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Sports and Sporty Cars of the '80s

135

Comments

  • tntmythtntmyth Posts: 70
    I had a blast in my Toyota Supra. It was my favorite car of my 20's and I would say the car I had the most fun in so far. It was a stick shift. Red and black 2-tone with flared fenders. Recaro seats. I used to love seeing the headlights pop up at night. It was just a cool car. I used to race my friend in his 280ZX. The Supra was just a little faster. :shades: To me, it handled great even though I know virtually all of the sports sedans of today perform better. I even considered picking a used one up recently just for fun. But then common sense took over.
  • The Legend is a fantastic vehicle. I owned it currently for 2 years as a means of manual transmission training. It's quite comparable to the Mazda3 sedan, except the Mazda has more low-end torque, more head room, and 30 mpg to boot.

    Pros: For a FWD vehicle, it has little to no torque steer. Its variable intake make the car quiet at low rpm and makes this very nice sound once it gets going. Once in 2nd gear, it can pass most cars for as long as it is 3500+ rpm. I've pushed it to 5000rpm quite frequently, sometimes 6k. And I just passed the smog check yesterday. Why won't it just die? (If it does, I can buy another for $900...)

    Cons: The Legend has high roll, so I bought a sway bar from Addco. I just used 2nd gear for sharp turns and third gear for anything else over 50mph to keep connected with feedback. It has little performance upgrades for the engine. The turbo does not give a substantial boost.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    The Legend was a great car....but it was so....so....JAPANESE...at the time, I could never stay interested in one. I relate to smells and sounds as well as how cars drive---weird, I know.....

    The BMW M1 is one of those cars that "gets no respect" in America. You mention this car to a group of collectors or enthusiasts and it's like "oh, really---yeah---whatever".

    Probably one reason is that they were never imported into the US, and the few that came in got pretty botched up by people who claimed capable of getting them to conform to DOT/EPA regulations. Also, the exterior is not very exotic and the interior is as plain as can be, in that spartan German sort of way back then.

    They aren't cheap to buy but never achieved the levels of other exotics.

    The M1 has all the creds but none of the appeal of Ferrari, Lambo, etc.

    PORSCHE 930 --- what a kick! I love those cars, even if they can kill you. Still a helluva bargain if you ask me. Same price as an NSX and 5 times the fun.

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  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    The Fiat Spider and Alfa Romeo Graduate. Two little sports cars that had their own quirks that were different from their English counterparts. I had a Fiat in the late 80's and even for the time it was slow but with rear wheel drive and a stick it was still fun.

    The TR-7 also came out it the late 70's, I guess that may have been what put the final nail in the British sports car in this country.

    I also dad a pair of '85 Maxda RX-7 GSL-SE's with the larger 13b motor and to this day I consider them the most entertaining cars I have ever owned. They handled much better than the '80 Prelude that they replaced, but they were horrible on gas for their size.
  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    The TR-7 also came out it the late 70's, I guess that may have been what put the final nail in the British sports car in this country.

    The coffin was nailed shut around that time on virtually all the small British sports cars. The management were hopeless and the Unions were redder than a Ferrari dipped in raspberry juice. That plus the scare that soft-top cars would be banned in USA just about killed-off the genre.............until Mazda reinvented the whole sector by copying the Lotus Elan; i.e. the MX-5, (Miata) but with parts that fitted and lasted more than 10 minutes.

    The little Fiats and Alfa's were real characters; as small sports car should be. The Fiat Barchetta was a little gem right up to it's, (recent), end.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    The Alfa Spider was a great little car. First production car with variable valve timing (1981) and finally, thank god, some reliable Bosch fuel injection. It made an MGB feel like a dogcart.

    TR7 was a pretty good handler but the car was very dubious otherwise. They made the unfortunate choice of that Triumph Dolomite engine which I think Saab also used. Very prone to head gaskets blowing, as were the Saabs that came later. Not sure if Saab re-worked that engine, probably did.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Excluding exotics, such as Ferraris, are there any '80s sports or sporty car that are worth more than, say, $4,000 (used car price plus a modest premium for special interest value). Let's qualify this question further and assume that we're talking sale-by-owner transaction prices on examples in #1 condition. Try as I might, the only ones that come to mind are the late '80s C-4, the Grand National, and the Supra turbo. I can't think of any other models from GM (a pristine '89 Camaro or Trans Am, maybe), Ford ('89 Super Coupe?), Chrysler, or Japan. There's nothing from VW-Audi, that I know of, but I imagine there's one or more from BMW and Mercedes. Without doing some quick research I'm unable to list specific BMW and Benz models with confidence.

