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Everything old is new again. And every year, the line dividing “modern” and “retro” slides up a little. I’ll admit, I tend to think of new takes on 1950s and 1960s classics as the current retro-modern. Think the Fiat 500, new Beetle, Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Challenger (which I guess came out in 1970). But this isn’t true anymore. Ready to feel old?

Maybe you should sit down for this revelation: the design of the “retro” Ford Mustang–often considered the moment the 196-s retro-modern movement took off–was over 20 years ago. Yup, Ford rolled out the concept at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show.

It breaks my heart to see that era’s Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro go the way of the dodo. But to be honest, they are all getting a bit long in the tooth. So what will replace them? The next retro-modern wave, of course: the 1980s.

Tesla Cybertruck | Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The 1980s are making a comeback. We have media such as the Stranger Things, The Wolf of Wall Street, House of Gucci, Narcos, Halt and Catch Fire, GLOW, and Wet Hot American Summer. Alongside these films and TV shows 1980s fashion and music is also making a comeback. And of course, they all also feature 1980s cars.

For some time now, younger car collectors have been adopting 1980s cars. The 1980s and 1990s even have their own themed series of car shows: RADwood. And it looks like automakers are starting to catch on.

The most blatantly 1980s-inspired cars you’ll see on the road today are Toyota’s retro Land Cruiser and Hyundai’s hatchback EV, the Ioniq 5. This week, EV startup Rivian revealed its upcoming vehicles. The R3X will be a 1980s-fabulous Lada Niva lookalike AWD SUV. The Tesla Cybertruck is even born of a sort of dystopian SciFi vision that peaked in the 1980s.

2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric SUV posed in front of a grassy hill.
2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 | Hyundai

Hyundai released the Ioniq 5 in 2021. This EV has the proportions of a mid-to-small crossover, but it is low to the ground to add range. You can think of it like a chunky, 1980s station wagon. Not only does it have a sloped rear window and a series of 1980s design cues, but Hyundai leaned in to the 1980s arcade feel. Lights such as the charging indicator are large and square to give the car a “pixelated” feel.

Toyota downsized its Land Cruiser for the 2024 model year. So instead of sharing a chassis with the full-size Tundray/Sequoia, it shares one with the Tacoma/4Runner. Its retro styling is reminiscent of the J60 (1980s) Land Cruiser. In fact, the only major style change in that generation was the 1988 switch to square headlights. And Toyota is selling its new Land Cruiser with your choice of either front end: round or square.

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser driving through the desert
2024 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

The R3X will be Rivian’s sporty, special edition of its new R3 crossover platform. The platform is already smaller than the company’s current R1 products. But the R3X is even smaller and boasts even better performance. One thing that makes this crossover smaller is its sloped rear window (similar to the Ioniq5). While this was a popular 1980s look, it reminds me of Lada’s compact 4×4, the Niva. Among 1980s cars, this quirky Russian one has a certain cult following.

The Cybertruck is the most “loosely” 1980s vehicle of everything on my list. But the “cyberpunk” look of dystopian SciFi was hugely popular in the 1980s. Think of movies such as Bladerunner, Robocop, and Total Recall. This style certainly contributed to one of that decade’s most futuristic cars: the DeLorean. And it inspired the Tesla Cybertruck. It’s not so much that the Cybertruck is a retro-modern 1980s vehicle. Its more that it is the 1980s vision of what 2024 would look like. But while Tesla is trying to reimagine the future, other automakers are circling back to the 1980s for the latest generation of retro-modern vehicles.

Next, learn why I personally love 1980s classic cars, or see the Rivian R3X for yourself in the video below: