OT- Classic Cars

Submitted by Steve in PA on March 11th, 2011 at 1:12 PM

I've reached the point in life where my wife is getting on board with me getting a "toy" car.  It will be one of those things we enjoy as we get older and it will also be an investment although that is secondary.  

As I search for a car, I noticed that I could not think of any classics from the 80's or 90's and I thought that was strange.  By classic, I mean something that an average person could have bought new and enjoyed, but was also an iconic piece of the era.  Or maybe another description is something that HS boys dreamed about owning when they could afford.

For instance, the 1965 Mustang was one of those cars.  Many of the "muscle cars" of the late 60's-early 70's also fit that description.  That could also be because of my age.  My HS car was a 78 TA just like the one in Old School, but with T-tops.  Just about any year Corvette fits the bill, but I think those are also out of range for most Americans.

Can you think of any 80's or 90's cars?



March 11th, 2011 at 6:18 PM ^

The 1994-2000 Dodge Viper is usually fairly cheap.  I personally think it's the best looking car of the 90's.  Based on affordability of course.  There's a reason there are not iconic cars from these decades.  Ugly.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:21 PM ^

80s or 90s I'm not sure about for me, but give me a '69 Charger R/T with the HEMI or a '70 Challenger R/T (obviously with a Hemi) and I will be one happy person.

Any Viper at any time will also suffice, I can't wait to see what the new one looks like then it's announced/launched next year...too bad they had to put wuss control - I mean TCS - into it.  Damn government.


EDIT: When I was in high school (not in the 80s or 90s, mind you) I wanted a Dodge Stealth.  Dunno if that helps you out at all.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

They fit the "classic" mold, but aren't what you're looking for (If you can find a CJ-8, those things are really desireable).

Unfortunately the 1980s had a bunch of awful cars. The Camaro/Firebirds and Mustangs were hit by the gas crisis, boxy, and slow.

Chrysler's multiple buyings killed off their muscle. Porsche came out with the 924 and 968 - front engined things that were NOT Porsche-esque and almost killed the company. VW and Audi were fledgelings... Beemers weren't what they are today...

I'd say go for either an early 1980s Porsche 911, an MG-B Roadster, Or a "Graduate" Alfa Romeo Spyder. I'm not as familiar, but a Datsun Z might be worth looking into as well


March 11th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

But it aint "iconic" It's a front engined 4-cylinder. I looked into getting one for my first car (late 80's) it's engineered really well because that's what Porsche does... but I don't think it fits the iconic discussion despite its appearance in 16 candles.


March 11th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

I think the picture is of a 1984 Regal GN.  My family bought a 1984 Buick LeSabre and there was one of these in the showroom at the time.  I tried to get my Dad to buy it, but it's not much of a family car.  This thing was pretty expensive in its day, but it hauled a**.  More rare is the LeSabre Grand National.  I didn't even know this existed until I saw one at a car show a few years ago.  The Regal is a better looking car.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

Outside of your usual Camaro/Firebird/Trams Am, Corvette and Mustangs, the Buick Grand National is quite possible the best "Muscle Car" of the 80's.

Total sleeper by looks but it's one helluva beast I can promise you that.





March 11th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

I've got a 1984 Oldsmobile Omega with 40k miles I bought from an old lady for $1500...she has poor vision and gave up driving, haha. It's in great shape but in the end it's still an Omega.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

I owned one once upon a time. It was really fun. I bought in California before I got out of the service. Drove it back to Michigan when I got out. Fun drive across the country. I had to sell it as I just couldn't maintain it, as I didn't use it as an every day car. Sold it to a guy that was going to finish the restoration. Hmmm still miss it some days.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:28 PM ^

After having owned/restored a slew of Mustangs (including two '66 GT-350s), I cannot think of anything I would consider 'classic' from the 80's or 90's.  If you're looking at the car from a "toy" and "investment" standpoint, you'll need to ask yourself if, once you're 'done' with it, will it be worth more than what you purchased it for?  If there's a market for anything from the 80s/90s, then the answer may be "yes".  If not, look at something that you'll enjoy and be able to sell.  Those old 60s muscle cars certainly fit the bill.  However, they're getting expense and with gas getting stupid again may or may not hold their value.  It really depends on the vehicle and that vehicle's following.  IMO, you can't go wrong with 60s-era Mustangs, Camaros and Corvettes.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

Depends on what you like, 5.0 mustangs from the era are still popular, and you could put many parts on it. Also Mustang Cobras came out in the early 90's, and those cars are real cool and fast. Also you could check out camaros like the IROC-Z and Z28. You could also go for one of the high performance tuner's, they might be Japense but their fast, cars like Mistubishi 3000gt vr-4, and also Nissan 300ZX. That's all I could think of now.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:30 PM ^

In my opinion, my favorite of the Z model by Nissan; drove it all through high school and it packs a punch, especially if you get the twin turbo model. Bonus if you get it in blue (which my dad told me they discontinued after only a few years of production, which is the color my dad has it in).


March 11th, 2011 at 1:36 PM ^

That was my first and second car. It's a great little two seater (getting you out of driving all your friends around when you were too poor to afford gas) and it's very alive in the kit-car and tweaking community.

I've seen everything from kit cars to look like anything to dropping in a 32V Northstar to all electric...


