1987 - Another model offensive
The new brochure published in January left out two older CMT vehicles - the Le Castellet was finally cancelled after 13 years and two facelifts, the major one in 1982, and the Listra offroad van was no longer available for ordering, also having the last update in 1982.
The annual auto salon in March saw a gigantic CMT stand - the new company president Marcus Thandor proudly presented not less than 16 (!) new cars.
After seven years, the City III looked bland and the 1973 engine design was overtaken by some small car specialists like Daihatschi. Designer Yamaguchi gave the car a sportier look, relating to the front design of the Mantra and refreshing the rear as well. John Frieder developed a new generation of three-cylinder engines, basically by increasing the displacement marginally to 1,2 liter and by adding a new cylinder head with four valves per cylinder instead of three and changing the SPI to the more advanced and meanwhile common MPI system.
A converter had not been mounted, as the more advanced construction featured low emissions and the engine should remain cheap. The output were quite powerful 73 horsepower and 103 nm @3400 rpm.
The trims of the car had also been renewed.
What to tell? All City III models became a little safer and the suspension setup was improved for at least a little riding comfort.
The new base model was the LX, featuring a frugal basic interior with a basic stereo, and progressive springs, power steering or ABS were not even available at extra cost. That car allowed for no options, not even a passenger side mirror. But the $13.000 were real budget car range, and the performance was more than just basic: 11,8 seconds to 100 were quite fast for a budget car with three cylinders and a four-speed manual, and 154 kph top speed allowed for a secure ride on the highway, overtaking trucks with ease. 7,8 liter regular pleased the empty pockets of college students, single parents or seniors with a tight pension.
The DX trim for $14.100 was already noticeably less affordable, but came with a standard interior that added coolant gauge, foldable rear seats, glove compartment and a center console with ashtray and lighter as well as variable power steering and a passenger side mirror. While the top speed remained the same, the speedup to 100 was now done in 12,2 seconds. The consumption increased to 8,6 liter which was in no way economical anymore, but the comfort was a lot better compared to the LX.
The DX was also available with automatic, also featuring progressive springs for $14.900 which was already slowly starting to leave the budget segment. Drivability and comfort were very good for a mini car, and 13,1 seconds and 152 kph were better than almost all competitors with automatic. The 9 liter consumption were not such a big jump like from LX to DX.
Especially for Gasmeans, the EX which based on a DX Automatic added premium features and materials, such as rpm counter, power mirrors and front power windows as well as center locks. A standard cassette radio pleased the occupants as well as tinted window glass. An unique feature in this class was standard ABS. The ride comfort was excellent for its wheelbase, and 9,2 liter consumption beat most larger cars featuring a similar comfort. 13,9 seconds and 151 kph were a tribute to the rich trim, but still more than enough for city use. But $16.700 were rarely spent for a minicar outside Gasmea. It was a common sight in crowded areas like Liberty City, easily maneuvering through traffic jams and finding a parking spot almost everywhere.
The refreshed City was an immediate success, letting sales climb up sucessfully worldwide as the use of 91 RON fuel was possible in Archana. The Maxi and the three-door CS saw no return for 1987 as the Maxi took away buyers of the larger CMT family cars, so the City Maxi was blamed for the Mantra’s weakness. As the new engine made more fun, the need for a sport model was no longer urgent enough to justify a further production of the CS.
A completely new developement was the Hypro, intended to replace the Mantra, but finally sold alongside it. Yamaguchi gave it a slightly sporty styling, and indeed, it was more fun to drive than the Mantra that was still based on the 1971 Nexus platform. The hatchback was only 3,8 meter long, the sedan had a lenght of four meters - as the Mantra. The wagon was not much larger with 4,1 meter.
The aim was to attack the Bürgerfahrzeug Wolf and Appell Fähnrich once again, as the compact class had been a too important market to leave it to the competition. One main change compared to the Mantra was the use of the Astrona rear axle for better driving.
The Mantra City has never sold well, as the Mantra with a trunk that had been cut was of no interest for the customers, it was deleted for March 1987 in favor of the Hypro CE. CE - that meant pure entry-level. The car was equipped with the 73-horsepower inline three from the facelifted city, and that power was definitely sufficient for a base trim, as 12,3 seconds to 100 and 168 kph were well above the competitors in the 1200ccm class. 7,4 liter consumption were also a benchmark, surprisingly better than the smaller City III.
