Some may well think 1980s style - with those boxy shoulder pads, electropop tunes and mullet haircuts - would be best parked in the past.

But a new generation of motorists with money to spare and a yearning to turn the clock back to simpler times are being credited for a surge in demand for the very cars their parents couldn’t wait to be shot of.

A growing nostalgia for late 20th century motors of the 1980s and 1990s – particularly Ford Escorts - is said to be fuelling demand for ageing models, sparking a mini boom among car restoration and classic car businesses in Scotland.

The surge in interest for ‘bangers’, with their chunky lines and lack of power steering, Bluetooth or airbags, is also being linked to a rush to preserve the era’s combustion engine vehicles in the face of mounting pressure on motorists to switch to greener choices.

HeraldScotland: Ford Escort has been lovingly restored. Photo credit Car Cave Scotland.Ford Escort has been lovingly restored. Photo credit Car Cave Scotland. (Image: Car Cave Scotland)

It’s also reckoned to be partly down to a kickback against modern ‘lookalike’ cars with their high-tech features designed to take the stress out of motoring, but which enthusiasts say has made driving a less thrilling experience.

Rising demand has meant prices for 30- and 40-year-old cars such as Mk2 Ford Escorts, Talbot Sunbeams, Renault 5s and Peugeot 205s - particularly if they are limited edition or higher spec ‘hot hatch’ models – are hitting the roof.

According to the owner of an East Kilbride-based car restoration business – which is expanding due to soaring demand for its services – some enthusiasts are happily spending tens of thousands of pounds reviving late 20th century motors in order to drive them for just a few thousand miles a year, not unlike collectors of more traditional vintage cars might use their prized motors.

“We are getting a lot more 1980s and 90s cars in for restoration work,” says David Mutch, owner of Clydesdale Classic Cars.

“These are being bought up by people who are now in their 40s, who have disposable income and feel nostalgic for that time.

“The most common thing I hear is that it’s the car that their parents drove.”

In some cases, he adds, motorists are swapping their modern cars in favour of ‘greener’ modes of day-to-day transport and keeping their restored Eighties and Nineties classic car for a weekend treat.

“One current customer is having his car restored and plans to use it simply for pleasure and will use his bike to get around for the rest of the time,” he adds.

“Quite often we find customers are planning to only take their cars out now and again and drive maybe two or three thousand miles a year and use public transport for the rest of the time.”

HeraldScotland: Looking the part - a 1983 Ford Capri 2.8 Injection. Photo credit Car Cave ScotlandLooking the part - a 1983 Ford Capri 2.8 Injection. Photo credit Car Cave Scotland (Image: Car Cave Scotland)

Demand for the 80s and 90s vehicles has pushed prices to levels that might make their original owners’ eyes water: a basic 1990 Renault 5 Campus, for example, is currently being sold on eBay for more than £4000.

The same online auction site lists a sportier 1989 Peugeot 205 1.9 Hatchback for almost £16,000.

At Car Cave Scotland in Bonnyrigg near Edinburgh, which specialises in Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Escorts, the number of cars sold per month has leapt from around 12 prior to the pandemic to closer to 20 now.

It is currently selling a restoration project W-reg Mk2 Ford Escort Estate – with “scruffy” interior, faded patchwork paintwork and its differential lying on what remains of the front seats, for £3750.

While a gleaming 1980 V-reg restored Ford Escort MK2 RS2000 with 90,000 miles on the clock is on sale for just short of £28,000.

Alan Potts, owner of Car Cave Scotland said: “A lot of people were bored during the pandemic: some people bought motor homes and caravans and others bought a car to work on.

"It’s a bit of nostalgia – everyone wants to go back to what they or their parents had when they were young.

“They might have had a basic model when they were young and couldn’t afford the top model in the range, but they can now.

“We also get a few younger people who are buying cars because it’s what their parents drove.”

Buyers are also looking for models which stand out in the supermarket car park, he adds.

“Cars today seem to come in just three colours – black, silver and pale grey – and everyone seems to be driving a mini SUV type car.

“It’s all a bit ‘samey’.”

The rise of the ‘modern’ classic car has been put in the spotlight by programmes like Richard Hammond’s Workshop which follows the former Top Gear presenter’s efforts to establish his own garage specialising in restoring cars.

One of the first cars the garage worked on was a 1979 Escort RS2000 Mk2 Rallye Sport model, which fetched just over £43,000 when it was sold at auction last September.

While Bangers and Cash, on the Yesterday channel, traces the restoration of a car from its sale to being re-auctioned. The latest series, Bangers & Cash: Restoring Classics, has focused on a 1980s Vauxhall Astra GTE, and early 80s classic Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.

Its high spec meant it was priced at around £7,000 new, however, a similar model today costs around £25,000.

Among the most ‘in demand’ 1980s model is a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth: one low mileage 1988 ‘barn find’ which had lain in the owner’s garage for 30 years, recently sold at auction for £80,000.

Soaring interest in cars from the late 20th century comes as the clock ticks loudly for future of the combustion engine: Ford recently confirmed the hugely popular Ford Fiesta is to be discontinued, sparking renewed nostalgia for the hatchback.

Owners of older Fiesta models might want to think twice about scrapping them: Peugeot stopped making their Peugeot 205 models in 1999, however old versions have been creeping up in price in recent years, with a restored 205 GTi model from the late 1980s selling for £17,000 on online marketplace, Autotrader, and a basic 1990s 1.6 version hitting nearly £5000.

Although retro-fitting classic cars to run on electric batteries is an expensive option, David says most buyers are seeking a classic combustion engine experience.

“Anyone who loves old cars loves the noise of the engine, the smell of the fuel – they’re petrol heads, not electric heads,” he says.

It’s also argued that reviving 1980s and 1990s models may be a ‘greener’ option than the environmental costs of constructing a new car.

“We are recycling more than people think – we will use what we have rather than buy new parts if we can, and we recycle tools and equipment that would otherwise be scrapped,” adds David.

Although a professional restoration can cost tens of thousands of pounds, some enthusiasts are also looking to revive the rapidly disappearing art of tinkering with car in the driveway.

“Modern cars are so complicated that the average DIY mechanic can’t really do much with them,” adds Alan. “But with older cars, the average guy with a bit of knowledge could fix his own car.”

Motoring in the Eighties and Nineties, however, is not for those too used to modern comforts.

“You definitely know when you’re driving one of these older cars, they drive like a 50-year-old car,” he says.

“Drivers are used to the modern stuff like power steering, with these cars you find yourself wrestling with the wheel.”