Why you should daily a cheap '80s car

14w ago


Lets start off with a little narrative. Imagine you are driving through town in a newer Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus and someone rear ends you at a stop light; or you park and walk back to see you have a new door ding. You are not going to be a very pleasant person. You will be ready to turn someone's ass into a parking spot for your foot. Now imagine you're driving an old 1980's Volvo, BMW, Audi, or Toyota. You will still be pretty pissed off, but it's an older car and it won't matter as much. I can see yelling at someone for a second or two, but nothing more because it's an older car that has seen that stuff before. Yes you care about the car, but more willing to let it get a bit abused.

This opens up the doors for more fun. With a newer car that doesn't have as many flaws people are more hesitant when it comes to beating on it. But an '80s car has flaws and isn't perfect. This means who cares about rock chips, scrapes, and dents. Take the car out in the winter when there's fresh snow and slide it around. If you slam into a snow bank and crack the bumper or scrape it, have a laugh and then keep going. Go find some dirt roads and throw it sideways a bit. If you go to a track day you don't have a tape up the front of the car or get a clear bra, the rubber marks and paint chips are your battle scares.

Back to using these cars as daily drivers though. If something goes wrong with it they are pretty easy to diagnose and fix. A lot of cars from this period had Bosch fuel injection or something similar. Yes if you go online there are tons of people saying these systems are way too complex, like a girl's emotions. But in reality these fuel injections systems are very simple and all it takes is a diagram to understand how they work. Parts are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find, as long as there were a fair amount of the car sold. Most cars of this period have the common issue of timing belts and water pumps needing to be changed every 50,000 miles, but that is usually it mechanically. Suspension components will need to be replaced if they haven't been done in a long time, but that's a thing with all cars.

There is also a significant aftermarket for cars from the '80s, if you want to put some personality into it. These cars can generally fit a decent size wheel and tire. Coil overs can be found anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Engine upgrades can easily be found. Most cars of this period had under-stressed engines, so blowing them up after upgrading them is not a huge worry. Mercedes M103 engines for example can easily take 500 HP.

The interiors of these cars don't all have the best build quality. But if you want luxury and comfort you can still find it. Mercedes and Audis of the era had very nice interiors. BMWs of the '80s also were pretty good inside. Seat heaters can be found in a lot of cars back then. You get the basics of heat, AC, and a radio. If you want more entertainment then actually drive the car. Don't complain that your iPhone doesn't connect to the car. There's no electronic nannies to get in the way of having fun. If you don't like the interior just start driving and you'll forget about the terrible plastics Toyota used.

These cars are also cheap to buy. $4,000 can get you a decent Porsche 944, Volvo 240, Mercedes 190E, Marda RX7, etc. Yes those cars aren't fast by modern standards and don't handle great compared to new stuff. But who cares? They are good platforms to build a fun car off of and have a decent daily. You can have fun with them and they are reliable enough to daily drive. My friend has a 1984 Toyota Tercel with a manual transmissions and front wheel drive, and that thing is a ball to drive. It is as slow as crawling baby and 40 mph feels fast, but it is fun. If someone dents the car or you break something it's no big deal, like if you drive a 10 year old civic. But the cars are also fun. They are also popular in the car community right now, with shows like Radwood popping up. So go out and buy a cheap car from the 1980's and daily drive it, mod it, and have fun.