Home Cars 1980s Sports Cars That Are Straight Out Of Miami Vice

1980s Sports Cars That Are Straight Out Of Miami Vice

Cameron Eittreim October 28, 2022

There are many things the 1980s were synonymous with, and sports cars are certainly one of them. The decade was full of great examples. Every European automaker had all kinds of new exotics coming onto the market. Porsche found a completely new clientele with the slant nose, the most popular German sports car of the decade. Even more new offerings came out in the ’80s, such as the Ferrari Testarossa and the all-new Lamborghini Countach. These cars defined an era centered around opulence and new young money generated on Wall Street.

The 1980s were no doubt the decade of greed, but there’s no denying that many of the sports cars were awesome. During that time, one of the most popular primetime TV shows was the infamous “Miami Vice.” We looked back at 1980s sports cars straight out of that show. These cars made you feel different when you were behind the wheel, and they are still some of the most iconic rides on the road. Take a walk down memory lane and remember that decade of decadence right here.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1984 Lamborghini Jalpa

Driven in season four of Miami Vice, the Jalpa was the quintessential Lamborghini model of the 1980s. Take one look at the styling and you’ll see a mixture of traditional Lambo and Porsche in one package. The Jalpa was a project car by Lambo and was not well regarded in the community (via Classic Italian).

Lamborghini Jalpa
Photo Credit: Lamborghini

The performance and build quality of the Jalpa were the two major shortcomings of the car. For some reason, the Jalpa just didn’t resonate with consumers the same way that the Countach did. But when you saw the car on Miami Vice, there was a sense of speed and styling that gave it a temporary resurgence.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1982 DeLorean

‘Back To The Future’ is often credited with bringing the DeLorean DMC-12 into the mainstream. But it was Miami Vice that gave the car widespread recognition in front of millions of TV viewers. The DMC-12 was the perfect car to be featured on a show like Miami Vice because it was flashy and expensive (via Robb Report).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Legendary auto executive John Delorean designed the DMC-12. While the DMC-12 wasn’t as notable as a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, it was certainly a rare sports car. The performance of the DMC-12 was nothing to sneeze at either, as the car got positive marks from the automotive press.

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

Zimmer Golden Spirit

The Zimmer Golden Spirit was one of the most unique cars featured in Miami Vice. There was nothing else like it on the road at the time and it was built as a limited-edition coach. Zimmer Motorcars Corporation designed the car, founded by Paul Zimmer and Bob Zimmer. The unique design of the car echoed back to 1930s luxury cars (via The Mustang Source).

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

The interesting thing about the Zimmer Golden Spirit was that it was based on the Mustang platform. To see a car that looked like this based on such a simple design as the Mustang was a marvel of engineering. It also shows how diverse the vehicle lineup on Miami Vice was and how it pioneered network television at the time.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Lamborghini LM-002

When you see the LM-002, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘Scarface,’ and that was the intended audience. Most modern drivers don’t realize that Lamborghini sold an SUV long before the URUS. The LM-002 was more of a Hummer clone than anything, but don’t let the blocky exterior fool you as this SUV could pound the pavement (via Lamborghini).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

The LM-002 had the distinction of being called the “Rambo Lambo,” and its name was quite fitting. The SUV was very fast although the styling was a major turn-off for buyers. The interior was outfitted with all the Lamborghini luxury that you’d expect at the time. However, the LM-002 didn’t last long on the market as sales were dismal.

Photo Credit: Beverly Hills Car Club

1982 Aston Martin Lagonda Stretched Limousine MkII

The most notorious car that came out of Miami Vice was the Lagonda Stretched Limousine MkII. Aston Martin was prominent in the 1980s as its cars were extremely fast and luxurious. The company was the pinnacle of society in the automotive world, and the Lagonda was already a big car before it was converted into a limousine (via IMCDB).

