SDEtv / The Cars: The Elektra Years 1978-1987 six-CD box set

Screenshot 2016-03-13 17.37.12

In this unboxing video, SDE Editor Paul Sinclair takes a look at The Cars Elektra Years 1978-1987 box set which came out on Friday…

The Elektra Years 1978-1987 is out now as a six-CD set. A coloured vinyl box is also coming in June.


The Elektra Years 1978-1987 6CD box set


The Elektra Years 1978-1987 6LP coloured vinyl box


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Must say, the logic behind these budget box sets totally eludes me. This was a band that had a full CD’s worth of rarities and unissued tracks — from their debut album! Why not a 7th disc of bonus tracks from the whole era? I bet that CD alone would double the number of sets sold. Alas, I’m taking a pass.

Tino Stabile

I am a Cars fan and have been waiting to have all of their albums. I have their incredible first album and enjoyed it as a teenager on vinyl as well as Panorama. To have them all together in one fell swoop is quite a thrill. I have preordered mine and should get it this week. The fact that Ric Ocasek has overseen the remastering of all the material and that David Robinson (Cars drummer) has overseen the album covers for he was the one who designed them at the very beginning gives enough creedence and kudos to the Cars management. So I have no qualms on the fact that the box is very minimalistic in nature. It has a glossy finish and the albums are vinyl replica covers. Thanks Paul for the great unboxing video. Just what I needed.



…just got my set from Amazon.co.uk. I notice a footnote on the insert “The Heartbeat City cover presented with its originally intended white border”. And I do appreciate the inclusion of cards replicating the inner sleeve art. It’s a nice step up from the super bare-bones of the Classic Album Series.

Donald Jones

It’s a bare bones release to be sure. However, it’s all it needs to be. All six of their albums in matching packaging and what I consider to be dramatically improved sound. I’ve heard things in the background of several songs that I never noticed before. I’ve waited so long for this that I feel like if I say one slightly negative thing Ric Ocasek is going to show up at my door and take it back. But, I’m old and I can’t read the print on the inner album sheets for each album. Why so small? As far as bonus tracks, the two disc set “Just What I Needed” from 1995, I believe, has them. It would be nice to have them here and some of the remixes as well, but I am very pleased with this overall. The price is so low it’s ridiculous.


Well, after listening to 13 songs from this set back to back with their Just What I Needed counterparts, I can say that there’s really not much difference between the two. The ones in the new set are maybe a tick louder, but overall there are no major improvements.

Of the 13 songs I listened to, only two sounded appreciably different. The drum fills in the second half of “Dangerous “Type” don’t stand out as much, and this is actually a good thing; to me they sound unnaturally loud on JWIN. And “Cruiser” sounded just a bit sharper overall than the JWIN version.

Overall, I was not impressed with the mix on either version of these songs, and the remastering on either wasn’t able to overcome that. They sound fine, but not terrific, and there’s no reason to “upgrade” to this set if you already own the music.


Technically an “unboxing and reboxing” video, haha.

As the owner of the 5-CD Original Album Series box, this one isn’t very tempting for me, except for the nice clamshell case, and the gatefold Heartbeat City sleeve. If they were to release that as a standalone budget title, like the recent Van Morrisons, I’d possibly get that one. The prospect of suspect remastering also doesn’t fill me with confidence. The old CDs are quiet, but that’s what the volume button/dial is for!


As to the border color on the Heartbeat City cover, for once I agree with the record company. I’m sure the decades of familiarity are biasing my opinion, but the white border version is somewhat lacking. Too bad about the remastering; good thing I’ve still got my original LPs – although considering how frequently they were played on really cheap turntables, the new CDs might still sound better.


If you like qualitative reissues, try to get hold of the 6x Japanese Mini LP CDs from a few years ago. Very nice replicas…

There have been even two different Disk Union boxes to store them in!

cory eling

Very nice packaging agreed, but that’s where it ends
Massive clipping on them, absolute ear bleeders


This was a perfect buy for me. I only had the 2CD version of the debut album and the Rhino 2CD box, so to get the rest of the albums for decent money worked out well. They really should include a magnifying glass for the lyrics, though.

I spent the weekend listening to these in the car (ha!) and they sounded fine. Ric Ocasek oversaw the remastering, and a neighbor of mine who is friends with Greg Hawkes reports that he (Greg) is happy with the sound as well. Not definitive, for sure, but opinions that probably should count for more than mine.

I’d be happy to compare the new versions of songs I’m familiar with the older CD releases on my main home system and report back. (The only vinyl Cars I ever heard was my dad’s copy of Shake It Up, and I haven’t heard that in decades, so I can’t really compare it to that.) Compression and peak limiting are not “automatic bad” if they’re done judiciously. Are there any songs that feel particularly “robbed of dynamics” that I should look out for?

I’ll say this: I had never heard all of Door To Door before, and that one sounded a little squished, even in the car, but I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to sound that way or not. Some “interesting” (some would say “dated”) production choices on that one might have contributed to its overall sound even prior to remastering.


A mere 2 degrees of separation for you with Mr. Hawkes! Nice!

By chance has your neighbor heard anything about perhaps/hopefully a new Cars album anytime soon?


Haven’t heard anything about new Cars material, sorry.


Received mine on Friday and have been enjoying playing it all weekend. As a casual fan who only owned the single disk “best of” it made this great value package a no brainer for me. Agree that the cardboard sleeves aren’t the best style of packaging, but it’s nice to have the lyric inserts, even if I will need a magnifying glass to read them. Why didn’t they think to include one in the box, ha-ha?


The sound quality isn’t anything spectacular and no bonus tracks.

Wayne Klein

The remastering is not what I would term “a pretty good job” . It’s not the best — it’s compressed with peak limiting applied. If you’re listening on a small system, boom box, etc. it sounds fine but it is robbed of a large amount of the dynamics that made their music so memorable.

Mike C.

Fine Time is missing a synth sound in the beginning that is quite evident in the older CD. Not a deal breaker but it makes me nervous about what else may be missing.


£17.99 on base.com £4 cheaper than Amazon.


I recall reading somewhere that there is an explanation for Heartbeat City’s white border on the insert. Something along the lines of being the originally intended color.

Wayne Klein

The gatefold was changed for the original release and it was changed without the band’s permission when the original vinyl was released back in the day. This time they got the label to release it as it was originally intended.

Todd R.

Um… well….
I love the Cars music, and for far too long it’s been a shambles of a discography. Thankfully this box (and the similar card style efforts of some of the discount box series before it) does a decent job. The paper in-sleeves do in-fact attempt to replicate the vinyl inner sleeves from the original release – kudos to that.
Great for those that want the music badly enough – but not a completists set to be sure. No expanded first album, no bonus tracks, live recordings, or anything from the reunion album a few years back (non-Electra years of course).


I preordered this from the amazon.co.uk site for £15.02. Only downside is it will take 2 weeks to arrive here in the USA. Lol.

Auntie Sabrina

£22 on Amazon.co.uk. Not a big fan of card sleeves myself, but 6 discs seems very good value.

Can only name 2 of the Cars singles – Best Friends Girl and Drive.

Great to be abke to see the CDs before anyone buys them, thanks for that. Why don’t Amazon do that too…