Journal: How Do You Feel about the Eighties?

How Do You Feel about the Eighties?

Avatar By Josh Clason
December 18, 2013
33 comments

I think the decade of the eighties has a bit of a bad rap. Sure, it is an easy decade to make fun of with big hair, synthesizers, spandex, and—if movies taught me anything—a lot of cocaine. Amongst all this is an era in the automotive landscape that I feel is often overlooked. I’m not here to argue that car design of the eighties is the pinnacle of the motoring world, but I find myself becoming more and more attracted to what was available during this time period.

As I look back at was available then, I realize it was a great time to be a car enthusiast, especially on a budget. This still holds true today.  I might be biased since I drive an ’88 Toyota MR2, but there many cars that hit all of the right buttons: RWD/AWD, sporty, and affordable.  A few that can be had in nice condition for under 5k (with some in near perfect condition for 10k) include the Toyota MR2, Celica All-Trac, Mustang GT, VW GTI, BMW E30s, E21, and E24s, Honda CRX, GTV6, and even a first year Miata.  

Stepping a bit further up the eighties brought also gives us the vaunted BMW E30 M3, the M5, and M6.  Audi gave us the legendary Ur-Quattro and Mercedes gave us the Hammer and a few other AMG cars.

Moving to the high end on the spectrum we get the Porsche 959, Turbo 911, Countach, Testarossa, 288 GTO, and the legendary F40.

There are too many great ones to name them all, but overall I think the eighties brought us a lot of desirable cars. Obviously today, some get the credit they deserve and others don’t.  For myself and my budget though, the sweet spot lies with mid-eighties JDM which encompasses what I perceive as a lot of value for the money.  Am I stuck in the eighties and will only buy and collect from this decade?  No, but there will probably always be enough room for one in the garage and more importantly, my heart.  

How do you feel about the eighties?

Photography by Josh Clason for Petrolicious

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Steve Goudy
Steve Goudy

I turned 16 in 1980. Being a car nut and growing up in the 70s, things looked bad for what I might be able to buy when I was of age. The vehicles I wanted were from the 60s and very early 70s, but they were already becoming collectible. I think it was in 1978, that the fastest vehicle form 0-60mph sold legally in the USA was a Dodge “Little Red Express” pick up truck. The late 70s were awful for cars. Every year of the 80s got better & better.

Lamond Jack
Lamond Jack

I have to agree with Josh about 80’s era automobiles. For me the eighties was the final era of the MECHANICAL BASED AUTOMOBILE before the auto manufacturers started producing ELECTRONIC BASED AUTOMOBILES. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the Hi TECH cars offered today and the bells and and whistles that come with them (like Sat Nav, E-GEAR & Satellite Radio) but there is no better feeling than hopping into an 80’s era auto and just driving it (Especially if it was a manual). They really are starting to become nostalgic.

Charles Lightfoot
Charles Lightfoot

Let me start off by says that I just discovered this site today through You-Tube… Love the whole feel of the site and the video’s are fantastic… I can’t wait to spend much more time going through everything… On the subject of cars from the 80’s… I had a 1984 VW GTi back in 84… Then had a 1987 VW Scirocco back in 87… loved them both… I now have a 1988 Toyota MR2 SC as a weekend car that I bought a few months ago and in the process of fixing up … I have to say that this… Read more »

Jonathan Royal
Jonathan Royal

I love 80s, especially the car design. Being a product of the 80’s myself I believe gives me a closer connection with the cars that occupied this era. As generations get older i think that we identify with the automobiles that we grew up with, I believe that as we progress through time the car enthusiasts of the next generation will increasingly gravitate toward this era. Oh and please don’t forget the greatest car of this generation in my opinion, the Porsche 944.

Christian Baumann
Christian Baumann

Hi Jonathan! Completely agree with you! Born in 1972 in Germany, I’m crazy for cars of my youth. Last year I bought a Porsche 924S from 1988….
CheeRS

Christian

Ray Shaffer
Ray Shaffer

I came of driving age in the 1980’s so there are certain cars of that era that hold a special place in my heart. Sure, there are better cars made today – but, for reasons of nostalgia, nothing quite does it for me like a car from the 80’s. What’s more, since the materials and build quality were often suspect, a well maintained survivor is a rare beast. I think these two factors will be key drivers of renewed enthusiasm for cars of the 1980’s.

