1982 - Turbo time and now playing in premier league
The next year was carefully planned and another “firework”. CMT decided to open it on new year’s eve with a BANG and show a new Donnington. While the affordable and rather simple 3-liter model was still kept, the turbo passed away last year. The new turbo model was a lot more set apart upwards and differed a lot, although the looks were still the same as CMT had only one designer left and the car was not considered looking outdated.
C.M. Thandor was still the companys president, and his job was talking to the press, visiting dealers and consulting his son in leading the company. Nothing too stressful for the old man, but allowing him for keeping influence. In April 1980 he saw a brand-new Horch Quadra in action, an AWD beast with five-cylinder turbo, that challenged him in his Regent GT. Although being an old man, he was still a skilled and courageous driver and accepted the duel. The already very capable personal luxury car with an engine twice as large was no match against the Quadra, so old Thandor asked one of his employees to buy one secretly to find out what is so good about it. But - the delivery time was one year as grandpa Thandor was not the first one who found out the Quadra was an impressive machine. But he underrated his wife. Mrs. Theodora Thandor, an attractive old lady with a warm smile, had a Horch sales manager in her senior sports club and after a few bottles of vine, they agreed to share a taxi to get to their homes, while the granny secretly stole the keys of the Quadra and passed them to a CMT factory worker. As the Horch sales manager had a painful hangover, he had no interest in taking home his car. The following day the Quadra was back in its parking spot and the keys were reported to be found at the bar, he must have lost them…
CMT found out that the car was an AWD five-cylinder turbo - an unusual layout, but obviously effective. C.M. Thandor told his son Jack: “Let’s build this, but better.” “Better?” “Yes, load it with the newest innovations no matter what the costs are. Nobody beats a CMT!”
Klaus Holtmann, just back from Tanaka, recieved an unlimited budget and free descisions. Jack Thandor knew that man was difficult to work with, but he was a genius if you let him to what he wanted. The AI525-82T was a masterpiece recieving countless engine awards, being the most innovative hightech engine in mass produced cars. It was made of aluminum with a displacement of 2498 ccm, featured a DOHC layout and four valves per cylinder as well as a ball-beared turbo that was perfectly balanced between punch and drivability and power and economy. In addition Holtmann, who was hyped for electronics in his Tanaka time, developed an improvement of the Computronic, the MCT, the Multi-Computronic with one throttle per cylinder, an MPI and no longer an SPI. The result were impressive 215 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 300 nm @ 3000 rpm, the redline was set at impressive 6700 rpm, as pistons and conrods were forged. Even more surprising was the fact that it was able to run on regular fuel to be sold worldwide in all regions.
The Donnington itself lost its back seats in favor of a large compartment for bags or other goods and recieved a new premium interior and a solid standard 8-track radio. The rear discs were vented now, and the next innovation was an AWD system with a 55/45 power distribution adapted to the cars weight balance and featured an in-gearbox differential. The variable power steering rounded off the impressive package. AWD and the AI525-82T engine were marketed as “turbo4” to give the “quadra” name a direct opponent.
How did it drive? O V E R W H E L M I N G !!! It dashed to 100 in 5,8 seconds, reached 218 kph and that wit h only 10,2 liter average consumption. And the handling was the benchmark at that time, even a hint better than the Quadra that featured 200 horsepower and needed 7,1 seconds but managed to run 222 kph. The car was sold out even on the first day, market leader worldwide in the rage from light sport over track to sport and the premium market segment for them. Even in poor Dalluha it was sold with noticeable success as supercar. The $26.700 price was even lower than for a Quadra, which came $30.000.
CMT needed again a restructuration of the portfolio to meet the demand and dropped the Listra CL and GL, leaving only the offroad version alive and the Regent Oro and Landaulet that needed a lot resources to be produced were also sacrificed and their production ended in March.
The Regent flagship no longer featured the newest innovations and an L380 was a lot more modern than a Regent 4000i - a state not to be accepted by C.M. Thandor as the Regent was his baby. A makeover was not even in need, as all Regents sold without a serious fade since 1975.
No wonder the facelift of the Regent was done by the senior himself, but as he still liked it the changes on the exterior were minor. The headlights became slightly larger and lost their chrome frame, the cars recieved a chrome grille instead. The taillights had a similar shape but a different design. That was it.