Photo Credit: Beverly Hills Car Club

What made the Lagonda Stretched Limousine MkII special was how different it was compared to anything else on the market at the time. Sure, you had limousines, but they were nothing like the Lagonda. This was just one of the hundreds of cars specially picked for the Miami Vice TV series.

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

1974 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL

Anywhere you see 1980s culture and styling, you will see a classic Mercedes-Benz model. In the 1980s, no car said you made it more than the 450 SEL. The 1974 450 SEL was the pinnacle of everything that Mercedes-Benz did well, and it showed. The quality of the 450 SEL was something that’s still hard to come by today (via Autoblog).

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

The 450 SEL had a great interior with high-quality leather and upholstery. The factory V8 engine was comparable to American luxury sedans at the time although the Mercedes had a considerably higher price tag. The car was $17,500 new and by today’s standards, that’s a whopping $93,500. Still, this Benz had a good run on Miami Vice.

BMW 2002
Photo Credit: BMW

1974 BMW 2002

The BMW 2002 was prominently featured in Miami Vice, and why not? It’s generally considered one of the best cars that were ever built. The car is world-renowned and collectors have been snatching them up, but what made 2002 so great? It was the compact design and the bulletproof engine, that both contributed to excellent road manners (via BMW USA).

Photo Credit: BMW Group

They say good things come in small packages and that was indeed the case with the BMW 2002. The styling of the car was iconic and it set the pace for the future of BMW. The on-road manners and the performance of 2002 are attributes that made the car fun to drive then and now.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1976 Pontiac Grand Prix

Not every car that was featured in Miami Vice was an exotic and there were domestic cars as well. There was also a major presence of GM cars in the series, especially Pontiacs. The 1976 Grand Prix was popular among young professionals at the time, and it performed well. The styling of the Grand Prix was shared with other GM A-Body cars (via Gateway Classics).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Grand Prix was featured heavily in season three as a getaway car in many scenes. The officers in Miami Vice were always seen driving fast exotic sports cars. The Grand Prix wasn’t the exotic car you’d expect to see on the Miami strip, but it was a good filler. Compared to the other two-door cars of the time, the Grand Prix was popular.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL

The big Benz 560 SEL was the pinnacle of the luxury sedan segment in the 1980s. If you were somebody in the 1980s, you had a 560 SEL. The sedan was the cream of the crop when it came to luxury and its powerful engine choices didn’t disappoint. The 560 SEL was the last Mercedes-Benz that was a quality product (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 560 SEL was a focal point of Miami Vice and with good reason. There were very few sedans that could compete with the 560 SEL in terms of quality and performance. Sure, you had the BMW 7-Series, but back then it was nothing like the 560 SEL. Looking at the Miami scene that Miami Vice centered around, it’s no mystery that the 560 SEL made it into the series.

Photo Credit: Pedigree Motor Cars

1982 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Stretched Limousine

The Fleetwood was the epiphany of style and opulence in the domestic luxury car segment in the 1970s and ’80s. The Fleetwood Brougham was featured extensively in season three of Miami Vice. The stretched limousine was luxurious, and it was what the boss wanted to own in the 1980s (via IMCDB).

Photo Credit: Pedigree Motor Cars

The great thing about the car collection on Miami Vice was that it was diverse. The Fleetwood Brougham Stretched Limousine was a novelty and one of the first mainstream limousines in the modern era. Even Donald Trump was spotted in the Fleetwood Limo during his earlier years in the business world.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300d

Another interesting thing about Miami Vice was the fact that there were a lot of older cars featured on the series as well. One car in particular that was unique was the Mercedes-Benz 300D. The 300D was one of the first Mercedes-Benz models sold on the American market. The driving characteristics and luxury of the 300D were exceptional, and the car had a one-of-a-kind style (via Beverly Hills Car Club).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Mercedes-Benz 300D didn’t have a major presence like some of the other cars on Miami Vice, but it was noticeable in seasons two and three. The unique styling and the luxurious attitude of the 300D were major factors for its popularity. Of course, a show like Miami Vice needed unique luxury cars, so the 300D was a great choice.

