I Can’t Believe I Have To Say This, But 80s Cars Are Good

It could be argued that the 1980s was the greatest decade of automotive production for enthusiasts. Unlike today, manufacturers all around the world were developing street versions of racing cars, compact sports machines, hot hatchbacks, a cadre of analog machines capable of stirring your emotions. Moreover these cars were aimed at appeasing the everyman’s desires to have a little fun on the way to and from work, rather than sucking up to billionaires or gladhanding shareholders to pump stock prices.

By comparison, the 1970s (particularly post 1973 fuel crisis) were worse because the horsepower technology hadn’t caught up to the demands of international government emissions mandates. In the 1990s, the cars were more capable of producing larger power numbers, but they were increasingly bubble design nightmares and many were fitted with gross sticky plastic interiors.

The average ’80s car has the best mix of solidly-built simplicity, driver engagement, and just enough tech to be comfortably driven every day. Great advancements like fuel injection and anti-lock brakes started to become the norm, but you didn’t have intrusive driver aides like traction or stability control to muck it up. The driver is in full control, just the way I like it.

When the 1980s come up, everyone immediately jumps to the supercars. Yeah, the 959, F40, Ruf Yellowbird, and Countach are all cool. Duh! But even the more normal workaday vehicles were great. We all forget how great some of these 1980s daily drivers actually were, and some people even have the gall to say basically no good cars came from the 1980s, so here’s a few reminders. How about 100 of them, in no particular order?

1. Acura Integra
2. AMC Eagle
3. Audi Quattro
4. BMW M3 (Really, any E30 is good)
5. Porsche 944
6. Volkswagen GTI
7. Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z
8. Buick Grand National
9. Datsun 280ZX
10. Shelby GLH-S
11. Ford Mustang Fox Body
12. Honda CRX
13. Honda Civic Si
14. Jeep Cherokee
15. Mazda 323 GTX
16. Mazda Miata
17. Mazda RX-7
18. Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen
19. Merkur XR4Ti
20. Mitsubishi Starion/Chrysler Conquest
21. Saab 900 SPG
22. Subaru XT
23. Toyota Celica
24. Toyota Supra
25. Toyota MR2
26. Toyota Corolla FX-16
27. Toyota Corolla AE86
28. Volvo 740 Turbo
29. Chevrolet Corvette
30. Chevrolet Sprint Turbo
31. Mercedes-Benz W201 190E
32. BMW M5
33. Alfa Romeo GTV6
34. Alfa Romeo Spider
35. Volvo 240
36. 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT, specifically
37. Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2
38. BMW 635 CSi
39. Toyota Pickup/Hilux
40. Lancia Delta Integrale
41. Subaru Brat
42. Volkswagen Scirocco
43. Honda Prelude
44. Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport
45. Chevrolet Citation X-11
46. Toyota Landcruiser
47. Shelby Dakota
48. Dodge Daytona
49. Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe
50. Peugeot 205 GTi
51. Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
52. Daihatsu Charade GTti
53. Nissan March Super Turbo
54. Suzuki Swift GTi
55. Ford Taurus SHO
56. Dodge Caravan (particularly the turbo manual)
57. Ford Ranger
58. 1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo
59. Renault Alpine GTA
60. Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe
61. Suzuki Samurai
62. Chevrolet El Camino
63. Dodge Rampage
64. Fiat Panda
65. Alfa Romeo Milano Quadrifoglio Verde
66. Lancia Thema 8.32
67. Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130TC
68. Ford EXP
69. Nissan Pulsar NX
70. Cadillac Allante
71. Citroën BX 4TC
72. Fiat X1/9
73. Nissan Silvia
74. Opel Manta
75. Peugeot 505 Turbo
76. Ford Escort RS Turbo
77. MG Metro 6R4
78. Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2
79. Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
80. Nissan 300ZX
81. Ford Escort GT
82. Oldsmobile 4-4-2
83. Jaguar XJS
84. Jaguar XJ40
85. Lotus Excel
86. Consulier GTP
87. Tatra 613
88. Dodge Shelby Charger
89. Shelby CSX
90. BMW 7-series
91. Mercedes-Benz S-class
92. Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC
93. Mercedes-Benz R107 SL Class
94. Buick Reatta
95. Mercury Cougar XR7
96. Nissan S-Cargo
97. Nissan Pao
98. Dodge Raider/Mitsubishi Pajero
99. Jeep Wagoneer
100. Isuzu Trooper

There were definitely some stinkers from the 1980s, but that’s the case with any era. I would be perfectly happy to own any vehicle from this list (and have owned a couple, as a matter of fact). They’re good cars. There were many good cars from the 1980s. Go try one out, you might be surprised.

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