In the 1980’s, the edgier, the better. There was a bold new energy reverberating around society during this decade, technology was booming and European trends were trickling in everywhere you looked—especially in the automotive industry. People wanted bigger, bolder, more futuristic styles that turned heads and dropped jaws. Here’s our list of the 10 most coveted cars during the 1980’s.
Feature film Back to the Future dominated the theaters in 1985, sporting an insanely futuristic car with gullwing doors that quickly climbed the ranks as one of the most iconic silhouettes of the decade. This crazy cool car came to be when General Motors VP John Delorean ditched the corporate scene to flex his creative motors, designing his dream car using an all-star team of automotive designers. While this car was only in production for two years, it was a staple of the decade with stainless steel paneling and a style fit for the future.
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Fuel restrictions became top priority at the drop of the new decade, which meant the Firebird and other classic American muscle cars were being redesigned for greater efficiency on the road. The third generation of Firebirds hit the market in 1982, with an entirely new lightweight design, aerodynamic accents and engine advancements. While the refreshed version of the Firebird was a rather big one, the eco-friendly update helped to put this car right into the lineup of most iconic cars from the ‘80s.
From 1966 to 1973, the Miura was the most iconic coupé to date—the Lamborghini brand had a lot of eyes watching, anticipating a new wave of heat with their next model to hit the market. The Lamborghini Countach for sale was one of the very last silhouettes to be designed by Lamborghini founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, and it didn’t disappoint—clocking a top speed of 186 mph. This low riding design had angular accents, gullwing doors, fender flares and fresh technologies that screamed ‘80s.
The Testarossa coupé debuted in 1984, rocketing itself into the automotive world in a perfectly Italian fashion. This wide silhouette with slatted panels quickly became the face of Miami Vice, coveted and collected by celebrities around the world, including Rod Stewart, Elton John, Mike Tyson and more. This V12 engine with a top speed of 180 mph was up to the snuff of the celebs, checking the boxes of speed, function and comfort—the Ferrari Testarossa was designed to be shown off.
The third generation of Camaro kicked off with the Camaro Z28—the first ever hatchback with modern flare (and fuel). Like other automotive brands, Chevy turned its focus from speed to efficiency with new emission restrictions, shaking 500 pounds off from the second generation of Camaros to introduce a boxy but aerodynamic design that became the epitome of the ‘80s. Bold, aggressive with dual black stripes and a pointed nose, the Camaro was a timeless classic that went on to grow and mold with the times.
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2
Porsche CEO Ernst Fuhrmann channeled his energy into the creation of the front-engine 924 and 928 design while the 911 took a backseat. With a turn in leadership in 1980, Peter Shultz stepped in as CEO and began putting a significant amount of the Porsche budget into the recreation of the 911—cue the Carrera 3.2. Debuted in 1984, the fresh new Porsche 911 for sale had its same iconic style, with a completely refreshed engine, designed for speed and short stops. This was a pivotal moment for Porsche—without the 3.2, the 911 might not have been molded into the iconic style it is today.
Ruf CTR “Yellowbird”
In the late ‘80s, Road and Track magazine set out to find the fastest car in the world, where they found an unlikely hero clocking in at a whopping 211 mph. The RUF CTR was inspired by the Carrera 3.2 itself—this tiny tuning shop teamed up with Porsche to create this groundbreaking supercar, it even has the same silhouette as the 911. The Yellowbird got its nickname from that feature article in Road and Track, which also made this unknown little brand a legend and the RUF CTR went to production shortly after.
Buick Grand National
Making a major comeback from years prior, the redesigned Buick Grand National was back, black and badass when it resurfaced in 1984. After a few years of adjustments, Buick was redefining the muscle car, with 235 horsepower in 1986. For a short while, Buick was producing the fastest American production car, hitting that 0-60 mph mark in under five seconds, despite its modest V6 engine. For its very last year in production (1987), a select 547 models were sent over to McLaren to pump them full of bigger, louder and faster details, creating the Buick Grand National GNX which became one of the fastest cars in the world.
Arguably the most innovative advanced car the world had ever seen, the 959 was the window into what the 911 would become today. This twin-turbo supercar was the first ever to clock 200 mph and could hit 0-60 in only 3.6 seconds, shattering technology boundaries like never before. Due to so many advancements, Porsche put far too much money into each one for it to ever become a production car—this car is a collector’s dream. The creators of the 959 took this car around the world to make sure it would drive in all sorts of conditions (even off-roading), there’s even an 8-inch suspension to help it clear barriers and maneuver over the elements.
In 1984 the FIA of rally racing removed a lot of rules and restrictions that were required of race cars at the time. The result? Manufacturers everywhere started creating new, explosive cars with more power and less weight than ever before, and Ferrari was right alongside them. After a few years of adjustments, the 288 GTO Evolucion was born…just in time for the FIA to retract these lenient rules. In 1986, the 288 GTO Evolucion was all dressed up with nowhere to go. 88 year old Enzo Ferrari stepped in, wanting to create one final super car in his lifetime for the 40th anniversary of the brand (just 13 months away). The Ferrari F40 was created using pieces and parts of the 288 GTO Evolucion, resulting in the fastest street car Ferrari ever made.