    Which ones am I missing, and how much are they worth?
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    In #1 condition, you can probably come up with a long list, as a real #1 might be worth twice that of a #2.

    Even in #2 condition, pretty much any 1980s Porsche will pass up $4,000.
    BMW - any 6 series, M3s, 3-series convertibles, M5s.
    MB - 190E 2.3-16 (probably even some of their more prosaic sedans are over $4K)
    VW - Corrado, Cabriolet, maybe even a super nice Scirocco 16V
    Audi - Coupes, S cars
    RX-7 Turbos and Convertibles, maybe even a 323 GTX
    Alfa and Fiat convertibles
    TVRs
    '88 Fiero
    Supercharged MR2
    Celica All-Trac Turbo

    That's just off the top of my head anyway.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,722
    I only know MB of the era...the 2.3-16 is probably the only "sporty" one, but quite a few are worth at least 4K in decent condition, a genuine #2 car with no cosmetic or mechanical needs. A good 126 sedan should cost at least 4K - nice C126 (80s SEC) can still bring 10K. A 107 always seems to be worth something to someone, you don't want the problems that come along with a 4K example. An early C124 (300CE) can be had for about that money, but one with no needs will still cost more. A decent 124 sedan can be had for 4K - they were considered good performers for 1986 anyway. Probably the only other decent (condition) period MB for that money would be a W201, or perhaps a later W123 if diesel greed isn't in the equation.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    I don't think you should use #1 cars as a criterion because #1 cars defy all price guides. I think a "high #3" car is what one usually sees (even at car shows) for sale.

    I'd say that the only high #3 sporty cars that won't break $4K are the Japanese ones. Nobody much wants 80s Japanese cars of any kind, or if they do want them, they don't want to pay much for them.

    Clean Alfas and Fiats should break $4K easily, as will any 450SL of course. Even a 1984 C4 Corvette will break $4K in halfway decent shape (the least desirable of the C4s).

    $4K doesn't buy a lot these days in anything sporty or decent-looking from the 80s, unless you want an RX7 or something "psuedo sporty", which means all show/no go.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Your suggestion of reducing the condition parameter to a high 3 seems realistic. How would you feel about changing the condition to a 2, which would include the better, but not best examples of what one sees at car shows, and raising the price threshold to $5,000?

    The objective here is to determine which cars defy the norm of a bad decade, and command a premium price, however modest, in the marketplace. What makes the '80s interesting, in my opinion, is that it's a turnaround decade. It's when the downward trend reversed, and the desirability trend line generally began to move up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    It's so rare to see an 80s sporty car in #2 condition. I almost never do. #2 is a very *very* nice car, and really, most of these 80s cars were not taken care of, because they were so cheap, nor were they restored.

    So really the only #2 80s cars you are likely to see are "survivors", a very rare bird.

    You could easily put $20,000 into an 80s car and still not have a #2 automobile. Pretty much you need highly detailed engine compartments and painted, re-bushed frames (underdcarriages) to qualify for #2.

    My point being that any #2 80s car is going to be priced higher than $4k-$5k because of the huge investment in it. (be that unwise or not).

    I know you can buy a very decent #3 Alfa Spider for $4,500 or so.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Okay, your argument is persuasive, let's go with a high 3 and $4,000.

    I said I didn't think any Chrysler cars would qualify, but maybe, just maybe, a Chrysler Mark Cross woody convert, or a Chrysler Maserati TC might sell for >$4,000. Or, how about the bustle back RWD Imperial coupe?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    Most likely you're right on target here, but I'm not sure most folks would consider these cars "sporty". Are these cars anybody would want for any price? Well I guess somebody wants them otherwise they'd be FREE....duh....but you know what I mean.

    It's hard to call a really bad car "a bargain", no matter how cheap it is.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Sportscar is much more narrowly defined than sporty car. What made me rethink those Chryslers is that I remember my neighbor bought an early Chrysler LeBaron convertible ('82, maybe), and he referred to it as sporty. I guess it depends on your point of reference. He had traded a ~'80 Chrysler Lebaron RWD sedan for a Buick LeSabre Limited, and he considered his K-convertible his sporty ride.

