Top 10 Forgotten Sport Compacts

20 Апр 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Toyota Corolla FX Compact

Top 10 Forgotten Sport Compacts

As goes on, some cars are forgotten .  Others achieve a like permanent popularity cannot be explained in simple like outright performance or How else do you justify in the insane tag of the original (E30) M3, after If you look at it in plain terms, a 25-year-old German car with a temperamental engine that’s not that fast, exorbitant prices, a high probability of been beaten to death by previous owners, and an even probability of being beaten off a light by a modern V6 Mustang.


But that’s not the point: people the original M3 because of it’s of purpose.  It was built to win races, and the cars were built to it to race.  It’s an intensely experience, something you just get today.  That’s why prices to climb, to the point where you can buy two examples of its successor (the E36 M3) for the of a clean E30 M3.

But for every E30 M3, or Eclipse or Honda CRX Si, there are a handful sport compacts that disappeared.  You don’t see them, or about them, or probably remember them.  Why is that?  are we missing out on?  Take a through memory lane me as I explore this topic.

10. Isuzu Impulse RS

The Impulse was sports coupe, built in two The first version was an attractive door wedge, penned by and sold from 1985-1989.  It was based on the underpinnings of the Chevette, and had a little turbo single-cam the hood.  Cool car, all but now.  That is somewhat What isn’t is the second-generation

The 2G Impulse shared it’s with the Geo Storm(!) and the Lotus M100.  Which meant and a transverse-mounted 1.6L 16v I4.  in the micro-coupe segment back but nothing particularly amazing it.  However, for 1991 Isuzu imported a small of Impulse RS models – small as in 800 total.  Under the hood was a intercooled version of the 1.6L good for 160 horsepower and and 150lb-ft – was the same motor used in the as rare Lotus Elan However, the Isuzu had all wheel as well, which was unusual then.  With a 2,700lb weight and 160 horses, the 5-speed RS could pull off an impressive 7.0 0-60 with a 15.6 ET in the quarter mile.

Beyond the performance, there was the Lotus-tuned the droopy looking headlights, and of that unique offset duct for intake to the intercooler.  days, you never see Impulses at all – less RS’s.  If you’re here’s a comparison test a 1992 issue of Car Driver featured this unique

9. Mazda 323 GT-X

Everyone in the car realm is familiar with the – or the Mazda3 MPS if you live overseas.  a huge bargain of a hot hatch: similarly to the 200-horsepower VW GTI, but a walloping 263-horsepower punch 280 torque, courtesy of a boosted direct-injection mill.  It’s a tire-punishing monster of a hatch, disguised in a plain vanilla Great car.  But how about rally-bred ancestor?

The 323 GTX took the standard commuter-spec 323 and turned it up to eleven.  Under the was the 16v 1.6L B6T, boosted an IHI RB5 turbocharger and intercooler, which 132 horsepower.  Hooked to a five-speed ratio gearbox, the little 323 do the 0-60 run in under 8 seconds – a bit faster than competition at the such as the Golf GTI 16v.  The party trick was the AWD, the 323 GTX was born for dirt, with a center and rear differential for traction.

Today, pretty the only way to find a GTX is either friends in the SCCA Rally or scouring craigslist in the Northwest Mazda had planned to import GTX’s a year, but the total up being just under – 1,050 in 1988, and 150 in 1989.  of them at this point been thrashed to death or due to rust or mechanical issues.  very cool.

8)  Nissan

Today, the B13 Sentra SE-R has that cult-like popularity I was talking about earlier.  You see people loving and restoring ’91 base models, but take a to a local Japanese car show and probably see a clean, lowered, SE-R.  Some publications likened it to a modern Datsun 510 or BMW – high praise.  But what the SE-R’s funkier, stiffer, egg-shapier brother, the NX2000?  The

The NX line (NX1600 and NX2000 in the US) the unloved Pulsar in 1991, and our shores after 1993.  The was the commuter special – a fuel 1.6L from the normal The 2000 used the well SR20DE shared with the good for 140 horsepower and 130lb-ft with 7,000+ rpm to play There were improvements the SE-R, though: the NX2000 had brakes, a wider track the same wheelbase, lower wider wheels, and a double-row that helps to prevent the issues SE-R’s are known

