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Question Of The Day: Has The Time Come For 1980s Cars To Finally Get Built?

Question Of The Day: Has The Time Come For 1980s Cars To Finally Get Built?

The 1980s…forget all of the clichés and look at the cars as they are for a moment, and not just the last few years of the decade, either. Fox Mustangs, Thunderbirds, Cougars and Fairmonts. Third-generation F-bodies and G-bodies, or for a bit more room the B-body from General Motors. Front-wheel-drive, turbocharged Chrysler products that could give the two legends a run for their money. The Spirit AMX, or for you outdoorsy types, the Eagle Wagon. Like pickup trucks? You’re spoiled for choice, no matter if you like them big or small, low or tall. Whether or not you want to admit it, just like all of the mid-1970s sleds that most people wrote off until recently, the 1980s cars are starting to gain some traction after years of being passed over for anything else on the market.


It’s the generational shift. Those who are finally getting some coin together are starting to go after the car they have always dreamed of having, and more often than not it’s a car that is connected to their childhood in some way. For people who are entering their early 30s, that would be cars that were common circa 1990. It’s not hard to understand the appeal of the G-bodies, Fox Mustangs or even some of the wilder Mopars, especially the ones that had “SHELBY” on the body panels, but everything else might warrant an explanation or two, and that just isn’t possible in some cases. Why would somebody build a Mercury Grand Marquis? Maybe because it’s got more in common with old-school muscle-era cars than most 1980s machines do: a full frame, V8 power, and more room after the late 1970s downsizing trend took place.

mod-merc-4Maybe I’m tainted…anybody who has been keeping track of what turns my crank when it comes to cars will either agree with what I’m saying, and many who don’t already think that I’m damaged goods upstairs anyways. But I’m just one opinion…and there are many of you out there. So what’s your take: do you see people moving on to Eighties projects now that they are older and not so common, or are the ones we’ve seen so far simply flukes?


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11 thoughts on “Question Of The Day: Has The Time Come For 1980s Cars To Finally Get Built?

  1. Crazy

    Here is the problem..
    Same problem the mid to late 70’s cars have..
    back when they where new or 5 years old.. The old muscle cars were still around.. and not hard to find..
    And the emission laws these cars still had to pass.. and crap for power..
    So, either build a ’75 back car and do as you please, Or spend 3 times as much to go half as fast.. and then hope the shop you take the vehicle to doesn’t bark at any of the mods..
    When I bought my 1986 SS in 2001 , it had to pass emissions,, I got flack for when I installed new exhaust with true duals, and 2 converters.. They wanted to fail it.. after spending 800.00 to have the set up run just like the dual converter set up on an f body.. only it didn’t go into one pipe mid stream.

    So, these were unloved.. anything mid 70’s up other than a select few year models..
    Mid 2000’s they ,here changed it to only testing obII cars.. so now can do as you please as long as it looks like all the emissions crap is working when they inspect it..
    Yes there is always the guy that can get an inspection sticker on anything as he knows a buddy of a buddy.. but to be legal is blew..

    So, unlike the late 60’s and early 70’s cars that within ten years of being new the aftermarket was pumping out parts for them.. the mid 70 up never got that and with the cars pushing 40 years old still don’t… As the resto restore parts places are still stuck on the 30 fords /55-57 chevy and ford /muscle car years 63-74 anything. but you hear crickets when you go looking for body parts or interior parts or emission parts for those in cali and other places that still test them..
    Other problem is the blasted EPA.. and the local level regs/rules/laws today it might be anything go..for pre OBII vehicles (most 96 back) but tomorrow they could be back in the testing loop of sniffer and visual , if the fed says to get road grants you must test them.. Just like the stock investor they tend to not go with something that can drop like a rock at any moment if the wind blows the other direction.. Same with these cars.. MID-build the rules could make that midway restored 80’s car a paperweight.. for your garage and mucho money down the drain..
    If it was set in stone that 30 year old vehicle that are insured as a collector car, with limited use will be free from the law makes whims of emission testing rules.. then more might build them..
    I have a build 350 for my SS but the 305 is still in it, for this reason.. they already pulled this stunt once and at any time and any law makers pet project whim.. change yet again..
    If I was handed a SEMA badge/credentials and every other industry show asking all the vendors why they are not moving past the year 1972!!!!!
    sure there is some parts slowly coming out, much of it questionable in fit and finish.. but these vehicles are pushing 40 years old.. the 1982 t/a quarter is the same up to 92 same with the Camaro.. the monty the cutlass regal, fox mustang,farmont,t bird, most mopars, it wasn’t like the old days were a panel only fit one or 2 years.. they went decade..
    Sure the odd ball cars will never have much made, but the mainstream ones.. seem to be in the same boat.. this isn’t the 70-80 many can’t have a vehicle blown apart in a driveway for weeks months.. to fab up the metal panels… nor do we have the jobs that made it so most everyone knew a buddy that had that skill..

