The 1980’s was a decade of excess, strange music and weird fashion. We take a look back at what the eighties classic car manufacturer was doing while we were bopping around to Duran Duran.
British Leyland’s all-new hatch back arrives in a flood of red, white and blue flags with cries of admiration from patriots across the country. The Metro was designed as the eventual replacement for the long standing Mini. However, with the popularity of the sixties icon still very much growing, the Metro would never beat its predecessor.
It did however span a production life of 18 years under a few different guises such as Mini Metro, MG Metro and Rover Metro. The Metro came at the right time for BL as the hatchback took off in the eighties.
By the time the Sierra Cosworth landed in the UK, the Ford Cortina was history and people had allowed the Ford Sierra’s aerodynamic style to grow on them. The Ford Sierra Cosworth was a result of a Ford Motorsport project. It proved successful as a group A racing car, with the added benefit of being a homologation special for the public to buy.
5,000 were produced to fill the requirements of racing and sales flew out the door for Ford. These days a Sierra Cosworth can set you back £50,000; it’s an iconic machine built when Ford was at its best.
By the time the Mk III was launched the Ford Capri was almost 10 years old, so Ford gave it a modern re-style to keep the car current through the eighties. Already one of Fords best sellers through its former models, the Ford Capri had a cult following that wasn’t prepared to let it go just yet. Aeroflow grill and saw tooth rear lenses made the Capri in keeping with the times, and the 2.8 injection model kept its performance on par with modern competitors.
It goes to show you can own a sporty coupe with room for four people. The 2.8 injection had the performance to match with the new quad headlights looking the part to. Today almost all Ford Capris could be considered classic cars, and anyone who’s owned one will have fond memories of it from its heyday.
The early eighties was a tough time for Porsche. They needed an alternative to the long in the tooth 911, and this eventually came in 1982 with the release of a water-cooled front engine hero, the Porsche 944.
Porsche’s new model was based on the 924 Carrera GT but with a genuine Porsche engine, not the 2.0 litre Audi effort in the Porsche 924. The 944 was an altogether smoother styled car. The 2.5 litre engine gave excellent performance especially the later turbo charged version. Handling and grip were sensational, and the later 2.7 litre engine gave even better throttle response.
The Porsche 944 was a real answer to the ever-changing car market and was a success for Porsche just when they needed it. The front-engined model constantly received revisions through its life span of 11 years and remains as relevant now as it was then.
The famous coupe had been around for nearly ten years when Jaguar revealed a new engine for its big cat. The AJ6 engine wasn’t as big and powerful as the V12, but it still ticked all the right boxes when it came to driveability.
A 3690cc straight six with fuel injection was a more modern and a more economical engine for motoring in the eighties. A sports version was soon introduced ideal for the modern Jaguar driver. These days a good eighties model XJS will fetch as much as a late seventies V12, as all of these classic coupes are increasing in value year on year.
It is virtually impossible to overstate the impact the Quattro had upon the rally world. When ‘All Wheel Drive’ rally cars didn’t exist, Audi entered the Quattro into the World Rally Championship in 1981. Hannu Mikkola, one of the first drivers for the Quattro team, overtook the Lancia Stratos on the special stage after starting a minute behind it. A new era had begun.
The Audi Quattro off the back of its rally history gained maximum street cred and has never looked back. The original eighties version with its digital dash and warbling five cylinder soundtrack became every driver’s ‘would love to own’ car. And thanks to its TV stardom in 2010’s Ashes to Ashes, every enthusiast wants to fire up the Quattro.
The Pinninfarina styled Testarossa was very much designed for the eighties era. Big and brash the Red headed Ferrari was an icon from the word go. Performance was super car standard with nearly 400bhp from its 4.9 litre flat 12 engine. Its side air intakes, not just for aesthetics, they were there to capture cool air for the radiators as well as being part of the cars aerodynamic layout. One of Ferrari’s largest sports car to date, the Testarossa was designed with more interior space than its predecessors. With storage compartments larger than other models, it also offered more luxury than any other Ferrari to date.
With so many built through the eighties, Ferrari’s last V12 production car went through a stage when they were serious bargains. This has since declined and values are increasing as the Testarossa is starting to reach its full potential.
Vauxhall’s Cavalier Mk II came along in the early eighties as a breath of fresh air in the family car stakes. With a complete redesign for the eighties and class-leading fuel economy, its future looked bright. By 1982, Vauxhall and Ford were in a two horse race when it came to this sector of the market. In fact the Cavalier topped 100,000 sales in 1982 compared to just 40,000 the year before.
The Cavalier’s success was initially aided by the demise of the Ford Cortina, then the introduction of Ford’s new Sierra model which was met with some bad press over its modern styling which wasn’t to the taste of many of the buying public.
MERCEDES BENZ SL
The ‘Sports Light’ model has been in the Mercedes Benz line up since the fifties. Although the Pagoda version was now history, no major styling changes were made in the early eighties to their excellent roadster, but under the skin came plenty of modern improvements to stay in line for the decade.
A five-speed gear box was introduced as was engine capacity increased to 3.0 litres in 1985. V8 models were also upgraded, improving fuel economy, and a 4.2 litre engine restored power figures to where they should be for Mercedes.
Expensive flagship models such as the 500SL and then the 560SL were the best sellers and are demanding high values in today’s market.
The best fast saloon of its era, the BMW M3 was designed and built to win races. The first evolution of the M3 was made to take on the Mercedes 190E Cosworth and the Ford Sierra Cosworth in group A Touring Cars Championship races. And it did. The M3 was designed as much for the track as it was the road with ground breaking feedback from every corner the BMW M3 was a real driver’s car.
With nearly 200bhp on tap the original M3 fetches serious money these days. However if you ever get a chance to drive one you’ll see why. It’s a real German masterpiece.
The eighties was a period of innovation for most manufacturers in the car industry. It was very much a time for change, as car buyers demanded more with competition running high. As cars became more than just transport, new technology started to make its way into the world of car manufacturing, and the results are now time-honoured classics.
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Whether you’re driving an eighties classic or got your wheels from another era, we’ve got cover to suit you. Let us get you a competitive quote, and if you have more than one car, we can get you a multicar discount too.