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20 of the Best Investment Grade ’80s Cars You Should Buy Right Now

Vukasin HerbezApril 9, 2019

If you want to make money in the classic car world, as of this moment, you should look into ‘80s cars. The collector cars market is into those ‘80s machines. In fact, in the last year or so, there has been an incredible spike in prices for the cars many thought would never get the respect they deserved. However, it looks like many collectors have accepted those ’80s machines as proper classic cars, which immediately affected their values.

That is why we have compiled a list of 20 well-known ‘80s cars that are extremely hot right now. These machines range from those ordinary models, muscle cars, performance sedans and even off-road and pickup trucks, and they are selling for some big bucks nowadays. People don’t look at them as disposable transportation like they did just a few years prior, but rather as valuable pieces of car history. So, if you are up for investing, here are 20 ’80s cars you should buy right now.

  1. Honda CRX

The market for affordable performance models in the early ‘80s was almost fully dominated by the Japanese brands. And the Honda CRX is the perfect example as one of the most memorable cars from that era. Honda produced the CRX between 1983 and 1991, basing it on the Civic but with a lower, sportier body and only two seats.

Since it was light, nimble and came with precise steering, the CRX was a true sports car, but with front-wheel drive and up to 140 HP. The biggest selling points of this model were the extremely light body at 1,800 pounds and a high revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX, so many fans still remember the car as a blast to drive.

  1. Ford Mustang SVO

Ford’s SVO or Special Vehicle Operations department introduced a special Mustang SVO for 1984. It featured a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 175 HP, which was quite the power output for a small engine. As a light car, the ‘84 Mustang SVO was hot at that moment.

The package included four-wheel disc brakes, a stiffer suspension, and sharper steering, transforming the little Mustang into a capable sports car. For 1985, the SVO upped the power to an impressive 205 HP, which turned the eyes of the motoring public to third-generation Mustangs.

  1. BMW 635 CSI

BMW presented the new 6 Series in 1976 as their entry in the Gran Turismo market. Also, it was one of the most elegant coupes of the period. It was famous for its recognizable design, four headlights and big BMW grille. Interestingly, they built the 6 Series on the 5 Series basis featuring powerful six-cylinder engines.

The 6 Series proved to be popular, spending over 13 years on the market. BMW managed to produce over 100,000 copies that are still sought-after models in the used car market. Interestingly, more than half of the examples they produced they also sold in the USA. Although the prices are still reasonable, soon these elegant cars will be out of reach.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

The third generation Camaro was a well-received and popular car. But after a while, the car buyers wanted more performance and power. So, Chevrolet delivered that with the legendary IROC-Z version. Available starting in 1985, the IROC-Z was a tribute model to the Chevrolet-sponsored International Race of Champions racing series.

However, it was much more than just an appearance package with a cool name. Under the hood, you would find a 350 V8 that produced 225 HP in the early years and 245 HP in later versions. Also, customers could opt for a manual or automatic. Better yet, they tuned both the suspension as well as the steering.

Chevrolet even offered a cool-looking convertible that was the first Camaro rag top in 18 years. The IROC-Z proved to be a popular and influential muscle car that finally brought some real performance to Chevy fans.

  1. Toyota 4Runner

Toyota’s answer to the Ford Bronco and Chevrolet K5 Blazer came quite late in 1984. It followed the same recipe as its competitors: a shortened Hilux truck chassis with a single cabin and a removable hardtop. The 4Runner came in time to battle with the second generations of the Bronco and the K5.

But while it couldn’t compete with the two due to a lack of V8 power, it gained recognition with its ruggedness and durability. In all honesty, even without the V8 under the hood, the 4Runner was a great SUV for the day and especially capable in off-road conditions. Today, the palette of inline four engines is considered the most reliable.

So the smartest way is to try and find these versions, despite the obvious lack of power compared to the V6 models. If you wish to go off-roading in the 4Runner, the models with smaller engines have better all-terrain capabilities than their big-engine counterparts.

  1. Porsche 944 Turbo

This forgotten gem from Stuttgart is one of the best affordable sports cars you can still buy. And, they are still budget-friendly today. However, if you don’t act fast, the chances are that the prices will go stratospheric soon. They designed the 944 as an entry-level Porsche, giving it an interesting layout. In fact, it comes with a front-mounted engine and rear-mounted transaxle gearbox.

Best of all, the handling is sublime. Even though the base 170 HP engine wasn’t slow, the real treat is the turbo. It has a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that puts out 250 HP. Due to being lightweight with a good transmission and aerodynamics, the 944 Turbo is a fast car. The 0 to 60 mph takes only 5.9 seconds and it can top 162 mph. So, even today, this little Porsche can outrun some modern sports cars.

