A glimpse of the 80’s, in retrospect


The automotive world is always abuzz with state of the art cars and revolutionary technologies packed into them. With spec sheets written all over with more acronyms than the average driver can fathom and although how difficult it may seem trying to get it all understood, it almost always does bring new approaches in the motoring world. To a few, some are warmly welcomed whereas some would shun it entirely. Self-driving cars? Where’s the fun in that?

The 80’s was a time where cars had none of it. Electronics and computers were slowly making headway but the experience was untarnished and, dare I say – raw compared to the offerings of today. World War 2 ended not too long ago and the economies of countries affected by the war were steadily recovering, and as their markets grew more and more consumer-oriented, the people were spoilt for choice – there were cars of various heritage, and from being just plain frugal to offering the crème de la crème of comfort, quality and most importantly – presence. To an enthusiast, it was a great time to be alive.

80s Retro (1)

I was fortunate enough to come across a stack of automotive magazines from several decades back, and it’s obvious that the articles and advertisements you see in a motoring magazine then are a huge departure from the present. Printed media was still one of the most effective tools to reach out to would-be buyers, and some of them were just so well-dictated that you’d be compelled to send out a mail order, which the company would respond with a full brochure of the car to your mailing address. They just don’t do that anymore these days…

It was somewhat amusing to read a review that was ‘up-to-date’ during then, with the reviewer not having a clue on how things would have changed almost 30 years down the road. However as they always say – the future is built on the past.

80s Retro (2)

The Japanese had a penchant for reliability and this still holds true till today. The G10 Daihatsu Charade pictured above, stresses on practicality, fuel efficiency and being fuss-free where the common driver would appreciate these values the most.

80s Retro (3)

It featured a 993 cc, three cylinder, four-stroke engine capable of 50 PS. This engine was later given the turbocharging treatment to boost power by an additional 30 PS on the 2nd-generation Charade DeTomaso models. The Charade name is long gone in Malaysia, but you may occasionally spot one roaming the streets usually with a swapped 4E-FTE engine.


To those who had a little more to spare, the Ford Sierra – the successor to the highly popular Ford Cortina – opened up to the masses. It had a design ahead of its time which took time to adopt…

80s Retro (11)

It was only during the 1980s which vehicle aerodynamics started to make sense, which most cars had a silhouette of rectangular blocks tied to four wheels, prior to the era. Judging from the size and appearance the Sierra’s entry segment bears strong resemblance to the B segment models we currently drive here and now, built for a family of five to comfortably ride in.

80s Retro (15)

Here we have the car that arguably started it all – the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Capable of churning out 113 PS and weighing just about a ton – it’s no wonder the Brits just couldn’t get enough of this car. The Type 2 Scirocco GTI is also featured here, and it’s easy to tell where the design cues came about for the current ongoing model.

80s Retro (8)

The sports models thrived well during the heydays – but not exactly so for Porsche. Sales of the 911 were starting to trickle, which Porsche wanted a new lineup which would marry the comfort and fitment of a grand tourer, and the agility of a sports car. And with that, the Porsche 928 was born.


The front-mounted engine didn’t jive with the rear-engined purists which Porsche was always known for, and Porsche knew. The amount of effort placed into its engineering and design put the 928 (and similarly, the 924) into territory they never knew they had. Also, little did they know their rear and mid-engine models are still competitive to this very day.

No doubt, for the petrolheads – the 80’s was a great time and place to be.


About Author

Having a penchant for cars since youth, he firmly believes that speed and stature go hand-in-hand. He enjoys the occasional spirited drive and can be found personally grooming his cars from time to time.

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