    My view on "sporty", is that, unlike a sportscar, any convertible has an element of sporty. That would include one like the FWD Lebaron, with the driving dynamics of a sedan, and a rather poor one, at that. Of course, an '80s BMW 3-Series, convertible or otherwise, fits the definition better.

    In terms of price, I guess I'd pay something over $4,000 for a nice late '80s, low mileage LeBaron convert, or Maserati TC. I'd buy it for the wind-in-the-hair feel and convertible styling, and drive it like a sedan with a mediocre chassis should be driven.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    Fair enough but 4-door sedans are out in my book. They are neither sports nor sporty. Sure a convertible would qualify as "sporty".

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  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    4-door sedans are out in my book. They are neither sports nor sporty.

    Really? Not even this:
    BMW E36 M3 SEDAN :surprise:

    (Yes, I realize that it's not an 80s car)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    It's got 4 doors, forget it. It could be fast, it could be fun, it could be wonderful, but it's still a 4 door sedan. People buy them as a compromise. Sport or sporty should be frivolous, not practical, don't you think? Cramped, noisy, useless back set, hit your head on the roof, gas hog, that kind of thing.

    I guess if you think golf is a "sport" than maybe you think a 4-door is sporty? :P

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    "Fair enough but 4-door sedans are out in my book."

    I agree. The list of '80s cars submitted thus far includes the following:

    Even in #2 condition, pretty much any 1980s Porsche will pass up $4,000.
    BMW - any 6 series, M3s, 3-series convertibles, M5s.
    MB - 190E 2.3-16 (probably even some of their more prosaic sedans are over $4K)
    MB C124 300 CE
    MB 107 Roadster
    VW - Corrado, Cabriolet, maybe even a super nice Scirocco 16V
    Audi - Coupes, S cars
    RX-7 Turbos and Convertibles, maybe even a 323 GTX
    Alfa and Fiat convertibles
    TVRs
    '88 Fiero
    Supercharged MR2
    Celica All-Trac Turbo
    Corvette C-4
    Buick grand national
    Toyota Supra turbo
    Late '80s Chevy Camaro Z28s and Pontiac Trans-Ams
    '89 T-Bird Super Coupe (maybe)
    Alfa and Fiat spiders
    Mazda RX7
    '82-mid '80s Chrysler Mark Cross woody convert
    Chrysler-Maserati TC
    Imperial coupe (maybe)

    That's more cars from the '80s with a sale-by-owner market value exceeding $4,000 than I would have imagined. Which ones have we missed?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    Good list, but if you punched up the limit to just around $6,000--$7000, a lot of these cars would sell even as #2s. I mean, there's a limit to their value no matter if you put $50,000 into them.

    Some are dirt cheap, like a 1984 C4 Vette automatic (least desirable of all C4s IMO),

    any Fiero (who would want one for $5?)

    a VW Corrado (take my car, please)

    a Maserati TC (but it's a classic, wait, don't hang up!)

    80s Alfa Spider (sure it's as slow as a dump truck, but it's PURDY!)

    BMW 635 (I think your offer is insulting----I'll take it!)

    BMW 325 convertibles (I'm asking $7,500, I'll take $4,000)

    1987 Z28 coupe (Whaddya mean it's not a 1969 Z-28?)

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    If I interpreted your comment correctly, the value of a few of these cars, in #2 condition, might be as high as $6,000-$7,000, but that's about where it tops out.

    One of the most disappointing cars is the Reatta. I thought it could make the list, but no. Asking prices exceed $4,000, of course, but not average transaction prices. As a budget, comfortable touring car, devoid of sports car pretensions, of course, I think a Reatta is an excellent value. I'm prepared to get flamed, but I think that at this stage of the car's life cycle the Reatta could serve as a low cost alternative to the 380 or 450 Benz two-seater. A comparison with the Allante would be more appropriate, but remember, we're talking old iron here, and time serves as a leveler.

    In terms of the Z28, the second from last generation Camaros are my personal favorites. I happen to like the styling better than the '69, but that's just personal preference. Trouble is, there aren't many unmolested ones of that generation around.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    The Reatta might be an alternative to a 450 or 560SL but only an alternative, not a substitute. It simply doesn't have the chassis or build quality, and the interiors are pretty cheesy for what you paid for the car. Ditto the Allante, which has a very poor interior. A 560SL might be a tank, but it's also a pretty darn good performer and handler for its size and weight. It would humiliate a Reatta or Allante on the road unless one were limited to taking the kids for ice cream on Sunday. In that case, sure, the Reatta or Allante is a pleasant comfortable car for not too much money.

