Splendid fast cars of the 1980s’

I distinctly remember the period between 1980 and 1990 for two primary reasons – first being those were the years when I ventured to spread my wings and took flight from my high school days and moved into the college days.

The second being a decade of cars which were passionately made across the world.

Maserati Khamsin, exuding crisp design from its clean and sharp lines , drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Maserati Khamsin, exuding crisp design which are clean and sharp

A sense of adulthood, a feeling of breaking free from the protection of my parents drove me to explore the big boys club. Gone was the harsh discipline of the school. All that constantly circled around my head was doing something that you never did before, and trying out the escapades that I had learned from the storybooks, the comics and the confidence that prevailed was tremendous. These teenage days I guess are the best times of one’s lives. So many firsts had taken place… I met new friends with different backgrounds, met my first date, felt being on the top of the world. How naive I was.

As I explored, little did I know how momentous a specific day would become? It was an afternoon, and along with a couple of my friends, I was walking the old broken road of Freeschool street in Calcutta.  This road always attracted me and it still does today for being a melting pot of diverse cultures and languages. Not only people from all the Indian states roamed, but we also saw people from Europe, the Americas, and far east jostling to get a space. All mingled and excitedly bargained and shopped. I was fascinated by the diaspora it displayed. Everyone joyously walked the shops, the restaurants, and the hotels which ranged from cheap to expensive. Among the many attractions that hung on either side of the road, bookstalls and old long play music records always drew crowds. While trudging the sidewalk I chanced upon a magazine which was kept along with others. The title read “The World of Cars“. I froze and kept looking at it and finally, with a huge effort of bargaining I was able to take possession of it from the bookseller.

My own world changed. The day heralded my deep love for cars which was always there from my childhood; however, exposure to the famous marques that existed in this globe pushed me to dig deeper. My insatiable desire to know more about cars started and to date, it has me smitten for life.

Porsche 911 Carrera, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Porsche 911 Carrera Sport

This decade was filled with extraordinary car designers and engineers. The countries that primarily participated to be at the forefront of automotive engineering were Germany, Italy, Great Britain, France, Japan, Sweden, and the United States. They made cars, that even today stand outglaring their unique design and craftsmanship. My affection for cars was in the form of pencil sketches that I used to scribble whenever I had spare time. This habit still continues and I want to share with you a few of those powerful and gallant ladies who stole the minds of so many enthusiasts.

Shall we take a drive through the past and see them through my sketches. I hope you enjoy the automotive journey with me as much as I loved drawing them.

Porsche 911 CS on top was one of those beauties which exuded striking and powerful acceleration, perhaps a shade lesser than its sister the Porsche Turbo; however, it was extremely responsive to the throttle. It ran on a Flat-6, 3164 cc engine generating 231 BHP @ 5900 RPM. With a top speed of 163 Km, she blasted to 60 miles per hour in 6.1 secs.

Aston Martin Lagonda, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Aston Martin Lagonda

Aston Martin Lagonda was a classic car which was built at Newport Pagnell in England. Although being 38 years behind us in 2018, she used LED(Light Emitting Diode) technology for dashboard display. Unequal length wishbone, damper and coil spring supported its front suspension and the rear suspension used de-Dion axle. It breathed through Weber 42DCNF90/100 carburetors and blasted at 143 miles per hour. Acceleration came in at 8.9 secs to cover 60 miles from zero. Very smooth when driven and quite luxurious and the occupants perhaps felt like riding a Rolls Royce in those days.

The engine was a V8, 5340 CC side overhead camshaft which powered the luxury high-performance car.

Aston Martin Vantage, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Aston Martin Vantage

One of my favorite cars, Aston Martin Vantage was old, extremely fast, built to perfection and the engineers used the very best for all its components.  The numbers speak for themselves, ran on a V8, 5340 CC SOHC engine, and took 10.5 seconds to reach the speed of 100 miles per hour.  

It was well-received on straight motorways for its outright power but on mountainous roads, its power got restricted because of its dimensions.

Audi Quattro Sport, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Audi Quattro Sport

Audi made it possible for middle-class families in Europe and other countries to afford a well built fast car at far less price than a few famous names. Audi Quattro Sport belonged to a different league altogether.  A 5 cylinder 2133 CC engine spewing 300 BHP @ 6400 RPM gave the sports coupe 155 miles per hour of speed and took 5 seconds to reach a speed of 0 to 60 MPH. Quattro meaning 4 wheel drive system gave adequate power for using these cars for sports rally.   