Lotus Esprit - Car
Photo Credit: Mecum

Lotus Esprit Turbo

A car that doesn’t get a lot of love from this era is the Esprit Turbo, but it was prominently featured in Miami Vice. The Esprit Turbo was similar to other sports cars from the era in terms of styling. The fast-line performance of the Esprit made it an underrated sports car. The Esprit Turbo was featured in all seasons of Miami Vice in one form or another (via Super Cars).

2004 Lotus Esprit - 2002 Lotus Esprit
Photo Credit: Auto WP

The most notable Esprit Turbo was the yellow version, but it was available in many flashy colors. When you think of quintessential 1980s sports cars, the Esprit Turbo was one of them. Its performance was jaw-dropping and the styling was everything you’d expect out of the 1980s.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1974 Mercedes-Benz 280

Another car that was showcased a lot in the 1980s was the Mercedes-Benz 280. The lightweight design of the car made it an ample addition to any luxury car fleet. Miami Vice was such a popular TV show that there was always a need for new luxury cars in the series. The 280 was featured in many episodes (via The MB Market).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 280 was the entry-level Mercedes-Benz model for many years and that positioned it well. The Miami Vice series was based on the flashiness of the era in Miami, and this was the perfect car for that. Mercedes improved the 280 over time, although the model was eventually discontinued.

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Pontiac Fiero

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Fiero was featured in Miami Vice since the car was initially popular. That was until the engine fires caused a massive consumer exodus from the brand. The Fiero was a poor man’s Ferrari, and the styling was what you’d expect from some type of entry-level sports car (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

The Fiero was discontinued at the end of the 1980s, but the car left an impression. You won’t watch a Miami Vice episode that didn’t have the Fiero show up in at least one scene. The unique little Pontiac was initially popular with consumers, and much of this had to do with GM product placement.

Photo Credit: Namaste Car

Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 was a major factor in the 1980s sports car market. The rotary engine and the cheap price tag made it attractive. The first generation of the RX-7 was the one that was featured in Miami Vice. The car had unique styling that made it a success for Mazda and the rotary engine was a blast to drive (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The RX-7 was one of the most popular sports cars of the era for a reason. The performance of the rotary engine was brand new and one of a kind. It was the one innovation that separated the Mazda brand from almost every other automaker around. When it came to a rotary-powered sports car, this was the only one.

Photo Credit: BAT

Porsche 944

The Porsche 944 was the most underrated Porsche of all time. Its hatchback styling was different than nearly every Porsche that came before it. But the addition of a V8 engine made the 944 a novelty compared to the Porsches that came before it (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: BAT

A fairly common car, the 944 only weighed about 2600 LBS. The lightweight platform of the car made it accelerate a lot faster than comparable sports cars. Although the 944 didn’t garner the loyalty that other Porsche models did at the time, it was a decent car that was fun to drive.

1994 Porsche 964 Turbo 3.6 S Flachbau
Photo Credit: Porsche

Porsche 964

The Porsche 964 looked a lot like the 911 but it wasn’t. There was something unique about this car that made it perform better than any other Porsche on the market. The basic design of the car lasted well into the 1990s and there is good reason for that. The build quality and engineering made the 964 a bulletproof option (via Super Cars).

Porsche 911 Carrera RS
Photo Credit: Silodrone

The Porsche 964 was the 911, but the differentiating styling and special edition trim packages made it fit Miami Vice perfectly. The 964 was one of the most highly sought-after Porsches on the market. The straightforward styling and performance were a lot different than what a lot of people expected.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Porsche 959

The Porsche 959 was another car that was heavily featured in Miami Vice. The 959 was one of the most controversial Porsche designs of the time, but the company had to evolve with the rest of the automotive industry. The 959 had particular success in the world rally racing circuit (via Porsche).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Surprisingly enough, the 959 was considered a game-changing supercar. The 959 was everything that traditional Porsche enthusiasts were looking for. The styling was ahead of its time and its performance was groundbreaking enough to bolster its reputation.

