Five iconic cars from the 80s and why we loved them

The 80s was not a time for modesty. Brash, sometimes vulgar motors filled western roads with no guilt, and many have been confined to the scrapyards of history. But plenty more have retained their cult status and remain revered to their disciples, for their look, their ride, their power or just sheer bravado.

They might lack the stability or reliability of their modern-day counterparts – click here to see some examples – but for a slice of nostalgic fun they’re pretty hard to beat. Here are five of the best:

Volkswagen Golf GTi MKII

One of the early generation of ‘hot hatches’, most car enthusiasts who are paid-up members of the Golf club cult believe the MKII, bereft of the souped-up extras in today’s models but replete with a brawny 16v engine, is still the real deal. Sporty but practical at the same time, this car had vim and vigour for drivers of all ages.

Buyers urge extreme caution to those thinking of recapturing the excitement of the mid-80s as the car can face real problems as it ages – but don’t we all?

Ferrari F40

Is this legend really nearly 30 years old? A staple of every boy’s bedroom wall throughout the late 80s (and a beast to beat in Top Trumps supercars), this 200mph classic was seemingly more spaceship than motor car.

It held the distinction of being the last Ferrari designed during the life of Enzo himself, and for many it sums up the marque in the most perfect fashion. Compared to other models such as the 288 GTO and the F50 it lacks buyer value because more units were made, meaning that you might be able to pick one up for ‘just’ £300,000-500,000 according to Evo.

Audi Quattro

Equally adept on the road or in the track, the Quattro brought the 4-wheel drive experience to the mainstream while also conquering rally tracks across the world in the early 80s. The Quattro now refers to Audi’s all-wheel drive technology and is such a famous, exciting designation that the German company has hinted on bringing it back into production – with an electric version even mooted.

The rugged vehicle returned to the British consciousness in the brutal hands of DCI Gene Hunt in Life of Mars/Ashes to Ashes, and never looked so good – ‘Fire up the Quattro’, indeed.

DeLorean DMC-12

Note that iconic does not mean good or great (scott!) In fact, apart from its famous role in the Back to the Future trilogy the car really has little to greatly recommend it, and was only produced for two years. The website Honest John flags up ‘disappointing performance, suspect reliability and build’, and a stainless steel body that proves difficult to keep clean.

That said, there’s something about those gull-wing doors and angular 80s aggression that still primes our flux capacitors. That’s because we’ll probably never see one of the 10,000 produced in the flesh, let alone drive one, so we only base our opinions on a trio of beautiful retro-futuristic movies.

Lamborghini Countach

Still as much of a head-turner now as when this 375hp, V-12 mid-engined supercar roared into view, this was the very definition of the macho corporate 80s.

The precise and spiky wedge design incorporates a bonnet that travels forever, and certainly onto the bedroom walls of many young boys. This was not a car for anyone with an unassuming, quiet disposition – more for someone who wanted to grab other road-users by the collar and scream at them. The cars are now regarded as the next best thing after a classic Ferrari and their flamboyant looks are still a source of desire.