80s classic cars make a comeback


I heard on the news this morning that car dealers are reporting a surge in demand for some distinctly 80s cars. The fashion for things from the decade that style forgot has led to an apparent 23% upsurge in demand for cars like the Ford Cortina, Austin Maxi, Ford Capri and Robin Reliant.

I’m convinced that 1980s cars are back in vogue because enquiries to hire classic cars from the 1980s are on the up. But people are asking about the Audi Quattro, VW Golf GTI and red Porsche 911 Turbo. And anyway, I’m not entirely convinced that a 23% upsurge in demand for the Austin Maxi actually represent a tsunami of retro car enthusiasts hammering at dealer doors. I can’t imagine that there are more than 100 examples of the Austin Maxi changing hands every year. In which case, does 23 more people doing so constitute national news?

The same goes for the Robin Reliant – even if we all went back in time and lived a 1980s life 100% of the time would anyone anywhere actually cherish the purchase of a plastic pig?

I can definitely understand any upsurge in demand for the Ford Cortina and Ford Capri. But it is more likely to be interest in the 1970s versions of these cars – the Coke bottle Cortina and the 3000GT Capri. The Ford Capri Brooklands and the Ford Capri 2.8 injection are great cars but no better than the earlier versions and arguably less attractive. And the Mark IV Cortina even now is the poor cousin of the preceding versions.

I cut my teeth on 1980s culture but even I don’t rate much of the stuff that came out during the decade. The good cars I like – Quattro, 911, Golf GTI all began life in the 1970s. Some good cars soldiered on in the decade – Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Jaguar XJ6, Rover SD1 – but they were hardly in their best form in the 1980s.

So I wonder if there might be something else going on here. Perhaps it’s a slow news day and the Austin Maxi Owners Club has got a new PR Officer. But good luck to them – any publicity for classic cars is good news.

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