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Hooniverse Asks- Twofer: What Car Introduced in the ‘80s has Aged the Best? Which has the Worst?

Robert Emslie August 27, 2013 Hooniverse Asks 155 Comments


For many of us, the 1980s represents a sort of agreed upon unofficial delimiter of the modern auto age. Cars before then are considered oldies, while those from the Mtv era are often thought of as being modern enough to roll today. There were also a lot of epochal automobiles and trucks that debuted in the ’80s. Just consider the Chrysler K-cars and minivans, Ford’s Sable and Taurus twins, Toyota’s MR2, and the Pontiac Fiero. All of those are important for one reason or another, and all are children of the ’80s.

Of course not all of the cars and trucks that first saw the light of day in the ’80s have made a lasting impression, and as evidence I bet right now you can’t think of one. For every Mustang GT there was an EXP, and  the yin of the Audi 5000 was countered by the yang of the… well, Audi 5000. Yeah, sometimes the blade cuts both ways. In fact it’s interesting that of all the cars introduced in the 1980s, some almost seem contemporary today – first generation MX5 anyone? – while others look as dated as an MC Hammer video.

Today, I want to hear from you which are which. I want you to tell me which cars debuting in the ’80s – in your opinion – have really stood the test of time. That’s a tall order I know, but you’re not dome yet. I also want to know which ’80s cars haven’t aged well. Yep, it’s a Tuesday twofer, with an ’80s beat. 

Image source: BackToThe80s.it

Currently there are 155 comments on this article:

  1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    For which has aged best…that's easy.

    This car still look contemporary.

    <img src="http://i394.photobucket.com/albums/pp29/mckellyb/Asperfectasitgets.jpg&quot; width="400">

    Worst…that's gonna take some sifting…and eye bleach.

  2. FЯeeMan says:

    The 2nd gen Mr. Two still looks spectacular.

    The worst… This is gonna be painful

    *post-post research indicates that gen 2 came out in '89, but want sold in the US until 90 as a 91 model.

  3. frankthecat says:

    <img src="http://bimmerin.net/pics/e/e34.jpg&quot; width="600">
    The E34 BMW, which might be from the tail end of the 80's, still fits on modern roads just fine. Probably because it wasn't designed with a straight edge.

  4. OA5599 says:

    Best: Countach. I count it as 80's because that's when the first US-spec model came out.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/Lamborghini_Countach_US_spec_5000QV.jpg&quot; width=500>

    Worst:: Chrysler TC by Maserati. Production problems delayed introduction to about the same time the similar-looking and much cheaper Lebaron convertible came out. They came with a couple of different engine options so you could choose between meh performance or expensive repairs. Buy one today for whatever you need to pay and you can still get into Lemons with zero penalty laps.

    <img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/09/28/automobiles/600-Chrysler-TC.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • FЯeeMan says:

      I mustache you to make those bumpers stop!

    • RegalRegalia says:

      I think I would flip your answer, TC looks much better today than the Countach ever did.

      • OA5599 says:

        I wasn't basing that on looks. More on overall appeal. Lebaron is a decent looking car that borrowed heavily from the design of the TC. And it was way less expensive, which diluted the appeal of the TC and stole sales from it. And the "by Maserati" was supposed to be a halo car, but not only did it look like its less-expensive cousin, but only a small percentage of production received the performance drivetrain.

        I wanted to drive a Countach in the 80's. I still do. Even people who think the scissor door thing is played out can't fault the originator. I can't say I would particularly care to drive a TC. Of course, I do own two Lebarons.

    • humblejanitor says:

      I saw a TC in my neck of the woods a few weeks back. First time I've ever seen one!

  5. Kogashiwa says:

    Still looks good.

    <img src="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6ojrmRu6f1raqx62o1_1280.jpg&quot; width="600">

    The other side will be trickier because everyone has tried and mostly succeeded to forget them.

  6. crank_case says:

    ..and a contender for worst, the Austin Ambassador.

