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13 Fastest 0-60 Cars of the 80’s That We All Forgot About

Vukasin HerbezOctober 22, 2017

Even though 80’s weren’t known as a decade when performance flourished like in the 60’s, they were still better than the 70’s. During the 80’s, car manufacturers managed to produce cars that were compliant with tight emissions and safety regulations. Yet they still managed to deliver performance and driving excitement. In fact, as the decade progressed, car fans were surprised by the improvements. By the late 80’s, some scary fast cars saw the light of the day.

The reason for the power increase was the implementation of the turbocharging. Even though turbocharging as a concept in cars was available since the early 60’s, only a few manufacturers like BMW and Porsche introduced it in their regular 70’s models. They had yet to perfect turbo engines, so they delivered power but with enormous turbo lag, high fuel consumption and cooling problems. As time passed, many other manufacturers decided to try it and turbocharging found its way to almost all vehicle types.

Since that time, you can find turbo engines in everything from hot hatches and compact models to sports car, supercars and even some luxury models, as well. Read on to learn more about the 13 quickest cars from that decade that brought television shows like MTV and Miami Vice, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some of these cars are regular sports coupes, while others are genuine supercars. They have massive wings and wide wheel arches from a revolutionary decade that started as an analog and finished as a digital era.

1. Porsche 944 Turbo

The 911 is and was the quintessential Porsche, but it couldn’t single-handedly support the brand, so in the mid 70’s, Porsche introduced the 924. It was the first model with a water-cooled four-cylinder front engine. The 924 was a fine, entry-level sports car, but back in 1983, Porsche presented the 944. It proved to be an important model for the brand.

The company developed the concept further, adding innovations like the transaxle system, a superb suspension and upgraded steering. One of the main features of the new car was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder which produced 170 HP at first. Although not an impressive number today, but it was potent by mid-80’s standards. The most interesting version was the 944 Turbo. It had 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that put out 250 HP.

Due to its lighter weight, updated transmission and aerodynamics, the 944 Turbo was a fast car. The acceleration times from 0 to 60 mph took only 5.9 seconds and it could top 162 mph. Even today, this little Porsche can outrun some modern sporty cars.

2. Aston Martin Volante V8

The Aston Martin V8 model was outdated in the 80’s because they first showed this shape in the early 70’s. It was in the form of the Aston Martin DBS. Back then, Aston Martin was an even smaller car company than it is now, so they produced far fewer cars.

Flirting with bankruptcy, Aston had a hard time introducing new models every few years. The basic shape and technology of the V8 model proved competent, so they decided to keep it in production as long as possible. They produced this model until 1989. The mid 80’s convertible version was the Volante and it was Aston’s pride and joy. It came with a bespoke interior, carefully sculpted lines and a powerful V8 engine with 5.3-liters of displacement.

Over the years, Aston changed the power outputs of this engine to comply with regulations, but the power was always close to 300 HP. In 1985, Aston introduced fuel injection to replace the carburetors, so the power rose to 315 HP, which helped improve its performance.

The 1985 Volante V8 in the convertible version could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds and in the comfort and luxury of all Aston Martins. The secret to its performance was not the power, but the high torque output which launched the heavy convertible from low RPMs. As with all Aston Martins, this car was expensive and exclusive, so they made just under 1,000 cars in each series.

3. Porsche 928 S4

The 928 is one of the best Porsche road cars, even though it was and still is a controversial model. Back in mid-70’s, Porsche decided the 911 model was outdated and not profitable enough to keep the company afloat. The board approved the development of a new model with a water-cooled V8 engine in the front. They included an updated design, technology and appearance. So, in 1977, Porsche introduced the 928 but kept the 911 in production.

The 928 was the Gran Turismo coupe with a powerful V8 engine in the front. It also had a transaxle gearbox, ideal weight distribution, intelligent suspension and space-age design. In contrast to the 911 which still had some VW Beetle cues, the 928 looked like it came from another planet. Although the early 928s delivered below 300 HP, the car was fast. It made for effortless cruising and driving over many continents in comfort, speed and luxury.

Porsche kept improving the 928 and in 1987, they introduced the S4 version. It featured a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 320 HP. It came with a host of other modifications that improved its performance. The 928 S4 could reach 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds and topped 160 mph. This was fast for the day and placed the 928 among the fastest cars of that era, but there were a couple of Porsches that were even faster.

4. Ferrari Testarossa

There is no doubt the Testarossa is one of Ferrari`s most legendary models. And not only for its looks, reputation and performance. One reason was the allure of its style, especially in the 80’s. Another was the car’s appearance in many cult TV shows, video games and movies. The Testarossa was one of the definitive 80’s sports cars, despite the fact it’s technology and mechanical layout dated back in mid-70’s.

