The Quick Report

15 Coolest Cars of the 1980s

The 80s were an absolutely radical decade and saw the last hurrah of some classic car aesthetics that were wiped out in the 90s by rounded, aerodynamic designs. If you’ve ever thought that cars looked cooler in the 80s, this list is for you.

Dodge Omni GLH

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Many people learned the term “hot hatch” when they first heard about the Dodge Omni GLH. What does GLH stand for? “Goes like hell.” With a 150-horsepower inline-four on a lightweight frame, it would, too! An upgraded version, the GLH-S (Goes Like Hell S’more), was limited to just 500 units.

Audi Sport Quattro

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Audi didn’t overengineer the Sport Quattro, making it one of the very few 80s sports cars with an understated design. Its design flourishes, like the subtle vents over the grille, were just right for Audi’s dignified, upscale ethos.

Buick GNX

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You might not think “awesome” when you hear the name “Buick,” but the GNX changed that in the 80s. The GNX boasted a 300-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine, enough power to propel it past competitors. And it looked downright awesome with its hard edges and retro styling.

Renault 5 Turbo

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Renault’s R5 sounds like something a gearhead cooked up in their garage as a custom street-racing configuration. The manufacturer took the Le Car, threw out the back seats to make room for a turbocharged engine, and made the whole thing rear-wheel drive instead of the standard front-wheel drive. And yes, it was awesome.

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

A car named after the International Race of Champions needs to be awesome, and thankfully, the Camaro IROC-Z fits the bill. Its enhanced performance mode and unmistakably cool styling have given this one some enduring popularity years after its 1985 debut.

Ford Mustang 5.0

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The Ford Mustang is the only classic muscle car still on the market in the modern era, and it was awesome in the 80s, too. Interestingly, the Mustang 5.0 is the version of the car that restored its “wow” factor after a series of underwhelming late-70s iterations came in underpowered.

Aston Martin V8 Zagato

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Timothy Dalton’s version of James Bond drove an Aston Martin V8 in The Living Daylights in 1987, and the manufacturer further pushed the design in 1989 with the V8 Zagato. This British supercar wore Italian sports styling over a core that was distinctly Aston Martin.

DeLorean DMC-12

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Back to the Future, the DeLorean DMC-12 rules. It might have an underpowered engine, but it’s the coolest-looking car ever made, full stop. Gull-wing doors and a stainless-steel body just oozes 80s charm.

BMW E30 M3

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The BMW E30 M3 has an absurd name and performance on the track that can match that absurdity. This unique sports sedan earned a lot of its cool reputation for its superb performance on the racetrack, racking up wins and becoming the envy of 80s kids everywhere.

Chevrolet Corvette C4

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The C3 Corvette was a bit of a joke and flamed out quickly even among hardcore fans. The C4, however, changed the game. When you think of the history of the Corvette, this is the car that saved the nameplate from abject obscurity.

Ferrari F40

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The Ferrari F40 doesn’t even look like something from the 80s. Its enduring aesthetics are a testament to how much car enthusiasts love this body style! It’s basically the cartoon version of what a fast car should look like, but remember, the F40 made this look iconic, it’s not adopting an existing style.

Porsche 959

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The Ferrari F40 had one notable supercar rival in the 80s, and that was the Porsche 959. Many playground arguments about the finer points of the 959’s sequential turbocharging and all-wheel-drive system versus the F40’s raw horsepower ended in “well, nuh-uh!” back in the day.

Ferrari Testarossa

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If you played the game OutRun in the 80s, you wanted a red Ferrari Testarossa. A poster of this thing was on every kid’s bedroom wall. It had pop-up headlights, vented sides, and more style than an entire fashion show. Oh, and it could absolutely zoom around the road, too!

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Lamborghini Countach

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Okay, the Countach debuted in 1975. However, the 80s version is perhaps the coolest looking car to roll out of that decade and you can’t convince us otherwise. With its numerous vents and angular design, it just screams “80s excess”.

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Vector W8

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The “forgotten” American supercar, the Vector W8, was plagued with design setbacks that pushed its release back from the late 70s all the way to the late 80s. However, it was well worth the wait! With a top speed exceeding 230 MPH and a design that looked more “fighter jet” than “street-legal car,” this was the one every 80s kid wanted.

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