Thandor senior wanted to replace the 3000i with the new five-cylinder turbo, but a prototype showed that the engine lacked refinement for a distinguished large premium sedan. While he figured out something else for the 3000i replacement, Thandor junior had an idea how to use the new five-cylinder turbo in the Regent:
The 2500tiS was a new entry level not aiming the typical premium and luxury buyers. Instead, the $29.100 car aimed for premium family (sport) buyers - to keep the car under 30.000, it came with RWD and not as “turbo4” model. It was tuned for slight oversteering and had a rather rough suspension, mainly attacking the WMB 7-series model. All chrome except for the window frame was removed and the bumpers were made of plastic to give it a sporty look. A five-speed manual pleased the engaged driving businessman, and an all-premium five-seat interior underlined that even further. The worldwide sales were good, it was even a relatively good-selling luxury car in poor Dalluha, but it was admired the most in Hetvesia where the public welcomened sportiness in large premium cars and even Jack Thandor himself was wondered about the excellent sales report from there. And it played an important role for Archana, as it was the only model of the new Regents capable to run on regular gas.
The standard equipment featured variable power steering, high quality cloth, central locks, armrests for front and rear, dimmable “intelligent” interior light with turnoff-delay, power windows and mirrors, orthopedic front seats and automatically-adapting wiper interval depending on the speed you drive. The available wood trims were pear, piano paint and acacia.
The performance was more than adequate for an entry-level car and kept what the sporty appeal promised: Impressive 6,9 seconds to 100, 207 kph and 12 liter consumption - and service costs below annual $1.000, the upper limit for family cars.
The sporty part of the former 3000i was now living in the 2500tiS, so there was no longer the need to build the six-cylinder entry model with manual transmission. The Regent 3000ti recieved the Digishift automatic and an upgraded all-luxury interior, even better than the former 4000i. The 8-track stereo had eight speakers, digital equalizer, automatic antenna and a sound computer for different sound effects like stadium, concert hall and others. Leather interior, trip computer, aircondition, four power adjustable and heated seats, headphone plugin in the rear and other goodies. The wood trim offered a selection between mahagoni, cherry, chestnut, walnut , lime or padouk as the end of the “Oro” forced CMT to offer further possibilities for individualization in the “normal” Regent models.
As the five-cylinder was not fitting the car’s approach, John Frieder proposed using his new 202 horsepower 3,8 liter V8. But C.M. Thandor insisted on a six cylinder model, but urged for a turbo as the car should conceal the lack of low-end power of the old 1965 engine design and have V8-like characteristics in daily driving. Why they did not use a V8 then will always be C.M. Thandors secret.
The CV630-6582T engine quickly thrown together featured a ball beared twin turbo, forged pistons and the MCT multipoint injection as well as twin throttles. The car needed premium fuel - Thandor senior was never fond of the Archanean market and thought the 2500tiS should be enough and designed the 3000ti for Gasmea, Hetvesia and Frunia.
The result was - as planned - an evenly characteristic, not punchy, very distinguished but no lackluster, delivering 339nm @ 3200 rpm and 210 horsepower @ 5600 rpm, redline was 6100 rpm. The car was definitely slower than the 2500tiS, as it needed 8 seconds to 100 and reached 202 kph with 15 liter consumption. That showed the engine’s age, but the stats were still noticeably better than in the former 3000i with less fancy trim. It even showed the Regent 4000i its new taillights. $30.100 show how much cheaper to produce the engine was despite the twin turbo, as the $29.100 tiS model hat by far less standard features and not even an automatic. Yes, the car was not as fun to drive as the tiS, but the comparison to the old 4000i showed that there is nothing wrong with it except the engine reliability that was still not bad but not as good as the usually very high CMT standards. Even the oversophisticated all-alloy five-cylinder was more reliable.
The sales did not care: If the old models did not fade, the new ones had to go even higher.
As result, the 3000ti mowed down all competitors worldwide, and CMT even had to erease the Regent GT to be able to produce enough cars. Dalluhas president even drove the Regent 3000ti, as it was the most popular premium luxury car there. You want proof: Gasmean premium 165,5 score @ 84,1 %; Hetvesian 172 @ 81%, Frunia 165,5 @ 78%. But that was not the top, as the Donnington turbo4 had scores of well above 200.
The V8 had the difficuld task to be even better. The Regent 4600i recieved the 263 horsepower AV846-81 engine, allowing for 7,4 seconds to 100 and 217 kph, but 18,7 liter consumption were a lot more than the tiS. But comfort wise, swapping from 2500tiS to 4600i was like going from a camp bed to a kingsize water bed. The 4600i was basically a 3000ti but added a cassette drive to the radio and an air suspension, as the hydropneumatic introduced in the Excelsior 70i back in 1967 was considered as too complex and killing sportiness.
