If you were alive in the 80s, what car were you driving? Better yet, what was your dream car? And did you see it being driven around by a few people and wished you could be just like them? Well, that's the beauty of being rich! You get to have any and everything you wish for in this world, at least material stuff, because they say money cannot buy the intangibles like good health, life, and happiness. However, the 80s was a time when different types of cars were in season and fashion. It saw the all-wheel drive cars dominate the rallying segment, while the turbo vehicles decided to go mainstream. During the same period, aerodynamics began to mean something to the average person.
Some of the most iconic cars of all time, even those that are celebrated to this day, are from that era, and it could probably have been one of, if not the, best decades for the automotive industry. There were and still exist some fine automobiles from the 80s to this day, most of which people just couldn't afford at the time. They were not accessible to the average person at the time, so the rich had their day and their way, which means they enjoyed pretty much all the good stuff the automobiles could bring. The cars that dominated the 80s, at least for most of our wish lists, include the Mercedes Benz, Camaro, DeLorean, Porsche, among others. These are brand names that to date still stand, and back in the day were the preserve of the rich.
However, today, for most of the twenty cars on this list, practically any average Joe can afford it because they drastically depreciated in value, but that doesn't make them popular anymore. Here are 20 of the cars that only millionaires could ride in the 80s.
20 1984 BMW 733i
The feeling of rich people wanting a point of distinction from the low class did not start today but its how they've been living from one generation to another. Back in the day, they would be spotted being driven in high end cars such as the 1984 BMW 733i. The 733i was an upscale car that they really admired, but it was expensive too, having a mark price of $36,335. This car, Money Inc says, comes with a full list of features and amenities that were great at that time, like a power sunroof, cruise control, leather seats, power windows and wood trims.
The engine that was used for domestic models wasn’t as powerful when compared to the one used in Europe but it delivered great performance.
It was powered by a single overhead camshaft 2.0-liter engine that made 89kW and 175Nm. As time goes by the value of this vehicle has deteriorated and the middle class can now get it at an approximate price of $7,900.
19 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E
If you would get the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E with a marked price of $23,430 when it was first introduced, time has done you a favour and you can go get it at a lower price of about $5,925. The 190E, according to Netcarshow was proof that the great engineering and performance of the German builder could be well fixed in a small sedan. It was fitted with some amazing style and features. To reduce the fuel consumption in the car, the aerodynamics of the body were optimized. The car was made of high-strength sheet steel and other innovative materials that helped in reducing its weight. Also, it was gasoline-powered and came with four-cylinder engines that had 1997cm cubic displacement producing 90kW.
18 1985 Lincoln Mark VII
The Lincoln Mark VII is one of the excellent luxury sedans that was common among the rich people, according to Consumer Guide. It came with a price tag of $22,399 during its time but as time has elapsed, its value dropped and can now be acquired at $8,700.
The Mark VII had the same design as its sister, the Continental.
The car came with some optional trims and goodies fitted in it which included GTC performance package and in-car phone, while the base model of Mark VII came fitted with Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 which came standard while a six-cylinder turbocharged BMW diesel was optional.
17 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL LWB
This car, according to Carfolio, had some features that millionaires really loved during their time. It came with much style and class, and could easily be noted as rich people’s machines. The 1986-Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL LWB was not just built for looks but also came with comfort, power and delivered great performance. This four door sedan had its engine fitted at the front but powered the rear wheels. It is powered by an 8 cylinder, single overhead camshaft naturally aspirated engine that is fitted with 2 valves in each cylinder and a capacity of 5.5 litres. Then engine produces 295.5 bhp at 5000 rpm and 455Nm at 3750 rpm. The power produced by the engine is taken to the rear wheel through a 4-speed automatic transmission.
16 1988 AMG Hammer
The 1988 AMG Hammer was the world fastest sedan during its time. The car, according to Car and Driver, was inspired by Mercedes W124 E-class but it was fitted with a 5.5-liter V-8 and twin camshaft that made 355 horsepower. The Hammer came with a starting price of $53,945 and will be remembered for being one of the most expensive sedans during that time.
Either way, this car is more than just an expensive machine.
It is mounted on AMG’s striking 8.0-by-17-inch alloy wheels that are aggressive and wear Pirelli p700 215/45VR-17- rubber in the front and 235/45VR-17 in the back. It is fitted with short and stiff springs that lower, and its inner fender lips are pruned a bit to provide clearance for the tires. The snugly valved shock absorbers keeps the car’s ability to prevent the chassis from the bump stops. The cars firm ride appears a little thumpy over potholes but not harsh.
