Showing posts with label 1980s Performance Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980s Performance Cars. Show all posts

Ford Sierra Cosworth

Ford Sierra Cosworth 1980s European sports car

The Ford Sierra Cosworth was a performance car for the people. For a start, it was a snip at just £16,000. For that, you got supercar speed and stability - plus, practicality. Ford passed their Sierra shell to tuners Cosworth - based in Northampton, England. And the 'Cossie' was born! Cosworth installed a two-litre twin overhead-camshaft turbo engine. The production car was an 'homologation special' - a certain number needing to be built to allow it to compete in races and rallies. So, such cars are limited-edition by their very nature. Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering department was asked to come up with a competitive Group A car. There were several key components on the SVE's spec-list. Toward the top were a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox, a limited-slip diff and power steering. As well as ABS, anti-roll bars and firmed-up suspension. 4-piston disc brakes were attached to wide alloy wheels.

The Cosworth's body was modified Ford Sierra. Updates included widened wheel arches - and a 'whale-tail' rear spoiler. While the latter increased downforce, it compromised aerodynamics. And was not ideal in cross-winds! Still, if you bought a Cossie to make a statement - and you probably did - the rear aerofoil was spot-on. 'Spirited' drivers praised planted handling - along with fearsome acceleration. Top speed was 149mph.

Of course, the Cossie was a magnet for thieves and joy-riders. Insurance costs sky-rocketed. In time, the tearaways moved on to pastures new. Once rid of its hooligan 'rep', the Cosworth transitioned into performance car respectability. The Sierra Sapphire and 1990's 4x4 version duly followed. A further 16bhp would be coaxed out of the Cossie's 16-valve cylinder-head. In racing, rallying and roadster modes, then, the Ford Sierra Cosworth delivered the goods. Well, not literally!

Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Lancia Delta HF Integrale 1980s Italian sports car

It would be difficult to overstate the impact made by the Lancia Delta HF Integrale. It swept aside all comers - on the road and in competition. In the year and a half following its '87 launch, the Delta Integrale won 14 World Championship rallies. Miki Biasion made the most of its dominance. He garnered two world drivers' titles in the car.

The Integrale's 8-valve engine made 185bhp. In '89, it was replaced by a 16-valve head. Power increased to 200bhp. The new model totted up 13 top-echelon rally wins. Juha Kankunnen duly took the '91 drivers' title. Over time, the fruits of such success trickled down to the showrooms. The road-going Integrale's finely-tuned 4-wheel-drive set-up gave good handling - in all conditions. Combine that with a 2-litre turbocharged motor - and you had a perfect blend of speed and precision. As a hatchback, practicality was a given. But, there were luxuries, too. Like Recaro seats, electric front windows and a cutting edge instrument panel.

Wide wheels and fat tyres helped give the Integrale a look of purposeful muscularity. Giorgetto Giugiaro - at the Italdesign agency - did the styling honours. The bodywork was minimalist, not boxy! The original Delta - built for rally homologation reasons - was first glimpsed at '79's Frankfurt Motor Show. It was followed by a Delta dynasty of progessively more sophisticated models. Lancia's HF acronym stood for High Fidelity. It was applied to several of the marque's cars over the years. Never more fittingly, though, than to the Delta Integrale!

Audi Quattro

Audi Quattro 1980s German sports car

The Audi Quattro was launched in 1980 - at the Geneva Motor Show. It is safe to say that it revolutionised motoring. The Quattro's state of the art four-wheel drive system pushed roadholding to a new level. Top speed was 142mph. 0-60 took 6.3s. That came courtesy of a turbocharged 2.1-litre 5-cylinder engine. The Quattro's top-spec output was 220bhp.

The Quattro turned into a truly iconic rally car. For the Audi team's technicians, its 4-wheel drive set-up was love at first sight! As with the roadster, the increased grip levels significantly upped the competition car's traction in the rough stuff. Sat between the road and rally cars was the Sport Quattro - a 2-seater 'homologation special'. It was fitted with a 300bhp motor. The Sport's shortened wheelbase meant it handled even better than the standard Quattro. It retailed at three times the price of the base model. Still, a top speed of 155mph made it more than tempting!

When Audi announced they were pulling the plug on the Quattro, there was uproar. So, Audi succumbed to the pressure - and production continued until '91. Not just rally fans, but motorists too had fallen in love with the car. They had taken to four-wheel drive like ... well, like a rally driver to water. The Audi Quattro's remarkable tally of wins said it all!