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Best Cars Of 1980 – The Greatest Cars In The World This Year

The 1980s were marked by the arrival of the Japanese car as a mainstream choice instead of a quirky alternative. The decade saw the beginning of a muscle revival, thanks to Buick’s turbocharged V-6s and Ford’s V-8–powered Fox-body Mustangs. And then there were the white-painted hatchbacks and fully realized performance cars spilling out of Europe like the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Testarossa, and Volkswagen GTI.

If the automobiles of the decade weren’t universally great, they were at least often interesting, as the industry discovered how to make emissions-friendly power, experimented heavily with turbocharging, and began serious work on the all-wheel-drive systems we take for granted today. If the sad-sack 1970s marked the end of the postwar performance boom, the ’80s signaled a fresh wave of original thinking.

Related: Don’t forget our best car hub where you can find the top cars for every year.

Our Favorite Cars for the 1980 Model Year

1980 Audi Quattro

1980 Audi Quattro

When Audi presented the first generation quattro to an international public at the Geneva Automobile Show in spring 1980, this signalised one of the most important innovations in modern automotive technology. Learn more…

1980 Lotus Esprit Turbo

Cheaper ‘production’ version, with reduced trim spec; except for earliest models, all have wet-sump lubrication, BBS wheels. Higher compression ratios for the engines was indicated by the ‘HC’ moniker. Turbo shared common chassis and body with S3. Learn more…

1980 Datsun 280ZX 10th Anniversary

Designed to be more of a grand touring car than its 280Z predecessor, the 280ZX had a lot more trunk space and more interior appointments. Its toned-down nature meant it never really took off in popularity compared to the old Zs, but there’s one version that still stands out today: The 10th Anniversary edition. Learn more…

1980 Porsche 924 Carrera GT Gallery

1980 Porsche 924 Carrera GT

Porsche’s racing engineers developed both the road going homologation special and the racing car side by side. The 924 Carrera GT road was based on the 924 Turbo, but was widened and lightened considerably. By boosting the Turbo-pressure and the compression, the blown four cylinder engine produced an impressive 210 bhp. Production of the 400 examples required started in August of 1980 and despite the high price and the fact that it was available in black, red or silver, they sold like hot cakes. The 924 had always been praised for its great handling and with the additional power and wider track, it was a proper road racer. Learn more…

1980 Porsche 928 S

Originally intended as the successor to the 911, the 928 was Porsche’s high-performance 2+2 coupe, a sophisticated, front-engine, V-8 powered performer with an appeal that stretched across 18 model years. Depending on year and model, buyers can find 928s in a variety of specification, with power ranging from 219 to 350 horsepower. Learn more…