The five-seat interior was standard and not too simple, having glove compartment and center console, tray folds in the door panels, rev counter and other small things at no extra cost. Aiming at families, the car surprisingly featured standard central locks. The basic stereo was a little outdated though. The car came with a four-speed manual, and neither power steering nor ABS were available, but a 900kg car was also drivable without power steering. For $13.800 it was a good deal, and especially in Frunia the car sold quite ok, definitely a lot better than the Mantra City that was rolled into the Hall of Shame. The Hypro had low service cost and good reliability and quickly established.
A huge step up price wise for $16.400 was the CL. The five-door hatchback added variable power steering and a standard cassette radio. Power came from a new 1,6 liter variant of the well-known CAI420-76 engine, returning clean 93 horsepower thanks to a three-way converter. With the same four-speed manual as the CE (but a longer gearing), the accelleration did not change much with 11,6 seconds, but on the highway the four-cylinder set itself apart, archieving 181 kph, respectable for a 1.6 liter compact car. But 10 liter consumption showed that the four-cylinder engine is less advanced than the AI312-87 of the CE, although it wasn’t too much considering the converter and the better trim.
Gasmeans avoided it as it was not really comfortable for the price and more focussing on the sporty part, but for Frunians and Hetvesians it was definitely more successful than the Mantra, although a well-equipped Mantra GL with 115 horsepower was available for $16.600, only 200 more.
The typical Gasmean family car was a sedan with automatic, and therefore CMT changed the CL into the LS. Except the body and the transmission nothing was changed, but the $17.300 LS allowed for a direct comparison to the Mantra GL - the suspension was a lot better and more comfortable, the drivability noticeably better and the interior was a little more spacious. The LS accelerated in 12,5 seconds to 100 kp and went up to 183, and 10,2 liter consumption were low for Gasmean family cars.
The LS sold as planned and was among the most successful family cars, also great for commuting. Surprisingly, the LS was even more popular than the CL in Hetvesia and Frunia. In poor Archana the LS was considered as premium family car and became one of the market-leading cars.
Based on the LS CMT offered a Hypro LC, and the C stood for “carry” - the usual CMT wagon title. For $18.400 the LC added standard ABS, but otherwise it was nothing else than a more spacious LS with good utility. 12,8 seconds, 179 kph and 10,5 liter together with the higher price made it less popular in Frunia and Hetvesia where the price was considered not as expensive but not as a bargain, but in Gasmea the LC sold excellent.
As the better equipped cars always sold better for CMT, there was no surprise in offering a “LE” trim. Compared to the LS, it added a premium interior with high quality cloth, power windows for front and rear, ABS, a small wood bar on the dashboard and arount the gear lever as well as power windows. The standard cassette stereo remained the same. The exterior looked a lot more expensive with painted bumpers and mirrors and a lot of chrome trim.
The biggest change was under the hood, as the car came with a five-cylinder - totally unusual in the compact class and a standalone-feature. The engine was the same as in the Monza CS, so it had no converter, but 124 horsepower that propelled the car to 100 kph in 9,3 seconds and allowed for strong 196 kph. The complex engine altered the service costs, but the economy was great as the LE needed only 10,1 liter. Price: $21.500 - not a bargain, but the car was really good. Gasmean sales were strong, and also Hetvesia and Frunia saw quite a few of them driving around.
Propably the most stereotypical “Family sport” was the Hypro LT that shared only the shape with the ultra-reasonnable LS. The “power for money” rating would be A+++. The interior was the same as in the LE. From the exterior, the car was quite showy with two-tone paint, standard alloy wheels and grille in “satin black”. Painted door handles and a slightly lower ride underlined that this car is acutally not another pampers-carrier.
The car had only four seats, with front sport seats and a contoured rear bench and a five-speed manual. A turbo engine was not used, as CMT thought the potential buyers would not pay too much attention to driving it warm and cold as they should and the punch would definitely stress the driveshafts too much.
Instead of that, CMT took the brilliant 1982 turbo engine and removed the turbocharger while adding a three-way catalytic converter. 152 horsepower were left, and the 2.5 NA engine featured 205 nm @2600 rpm - enough for such a light and small vehicle. The 60/40 weight distribution was not really perfect, but the car was not made for the track but for showing a little of while the daily driving to work.
The tires were changed to medium compound to avoid wheelspin, and the front discs were upgraded to vented ones. The drums on the rear increased a little in its size to avoid fading.
For only $21.700 the car offered superb performance, needing only 7,6 seconds to 100 kph and going 220 kph on the highway. All that combined with a superbly low consumption of 10,2 liter made it an attractive package. The service cost with annualy $860 was a lot higher than in other Hypros, but quite affordable compared to other cars with a similar performance. The test track time of 2:35,29 showed that the Hypro chassis might not be a true sports car, but for what it was intended to be the car was just a really good one.