March 11th, 2011 at 1:37 PM ^

80's were a terrible time for classic cars. 90's weren't much better.
From those eras, I appreciate the Toyota Supra and the BMW 8 series.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

My first car was an '84 Z28. I still can't believe my parents let me buy it, especially considering that I totalled it a month after I got my license. But that generation of Camaro (up to '92, I believe) can be a really nice "muscle" car, 

But if done wrong, can look like some of the trashiest beaters on the road.


March 11th, 2011 at 1:39 PM ^

 The 80's were certainly not the glory days for car design and performance.

This is largely due to the new emission standards that began in the 70's that effectively ended the muscle car era.

It took the manufacturers a long time to figure out how to generate horse power without high levels of pollution and poor fuel economy.  They started figuring this out in the 90's and are exceptional at it now.

Personally, I think of the 60s for classic cars.  I own a 65 Chevelle convertible which I love.

If I had to pick an american car from the 80s:

  1. Buick Grand National
  2. Chevy IROC Z-28
  3. Chevy Monte Carlo SS


March 11th, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

I thought the 3rd and 4th gen Camaro's fit your criteria. The IROC versions graced my suburban town's driveways while I was in high school in the early '00s. I think the Datsun/Nissan Z's of the era, and even things like their 240SX should fit the bill as fun cars that were inexpensive and had styling unique to that era.

Also agree with other posters on the Grand National, and would add Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais and Ciera. While the Ford Taurus Wagon was probably the most popular car of the era, the Grand National was a beaut that I think still looks amazing - and yet so late '80s/early '90s.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 11th, 2011 at 1:56 PM ^

was a 1991 Dodge Daytona.  Its paint was fading and the previous owner's girlfriend had ruined first gear -- she had no idea how to drive a stick -- so I had to start in second gear, which led to a few stalls before I got used to it.  But it ran well for a good four years with no major problems.  I really liked that car.  A lot.

Unfortunately, a moment of inattention sent me sailing through a stop sign in Ann Arbor, and a brand-new fresh-off-the-lot (still with temporary plates!) Buick Rendezvous hit me square in the drivers door.  I was fine, but that was the end of my Daytona.

So...yeah, I know it's not really a classic or anything, so it's not what you're looking for.  But were I to go back and buy a car from the 80s or 90s, I'd probably find myself a Daytona, just because of the fond memories I have from that old 1991 Daytona.

Sorry for wasting your time, OP...but thanks for letting me reminisce!


March 11th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

this was my first car. 

love it. since the new ones came out a few years ago there has been a lot more love for these lately. 

check out a 1980's BMW M6. 


March 11th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

Honestly, as far as icon cars from the 80s go you have only two choices: the Porsche 911 or the Ferrari 308 GTS.

Now as for American icons, you have to go with the Camaro IROC, a Grand National, or a Monte Carlo.


edit: the 308 GTS should be familiar.


March 11th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

When I got out of college the company I worked for paid a car allowance but it had to be a 4 door American car.  There were not many decent choices.  I got the black one with blacked out chrome like the one pictured in the foreground.  Cool 4 wheel drive car that was unreliable and under powered.  Beat the hell out of the crappy GM front wheel drive x cars of the day


Steve in PA

March 11th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

...and some laughs.

I guess maybe the poor designs had something to do with the US car makers not doing well, but that's another discussion that I have no intention to be involved with.

I was asking because I wondered if I was just not thinking of them, but other than the rockin' Geo Storm it seems they don't exist.  The Grand Nationals were nice.  A friend of mine had one with T-Tops, but they aren't my cup of tea.

Right now my list is in no particular order:

64-67 Chevelle/GTO

69/70 Mustang (My first car I bought)

77/78 Trans Am (The car I sold in college)

Late 60's Dodge Products are also appealing


As you can see, they are already collectable.


March 11th, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

1955 Ford Thunderbird - really cool but unpractical car.  Was afraid to leave it anywhere.

1972 Porsche 914 - The Volkswagen of Porsches.  Great quick car that handled well but was expensive to fix and they got rusty quick

1974 Firebird Formula 400 - 8 mpg but you could really smoke the tires

1976 Lotus Eclat - quirky looking, fun to drive not that reliable

1985 Audi GT - loved the car and it was bulletproof

1995 Audi ?? - Can remember the model it was after they changed the names.  Nice car. 

My recent middle age extra car is a Mini Cooper S.  Ride is a bit harsh but it goes like hell and is fun to drive.  Reliable.  As I get older my patience for being broken down by the side of the road is less, so I like newer stuff that is reasonably economical.  

I liked the Ferrari 308 suggestion and would also suggest a Jag XJS

I'd go for a naturally aspirated Lotus Esprit if I had to have a car in that period.  They are not that expensive

Here is a 1979.  They got even better looking in the 1980's



March 11th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

you could do a nice kit car.  Factory 5 has some amazing AC Cobra body kits that fit onto a lot of 80's 5.0 mustangs. Again, this will depend on your level of work and money you want to put in.

Tim Waymen

March 11th, 2011 at 3:15 PM ^

I second Beavis on the Supra.  Mitsubishi 3000GT is possibly another classic.  It's main flaw was that it was a Mitsu, and when it wasn't, it was a Dodge.