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1980s Sports Cars That Tried To Be Too Futuristic

Cameron EittreimJuly 23, 2020

Mitsubishi Starion
Photo Credit: Fast Lane Cars

10: Mitsubishi Starion (1983-1989)

The Mitsubishi brand started out importing cars for Chrysler during the late ’70s and into the ’80s. Eventually, the company wanted to start selling vehicles under the Mitsubishi brand name, and the Starion was part of a trio. While the other two vehicles fell into obscurity the Starion was a great seller for the company. The Chrysler Conquest was also based on the Starion but didn’t sell as well.

Mitsubishi Starion
Photo Credit: Fast Lane Cars

In the long run, the Mitsubishi Starion was a bit of overkill due to the way the body was styled. But if you could get past the exterior of the thing the performance and drivability were exceptional. Sports cars of this era were fun to drive and well-designed examples of automotive design.

Nissan Pulsar NX
Photo Credit: Car Domain

9: Nissan Pulsar NX (1987-1990)

Nissan hit it out of the park with the 280ZX. But the rest of the lineup was lackluster at best. The Nissan Pulsar NX was one of many compact cars that Nissan was hammering out during the ’80s. The car had a recognizable look with boxy corners and popup headlights. The look and feel of the car were quintessential ’80s, and its performance was decent.

Nissan Pulsar NX
Photo Credit: Car Domain

The car was competing internally with the Nissan Sentra and it was causing a problem for the dealership network. Datsun was also being phased out around this period and the NX suffered a similar fate to the brand. The NX managed to sell well for the company and lasted for only a few years.

Porsche 944 Turbo
Photo Credit: Autoweek

8: Porsche 944 Turbo (1986-1989)

Porsche was at a standstill during the ’80s, as the brand was in a state of despair. The cars were unimaginative and the automotive market was changing. The Porsche 944 Turbo did a great job of creating a one of a kind vehicle. The lines of the sports car were extremely futuristic, but Porsche was at the forefront with some extreme designs. The 944 was a comfortable car to drive with a decent backseat.

Porsche 944 Turbo
Photo Credit: Porsche

The Porsche 944 probably isn’t going to be at the top of your list when it comes to ’80s sports cars. But, if you want a glimpse into a futuristic sports car that screams the 1980s, the Porsche 944 is the way to go. There was also an optional V8 version of the car that performed well.

Porsche 959
Photo Credit: Autoweek

7: Porsche 959 (1986-1989)

The Porsche 959 is among the most notable renditions from the famed automaker. The design was long and sloping. The car was designed to churn out an impressive performance whether you were on the race track or the city streets. There’s no denying that the 959 might have been way ahead of its time, and this is why the car turned a lot of buyers off.

Porsche 959
Photo Credit: Autoweek

The Porsche 959 was maybe just a little bit too much. Still, if you want to experience one of the most unique Porsche’s ever designed, the 959 is it. The design is unlike anything that you’ll see and it’s quintessential Porsche. Every automaker was trying to jump on the design bandwagon in the ’80s.

Saab 900
Photo Credit: Saab

6: Saab 900 Turbo (1978-1993)

The 900 Turbo was the pinnacle of Saab design during the ’80s. The car had a look all its own, from its harsh corners to the interesting roofline. If you’ve ever driven a Saab, then you’ll know that this look was quintessential. The automaker never really veered far away from this styling, and at the time it was very futuristic.

Saab 900
Photo Credit: Saab

Nevertheless, if you haven’t had a chance to drive a Saab before, this is a must-drive. The Saab 900 Turbo was way too futuristic looking back then, but now it looks chic and trendy, a good thing when it comes to buying an older car. Cars were traditionally boxy while the Saab was a sleek and international-looking car.

Subaru XT
Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: Subaru XT (1985-1991)

The Subaru XT was back in the ’80s what the Cybertruck is now. The sharp-bladed styling of the two-door made it look like nothing you’ve ever seen. The performance was also quite decent. This was before Subaru had become the trendy automaker it is today. Other Subaru coupes came after the XT, but to this day the XT has some of the most daring styling.

Subaru XT
Photo Credit: Subaru

The company wasn’t afraid to innovate around this period and the XT is evidence of that. Whether you just wanted a car like in the movie Mad Max or you are a Subaru fanatic, the XT is a unique proposition. Subaru also had a sedan around this time that had a flat engine coupled with the spare tire in the same compartment.

Toyota Supra Turbo
Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

4: Toyota Celica Supra (1982-1986)

The Toyota Celica has gone through a lot of changes over the decades. One such thing that it would take on was the appearance of a muscle car, a sports car, and finally a compact. The Celica Supra was a mixture of futuristic styling and everything you wanted in a sports car. Surprisingly the car was very similar to the Mitsubishi Starion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Toyota Celica Supra
Photo Credit: Automobile

Performance-wise, the Celica wasn’t going to win any races off the line. But the car had satisfactory handling and performance for a long ride. This is what most people are looking for in a sports car anyway, agility and reliability. The Celica was one of the building blocks for Toyota that we see today.

Toyota MR2
Photo Credit: Toyota

3: Toyota MR2 (1985-1989)

Few cars have as much of a cult following as the MR2 doe. This little mid-engined car was one of the most unique things to come out of Toyota. The car wasn’t very powerful on paper, but the driving etiquette of the MR2 is top-notch. These cars are even used to create kit cars of Ferraris and other well-known models.

Toyota MR2
Photo Credit: Toyota

The later MR2’s still adapted the same extreme styling. But the ’80s rendition was perhaps the most notable. Cars like this and the Pontiac Fiero were a great way to experience mid-engine driving on a budget. The styling was a bit blocky and over-the-top, but the result was a great driving experience.

Pontiac Fiero
Photo Credit: Automobile

2: Pontiac Fiero (1984-1988)

The Pontiac brand was at an impasse during the ’80s. This mid-engined car had a very futuristic look tht was ahead of the time. Where the MR2 was a small mid-engined car the Fiero was in the same league, but GM was opting to put more power into it. The Fiero was notorious for having engine fires due to cramped engine bay design.

Pontiac Fiero
Photo Credit: Automobile

There were some cool moments with the Fiero though as it was the official Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. Had Pontiac perfected the engine bay problem the Fiero would have been one of the most desirable mid-engined cars on the market. After a series of lawsuits and bad press, the Fiero was redesigned but it was far too late for the car.

Yugo GV
Photo Credit: Yugo

1. Yugo GV (1985 – 1992)

Finally, we have a car that is notoriously the worst car ever made according to the automotive press. The Yugo was the cheapest car in America, but also the worst. The cars were notoriously unreliable right out of the factory, with issues ranging from overheating to interior build quality. The plan for the Yugo was to create the cheapest car on the market, and that happened.

Yugo GV
Photo Credit: Barn Finds

The Yugo tried to be the future of the automotive industry and instead went down in flames. Very few cars have failed as miserably as the Yugo did. This was one of the most memorable stories in the automotive industry. Unfortunately, there was no thought process behind the design.

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