JDM - General

6 Of The Best JDM Cars From The ‘80s!

Despite being often forgotten, the ‘80s brought us some of the greatest JDM cars to date!

The reality is when people are speaking about JDM cars majority of the time they would be speaking about a car manufactured and sold in the ‘90s. And who’s to blame, that decade was fantastic with cars such as the MKIV Supra, RX-7 FD, and Skyline GT-R. But it is easy to forget that the ‘80s also brought us some real gems!

Honda CR-X SiR

The Honda CR-X was at the time Honda’s most economic and best-handling compact car and in many ways closely related to the Civic. All CR-X came with FWD along with a variety of small I4 engines, and thanks to being extremely light 1,676-1,896 lbs (760-860 kg) was not only quick but very fuel efficient.

Towards the late 80s, there was a special JDM version introduced, the CR-X SiR. This version limited to Japan received the B16A1 engine which was the first VTEC engine fitted to the Honda CR-X. This version of the engine produced about 158 hp in the CR-X SiR making it significantly quicker than the other engine choices. This version also got new suspension and torsion bars along with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno

The AE86 must be one of, if not the most recognized JDM car of all. Not only does this car has a long history of racing and drifting, it has also gotten extremely famous through the Animé series Initial D. But we don’t care about that, the reason it is on this list it’s because it’s a fantastic driver’s car.

The AE86 can be more or less seen as the RWD version of a Toyota Corolla, it is extremely lightweight, and features a 1.6L I4 that produces about 130 hp. The Sprinter Trueno was available in many different trim levels, so you could get an independent suspension, an LSD, upgraded brakes, and suspension. This made the AE86 handle extraordinarily well.

On top of having exceptional handling, the AE86 despite its low power was actually a really good drift car. There are a lot of videos from the 80s and 90s of people drifting these cars in the mountains of Japan.

Skyline R30 2000RS Turbo

The 2000 Turbo RS is the epitome of an 80s car, its rectangular-shaped chassis and letter prints on the side of the car just scream 1980s. This version was released in 1983 and featured a turbocharged 2.0L I4 (FJ20ET) that produced 190 hp @6,400 RPM making it the most powerful Nissan Skyline ever produced at the time. Despite this, the 2000RS did not wear the GT-R badge.

The 2000RS weighed in at about 2,700 lbs (1,225 kg) and was featured with a 5-speed manual transmission and only came with RWD. There was also a Skyline Turbo RS-X and Turbo RS-X Intercooler which received some exterior upgrades along with a more powerful 205 hp engine.

If you’re into boxy ‘80s cars and love everything JDM, then this car is certainly the pick for you.

Mazda RX-7 FC

The RX-7 FC may not be nearly as popular as its younger brother, the RX-7 FD but it still is considered one of the great JDM cars of the ‘80s.

The FC features either a 1.3L naturally aspirated Wankel rotary engine (13B) producing about 160 hp or the most sought-after, the turbocharged 1.3L Wankel (13B-T) that produced 200 hp. But the FC also received a vast improvement in handling with an all-new independent rear suspension along with a new steering rack and pinion. It also received a new feature known as Auto Adjusting Suspension (AAS) that changed damping characteristics according to the road and driving style.

There was also a JDM version known as the Infini that was available with more power, decreased weight, and upgraded suspension. With it came some 15” BBS aluminum alloy wheels, new aero bumpers, and an aluminum bonnet (+ bonnet scoop) along with a few other goodies. However, limited to 600 cars each year.

Datsun Fairlady 280ZX

Despite the 300ZX being available in the ‘80s, the 280ZX still takes home the trophy despite being beaten “on paper”. What made the 280ZX superior to all other Z’s was the 2.8L turbocharged L28 engine that produced 185 hp.

The 280ZX was nothing like its predecessors. This new version was entirely reworked and was given not only more performance but also an increased level of luxury to face the growing consumer demands. Despite losing some of its ‘sporty’ feels, it was still highly regarded as one of the greatest cars Nissan had ever produced. And was even hailed as Motor Trend’s Import Car of the year with over 86,000 sales in its first production year.

Nissan Silvia S13

The Silvia S13 was an immensely popular car, specifically in Japan due to its sporty handling and good power output from the 205 hp 2.0L turbocharged SR20DET engine. In the first year of production, it won the Car of the Year Japan and was crowned one of Nissan’s greatest sports cars before being taken down a year later by the 1989 Nissan R32 GT-R.

The S13 was also quite technologically advanced being one of Nissan’s first cars using their multi-link rear suspension along with four-wheel steering. It also came available with a limited-slip differential and a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.

The S13 was available in Europe as the 200SX and in America as the 240SX, although available with less powerful I4 engines but at a fraction of the price.

E. Lindgren

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