  1. Chevrolet Corvette C4

Chevrolet presented the C4 Corvette in 1984. A true ’80s classic, it had a wedge-shaped body, pop up headlights and a rear hatch. The added bright colors to make this generation a true pop culture icon. However, there is much more about this car than funny stereotypes. In fact, the Corvette C4 singlehandedly saved the Corvette from its demise, no thanks to the recession and a lack of popularity.

The car was new from the ground up, with a new chassis, engine and design. Also, it featured a crazy digital dash in the interior. Over the years, Chevrolet managed to turn the Corvette into a world-class sports car. It delivered the performance and road holding that could rival those European exotics that were far more expensive. In fact, the chassis of the C4 is so good, they still use it for the current C7 generation in modified form, of course.

  1. Toyota Landcruiser J60

It is insane that quality examples of the J60 series Landcruiser are bringing north of $30,000 today but this is the reality of the collector car market. The classic ’80s SUV was affordable not that long ago, but now the prices are getting out of hand. However, most restoration projects are still somewhat affordable. So, if you have the means to perform it, you should consider finding an ‘80s Landcruiser.

Toyota introduced it in 1980 and discontinued it in 1989, selling the J60 all over the world. And it was especially popular in America. The Landcruiser combined the ruggedness of a classic FJ40 with a durable 4.2-liter inline six-engine and a bigger, more comfortable body. The combination proved so influential, the J60 is now the focus of collectors all over the world.

  1. Jeep Cherokee XJ

Introduced in 1984, Cherokee XJ generation was an enormous success for Jeep. With its boxy yet elegant looks, great build quality and lots of usable features, the second-generation Cherokee was the SUV of the ‘80s and globally-successful model. Despite being a modern and comfortable vehicle, the Cherokee XJ retained all its Jeep characteristics.

And they included rugged mechanics, a dependable AWD drive train and updated engines. All that helped it claim the title of one of the best SUVs of all times. Jeep offered the Cherokee XJ until 2014 in some foreign markets. That just shows how good of a car this Jeep was. The XJ is the next big thing since the quality examples are hard to find. Many people fondly remember this great vehicle.

  1. Ford Mustang GT 5.0 HO

The rise in the power of domestic cars during the ‘80s brought the first real performance to the Mustang range in almost 20 years. The Fox-body Mustang grew more powerful with each model year, starting from 175 HP in 1983. By the late ‘80s, the venerable 5.0-liter V8 engine was pumping out 225 HP with 300 lb-ft of torque. And that translated to quite competent 0 to 60 mph times.

The Mustang was once again an affordable performance car with cool styling, lots of options and enough power to spin the rear wheels in any gear. And that is why most fans consider the 1988 to 1993 Mustang 5.0 GT as one of the best ‘80 muscle cars ever.

This car marked a return to its Mustang roots with a strong V8 engine and exciting performance. Also, the late ‘80s Fox-body GT was so popular, they are plentiful today. This makes them a great choice for entry-level collectors. Better still, the aftermarket for those cars is enormous, meaning it’s easy and inexpensive to modify and make your Fox-body GT even faster.

  1. Pontiac Trans AM GTA

Arguably, the Trans AM was the best version of the third generation Pontiac F-body. Pontiac revealed it in 1987 as the top of the range Firebird on offer. The package was available until 1992, but they produced in relatively limited numbers. The secret weapons of the GTA were the engine and WS6 handling package.

The engine was a 350 V8 with 210 HP in early models and up to 245 HP in later versions. However, a rumor was the engine was the same as in the Corvette since it used the same TPI fuel injection system and displacement. But that wasn’t the case.

Corvette used aluminum heads while Pontiac used iron cast ones. However, the power and performance were similar. The WS6 package offered unmatched road holding and braking capabilities. It consisted of four disk brakes, a stiffer suspension and stronger sway bars, as well as special wheels and performance tires, too.

  1. Chevrolet C/K Square Body

People colloquially called the C/K the “Square Body” for its boxy design. And in fact, the third generation C/K featured a computer-designed body with more space and comfort than ever before. Also, the truck was bigger and tougher due to the new platform, revised suspension, and tougher axles.

Customers had numerous cab configurations, special editions, engine options and details to choose from, too. All that made the third generation C/K one of the best trucks in the world at that time. Chevy produced it from 1973 to 1991 in the USA. However, also built this model in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and South Korea.

During the long production run, Chevrolet introduced the diesel engine as an option, which proved to be highly popular in Europe and South America. Today, most of the trucks are worn out, but those well-preserved examples are fetching high prices since people fondly remember those utilitarian trucks.

  1. Alfa Romeo GTV6

Motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson once said that you are not a car enthusiast if you never owned an Alfa Romeo. As always, he is overreacting, but most people recommend owning a GTV6. The Tipo 105 successor was the coupe version of the Alfetta, which they introduced in the late ’70s. This car, with chassis code 116, had advanced construction and an updated suspension and featured several interesting details.