  2. Brent

    I graduated high school in ’86. As soon as I could buy one, I found an ’85 Mustang GT, t-tops, 5-spd, etc… I really like that car. Still miss it today. Yep, it wasn’t perfect (t-tops leaked, typical 80’s build quality, cheap plastic interior panels, etc…), but compared to driving my ’71 Cutlass Supreme it was like a go-cart.

  3. Anthony

    I agree that the 1980/early 1990s are not being serviced by the aftermarket. But I don’t believe the media and have always found the 3rd Gen F-body to be one of the best handling cars, period!!! It did/does lack horsepower, however. If you review the show room stock race classes results for the referenced period, you will see that the 3rd Gens dusted everything from 944s to 3 series as well as MR2s!! If you’re like me, my question is do I invest in upgrades to my 1992 Camaro Convertible, or just find a newer muscle card > 2011 and more than likely get better performance.

    Overall, it’s good to see that cars from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s getting modified and driven!!!

  4. Matt Cramer

    I agree with Crazy that they are still living in the shadow of the 1960s muscle cars – but at the same time, they\’ve been used for enough low buck builds and the supply of them is getting scarcer, so I\’ve seen prices on some of them start to climb and the rest at least aren\’t dropping in value. And nobody looks at you funny if you spend six figures on making a Fox body Mustang or G-body into an X275 drag car or asks you why you didn\’t spend 10% more to start with some sort of \’60s muscle car.

    So, they may not be commanding \’60s restoration prices – but people are starting to spend more money, sometimes even serious money, on them.

  5. jerry z

    I definitely think 80’s cars are worth building. I had a few 60’s muscle cars back in the 80’s and 90’s. Today the money they want for these cars are just stupid. Even 4-door 60’s car prices are ridiculous. Building a 80’s car is for fun and not looking to have a return on my investment.

  6. 140.6

    Good comments about 80’s cars. I graduated High school in 1978. I vividly remember the car club we had. It was full of pristine and fresh Super Bee’s, GTO’s, SS varieties of Chevelles, Camaros, Novas, Z-28’s. One kid had a gorgeous 1967 Nova 2-door hard top, stick car. Wrap your head around the fact this car was 7 years old when I was a freshman. These cars were actually affordable and not hard to get. Fast forward today, well, we all know what has happened to these cars. very few can afford them on any level. That does not leave much for younger cash strapped enthusiasts. I have been building a 1978 Rally Sport Camaro. Surprisingly it has been an affordable build. Mild small block, Hotchkiss suspension, bolt on improvements. It is zippity to drive and handles extremely well. We may not have much of a choice but to gravitate to later model cars, or import tuner rides. Yes, the manufactures now offer plenty of performance off the show room floor but they are very expensive for many. I have a total investment in my 78 Camaro of $10,000. Purchase price, sweat equity of my own, mild GM crate motor, bolt on parts. Great year round driver. Any way, as I said it just might be time to take these later model cars more seriously as a project.

    1. crazy

      Who cares, when are those at h/r or CC or even B/S going to start pushing the aftermarket on when they will start supporting these.. body parts, interior parts.. should not be this hard to recover seats and replace door panels/etc ..

  7. Lynn Minthorne

    Calif is so F”ud up. I had a 1998 Dodge van. It had all emission equipment passed all the tests until the visiual. They failed it because the cat did not have a part # that they liked..

  8. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    You are so lucky in the USA to have cars from the 80s that had V8s and the potential to be turned into even better ones than they were when they were new.

    Here in the UK 99% of cars were crap then and now are just fit for recycling into ashtrays or whatever…..

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