Weight was about the same as the so straight-line performance was similar: under 8 seconds to sixty.  The appeal of the NX2000 lied in areas: it’s rarity, T-Tops, and the bizarre egg-shaped They aren’t seen on the with any regularity today, but are if you’re into autocross been beaten by one-  I

7. Audi Coupe Quattro

motorsports heritage today is and well-known.  They dominate racing like it isn’t a year after year, of rule changes, gas or diesel, or closed roof, or any errant However, before they 24hr endurance racing bitch, they were for domination in other motorsports – Rallying, that sort of And while the original Quattro is a legend, the car that replaced it is – they replaced the Quattro?

Well, it wasn’t exactly the But the Audi Coupe Quattro – on the Audi 90 sedan – was cool in own way.  The body styling of the brought Audi firmly the 90′s, with gentle and a graceful fastback shape.  some of the old coolness remained.  the hood was a naturally-aspirated 2.3L five cylinder, fitted a four-valve head for better and more RPM’s – almost according to Audi’s dyno The 20v was rated at 168 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of and your only transmission was a 5-speed manual.  It wasn’t all fast – although the company 8.1s to sixty, most got closer to 9.  But as an all-around car, good.  Plus, you know, howl.

The Coupe GT was unique- an capable sports coupe a characterful engine and a very interior.  Audi only them here in 1990 and and they’re an uncommon site Maybe if they had brought the turbocharged 20-valve S2 Coupe the engine and drivetrain from the UrS4/S6) they would’ve better – or been better

6. Suzuki Swift GTi

“Wait, looks like a Geo Metro.  Get the outta here.”  Fair The Suzuki Swift and the Geo Metro in effect, the same car.  was during the era where GM thought the way to fight the imports – was to just them.  A reasonable strategy at the I guess.  But while the Geo/Chevy always focused on maximum economy for minimum price, Suzuki sibling was allowed to let hair down a little Thus: the Swift GTI.

regular Metros got by with a 3-cylinder with 55 screaming (although those horses more like Shetland the GTI had a 1.3L twin-cam all aluminum cylinder, good for an even 100 mated to a close-ratio 5-speed Doesn’t seem like a lot of Well, the Swift GTI weighed in at pounds.  That’s lighter a federal-spec Elise.  Further to the mighty mite’s appeal things not seen on compacts at the – four wheel independent (McPherson struts up front, arms in back) and four disc brakes.  With so mass and tightly packed the GTi could do the 0-60 run in the mid 8-second which was legitimately about as long as a 3-cylinder took, and led to a lot of disappointment for V6 Camaro drivers in the day.  Fuel economy greatly, but that’s all relative: it delivered 32mpg highway!

The which was rebadged the GT for 1990-1994 – was high on value, with an base price of $8,995.  sales and a high propensity of the crap beaten out of them Swift GTi’s are hardly seen today.  Suzuki makes a successor – the Swift – but they don’t sell it Shame, that.

5. Toyota FX-16

Quick, what’s the from the 80′s that has the 4A-GE engine that like crazy?  If you said MR2 and Trueno/Sprinter/Corolla, then you got two out of three.  You everyone else) forgot the FX-16.

Today, the AE86 Corolla is mostly because of Initial D and the of drifting – fastback styling, wheel drive, light and it’s a great car to take on local touge.   But the AE86 was part of the E80 Corolla family – was the transition point for the Corolla RWD to FWD.  The AE85 (SR-5, and AE86 (GT-S, 16-valve) RWD, while the rest of generation was FWD – including the AE82, was the basis for the 3-door FX-16 Convoluted name, yes.  But transversely up front was the Yamaha-designed 16-valve motor, good for 108 in federalized emissions spec.  engine and transaxle was later rearward to create the MR2 sports

The FX-16 was assembled at the GM/Toyota joint venture plant in – which made it the first produced American car with a valve head, if I’m doing my right.  The 4A-GE would rev out to rpm and had a frenetic dual personality to flaps in the intake runner opened at higher RPM, and only 2,300lbs of car to move it was reasonably quick for it’s There was also an uplevel trim, which included suspension, more amenities, and changes.  Today, you hear the AE86 constantly – but usually you hear about the FX16 one wins a LeMons race.

