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12 Old Square Body Cars (Square Rides from the 1980s)

Old Square Body Cars

Who says old square body cars aren’t cool?

They’re rad.

And history has plenty of examples of boxy cars too from the 1969 Dodge Charger to even modern cars like the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

Right angle rides have an irresistible allure, don’t they? The simple design and big windows contrast today’s high belt lines.

Not that we mind a high belt line, mind you.

For this survey we’re going to limit our examples to the cars that are near and dear to our heart.

That’s right, cars from the era that brought us Mr. T and the movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Join us as we reminisce about old square body cars from the ‘80s.

1. Volvo 240 (1974-1993)

Old Square Body Cars

image source: Pinterest

If there was a prize for the boxiest car of the 1980s, the crown should properly go to the Volvo 240. This was my first car. It was built like a tank.

In fact, that was its nickname, The Tank.

As a car built by people that take safety seriously, it’s one of the best cars you could have as a freshly licensed teenager.

Reliable? You bet.

I’m not happy about it but I can’t remember doing a single oil change on this car. And yet it never left me stranded.

Safe?

I had a front-end collision involving a truck. Not even so much as a hiccup from the stalwart Volvo.

2. BMW E30 (1984-1991)

BMW E30

image source: Pinterest

Another iconic car from the 80s with a slab-sided appearance is the BMW E30. You could get one as a coupe, convertible or four door wagon.

If you were a yuppie in the 80s this was the car you purchased before trading up for a Porsche 911.

If you’re just getting into performance cars, this is a great choice. The M variant is the most desirable and its super fun to drive.

Whether you want a classic car to enjoy. Or something fun to commute to work.

Or a car for the weekend all your neighbors aren’t driving, the BMW E30 is a great choice.

3. Jeep Cherokee XJ (1983-2001)

Jeep XJ

image source: Pinterest

I love, love, love these things. This was my first foray into off-road vehicles. I remember when a friend of the family bought one when I was sixteen.

It was red with offset tires and five spoke ARE rims. He let me drive it. I freakin’ loved it.

My friend’s dad let him borrow his for prom. And another friend got one after high school, which he then passed down to his sister when he started college.

This is the car that really started the whole SUV game.

I remember Motorweek using it as the benchmark by which all other sports utes of the early 90s were compared.

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It’s brilliant in its square simplicity, which is why it’s so coveted by off-roaders as you can see from the skyrocketing prices.

4. Ford Mustang Fox Body (1979-1993)

Ford Mustang Foxbody

image source: Pinterest

My friend’s younger brother bought one of these from a friend of ours when he was in high school.

I don’t remember it ever being in good enough shape to leave the garage the entire time my friend’s brother was in high school.

But that’s through no fault of the car. The blocky Mustang Fox Body is an excellent platform for wrenching.

It was such a huge leap forward compared to the sad “Mustang II” of the previous generation. It was so good it even caught the attention of law enforcement.

5. Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban

image source: Pinterest

Notice, we didn’t give a date for this one.

That’s because if you look at even the 2023 model, you’ll see that the boxy design language hasn’t changed since its inception – The right-angled design is something of a hallmark for the large family hauler.

From its beginning in 1935 the Suburban has always ridden on Chevrolet’s half-ton truck platform.

It wasn’t until the 1955 model year, that it got the now synonymous V8 engine.

And the seventh-generation Suburban was so good that it went virtually unchanged for eighteen years, from 1973 to 1991.

6. Suzuki Samurai (1986-1995)

Suzuki Samurai

image source: Pinterest

It’s an icon of the small, charismatic and capable 4×4 that’s exploded into the collector car scene recently.

Cheap and affordable, its compact size made it stand out from the bigger, bulkier SUVs of the 80s.

Sold as the Jimny worldwide, this was a popular car oversees.

Its popularity was gaining in the US until a notorious Consumer Reports review implied that the car was unsafe to drive.

This killed sales resulting in a legal battle.

It came with a carbureted 1.3-liter overhead-cam four-cylinder making just 63 horses and 74 pound-feet of torque mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.

Suzuki discontinued the boxy Samurai in North America in 1995.

But with the legal battle settled in 2004, the Suzuki Samurai is becoming one of the hottest collector cars around.

7. Honda Civic EF (1988-1991)

Honda Civic EF

image source: Pinterest

The EF Civic is my favorite Civic of all time.

Why?

Because of what it delivers: basic, affordable transportation, built to the highest quality.

It’s an economy car that gave you independent rear suspension way back in the 80s. You didn’t even get that in a Mustang (a performance car) until 2015!

In Japan, these cars are celebrated for their motorsport accomplishments. Its simplicity makes it one of the best platforms to modify.