15 1989 Lexus LS 400
Lexus first introduced its LS models in 1989 and the LS 400 was the peak. It came fitted with a modern look and a feel that other vehicles in its class at that time never had. The engineers’ work was to bring a luxury saloon with high standards ranging from; drive train, aerodynamics, chassis engineering, ride and handling, brakes, and electronics among others. The objective was to bring a high-quality car that could bring long-term ownership and driving pleasure. The LS is powered by a 4.0-liter V-8 liter engine that gives out 250-hp. This engine was designed to have a quiet cabin. Apart from being a first generation car, the LS boast of being the first car to be fitted with a steering wheel that had an automatic tilt and SRS airbag. The car was also fitted with power seat belt and high tech rear view mirror. It had a base price of $75,995 but Nada Guides values it at $35,775.
14 1989 Alfa Romeo Milano Gold Automatic
This car was realized in the memory of the brand’s 75th anniversary and marked the company’s entry in the performance luxury sedan segment.
Hagerty notes that it came fitted with a fuel injected engine that produced 153-hp.
The engine was sending its power through a five-speed or optional three-speed automatic. Inside the car are deluxe features which included air conditioning and leather together with other amenities such as power locks and mirrors. Other upgrades included the Verde trim, anti-lock brakes, plastic body cladding with rear spoiler. This typical luxury sedan of the 80s is distinctively boxy but clean. The car is now available for $22,500 according to Autotrader.
13 Alfa Romeo Spider
The Alfa Spider is an amazing car fitted with some of the unique features that you will definitely wish to see. Some of these features include a four-speed box and slightly more among others. This car never had much competition, in fact it only had one actual competitor - Colin Chapman’s Lotus Elan. Compared to the antiquated MGB and Triumph TRs in driving experience, Alfa is still the best and feels quite modern. Considering modern standards, this car isn’t that quick, with its fuel injected 2-liter providing a top speed of 133 bhp. Alfa’s driving position was criticized since the driver had to reach out for the steering wheel while its pedals were too close.
12 Jaguar XJS V12
Just from the first view you will realize how the XJS has a large size. On the other end, this car has a cozy interior that surprisingly provides enough room for those on board to sit comfortably. This car provides a smooth ride thanks to it’s an attentive suspension setup. Its performance is impeccable thanks to its all-aluminum 5.3-liter V12. When you jab on the accelerator off the line, it makes the car ease away gracefully with a lot of poise but with little headache. The car feels quite heavy because it is just plain big. The good thing is that once the car is up and rolling the hefty engine provides adequate depth of power.
11 Porsche 944
The Porsche 944, Jalopnik notes, was launched in 1985 as a top-of-the-range model in 944 model line. This model came with an aerodynamically enhanced front apron that was integrated with fog lights and high-beam headlights. Below the car’s rear bumper there was a rear diffuser.
Under the hood of the car it was fitted with a 2.5-liter turbo engine that produced 220 hp, but the 1988 S version generated 250-hp since it was fitted with a larger turbocharger.
The car had a wider body with a more hunkered down look that was made possible by its bulging fenders flares, and redesigned front and rear bumpers. It also had a five-speed manual transmission that was placed at the rear of the car’s trans axle. Turbo cars were considered to have serious reliability issues.
10 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The early 80s wasn’t a good time for the enthusiasts since most cars were tied to V8s and tightening fuel economy standards until 1982 when this Chevrolet Camaro was introduced, according to MotorTrend. Chevrolet came with new revised suspension but retained the traditional live rear axle while the old leaf springs were replaced with coils. They also optimized the F-car’s unibody to have a lighter body weight. The high performance Z28 was offered in two trims - Camaro Sport Coupe (base trim) and Berlinetta. The sport coupe was fitted with Iron Duke, V-6 or carbureted 305. The Berlinetta was to the luxury segment what the Z28 was to performance, and therefore it came with a plush interior, toned-down exterior styling and soft suspension.
9 Chevrolet Corvette C4
This is a fourth generation Corvette that appeared in the America’s quintessential sports car that debuted in 1984. The car came with all new chassis design and a bodyshell. Only 43 pre-production C4s were made. Despite the radical revamp, this car still retained its original hallmarks of a separate chassis together with a two-seat plastic body. This car offered excellent performance and handling for those who chose either an automatic or manual transmission. The C4 had a top speed of 155 mph and could take off from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds. When the T-Tops was removed, the cabin was noisy though there was a kit present to keep the rear windows slightly ajar to regulate air flow.
8 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
When you get into this big-beaked and bob-tailed car, NY Times notes, you will realize some difference between the Z’s and ZX’s predecessors. When you put the 2.8-liter six on fire and then apply the car’s three-speed automatic into action you will realize a bigger difference that the turbocharger produces.
The standard 280ZX is a perfect mixture of sports and luxury but it offers more speed than it does luxury.
With the turbo, the engine produces 180 hp that pushes the car from standstill to 60 mph approximately seven seconds. In the inside, the Datsun offers full instrumentation that includes a boost gauge and the combination gauge that measures oil pressure and temperature. This car was available at $30,000.
