Definitive Cars of the 1980s


Escort XR3i

Image: Chris Taylor

Near ubiquitous in the suburban environs of Britain in the mid eighties, Ford’s everyman classic is possibly Britain’s most instantly recognisable eighties motor.

Porsche 911 (959)

Spookily locked in tight to the aesthetic of the age, the 959 was Porsche’s group B rally homologation special, and pioneered the company’s all wheel drive system.

Ferrari F40

The F40 was last car that the great Enzo Ferrari would personally commission, built to commemorate the first four decades of the Prancing Horse. This ultimate in race bred road-legal motoring, it brought track and road experience together in a legendarily lean, turbocharged package.

Honda CR-X

Nippy, light and to this day an accessible cult of enthusiastic motoring, we still desire one of these eminently chuckable Civic variants.

E30 M3 EVO.

Lusted after these last quarter of a century for its boxy mechanicity, the E30 3 series makes you wish the world was the Green Hell.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato

Imagined in steel, wood and leather in the fusty workshops of Newport Pagnall, but bodied by the single minded Zagato in Milano. This was an unholy fusion of the old-world Aston and Italianate angularity. Decadent, faintly ridiculous, like the decade itself.

Audi Sport Quattro

No, Gene Hunt didn’t drive one of these. This was the short, stubby Group B Homologation car, one that no copper could ever afford. The Quattro expressed the twin obsessions of the era – all wheel drive and forced induction – in a geometrically appropriate form that perfectly fitted the temper of the times.

Peugeot 205GTi

The definitive hot hatch of the eighties, the 205 GTi had front wheel drive but oversteered pleasurably with lift-off going into the corner. This car is, to this day, stripped down, simple fun. Its success is as responsible as any car for the near ubiquity of the Front Wheel Drive form in current everyman motors.

Alfasud Ti Cloverleaf

We think some editions of Alfa’s ‘Sud are plain ugly: but the cloverleaf later versions with the twin carb 1500 Boxer and the bits of plastic trim scream eighties cool, and having recently driven one (thanks Scott) we are convinced. Some say they are even more fun to drive than the 205.