Despite the hot hatch craze, the coupe sector remained bustling in the ‘80s, producing some future classics. We take a look at some Eighties excess.
Lotus Excel (1982-1992)
Lotus’ Esprit had hit its stride by the 1980s, competing with Porsche and Maserati for bedroom wall poster status. However, it also cost comparably to exotic rivals and with two seats, wasn’t practical. The solution came in the form of the Eclat-based Excel, a 2+2 coupe that sat below its big brother in size, performance and price. At £13,700, the Excel significantly undercut Porsche’s 944 and the TVR Tasmin, whilst winning journalist’s hearts for its supple ride and flawless handling, combined with exotic styling.
After half a decade, used Excels remained £10,000-£13,000. Into the ‘90s, however, the all-new Elan was the next affordable Lotus, and Excel prices rapidly halved. As Lotus parts remained scarce and pricey into the 2000s and new mid-engined cars like the MR2 offered more reliable variations of the formula, Excel prices kept tumbling. An Excel could be purchased a decade ago for as little as £2500, many falling into disrepair as owners didn’t maintain the delicate Lotus. With survivors limited and Esprit prices rocketing, however, the Excel is now appreciating – the same £2500 gets you a rough example today and tidy cars in strong colours command £6000-£8000. With all things ‘80s appreciating, we’d predict a continued rise.
Ford Capri 2.8 Injection (1982-1986)
The Capri was long a blue-collar hero by the time the Mk3 was released – its exotic styling and strong performance combined with practicality, simple Cortina underpinnings and aspirational pricing to create a smash-hit coupe. The Mk3 offered modernised styling, but the headline was undoubtedly 1982’s 2.8 Injection. Sporting 160bhp 2.8-litre V6, the Injection became the Capri’s halo model, with performance to match Porsche’s 924 and far cheaper £9500 price tag.
Their plentiful sales meant values didn’t hold and by the late 80s, an Injection could be bought for half its original price. As Capris aged and looked ever-more dated, values kept dropping and even the Injection fell out of favour. With prices in the doldrums by the 2000s, their not-classic-not-modern status kept demand low. Capris were bought cheaply and run on a shoestring, meaning tatty 2.8s were down at £1500-£2000. However, with rough cars consigned by scrappage schemes, only the best now remain and with fast Ford popularity at an all-time high and Capris into classic territory, the Injection dream is being realised by ‘80s kids. Prices have exploded and you’ll need upwards of £10,000 for a tidy 2.8 today, double what lesser Capris command. As values rocket, it’s no surprise that many are being returned to the road…
Honda CRX (1983-1991)
Given the third-generation Honda Civic’s revvy engine and sharp chassis, using it to create a sports car seemed obvious. The CRX was a masterstroke, its fastback all-glass rear end giving it a futuristic look, whilst its 2+2 layout and Civic switchgear created a liveable sports car. Its light, low-slung chassis made it huge fun and, costing £7000-£8000, it competed with less exotic-looking hot hatchbacks.
Europe went mad for the little Honda and 80% of their original price held five years on. The 1992 Del Sol successor softened the formula and unsuccessfully challenged the MX5, whereas the CRX was now old and without hot hatch practicality, the ‘90s saw values dip below £5000. Civic and Integra Type Rs offered similarly frenetic driving experiences without the practicality compromise and as a cheap entry into Japanese car ownership, CRXs were abused by the Max Power generation. What with rusting habits and FWD ignored in the face of rear-driven MX5s, CRXs became a £1500 car a decade ago. As the CRX hit classic age, the market has realised both their scarcity and brilliance in stock form and survivors are highly prized. Projects are £2500-£3000 these days, double that for the best. However, the sought-after VTEC model commands another 50%.