Special Report

Iconic Car Prices Then and Now

Sam Stebbins

11. E-Class
> Make: Mercedes-Benz
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$26,359
> 1980 price: $26,466
> 2014 price: $52,825

Though not officially named E-Class until the early 1990s, this group of Mercedes-Benz vehicles had already been sold in the United States for decades. In 1980, a new Mercedes 280E cost $26,466. By 2014, the comparable E-Class model sold for less than $53,000. The inflation adjusted price, however, was significantly higher 35 years ago than it was last year. In 1980, the Mercedes 280E cost was about $76,000 in real dollars.

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12. 3 Series
> Make: BMW
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$22,090
> 1980 price: $11,810
> 2014 price: $33,900

The 3 Series is BMW’s entry level luxury sedan. In 1980, three years after its introduction to the U.S. market, a BMW 3 Series cost $11,810. Back then, the 320i had an engine that only produced 100 horsepower. These days, the 320i comes standard with 180 horsepower, though upgrade packages for the 3 Series range up to 300 horsepower. Last year, BMW sold its base model 3 Series, the 320i Sedan, for $33,900, over $22,000 more than the same vehicle cost 34 years prior.

13. Regal
> Make: Buick
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$21,707
> 1980 price: $7,228
> 2014 price: $28,935

In 1980, Buick sold new Regals for $7,228. Last year, a new Regal went for $28,935 — a 300% increase. The price was not the only difference between the 1980 and the 2014 Regals. After halting production in 2004, Buick reintroduced the Regal in 2011. The newest generation was a modernized interpretation of its rather antiquated predecessor. However, the vehicle’s modern style and amenities were not enough to garner a steady following. Buick sold less than 23,000 Regals last year in the United States, which was roughly half the number of units it sold in 2011.

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14. Challenger
> Make: Dodge
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$20,988
> 1980 price: $6,502
> 2014 price: $27,490

Introduced in 1969, the Challenger was taken out of production after just five years on the market. Reintroduced in 1978, the second generation Challenger was not quite the muscle car its predecessor had been. The new Challenger, made by Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) was a less powerful coupe that had a price tag of $6,502 in 1980. Dodge halted production of the Challenger again in 1983. However, in 2008, Dodge brought the Challenger back — once again as a muscle car. In 2014, a new Challenger cost $27,490, nearly $21,000 more than it did 34 years earlier.

15. Impala
> Make: Chevrolet
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$20,417
> 1980 price: $7,253
> 2014 price: $27,670

Introduced to American motorists in 1957, the Impala has gone in and out of production multiple times since. Chevy halted production of the full-size sedan in 1985 and again in 1996. The car was reintroduced to the market in 1999 and has remained in production ever since. Over the decades, the price of the car has gone up significantly. Costing just $7,253 in 1980, a new Impala had a price tag of $27,670 in 2014. Out of the vehicles that were in production in both 1980 and 2014, the Impala is one of the most popular. Chevy sold more than 140,000 Impalas last year.