Paul Ipolito
Paul Ipolito

I enjoyed the Buick Turbo Regals, 1989 Corvette and the IROC Z-28’s during this era.

Ken Courtland
Ken Courtland

I agree that there where some bad cars, but also some great cars from the 80’s. While I like new cars (some of the best cars I’ve owned have been from the 2000’s era) & I also love the older classic 50’s & 60’s & early 70’s cars, there’s something unique about cars from the 80’s. In fact I own & drive a 1983 VW Rabbit GTI & a 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT. Yeah, the GTI does not have power steering or A/C & has manual windows & is a bit rough, but it’s so much fun to drive &… Read more »

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

For me, the end of the 80’s was when one car really caught my eye. The 1989 Thunderbird and Thunderbird SC/Super Coupe. The V-6 had a lot of power and the styling still stands out today. I drove mine until I needed a P/U truck in 2000. The S/C had problems and didn’t last that long. It was a great looking car and distinctive. Today they all look alike. S/C stick shift would really move but the turbo was too much for the engine.

Dan Hollenbaugh
Dan Hollenbaugh

I had the MR-2’s big brother, a 1985 Corolla GTS identical to the one pictured. Given that it’s still pretty popular, (and even though that’s largely because of those silly drifters), I’d say that car easily deserves a place in your list of hot ’80s cars.

jon acton
jon acton

The 80s cars I have fond memories of; Pontiac TurboTA, GNX, 288 GTO, Subaru XT, 300ZX Turbo, 323 GTX, Omni GLH, and the Starion/Conquest.

massimo van der plas
massimo van der plas

even the eighties had plenty of automotive gems.
get one while you can.

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman

the 80’s were a golden age for all car enthusiasts.
the hot hatch was in it’s ascendency.
those fearsome group b rally cars.
the incredible f1 turbo era.
japanese sportscars to take on europe.

JanMichael Franklin
JanMichael Franklin

I always look at the Japanese sports car scene as having been about a decade, give or take a little, behind Europe. Japan usually followed Europe rather than America. The 80’s for Japan was comparable to the 70’s for Europe. The turbo and EFI came into play for European cars around the mid 70’s and for Japan in the mid 80’s. Right now the 80’s cars are on the verge of blowing up just as the 70’s Euro cars were 10 – 15 years ago. For example, look at the price of an early 70’s 911 today compared to 12… Read more »

Jessie Cahill
Jessie Cahill

Let’s also not forget both the first and second generation Toyota Supra’s. It was kind of black or white when you look at 80’s cars. They were either really great or total garbage (more so for domestics). Here in the states, the Big Three were still really struggling with emissions while, other that base models, by the mid eighties, most of the imports were coming with fuel injected 3+ valves per cylinder motors. MK1 MR2, MK1Celica Supra, MK2 Supra Turbo, 911, 944, 928, and many others I am probably forgetting are all on my want list. Oh, and let’s not… Read more »

Matt C
Matt C

I started driving in the 1980’s and while many consider the early part of the decade the nadir of automobiles, the later part of the 1980’s started to show advances in engine tuning. For me, the Conquest TSi, Mk 1 Toyota MR-2,MK 2 GTis, and Dodge Daytone Turbo Z were the goto cars of that era.

Tim Scott
Tim Scott

Motor racing in the 80s reached its zenith and especially with respect to homologation requirements which spawned some of the greatest drivers cars in history. Group A and Group B gave us the BMW E30 M3, 635CSi, Ford Sierra, Holden Commodores, Skylines, Pug 205T16, Lancias, Ford RS 200 etc. History will never repeat itself….unfortunately.

braunwagen
braunwagen

Porsche 928. Has to be the most underrated car in existence.

Daniel Cooley
Daniel Cooley

A great 80’s car that that comes to my mind is the Datsun 280zx turbo

Jono51
Jono51

I agree with comments by some that the 80s wren’t perhaps the most exciting decade in terms of car styling, but if you judge cars by what they do then the advances over the 70s were huge. For German cars in particular this was a great decade – there are 2 mk2 Golf GTIs in my past and there’s an E28 Bmw 5 series that I currently use as my daily driver that gives me the pleasure of a quality driving experience without the pain in the wallet.

Hayden
Hayden

The majority of cars that came out of the eighties were a bit dreary and stale… But through the cold war and market filled with “planned obsolescence” came a few gems. My AW11 for example.
As for the world of Motorsport, Group B rally racing and Formula 1 was at there most exciting. Dangerous. Raw. Fast. Dramatic… Then you had heroes like Aryton Senna.

