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Top 10: Iconic ’80s Fords

Ah, the ’80s. It was a big era for Ford fans, with a whole new family of XR sportiness arriving on the scene, followed by turbocharging wizardry and more than a little input from the good folk of Cosworth. This was the decade when some of the Blue Oval’s most iconic cars were launched, machines now highly revered as modern classics.

From the cheekiest sporting Fiestas to the most awe-inspiring tyre-shredding Cosworths, there was a fun Ford for everyone back in the ’80s, as well as some intriguing choices for those seeking a spot of luxury. Check out these ten top models – and don’t forget to let us know your faves.

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Orion 1600E

The second-generation Orion (a booted version of the MkIV Escort) was in the autumn of its life when Ford spotted a gap in the market. It was already possible to buy an upmarket version in the shape of the 1.6i Ghia, but Ford played the nostalgia card by announcing the Orion 1600E for 1989 – referencing the iconic Cortina 1600E in all of its marketing.

Fewer than 1500 Orions were converted to 1600E spec by the experts at Tickford, each car being treated to Shadow Grey all-leather upholstery and wood veneer trimmings. It was the closest that Ford ever came to creating a miniature limousine.


Colin Shirley    on 14 September 2017

I consider the Capri a trendy car and if they were on sale now I would definitely buy one,may be a new model designed on the old like Ford did with the Mustang.

EdsETV    on 16 September 2017

I bought an XR4i new in 1983 to replace a Capri 3.0S. I liked the Capri but the handling in the wet was awful. It taught you to drift or crash and steer using the throttle.

The brakes suffered from severe fade from overheating and afterwards would then pull badly to the side. The power steering made you change lanes with the tiniest touch at high speeds and the aerodynamics meant at around 120mph the front would lift and make the steering and stability worse.

I decided to sell it when it got stolen, used in a jewel raid, was recovered and then never felt quite right at high speeds.

The Sierra XR4i was fantastic in comparison. My dad helped me get a deal on a brand new one which was up for over £11,500 and we paid £7881 OTR including RFL and a tank of gas. It was comfortable quiet and would do 30mpg if you drove sensibly.

In the days before Gatsos it did an easy indicated 130mph, handled well including in the snow one winter and above all was supremely stable at high speeds as the aero really worked to reduce lift at speed. It never missed a beat during my ownership whereas most cars from that time needed fettling. A close friend replaced his XR4i with the Cosworth RS500 which was both quick but tempermental at times. It was massively better than the Capri in my experience.

I sold it only when I had to have a comapny car and sold it to a friend of a friend. I am pleased to say it is back on the road with them after many years in storage and is running around in Kent.

If I could find an unmolested one I would definitely look at acquiring it. However, having had luxury motors for many years I have gone back to my roots and have a Mk3 Focus RS. Yet another bargain Ford performance car.

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