Bedroom wall poster cars of the 1980s
Few would argue that the 1980s was a prime time for outlandish supercar design.
Fitting in with an era of excess and extravagance, car design from the decade was often extreme, sometimes brash and usually attractive.And many a teenager’s bedroom wall was adorned with posters of those motors that they dared to dream that they might once own.
Here, we take a light-hearted look back at some of the most memorable pin-up cars of the 1980s.
Although the Lamborghini Countach is probably the pin-up car of all 1980s pin-up cars thanks to its striking design, it actually spanned three decades. First shown as a prototype in 1971, if you can quite believe it, it was manufactured from 1974 to 1990.
Designed by the famous Bertone studio, which also conceived the stunning Miura that preceded the Countach, it pioneered the out-there wedge-shape, angular design. Its name came from an exclamation in the Piedmontese language, further enhancing its aims to catch the eye. Wide and low, it featured largely flat, trapezoidal panels and scissor doors.
But it wasn’t just about looks, the Countach had performance to match with its V12 engine capable of 60mph in roughly five seconds in all road-going versions and topping out at around 180mph. In all, just over 2,000 cars were built in the car’s 16-year lifetime.
Unsurprisingly, that makes them well sought-after in today’s market; expect to shell out at least £200,000 – and two or three times that for rare cars.
The Ferrari F40 is memorable for many reasons, not least for the fact that no other car – either before or since – has looked quite like it. Built from 1987 to 1992, it was also the final car to be personally approved by Enzo Ferrari before he died. To boot, it was the first road-legal production car to break the 200mph barrier as it competed with the Lamborghini Countach and the Porsche 959.
The F40 was basic, lightweight and raw. And many car-loving youngsters of the era fell in love with it. The twin-turbo V8 was good for 478hp, meaning 62mph in less than four seconds. A total of 1,311 were produced and, in the first two years of its life, it was the world’s fastest production car, nudging 202mph.
If you want to buy one today you’ll be needing somewhere in the £750,000 to £1 million ball park – and their value is rising all the time.
Boasting somewhat more conservative looks than many of its rivals of the time, the Porsche 959 was first conceived as a rally car before it became a production car to meet homologation rules, which stated that at least 200 road-going examples needed to be built. Manufactured between 1986 and 1989, the 959 had a familiar Porsche front end, but it became a pin-up probably more for its rear, which was an elongated version of the traditional 911 shape – making it one of the most memorable Porsche designs in its history.
At its introduction its 3.7-second 0-62mph and 195mph top speed meant that it was the world’s fastest road-legal car – although just a year later the Ferrari F40 would steal that mantle – and it was hailed as the most technologically advance sports car of its time. It was the first supercar to feature all-wheel-drive – a feature of many high-end performance cars to this day – and was truly a game-changer. As recognisable as the 959 is, just 337 were built in its three-year life, making it a rarity.
Today, a budget circa £750,000 is what you’ll need if you want to get your hands on one.
A bedroom wall favourite for entirely different reasons to the cars we’ve seen so far, the DeLorean DMC-12 is most recognisable from the Back to the Future movies. It’s a car with a colourful history and it was the only model ever produced by John DeLorean’s DeLorean Motor Company in Northern Ireland between 1981 and 1983. The car’s brushed stainless steel bodywork and gullwing doors were what made it so memorable and around 9,000 were produced before the DeLorean motor company went bust.
Unlike the other poster cars of the era, the DMC-12 didn’t really back up its outlandish looks with performance. Although it had a 2.9-litre V6 on board, 60mph took almost nine seconds to arrive and top speed was something in the region of 140mph. However, thanks to its stainless steel body plenty of examples are thought to have survived – something in the region of 6,000 at the last count.
That means that they’re not too tricky to come by, with prices in the region of £30,000.
Another 1980s bedroom wall classic thanks to its wedge-shaped, angular looks, the Lotus Esprit had the longest lifespan of any of the cars here, being built in one form or another for almost 30 years, from 1976 to 2004. The first generation was archetypal of the 1970s, smooth and beautiful, but by the mid-to-late 1980s it was full-on excess in looks that typified the decade in the same way as the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari F40 did.
Power over its lengthy production run ranged from two litres to 3.5, with the most powerful V8 knocking out 62mph in just 4.3 seconds and later models breaking 175mph top speed. It was also made famous in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me after being turned into a submarine. After a 28-year production run that spawned many variants, a total of 10,675 Esprits were built.
There was even the possibility of a new Esprit mooted in the past few years, but in 2014 Lotus decided not to go ahead with the project. Nowadays, prices a widely dependant on which version your interested in; it’s possible to pick up a late 1980s model for something like £12,000, which is a bit of a bargain.
You can pay many times that for rarer top condition models.