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Cars aren't the only cool vehicles from the 1980s [Video]

by Drew Johnson

Cars from the 1980s have been getting a lot of love lately, but what about other vehicles from the era?

Cars from the 1970s weren't great. In fact, they were terrible. But by the 1980s auto manufacturers had begun to figure out how to live in a post-emissions world, so V8s no longer had horsepower figures on par with a riding lawnmower. And as a bonus, car makers also started to unlock the secret of making vehicles handle and stop properly.

But even though cars from the 1980s managed to pull themselves out of the sewage that was the 1970s, they could never quite cleanse themselves of the lingering stench from the preceding decade. That's because the 1980s was only the starting point for "good” cars. As we progressed through the 1990s and 2000s, we were spoiled with ever-increasing performance, and those big leaps forward in the 1980s didn't seem so big in retrospect.

But now that we live in a time where every car kind of looks the same and the driving experience is as digital as a game of Pole Position, we now look back at the cars from the 1980s with rose colored glasses. Cars from that era were unique and cool, and now they're very much in vogue. 1980s cars like the Camaro and Mustang, and even SUVs like the Blazer and Land Cruiser, are finally getting their day in the sun. And that got me thinking: Are there any other vehicles from the 1980s that are suddenly good again?

Since I was on vacation last week, I decided to take a closer look at a boat from the 1980s. More specifically, a 1980 Silverline Nantucket.

Right off the bat you can tell that car makers and boat makers shared the same color palette in the 1980s. Just like so many 1980s cars, the 1980 Silverline has a very unique color scheme. The outside is blue, and so is pretty much everything in the interior. But at least it's not neon pink.

The 1980s marked the beginning of the electronics boom, but there apparently wasn't much tech to speak of in the early part of the decade. The 1980 Silverline Nantucket's features list is limited to an eight-track player and a compass. And not a digital compass — the kind of old school globe that Christopher Columbus probably used.

But that lack of gizmos is part of the 1980s appeal. The 1980s were just a simpler time for boats and cars alike. There wasn't a myriad of electric nannies getting in the way of the driving fun. The steering was real and the exhaust note wasn't simulated, and we were better for it.

As I mentioned earlier, performance started a steady march forward in the 1980s, and that rising tide lifted, well, this boat. The Nantucket's Mercury outboard is rated at 115 horsepower, which admittedly doesn't sound like a lot, but since the EPA hadn't yet cracked down on watercraft, it's a two-stroke. That means performance for the Silverline is quite strong, with a top speed approaching 50mph — that's fast for a modern boat.

But the exterior styling of the Silverline Nantucket is a little disappointing by the decade's standards. Cars from the 1980s were wildly styled with bold shapes and wings and vents, but the Silverline doesn't have any of that. In fact, it's quite plain looking. But I guess a set of glued-on louvers would fix that.

Cars from the 1980s are finally getting their due respect, and rightfully so. And the 1980 Silverline Nantucket shows that perhaps other vehicles from the era should be getting a little more love, too.

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