Pop Culture

Best Selling 80s Cars for Each Year of the 1980s

These 80s Cars Beat The Competition

The 80s were a time of transition from American made to foreign made models. Even so, the transition was slow, and Ford, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile still managed to hold their own. Take a nostalgic walk down memory lane with these best selling 80s cars.

Best Selling Car of 1980: Oldsmobile Cutlass

80s cars

1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass

The decade started off with a bang when Oldsmobile introduced the Oldsmobile Cutlass. The Cutlass received a facelift with a new front fascia with quad headlights and notchback styling. It had remarkable power with an optional 350 V8 engine, and equipped as a 442-muscle car, it had a four-barrel carburetor and four-speed manual transmission, dual exhausts and bucket or bench seats. Car aficionados could choose a floor-shifter for the sportier 442 model, which came in one of two color schemes. Owners could choose either a black and gold combination or white and gold. In 1980, the Oldsmobile sold 460,000 units of the Cutlass Supreme model alone.

Best Selling Car of 1981: Chevrolet Chevette

80s cars

1981 Chevrolet Chevette

The 80s generation may have loved their sports cars, like the Olds Cutlass 442, but they were practical as well. In 1981 the Chevrolet Chevette sold for less than $5,500 and was marketed as a reliable commuter car. Available in three or five-door models, the style was nothing to write home about, resembling prior year versions of the Chevette. What made it special was the diesel engine option. Chevy sold 433,000 units in 1981 to suburbanites looking for an energy efficient mode of transportation.

Best Selling Car of 1982:Ford F-Series

1980s cars

1982 Ford F-150 SuperCab Lariat

The winner of the 80s cars best selling lists for 1982 is not a car at all. It is the Ford F-Series light and medium-duty pickup trucks. Actually, the F-Series trucks have been close to the top of the American chart since 1977 to present. The biggest change to the 1982 models was replacing the more fuel-efficient M-Series engine to the 3.8 liter, 232 C.I Essex V6 engine. This change was made in response to public demand for a more powerful base engine.

Best Selling Car of 1983: Cutlass Supreme

best selling 80s car

1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

Oldsmobile returned to the best selling list in 1983 with the Cutlass Supreme. This mid-sized car was a basic Cutlass all dressed up with premium features like a special trim package. Oldsmobile marketed the uptown car as an investment that would maintain a remarkable resale value. They sold the Supreme in both V6 and V8 models.

Best Selling Car of 1984: Chrysler Minivan

1984 chrysler minivan

In 1984, Chrysler launched its first-generation minivan. Chrysler sold it in both a cargo and passenger configuration.  The 1984 Chrysler Minivan was met with a popularity that was totally unexpected. This was the first of modern minivan type vehicles to hit the market, well ahead of the Chevrolet Astro, GMC Safari, and Ford Aerostar. The big selling point was that the minivan drove like a car but could comfortably seat up to seven passengers while being versatile enough to provide lots of cargo space.

Best Selling Car of 1985: Chevrolet Cavalier

Chevrolet sold 383,752 Cavaliers in 1985. The Cavalier was a small car that came in both two and four-door models. The were sold as sedans, hatchbacks, station wagons, and convertibles. The car was popular not only because of the variety of body styles but also because of the low cost and positive EPA fuel-economy ratings.

Best Selling Car of 1986: Chevrolet Celebrity

best selling car of 1986

1986 Chevrolet Celebrity

Chevrolet hit another home run the following year with the Chevy Celebrity. The Celebrity was a mid-size car that hit its peak in popularity in 1986 with 404,883 units sold. Chevy redesign the front-end of this classic and made bench seats a standard feature. The company also did away with the diesel engine option. They sold the model with a V6 engine and optional four-speed manual transmission. Although updated, the body style was still considered a bit dated for the era, leading many to speculate the retirement of the Chevy Citation as the primary reason for the increased popularity.

Best Selling Car of 1987: Chevrolet C/K truck

best selling cars of the 80s

1987 Chevrolet C30 Silverado

The pickup returned to the best selling list in 1987 with the Chevrolet C/K truck. The Chevy C/K was a full-size boxy designed truck available with a regular or extended cab. You could buy a C/K with either a six or eight-cylinder engine that had enough torque to give it lots of get-up-and-go. The pickup was available in two or four-wheel drive. It was truly a working man’s truck. Considering this was the last year Chevy manufactured the C/K, what a way to leave the scene on top.

Best Selling Car of 1988: Ford Escort

best selling 1988 car

1988 Ford Escort GT

The winning spot for the 1988 best selling car once again proves that American 80s car buyers responded best to economy over luxury. The Ford Escort was considered a compact family car that got excellent gas mileage. Available as a hatchback or sedan with front-wheel drive, Ford sold 333,535 units. This little baby was available with an automatic or manual 5-speed transmission.

Best Selling Car of 1989: Honda Accord

best selling 1989 car

1989 Honda Accord SEi Coupe. Image Credit: Motortrend

The decade ended with the induction of a foreign make to the best seller list. The Japanese Honda Accord sold 362,707 units and was available in several varieties of sedan, coupe, and wagon. Reliable, comfortable, and handsome, American drivers liked the durability and reputation that accompanied the Accord.

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Jim H

Just like many of you who visit this website, Jim grew up in the 1980s. Since that timeframe, Jim has developed a love for website design and history. Jim and his wife Kim decided to put it all together and created inthe1980s.com. Thanks for visiting!