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Austin_Ambassador_Front.JPG"&gt;

  7. Vavon says:

    It's hard to believe the Peugeot 205 is 30 years old this year!
    <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_hWEjR8FxpIo/TADqfucvB8I/AAAAAAAAA7E/oJkAoie3r1w/s1600/205 GTi-001.jpg">

  8. FЯeeMan says:

    Still want one. Will have one.
    <img src="http://files.conceptcarz.com/img/Porsche/85_911_Turbo_KM_05_Por_00.jpg&quot; width ="600">

    shamelessly stolen from Conceptcarz.com

  9. ThirdPedalGirl says:

    Best? The W201. I can't think of another car, other than perhaps the Porsche 911, which both is date-able visually to the 1980s but still looks gorgeous on the road today.

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/W201.jpg&quot; width="600">

    The worst has to be the Chevy Citation, mentioned above. Yuck.

  10. PushrodRWD says:

    While the first two were not introduced in the 80's, the 80's models are still good looking and perform well, in their age bracket and purpose group.
    <img src="http://motoburg.com/images/chevrolet-camaro-iroc-z-02.jpg"&gt;
    1)<img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/plugins/PostviaEmail/images/1985_Mazda_RX7_GSL_SE_For_Sale_Survivor_For_Sale_resize.jpg"&gt;
    2) <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v484/dangerflammable/starion-4.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://all-cars.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1984-bmw-m635-csi-6.jpg"&gt;

    • RegalRegalia says:

      While good cars all, they are all very dated to me.

    • Ate Up With Motor says:

      The RX-7 was introduced in the '70s, though, and while the E24 M6 debuted in the '80s, the body dated to the mid-70s. (The main visible differences were just the airdam, wheels, and some minor tinkering with bumpers, so it's not even really a facelift.) I love the E24 and the M635CSi/M6 is the best-looking iteration, but it's really a '70s design.

  11. buzzboy7 says:

    I immediately thought MB for the best, and being my favorite all time car. W201 190e Cossie
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2687/3861/31716930017_large.jpg&quot; width="600">

    For worst there are a lot of options, K Minivan?
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/87-90_Dodge_Grand_Caravan.jpg&quot; width="600">

    • frankthecat says:

      I was going to mention the K platform minivans. Unlike my beautiful NS platform Voyager, they have not aged gracefully. At all. Probably exacerbated by the population group that generally owns and drives those vans in my area.

      • Devin says:

        I think the post-facelift ones have aged pretty well. And since they're easily the most abused vehicle out there, it's kind of impressive plenty are still around.

  12. Best… I might be a bit biased…
    Designed in '87 and '88 and introduced in Japan in '89, but it came to US shores as a '90.

    <img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8521/8681549999_428d72a5be_z.jpg"&gt;

    Worst… I've never liked the LeBaron but adding wood only makes me want to see it burn even more.

    <img src="http://data.motor-talk.de/data/galleries/0/133/1802/35370224/203768699-w500.jpg&quot; width="640" height=480>

    • Bruno Balestra says:

      It was the very first supercar I saw in the flesh and the impression still stands. Afetr driving one briefly a few years ago, I want one even more! Imagine what it was for a 8 year old boy whose country had been closed forever for imports to see one of these rolling down the street…..

  13. Deception says:

    Lotus Turbo Esprit

    <img src="IMAGE URL width="600">
    <img src=http://classiccarmag.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Lotus-Turbo-Esprit-1981.jpg

  14. Sjalabais says:

    The glorious year of 1982 produced me and an automobile classic of proportions.

    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-REfkrTlOnTQ/TzO3L1UawlI/AAAAAAAAAUQ/5meoLbkjfcU/s320/10533.jpg"&gt;

    It hasn't really aged that well in terms of still looking modern, but it certainly is a vehicle in demand.

    Worst performer? Lots and lots of everyday cars that the tinworm has put out of our memories.

  15. GTXcellent says:

    I'll probably get a lot of flack from the commentariat here, but this car looked weird and disproportionate when it was new. Now it looks OLD, weird and disproportionate.