The car was sold for $37.300 which was really a lot of money - but not too much considering the opponents, as a Perpedes-Glänz 500S was slower, a Molls-Boye a lot more expensive and an WMB 745 not as comfortable and Candyllac and Washington were cheaper but hat nowhere the sportiness and performance of the Regent. The facelifted models starting in March were really the most successful CMT cars ever produced, and leaving out Archana with the 3000ti and 4600i was not hurting anywhere.
Listening to the customers
Surveys and tests showed the Le Castellet was still not a part of the old iron, but more power and a calmer handling were on the wishlist.
As it would not have made sense to develop an engine only for one car (no matter how successful it is), CMT presented an updated Le Castellet in June 1982. The 210 horsepower from the CV630-6582T were 50 more, and the calm characteristic of the engine fitted the drivability of the car by far more than the punchy five-cylinder. A rear spoiler added some downforce, and a direct comparison to an early 1974 model showed that the car had improved by far. Not to go for the new five-cylinder turbo was also a clever choice marketing wise, as it helped to offer a totally different anthargonist to the Donnington turbo4, so there were few overlaps.
Finally the car really suited track use, as 6,18 seconds to 100 were really fast. 226 kph were still no real thumb up but finally more than 210 before. The consumption dropped from 14,4 to 12,7 liter. Premium gas was needed, and so the Le Castellet disappeared from the Archanean market. The sales in Gasmea, Hetvesia and Frunia were again more than excellent, almost as overwhelming as those of the Regent, and it also celebrated good sales as supercar in Dalluha, although $32.300 were hefty and nearlly $2000 service costs even horrific.
The Mix Car
A surprise was a new Astrona in August, as the current models were last upated in 1980. But again it was Horch that gave the kickoff. The Horch 8 quadra was a sedan with AWD and turbo - and CMT wanted to react. When the facelifted Astrona IVs rolled into the showrooms, CMT already started on the successor. It was totally mixed up in both styling and engineering, as communication in the company got lost as it grew fast and worked under maximum pressure.
The design was started by Gaetano Cembarelli who left in December 1980. He started with a wagon body and left some drafts to Marcus Thandor, another younger son of C.M. Thandor, who derived a sedan from it and accompanied the car until the early prototype stage in mid-1981. As CMT had not enough manpower in testing, Marcus Thandor was just kept in the prototype test area and got a new assignment there. Harold Keller took over on the Astrona V and finished it. So the car showed the handwriting of three people, and considering that the car still looked surprisingly consistent.
The exterior was all in all very conservative, especially compared to the avantgardistic predecessor. The Astrona IV is still loosely visible in the Astrona V wagons, as Cembarelli started with the Astrona wagon and made it edgier in his drafts. The front bumper vents with integrated indicators and foglights are clearly a Harold Keller feature, as it quoted the Excelsior 70 from 1972. The five door-shape was abandoned by Marcus Thandor as that design started to become completely uncommon again and a hatchback was making more sense in the Mantra-class compact cars. A conservative styling without innovation, not lighting up in the grey mass of midisze sedans, but wasn’t that their reciepe for success? The dimensions remained identical, but interior space slightly shrunk.
Technically, the car suffered worse from misscomunication and bad timing as the pressure to develop the car as fast as possible had been high. The first thing that was clear was that the car would remain FWD as the transformation from RWD to FWD in the Astrona IV turned out to be the right descision in the 4.5-meter-and-smaller midsize class. The RWD sedan marked was already occupied by the L-Class. Another descision was removing the rust-resistant panels to make the car cheaper and the fact that Astrona IVs lasted very long was not really dragging the customers back to the showrooms.