4. Ion Redline

Once upon a when GM’s misunderstood brand existed, they a sport compact car.  And it was a good one, if you’d it – perhaps something of a “polished but polished nonetheless.  The Ion Redline was the twin to the original Cobalt SS, all the turbocharging and Evo X lap-time beating and baiting.  The Cobalt SS still has a rabid following here, to it’s ratio of performance and to the dollar.  The Ion is largely forgotten, because it’s… a Saturn which was a fairly terrible car in form.

Really, there much to like about the Sure, it had a roof that rain off your head, an to move you, wheels to you off the ground.  The plastic body created an ultra-bland slug of a with less style a Frigidaire.  The interior seemed to been sourced from the Happy Meal Toy parts and the center-mounted instrument stack was effective at annoying anyone who it.  Early models be ordered with a Continuously Transmission that was good at two converting gasoline into without the byproduct of acceleration, and up shortly after the warranty If you were to look up “half-assed GM you’d see the Ion.

The Redline was a story, though.  Under the was the LSJ – a highly modified version of ubiquitous Ecotec engine.  The was reduced from 94.6 to to create a “square” 86x86mm yielding 2.0L displacement.  The assembly was strengthened, and an Eaton M62 with an integrated air-to-water core was added.  The transmission was out for one from a turbo Saab idea?), and the net result was 205bhp and of torque.  Because it uses a blower, power delivery is linear – and the potential for modifications are Hot Rod Magazine got an LSJ to dyno out at 372whp and using a Magnuson TVS 1900 (the smaller brother to the one on the ZR1), Comp Cams, injectors, and a header and exhaust.  Not big of a budget?  Using an Eaton M90 same blower used on of 3.8L V6 Buicks/Oldsmobiles/Pontiacs) still peak power in the 330′s.  to go fast for cheap?  This is a place to start.

The engine wasn’t the whole though – the Redline had retuned (stiffer and lower springs, bushings, thicker sway retuned dampers), Recaro upgraded 4-wheel disc and a somewhat obnoxious bodykit.  The Package added a “ladder on the steering column (a string of LED that told you when to a limited-slip differential, and fog lights.  The was about the same as the Cobalt SS – though the Saturn was slightly and had more rear room, as as reverse-hinged rear doors to access, the plastic body kept weight roughly meaning a 6.0s 0-60 and quarter mile times.  But just as now, no-one Saturn with performance.  were always slower it’s Cobalt twin, and an Ion redline is a rare site.  with the Sky, it’s the only reason to miss the

Toyota Corolla FX Compact

3. Ford SVT Contour

“America’s was how the press described it.  A family sedan from blessed with a SVT-fettled and suspension, with a hint of Snob in the form of it’s underpinnings.  Why the hell isn’t the SVT a collector’s car at this point?  me.

It’s not even a case of a silk purse out of a sow’s The basic Contour/Mondeo was loved by the for the stuff that matters – composure, steering response, and in V6 form – power.  US consumers bit for a simple reason – too small, too money, why wouldn’t I just buy a As the Twitter crowd says,   Even  your standard 4 cylinder auto base Contour was more fun to drive a gussied up Camry.  The SVT though, was the business.

The 2.5L Duratec 24v V6 a fairly thorough revamp.  Up the cams gained more and the upper and lower intake were ported for better Compression was raised .3 points to and the larger throttle body the 3.0L Duratec was fitted.  fuel injectors, a retuned and other minor tweaks power from 170 to 195, and 200.  Redline was increase to as well.  The clutch was upgraded and the lightened, and cooling systems upgraded with a larger and the addition of an oil cooler too.

