80’s

1991 Toyota Supra

This is one of just 3,623 1991 Supras sold in the North American market, continuing the downward trend of sales ever since the 3rd generation’s introduction in 1986. For some reason, I always feel like the 3rd-gen Supra is the most forgotten model in the Supra lineage: the 2nd-gen really thrust the Supra into the public eye and made it a desirable commodity, and the 4th-gen is an icon of the ’90s Japanese sports-car era. The 3rd-gen just never seemed to attain the same aura as its surrounding generations.

I guess you could make a case that the 1st-gen Supra was even more forgettable, but it only lasted a few years and was mostly a Celica with an I-6 dropped into the engine bay. The 3rd-gen was the first Supra to be a completely differentiated model from the Celica, and I feel like that gave it the legs to survive in the collective memory of the public far better than it ended up doing. I don’t know, though: maybe it’s just me?

Sawtelle, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1984 Volkswagen Jetta

After a brief new-car interlude, we return to our specialty with this Jetta: cars that most people wouldn’t look twice at but ones that are rapidly disappearing from the US’s roads. This is an ’84, the last year of the first-generation Jetta: one of 36,636 sold that year and one of 110,281 first-generation models sold on our shores over five model years. For comparison, the modern-day Jetta has eclipsed that number every year since 2010.

With 110,000 Jettas sold you’d think they would still be relatively common, at least until you realize Chevrolet sold 811,540 Citations in one model year and there are approximately 3 left in the country. Most of these cars have long since been disposed of, and this is one of the very few still left.

Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1988 Buick Reatta

1988 Buick Reatta 1988 Buick Reatta 1988 Buick Reatta 1988 Buick Reatta 1988 Buick Reatta

Though Buick intended to shift 20,000 Reattas per year, only 21,751 were produced in a four-year production run from 1988-1991. This car features Buick’s “Electronic Control Center,” which contained radio and climate controls on a touch-sensitive CRT screen. The screen, first introduced in the 1986 Riviera, proved unpopular and unreliable, and was dropped for the 1990 model year. In retrospect, though, it was far ahead of its time.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté

1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté 1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté 1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté

The Liberté trim level was for 1987 only, supposedly commemorating the 100th anniversary of France gifting the Statue of Liberty to the United States. For unknown reasons, 505 Libertés had a different engine than the rest of the US-spec 505 line, with an ancient and wheezy 2.0L 4 that was soon to be discontinued. Oddly, the car also came without power rear windows – again, nobody really knows why.

Cheviot Hills, CA

Photos by The Professor

1985 Mini

1987 Mini1987 Mini1987 Mini1987 Mini1987 Mini

Britain’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini was the most popular British car ever, with upwards of 5.3 million sold between 1959 and 2000. I’m only guessing at the year of this one, though I think it’s a Mk V (1984-1989), and since this car wears a British Leyland badge (defunct in 1986), I pegged it at an ’85. They really didn’t change much, honestly.

Paris, France

Photos by The Professor

1987 Merkur XR4Ti

1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti

Part of a failed venture by Ford to introduce some of its European-market Fords to the United States, Merkurs were targeted towards European luxury buyers. The brand lasted just five years and shifted fewer than 70,000 units, consigning it to the depths of the automotive doldrums. The clumsily-named XR4Ti was an attempt to market the award-winning European Ford Sierra XR4i to American buyers. However, the unfamiliar brand name and inflated price (over $36,000 adjusted to 2014 dollars) caused the car to be a massive flop, with just over 42,000 sold in five years. It’s quite rare to spot one on the road, and even rarer that someone notices its rarity, as its rather anonymous 80’s styling is easily forgettable.

Interlochen, MI

Photos by James Kennerly

1987 Subaru GL-10 Turbo

1986 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 1986 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 1986 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 1986 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 1986 Subaru GL-10 Turbo

These turbo wagons are very few and far between. This one looks to be an original California car, as evidenced by its sunburst plate (the rarest modern California plate, even if this one’s a bit dirty). There’s not a whole lot of information to be had about this car (Wikipedia doesn’t even mention it), but it’s certainly a rare beast. The only thing that would make it even more Subaru would be the optional 4WD system that this one doesn’t have.

It’s these types of cars that I find the most interesting. The average person probably wouldn’t stop and look twice at it, but I find it fascinating, much more so than, say, a new Mercedes.

I mean, I must have seen dozens of Mercedes today, but this is the only GL-10 that I recall seeing in a very long while.

Mar Vista, CA

Photos by The Professor

1983 Dodge Shelby Charger

1983 Shelby Charger 1983 Shelby Charger 1983 Shelby Charger 1983 Shelby Charger 1983 Shelby Charger

This is a souped-up version of the Dodge Charger that nobody remembers. There have been 3 different Charger models on 3 different platforms. First, there was the classic B-body Charger, made from 1966-1978. Currently, Dodge sells the 4-door Charger on the LX Platform, introduced in 2006. But in between, there was this: the L-body Charger, built from 1983-1987; the cousin of the Plymouth Turismo (even rarer).

This is a special Dodge “Shelby” Charger. The Shelby option tacked on a body kit, better drivetrain components, and an upgrade to 107 horsepower over the base 84 HP. The most desirable L-body Charger was the 1987 Shelby Charger, which had 175 horsepower, but only 1,000 were built.

This is the only L-body Charger (Shelby or otherwise) that I’ve seen on the street in at least the last ten years.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon

1985 Toyota Cressida Wagon 1985 Toyota Cressida Wagon 1985 Toyota Cressida Wagon 1985 Toyota Cressida Wagon 1985 Toyota Cressida Wagon

I haven’t seen one of these in a while, but this one is in great condition. This was the predecessor to the Lexus; you can tell that Toyota was already leaning towards making a new brand, as they created a whole new Cressida logo.

 For some reason, Toyota likes putting more wipers than usual on their cars. Both this and the ’90s Camry wagon had two rear wipers, and the present-day FJ Cruiser has three front wipers.

On a side note, I swear you could serve dinner on that rear bumper.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

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