Photo Credit: Net Car Show

Ferrari Mondial

The Mondial was the cheapest Ferrari on the market for 10 years. For those same 10 years, it was the only Ferrari that was sold as both a coupe and a convertible model. The automotive press frowned upon Mondial for cheap build quality and lackluster performance. There was a lot of potential in the Mondial, but it wasn’t showcased during the car’s heyday (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Ferrari

When the Mondial was put into production, it was initially a hit and the car was featured in seasons two and three of Miami Vice. There was not the same type of on-screen presence with the Mondial that other Ferrari models had. But that’s not the worst part, it was the performance that was a major letdown for drivers.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Ferrari 308 GTSI

The Ferrari GTSI was the quintessential 1980s Ferrari model from its styling to its performance. This car had an on-screen presence that you’d expect to see in a TV show like Miami Vice. Painted in the signature red color, the 308 GTSI was the epiphany of everything a red racehorse should be in the automotive world (via Jalopnik).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The on-screen chemistry of the actors in Miami Vice was one of the reasons that the show was so popular, but it was also the cars. And by choosing unique vehicles like the Ferrari 308 GTSI the show was able to stay unique. The 308 GTSI wasn’t a snooze fest when it came to a fast-driving, beautiful car.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole

The Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole was another example of what Ferrari was doing in the 1980s, and it was another example of Miami Vice having some great cars in it. The 308 GTS was the pinnacle of performance in the Ferrari lineup, but even more unique was the removable Targa top that it came with (via Classic Trader).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The 308 GTS was heavily featured in season one of Miami Vice when the car was in its prime. With the removable Targa top and the toy-style wheels, the 308 GTS was fast and sporty. With the bright red Ferrari paint job, there weren’t many cars on the road that could pull off the same look as the 308 GTS.

Photo Credit: Telegraph

Maserati Bi-Turbo

The Maserati Bi-Turbo was one of the most popular and underrated sports cars of all time. The car was very popular in the 1980s because of its humble price tag and great performance. Maserati was still establishing a presence in the states during this time, and all the positive press that the Bi-Turbo received was a good thing (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Maserati

The Bi-Turbo was built in 1994 and it was a popular sports car, but the car was especially popular when it appeared on Miami Vice. There weren’t a lot of performance cars from this era that could compete with the Bi-Turbo. The modern styling and comfortable interior set it apart from the competition.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Ferrari GTS Turbo

The GTS Turbo was the Ferrari for a new era, and a new generation of consumers was scooping this car up. The performance was the GTS turbo was awe-inspiring, and the styling was buttoned up and to the point. The GTS Turbo did everything right, and it offered one of the best engines Ferrari sold at the time (via Invaluable).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The GTS Turbo was prominently featured in the final season of Miami Vice, and there was something about the car that was unlike anything else on the market at the time. The 1980s Ferraris were some of the most unique in performance and styling, and the GTS Turbo was an example of that.

Ruf CTR Yellow Bird
Photo Credit: RUF

RUF Yellowbird

No shortage of great Porsches came out of the 1980s, and the RUF Yellowbird was one of them. The car was the epiphany of everything great with Porsche at the time. Laser-focused driving characteristics made the car a notable contender in an already crowded sports car market (via Hot Cars).

Ruf CTR Yellow Bird
Photo Credit: RUF

The RUF Yellowbird was often lauded as one of the best sports cars of all time. It took everything great about the standard 911 and amplified it further. Not to mention the beautiful yellow paint job was one of the focal points of the car. The RUF Yellowbird was definitely unlike anything else shown on Miami Vice.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

Toyota MR2

The MR2 was often referred to as one of the best sports cars of all time and in the 1980s, it was in its prime. The mid-engined design gave the little Toyota performance that you wouldn’t have expected. Its cheap price tag allowed the average driver to get their hands on one even though the car was exclusive (via MR2OC).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The MR2 was not a focal point of Miami Vice but it was featured heavily on the show. As one of the most popular cars of the 1980s, the MR2 was unlike anything else that came before it. Cars like the Pontiac Fiero attempted to copy the design of the MR2, but it wasn’t enough to achieve the same popularity as the Toyota.

