Iconic cars of the 1980s (and where they are now)
The 1980s is often remembered as the decade of change. The use of computers was really taking off and mobile phones had just been introduced. It was also a period of great change when it came to cars, with vast improvements in both performance and economy.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the iconic cars of the 1980s, from the Austin Metro to the BMW E30 M3.
Ford Capri MK III
The Ford Capri had been around for nine years when its remodel was announced in 1978. The latest design featured improved aerodynamics, wraparound black bumpers and twin circular headlamps. At the time of its launch, the Capri was already one of Ford’s best sellers with over 1.5 million cars sold and a huge cult following, and the MK III didn’t disappoint, dominating much of the 1980s.
Today, Ford Capris are considered classic cars, bringing back nostalgic feelings to anyone that lived through the 1980s. Prices today range from around £5,500 for the 1.6 model, right up to an average of £12,000 for the 2.8i.
Created by British Leyland, the Austin Metro was designed to eventually replace the Mini. Little did they know at the time, the Mini would still be going strong 40 years on, whilst the Metro wouldn’t manage two decades. However, the Austin Metro was an iconic car of the 1980s under several different guises including the Mini Metro, the MG Metro and the Rover Metro.
The Austin Metro is gradually making a name for itself as a classic car, with prices slowly beginning to rise. Currently, you can pick up this classic car for prices of between £3,000 and £5,000, but you can expect prices to progressively rise over the coming years.
By the 1980s, the Porsche 911 was beginning to wear thin and the Porsche 924 wasn’t quite living up to the high performance standards that people expected. The Porsche 944 was unveiled in 1982 with a genuine Porsche engine and buckets of modern style. The handling and grip were outstanding, causing booming success for Porsche when they needed it the most.
The Porsche 944 enjoyed 11 years of success and is still a popular choice of classic sports car today. You can pick one up today for an average price of £12,000 for the S2 and £17,000 for the Turbo or Cabrio models.
The decade-old Jaguar XJS was relaunched in the early 1980s with the new AJ6 engine. Although the AJ6 wasn’t as powerful as its V12 predecessor, it still promised outstanding driveability, along with improved fuel economy – a growing priority in the 80s.
The value of these classic coupes continues to increase year on year. Today, a good condition 1980s model Jaguar XJS is similar in value to a late 1970s V12, often fetching prices of up to £12,000.
Vauxhall Cavalier MK II
The front-wheel drive MK II Vauxhall Cavalier was announced in August 1981, appealing to families across the country. Sales soared to over 100,000 in 1982, compared to only 40,000 the previous year – a huge success for Vauxhall. It was also named as Britain’s second-best selling car in both 1984 and 1985, beaten only by the Ford Escort.
The profile of the Vauxhall Cavalier MK II remains low today, and it is yet to achieve classic-status, unlike some of its rivals. However, it remains an iconic car of the 1980s, which will be remembered for decades to come and will perhaps become a classic in the future.
First shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, the four-wheel drive Audi Quattro shot to fame a year later when Michèle Mouton became the first woman to win a world championship rally, driving her Audi Quattro. It was said that only the Porsche 911 could match the Quattro in traction and acceleration in slippery conditions. Until 1983, the Audi Quattro was only available as a left-hand drive car in the UK, but that didn’t seem to put people off.
Production of the Audi Quattro continued until 1991 when it was replaced with the Spyder. It shot to fame again in the 2010 drama series Ashes to Ashes and now retails for around £20,000, with prices rising year-on-year.
Vauxhall Astra GTE
The Vauxhall Astra GTE was launched in 1983, replaced the earlier SR model. It showcased uncompromising style, with impressive skirts, imposing spoilers and flared arches. This beefed-up appearance was combined with enhanced performance, with outstanding response and handling.
This car was then replaced in 1984 by the MK II Astra GTE, which featured improved aerodynamics and remained on the market until 1991. Today, the Astra GTE remains a favourite with 1980s car enthusiasts and will set you back around £10,000.
BMW E30 M3
In the 1980s, BMW decided to begin competing in group A touring cars races. In order to compete with Mercedes Benz, BMW knew they needed to deliver. And so, the BMW E30 M3 was born. With almost 200bph, the BMW was successful in achieving several significant wins internationally, including becoming the world touring car champion in 1987.
The M3 has evolved through time and is still in productiontoday, albeit in a much-modernised form. This car is still as much in demand today as it was in the 1980s, although the original M3 will always be the first choice of a real BMW enthusiast. The BMW E30 M3 can now fetch up to £80,000 – a vast increase from its original launch price of £2,275!
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