Ten Future Classics from the 1980s

Turn on a Barrett-Jackson or Mecum auction this weekend, and you are bound to see miles of vintage American muscle cross the block. From ’75 Chevy Bel Airs to Pontiac GTOs and Chargers, it’s a muscle car fan’s dream, but these cars cross for a lot of dough, and they won’t be around forever.

So what’s next for car auctions? I won’t even touch the 1970s, but in the 80s things started to change; cars actually became fun and laid the foundation for the amazing sportscars of the 1990s. So, here are 10 future classics from the 1980s. If you own bowling shirts with flames on the sleeves, this list is probably not for you.

Alfa Romeo Spider:

Alfa Romeo Spider

Right now, Italian brands like Fiat are finally getting back to classic, small displacement drop-top roadsters, and are looking to the Mazda Miata for inspiration. Well when Mazda first wanted to design a nimble, sporting roadster, the looked to the Brits and the Italians. The Alfa Romeo Spider carried on in the same standard formula from 1966 to 1993. Some were not in love with the cutoff “kamm-tail” but it improved aerodynamics

BMW M-Anything:


M3, M5, M6 (where you can find one), you name it! These cars made the daily driver-sportscar a commonplace thing. In fact, these cars will become so sought after, that it will drive up the price of non-M variants of the 3 Series, 5 Series, and 6 Series. Good luck!

Buick Grand National/GNX:

The same concept applies to the Gran-Nat and its even more badass sibling, the GNX! On its own, the Regal was case study in “how to build a car so boring it’ll make you cry.” Throw a turbocharged V6 under the hood, and black out EVERYTHING, and you have a screaming good time. Heck, a group of folks loved this car so much they made a documentary on it! (See above)

Mazda RX-7:

Mazda RX-7

Before the Miata, there was the RX-7. Reliability may not have always been peak, but it was so quintessentially ’80s and so quintessentially Japanese. If you find one in good condition, take the time and money to keep it in working order. One day you will find you have an extremely valuable coupe in your garage.

Two-Door Chevys (multiple choices):

1987 Chevy El Camino Choo Choo


It goes without saying that a clean Corvette or V8-powered Camaro from the ’80s will be worth a bit of coin down the road, but they are not the only two-door vehicles to wear a bowtie and sport a V8. First, there is the El Camino, which is just about as cool as you could get for the 1960s and 70s, and though most versions from the 1980s wear that ‘Grandma’ front end, Choo Choo Customs offered a more aerodynamic front end worthy of its performance.

1985 Chevrolet K5 Blazer

The same can be said for any Blazer that isn’t rusted like Swiss cheese. Find a clean one with a V8 and you’ll own a piece of the past that few will get to enjoy- a two-door V8 SUV!

Mitsubishi Starion/ Chrysler Conquest Tsi:

Chrysler Conquest TSi

Through the years Mitsubishi and Chrysler have attempted to share models and engines for many small, compact cars– not always with terrific results. This is not one of those times. The Starion/Conquest was one of the first harbingers of the Japanese sportscar dominance that would take hold in the mid-to-early 1990s. These 2+2 coupes featured a 2.6-liter turbocharged inline-4, manual transmission, and rear wheel drive.

Mitsubishi Starion

As a side note, I was at a salvage yard in my hometown several years back, looking for spare Cherokee parts. I came across a friend I had not seen in about a decade. I asked him what he was looking for- he responded “a turbo for a conquest.” I said nothing more. I knew his life was in the right place.

Ford Mustang 5.0L:

Ford Mustang 5.0L

The list would not be complete without the old “Five-O.” The 3rd-gen of the original Pony Car was produced between 1979 and 1993, and it owned the ’80s. In 1989, its speed air density induction system was replaced with a mass air system. It lowered the stock power, but makes it much easier to modify. So there’s that.

The Toyota Trio:

Toyota Supra

It would be unfair to the other entrants on this list to give Toyota three separate spots, but the Supra, MR2, and Corolla GT-S all warrant mention. Two generations of the Supra spanned the 1980s, but it was the 1981 to 1986 generation that is as much a credit to the Japanese sportscar craze as any on the list.

Toyota Corolla GT-S

The Corolla GT-S defined affordable performance, and the MR2 (which many owners and fans affectionately call “Mr. Deuce”) was a mid-engined dream.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer:

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Wood panels, four-wheel drive and V8 power. Do I need to go any further? If I must, there is the fact that you can own a vehicle from 1989 that looks much older, thus bridging the gap in reliability versus vintage provenance. If any of that made sense to you, we should talk.

