As DCI Gene Hunt prepares to fire up his infamous Audi Quattro for the last time for the foreseeable future, his desire to skip the light fandango has inspired the vehicle information experts at HPI to take a trip down memory lane of their own.
“Cast your mind back to 1982, when petrol was bought in gallons, rather than litres and diesel was reserved for truck drivers and farmers,” says Martin Keighley, HPI’s valuation specialist.
The vehicles on sale at that time were much more basic than they are now. A Rolls Royce came with air conditioning as standard, but for the rest of us, fresh air required a bit of elbow grease to wind down the windows and a lack of power steering was not for the faint hearted. The newly introduced Ford Sierra was considered a revolution in motoring; after all, the L spec came with a cassette player, two speakers and a cigar lighter. Not to be sniffed at for £5,700. The popular 1.6 engine was 75bhp and had a 4-speed box. Its closest rivals were the Vauxhall Cavalier and Talbot Alpine, but the Austin Montego was still two years away from launch.
The ‘rep-mobile’ of today is likely to be a BMW 3 Series, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or VW Golf. Most of these models come with air conditioning, MP3 player hooked up to a huge sound system, power windows, steering, mirrors and brakes – the stuff of dreams in the 1980s.
If you wanted a sports car, Gene’s Audi Quattro Coupe was definitely top dog with a 2144cc 5 cylinder Turbo, 200 bhp, PAS, 5-speed gearbox and 4-wheel drive. To top it all, the radio cassette had 4 speakers! A used Triumph TR7 was a worthy alternative though, with 1998cc and 105 bhp. Perhaps today he’d be cruising in a Mitsubishi Evo X, offering 290 bhp, 2.0 Turbo and 4 wheel drive.
Keighley adds, “It’s not just the cars that have changed in the last 30 years. In the early 80’s there were no cars from Malaysia or Indonesia, and only 5 manufacturers came from Japan. Austin Morris, Triumph, Talbot, Lancia and Opel have been replaced by Hyundai, Kia, Perodua, Proton, Ssangyong, Suzuki and Isuzu. Colt is now Mitsubishi and Datsun is now Nissan. A trip down memory lane really shows us how far the motor industry has come, providing drivers with more creature comforts and even more power.”