The basis for the Testarossa was a special flat 12-cylinder engine with a 5.0-liter displacement. Ferrari first introduced this layout in 1973 in the Ferrari 512 BB. They continued to improve it over the years. They presented the Testarossa in 1984. It featured the same design although it had improved power and torque compared to the 512 BB. The flat 12-cylinder engine affected the design because the engine was so wide, they had to make the car wider, too.

This helped the handling since the rear track was wider than the front. But, it made city driving and maneuvering harder, especially since the Testarossa didn’t come with power steering. The power output from this highly specific flat 12 engine was enormous. The Testarossa produced 396 HP and 460 lb-ft of torque. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time was just 5.5 seconds. The car could top 180 mph.

5. Porsche 911 Turbo

The Turbo was the magic word in the performance world of the 80’s. One of the companies that took full advantage of this advanced system of induction was Porsche. From the mid-70’s onward, Porsche has been on the forefront of turbocharging. In fact, they have introduced many models with this feature that brings higher power levels. The 911 Turbo got a lot of attention from the motoring world and rightfully so.

The 930 generation of the 911 Turbo was one of the fastest sports cars money could buy. Porsche introduced it in the mid-80’s. It only took 5.1 seconds for it to go from 0 to 60 mph and it could reach over 160 mph at top speeds. The heart of this car was the 3.3-liter flat-six engine fed by turbochargers that produced a power output of 282 HP for the American market. The European version was even more impressive with a power output closer to 330 HP.

The 930 Turbo was light and powerful, so it was a bit scary to drive. It was also the last 911 Turbo to come with rear-wheel drive. In 1989, with the introduction of the 964 generation 911, all Turbo models had all-wheel drive. This was a necessary step with all the power the 911 had, combined with its notoriously tricky handling and lightweight.

6. Ford RS200

Back in the mid-80’s, motorsports were all about rallying and the famous and terrifyingly dangerous Group B. The Group B was a part of the World Rally Championship, which featured factory prototypes based loosely on production cars. They came with insanely turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive systems, too.

The cars were crazy fast and crazy dangerous, yet fans all over the world loved them. Eventually, FIA canceled the Group B, but for few years, manufacturers battled each other for supremacy on the dirt and mud of the rally stages. This brought many interesting, fast road cars since the manufacturers were obligated to produce a certain number of road vehicles for homologation purposes, like the Ford RS200.

Ford introduced the RS200 in 1984 as a mid-engine, turbocharged, sports car. It featured lightweight body construction, a 2.1-liter engine with 250 HP and two seats. It was a race car with no intention of hiding that. Thanks to all-wheel drive, the RS200 was capable of jumping from 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds flat. Ford only offered 200 road versions, detuning them from 450 to 500 HP race versions.

7. Audi Quattro Sport

Like the Ford RS200, the Audi Quattro Sport was born on the rally tracks and Audi sold a road-worthy model to homologate it for racing. However, Audi proved to be more successful than Ford on the race tracks as well as on the market. In fact, the Quattro Sport was considerably more popular than highly limited RS200. Back in early 80’s, Audi was just an upgraded Volkswagen with not much to offer.

Then, the motorsport department proposed entering the rally championships with an innovative all-wheel drive model they called the Quattro. Suddenly, Audi had a championship-winning car that was on the forefront of two new technologies, all-wheel drive and turbocharging. This resulted in a growing interest in the company and the rise of the Audi as we know it today.

The Quattro Sport featured a 2.1-liter straight five-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and 306 HP in street trim. With a short wheelbase, light body panels and a short ratio gearbox ready to jump at any moment, the road-going Quattro Sport was capable of achieving 0 to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. This made this car one of the quickest car of its era, showing the capabilities of the Quattro all-wheel drive system.

8. Buick GNX

The 80’s are generally considered the dark age of the muscle car and American performance, but there were a few bright moments. One of the cars that restored people’s faith in the muscle car movement in the 80’s was the mighty Buick GNX. The story of this model is an interesting one. Back in 1982, Buick started experimenting with turbocharging its line of standard V6 engines.

The results were satisfying, so Buick permitted their engineers to develop a performance version to deliver better acceleration figures. They came up with the Buick Grand National with 175 HP, which wasn’t impressive, but it was a start. In the next couple of years, the Grand National got a bigger engine and more power. It jumped from 175 HP to 200 HP, and then finally to 235 HP.

With those numbers came acceleration times of under six seconds, making those black Grand Nationals seriously fast cars. But in 1987, they introduced an ultimate version they called the Grand National Experimental or the GNX. It featured the same 3.8-liter turbocharged V6, but with 275 HP and a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.7 seconds. At that moment, the Buick GNX was the fastest accelerating production model in the world.

