6 great 1980s and ’90s alternatives to high-priced muscle cars

Fellow 95 Hawk owner. OBD2 started in 96, and many of the later 95s have the OBD2 connector port (mine does, with a late June build date). As far as never rusting…well that depends on what types of weather they’ve been driven in, as cars that have seen road salt, etc. tend to rust out at the hoods leading edge, rockers, rear wheel wells, and the rear quarters in front of the rear wheels. Traction control became available in late 95 also.

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My vote would be Mustang GT 5 speed manual, 1985 on through 1990’s - hatchback / fastback with “moonroof” removable glass panel, or convertible. These cars are solid, readily available, affordable, easy to work on, plus an endless amount of performance parts you can buy for engine upgrades, suspension upgrades, wheels, tires, etc. They are fun to drive, lots of performance, and rwd so you can light 'em up! They also had great instrument panels, and awesome bucket seats - my 1987 buckets had adjustable lumbar supports and adjustable pull out knee bolsters - like a Recaro seat! I’d opt for one with the old 5.0 liter engine…love the sound of them at idle or at full throttle. Mustangs of this era also had large greenhouse / glass area - easy to see and you can put your elbow on the top door edge…not sitting down in a cave like some other muscle cars of that era. The challenge (like with many of the cars being talked about here) is to find one that hasn’t been flogged to death already, or heavily altered (quality / level of expertise unknown) from stock…

You an I have the same car!! I just recently got it. Just got a 94 Dark Aqua Metallic T/A with only 42K on the odometer. It’s a stick too which is nice.

Love it.

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I have an 86 Monte Carlo SS. T Top. Black with burgundy bucket interior. All the bells and whistles. 23 thousand original miles. All original down to the tires. Blast to drive.

One footnote to my previous post. I have the original tires and they look good but i did swap them out for a new set. 33 years old. Didnt want a blowout to ruin one of my perfect wheels. Heres a pic with the original tiresIMG_3571

89 - 97 Thunderbird? The Super Coupe (SC) model was a unique performance option with a supercharged V6 - way cool for the day. The V8 models came with a “Sport” option that included lowered and stiffened suspension - handled / rode much better than the standard LX. Great driving car, but the IRS didn’t like to hook up very well. The 4.6 V8 could be easily upgraded, same basic engine as the 05-10 Mustang.

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20181101_201708-1 89 Turbo Trans Am, and LS1 Firehawk Convertible, nice cars from the era

I have an 87 5 speed turbo coupe and and a 95 5 speed super coupe. Much better designed and engineered than the GM competition. These cars have a huge fan base that appreciate these cars that were ahead of their time

No thanks on the Formula - they always have seemed like a chintzy version of the TransAm to me. Sorta wannabees.

Lol…yeah. Same performance but they cheaped out and skipped all the non-functional plastic and cheesy stick-on decals that the REAL racers and cool kids got.

Pretty much - take out the word “cheesy”, and you’ve nailed it.

No. I’d leave that in. To really nail it I’d add “anemic, heavy, front weight-bias, leaf-spring live axle, open differential and poor brakes” after the word ‘same’.

Well, everyone has their opinions, but those same things that you said would also apply equally to the Formula, if they were accurate for the T/A. As a point of fact, though, many (probably most) model years of T/A’s came with a limited-slip differential. And, with the advent of four-wheel disk brakes (1979, I believe), the T/A’s braking became very good, indeed. Finally, 0-60 in 6.7 seconds (as Car & Driver achieved in a 1979 Pontiac 400/4-speed T/A in 1979), was most certainly not slow for new cars of that era. Also not slow were the 0-60 times of LT1 and LS1 T/A’s, in their eras.

Since the title says “80’s” and “90’s” it’s understandable that you mention the ‘79 model year. After that I think performance REALLY went south. A 3500 + lb car with maybe 190 hp and 300 ft/lbs torque. Guessing 0-60 was in the high 8’s-low 9’s. Smallish discs (2 piston calipers?), it would stop good…once or twice.
That said they were awesome highway cars. I had one. Comfortable and reliable. But you could hang flares and decals on it all day it was still a touring car at best. I always thought the Formula was better looking than the TA, especially those decals. I was a 70’s kid too but thought it was the mature car and less poser.

This article and pictures shows why the high priced are so high priced, and well worth
it. No substitute for the best