Quattro gave its drivers selectable ABS for feeling the power and skid during extreme driving conditions by switching off the power assist.

BMW M635CSi, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
BMW M635CSi

BMW’s ultimate driving machine in around 1984-85, was sleek, powerful, and a complete driver’s car. M635CSi. Powered by a 3453 CC 6-cylinder engine, equipped with a duplex chain-driven double overhead cam, and 4 valves per cylinder gave this car a 158 miles per hour speed and picked up a 0 to 60 MPH speed in 6 seconds. Surprisingly, this BMW had a meager hunger for fuel. The ZF four-speed automatic gearbox had ‘S’ for sports, ‘E’ for economy giving 32.2 miles per gallon, and 41 miles to a gallon appetite. 

A perfect example of having comfort, economy, speed, and safety for car enthusiasts.

Chevrolet Corvette, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette is the oldest sports car which is built in the United States. Powered by a pushrod 5733 CC V8, using a fuel injection system was capable of generating 229 BHP @ 4000 RPM. Her 330 lb.ft of torque made all the difference. With a top speed of 150 miles an hour, it reached a speed of 100 MPH in 16 seconds. It’s built strong and road manners were good.

However, the design was styled on European design; looked quite different than the 1953 Corvette when the car started its maiden run.

Citroen CX25 GTi-Turbo, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Citroen CX25 GTi-Turbo

Citroen CX25 ran on the Garrett turbo system and Bosch fuel injection giving it a 167 BHP @ 5000 RPM. The result was a car that was capable of clocking 136 miles an hour and shot from 0 to 60 MPH in over 8 plus seconds. For the French, she was a flagship model and was a head-turner on the motorways.  With a flick of a button, a driver could lower or raise the entire car by altering the suspension system. The rear went up first followed by the front end following.  

It is said that a Citroen needs to be understood and once a driver got acquainted with her, it was very difficult to get out of a Citroen. 

Ferrari 308 GTB QV, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Ferrari 308 GTB QV

Ferrari 308 GTB was one of the famous Ferraris’ ever built, and the QV stood for Quattrovalvole or in other words, it had 4 valves per cylinder. The engine was a 2926 CC, overhead camshaft unit spewing out 240 BHP of power @ 6600 RPM. The power unit shoved the car to a maximum speed of 160 miles an hour with 0 to 62 mph in about 7 seconds.  

The other model was GTS or a Spyder, and was a bit expensive to buy.

Ferrari GTO, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Ferrari GTO

Ferrari GTO is popularly known as Gran Turismo Omologato and in 1985, she was the fastest production car from the company.  Churning 400 BHP @ 7000 RPM, the 2855 CC V8 Turbocharged engine made the car travel at 190 miles an hour. The 0 to 60 MPH run was completed in just under 5 seconds. Weber-Marelli IAW electronic injection for each bank of cylinders having an exclusive system.

She overtook her companion the Ferrari V12 Daytona and ruled the road as the ultimate performance car. 

Ford Capri 2.8i, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Ford Capri 2.8i

Ford Capri was born in 1968 and was so well made that it continued on till 1985. V6, 2792 CC engine was fitted with Bosch’s K-Jetronic injection system that helped this good-looking European looking coupe to a full speed of 130 miles an hour. Seven seconds all it took to reach 60 MPH. The car offered Recaro seating, leather-strapped steering, alloy wheels, and was equipped with limited-slip differential.  

This car would always remain in everyone’s memory for being a product having a good balance between performance, and economy wrapped in luxury.

Ford Mustang GTi, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Ford Mustang GT

Ford Mustang GT is one car with which a lot of Americans identify themselves with. SVO and GT models use pushrod V8 5000 CC engines to get 210 BHP of power @ 4400 RPM.  A combination of the disc up front and drum at the rear act as the braking system to bring this car to a stop which when let loose can reach 60 MPH from zero in 8 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 130 miles an hour.

The Ford Mustang had an incredible power to weight ration for housing a V8 in its compact frame. The result was an awesome acceleration.