The price of $29,000 was expensive, but there is a widespread belief that some owners paid for their GNX simply by street racing them for money. Unfortunately, they only produced the Buick GNX for a year, making just 547 of them. Today, people value these cars just as much as they did in the late 80’s.

9. Pontiac Trans Am 20th Anniversary

In 1989, Pontiac was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its favorite muscle car – the Trans Am. To do so, they presented a limited run of 1,500 cars to commemorate the occasion. But, they wanted the anniversary edition to be more than just another decal and paint job. So, Pontiac decided to install Buick’s, 3.8-liter turbo V6 from the GNX to create the fastest Trans Am of the decade.

The white commemorative edition could accelerate 0.1 seconds faster from 0 to 60 mph than the GNX at 4.6 seconds. The reason was simple. It had a better weight distribution and updated gearing from the Pontiac gearbox. The Trans Am 20th Anniversary model is hard to find, but quite desirable today.

10. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Called the “King of the Hill,” the Corvette ZR1 was exactly that. Chevrolet introduced the king of all Corvettes in 1989 with the ZR1. When the C4 generation of America’s favorite sports car saw the light of day in 1984, it was obvious Chevy hit a home run. The car was nimble, fast and potent.

The construction was new and improved. It was so advanced that even today, the 2018 Chevrolet Corvette uses the same chassis architecture as the Corvette from the 80’s. But, Chevrolet engineers knew this platform could do much more with the right engine. Although the 250 HP small block V8 was fine for regular customers, Chevy had nothing to offer those who wanted more power.

Finally, in 1989 they presented the ZR1. On the outside, a third brake light and wider rear track revealed this wasn’t an ordinary ‘Vette. Under the hood, there was the LT4 Lotus-engineered V8 engine. It produced 375 HP and later 400 HP thanks to the quad-cam heads and 32 valves.

The motor was an engineering marvel and it performed exceptionally well. With a beefed-up suspension and gearbox, as well as a pair of extra wide rear tires, the 1989 Corvette ZR1 was fast. It could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars of the era and a true modern classic today.

11. Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV

The definitive 80’s supercar was the Lamborghini Countach. They conceived the favorite bedroom poster car of the decade in the 70’s, but its popularity continued into the 80’s. It had an outrageous design, as well as spoilers and scoops. They produced a few fast and powerful versions. One of the best iterations in the Countach theme was the 5000 QV. The number was its displacement in cubic centimeters, although it was not totally

One of the best iterations in the Countach theme was the 5000 QV. The number was its displacement in cubic centimeters, although it was not correct since the V12 engine was an impressive 5.2-liters.

The power output was 414 HP with the help of four valves per cylinder head; hence, the QV meant “Quattrovalvole” or four valves in Italian. Some of the body panels contained Kevlar, which kept the weight down and raised the performance. The 1988 Countach 5000 QV could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds.

12. Ferrari F40

The Ferrari F40 was and still is a special car in many ways. The company built it to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ferrari company. In fact, the famous Enzo Ferrari envisioned it and supervised the production. It was his last creation because he died just a couple of months after he presented the F40 in 1987.

The F40 is a race car with a gorgeous body and the performance to inspire you to drive this car as fast as you can. Ferrari based it heavily on the 288 GTO model. The F40 is an improved version of a twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V8 engine supercar with two seats. It came with a basic interior, manual gearbox and 480 HP of screaming horsepower coming from the engine.

The F40 was one of only two cars in street-legal trim that could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. To be exact, various magazines have tested the acceleration at 3.8 seconds. Those are impressive numbers for a car from the 80’s.

13. Porsche 959

The fastest car of the 1980’s has to be the Porsche 959. In fact, not only was it the fastest, it was also the most advanced, technologically-complex supercar of the era. The 959 was a super Porsche in every way, including design, performance and price. The 80’s were fun times for Porsche. Despite the popularity of all their models, Porsche was confused about which path to choose. They struggled to decide to go with their rear engine classic 911 or with a more modern, balanced 928, 924 or 944.

The odds were against the 911, but it kept on selling and winning races. So, Porsche decided to introduce a model that would be a rolling compilation of the technology compatible with the 911. They used their experience from racing, the latest technology and turbocharging to produce the 959. Porsche introduced it in 1987. The 959 had a 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six engine with 450 HP it transferred to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system, which was the first of its kind.

They also equipped the car with traction control, ABS and host of electronic systems that helped the driver. Even though these things are standard in most new cars, in the late 80’s it was space age technology. In fact, the performance of this technological tour de force was astonishing. The 0 to 60 mph was possible in just 3.7 seconds.

If you’re looking for a fast and exciting car, you should look at those turbo-charged pioneers of the 1980’s. They were built to last and they have the power to go fast, too.

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