So the car sold with overwhelming success in the family sport range and the young people that wanted it could even get it by the bearable costs. For that reason, the Mantra-based Zandvoort which was offered for the same price was dropped after only four years.
Badge engineering was quite common since the 50s, and CMT finally realized that the large amounts of different models were quite expensive. As the really great success came in the early 80s, CMT was everything but poor, but it is never wrong to reduce cost.
The Mantra was just cheap, the Hypro affordable and sporty, but relatively small, the next L-Class grew dramatically in size and the Astrona was a sporty and quite premium sedan, CMT lacked a car in the 4,5-meter class. In early 1986, CMT joined the manufactor Maxton, but as their new Senator was almost done the related CMT hardly differed from its counterpart. The engines were CMT ones, the trims had different features and the interior featured gauges and steering wheel from the Astrona, switches and buttons from the Hypro and the one or other Mantra part like the gearknob - a colorful mix from other CMT sedans. Even some parts from the 1981+ L-Class were used.
The exterior was almost completely unchanged and so was the suspension that had a quite similar layout. The CMT Senator came in two trims, the CL and the nicer GLS. The intention was both to replace the unsucessful L220 and to offer a car more fitting for the Archanean market.
Both trims were RWD cars and used engines from the reliable CAI420-76 four-cylinder family and came with rust resistand chassis and panels - that car was quite sturdy. The suspension was a lot simpler than in most other CMTs, a front MacPherson strut and a rear solid axle on coil springs. The Senator was built to last and undemanding.
In the CL, you got quite a large car for your money, as the $20.500 vehicle had a length of 4,64 meter which is the size of the now-ending L-Class, it had four disc brakes and at least a standard interior with front power windows, power mirrors and central locks. The radio was also standard - nothing wrong so far. The engine was the 115 horsepower unit from the Astrona and Mantra, still without converter, mated to a four-speed automatic. On the other hand, the power steering was not variable and ABS was not even available at extra cost. The car accelerated in 11,7 seconds to 100 kph and allowed for 190 kph - a lot faster than the L220, but mediocre in every way, as well as the 11,5 liter consumption.
The GLS was a huge step upwards compared to the CL and aimed at those who considered the new L-Class as too progressive and too large and disliked the higher prices. The all-premium interior was designed for Gasmean taste with excesses of plush and plastic, the steering was variable and ABS standard and changed hard long-life tires to medium compound ones.
The engine was now the 136 horsepower turbo seen in Mantra, Astrona and Imola - with clean exhaust. The car was not that much faster, but 10,9 seconds acceleration and 205 kph top speed at 10,4 liter consumption were not bad considering the high trim level. $25.700 were lot for a car with simple engineering, but the trim was rich and the build quality high - a really premium budget.
The sales were a disappointment. The simple suspension killed driving fun almost completely which was double the pain as CMTs were usually known for good handling. But as the car aimed for conservative buyers that would usually go for another brand the simple but sturdy Maxton had been chosen for a reason.
The CL was as unpopular as the L220, only Gasmeans bought more than a handful of them, and in Archana it was at least no total flop. But Frunians saw it as a lemon.
The GLS worked in noticeable amounts, but the Astrona ELXt sold much better in the price range and was honestly the better car. A Senator GLS buyer was mostly over 65 years old, elected the conservative party and hated children, loud noise and told everybody that everything had been better in the past. But to be honest, Astrona buyers were definitely not as young as CMT wanted. The average Astrona buyer was 54… Another problem of the GLS was the urge for premium gas, so it was not sold in Archana. In 1990, the demand for the Senator dropped to almost zero, and instead of giving it a rework to make it more CMT-alike the car disappeared as quick as it came. Even today the car has no real fanbase and the prices for an used 1989 Senator CL in acceptable condition are lower than for a similar 1989 Hypro LS.
CMT dared a lot with the new L-Class. As the L-Class, with exception of the L220, still sold strong although a 1975 debut and only a 1981 rework, the chassis was kept and became only larger, but the layout was still the same. The size increased dramatically, as the wheelbase was extended from 2,65 to 2,93 meter and the length from 4,64 to 5,25 meter, getting very close to the size of the Regent.
The design from Yamaguchi was also a complete 180-degree-turn as the formerly Gasmean baroque had been given up for a very sleek and aerodynamic look, and critics called it the “CMT Whale” due to its shape and size. The giant rear overhang and the fastback-like styling were definitely something to discuss as well as the front without a real grille.
