For me, the 1980’s conjure up visions of cars like the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Testarossa and Porsche 959. These were the super cars of the day and ones that I always hoped I would have a chance to drive. Most of them were outstanding performers by 1980’s standards, and have thus far, stood the test of time. There were however a select group of exotics built during the 1980’s that for one reason or another, never really caught on with the buying public. Maybe it had to do with spotty build quality, an exceedingly high price tag or the fact that they were underachievers. Whatever the reason though some of these big dollar cars simply didn’t make it and because of that, they sit below as part of this list.
• 1986 Porsche 928
Porsche originally created the 928 to replace the much loved Porsche 911 and broaden the brands appeal. Its front engine rear drive configuration never garnered much respect from Porsche enthusiasts, but the fact of the matter was that this baby was and still is, one of the best GT cars ever. It was comfortable, fast, looked good and handled great, but the fact that the engine wasn’t hanging over the rear wheels was just too much for the Porsche faithful to handle.
• 1985 Detomaso Pantera
The Detomaso Pantera is what you get when you mix Italian styling with American grunt. Designed by an American, but built in Italy, the Pantera’s greatest flaw was that the buying public simply didn’t know what to make of it. They were powered by mid-mounted Ford 351 Cleveland V8’s that enabled 0-60 times of around 5.5 seconds, so there was no doubt that the Pantera was fast. The melding of the two cultures however simply meant that your final product was a car with an identity crisis.
• 1981 DeLorean
Nothing says, “I do cocaine” like the 1981 Delorean. Manufactured in northern Ireland, the Delorean was the brain child of GM executive John Delorean. His goal was to build a cutting edge GT car that would appeal to the world over. Styling wise the Delorean was actually a very nice looking automobile. With a monocoque chassis, gull wing doors and stainless steal body panels it definitely had an appeal to it. However once it hit the market, people began to realize that the cars were not only underpowered but had severe reliability issues as well. Then in 1985 “Back to the Future” came out and gave the then defunct company some positive publicity, alas it was too late as the Delorean Motor Company hit the skids in 1982.
• 1986 Ferrari Mondial
The Ferrari Mondial is one of those rare cars that simply does not get the respect it deserves. You see it’s powered by the same 270 hp engine that powered the Ferrari 328 GTB, which means that it’s not only reliable, but easy to maintain. Its downfall however was its 2+2 configuration, something that has never been overly popular with Ferrari enthusiasts. What the Mondial does give it’s owners however, is piece of mind as they’re not only reliable but a great value.
• 1981 BMW M1
The BMW M1 was BMW’s first “M” car. It was powered by a mid-mounted 273 hp inline-6 that propelled the M1 to a top speed of 160 mph, a number that was not too shabby for 30 years ago. The cars wedge shape styling however seemed to confuse people who were more accustom to the boxy lines of BMW standard models.
• 1981 Lamborghini Jalpa
It’s tough being the low man on the company totem pole, especially when that company is Lamborghini. Truth be told the Lamborghini Jalpa is one of my favorite cars. It’s styling is not as crass as the Countach’s of the era and the car is simply easier to drive. Jalpa’s were powered by a 3.5-liter V8 that produced 255 bhp and 231 lbs.ft. of torque. That meant the car wasn’t as fast as it’s big brother, and in the eyes of the Lamborghini faithful, that simply wouldn’t do.
• 1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo
The Lotus Esprit is an automotive icon, there is no doubt about that. For all intents and purposes though, it seems to have been forgotten by the automotive public. Maybe its because it came with a turbo charged 4-banger instead of a V8, or maybe it’s because, in one form or another the Espirt has been around since 1976. Either way though it’s a damn shame because this car continues to be not only a great value, but one of the best looking cars ever to come out of Britain.
• 1989 Vector W8 Twin Turbo
Back in the mid-1980’s the notion of the United States building a super car was pretty far fetched to the rest of the world. That however didn’t stop Detroit native Gerald Wiegert from trying. The Vector W8 Twin Turbo was a hammer of an automobile producing 625 hp from its twin-turbo V8 and running to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Alas, with a price tag of $455,000 back in 1989, there were very few people who were willing to take a chance on a car company with no history.
• 1988 Aston Martin Virage
God I hate this car. I hate this car because it simply looks like the fat over-bloated result of corporate decision making. The Virage wasn’t a bad car, in as much as it was a melting pot of parts from other manufacturers. The headlights for example were off of an Audi 200 with the taillights being from a VW Scirocco. Combine that with crappy GM sourced dash components and a Ford steering column and you’ve got a car that was doomed to fail before it even began.
• 1983 Porsche 924
I figured what the hell… why not let you watch the ads and decide for yourselves if the Porsche 924 is a truly forgettable car.