This is why, on the list of the most powerful production cars of the ’80s, you are likely to see a lot of European names, because they did not have it as bad as the US did, after the fall of the muscle cars. Do keep heart though, because Buick and Pontiac did save the day, even if they were not a Porsche or Ferrari.
10 1987 Porsche 959
At its debut in 1986, the game-changing Porsche 959 was not only the world’s fastest street-legal production car but was also way ahead of its times. It led in terms of technical innovations, including features like active suspension and a sequential twin-turbocharged engine.
Claiming a staggering speed of almost 200 MPH, it went head-to-head with the reigning prancing horse of the time. It carried a twin-turbocharged 2.8-liter flat-6 mill that hammered out a massive 444 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque, for a 3.6-second waltz to 60 MPH from start.
9 1986 Aston Martin V8 Vantage 580 ‘X-Pack’
Dubbed as “Britain’s First Supercar”, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage was lightning fast with a 0-to-60 MPH time of just 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 170 MPH. However, the timeless yet formidable ‘X-Pack’ upgrade (with an ‘X’ suffix in the engine number) introduced in the autumn of 1986 was something else.
It got Cosworth pistons and Nimrod racing-type heads boasting over 400 horses. It could be further tuned to up to 450 horses with plenty of after-market upgrades making it the most powerful production Aston Martin built in that era.
8 1989 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am With Buick Turbo V6
The single-year Buick Turbo V6-armed 1989 Firebird Trans Am was one of the hottest cars of the 1980s. It was GM’s best way to celebrate the Firebird Trans Am 20th anniversary as it smoked the Corvette with its insane acceleration back in 1989.
The 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 milled out 250 horses, but in the real world, it was about 300 horses, enough for clocking a 0-to-60 MPH time of just 4.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 162 MPH. Mind-blowing for the late 1980s.
7 1985-1988 DeTomaso Pantera GT5-S
In 1985 De Tomaso rolled out the GT5-S and stunned the automotive world by launching the greatest Pantera of all time. The suffix “S” in GT5-S stood for “steel” as it was furnished with a single piece of flared steel fenders instead of the fiberglass ones that featured in its older sibling, the GT5.
It was powered by a stout 5.8-liter naturally aspirated Ford Cleveland V8 pumping out 350 horses and 333 lb-ft of torque enough for a 0-to-60 MPH sprint of 5.3 seconds. The transmission duties were handled by a deft 5-speed ZF fully synchronized manual which made way for a flawless drive.
6 1986 Porsche 911 Turbo Flachbau (930)
Porsche introduced a special edition of the already successful 930 Turbo called the Flachbau, also known as “flat nose” or “slant nose”, in 1986. In case you don’t know, the 930 Turbo produced between 1975 and 1989 is commonly known as the 911 Turbo in the auto bazaar.
Apart from its distinctive flat front, these handmade cars also featured a larger 3.3-liter turbocharged engine cranking out a whopping 330 horses. With this massive leap in horsepower triggering a 0-to-60 MPH sprint of 4.7 seconds and 171 MPH tops, it became the fastest mass-production car at the time.
5 1981-1984 Ferrari BB 512i
Nicknamed BB, for the Berlinetta Boxer, the 512i fascinated Ferrari fans in the first half of the 1980s. This last of the BB-series ‘Rari received an upgraded fuel-injected 4.9-liter flat-12 powerplant thrashing out 335 horses and 333 lb-ft of torque.
The newly-introduced Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system offered better performance and a flawless driving experience. This formidable formula resulted in a phenomenal performance of 512 BBi in its heydays. The 0-to-60 MPH record was set in just 5.4 seconds, and it could hit a top speed of 174 MPH.
4 1988 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
Launched in 1988, the 25th Anniversary Countach co-designed by Horacio Pagani was the ultimate Countach of all time. It was Lamborghini’s best way to end its production too. With an insane acceleration of 0-to-60 MPH in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 183 MPH, it was the Countach’s fastest avatar ever.
Apart from the distinctive front and side spoilers, and updated air vents, it got a one-of-a-kind 5.2-liter V12 naturally-aspirated engine putting out an astounding 449 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque.
3 1987 Ferrari F40
In 1987, Ferrari celebrated its 40th anniversary, by making the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive production car, ever, the F40. The small-capacity 2.9-liter V8 engine with a parallel twin-turbocharged design churned out 471 horses and 426 lb-ft of torque, however, the high-revving US-spec F40 was rated at an enhanced 477 horsepower.
With this dangerously fast powerplant, the F40 danced towards the 0-to-60 MPH target in just 3.8 seconds on the way to a mindboggling top speed of 201 MPH.
2 1986-1987 Buick Grand National
In the low-horsepower performance-choking 1980s, Buick Grand National was a God’s gift to the power-crazy autophiles. In 1986, Buick slotted in a Garrett air-to-air intercooler to add more turbo boost, taking the power output to 235 horses. When further retuned, the engine cranked out an additional 10 horsepower. This reprogrammed 1987 model with a 3.8-liter V6 finally made 245 horses and 355 lb-ft of torque.
It was enough for a 4.9-second 0-to-60 MPH joyride that could leave behind the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the time. It instantly became the most sought-after production car by GM in the mid-80s.
1 1987 Buick GNX
The McLaren-tuned GNX had to be the best of the Buick’s litter of cars as it was the final year for the Grand National. Buick wanted the Grand National to go out with a big bang in 1987. The super-high-output GNX, “Grand National eXperimental” for GNX, wore a turbo intercooled 3.8-liter V6 jetting out 276 horses and a staggering 360 lb-ft of torque. However, in the real world, it was well over 300 horses and 420 lb-ft.
It recorded a stunning 4.7-second 0-to-60 MPH time leaving behind supercars from Ferraris and Lamborghinis biting the dust.
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