The 1980s were known as the decade of excess and it showed in many of the things we enjoyed. From the fashions to the technology to the music, the 1980s was truly a unique decade. One particularly popular part of the 1980s came from the many cars that the United States produced.
A number of these great cars from the country came about as the American economy started to grow. Some of these cars were flashy and unique while others did more to change the industry in many ways.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular cars to have come from the United States during the decade of excess.
1. Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z
Image Credit: Hemmings
The IROC-Z was the third generation Chevrolet Camaro that was introduced in 1985. This was one of the most popular cars at the time for its stunning race-style look. The 5.7L motor and suspension features made this a very popular vehicle. In fact, the IROC-Z was used as the pace car for the International Race of Champions, an old auto racing series that featured drivers in the NASCAR, CART and other major auto racing series competing with each other.
2. Ford Thunderbird SC
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In 1989, Ford introduced the Super Coupe version of the Thunderbird. This used a 3.8L supercharged V6 instead of the V8 that other Thunderbirds used. What made this one of the best American cars at the time was how it worked with better fuel economy, burned cleaner and ran smoother. The five-speed manual transmission especially made this a popular choice for how it gave drivers more control over the road.
3. Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
Image Credit: Barrett Jackson
The Super Sport version of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo was designed as a lighter version of a vehicle that had been used as the base for many NASCAR vehicles. This had a 305 cubic inch V8 engine and striking aluminum rims.
The Monte Carlo of the 1980s was specifically its fourth edition. The small-block design on the engine made it physically smaller in size than other engines but still provided it with enough power for a variety of needs that the driver would hold. The lighter weight in the engine was especially used to create a stronger control over how the car could be balanced.
4. Buick Grand National
Image Credit: Road and Track
The mid-1980s was the era of the Grand National. One of the most popular cars of the time, the Grand National had a 3.8L turbo supercharged V6 engine. The transmission was especially streamlined to feature three or four speeds depending on the model one chose. This allowed for a quicker approach to getting the vehicle up and running.
Sequential Fuel Injection was a particularly noteworthy feature found in these American classic cars. This worked with a setup where fuel would be administered quicker when the engine was running faster. This ensured that fuel would be used only based on how much power is going into the vehicle, thus allowing it to run efficiently.
5. Pontiac Bonneville SSE
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The SSE became a very popular version of the Pontiac Bonneville sedan in the late 1980s. The car was noteworthy for having a more solid color design with the main body color expanding to more parts of the vehicle including the wheels and grille. The 3.8L 3800 V6 engine especially made this a popular vehicle that was certainly unique.
Some versions of the SSE featured a 5.7L V8 diesel engine. This was designed for sporting needs and created an intense drive. In fact, the diesel engine used here was based off of the same template that Oldsmobile used for its V8 diesel engines.
6. DeLorean DMC-12
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The DeLorean DMC-12 is one of the most iconic 80s cars thanks to its role in the Back To the Future movies. The fact that the doors on the DMC-12 open outward was rather unique. The slim and short design of the vehicle was about 200 mm shorter than what most other vehicles were like at the time.
The engine was particularly special. This 2.85L V6 engine was based on a mix of standards used by Volvo, Renault and Peugeot. The independent suspension and double wishbone front suspension helped keep the DMC-12 on the ground even when it was speeding along the highway.
7. Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo
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The Oldsmobile Toronado was a luxury car that was in its final years of production in the 1980s. The Trofeo was introduced in the later part of the decade as a unique evolution of the vehicle. This was heralded as being one of the best American cars of the time for how it offered a stiff suspension, a powerful dual exhaust feature and a four-speed automatic transmission.
One unique part of the Trofeo was that it was one of the first American cars to have its own touch screen system. This rudimentary small screen feature allowed the user to control the stereo and air conditioner while also reviewing the car’s physical compass location and oil level among other features.
8. Ford Taurus
Image Credit: Wheel Sage
While the Ford Taurus might remain one of the most noteworthy cars in the modern world of automobiles, it was a revelation when it was introduced in 1985. The aerodynamic design of the car helped to reduce drag to make it more fuel efficient. The composite headlights were also important as they allowed for a slimmer approach to the front. The bumpers were also incorporated into the main body of the vehicle to keep it from having more bulk than necessary.
A few of the different items that we take for granted in today’s hot cars were added including a CD player, cup holders and airbags. The vehicle became a true trendsetter in the world of American cars, thus making it a popular choice among those looking for vehicles that fit their needs. In fact, Ford still makes the Taurus to this day, albeit with a more modern approach.
9. Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
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The Cutlass Supreme was originally a rear wheel drive vehicle but it soon became a front wheel drive one in the 1980s. This is popular among American classic cars because Oldsmobile used an extended variety of engine options. These ranged from a 3.8L V6 based on the Buick design to a 5.7L Oldsmobile Diesel V8 engine. The larger engines were popular for how they could quickly propel the vehicle down the road with ease. Oldsmobile went in a different direction as the decade ended but it was still a popular choice.
10. Lincoln Mark VII
Image Credit: Moment Car
The last of the hot cars of the 1980s comes from Lincoln, the luxury imprint that Ford has been using for generations. The Mark VII was designed as a high-end version of the Ford Continental with more interior features like a fancier leather surface. The 5.0L engine that the Ford Mustang had been using for years was also included in this image. This was used to help make the car run faster, thus mixing the high-end features of a luxury vehicle with some stronger performance features. It was a unique arrangement that made the vehicle more unique and spectacular.
This listing of the most popular cars of the 1980s shows that there are many great cars out there that have certainly made an impact. These American classic cars include some great options that have made a real difference.