Collin Citrowske
Collin Citrowske

The 80’s are my favorite times of cars! Barring the classic 60’s-early 70’s muscle cars…light weight, sharp, angular lines, and the beginning of turbo engines! The Buick GNX, Trans-Am Turbo, Mustang SVO, Dodge Omni GLH (and Charger GLH and the Turbo Grand Caravans of course) I love them! The last of the simple cars. When the 80’s are gone there won’t be much soul left, except for some japanese and american 90’s cars.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams

I have to say that, although we lost the organic swooping lines and stunning beauty that the 60’s and 70’s yielded, there were some of the most extreme and sensation cars of all time in the 80’s. We had 800HP Group-B Rally cars that were showing innovation and more inspiring than any racing before. We had the Japanese takeover that gave us new electronic technology that has made tuning easier and more reliable. We had some of the craziest, most sporadic styling ever seen, which made companies like Lamborghini known as the most insane maker in the business. It was… Read more »

Bradley Price
Bradley Price

To me, the 80s is the time when the crazy avant-garde ideas from 1970s Italy became watered-down commercial reality brought to fruition by Japanese companies looking to be futuristic. If you look at the MR2 above, you can see clear resemblance to cars like the Bertone Rainbow concept, for example. The Japanese companies in the 80s were using Italian firms like Italdesign as consultants to help them design new models, so many of the wedge principles seen only on exotic cars of the 70s now became mainstream in the 80s. Think Nissan Pulsar NX or the Subaru XT. I also… Read more »

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

You know i never understood this hated for cars from the eighties at all. In fact there was plenty of awesome and great cars from this time period..You have the Ferrari F40 and 288 GTO two of the best ferrari around in my opinion. The great little sports car in Miata and also the Toyota MR2 as well. For all you turbo lovers you have the Buick Grand National and Shelby’s pocket rocket of a car in the GLHS Omni. Now i know the fourth gen of Corvette takes alot of abuse out there but the car was a huge… Read more »

Tyler
Tyler

1989 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R…9 days until it’s legal to import to the US. I’m a short hop from Vancouver BC so it wouldn’t be too difficult to find one. Now to convince the wife I [i]need [/i] a 3rd car…I think we all know how that’s going to go.

BiTurbo228
BiTurbo228

The 80s brought us Group B. Any other shortcomings are excused due to that one fact.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

And the F40.

Motorsport was rockin’ in the ’80s. Great memories, and a fantastic period of motorsport development.

I drove cars from the ’60s in the ’80s, and I didn’t really care what everyone else was driving!

Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba
Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba

…And Group C![url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma_QImRrW30″]Your text to link…[/url] The 80’s were probably the greatest decade in motorsport

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

I think the 80’s will be remembered for not many really beautiful looking cars. Of the cars you mention the 288GTO is truly stunning but that’s based on a 70s design. There were a lot of great cars with purposeful looks like the Quattro and BMW M cars but beautiful ones no.

Kevin Wahaus
Kevin Wahaus

As a whole, the 80s were a pretty worthless decade in the car world. Actually ’75-85 was the worst ten years. Yes, there were a few gems here and there, but as a whole, not a great time to be a car fan. Domestic automakers were learning to deal with new federal safety/CAFE regulations and finally realized that the pacific rim makers were here to stay. As a new driver and car owner, the cars I saw coming out of Detroit, GM in particular left a sour taste that I haven’t quite gotten over. Even great cars, like the 240Z… Read more »

assaf rutenberg
assaf rutenberg

1985 is my goto year.
RX-7 GSL-SE – last year of the first body style and second year with the 13B rotary
Mazda 323 GTX – All wheel drive, turbo charged rally car in econobox guise
Audi 4000 CS Quattro – best looking 4 door sedan ever with Quattro all wheel drive.
Alfa Romeo GTV6 – sweet V6, rear wheel drive, 5 speed stick. I finally bought one is February and it’s as wonderful as I hoped it would be.

JB21
JB21

I think our memories become selective. There are many great cars from the 80s, no doubt. But the 80’s also gave us molded plastic fake leather stitching embossed dashboard (in maroon, too!). And the 80s also gave us Ford Tempo, or Vette 305 Cali (how did they get so little hp out of such a huge engine?). All the goods were well balanced by all the bads, just like everything else everyday. And you know, even Yugo is becoming quite a collectors’ car nowadays.