This might seem odd to people accustomed to blistering performance from every car on the street in 2020…but a car with 150 horsepower and a zero-to-60mph time of 7.5 seconds was a quick in 1984. That was faster than a Mustang GT (or SVO), faster than a Porsche 944, faster than an Mazda RX7, faster than a Z28 Camaro, faster than a V12 powered Jaguar XJS, faster than anything from Mercedes-Benz. Now you might ask, what front-wheel-drive car could hit 60mph in 7.5 seconds — and you might be tempted to look for some Honda CRX or something from Shelby’s Dodge years…but this car came straight from the lunatics at Buick, yes the Buick Skyhawk T-Type. The mostly unlikely and forgotten heroes of the sport compact car era. Find this 1984 Buick Skyhawk T-Type offered for $3,500 in Daly City, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
What’s not to love in this next car? It is a rare 2-door SUV from the 80s with a turbo diesel engine, rust, crust, and a toilet paper holder mounted on the side. Or is that a towel rack? Or a wet-suit drying rack for a surfer, perhaps? I’m gonna stick with the TP holder as my final answer, Regis. Find this 1986 Isuzu Trooper DXL 4WD Turbo Diesel 2-Door offered for $6,500 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
Back when I was in college, I a friend who always drove when we went on a road trip. It wasn’t because he was the best driver or had the biggest or nicest car…no it was much more simple than that. He had the car that would always get us to our destination and back… and his car was a mid 80s Subaru Leone wagon. It didn’t have a turbo or all-wheel-drive like today’s example, but it always got a load of college kids to/from a concert, camping, or wherever college kids needed to go. He sold the car years ago, but I can only assume it is still being used by college kids to get around, or at least I hope it is. Anyway, if you want to make a political statement get a Tesla, but if need a car to get you places, get this 1985 Subaru Leone Turbo AWD offered for $6,000 near Santa Cruz, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Before we get into why you should buy this next car, let me start with the things it has going against it. First, it has a salvage title — and while that shouldn’t scare the intrepid used car owner, it does tend to frighten many potential buyers when you go to resell the car. Next, it has depreciated some, but it will continue to drop significantly in value for the next few years, that is the nature of a GTI, it should bottom at around 5k in 5-10 years if history is any indicator. And finally, the wheels are barf. Okay, with those things out of the way…what you’ve got here is a 1/2 priced almost new GTI with 14k miles, plaid seats, a few mods, and nice green paint. What else do you need in life? Find this 2017 Volkswagen GTI offered for $14,800 in Dublin, CA via craigslist.
The Renault 11 was a small family car built by the French automaker for several years (1981-1988). Styling was by French designer Robert Opron (Simca 1100, Citroen DS restyle, SM, GS, CX, Renault Alpine, Fuego, and Alfa Romeo SZ) but mechanical bits were sketchy metal things shared with the Renault Alliance and Encore. The end result is a car that looks amazing while sitting on the side of the road. Is that such a bad thing? Find this 1985 Renault 11 Turbo offered for $6,900 in Longwood, FL via craigslist. Tip from David.
The Chrysler Corporation was founded in 1925, but it wasn’t until 60 years later in 1985 that they built their first Chrysler branded sports car. Yes, we are talking about the Laser. Not to be confused with the Plymouth Laser, which was just a Mitsubishi Eclipse with a Plymouth badge, but this is the Chrysler Laser, which was a Dodge Daytona with a Chrysler badge. Yes, that meant it was front-drive turbo 2.2 liter 4-banger powered, but it is reportedly a fun little machine. Personally, I can’t wait till the 2025 Stellantis Lasers get released. Haha, Stellantis!! The jokes just write themselves. Find this 1986 Chrysler Laser Turbo offered for $6,500 in St Louis, MO via craigslist. Tip from Ben.
This next car comes as a tip from Cosimo who writes: I was scrolling Facebook in my area and came across this listing for a 1983 Datsun 280zx Turbo 2+2 in the marketplace. It’s incorrectly listed as a Nissan 240sx, probably because FB doesn’t have the correct model in their dropdown box. Seller says they’re open to offers. Might make an interesting tip for someone in California. It is a little scruffy for my taste…ehh..who am I kidding, I’ll drive anything with wheels! Find this 1983 Datsun 280ZX Turbo offered for $6000 in Monrovia, CA via fakebook wreckingplace.
The Chevrolet S-10 pickup was not a performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination (GMC Syclone version notwithstanding), but it seems to have developed a considerable customization scene. You can find all manner of bagged and boosted S-10s for sale on craigslist or autotrader and today’s next feature has more horsepower and torque than a compact pickup should ever need, which is a good thing if you were wondering. Find this 1999 Chevrolet S-10 Pickup offered for $15,000 in Central New Jersey via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
If you don’t understand why you should own a GMC Typhoon…you are certainly not in the minority. But lemme splain…The GMC Typhoon was the SUV version of the GMC Syclone — both were turbocharged-V6 factory hot rod versions of a common compact truck platform with acceleration capabilities that would surprise anything on the street when new. Times have changed and the Typhoon won’t be much faster than the average all-wheel-drive V6 powered crossover you could buy, it they are oh-so-much cooler than anything you could buy new today. Find this 1992 GMC Typhoon offered for $16,900 CAD ($12,882 USD) via eBay, located in Belledune, New Brunswick, Canada.
The Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was introduced in 1983 on the ninth generation Thunderbird platform. Sure, you could get a 5.0 windsor V8 as an upgrade over the basic V6, but if you really wanted performance you needed to step up to the 2.3 liter Turbo-4. Selecting the Turbo Coupe added a standard 5-speed manual gearbox, limited slip differential, big 16-inch wheels and sporty analog gauges. Today a nice used example is cheap and fun. Find this 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe offered for $5000 in Danville, CA via craigslist.