Top motoring journalist, columnist and controversialist Jeremy Claxon selects his top 5 classic cars of the 1980s.
The Testosterone is one of my all-time favourite Ferraris. It may not have the flappy-paddle gear-shift or a button-activated ‘driving at Monza’ mode of a modern-day supercar, but it does cover all the basics. It’s fast, it’s loud and it’s a lovely shade of red. And it has a whole heap of torques. More torques, in fact, than you could possibly shake a stick at.
With the coupe available for a paltry £150,000, this Italian stallion would seem to be the obvious choice. Its 180 mph top speed makes it ideal for Britain’s free-flowing roads and it has been known to run for anything up to 100 miles between tyre changes. Like all Ferraris, it’s an absolute babe-magnet and a first-class penis substitute.
However, it’s not without its disadvantages.
As with any car that’s built for speed, it sacrifices some of the basic comforts. Luggage space is minimal. If you plan to travel with anything larger than a gerbil, forget about it. If you happen to be tall and have a disproportionally large head, getting in and out of the Testosterone can often lead to hospitalisation.
Most importantly, the low ride and rigid suspension can play absolute havoc with your haemorrhoids.
Verdict: Cheap and tempting but lousy for the school-run, and murder on the backside. Four claxons.
Ford Sierra Cosworth
The Ford Sierra may well have been one of the ugliest cars ever produced, but put a 2 litre Cosworth engine under the hood and suddenly, you’ve got a bundle of fun.
The ridiculously noisy engine drinks petrol like there’s no tomorrow and generates a whole stack of horses; elevating the otherwise tawdry rep-mobile into a work of art. Furthermore, it’s a work of art with alloy wheels, something that neither Rembrandt nor Picasso ever managed to produce. Its gloriously disproportionate power-to-weight ratio makes the Cosworth an absolute joy to drive.
At a pocket-money price of £25,000, this would seem to be the ideal choice for anyone seeking an ’80s classic. Be warned, though, they’re absolutely irresistible to twoccers of a certain age. I left mine outside the off-licence for little more than a minute, only to find three fifty-something delinquents attempting to prise off my alloys.
Verdict: Fast and fun but you’ll soon get sick of reporting it as stolen. Four claxons.
Aston Martin V8 Volante
What’s not to like about this stylish convertible? Its elegant lines are enough to give any red-blooded man the horn and its 305 horses make it the perfect vehicle for any gentleman in a hurry to get home from the pub.
If you shop around, you should be able to pick up one of these beauties for a rather modest £150,000. As with most Astons, £150,000 should also just about cover your monthly maintenance bills.
There is a great deal to admire about this eye-catching British beauty. The engine purrs like an ecstatic tiger. The open-top makes it the ideal choice for British weather and is an absolute boon to anyone with a somewhat out-sized noggin.
My only criticism is that, unlike James Bond’s old Aston, this particular model does not come equipped with an ejector seat. A surprising omission, to say the least.
Verdict: Drop-dead gorgeous but slightly lacking in features. Four Claxons.
Toyota Land Crusher BJ-40
This pioneering Chelsea tractor is a Meccano-fetishist’s wet dream. Big, brutal and beastly, this bulky behemoth puts you in touch with your inner hillbilly. The brick-like aerodynamics guarantee that you’ll never stray too far away from your favourite petrol station.
Whether you’re blocking a country lane or taking up three parking spaces at the supermarket, nothing quite reflects a healthy sense of entitlement like the humble Land Crusher. As an added bonus, the hefty front bumper pretty well guarantees the death of any passing pedestrian and leads to huge savings on legal fees.
Verdict: An almost perfect vehicle but I have to dock it one Claxon for being Japanese. Four Claxons.
And so to our hidden gem. You may argue that the Trabby is not really an ’80s car as the design remained unchanged from the Russian revolution in 1908 [please check, I’m crap at history], but mine was built between 1982 and 1987 so I’m going to include it here.
What, exactly, you might be wondering, is a libertarian icon like myself, doing in a communist car? It’s a fair question but let me explain.
The problems with this socialistic pile of garbage are manifold. The Trabby is virtually torqueless. Its power output is counted in donkeys rather than horses. Its 0-60 is measured in days and requires a hefty following wind. The wheels frequently revolve in different directions and you will find yourself gasping in amazement every time the doors fail to fall off.
The Trabant is, by most criteria, the single worst excuse for a motor car ever produced, but therein lies the magic.
The very act of starting the engine produces a truly impressive cloud of toxins. The 601 has an uncanny ability to release heavy metals that aren’t even present in petrol. It’s an environmental disaster on wheels. And that is what makes it such a delight. The yoghurt-knitting, tree-huggers become apoplectic at the sight of the Trabby’s mushroom cloud. The noise-abatement nimbies have a heart attack every time you manage to change gear.
Whilst driving the Aston Volante can be likened to making love to a beautiful woman, a spin in the Trabant is much more akin to a quick knee-trembler with a Brummie lass behind a skip. But, as we all know, a little of what you fancy does you good.
And, best of all, a Trabant finally gives wets and weaklings a good reason to wear a mask. And that, dear reader, puts the 601 firmly at the top of my 5 classic cars of the 1980s.
Verdict: The perfect choice for the man who simply wishes to declare victory. Buy one today. Five Claxons!