As time goes on and we look back at decades past, the ’80s become a weirder time for everyone. It was a pretty good time for cars, though, to be honest. Cars from the ’80s are still holding up to this day, and finding these 30-plus-year-old vehicles is becoming more desirable for some people. A lot of cars from the ’80s still move off sales lots pretty quickly. Not too surprising when these American classics are becoming increasingly rare and desirable. Many have long been discontinued, and that rarity has only increased their value.
Let’s take a look at today’s most popular cars from the ’80s. We dug into our database to learn which cars from the ’80s generate the most interest among CarGurus shoppers. So if you’re looking to sell one of these classics, or want to buy one yourself, these are the ’80s cars generating the most interest among CarGurus users. It may not be a coincidence that these ’80s vehicles are prime real estate for car lovers who happen to be entering their midlife crises. If these were the cars you lusted after in your childhood, it’s about that time in your life to start looking for those ’80s greats. We’ve got to admit, this list is pretty rad.
10. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is a beauty of a vehicle. The prime example of a modern woodie, the Wagoneer had an extensive lifespan through the years as a product of Willys-Overland Motors, Kaiser Jeep, American Motors, and then finally with Chrysler’s Jeep division. Unsurprisingly, this iconic and ground-breaking utility vehicle (the Wagoneer was around decades before the classification “Sport Utility Vehicle” was coined) lands in the Top 10 of the most sought after ’80s vehicles. There’s little argument to be made that the Wagoneer isn’t one of the coolest-looking cars ever. Bulky, rugged, wood-paneled—the Wagoneer pioneered the SUV concept with its boxy pickup-truck chassis balanced with comfort and luxury that made it very accessible for consumers. The Grand Wagoneer lived out the end of its life as a Jeep product in the late ’80s, and it remains an icon of ’80s-retro vehicles. No wonder there have been rumors of a new Grand Wagoneer on the horizon.
9. The Pontiac Firebird had a long life in the Hollywood limelight since starring in the 1977 Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit. Its Hollywood career continued as David Hasselhoff’s super-computing, turbocharged Firebird Trans Am, KITT. You can’t get any more iconic ’80s than the Hoff. The Firebird had an attitude and wore it proudly. Who could resist the awesome Firebird decal? And it’s just about the only car that looks better with flames painted on its sides. Introduced the same year as its more prolific cousin, the Chevy Camaro (they have shared the F-body platform throughout their lifespan), the Firebird, and its Trans Am performance package, was the showiest way of having a car with some power in it. Other cars just can’t pull off flames like an ’89 Firebird.
8. The Pontiac Fiero may not have been as prolific and long-lasting as its muscle-car Pontiac brother, the Firebird, but the roadster earned a reputation as a quintessential sports car of the mid-’80s. For just 4 years, the Fiero catered to more fuel-conscious sports car enthusiasts. Its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder got an impressive 27 mph city/40 highway, pretty good numbers even today. The Fiero appealed to a rather unique crowd back then—people who wanted a powerful sports car, but desired better mileage than a Corvette and its V8 would offer. The years passing since its production have only made the Fiero more desirable.
7. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo had a long life, finally ceasing production in 2007 after almost four decades of being a cornerstone of Chevrolet’s midsize lineup. The ’80s were truly prime time for the Monte Carlo, however. The fourth generation (1981-88) design exemplifies the ’80s coupe. The ’88 would be the last of Chevy’s midsize lineup until the Monte Carlo returned in ’95. The ’88 model also saw the end of the rear-wheel-drive V8-powered coupe, being replaced by the more consumer-friendly front-wheel-drive V6 in resurrected ’90s models. No wonder why the ’80s editions are so desirable—who wouldn’t want to own an American icon in its functional and aesthetic prime?
6. Ever wanted to feel like an ’80s cop? We imagine that is the driving force behind people purchasing the Chevrolet Caprice. The Caprice was the police cruiser of choice in the ’80s, cementing its legacy as a law-enforcement icon. The Caprice also came in classic station-wagon form, and who wouldn’t want to drive around in the retro-goodness of an ’80s wagon? You can’t buy a Caprice nowadays. They ceased production in ’96 (although a police-only version has been available since 2011). Even police officers want the retro feel of the ’80s cop car, though the new models are quite different.
5. The Chevrolet El Camino has been turning heads since it hit the market in 1959. General Motors’ response to the Ford Ranchero coupe utility, the El Camino came out swinging, crushing the Ranchero’s sales numbers in its first year and never looking back. How did the El Camino deliver such an impressive showing? Simple: It was functional, fun to drive, and most of all, looked great. Chevy kept that same formula for the El Camino from its introduction until its ultimate demise in 1987, making the ute one of the most iconic and well-loved cars of American car history. While 1987 was the El Camino’s last year, its spirit continues to live on Down Under in its cousin, the Holden Commodore Ute. (While we can’t get the ute version in the U.S., the Commodore is available here as the Chevrolet SS.)
4. If there’s one car that symbolizes the ’80s, it’s the Fox-body Ford Mustang. Introduced in 1979 and on sale until 1993, the Fox-body (third-generation) Mustang is one of the most beloved cars on American roads today (particularly the 1987-93 models, which were significantly redesigned from the generation’s earlier cars). Famous for their 5.0 V8s, the Mustangs of the late ’80s are way more fun on the road than their looks may have you believe. When you lay the pedal down in one, you’ll see exactly why they’re some of the most shopped-for cars of the 1980s on CarGurus.
3. To the untrained eye, it doesn’t look like the Jeep Wrangler has changed all that much since its introduction in 1987. The successor to the Jeep CJ7 (itself the successor to the great Willys MB), the Wrangler has been a force to reckon with since it came on the scene. Despite being produced for only 3 years of the 1980s, the Wrangler was still able to earn enough user interest to gain the third spot on our list, with the 1989 model proving the most popular. Wranglers hold their value extremely well, meaning if you want to save some cash, you’ll have to look as far back as possible. Luckily there are still plenty of ’80s Wranglers to be had.
2. The third-generation Chevrolet Camaro ruled the streets between 1982 and 1992. Well, that’s not quite true—it ruled the streets whenever it was out of the shop. Despite having a less-than-stellar record for reliability, the Camaro still manages to rate highly with users for being insanely fun to drive and scary fast, especially the 1986 version. If you don’t mind passing everything but your local garage (or enjoy doing the work yourself), the Camaro could be just the ’80s throwback for you.
1. The Chevrolet Corvette is a legend. Unfortunately, legends tend to get pretty pricy. If you’re looking for a legend with a reasonable price tag, take a look at Corvettes from the 1980s. Our users particularly love the 1989 version, the first Corvette to offer a 6-speed manual transmission. While some may prefer the modern C7 Stingray (and trust us, the C7 is a superb car), there’s something to be said for firing up a classic, smashing down the pedal, and sending all 240 ponies to the tarmac. If you’re starting to feel like a classic yourself, an older Corvette will quickly teach you just how to appreciate antiques.
What’s your favorite car from the 1980s?
-jharrington and zwaller
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Used Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Used Pontiac Firebird
Used Pontiac Fiero
Used Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Used Chevrolet Caprice
Used Chevrolet El Camino
Used Ford Mustang
Used Jeep Wrangler
Used Chevrolet Camaro
Used Chevrolet Corvette