Here's evidence that the Malaise Era really did persist until 1983; after the relentless inflation, oil crises, and general economic gloom of the previous ten years, 8.8% interest on a car loan sounded incredibly good.
The only problem with this deal, of course, was the car itself. By 1983, the early GM J Body (Cavalier, Cimarron, etc.) had already made a name for itself as an all-around miserable car, with reliability problems that made owners wish that Fiat would rethink its retreat from the American marketplace. But hey, a new car for cheap!