Automotive history is marked by iconic brands that have disapeared. Some industrial bets have saved companies on the verge of bankruptcy. Some have given them a decisive strategic direction. Here are five youngtimers who have played a key role in recent automotive history.
Peugeot 205 GTI
At the start of the 1980s, the newly formed PSA group was in difficulty. Its alliance with Chrysler has been costly and, above all, its models are aging. The 104 and 104 coupé were never able to compete with the Renault 5. The Volkswagen Golf has established itself for several years as a benchmark model in the small car segment (B).
Peugeot therefore counter-attacked by launching its 205 in 1981. Carried by the GTI versions (1.6 then 1.9), the 205 will smash PSA sales records, with 5.3 million of them sold between 1981 and 1998. It has been until the advent of the Peugeot 206 its largest production volume.
The 205 was available in several body types, 3- and 5-door sedans, convertibles and minivans. Its engines range from 45 to … 200 hp (205 Turbo 16 200 series). It proved reliable and modern. Thanks to the GTI versions and its rally record (driver and manufacturer titles in the World Rally Championship in 1985 and 1986, then Paris Dakar titles 1987 and 1988), it won the hearts of motorists. Thus, the Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9 are particularly sought after today.
Porsche 944 turbo
Until the early 1970s, Porsche was a one-model company. The Porsche 356 and its successor, the Porsche 911, had been its benchmark models. Both were expensive to produce and therefore sold in relatively low volumes. Every attempt by Porsche to produce a cheaper, more profitable car had ended in failure. The Porsche 912 and 914 weren’t cheap enough, and the 924 faced better and cheaper Japanese competition.
The Porsche 944 (1981-91) allowed Porsche expanding its customer base and securing its future. Fast, beautiful and easily-manoeuvrable, the 944 is a 4-cylinder traction more powerful than the 924. It has gradually increased in power and, in its turbo version between 1988-1991 (250CV), came closer to the performance of the 911 carrera. Collectors are not mistaken, the latest versions of the 944 Turbo (944 turbo S and cup from 1988-91) seeing their rating converge with that of the 911.
Aston Martin DB7
At the end of the 1980s, Aston Martin went under the Ford flag and looked for a new future. The DB-7 was to embody the revival of Sir James Bond’s favorite cars. Designed by Ian Callum, it borrows styling cues from the Jaguar XK8 (Jaguar was also owned by Ford at the time) and cheap elements from Ford.
Beautiful and exclusive, the DB-7 sold well – over 7,000 units, a record for Aston Martin at the time. This Grand Touring car was available in coupe or convertible (Volante appellation). It offered remarkable performance (0 to 100 km / h in 4.9 s). It was the first resolutely modern Aston Martin.
The Audi Quattro still impresses. Champion (1982, 1984) in the rally worldchampionship, it embodies the turning point made by Audi in the early 80s. Designed by Ferdinand Piech, then responsible for technical development, it marks the change in positioning of audi, from mid to high end.
The quattro is the brand’s first large-series sports coupé with permanent all-wheel drive. The first generation receives a 5-cylinder 2.1 L 10 valve, equipped with a turbocharger and an air exchanger that increases the power to 200 hp. With its widened fenders and specific bumpers, the quattro offers very respectable performance for its time, slashing 0-100 km / h in 7.7 seconds.
Lancia Delta HF Integrale (1979-93)
Lancia suffered an existential crisis in the 1970s. After offering avant-garde and artisanal models in the 50s and 60s, it was forced to reposition itself. It was time for industrialization and international alliances. Gone were also the curved lines which made the success of Italian sports cars after the war.
After the mixed results of the beta, Lancia risked big. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Lancia Delta was unveiled in 1979. It inherits a chassis common to the Fiat Ritmo. Initially, it was a “small” car, of 85 hp. In 1983, the Delta HF turbo made its debut, developing 130 hp, thanks to its turbocharger. In 1987, Lancia presented the Delta HF Integrale, the power of which rose to 185 hp at 5,300 rpm. In May 1989 the Delta experienced a new development with the Delta HF Integrale 16v of 200 hp. In parallele, it was era of Lancia’s victories in the world of rallying. Commercial success was not long in coming, with 483,162 Lancia Delta sold in 14 years.