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Advertising the 1980s: 44 of the Most Bodacious Car Ads of the ’80s

By: · September 29, 2015

1980s Ads Lead
-The malaise that was the 1970s dribbled over into the 1980s, with ads touting Corvettes that made all of 190 horsepower, gussied-up econoboxes parading as Cadillacs, and dubious technology such as the Moleculetor promising improvements in fuel economy of up to 23 percent—yours for just $214 (plus $5 shipping)! And there’s John Z. DeLorean hawking Cutty Sark scotch, with nary a kilo of coke in sight. With apologies to Mr. Dickens, it was the worst of times, it was the worster of times.

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A few bright spots managed to punch holes through the darkness. Turbocharged engines began to appear under the hoods of a number of cars, including the Datsun Turbo ZX, the Mazda 323 GTX, the Porsche 944 Turbo, the Volvo Turbo, and even the Subaru XT Turbo.

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Nascent technologies also made some of their earliest appearances in these pages, with ads for Apple’s Macintosh desktop computer, Panasonic’s TV with a 1.5-inch screen, and the Maxwell Portable Cellular Phone with one hour of talk time for $695. And if the Maxwell was too pricey, you could order a fake “Cellular Fun Phone” and “enjoy the status of owning a car phone for just a fraction of the regular cost.” Cost: $49.95.

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The decade couldn’t end soon enough.

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(Note: Click or tap an ad to enlarge.)

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Pontiac Grand Prix – April 1980
-198004-001

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The Sharper Image Xernus – June 1980
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-198006-001

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International Harvester Scout – June 1980
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-198006-002

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Mercedes-Benz – July 1980
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-198007-001

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Energy Efficiencies Inc. Moleculetor – September 1980
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-198009-001

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Jeep CJ – October 1980
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-198010-002

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Panasonic TravelVision – October 1980
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Chevrolet Corvette – December 1980
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-198012-001

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READ MORE: Our Original 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Road Test

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Chevrolet Citation X-11 – August 1981
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-198108-001

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Ronrico Rum Sweepstakes – September 1981
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-198109-001

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Jeep Scrambler – October 1981
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-198110-001

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READ MORE: A History of Jeep Pickups: The Lineage Is Longer than You Think

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Renault 18i – November 1981
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-198111-001

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Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition – January 1982
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-198201-001

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READ MORE: 1982 vs. 1962: Last-of-Their-Kind Corvettes

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Jeep CJ – February 1982

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198202-001

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READ MORE: Our Original 1982 Jeep CJ-7 Limited Test

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K40 Radar Detector – February 1982

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198202-002

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De Lorean Motor Company – February 1982
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READ MORE: De Lorean DMC-12 vs. Corvette, 280ZX, 308GTS, and Porsche 911

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Volvo Turbo – February 1982
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-198202-004

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Volkswagen Scirocco – March 1982
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-198203-001

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Cutty Sark Scotch – April 1982
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-198204-001

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Volvo Turbo Wagon– April 1982
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-198204-002

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Alpine Car Audio Systems – June 1982
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-198206-001

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READ MORE: Our Original 1983 Lamborghini Countach 5000S Road Test

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Megaforce – June 1982
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-198206-002

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Ford Motor Company – June 1982
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-198206-003

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Datsun Turbo-ZX 5-speed – September 1982
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-198209-001

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Cadillac Cimarron – October 1982
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-198210-001

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Porsche – October 1982
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-198210-002

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Callaway Turbosystems – March 1983
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-198303-001

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Cadillac Cimarron – March 1983
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-198303-002

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Saab – April 1983
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-198304-001

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Nissan Truck – April 1983
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-198304-002

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Chrysler Laser XE – October 1983
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-198310-001

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Dodge Omni GLH – October 1984
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-198410-001

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READ MORE: Awesome to the Max: C/D’s Coolest Cars of the 1980s

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Apple Macintosh – December 1984
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Ford Motor Company – November 1985
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-198511-001

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Chevrolet Corvette – July 1986

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198607-001

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READ MORE: Our Original 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Road Test

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Subaru XT Turbo – July 1986
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-198607-002

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READ MORE: Battle of the Winter Beaters: Subaru XT6 vs. Camaro RS, Renault Fuego Turbo

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Pioneer DEX-77 – December 1986
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-198612-001

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General Motors Parts – March 1987
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-198703-001

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Daihatsu Charade – February 1988
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-198802-001

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BMW Motorsport Division M-Cars – April 1988
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-198804-001

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READ MORE: Original Tests of the 1987 BMW M6 | 1987 BMW M5 | 1988 BMW M3

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Cellular Fun Phone – April 1988
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-198804-002

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Ford Taurus SHO – April 1989
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-198904-001

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READ MORE: Our Original 1989 Ford Taurus SHO Road Test

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Maxwell Portable Cellular Phone – April 1989
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-198904-002

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Isuzu Amigo – June 1989

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198906-001

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