Jaguar XJ-6, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Jaguar XJ-6

Jaguar XJ-6 – Smooth, silk-smooth, powerful, silent, fast, and luxurious are the words with which this extraordinary vehicle rhymes. John Egan brought in high quality to the production line and Bosch’s L- Jetronic injection, coupled with a 6 cylinder, 4235 CC DOHC engine the car was beyond the limits.

9.8 seconds to reach a speed of 0 to 60 MPH and a top speed of 130 miles an hour, made Jaguar XJ-6 a prized possession.

Jaguar XJ-S HE, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Jaguar XJ-S HE

Jaguar XJ-S HE was a two-seater known as 2+2 and used a V12 5345 CC DOHC engine. The power was in the region of 300 BHP @ 5500 RPM. Blasting at 7.5 seconds to reach a speed of 60 miles an hour. It could cover 155 miles in an hour when pushed to the limits.

The driver and the occupants did not even feel this huge car making the progress because of its sheer quietness.

Lamborghini Countach S, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Lamborghini Countach S

Lamborghini Countach S was one of the most famous classic cars that Italy made. The shape itself was so unique that even when she stood still, it felt the car was moving at 200 miles an hour. Double overhead cam V12, 4754 CC producing 375 BHP @ 7000 RPM made this two-seater extremely fast on the road. From zero to 100 MPH came in 13 seconds, and the top speed plateaued at 174 miles an hour.

Italians said if anybody owned one, they should flaunt her powers.

Lotus Esprit Turbo, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Lotus Esprit Turbo

Lotus Esprit Turbo, the car which was made by Colin Chapman and used in the James Bond 007 film “For Your Eyes Only” was a very well made, all rounded British coupe. She had a mid-mounted 910 Turbo engine, 4 cylinders, 4 valves per cylinder 2174 CC, SOHC. The turbocharger was made to blow through two Dellorto carburetors which were juxtaposed to prevent the turbo lag. 210 BHP came @ 6500 RPM and the car went up to 152 miles an hour and acceleration was 0 to 60 MPH in 5.5 seconds.

Giugiaro had designed this beautiful car.

Mercedes Benz 380 SEC, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Mercedes Benz 380 SEC

Mercedes Benz 380 SEC is one of the best 4 seater coupes’ that anybody can think of.  3839 CC V8 engine producing 204 BHP @ 5250 RPM gave the car speed of 133 miles an hour and the acceleration was a whopping 9.2 seconds to go from zero to 60 MPH.

Bold, exquisite, and engineered to perfection, the car was a product of marvelous engineering.

Mercedes Benz 500 SL, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Mercedes Benz 500 SL

Mercedes Benz 500 SL was made to perfection to provide the customers, a great experience of a convertible. The engine was a V8, 4973 CC, SOHC, giving out 231 BHP @ 5000 RPM of power. The car could make 140 miles an hour and took 7.5 seconds to reach 60 MPH from zero.

Surprisingly, the soft top car gave 26.5 miles to a gallon which also had an outright performance in terms of agility and speed.

Maserati Merak SS, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Maserati Merak SS

Maserati Merak SS was a mid-engined sports car and boasted all the Italian features – raucous, great handling, very quick, and made with extra care. Powered by a V6, 2965 CC SOHC engine, churning out 208 BHP @ 5800 RPM.  Flying buttress rear window prevented the blind spot designed by Giugiaro.

She was capable of 145 miles an hour and shot from zero to 60 MPH in 7.5 seconds.

Porsche 928 S, drawn by Gautam Lahiri
Porsche 928 S

Porsche 928S, a sports coupe was one of the prized possession. It exuded the soft image of Porsche. It got its mammoth power of 310 BHP @ 5900 RPM from a V8, 4664 CC SOHC engine. Mated to a 5-speed or 4 speed automatic, the fine automobile picked 160 miles an hour to eat miles at 27 miles to a gallon. 928S looked very neat and was designed to literally dominate, I reckon.

The acceleration was 6.1 seconds to reach a speed of zero to 60 MPH.

Well, I end my automotive sojourn with you visiting these extraordinary cars. Thanking you for being with me till here. I would love to hear your list of cars that you think appealed to you during the 1980s. My respects to other great cars and their designers whom I could not mention.

Do share your views and comments. I am sure readers will fall in love with these brilliant cars the way I did so many years ago.

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