Nissan 300ZX:

Nissan 300ZX

The RX-7 may have a cult following, but it had nowhere near the mass popularity of the Z. Engines ranged from a turbocharged 2.0-liter mill to a dual overhead cam (a big deal back then) 3.0L V6. There are plenty of these cars, but finding an unmolested one is quite difficult. You will likely be sourcing parts form all sorts of salvage yards, but a clean one will stand out among the rest.

It was replaced in 1989 by a car that was entirely bonkers, and we’ll talk about that next week.

BONUS: Subaru Brat:

Subaru BRAT

This was not included in the hard list of ten, because, well, who knows what safety regulators might do to this damn thing– but will you look at it! It’s a pickup with, open air, rearward-facing seats! If you do not agree with its “Fun on Wheels!” slogan, than you are in the wrong place.

Image Sources: Wikipedia, Hemmings, Autoweek, CarGurus


Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Latest News

  • Hungary Cannes sensation may help country face dark past
    Hungary Cannes sensation may help country face dark past

    By Marton Dunai BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The makers of the award-winning Hungarian film "Son of Saul" said on Thursday they want as many Hungarians as possible to see it in a country that has been plagued by anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The film -- the tale of a Jewish "Sonderkommando" death camp worker who finds a corpse he believes is his son's and sets his mind to burying him amid the horrors -- won the jury's Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival this month. Director and screenwriter …

  • Actress Lindsay Lohan taken off probation in driving case, prosecutor says
    Actress Lindsay Lohan taken off probation in driving case, prosecutor says

    Actress Lindsay Lohan has completed her community service in a 2012 reckless driving case, a judge found on Thursday, allowing her to leave probation for the first time since 2007, a prosecutor said. The 28-year-old "Mean Girls" star was required to finish more than 100 hours of community service in the case in addition to rehabilitation and therapy. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Young found Lohan had completed that obligation and ended her probation, Santa Monica chief deputy …

  • "We were awful" - Pink Floyd's Waters on band's early days
    "We were awful" - Pink Floyd's Waters on band's early days

    By Edward Baran LONDON (Reuters) - Pink Floyd founding members Roger Waters and Nick Mason joked while unveiling a memorial plaque on Thursday that they were so bad at first that they wouldn't have passed an audition on a talent show.    The pair, together with the late Richard Wright, formed the group while studying architecture at the former Regent Street Polytechnic in central London between 1962 and 1965. The psychedelic and progressive rock band went on to become one of the most …

  • Book Talk: Renee Knight's "Disclaimer" portrays a life unravelling
    Book Talk: Renee Knight's "Disclaimer" portrays a life unravelling

    By Verity Watkins LONDON (Reuters) - "What if the book you were reading was about you?" This is the question posed in Renee Knight’s "Disclaimer", a new thriller in the ‘suburban noir’genre. Catherine, a middle-aged television documentary maker, finds herself the central character in a book that has appeared in her home. From there Knight takes us with Catherine as her settled and apparently happy life unravels before her, until she is forced to confront a past she wants to bury. …

  • No foul play in death of Chilean poet Neruda, researchers say
    No foul play in death of Chilean poet Neruda, researchers say

    By Erik Lopez SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Spanish researchers investigating the early '70s death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to determine if he was poisoned, have found no conclusive evidence of foul play, according to an initial report handed to the investigating judge. The Chilean government reopened the investigation into his death in January, with new tests designed to look for protein damage caused by chemical agents, suggesting poisoning. Forensic experts at the Universidad de Murcia found …

  • Sai Paranjpye, Celina Jaitly demand equality for all

    Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) Filmmaker Sai Paranjpye and actress Celina Jaitly have demanded equal rights for everyone, including the LGBT community. At the inauguration of the sixth edition of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival -- India's only mainstream Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) film fest -- Celina and Paranjpye spoke their mind about the need for equality. At a time when freedom of speech and expression is largely stifled, it is important that a festival like Kashish …

  • Film on Pinki Pramanik to spread positivity

    Kolkata, May 28 (IANS) A Bengali film modelled on controversial Asian Games gold medallist Pinki Pramanik, with references to homosexuality, is set to release in West Bengal next month. Debutant filmmaker Raja Banerjee hopes it will spread the message that perseverance and hard work can overcome hurdles. Christened "She?", the biopic delves into the obstacles faced by Pramanik, against whom the police drew up a charge sheet in 2012, following a complaint from her former live-in partner that …

  • Musical tribute to Noor Jehan, but with a twist

    New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) As a tribute to the melodies by Pakistan's legendary singing sensation Noor Jehan, singer Sona Mohapatra has recreated the magic of one of her songs "Sanu nehar wale pul tey bula ke". The musical duo, known for their energetic live gigs and who are regulars in the party circuit across north India, have revisited the song from the 1973 classic Pakistani film "Dukh Sajna De", read a statement. Asked about how he zeroed in on the song from the extensive library of songs …