First, it had a transaxle gearbox that vastly improved the weight distribution; thus, the handling. Second, it had a De Dion type rear axle that helped the cornering and driving dynamics. With a 2.5-liter V6 engine in the front, the GTV6 delivered some 160 to 170 HP with a vivid performance by the standards of the day.

Even today, the GTV6 is infamous for its perfect driving dynamics, solid acceleration times and a fantastic soundtrack from its high revving V6. Interestingly, they sold this car in the USA and even offered it with an optional turbo kit by Callaway performance good for a whopping 233 HP. The prices are affordable, so this could be a perfect starter classic if you are into Italian sports cars.

  1. Porsche 928

The 928 was a Gran Turismo coupe with a powerful V8 engine in the front. It had a transaxle gearbox, ideal weight distribution and an intelligent suspension with a space-age design. In contrast to the 911, which had some VW Beetle cues, the 928 looked like it came from another planet.

Despite the fact that early 928s produced below 300 HP, the car was fast and perfect for effortless cruising and driving in comfort, speed and luxury. For decades, this model was in the shadow of the famous 911. But recently, people started realizing just how good these coupes are. So, of course, the prices are starting to go up.

  1. Ford Bronco

Ford started offering the Bronco in 1966, but in 1979, Ford introduced a new generation which they sold until 1986. Along the Chevrolet Blazer, the Bronco is the quintessential American compact SUV of the ’80s. Like all cars of this market segment, the Bronco was a tough and well-engineered SUV built on a truck chassis with heavy-duty components.

Customers used most Broncos as off-road vehicles or law enforcement transportation, which explains why well-preserved examples are so rare. And rare means expensive, so if you want to own proper Bronco, you should act fast.

  1. Alfa Romeo Milano V6

If you are looking for an Italian performance sedan on a budget, now it is the time to pick up a nice example of the Alfa Romeo Milano 3.0 V6. They imported it to the American market in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The Milano was an elegant four-door model, but with some interesting technical features.

It had a De Dion rear suspension and transaxle gearbox that made it handle like a racing car. Along with the three-liter, 200 HP V6 engine, the Milano delivered a decent performance. In fact, some drivers compared it to the BMW 5 Series.

  1. Mazda RX7

If you are looking for a genuine JDM classic coupe, you are late since the prices are stratospheric and the choice is limited. However, there is an alternative in the form of the Mazda RX-7. The first or second generation of the compact Mazda sports car has all the right ingredients to become a cult classic.

The RX-7 has rear-wheel drive, a specific design, pop up headlights and interesting technology. Also, it is affordable and plentiful and even had some racing success. Mazda presented the first generation in 1978 and it stayed on the market until 1985.

During that period, they made almost 500,000 RX-7s, selling most of them being in America. Under the hood was a 1.1 to 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine, which was the RX-7`s most notable feature. The extremely compact and light engine produced 102 to 135 HP and that was more than enough for the lively performance of this little coupe.

  1. Audi Coupe Quattro

Audi unveiled the Coupe Quattro in 1980, and it proved to be an important, influential vehicle. Also, it was one of the most interesting ’80s cars ever. In its base version, it was an elegant 2+2 coupe they equipped with a signature five-cylinder 2.3-liter engine producing 136 HP and the famous Quattro all-wheel drive.

The Coupe Quattro was the basis for several legendary rally cars, which made a name for Audi. However, if you are planning to buy this car, always look for a Coupe Quattro version that has all those features. Audi offered this budget front-wheel-drive model, which is not interesting to most collectors.

  1. Mitsubishi Starion

The Mitsubishi Starion is a forgotten JDM legend from the early ’80s that featured a turbocharged engine. Also, it came with cool period styling and mandatory pop-up lights. It had rear wheel drive and composed handling and was Mitsubishi’s answer to the Mazda RX7 and Nissan 300 ZX.

Buyers could choose between a 2.0 and 2.6-liter engine. Although both had the same power level, the 2.6-liter produced much more torque. On the American market, they sold the Starion as the Chrysler Conquest.

  1. Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

In 1983, Chevrolet decided to re-introduce the SS trim level on the 1983 model. The continue to offer this option until 1988 with great success. The mid-80s Monte Carlo was one of coolest two-door coupes of the period although the performance wasn’t exhilarating.

Under the hood was a 305 V8 with 180 HP they mated to a slow automatic transmission. What the SS lacked in performance it made up with its looks and reputation. In its five-year production run, Chevrolet built over 180,000 of those sleek coupes.

These are 20 of the best investment grade ’80s cars you should buy right now. Which one appealed to you? If you want any of these, you should hurry up before the prices go up and the availability goes down.

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