Special Report

Iconic Car Prices Then and Now

Sam Stebbins

6. 7 Series
> Make: BMW
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$46,005
> 1980 price: $28,945
> 2014 price: $74,950

BMW’s 7 Series line of full-size luxury sedans is now in its fifth generation, with the sixth scheduled to hit dealers’ lots in soon. Thirty-five years ago, a new 4-door BMW 733i went for $28,945. Last year, a comparable 7 Series cost $74,950, or roughly $46,000 more. The inflation-adjusted price of the 1980 7-series was $8,200 cheaper.

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7. 6 Series
> Make: BMW
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$43,525
> 1980 price: $32,825
> 2014 price: $76,350

First introduced to the U.S. market in 1976, the BMW 6 Series was a solid option for those interested in buying a luxury 2-door sedan. The car was produced for over a decade. After a 14-year hiatus, the car was reintroduced in 2003 and is now available in 4-door and convertible models. Even though the price tag of a BMW 6 Series was much higher in 2014 than it was in 1980, the actual cost of the vehicle after adjusting for inflation has dropped significantly. In real dollars, a 6 Series Coupe cost $94,306 in 1980, almost $18,000 more than the 2014 cost of a new 6 Series Coup.

8. Corvette
> Make: Chevrolet
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$39,301
> 1980 price: $14,694
> 2014 price: $53,995

Since its introduction to the American market in 1953, the Corvette, made by GM (NYSE: GM) has been continuously produced and sold every year without interruption. While the Corvette has kept its name and much of its styling over the course of 62 years, much has also changed. The original sports car came with 150 horsepower, less than a third of the 460 horsepower of the 2014 Corvette. The vehicle’s price has also changed dramatically. A new 1980 Corvette cost nearly $15,000 in 1980, while in 2014 the price tag was nearly $54,000 — a 267% increase.

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9. Suburban
> Make: Chevrolet
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$38,907
> 1980 price: $8,388
> 2014 price: $47,295

A new Suburban cost $8,388 in 1980. In the 35 years since, both the vehicle and its price have changed significantly. Chevrolet drastically redesigned the SUV in 1981, making it more aerodynamic and 300 pounds lighter. By 2008, all Suburbans came standard with side curtain airbags and updated interiors. These changes came with a higher price tag. In 2014, a new Suburban cost $47,295 — nearly $39,000 more than in 1980. Despite changes in cost and quality, the Suburban has remained one of the most popular SUVs in America since it was first sold in 1933.

10. 5 Series
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$30,300
> Make: BMW
> 1980 price: $20,150
> 2014 price: $50,450

At $50,450, a BMW 5 Series cost over $30,000 more in 2014 than it did in 1980, when a new 5 Series went for $20,150. After accounting for inflation, however, the luxury vehicle was about $7,400 cheaper last year than it was 1980. According to Fleming, many luxury automakers have sought to make some models more affordable. This may be the reason the price of the 5 Series has fallen over time.