of them get the same enjoy this two-owner survivor has received.
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