On the other hand, the interior space of that car was really gigantic, and it accomodated five full-size adults with ease, and the trunk space was enormous, even compared to the Regent that car felt like a yacht.
The L-Class moved away from midsize to fullsize, but instead of aiming the premium and luxury buyers it was adressed at Gasmean families, giving up the will to serve as a “world car”. The engine was nevertheless quite Frunian, as it was the complex five-cylinder instead of a simple six-cylinder like in most lower-end fullsize cars in Gasmea. The engine was “borrowed” from the Hypro LT, and 152 horsepower allowed for 9,9 seconds to 100 kph and 204 kph - that was beating most six-cylinder opponents, and 13 liter consumption were quite good for such a large car. Despite the Gasmean-spec emphasis it was available on all continents. The base model, the L25 GX, was yours for $24.300, only 400 less than for the previous-model L380i with a V8.
It came with the four-speed automatic, longlife tires, vented front brake discs (rear solid), a totally standard interior with four power windows, central locks, cruise control and cassette compartment below the stereo. Variable power steering and ABS as standard features made it very driveable. The suspension was not hard, but firmer as on most other fullsize cars in Gasmea, making it almost fun to drive for its huge size. The car entered the Gasmean market with acceptable sales despite it’s unusual looks. Some Hetvesians bought it as the contradiction between car and engine was unique, but Frunians avoided it. Archaneans accessed in the Family Sport Premium market in an acceptable amount. Not too bad overall.
The 380 model returned in the new L-Class, now featuring the catalytic converter engine from the Deliveroo. Alloy wheels were a nice feature. The interior was now premium, as it added leather, cruise control, aircondition and heated power front and rear seats as standard equipment. The contoured sport seats were similar to those in the Hypro LT, but larger and even more comfortable, resulting in the car being a four-seater. The standard cassette radio remained. The suspension was only a hint firmer in the rear, as the L25 setup was already not the softest. The power was exactly in the small gap between “enough” and “quite a lot”, speeding up to 100 in 8,7 seconds and running at maximum 226 kph. 14,6 liter were quite good for a large car with a V8. And $27.700 were not too much considering power, comfort and size, so it had good sales in Gasmea as family sport, and again a CMT was crowned “Archanas Premium Car of the Year”, being a surprising success there.
After march 1981, only the L250 turbo4, the L460 and the Talladega remained on sale. L220 and L380 were replaced by L250 GX and L380 SX.
The last new car for 1987 was the Canyonero, also a tribute to the Gasmean taste. The rugged Deliveroo was able to handle hard work, but trucks became more and more everyday cars. That meant: Good onroad drivability, four seats and low consumption were in the focus of midsize trucks.
The Canyonero looked a little like the Deliveroo in the front, but much sleeker and more aerodynamical, and from the part of the engineers the car was much more car-like, as it had a monocoque instead of a ladder frame, but the monocoque had been reinforced to be able to resist twisting, for example when driving with heavy load over bad terrain. The suspension layout is a copy of the CMT Senator, so are the rust-resistant panels. When the marketing thought of what Gasmeans want, they considered building a Senator pickup.
The 4,8 meter cars were always four-seaters, but aimed at different target groups.
The LE for $25.600 was something for traditionalists, featuring the 3.8 V8 like the Deliveroo, standard interior and radio like the Senator CL, automatic transmission (like the Senator…) and hard onroad tires instead of offroad tires. Variable steering was standard, ABS not. 8,6 seconds to 100 and 191 kph top speed were a lot for a medium truck, and so were 17,8 liter consumption. Sales were OK in Gasmea and still not too bad in Hetvesia, but Frunians completely avoided it.
A different car was the LS - it came with the 152-hp-five-cylinder like in the Hypro LT and L25. It had AWD instead of 4x4, the offroad clad was switched to a fully aerodynamical clad, and the car added both premium interor and radio as well as standard ABS. Due to the smaller engine, it was definitely slower, needing 10,4 seconds to 100 and reaching only 172 kph, but 14,3 liter consumption were better for everyday city use. The car was a real family utility premium, and that is what the people wanted, so it sold much better than the LE in Gasmea and was close to a success, although not a market leader. In Hetvesia and Frunia it was a very successful utility premium, as the Deliveroo turned out to be too “heavy duty” for the preferences of the buyers to have really good sales. $27.900 were really a lot of money for it, so Archaneans liked it but the affordability was too low to become a top-3 utility premium.
With four quite different truck models (Deliveroo base and SE, Canyonero LE and LS) CMT covered the truck market very effective, being a full-line-distributor and now in the top five of the largest car manufactors.