Foto Credit: Mecum

Chevrolet Camaro

The ’80s Camaro was the pinnacle of every cheesy chase scene in Miami Vice, and the car was extremely cheap during this generation. But that doesn’t mean that young people in the 1980s didn’t want it. The Camaro was everything that a show like Miami Vice was portraying, and it made the car even more popular (via AutoBlog).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

The Camaro was a popular car and it was shown throughout the seasons of Miami Vice. There were a lot of different trim levels that were sold during the 1980s. There were failures like the Berlinetta and more popular models like the IROC-Z. But there is no denying the significance that the third-generation Camaro had.

Photo Credit: Jay Leno’s Garage

Lamborghini Countach

The Countach was the epiphany of 1980s Lamborghini in every sense of the word. Its styling was polarizing, but you knew this car was as soon as you saw it. To make matters even more obvious, the Countach was the most powerful car on the road for a long time (via Lamborghini).

Lamborgini Countach
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The car was sold until 1990, and it was one of the most visible cars in Miami Vice. It could have been because of the styling and the performance but they wanted to show the car off. There is no more ’80s-looking car than the Countach was, with its oversized wing and flashy paint jobs. It was unlike anything else.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Mitsubishi Starion

Mitsubishi was just becoming well known in the 1980s but the cars were starting to get a lot of notoriety. The performance of the Starion was comparable to other models at the time, such as the RX-7. The twin-turbo design was reliable and affordable, and the styling of the car was popular with consumers at the time (via Classic).

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The Starion was also sold as the Chrysler Conquest and the model was quite popular. The car was heavily featured in seasons one and two of Miami Vice and the car stayed in production until the 1990s. There were a few cars that came from Chrysler that were exciting, but the Starion was one of them.

Foto Credit: Mecum

Buick GNX

The GNX was the poster child of 1980s engineering and a car that was so popular that GM couldn’t keep them on dealership lots. What made the GNX so popular was the turbocharged engine and the blacked-out styling. There was nothing Buick liked about this car and that attracted consumers even more (via Classic Industries).

Foto Credit: Mecum

The GNX was and still is one of the most highly regarded cars that came out of this era. Miami Vice featured the car heavily because it was so popular back then. The GNX had the performance of an exotic car without straying too far from the fence, and it was a twin-turbo-powered car, which was a new thing for GM.

Photo Credit: 1 Cars

Toyota Supra

Where do we start with the Toyota Supra? It was one of the most popular sports cars of the 1980s and was featured a lot on Miami Vice. What made the Supra cool was the styling and the twin-turbo-powered design. The Supra was fast and meant business on the track, which attracted consumers to the unconventional design of the car (via Auto Blog).

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

The Supra appeared a lot on the show and with good reason. The 1980s version of the Supra was everything that made the car great and highly desirable during its initial run. Consumers who wanted something fun to drive couldn’t go wrong with the bulletproof engineering and performance of the Supra.

Photo Credit: Mecum

AMG Hammer

The AMG Hammer was often referred to as a cocaine car, and that’s because it was popular and prominent during that era. The design of the car was blacked out and mean, unlike any other Mercedes-Benz at the time. The performance of the car was even more astonishing, as it threw down groundbreaking numbers on the track (via Car and Driver).

AMG Hammer
Photo Credit: AMG

The AMG Hammer was one of this era’s most popular cars for good reason. Its performance was unlike anything else on the market at the time and the styling was one of a kind. When you pulled up to a club in the Hammer, they knew you arrived.

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