    <img src="http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR1lQEw3l7UuBLBxblJelZgw8p_bQIKmCaaeH6Xp8QqOloxsgNVKw"&gt;

  16. Devin says:

    Best, it barely counts (introduced in 1989 in Japan, but 1990 in North America) but I love it anyway:
    <img src="http://karfarm.com/mag/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/1990-96-nissan-300zx.jpg"&gt;

    Worst, in that they look old and seem to deteriorate quite quickly, most flavors of Celebrity:
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3530/3213028206_8537fd5189.jpg"&gt;

  17. Devin says:

    Thought of an even better answer for the best of the '80s question: XJ Cherokee, still arguably the best looking SUV ever made, and it can do all the rock climby things too!

    <img src="http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Jeep-Cherokee-1985-red.jpg&quot; width="500">

  18. JayP2112 says:

    Pushing the limit- Concept car in 1989, but production in 1990…
    Change the wheels and it's updated to 2013 and beyond!
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Alcyone_SVX.jpg&quot; width="600">

  19. Tanshanomi says:

    My BEST nominations have already been mentioned.

    WORST: As much as I love 'em, I gotta admit the style is about as dated as The Bangles.

    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4041/4277593562_bf2cb152d3.jpg&quot; width="512">

    • FЯeeMan says:

      But, but, with a Bangles tape in the deck, you could drive like an Egyptian!

    • Ate Up With Motor says:

      I was leaning toward that, but in that mode, I'd vote for the Mitsubishi Starion/Conquest first, for the simple reason that people thought the XT was kind of out there even when it was new.

  20. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    Okay, I thought about worse.

    Was painful, but yeah, this is in the top 10….

    <img src="http://www.classiccarstodayonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Chrysler-1982-Imperial-Frank-Sinatra-edition-ad-a1.jpg"&gt;


    And I'm a Mopar guy at heart!

    Time to go look for a '73 Imperial 2-door…or a '69 2-door.

  21. zombienixon says:

    The ones that aged worst from the 80's are the ones that look like they're in denial that the 70's ever ended.

    <img src="http://www.blackcanyonclassics.org/images/1980-1989/1983 lincoln mark vi bob.jpg" width="600">

    Or the ones that looked futuristic at the time, but now look as cutting-edge as the digital dash on a C4 Corvette

    <img src="http://photo.netcarshow.com/Aston_Martin-V8_Zagato_1986_photo_01.jpg&quot; width="600">

  22. zombienixon says:

    The ones that aged worst from the 80's are the ones that look like they're in denial that the 70's ever ended.

    <img src="http://www.blackcanyonclassics.org/images/1980-1989/1983 lincoln mark vi bob.jpg" width="600">

    Or the ones that looked futuristic at the time, but now look as cutting-edge as the digital dash on a C4 Corvette

    <img src="http://photo.netcarshow.com/Aston_Martin-V8_Zagato_1986_photo_01.jpg&quot; width="600">

    • FЯeeMan says:

      It has SVX windows, NACA ducts, an Aston badge, and a pup tent on the hood. I'm stumped.

      Oh, and it looks like a Ford Probe round the back end. (that didn't come out right…) (wait …) (AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!)

      • RegalRegalia says:

        What is the V8 vantage (old school) my favorite Aston. It's busy, it's a zagato ripoff, it's an Aston, it is perfect.
        after gaining info via zombienixon: oh.

      • zombienixon says:

        That's the Zagato version of the Aston V8. The Volante version is even more 80's looking.

  23. Devin says:

    Another contender for the worsts, the '80s Continental:

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/My_82_Lincoln_Contiental_Givenchy.jpg"&gt;

    The bustle back strikes again!

    • RegalRegalia says:

      I know it's bad, but I want it so bad. the way the chrome strip gently curves downward sends shivers down my spine.

  24. Christopher says:

    I think most of the worsts have been mentioned. The Citation, Celebrity, EXP, all children of the '80s that should have been disowned.

