My Silly Fast Car Dreams: the 80s
The continuing saga of cars I'll probably never own.
The 80s along with the mid-70s is probably the hardest decade to find really cool-looking and great-performing cars. Especially Muscle Cars during that era. I was a teenager in the mid-80s in Northern CA when smog laws were the bane of all us Muscle Car fans.
My first car was a 1975 Pontiac Firebird. Even though it looked pretty cool, performance-wise thanks to all the smog stuff it was a bit of a dog.
While Muscle Cars mostly suffered in the 80s, I do think it was the start of the Japanese sports car era in many ways. Though there were still a few surprises coming out of the US in those days. And honestly, if we are talking pure performance for the 80s lets face it, the list would be about half Ferraris and the rest would be Lamborghini, Porche, and maybe Lotus.
But I pick cars that performed fairly well for their day and ones that I think looked pretty cool as well. As I've said before I'm more of a car fanboy than a true automotive aficionado.
One of those was this beauty from Buick. I've written about the 1987 Buick Regal Grand National in several other articles including the incredible GNX model, but since this article is about fast cars from the 80s I don't think I can afford to leave it out. This is a little bit of a different Youtube video featuring Jay Leno and David Spade driving around LA in Spade's '87 Grand National. Funny and cool all at the same time. (I do stand up comedy, so kind of neat to include a video featuring a cool car and two great comedians).
1987 Buick Regal Grand National
*btw, it took me a lot longer to write this one simply because I got sucked into so many Jay Leno's Garage videos after watching this one, lol
1989 Pontiac Trans Am Pace Car
This one for me is really special since my first car was a Firebird. As I said, there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about in the 80s when it came to Muscle Cars. The 1989 Trans AM Pace Car, there were only 1555 were built, borrowed its V6 from yep you guessed it, the 1987 Buick GNX and ended up being the fastest American built production car of 1989. It would do 0–60 in 4.6 seconds and a 13.4 second 1/4 mile. Impressive numbers even by today's standards.
1987 Ferrari F40
The 80s, if nothing else, were a great decade for Supercars in many ways. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porche, and Lotus all built some amazing cars during that time. I remember hearing rumors that both Bill Gates and Paul Allen had bought F40s, but they couldn't legally drive them on the streets in the US, so they would take them to the local race track S.I.R or Seattle International Raceway in Kent, WA and run them there. The F40 would do 0–60 in 4.2 seconds and had a top speed of 200 mph. Very impressive for a decade that produced a lot of very fast Supercars. This is actually 1990 F40 from Jay Leno's Garage, but I think they looked and performed very much like the 1987 F40s did. The 1990 F40 is also special because it was supposedly the last car Enzo Ferrari personally okayed.
1988 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z
I mentioned before from about 1974–1989 until the Viper debuted in 1990 Mopar fans didn't have a lot to get excited about as far as Muscle Cars were concerned. The Daytona, a nearly invisible shadow of its legendary 1970 predecessor wasn't all that exciting either, but it is kind of cool that Dodge built this one with a 4 cylinder to compete directly with the Camaros, Mustangs, and Trans Ams of the day. And performance-wise, some would argue that they almost pulled it off. With about 50 horsepower less than the 1988 IROC Z the Daytona still put up nearly the same 0–60 and 1/4 mile times. A small glimmer of hope for Dodge/Mopar fans in an otherwise very dark era.
1988 Porche 959
If you've read some of my earlier stuff then it is no secret to you that I'm a big fan of Jay Leno's Garage. So, again this is a Youtube video from Jay this time featuring what some argue was the first production car ever to break 200 mph. Honestly, I have no idea, but it is definitely a cool-looking 80s Supercar and a great performer for sure.
1989 Honda CRX
I've mentioned it in some of my other articles, but me and my poor old 1975 Pontiac Firebird were embarrassed on several occasions by other cars that performed far better than my old Bird did. My car kind of looked fast, but 1975 was the second year of the long dark time for American Muscle Cars. And it wasn't just the stop light to stop light races that I got thrashed in. On a few occasions, I also tried to outhandle cars that I had no business messing with. One of those was a 1980s CRX. I'm not sure of the exact year, because I mostly only saw its taillights in the distance. But it was around 1989, so that is the year I chose for this article.
1988 Toyota MR2
I actually did own a 1984 MR2 for a while and I loved it. And I was also embarrassed in my Firebird one time racing a 1988 supercharged MR2 from stop light to stop light. While my Firebird did make some impressive sounding engine noises and did an impressive burnout when the light turned green, the MR2 was actually able to put its horsepower into the road and zoom through at least four of its gears. All while I was still dropping my clunky old automatic transmission into low and making a fool of myself. As I mentioned, I think the 80s were when the Japanese sports cars really started to shine, so I wanted to include a few of them in this article.
1989 Chevy Corvette ZR-1
I've written about this one before, so I won't say too much, but it was the Corvette that allowed Vette owners from the mid-70s and 80s to once again hold their heads high.
1989 Lotus Esprit
Who says England doesn't make fast Supercars? This one was certainly impressive in its day. And it looks as cool as any of its Italian competitors.
1988 Pontiac Fiero GT
Some people might be repulsed at the idea of me including a Fiero in this list. As well as ending the article with it. But like I said, I include cars that I think perform well and look pretty cool. In the mid-90s a good friend of mine bought an '88 Fiero GT and I was lucky enough to drive it a few times. As I mentioned in this article I have driven a few relatively fast cars in my time and this Fiero was impressively fast and fun to drive. I only drove it briefly a few times, so I didn't include it in the original article. So, I decided to give it its due in this article.
Again, apologies if some if my choices shocked you, but I wanted to include a combination of absolute 80s dream Supercars as well as a few that myself and people I know actually owned. Hope you enjoy it. I'm going to try and get to the 90s cars soon, a much happier era for fast car fans.
About the Creator
Steve B Howard
Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.
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