    I think you could find a #2 Reatta for $7,000 and a #2 Allante for $12,000 if you shopped aggressively. Which is about 450SL money as well. But you won't find a decent #2 560SL for that...not yet anyway. They are still depreciating however.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,972
    I think just about any K-car derivative equipped with a 2.2 turbo could be a fun, cheap, sporty car. Provided it's been taken care of. I had an '88 LeBaron turbo coupe for awhile, and it was a pretty fun car to drive. It did turn into a piece of junk later in its life, but I don't totally blame the car. It had been stolen and taken on joy-rides a few times, and when I divorced I let the ex-wife have it, and it really went downhill from there.

    Personally, I think an '80's New Yorker with the turbo could be kinda fun. Thick padded vinyl roof and all. Most people just wouldn't expect a car like that to have a turbo. I don't think those turbos are all that fast by today's standards. Most of the smaller ones saw 0-60 in about 9.5 seconds with an automatic and a bit quicker with the stick, while the NYer/Dodge 600 was probably more like 10. For the mid 80's though, that was competent, at least. That was the Turbo I, which had 146 hp. Now there was a Turbo II a bit later on that put out 174 hp, and a Turbo III, which had something like 225 hp. I think was only offered in the Dodge Spirit R/T in the 90's, but it was pretty brutal. 0-60 in something like 5.9 seconds.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    I purposely mentioned only the 380 and 450, since the 560 is truly in another league, performance wise, as well as the other areas you mentioned, chassis and interior. As for build quality, I thought the GMers were pretty good.

    If it weren't for the fact that the Dodge Spirit R/T was a four door, it probably would qualify for our list.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    Well okay, a Reatta against a 450SLC is much closer, even though the SLC will wear a lot better as the years go on.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 28,743
    You could probably find a comparable E36 coupe for $6K-$8K... Unless you want something different...

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Any sports cars/sporty cars from the '80s that have enough reliability and refinement to drive as a daily driver now?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    Oh sure. Any 911 Porsche is dead-reliable as a daily driver, and I think any well-cared for RX-7 or MR2 or any "sporty" Japanese coupe would do fine. Anything British, any VW or any Audi --I wouldn't bet on it myself. Join AAA and carry water and food. The German two-seaters get better as they get newer, so I'd say a 560SL is your best bet for an everyday car. BMW 325 convertibles are certainly capable of everyday use but the top will drive you nuts. by jamming up all the time and they are a bit cramped for larger drivers. I couldn't drive one everyday, I'd die of muscle spasms.

    As for the American two-seaters, they are iffy IMO on reliability but trainable--you just need to de-bug them and attend to the endemic problems that are well-known,and not push them beyond their limits. A Corvette C4 could easily be a daily driver and you can drive those fairly hard. A 5.0 Mustang is cheap reliable fun but lacks refinement to say the least. Rock 'n Roll! Ditto Camaro--bring your duct tape.

    Nothing from Sweden comes to mind as "sporty" and French cars, well, nuff said. As for the Italians, the post 1981 Alfa Spiders are pretty reliable--I drove them as dailies for many years with only minor mishaps, and they are more refined than anything British or than Fiats.

    I don't consider barge-like American coupes "sporty" myself so didn't include any of them.

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    My daily driver is currently a '98 323ic. I'd much prefer the coupe. The car is really solid, but the top makes all kinds of noises and the rubber seals for the pillarless windows sqeak like a stuck pig every time I hit the smallest bump. I already spent $900 fixing the convertible top motor. Other than that, mechanically the car is as solid as a rock and decently fun to drive. I fit into it well enough for my 8 mile commute to work.

    In sum, I like the car, hate that it is a convertible. My wife only likes it because it is a convertible.

    I've been looking at all kinds of '80s and early '90s sports cars, but they are hard to come by in decent shape around here.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,900
    You have to be poised with check in hand and ready to pull the trigger when that one sweet beloved used sportscar comes up for sale! :P

    I live in a temperate climate, right on the coast and except for 10-20 days a year, convertibles don't work so well in the San Fran Bay Area. The only state that I think God designed specifically for convertibles was Colorado.

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This discussion has been closed.