The brakes were converted to and every component of the suspension was as well.  Inside, leather seats and white-faced gauges set the SVT and the hot Contour had a very subtle kit to differentiate it from the regular The SVT model was around for three (98-2000) and only about were made.  These it’s a rare site – succumbed to a design flaw poor baffling in the crank which lead to oil starvation, were wrecked, and some treated like a normal driven hard until major went wrong, and to the junk yard.  Which is a

2. Dodge Shelby CSX-VNT

what was the first production car with a variable geometry Porsche 997 Turbo?  Nissan or another?  Nope!  It was the one the last Dodge performance cars in the

These days, the Turbo from the 80′s fall two camps.  Camp one is in the junkyard .  two is stripped out with a huge roaring down the drag But back in the day, Turbo were one of the cheapest ways to go before the head gasket and it went to the junk yard.  The was the culmination of ol’ Carroll’s quest to every friggin’ FWD Dodge in the and it was pretty neat.

The CSX stood for Shelby Experimental – and fellow will recognize it as the prefix for Cobra chassis, as well – and the VNT for Variable Nozzle Turbocharger.  The CSX was a Dodge Shadow, a somewhat 3-door hatchback that was a of the K-car platform.  Under the was the single-cam Dodge 2.2L engine, with a variable-geometry turbocharger and air-to-air intercooler.  the VNT engine produced the same as the Turbo II (174bhp), torque was up 25 lb-ft to 225.  The vanes in the would close down at RPM to lower flow but increase to promote spooling, and open at rpm to increase flow rate – the thing the turbos in your neighbor’s 997 Turbo do.  gave the CSX-VNT more flexibility than the regular Mated to a Getrag A555 the CSX-VNT was good for a 7-second and mid 15′s in the quarter.  The big change was flexibility.  Car Driver tested a CSX and a VNT, and while the standing acceleration numbers were the same, the 30-50 and 50-70 (in fifth) were vastly The regular turbo took 15 and 12 for and the VNT did them in 11.7 and 8.5 – meaning a highway roll, the VNT would on some seriously more car.

Other interesting Besides this being the Shelby-badged Dodge, the VNT was also the production car with composite The body kit is probably the most one Kaminari ever made.  And a total production run of 500 units, the of seeing one is between slim and Probably because they’re all in yards.

1. Mitsubishi Starion/ Conquest

Today, there’s a cult following for the Supra, and RX-7.  Did I say minor?  I meant bordering on alarming.   Clean Turbos fetch well the $20,000 dollar range the 300ZX is widely considered a of sports car design, and the RX7 can be found around your local track or drift circuit, with a Corvette engine hood.

That was the 90′s.  Back in the it was Supra, RX7, 280ZX, Starion.  The other RWD Japanese sports car.  Mitsubishi’s to the 3000GT and Eclipse, the Starion was a bit weird.  The body shape to be a Japanese interpretation of the Porsche 924 later the 944, when the gained box-flared fenders.)  of the Z’s and Supra’s smooth sixes was a four cylinder – a 2.6L single-cammer with a turbo.  were a few more weird The Starion was one of the earliest adopters of shafts to quell vibrations Mitsubishi created the technology.)  All in the US had 3 valves per cylinder, and two throttle-body There was ABS, but only on the wheels.

Early models had sides and no intercoolers; later gained the box flares and an intercooler to power from 143 to 177bhp.  The got a constant stream of improvements it’s life cycle, It was also sold as the Dodge and Conquest from 84-86, and as the Conquest from 87-89 – a import, the Chrysler badged had no actual differences.  The Starion/Conquest strong performers by the standard of the considerably more powerful the Supra and RX-7 when it came out – but by the late 80′s were feeling old fashioned, competition going to smoother sixes, and domestic muscle producing enough power to people care with like the Camaro IROC-Z and HO Mustang.

Go to a car show today, and are you’ll see a bunch of Supras, and Z-Cars – but good look a Starion anywhere.  Which the spotting that inspired article all the more strange.

A mint late-model Conquest in a local Chinese food lot.  Not a dent or scratch leather interior with looking more 80′s a Hall Oates video – cool.

This article was focused on US-market vehicles: I’m than Europe has scads What do you think I missed?  us a comment in the box below!

If you’re a you may notice a lot of these images are old issues of the now defunct Sport Car, including the Saturn and That’s because SCC was on point, and is on my sh*t list till the end of for killing it.  If you miss it I do, check out MotoIQ – where a lot of SCC writers and editors have a new home.

Toyota Corolla FX Compact

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