Three Decades Apart 1986: Then Vs. Now

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the 80s? Is it the parachute pants or the fingerless gloves? Maybe it’s the first computer you bought, cable TV or Atari. Whatever it may be, there is no shortage of history and culture to pull from.


Thirty years ago, most of the cars on the road were domestic made and were frequently serviced at dealerships opposed to the thousands of service shops we use today. There were far fewer oil filter and air filter applications and the weight of oil was much heavier. Today, there are over 100 different oil and air filters available on the market, making the one-size-fits-all mentality obsolete in the service industry these days.

How old is your car? In the mid ‘80s the average age of vehicles was 7.6 years compared to 11.5 years today. Now, cars are built to exceed 200,000 miles, due to many technological advancements. When a customer sees a light come on their dashboard, they know it’s time to get their vehicle serviced. These reminders for regular maintenance, coupled with the advancement of better oil, fuel and customized parts, along with the knowledge and experience that you bring to the customers, have significantly lengthened our vehicles’ life expectancy.

Cost of Living

The cost of everyday items, as one would imagine, has changed drastically as well. The average cost for a gallon of gas in 1986 was $0.93 compared to 2012’s $3.60 and 2016’s predicted average of about $2.28. The recent oil bust caused gas prices to plummet and cost thousands of people their jobs. Expect the overall economy to improve once gas prices level out.

If you’re a home owner, you know the process of buying a house is not only expensive, but very time consuming. Anyone want to take a guess at the cost of new house in 1986? The average cost of a new house was a mere $89,430 compared to today’s stifling $301,400, according to That’s literally the difference of a brand new Lamborghini or a Bentley. It’s hard to believe only three decades can bring about such drastic changes. A few additional figures relevant to 1986 include a yearly median income per household of approximately $23,457, compared to today’s estimated $54,310. Surprisingly, the average price for a new car was only $9,255, compared to today’s $33,560. The most purchased car was the Ford Escort, with 1,607,999 registered in 1986. The tables have certainly turned, with Ford F-series trucks coming in as the most popular to date.


The entertainment world was booming in the ‘80s, and in 1986, the first ever musicians were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. I can’t imagine a world without music, so it’s a good thing millions of songs can be accessed with the touch of a button. Shows like “Star Search”, “American Idol” and “The Voice” created a world where anyone can be heard and America has the vote. The inductees for the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been released as follows: Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, NWA and Steve Miller. The jury is still out on whether or not Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus will make it into the Hall of Fame.

Onto the big screen. What was your favorite movie from 1986 — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Platoon” or “Crocodile Dundee?” The highest grossing film of 1986 was “Top Gun,” bringing in more than $8 million in its opening weekend.

Time shows that we stay true to the classics — and we love comic books. The top three highest grossing films of 2016 are projected to be “Captain America: Civil War,” followed by “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” We’ll soon find out if these predictions prove to be true.


Anyone up for a sports quiz? Who won the Super Bowl in 1986? I’ll give you a moment to think while we discuss other sports-related news. Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters, and the Montreal Canadians were the 1986 Stanley Cup champs. Argentina beat Germany 3-2 in the World Cup, and Ferdinand won the Kentucky Derby. Surprisingly, Ferdinand was sent to slaughter in Japan in 2002, likely becoming pet food or something of the like. His death brought about the Ferdinand Fee, a donation program to keep old race horses alive. Way to go Ferdinand! In less somber news, the New York Mets won the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox in 7 games. OK, OK, I won’t make you wait any longer. If you guessed the Chicago Bears won the Super bowl in ‘86, you’d be correct. They beat the New England Patriots by a stifling 36 points with a final score of 46 to 10. The NFL adopted the instant replay rule that same year, as well.

Who doesn’t love an underdog victory? Unless you’re a Cam Newton fan. This year the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24 to 10, giving Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl win before announcing his retirement a few months later. Also in 2016, Danny Willett, the first Englishman in 20 years, won the Masters over 22-year-old prodigy Jordan Spieth. Spieth had hoped to join formerly mentioned Jack Nicklaus as one of the few to win two green jackets in consecutive years. As the season unfolds, the World Series pick is Royals over Cubs with the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners and every other team in the American League in the running according to Basketball player Kobe Bryant will retire at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season after playing 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers.


Other historical markers of 1986 include the devastating nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and the American space shuttle Challenger exploding in midair just seconds after liftoff. The explosion put an immediate halt to all astronaut space travel for more than two years. Experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first nonstop, round-the-world flight without refueling. Also in 1986, smoking on public transportation was banned, Microsoft had its initial public offering and the U.S. national debt hit $2 billion. Other random facts: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” debuted; Balderdash, a bluffing word game, was one of the most popular gifts; and a 95-year-old woman scored a hole-in-one on a Florida golf course.

Shall we predict what the 2016 historical markers will be? The presidential race is sure to produce one of them with likely billionaire businessman Donald Trump or former First Lady Hillary Clinton predicted to take Pennsylvania Avenue. Ever since “the cloud” became a thing, the government has been snooping around and requesting people’s personal information from tech companies without the individuals knowing about it. The tides have turned. Apple recently turned down the government’s request to hack into a terrorist’s phone and Microsoft sued the justice department saying, surely these requests are infringing on our constitutional rights. Both of these instances are sure to find their way into history books.

National Oil & Lube News

When this publication began in 1986, it was a simple four-page newspaper. In 1998, it turned into an atlas-sized publication and received its final face-lift in 2003, which reflects the current magazine style you see today. The logo itself has changed colors many times as well. It’s incredible to think that what began as a small piece of print is now internationally distributed. National Oil & Lube News today, maintains a sleek website, a blog and a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. What began with a staff of three has grown to nine full-time employees, one intern and monthly contributing writers. In short, a much larger staff working around the clock to ensure our advertisers and shops are well represented in today’s ever-growing market. If you haven’t already, look for us at the shows. We’d enjoy meeting you and hearing your feedback.

Overall the ‘80s were extremely eventful and brought about many revolutionary changes that have helped form our current perspective. I conclude by giving a toast to the decade. To the ‘80s: we look upon you fondly for all that you brought with you. We will always remember your contribution to cinema, entertainment, world news and technology. The Atari was cool, but we’ll keep the Xbox One.