7 BMW 635CSI E24
This car wasn’t far from being perfect as it delivers good handling, high speed and a flexible performance, according to Trade Unique Cars. It has some qualities of a big coupe chassis character, and comes with an equal balance of the modern 1980s feel at the same time keeping the vintage aesthetic. The car’s steering is tight, hence making it more comfortable when it is at high speed. The 635 was basically made for power and control. In Australia, BMW offered the 635 at $86,000 coming with a choice of three transmissions. But the most popular transmission was a four-speed auto but the other option included BMW’s own overdrive five-speed manual or close-ratio Getrag. In 1984, BMW replaced the 3.5-liter SOHC six-cylinder with 24-valve DOHC unit that produced 213 kW. Its top speed was 255km/h.
6 Mercedes-Benz C126 SEC
This car, according to Total Car magazine, was produced from 1981 to 1991 and was considered as the Mercedes of all Mercedes cars, considering the fact that its predecessors came with greasing nipples and their swivel axles buckled worryingly when cornering. Apart from US models that had treatment while in Europe it was spared of reducing its dignity on the ground for being smoke-spitting, oil-grinding and half-wit car. This car offered ABS, seat belts with pre-tensioner, air bags, seat heating, electric windows and mirrors and two-zone air conditioning among others. Considering these features, the Mercedes-Benz C126 SEC was surely a millionaires’ choice during its time. This car was ahead of its time, with safety and comfort features that are today available in the modern vehicles. This car can now be acquired at around £11,995, which is much lower than the original price.
5 Maserati Biturbo
Maserati Biturbo would be a good option if you want a car with a glamorous badge, comfort and serious performance. It first made its appearance in December 1981 as a two-door coupe, and came with an 180bhp 2.0-liter twin-turbo engine, but only as left-hand drive. Most of the Biturbo engines were mated with a five-speed manual ZR transmission with a dog-leg gear. Biturbos are known to be an intriguing proposition that was as a result of its comfort, pace, rarity and trident badge put on the grill.
Despite the good features that it came with, the Biturbo disappointed its fans since it was scarce with patchy parts and potentially had high repair cost.
Over the years, its value really depreciated and its price has fallen from the original price of approximate $37,000, to about $10,000.
4 Porsche 928
The Porsche 928 went into production in 1978 and the main focus of its production was a lightweight construction. To achieve the objective Porsche doors, front wings and bonnet have been made of aluminum. Behind the car’s plastic bumpers there is an aluminum profiles that can withstand a collision at up to 5 mph without causing any damages. The car was fixed with electrically operated pop-up headlights put on its wings. Under the bonnet of the car, it has been fixed with water-cooled V8 engine with 90 degree cylinder arrangement and had a displacement of power unit of 5.4 litres. Back in the day, it cost $31,570 but today one can get it for about $6,710.
3 1987 Acura Integra
This car falls under the first generation models produced by Integra, according to Money Inc. It featured a cool styling that made it the best designed car in the ‘80s. Lovers of the Integra could either choose the four-door or the three door configuration. Under its hood it was fitted with a dual-overhead-cam, 1.6-liter four cylinder engine that produced 118 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque. The car could sprint from 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds. The Integra was affordable and delivered a great performance, and came with a price tag of $10,559. The car feels alive on the short 96.5-inch wheelbase so it is fun to make rounds in. I t also features light but precise steering, while inside the car is a well-designed interior, power windows, and top of line audio system. This car is now available at an approximate price of $2,200.
2 1985 Audi 5000
Audi has been producing some of the world greatest cars and many people would wish to own one. The legacy of Audi began long ago. According to Truth About Cars; it was started back in the day and in 1985, it produced a high end Audi 5000. The 5000 was great but came with a high price of $23,875 which left the car in the hands of a chosen few. With high car value deterioration, one can now own this car with just $4,850. The Audi 5000 has ground-breaking qualities ranging from fuel efficiency to great performance and its quiet operation. The 5000 was fitted with a small five-cylinder mill that produced 130 horsepower and was connected to the top-notch four-wheel disc brake system.
1 1987 Buick Grand National GNX
The 1987 GNX was one of the best luxury cars during its time and its value hasn’t reduced that much ever since it was produced, according to Edmunds. It came with a mark price of $26,000 and today this car has become a serious item of collectors and get one in a good shape can cost up to $150,000. GNX boast of being highest performing model in their line. This car is scarce in supply and Money Inc notes this is because only 547 of them were produced. The car showcases a distinguished style, flared fenders and 16-inch wheels. GNX was fitted with 276-hp 3.8-liter V6 engine. Some of the GM hardware in the car include a full ladder-type frame, solid 3.42 rear axle, rear drum brakes, push rods and 200-4R four-speed transmission with overdrive.
Sources: caranddriver.com, hagerty.com, autotrader.com