In recent years, 80’s nostalgia has become hot in terms of fashion. Whether it is just the ridiculousness of 80’s fashion or the desire to remember a time when things just made a little more sense does not matter. The reality is, 1980’s throwbacks are in and here to stay for the time being. Part of that 1980’s appeal is from the lifestyle, part is from the appliances and gadgets that made the lifestyle possible. None were more important than cars, in our opinion, and the best of the best were the German cars from the time.

While the rest of the world satisfies their desires for all things vintage, the car world is given a special treat. It is not often that you can pick up an economy hatchback with few to no amenities and be considered ‘hip’, but right now is a unique point in time where driving something like a VW MK2 GTI can get you noticed outside the car community. Just like anything, however, not all 80’s cars were created equal. There are some that have risen to prices out of reach to the normal enthusiast and others that would be about as advisable to own as stock in ENRON. So we are going to take a moment and list the cars we believe to be ‘in’ right now that are affordable, fun, and easy to turn into something eye-catching.


Audi in the 1980’s had just broken into Group B rallying with the introduction of their new Quattro AWD system that was fitted to their Ur Quattro. While the Quattro coupe is hard to find, examples in working condition that are not a beefed-up rally-spec version are still less than $10,000. The Audi Quattro is a hatchback with plenty of visibility, an iconic 5-cylinder turbo engine, and the unbeatable all-wheel drive layout for which it gained fame.


The 1980’s saw some of BMW’s best creations. The E21 phased out and was replaced by the incredibly popular E30, which is the most advisable model to purchase. The E24 6-series also sported a mechanically bulletproof 6-cylinder, making it an excellent choice if the compact E30 is too popular or too small. Finally, for the discerning enthusiast, the E28 offers luxurious comfort and sporty performance in a (relatively speaking) larger body. Any of these models can be purchased in the $5,000 range in working condition and are easy to drive and maintain.


The VW MK2 GTI, MK1 and MK2 Scirocco, MK2 Cabrio, and Westfalia Eurovan are all easy to find. While they may fetch a heftier price, the Westfalia vans have reached new heights in popularity thanks to their utilitarian design and appealing features. The GTI is considered one of the greatest cars of all time for its sporty performance in an economical package. The Scirocco is essentially a GTI with a quirky body and is available in an early model with an 8v engine or later model with the 16v. While less reliable, the 16v engine is definitely the way to go if you can find a Scirocco worth the purchase.

While trends don’t last forever, bonds we make with our cars do. These cars are not just the trendy vehicles that will make you fashionable, they are truly excellent vehicles to own. Through a mechanical connection, quirky aesthetics, and an endless supply of aftermarket modifications, your 80’s car can go from a box of junk to a box of shiny junk with an emotional connection. Make sure you keep your vintage Audi, BMW, or VW cared for with Genuine parts or our high-quality aftermarket maintenance and upgrades available right here at ECS Tuning.