The zenith of uncertainties in the automotive industry came with the fuel embargo imposed by Arab members of OPEC against the United States In the 70s. As a result, the industry underwent realignment and changes that took some time to fully take effect. As we entered the 80s’ several changes had taken place around the globe. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) reiterated its importance in regulating the industry. These regulations diverted the attention of how cars looked and drove. The rules were viewed as a double-edged sword with both positive and negative effects especially in the development of sports cars.
Some of the most memorable sports cars no doubt came out in the 1960s and 1970s as witnessed by the muscle car season. There was also a significant flow of these effects well into the 1980s. This season had two ends of the spectrum. With supercars being a brand-new concept thanks to the likes of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, manufacturers in the ’80s experimented with new and wild ideas to push their sports cars ahead of the rapidly-developing competition. This meant that the decade brought out both great sports cars and some not-so-great among them.
To get a better glimpse of what the ’80s brought around, here is a list of some of the ten greatest and most influential sports cars of this period.
1983 Chevrolet Corvette C4
The 1984 Chevrolet Corvette attracted both acclaim and criticism in equal measure. It had long been awaited with both the press and members of the public itching to see what kind of machine it truly would turn out to be. Much to what fans expected, this Corvette was in its league, considerably different from the previous models in styling and character. It was poised to become a legend, taking back the Corvette to its sporting roots, more in style than performance.
Among notable developments was the 5.7-liter V8 engine that generated 205 hp. It worked alongside a system known as Cross-Fire fuel injection. The chassis was also new, reducing the length from the previous model by 8.5 inches and the wheelbase by two inches to 96 inches. The Corvette C4 made its entry with much noise but exited silently in a way that won’t fade from fans for a long time.
1987 Ferrari F40
The Ferrari F40 has historical importance in the company’s path of growth and development. This was the last road car that Enzo Ferrari himself signed off. It was also the first car in Ferrari’s era of 200 mph. Finally, this was Ferrari’s car to celebrate their 40th Anniversary.
Commenting on the vehicle’s powerful engine in a 1991 issue, Car and Driver wrote: “We’ve ever driven can match the mix of sheer terror and raw excitement.” This, in a way, correctly highlights what the Ferrari’s 2.9-liter V8 engine is capable of doing. Producing 478-horsepower from the DOHC 32-valve twin-turbocharged motor instantly propelled the F40 almost to a class of its own.
1987 Buick GNX
The Grand National was the name that NASCAR’S top-tier stock-car racing championship carried for about 21 years, which later became the Winston Cup. When Buick picked the Grand National name for the car that they named the Regal Grand National, it instantly resonated with the enthusiastic public.
That was way before the 1987 Buick GNX came around carrying a turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine oozing 276 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. With this, the GNX was able to sprint 0-60 mph in a very commendable 4.6 seconds.The rear-wheel-drive engine made use of a 4-speed automatic transmission. Doing less than five seconds back in the day was a big deal and the Buick earned its place as a good choice for enthusiasts.
1984 Ford RS200
The competitiveness of the RS200 has never been in doubt. It was a very gifted car built with some of the best technologies of the time and bringing around great engineering ideas of the time. It was built for Group B competition and, in the words of one observer, “drove like no other Ford before or since.” While that’s a debatable conclusion, the RS200 left an indelible mark.
Ford was yearning for a machine that could compete ably against the likes of the Audi Quattro, Peugeot 205 T16, and the Lancia Delta S in the WRC Group B championships. Their answer was the RS200, a powerful car that never lived to its full potential as it became obsolete following the abolishment of Group B competition.
1986 Porsche 959
If there is a vehicle that truly deserves the supercar description, its got to be the Porsche 959. It had only one mission, and this was to compete and win in the unforgiving WRC Group B championships. It also became Porsche’s testing ground for new technologies and living true to this desire, some of the elements it brought around are still in use today.
Sipping from a 2.8-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, the vehicle built from the ground up was capable of 444 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This engine sent power to all four wheels via a manual transmission system that had five forward notches, an all-terrain gear and of course, the reverse gear. Rising from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, this Porsche was capable of 197 miles per hour, making it the fastest street-legal car of its season.
1982 Porsche 944
Another Porsche sports car that rocked the eighties is the Porsche 944, a vehicle built to replace the 1982 Porsche 924 and to ostensibly help to lift up its image. The rear-wheel-drive machine depended on a naturally aspirated 2.5- liter, four-cylinder engine that produced just 161 hp. It worked quite well with its 5-speed gearbox developed by Audi. You could also have a 3-speed auto gearbox from Volkswagen, but this never made it a lesser Porsche.
Over the years, this car got better. The 944 Turbo of 1986 used the same 2.5-liter engine and managed to churn out 217 hp. The 944 remains a monumental car with good ratings, especially for its ability to remain sporty.
1984 Ford Mustang SVO
From Fords Special Vehicle Operations depertment came the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO. It came at a time when the competition was primarily based on performance and power. Making use of a 2.3-liter Lima four-cylinder engine, this Mustang pulled 175 ponies at 4400 rpm. This was no mean feat back in the day, and the Mustang SVO carried over the long-held tradition of aggressive performance.
The exterior styling of the Mustang was also different, and it was well distinguished from a production Mustang, albeit slightly. The hood scoop was a distinct feature, as was the rectangular sealed beam headlamnds. Precisely, the front fascia made it a different machine altogether.
1984 Ferrari 288 GTO
The Ferrari 288 GTO was a beautiful gem, one that only displayed its extravagance gifts in looks and performance but also through the name. In Ferrari circles, the GTO nameplate has unequivocal respect. This particular model gained more attention for very peculiar reasons. Built for completion in Group B championships, nearly all of them ended up becoming road-legal when the competition was dropped.
Power was supplied by a 2.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 sitting behind the passenger cabin. This engine was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. With its lightweight and nearly 400 hp, this is one of the purest forms of Ferrari engineering that came out in the ’80s.
DoLearan cars came, lived a brief while, and left in a haze of controversy that has become the foundation for lots of fictional and nonfictional fireside stories. What won’t fade any time soon is the fact that the only car that the company produced, the short-lived DMC-12 was revolutionary in every sense. Possibly, had it lived just a little longer, it would have made a perfect case study on how cars should or shouldn’t be made.
The gull-wing doors and the stainless steel exterior body panels made the DMC-12 famous. It had the looks to capture attention, though it lacked the power and performance to go along. Riding on a lowly 2.6-liter PRV V6 engine, the DMC managed a paltry 130 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. This vehicle weighing 2700 lbs took 9 seconds to scale from 0-60 mph, but the top speed was capped at just 109 mph.
The Audi Quattro is credited for putting Audi on a competitive scale when it comes to building fast, secure, and highly reliable cars. The greatest achievement of the Quattro was realized on the track where the vehicle won and dominated racing in a spectacular version.
The road-going versions of the Quattro are equally endowed. The greatest advantage comes from its four-wheel-drive system, which combined with turbocharged power made this car an outstanding performer. The 2.1-liter SOHC I5 engine made great effort to produce 200 hp and pushed the Quattro from 0-60 mph in 7.2 secsonds.
British carmakers are known for their unreliable yet fast and stylish sports cars. During the 1980s, these were the fastest of them all.
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