There is a certain mystique that goes along with being named the Motor Trend Car of the Year, and the prestigious award dates all the way back to 1949. This was the year that Motor Trend magazine was founded, and it has been in circulation every since, under the Peterson Publishing Company banner until 1998 when it was sold to EMAP, who sold it to Primedia three years later. Source Interlink is the current publisher of Motor Trend, and its readership reaches into the seven figures.
The Motor Trend Car of the Year award was originally only given to American built cars, and in the earliest days it was given to an entire division of a company, not a particular model. The first Motor Trend Car of the Year award went to Cadillac in 1949. The first time it went to an individual model rather than an automotive division was in 1958 when it went to the Ford Thunderbird.
There was no award given in 1950, ’53, and ’54, but since 1955 the award has been given out annually without interruption. Today we would like to take a look back at the Motor Trend Car of the Year winners of the 1980s. It is interesting to note that in 1985, the Volkswagen GTI won the award; though it was the product of a German company, it was built at a Pennsylvania plant and thus deemed “American enough” for Motor Trend’s purposes.
Motor Trend Car of the Year Winners of the 1980s
1989: Ford Thunderbird SC
1988: Pontiac Grand Prix
1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
1986 Ford Taurus LX
1985: Volkswagen GTI (built in Pennsyvania)
1984: Chevrolet Corvette
1983: AMC / Renault Alliance
1982: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
1981: Chrysler K Cars, Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant
1980: Chevrolet Citation
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer