Sam Dawson

Sam Dawson

Sam Dawson Sam Dawson 1986 Audi Quattro 10v/WR 5 months ago

Before it all came crashing down, the Eighties vibe gave us many colourful reasons to be optimistic, particularly the cars. Little wonder their appeal is growing now.


One word, instant picture in your mind – box wheelarches and squat, bodykitted stance; turbo, when that was a real badge of honour; clever, self-assured four-wheel drive. And red, had to be Tornado Red. It didn’t actually, but that’s how it seemed. This was the Eighties on wheels – self-assured, future-facing, successful. Not everyone enjoyed the brief, heady gold rush of the decade and for many it would end in tears, but for a while it was as if we were all infected by the feelgood factor. Just as the Sixties had an optimism that distracted Britons from the remnants of post-war austerity, the Eighties – once well into its stride – helped us forget the decay that characterised the Seventies.

Add Cosworth, E24 635CSi, GTE and Testarossa – now there’s Eighties car culture defined. Rallying and saloon racing glory, the rise and rise of German car desirability, gritty suburban hero and a big showoff fantasy just one utilities share deal away from reality. Well, maybe. And with a bang, it was over, the symbols of excess treated with either ridicule or remorse, depending on how close you were to the cocaine and champagne when the party stopped. But now look at the cars, hotter than a hairsprayed stadium rock band at the peak of its MTV video chart posturing. Just without the dry ice.

If, like me, you were too young to experience the star cars of the decade firsthand, perhaps the rash of crash, jump and roll stunt-ridden TV shows and films was as close as you got. In which case, you’ll be enthralled by our interview with Jack Gill, the man responsible for so many of those iconic stunts from a time before CGI made it all safe and unreal. You’ll just have to forgive him for all those future classics he wrecked in the line of duty. But hey, without attrition we would appreciate the survivors less.

Whatever your view of Eighties excess, you have to accept it left a colourful mark on motoring history.

Eighties heroes of the rally stage and race track are hot.

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