In late 1980 the engineering team tested a very early five-cylinder race-tuned engine in the car and complained that the MacPherson struts taken from the Astrona IV are more suitable for a car that has less power. The engine did not survive the test drive, they threw it out and continued testing with a 106-horsepower 2 liter four cylinder, but the change to double wishbone was approved. After that, an AWD system was tested with the two-liter-engine test car and also approved. In early 1981 it was stated that the car’s engine bay should accomodate “engines between four and six cylinders”. The engineers fitted a V6 in it and gave their OK. But they had put in a front wheel drive car…
When CMT wanted to test a turbo4 model in January 1982, Jack Thandor became furious with rage. Obviously, the change to double wishbone was made after an early I5 was tested. After that they built in a six-cylinder and thought as a 6 would be larger as a 5, the 5 would fit as well. But the V6 engine was more compact than the inline five and so… the engine did not fit in an FWD layout. And that meant an AWD system would also be impossible. But the existence of a turbo4 model that was not possible with the Astrona IV was the only reason why the whole car was built…
And the V6 turbo from the Regent that was tested as an alternative did not leave enough space for an AWD. As result, the Astrona V was damned to be a totally conservative FWD midsize sedan. And even that not as good as possible, as the engine had been mounted longitudinal, sacrificing interior space for the AWD system that never came…
Correspondingly joyless were the faces of the CMT responsibles at the public introduction party. At least the marketing team had done a good job and created a widely ranging trims, carefully distinguished from each other.
The CE was intended to catch the Mantra-promoters and cool calculators. As most simple sedans came in the 90-hp-range, it was fitted with an 1.8 delivering 92 horsepower with a single point injection. Mated to a four-speed and equipped with a standard interior with power steering, but no aircondition, only manual windows, no armrests but an RPM counter and a basic 8-track stereo, it was a balanced car for $16.200. A surprise were rear disc brakes as the public expected drums for the base trim. The performance was totally average as well, with an 0-100 time of 11,8 seconds and 171 kph top speed. 11,2 liter consumption were not really thrifty in the 90 horsepower class, but the car handled better than most competitors and ran on regular gas. In addition to that, the service costs were bearable. The sales were not overwhelming but not bad, as CMT was afraid that the car suited only for advertizing the price, but it sold ok, especially as fleet car.
The “real” Astrona started with the CL model.
Compared to the CE, it added a standard radio and a fifth gear as well as a two-liter engine. You could identify it by painted mirror caps. The 2.0 MFI with 106 horsepower changed to the 2.0 MPI with MCT computer-controlled injection and 115 horsepower. Meanwhile the trim level is not that large improvement, driving was a lot more fun, as the CE engine was quite effortless. The CL made the speedup to 100 in respectable 9,5 seconds and ran 184 kph - a benchmark in the two-liter class. The consumption of 11 liter was even slightly lower than in the CE. It had all features really needed, no affluence at all, and a decent handling with good power. The car sold good as affordable family sport sedan, as $17.000 were totally ok for it. The sevice costs were still not high, and the car was crowned “Best value for money choice for sport sedans” in Hetvesia.
CMT had the tradition that a really good trim level came with automatic transmission. As the Astrona V was aimed at sporty buyers, the GL still had a manual. The exterior looked more appealing with painted bumpers and foglamps and chrome grille frame, chrome window frame and a chrome frame for the taillights. The all-premium interior featured a good stereo, rear armrest, aircondition, front power windows, velours cloth, color glass, center locks and a little wood trim in the interior. The performance was still good with 9,9 seconds to 100, same top speed as the CL and almost the same 11,2 liter consumption. In Gasmea it was prized “The best buy family sport premium with a manual” as $18.600 were a sweet deal for it and in CMT’s new stronghold Hetvesia the car sold not only good but extremely good, in Frunia still very good.
Jack Thandor was well aware of the fact that for the still most important Gasmean market a car without an automatic transmission could never be a real success. The GLX model was therefore tailored for Gasmeans. It had the Digishift and also 115 horsepower - but coming from the 2.2 liter V6 known from the L220. Gasmeans hated four-cylinder engine sounds and the torque plus (173 nm @ 2700 rpm instead of 167 nm @ 3400 rpm in the four-cylinder) was another reason why to mount a larger, yet less economical engine.
Heavier weight in the front was also not helpful on a handling track, but the whole car was still sporty enough for Gasmeans, and the comfort was really excellent as the engine was smooth, the suspension soft yet nimble and the GL trim quite good, the GLX just added rear power windows and a variable power steering.
The car needed 11,8 seconds, a lot more compared to the GL, and 179 kph were maybe not really fast but on Gasmean highways you did not go over 130. The car was the aimed sucess for $20.400 not only in Gasmea but worldwide, and Archanas “Premium Car of the Year”. No wonder, as it was only $100 more expensive than the former “Astrona Exclusive” with the same engine, trim level and gearbox and it was faster and consumed 13,7 liter regular gas instead of 13,2. It outsold the $18.700 L220 by far, there was approx. one L220 for 14 Astrona GLX. The sales were almost as sensational than those of the Regent.
