Stars of 1984. It was The Year of the Scalded Cat; the year when high-performance cars ruled supreme. We drive six classics that really ripped it up in 1984. Words SAM DAWSON. Photography RICHARD PARSONS.
I’m standing between a Ferrari 288 GTO and a Peugeot 205 GTi, feeling like a new-car road-tester conducting an end-of-year review. Why else would we bring together such a mismatched bunch of supercars, sports cars, hot saloons and even an American muscle car? The reason is simple – 30 years ago, 1984, was the year of the performance car, and that’s something worth celebrating.
Stars of 1984. Megatest of the best from 30 years ago including the Ferrari 288 GTO, Toyota MR2, Peugeot 205 GTi, TVR 390SE, BMW M535i E28 and Buick Grand National Turbo.
But why did this happen? We began the Eighties in the midst of recession and high oil prices, but the political situation changed quickly. New competition rules were devised requiring a radically different kind of homologation special, and as motor sport was increasingly televised the opportunity to sell on Monday became stronger than ever. As oil prices fell, the fears that had caused manufacturers to turn their backs on thirsty engines abated.
Stars of 1984: six of the best from 30 years ago, with something to suit every pocket.
In 1984 the performance car returned with a vigour. Group В rules prompted Ferrari to reintroduce the GTO concept after a two-decade hiatus. Peugeot and Toyota embraced the spirit of the age, losing dowdy images and reversing declining fortunes.
Front to rear Ferrari 288 GTO, Toyota MR2, Peugeot 205 GTi, TVR 390SE, BMW M535i E28, Buick Grand National Turbo.
In Blackpool, TVR enlisted the services of Andy Rouse and took the British roadster from fun, unsophisticated B-road blaster to unrestrained track weapon. BMW wrested the autobahn-striding all-rounder title from Mercedes to become the default aspiration of western suburbia. Even more surprisingly, in America the Busch Grand National NASCAR series and the IMSA championship’s new GT rules sired a new power war that prompted Buick to unleash a muscle car so technologically advanced and rapid that parent firm General Motors wouldn’t let it outlast the decade. Was it a classic year like no other? It’s find out.