IN the three decades that have passed since the Falklands War was fought, the Mary Rose was raised and Lech Walesa was let out of a Polish jail, our cars have seen countless improvements. You might think driving a 1982 car on 21st century roads would be an unappealing exercise.
In a lot of cases, that would certainly be true, but when it comes to high-performance cars, some of the old-timers can still more than hold their own – and many can actually be picked up for bargain prices.
The people at Classic and Sports Car magazine decided to celebrate 30 years in print by going ‘back to the future’ and testing out some of 1982’s greatest cars that can now be picked up in bargain basement territory.
Classic cars that cost up to £60,000 when they were new can now be snapped up for as little as £1,500 and the test team reckon they more than held their own when tried out in 2012 conditions.
They put nine cars – a trio of two-seaters, four-seaters and 2+2s – through their paces and their report concludes: “Not only did they hold up as fine driving machines today, but they might also be today’s best bargains, merging modern performance, practicality and reliability with all the thrills of classic driving.”
Top dog among the two-seater supercars tried out was the iconic Ferrari 308 GTSi, which boasts a top speed of 148mph and can be bought for around £20,000 today. The best 2+2 was the Porsche 911SC Targa, which can evidently be bought for around £10,000; and the test team’s top choice among the four-seaters was the BMW M535i, capable of 139mph and available for around £5,000.
“Buying a classic car is a great way to get behind the wheel of an exotic and high-performance car, but without the very high prices of a 2012 showroom,” says James Elliott, Classic & Sports Car group editor. “For instance the Jaguar XJ-S is an amazing car and good examples from 1982 can be found from a very affordable £1,500.
“Those of us of a certain age remember the hype surrounding the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo when it was launched back in 1982 with a price tag of £61,744. The one we tested cost just £8,000.”
Other ’80s aristocrats tried out by the magazine test team were the De Lorean DMC-12, Lotus Esprit Turbo, the Alpine A310 V6 and the Audi Ur-quattro.
Facts and figures freaks might like to know that the fastest of the nine was the Lotus at 149mph and available from about £8,000; the dearest when new was the Bentley but the dearest now was the Ferrari; the cheapest new was the BMW at £13,745 while the cheapest now is the Jag; and the Bentley is predictably the biggest depreciator.
It’s all most interesting but before you’re tempted to rush out and chop in your dull but reliable Peugeot for a supercar built when Bucks Fizz were all over the telly, remember that there are plenty of very sound reasons – mostly financial – why public car parks are not jam-packed with whiskery old Ferraris and suchlike.