As the GLX was very affordable for a family premium, there was still enough space between the $20.400 GLX and the 24.700 L380 for a top-of-the-line Astrona. The Astrona 3.0 ELXt for $25.100 was even placed above the L380 as a “Regent light”, right in the middle between GLX and the Regent 3000ti ($30.100) and differing enough from the L380 not to cannibalize it that much.
It featured the biturbo 210 horsepower six-cylinder from the Regent 3000ti and added luxury interior that left no wish unfulfilled. While the L380 was a five-seater, the ELXt was a four-seater. On the exterior, it added chrome headlight frames and standard 16-inch alloy wheels. The performance was a benchmark in the family sport premium segment, as the car had 100 on the odometer after only 6,9 seconds. 216 kph were the maximum, and 13 liter were less consumption than the GLX. The car was another top-seller from CMT in Gasmea, as it aimed at those Gasmeans that feared the running and repair cost of a Regent but considered the L380 as too conventional. Every second family sport premium and premum car in Gasmea, Hetvesia and Frunia sold in 1982 and 1983 was a CMT!
Another highlight was a comparison of a Frunian TV show, where the ELX kept up quite good with luxury cars for over $30.000 including the Regent, showing how good the “messed up” Astrona V really was.
After such high rising it is time to get back to the bottom end. CMT offered two wagons, the Carry CE
and the Carry CLX. The wagons were 10cm longer and as said earlier they quoted a little their predecessors in the rear styling. The CE for $16.200 aimed mostly at families with a slightly lower to average income or craftsmen. It was the slowest Astrona, but really not underpowered with 12,1 seconds to 100 and 170 kph, and 11,3 liter consumption were only 0,1 more than the CE sedan. Gasmeans rather avoided it, but in Frunia and Hetvesia the car was no non-seller.
For those that want a slightly premium wagon, the CLX had an interesting mix of CL and GL. It had the CL exterior but painted bumpers and chrom grille of the GL, the premium interior of the GL but the standard radio from the CL and all that mated to an automatic transmission and variable steering from the GLX for $18.800.
The car was faster and thriftier than the GLX, showing that the old CV630-65 engine was really starting to become outdated. The CLX had the 100 kph after 11,2 seconds and managed 181 kph, and all that for only 11,7 liter, noticeably less than the GLX. The CLX sold a lot better than the CE wagon, becoming a popular family car in Gasmea and a really common family utility premium in the other regions.
Another brilliant car just for marketing
As CMT conquered the worldwide leadership in premium sedans, there was no further need for another car, but C.M. Thandor wanted to establish the “turbo4” badge just like Horch did with the “quadra”.
And as the Astrona V did not work due to the rather unorganized developement, he came with an L380 and just told the engineers “Do it!”
The L250ti turbo4 might be not really fitting the drivetrain on the first look, but it was interesting how the car performed alongside the L380. The L380 was definitely not a simple lowtech car, but looked like a hammer next to a sushi knife. The turbo AWD model was even more expensive, as it was offered for $25.600 starting in September 1982. C.M. Thandor wanted a manual for it just like in the Talladega, but his son finally convinced him that a manual might be better in general for the “turbo4” concept, but definitely not in the L-Class.
The performance was identical to the L380, but the consumption was only 12,2 liter compared to 16,4 in the L380 despite having AWD, again balanced to the car’s weight distribution with 52/48. But the lower consumption was cannibalized by the much higher price and the higher service expenses. But CMT understood that downsizing could be a way for the future. That car sold excellent as well, but it took away Astrona ELXt and Regent 2500tiS buyers. At least they still went for a CMT and the “turbo4” sign became even more popular.
Very unspectacular was the last model for such an outstanding year. As the Listra CL and GL were dropped in March, and in November 1976 only the remaining GL offroad appeared as new, facelifted car. As Harold Keller left in December to start a career as free artist, he just slapped the “Mantra-face” on the van, making it look consistent to Mantra, Bingo and Spedex. No surprise was the engine swap from the old 106 horsepower two-liter to the 115 hp one. The only other change was the variable steering to improve the rather low onroad drivability. The stronger engine also helped offroad to pass gradients, and onroad the car needed acceptable 11,9 seconds to 100 and made 168 kph if anyone wanted to to long highway journeys with offroad tires. The consumption remained stable at 14,4 liter. Gasmeans continued love it for $17.500 as an offroad car, and it still sold in Hetvesia and Frunia.