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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/3/18 8:44 a.m.


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Story by David S. Wallens and J.G. Pasterjak • Photos Courtesy of Respective Manufacturers

MTV.

Madonna.

Miami Vice.

So what if we lived under constant threat of nuclear winter, Terminators and hairspray fires? The ’80s gave us some cool stuff. We were climbing out of the doldrums of the previous decade, and the automotive landscape reflected that optimism.

Things were becoming modern, and not in a cartoony George Jetson way. This was real progress. Fuel injection replaced carburetors, turbochargers had become more than a novelty, and performance was back.

Take the Corvette, America’s sports car. By 1975–not exactly a high-water mark for performance–output had dipped to a pitiful 165 horsepower from a seemingly sufficient 350 cubic inches. The new-for-1984 Corvette produced 205 horsepower from the same displacement, and by the end of the decade that number had rocketed to 245. Omigod!

Cars also started to look modern. In 1983 the U.S. government struck down a 44-year-old law requiring automakers to use standardized round or square headlamps. A creative yoke had been lifted off automotive stylists, who responded with aero-pleasing shapes for everything from our favorite supercars to rank-and-file peoplemovers like the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord.

More progress: During the ’80s, integrated “aero” bumpers replaced those chrome battering rams, low-profile tires became commonplace, and aluminum wheels weren’t limited to performance cars.

Which cars from this totally tubular decade best defined our scene? Here are our 16 favorites.

Read the rest of the story

RossD
RossD MegaDork
8/3/18 9:23 a.m.

The E30 couple put each other's belts on.

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) PowerDork
8/3/18 10:32 a.m.

Including the Fiero but overlooking the ‘87-‘88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe.  Hmm

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
8/3/18 11:28 a.m.

Ooooohhh, love this.  The '80s were my "formative" years and when I really got into cars.  I literally covered my bedroom walls with pictures of cars I cut out of magazines.  Lots of great stuff on this list.  A few others I loved, for no other reason than I thought they were "cool"....

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
8/3/18 11:56 a.m.

I love my 80's rides. Got 2 AE86 and a 280zx. So fantastic.

ndgeek
ndgeek
8/3/18 12:58 p.m.

Loved my '87 CRX Si...but life got in the way and I didn't have any mechanical friends...sold it.

I've got an 85 and an 88 XR4Ti now...and am now more mechanically inclined, which apparently is a prequalifier for owning these cars.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
8/3/18 1:49 p.m.

The Regal T type, Grand National and the GNX need to be in this list

Then there was the original GTI and the GLH.

The whole hot hatch thing started int he 80's.  I got to drive an original GTI not long ago and I had forgotten what a fun car that was. 

What about an 87 M6?  

  

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
8/3/18 2:00 p.m.

My personal bias is that the 80's (mostly the 2nd half) were basically the best years for the type of cars i've learned to like. Cars were light and reasonably simple and were 'modern enough' in the sense that if in proper shape they'd start and run perfectly and could be driven anywhere, many times with exceptional economy. Fuel injection, the prevalance of boxes and wedges, and manuals weren't even becoming rare yet!

dropstep
dropstep SuperDork
8/3/18 4:01 p.m.

The fox chassis is my favorite platform so I'm glad it made the list. I prefer the g body over the f body but I can see how the f body is a much sportier platform.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
8/3/18 5:59 p.m.

I would have thrown the Saab 900 SPG (or aero) in there. FWD. Turbo, room for 5, funky looking body. What is there not to like about the troubled swede?

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
8/3/18 7:13 p.m.
Vigo said:

'modern enough' in the sense that if in proper shape they'd start and run perfectly and could be driven anywhere, many times with exceptional economy

And were not too modern so a backyard mechanic can work on them. As a 3 pointed star fanboy the 80s were great!

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
8/3/18 7:16 p.m.

Spot on, though I'd take off one of the CRX's and replace it with the the Acura Integra  (so as not to have Honda overkill)....or maybe even the Prelude Si.. When I was a teenager in the 80s, those were the two cars I longed after. I always thought he CRX was more of a "chick car." even though it was very good.

Also surprised the DSM triplets (particularly the Eclipse GSX) aren't on there. I remember when my best friend got an Eclipse GSX...turbo, awd, that cool bulge on the hood...man, it was something special and looked so cool...

EDIT: Brain Fart....yes the DSMs were 90s not 80s. 

 

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
8/3/18 8:06 p.m.

Bitrouble!

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) PowerDork
8/3/18 8:54 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

The DSMs didn’t arrive in the 80’s.  They were 90’s babies.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
8/3/18 8:57 p.m.
KyAllroad (Jeremy) said:

In reply to irish44j :

The DSMs didn’t arrive in the 80’s.  They were 90’s babies.

IDK why but for some reason I read the title of the article as "Best Cars of the 80s-90s"......ugh. good thing it's Friday, clearly I am burned out.

 

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
8/3/18 9:07 p.m.

Instead of the DSM triplets how about the Evo 0?

SaltyDog
SaltyDog HalfDork
8/3/18 9:34 p.m.

As a hired wrench in through most of the '80s, the best cars I recall were about 20 years old at the time.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
8/3/18 9:46 p.m.

good to see my 80s rides made the list though :)

well, the 924S is really a 944 underneath....

te72
te72 Reader
8/4/18 12:58 a.m.

People I take for rides seem to be shocked that my Supra is an 87. I mean, it performs like few, if any cars of that era that had a license plate, but it still looks very much of the era. It's quite the hoot, one which at the moment appears to have developed a power steering leak. Lovely!

 

Still makes me happy to see cars of the 80's that are driven and or loved. Not terribly common where I live, unfortunately.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
8/4/18 7:18 a.m.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
8/4/18 7:52 a.m.

1984. Chrysler introduced the minivan. 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
8/4/18 8:23 a.m.

my biggest issue with the article, and it seems a lazy way to write it.. was to include two seperate listings for the same car under a different generation. Did the GTI or CRX need to be listed twice when they were not significantly different cars except in sheetmetal?

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
8/4/18 8:35 a.m.

OK, that was an easy one.  How about Best Cars of the 1970s?  That should take more work.

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
8/4/18 9:05 a.m.

In reply to DWNSHFT :

The last of the American muscle cars, Volvo 200,  Mercedes w123, Saab 900, Mazda RX series.... The 70s were a great era for cars.

minivan_racer
minivan_racer UberDork
8/4/18 9:51 a.m.

I think 80s cars are in the perfect storm of auto enthusiasm right now.  People who learned to drive during the era have the expendable income to pursue that inner 16 yr olds dream car.  At the same time the cars that had their hay day during the 80s/90s are mostly too expensive to really enjoy for most.  Add in the small minority of new enthusiasts are finding that a 25 year old hot hatch is way more interesting than a 15 year old Camry, and you'll start to see why some cars of the era are starting to go for real money, while events like Radwood are starting to get a real following.

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