    I think my very favorite all '80s car has to be the MkII Supra:
    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSgnK-5tATQwwZc6x70HYLfx12qCT30Ow6Pe7z3q2sUV_NTUsHT"&gt;

    My second favorite would be the one I still have the pleasure of owning, the S12 200SX/Silvia:

    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSK7162dAhz_O7a3lRSHOUqZdioxvZ1JKOB8EBVzcvXjipJ4v-F"&gt;

  25. Christopher says:

    Yes that is my '88 200SX SE V6 above, with me at the wheel on the Tail of the Dragon in 2004.

  26. Neen85 says:

    928 could be released today. (and is technically a 1970s car!!!)
    <img src="http://www.carsuk.net/wp-content/gallery/porsche-928/porsche-928-1.jpg&quot; width="600">

  27. Tomsk says:

    I still love the looks of the post-facelift "Aerobird" T-birds, particularly the Turbo Coupe with the "grille-less" front end.

    <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2008/04/15/19/58/1987_ford_thunderbird_turbo_coupe-pic-3858.jpeg&quot; width="600">

    As for the worst, I'd say that the Alfa Romeo SZ has only gotten worse with age.

    <img src="http://www.instablogsimages.com/1/2012/10/09/1349788795.jpg&quot; width="600">

  28. JayP2112 says:

    Ford Ranger:
    Intro'd in the 80's and has aged pretty well considering…
    <img src="http://www.therangerstation.com/resources/fordphotos/Ranger1.jpg&quot; width="400">
    <img src="http://photos.ecarlist.com/x2/zu/1X/7m/hP/M9/hX/eW/y1/wT/eA_640.jpg&quot; width="400">

    • Devin says:

      The Explorer Sport Trac is a different thing, the Explorer platform diverged significantly by then. The last of the Rangers was this:

      <img src="http://www.auto123.com/media/videos/specs/2011/ford/en/2011_ford_ranger.jpg"&gt;

      My dad has one, I like them but they were really in need of some significant updates Ford couldn't be bothered to pay for. Not to be bigger, it was the right size I think, but it was in serious need of a new interior – that thing is cramped for no good reason – as well as an improved powertrain since the mileage isn't great. Then again, I suppose there's the fear they'd go a size bigger and ruin the whole thing.

      • JayP2112 says:

        Yea- I was a little liberal but I wanted impact.
        Since the Bronco II was based off the Ranger, the bloodline ran thru the Explorers then to the Sporttrac. The 1st gen Sporttrac was pretty Ranger-ry inside and out.

        The V8 Sporttrac is on my short list to take over daily duty from my little 2.3 Ranger.

  29. Maymar says:

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Alfa164_PA140003_c.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    It's open for debate how the other Type Four cars aged, but the Alfa 164 is still rather striking.

    • Christopher says:

      It is a striking design. Alfa would do well to incorporate some of the design features into their new cars. Perhaps if Alfa ever lives up to their promise to return to the North American market, we could even buy them.

    • Ate Up With Motor says:

      The other three aren't bad-looking, but they are kind of generic (and they look a lot more like one another than the 164 looks like any of them). I think the 164 looks best in pre-facelift form — the chrome mustache on the bumpers seems at odds with the theme — but it is a very handsome car. The interior design hasn't aged as well, though. It was trying too hard when the 164 was new and the abundance of buttons now makes it feel very '80s.

  30. Ate Up With Motor says:

    The early MN12 Thunderbird has aged pretty well. The later examples messed with the details in a way that did the T-Bird no particular favors aesthetically, but the early cars still look quite modern, in part because their bulk (much-criticized at the time) is no longer remarkable. Admittedly, the MN12 does look like an 5/4ths-scale BMW E24 6er, but that's hardly a problem, and creating a design that could be favorably compared to a BMW while still possessing a useful family resemblance to the contemporary Taurus and early aero-Panthers was a pretty good trick.

    Worst? I'm leaning toward the Maserati Biturbo. It's not a bad-looking car, I suppose, although I can't help thinking it looks like how the Cimarron might have turned out had Cadillac hired Giugiaro to tidy up the J-body. However, it's just so obviously and inescapably trapped in the '80s, like an actor who might have parlayed a supporting part in DePalma's Scarface to guest-starring roles on Miami Vice and/or Knight Rider. It looks like it should come with its own synthesizer-driven score.

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