PAC-MAN, acid-wash jeans, Cabbage Patch Kids, pre-Kabbalah Madonna and Bon Jovi’s hair—the ’80s brought about some truly wonderful and bizarre things. Some are still rocking today, while others are best left in their time capsules with Pet Rocks and Betamax tapes. Here’s our short list of the cars that rocked our imaginations (we were too young to drive then, people!) and our worlds in the ’80s! DRIVE EDITOR Bill Shepard
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 THE DMC-12 rocketed from obscurity to fame in 1985 as the time-traveling machine in Back To The Future. Crafted by former Pontiac engineer John DeLorean and Lotus founder Colin Chapman, the DMC-12, or more commonly “the DeLorean,” featured gullwing doors, stainless steel body panels, and an AM/FM cassette stereo (flux capacitor was optional). Unfortunately, with John DeLorean’s drug-trafficking charges in 1982, the company went bankrupt after only two model years. Original DeLoreans are now relegated to die-cast models and Comic-Con appearances.
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1983 Audi Quattro WHO KNEW a funny-looking German car with an Italian name could make such a ruckus? But when rally racing finally allowed all-wheel-drive vehicles to compete, the Quattro dominated the circuit for the next two years, much to the chagrin of its competitors. Needing to produce a production version to conform to racing regulations, Audi put the barely modified Quattro onto the streets. The production version carried over its infamous full-time all-wheel-drive system, and the 2.1-liter in-line five-cylinder engine, which kicked out 160 horsepower. At the 2010 Paris auto show, Audi took the wraps off a new Quattro concept, underpinned by the svelte RS5. Totally awesome.