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Super Saloons of the 80s

When it comes to the must-have classic cars, 2016 seems to be all about the hot hatch, but back in the 80s there was another breed of performance car on the road. We’re not talking of the sports cars such as the TVR 350, Lotus Esprit or the Toyota Supra, but the high performance saloon cars.

These were known as ‘Q’ cars due to their understated looks and high performance, but they were guaranteed to leave Mr Hot Hatch in a trail of smoke at the lights.

Whether you’re a fan of American muscle, Italian style and flair or anything that comes out of the BMW Motorsport Division, below are few examples that might just make you think twice before looking at that hot hatch.


Buick Regal GNX (USA)

A relatively little-known car, the GNX ‘Grand National Experimental’ was one of the fastest production cars in the world in 1987. Beneath its modest exterior was an engine capable of propelling the GNX to 60mph in just 5.3 Seconds. Due to its looks and colour, and also the popularity of Star Wars, it was dubbed ‘Darth Vaders Car’. If you fancy owning one of these beasts, you may have to look to the US to find one, but rest assured it will be worth it as you’ll be hard pushed to find another one in the UK.

Buick Regal GNX

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Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R (Japan)

The name ‘Skyline’ is one of the most revered in Japan and the R32 really introduced that name into the UK. Whilst many enthusiasts will aim towards the more modern R33, R34 and even the new GTR, the R32 is no slouch. It will reach 60mph in just 5.3 seconds and with a few modifications to the engine, sub 5 seconds. R32s are very popular with modifiers and drifters alike. A stock R32 can be purchased for as little as £12,000 but be prepared to pay more for an original example in good condition.

Nissan Skyline R32

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Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth (UK)

Now we’d all love an original 3dr RS Cosworth, but with prices going north of £50k the Sapphire Cosworth is more than a match for its big brother and at a fraction of the cost. With a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds, if you’re thinking of buying one, it’s worthwhile looking for tell-tale signs of heavy driving and also carrying out your history checks as many of these cars were stolen. Don’t be put off, as if you find the right car, it’s an AutobahnStormer capable of holding its own against any M5 or Lotus Carlton. Be quick though, as there are only just over 500 examples registered on the roads in the UK, so expect the prices to rise.

Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth

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BMW M5 (Germany)

What can be said about the M5 that hasn’t already been written! Now in its 31st year of production, the M5 gets better and better but the mid 80’s is where it all began for this understated powerhouse. A creation from the Motorsport Division of BMW, it was capable of reaching 60mph in 6.2 seconds and on to 155mph. Expect to pay upwards of £25,000 and if this is outside of your budget, the M535i is a lower spec alternative, but you will be rewarded with a great drivers car with a perfect combination of style, luxury and performance.


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Lancia Thema 2.9 V8 8.32 (Italy)

So what makes the Lancia Thema special? Firstly it’s a Lancia, which puts you in quite an exclusive club as there aren’t many left. Secondly, and the biggest reason, is the engine. The 2.9 V8 engine was supplied by Ferrari and was based on the unit fitted in the 308, which made the Lancia capable of a 0-60 time of just 6.8 seconds. Whilst its outward appearance may not get your pulse racing, the Italian interior styling and the sound of that fantastic Ferrari V8 most definitely will. The only downside, if you fancy one of these style icons, is trying to find one. Currently the DVLA are showing just 5 cars registered on the road in the UK so you may have to bide your time.

Lancia Thema 2.9

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Renault 21 Turbo (France)

Everyone’s attention in the late 80s and early 90s was on the Ford Sierra Cosworth, and the Renault 21 Turbo probably didn’t get the recognition it was due. Whilst the Renault is the slowest of the bunch it could still hit 60 in just over 7 seconds, which meant it was no slouch. If the standard model wasn’t enough, Renault also built a 4x4 version called the ‘Quadra’. Prices for these classic French beauties are still reasonable but with less than 40 examples registered on the road in the UK, expect them to rise. Now is the perfect time to buy one.

Renault 21

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