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And the simplicity extends to its boxy shape which lends the Civic an airy greenhouse.

These came in either hatchback, four door sedan or wagon. And over 30 years later, it still feels modern to drive.

8. Chevrolet Caprice (1977-1990)

Chevrolet Caprice

image source: Pinterest

This car was introduced at a time when American family cars were facing downsizing.

Perhaps not exactly like the Suburban, the Chevy Caprice has nevertheless enjoyed a long automotive history.

Introduced in 1966, its production ended in 2017 as a police interceptor. This long history supports the fact that this is one of the best cars that GM ever produced.

I’ve always had a secret love for the Caprice. I guess for the same reason why I love the Civic above: there’s beauty in its simplicity.

This B-body car was so ubiquitous in the 90s (you mostly saw them as police interceptors or taxi cabs) that they were easy to overlook.

1990 was the final year of the boxy Caprice.

I wanted an ‘86 like the one Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines drove in Running Scared. Like the Civic these cars are easy to customize.

9. Ford LTD Crown Victoria (1979-1991)

Ford LTD Crown Victoria

image source: Niche-Motors

I’ve been on a Matlock jag lately. As a kid, I ignored the series. Maybe I’m watching it now out of shame for overlooking it back then? I don’t know.

Another car that was used as a police interceptor for years is the Crown Vic. This particular model always felt inspired by the Caprice to me.

It wasn’t until this research that I found out there’s been a long simmering debate about the design of the two cars.

The Crown Victoria name was originally a high trim level on the full-size LTD sedan.

The LTD name was dropped in 1992 and the car became simply known as the Crown Vic.

It uses the Panther platform which is a stout but heavy body on frame construction with a solid rear axle.

While the styling of the Caprice is well executed, the LTD Crown Victoria doesn’t pull off the slab styling quite as successfully.

Ford was more resistant to the downsizing than GM which explains the compromised looks of the Vic. But hey, if it’s good enough for Matlock.

10. Mercedes-Benz 190e (1982-1993)

Mercedes-Benz 190E

image source: Pinterest

The baby Merc.

A white 1987 190e with red interior was almost my first car. It was sold by the same guy I bought the Volvo from.

The Mercedes 190e is backed by a competition pedigree and road credibility.

Along with all the motocross races it’s been a part of, it’s also been conquering in the world of DTM.

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The boxy shape is well proportioned with splendid symmetry.

And the lush interior exudes class and sophistication every bit as much as the bigger Benzes of the time.

Brock Yates of Car and Driver said, This wasn’t a new automobile so mush as a perfect seven-eighths-scale model of the acclaimed S-class cars, down to the three-pointed star on the hood.

11. Subaru XT Coupe (1985-1991)

Subaru XT Coupe

image source: Pinterest

Sci-fi and futuristic, it’s easy to forget just how important this car was to Subaru. Until this research, I certainly forgot about it.

My second-grade teacher-Ms. Butt-had one (she wasn’t crazy about her name). My dad also had a Subaru as well as his brother.

But not this one.

With a spaceship like exterior and jet fighter interior, the XT coupe stood in stark contrast to Subaru’s quirky styling and bargain basement pricing.

At the time, the company wasn’t yet known for performance. To compete with the likes of Nissan and Toyota, they came up with this unusual looking wedge-shaped car.

All those angular lines are indicative of 80’s automotive styling. They helped the XT achieve a drag coefficient of 0.29.

The design of the Cybrid steering wheel wasn’t just for show either. It telegraphed the technology behind the car.

But what let the car down was its 97-horsepower engine. Subaru tried to rectify things by offering a bigger V6 in the XT6 in 1988.

But it priced the car out of reach for the typical Subie driver.

12. Rolls Royce Corniche Convertible (1971-2002)

Rolls Royce Corniche

image source: Classic & Sports Car

Jonathan and Jennifer drove a dark green one on Hart to Hart. Every time I see one, I hear the Beverly Hills Teens theme song.

For me, there’s no car more quintessentially Rolls Royce than the Corniche convertible. These things were everywhere when I was a kid.

And no wonder, they were produced into the 21st century. Rolls Royce enjoys a certain stature in the automotive world.

Introduced in 1971, the Corniche was a two-door coupe with a front engine and rear-wheel drive.

It came as either a hard top or convertible. The design was inspired by the Silver Shadow, even sharing its unibody construction.

The boxy shape gives way to some swoopy lines. Comfort, lots of features and ease of driving take center stage with superior luxury.

The result of pure hand-built craftsmanship.

Source:

BMWblog.com; Motor1.com; Motortrend.com; Motortrend.com; Roadandtrack.com; Hagerty.com; Curbsideclassic.com; Hotcars.comClassicandsportscar.com