13 June 2023

Celebrating the classic hatchbacks of 1983

By Road Runner

With a whole selection of cars becoming “historic” or acquiring the “vintage” tag in 2023, it’s good news if you’re in the market to purchase a car from this era or are holding onto one. We want to celebrate five formidable hatchbacks that made their debut in 1983. So put on your Culture Club CD, slide on some legwarmers, and belt up for some vehicle nostalgia.

Fiat Uno

Trying to give the boot to its French rival (and just about launched a month before the 205) was the Italian Fiat Uno. With car designer supremo Giorgetto Giugiaro at the helm (he’s the “grande formaggio” that has designed for Alfa Romeo, BMW, Audi, and Maserati) the Uno was intended to replace it’s forerunner, the diminutive Panda. While an astonishing 8,800,000 were built, only 200 of the original models are still considered roadworthy, making these a very noteworthy classic supermini. There was a hot hatch turbo, but that didn’t scream onto the scene until 1985, so we’ll leave that piece of nostalgia alone for now.

In terms of current value and because of its rarity, 1983 is a tricky price listing to track down. The closest pricing we could find at the time of writing was for the 1987 model with an average resell mark of £7,000 if it’s ship-shape but expect to pay more for a good quality early 80’s gem.

Austin Maestro

Many a Gen X’er will have experience of taking the wheel of the Austin Maestro early on in their driving career, with plenty of instructors opting for this uncomplicated car. Billed as both spacious for a hatchback and neatly styled, the standard model offered few thrills and surprises, and quite a lot of moments of unreliability and poor quality. Until the hot hatch-back and MG-turbo noisily roared into view, that is. Some even boasted an early version of a voice synthesiser.

For a standard 1983- 2001 model in decent condition, these days you can expect to pay (or receive) from £800 to £1,450. But if a well-loved Turbo is more what you had in mind, then this could cost you as a buyer in the region of £16,000 (and then some).

Peugeot 205

Long before French waif “Nicole” and her “Papa” took the wheel in those TV ads, the 205 hit the road. Billed as the Peugeot equivalent of the supermini, behind it’s pretty façade and very Gallic charms was an impressive choice of engines and a satisfying ride that can still raise a big smile and heart rate today. And if that wasn’t enough of an oo-la-la factor, the GTi hot hatchback it spawned really is a classic to appreciate.

While the standard Peugeot 205 from this era has a current resell value of almost £8000 if in good condition, the GTi has been known to hit an eye-watering £38,000. Sacré bleu!

Ford Fiesta

1983 delivered many new things; from the launch of breakfast TV to the introduction of wheel clamps and mandatory seatbelts, there was a lot going on.  However, the launch of the Ford Fiesta MKII was actually a bit of a “second generation” thing. First hitting the automotive production lines in 1977, one of the cool aspects about Ford’s updated supermini was the joy of specifying a diesel engine or automatic gearbox, not to mention an actual five-gear manual model or two. And there was also that big menu of models! The Popular, Popular Plus, L, and Ghia all vied for the attention of those fans of the three-door, and five-door hatchback. Originally marketed as a car that was cheap to run and pleasant to drive (as well as a worthy rival to the Austin Maestro), the Fiesta is still the well-respected darling of the Ford family, albeit in a more sophisticated form as it enters its seventh generation.

Again, the rarity of an original 1983 model makes this hard to price accurately, but as this MKII model was created to compete with the Peugeot 205, as well as the Maestro, resell prices should be in a similar bracket.

VW Golf Mk II

Although it didn’t really hit the road until 1984, we’ve sneaked in this one as it did make an official launch at the Frankfurt motor show in September 1983. The German manufacturers were aware that there was stiff competition in the hatchback world, so were keen to deliver on their dream of “bigger, roomier, and classier” than both the MK I Golf predecessor and other hatchbacks in a similar bracket.

The VW Golf MK II retained it’s popularity, with 6.3 million cars being produced until the Mk III popped up in 1991. If you’re wanting to get your hands on the steering wheel, Classic Cars offers up some salient advice on what to look out for, including hidden rust, encouraging potential buyers to  think about condition over mileage. But that reliable VW build quality means you can expect to get a car that’s great to drive and not just for looking at.

And the good news is that you may be able to snap up a relative bargain, with many remaining examples of this coming onto the resell market for less than £1,000.

Classic Aston Martin

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