Car Technology

8 Coolest Cars of the ’80s

The '80s were a pretty uninspiring time for the auto world, but there are still a few standouts that car enthusiasts are fond of. Here is my list of the eight coolest cars of the '80s.
posted: 08/18/16
by: Alyssa

Honorable Mention: Lamborghini Countach

We all know that the Countach was the car every young gearhead had posted up on their wall. With its rad design and an audacious V12 engine, there is no question that this car was designed to look as badass as possible. But here's the thing: The Countach made its debut six years earlier in 1974. While the '80s were the height of its popularity, this list is about the coolest cars that represent the best of '80s engineering and design. Sadly, the Countach doesn't meet the criteria.


8. DeLorean DMC-12
Let's be real, this car wouldn't make the list if not for Doc Brown and Marty McFly. The DeLorean DMC-12 was the only car produced by DeLorean Motor Company, and with good reason. The car went against traditional thinking, with features like the stainless steel on the outside of the fiberglass chassis adding unnecessary weight. The rear mounted V6 produces just 130 horsepower, leading to a 0 to 60 time of 8.8 seconds. Furthermore, the car's 3 year run was plagued by John DeLorean's brief dabble in cocaine smuggling. Despite all of this, and with the help of a certain film, the DeLorean has successfully established itself as one of the most iconic cars of the '80s.

7. Jeep Cherokee XJ
Without the Cherokee, there would be no soccer mom. It followed in the lineage of the early Broncos and International Scouts, but offering the option of 4-doors. The combination of size and off-road handling makes it the best of both worlds. The Cherokee certainly wasn't the first SUV, but it helped pave the way for the modern utility vehicle.
6. Ferrari Testarossa
How could we talk about the '80s without mentioning the Miami Vice car? It's no F40, but the Testarossa was definitely made to go fast. This Ferrari's 4.9 liter, 12-cylinder boxer engine allows it to go from 0 to 60 in just under 5.3 seconds, and reach a top speed of 180 mph. The Testarossa is more than looks, it handles its speed and is a solid '80s icon.

5. Audi Quattro
Introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1980, the Audi Quattro completely overhauled the rally car game. Amid Group B rally cars with seemingly infinite power, the Quattro managed to establish itself as a top contender, not only with its AWD (a first in rally car), but also its unconventional turbocharged 5-cylinder engine. Nowadays, turbos and AWD are synonymous with WRXs and EVOs, but the Audi Quattro was the trailblazer that introduced AWD to the world of production cars.

4. BMW E30 M3
The E30 M3 is the perfect blend of racecar and a road car. Built as a Group A homologation special, this car has the luxury features of a BMW road car with the rawness of a touring champion. In fact, this piece of German engineering won the inaugural World Touring Car Championship in 1987. BMW put their all into making this first generation M3 a lightweight powerhouse.
Mike Krawat
3. Ferrari F40
Many felt that the F40 was too crude and unrefined when first introduced by Enzo Ferrari in 1987. The Pininfarina-designed coup? did not have power brakes, traction control or power steering. Detractors quickly realized that its beauty was rooted in simplicity. The F40 marked Ferrari's return to making no-frills performance machines. It was the first road car to incorporate an entirely carbon fiber body, something that was still relatively new to Formula one at the time. This car was Enzo Ferrari's final legacy, and he ensured that the brand still bearing his name would only release the best.
2. Porsche 959
This Porsche undoubtedly set the stage for sports cars for years to come. When first released in 1986, it resembled something from the future- with an automatic adjustable suspension, liquid cooled flat-6 engine, six-speed transmission and AWD. It could do 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 197 MPH, making it the fastest street legal car in the world at the time. This car was so badass that Bill Gates spent 13 years working to get the "show and display" law passed so that he could get the car into the U.S. What makes this car really special is that it was never intended to be a road car. Porsche had originally designed the 959 to cement its status as a leader in automotive technology and compete in FIA's Group B series. However, FIA restrictions meant the company had to produce at least 200 vehicles in order to compete. Making a practical road car was never Porsche's intention, but few car enthusiasts are complaining about this barely legal tour de force.
1. Buick GNX
Okay. I've got to say it.

Lord Vader, your car is ready!

It may be a cliche now, but with that sleek black exterior, who wouldn't feel their inner Dark Side come out? It should be no big surprise that this car tops our list. The GNX was GM's saving grace in the '80s; the only bright star in an endless stream of flops. With its revamped chassis and 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine, as well as the added intercooler, the GNX was a total beast. So much so, that GM had to lie about its specs out of fear of damaging the Corvette's image. The GNX gets close to 300hp and 360 lb-ft of torque, numbers that are almost indistinguishable from a Countach. The GNX is a born and bred authentic muscle car, and with only 547 ever produced, it has been a collector's wet dream.

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