The 1980s is best described as a period of excess and outrageousness. Not surprisingly, many cars of the 1980s had crazy outlines and distinctly cutting-edge and even weird features, although there were also the more familiar box-type sedans. While some automobiles during the 80s became immortalized in movies and on TV series, there are a few other cars that time seems to have forgotten.
Here are some of the greatest cars that came out during this decade:
1. DeLorean DMC-12
When you think of the most iconic 80s car, the DeLorean DMC-12 is almost uncontested for that top position. The DMC-12 was the only model that DeLorean had ever produced. It had the potential to become the next big thing in the 80s automotive world, but the company failed to fulfill it.
Apart from its famous gull-wing doors, the DMC-12 had the PRV fuel-injected V6 engine which produced around 130 hp. Its five-speed manual transmission provided the car a top speed of 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds. The car’s steel and fiberglass body was mounted on a steel chassis.
The DeLorean is, of course, famous for its appearance in Back to the Future film trilogy as Doc Emmett Brown’s modified time machine.
2. Pontiac Firebird
Also known as Knight Rider‘s KITT, the Pontiac Firebird is perhaps the second most iconic car in the 1980s. The three-door hatchback coupe had to be on this list!
The car was available in different engines. But the standard 1982 model featured the fuel-injected 90 hp 2.5 liters GM Iron Duke engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission, which didn’t make this car particularly a fast scorcher on the road. However, it made that up with its sleek and stylish exteriors that appealed to fans and even non-fans of the Knight Rider alike.
3. Ferrari Testarossa
The action TV series Miami Vice may have used a lot of luxury cars for the characters’ missions and misadventures. However, it was the Ferrari Testarossa which gave the most lasting impression on the viewers and car enthusiasts. Another quintessential 80s sports car, the Testarossa features a 4.9-liter Ferrari flat-2 mid-engine and a 5-speed manual transmission, which enabled it to accelerate up to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds!
As you may have known the Miami Vice lore, the show started off with a fake Testarossa. Obviously displeased, Enzo Ferrari himself considered suing the show. But instead, the producers ended up accepting Ferrari’s offer of the genuine Testarossa, on the condition that they should destroy the fake one.
4. Vector W2
Although Vector Motors released the Vector W2 in 1978 as a concept car, it was otherwise a fully functional automobile. It went into production well until the late 1980s, making the Vector W2 one of the very few concept cars to last that long.
Labeled as the “Aircraft for the Street,” the Vector W2’s design resembled somewhat that of a jet fighter, even the interiors. It was powered by a 5.7 liter twin-turbo Chevrolet V8 engine that generated over 600 horsepower, enabling the car to reach top speeds at about 242 mph. This made the Vector W2 one of the fastest concept cars during its time.
5. Porsche 959
This particular sports car from Porsche bursts at top speeds of up to 195 mph, thanks to its 2849 cc twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine and 6-speed manual transmission.
Not surprisingly, it was also fashioned as a legit sports car. Proof of that is its stint at the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1984 and its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986. The Porsche 959 won at both grueling competitions.
6. Subaru BRAT
Being an export-only vehicle, the Subaru BRAT was never sold in its native Japan. Instead, the all-wheel-drive coupe utility enjoyed immense popularity in the United States, thanks in large part to one celebrity endorser in President Ronald Reagan (who owned the vehicle until 1998).
7. Toyota MR2
“MR2” stands for “mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-seater,” and that’s what’s this car is all about. It is part of the Japanese car maker’s AW11 model range. Its 1.6 L 4A-GE DOHC I4 engine and 5-speed manual (4-speed automatic) transmissions enabled the car to span the 0-60 mph run in 8 seconds.
8. Porsche 944 Turbo
The Porsche 944 Turbo is a sports car with a rear-wheel drive powered by a front engine. Speaking of the engine, it has a 2.5 L inline-four engine (in the first 1982-1987 models, at least) and a 5-speed manual (3-speed automatic) transmission. This car has a good handle like many sports cars should have. In its turbo form, the Porsche 944 packs a particularly mean speed.
9. Audi Quattro
The Audi Quattro is one car that revolutionized rallying — and the right timing worked greatly to Audi’s advantage. Just as the German carmaker rolled out its Quattro All-Wheel Drive, the World Rally Championship adjusted its rules to allow four-wheel drive automobiles to compete. This led the Quattros to win in several world rallies during the 1980s. This versatile car also does solidly for road driving.
10. Ferrari 288 GTO
This homologation species was developed by Ferrari during the early 80s to compete in the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) class “Group B” race. However, the FIA suddenly scrapped the class before this model could make its debut on the racetrack. As a result, the GTO didn’t get to race. It could have been the fastest sports car of its time due to its mean 400 horsepower.
With the cancellation of the “Group B” race, Ferrari built only 272 of the 288 GTO’s — with five of them being the GTO Evoluzione models which paved the way for its successor, the Ferrari F40. While the F40 shone on its debut, the 288 GTO was otherwise promptly forgotten.