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Old 09-24-2017, 08:24 PM
 
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Beginning around the mid 80s virtually all compact cars had a sport model. By today’s standards they were slow. But in the time they were quick, light weight, affordable, and fun to thrash around. Most popular and well know include the VW GTI & Civic Si. Others include the Cavalier Z24 with a V6, Sunbird & Skyhawk with turbo 4, Escort GT, Jetta GLI, Sentra SE-R, Corolla GTS, and several others.

Did any of you have an opportunity to own or drive any of these models when new or nearly new? I’ve been looking online but I can’t seem to find a magazine comparison test of these sport compacts in that era, especially the 80s. I did own two of these cars but not in the sport model, 1984 Buick Skyhawk coupe with 2.0L OHV & 4 speed manual and a 1993 Chevy Cavalier coupe with 2.2L OHV & 5 speed manual. They weren’t fast in acceleration but they were fun to drive fast. The rear suspension was a twist beam but it was thrilling to push it in the corners to the point of the rear starting to break loose. A quick downshift and hit the gas got you out the corners. Took the Cavalier in The Tennessee mountains on state highways with lots of twist and bends. Couldn’t drive fast but it was still a blast. That Skyhawk didn’t even have power steering and it felt connected to the road. Sure I had to use extra force to turn like in parking lots, but on the road it was the perfect level of resistance to feel the tires and road. Still have a soft spot for the compacts but they’ve grown in size, weight, and yet they feel less connected to the driver and the road through the feeling of the steering wheel and pedals. I know their base models are far faster than most of those past sport models but the feedback just isn’t there.
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:40 PM
 
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Not mine, but drove it a few times when a buddy owned one: 88 Turbo Sunbird. If you spooled it up at the light that car would straight move out. Just driving it around it was a lag monster though. It was exactly like a normal Sunbird until probably 15mph, then it was just gone. Pretty fun little car and was a bit of a highway bruiser too.

Also not mine, but another buddy had a I think a 96 Eclipse GST 5 speed. That car was a MOUNTAIN of fun and was properly fast. No doubt in my mind it would have wasted the LT1 Z28 automatic that he traded in on it. Obviously, the DSM reputation carries itself.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Wichita Falls Texas
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I owned a 89 Escort GT from April to August of 92. Had 24,000 miles on it when I bought it from the Chrysler dealer here for $5495. Compared to my 6 cylinder Mavericks it was quick and got good fuel mileage, I averaged around 26 to 32 with hard driving. But it was no Mustang GT! And the cooling system was a bit inadequate for idling in Texas heat with the AC on. Waiting in the bank drive thru on Fridays to deposit my check, after 20 or 25 minutes the heat gauge was all the way to red, so off with the AC for about 10 minutes for it to cool back off. I missed not having an engine driven fan! I had zero issues with it other than that. It was fun to toss around. Great highway car. I traded it in on the last new vehicle I have bought to date, a 92 Ranger XLT Extended Cab truck with the 3.0/5-speed combo. Since I still owed on the Escort, I have no idea what kind of trade in I actually got. You absolutely cannot find the Escort's anymore, at least not around here. Even the 91 up Mazda built ones are non existant.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:20 PM
 
377 posts, read 403,503 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stilldriveem View Post
Even the 91 up Mazda built ones are non existant.
Don't let the 3 I own hear you... They'll start thinking they're special (and I joked about putting a "historic" plate on my wagon just to troll in 3 more years). 93 is about a day away from the scrap yard, 95 Pony is a good little car with about 100k right, 95 Wagon has 72k on the clock. Respective prices paid, $600, $1200, $2000. They're great little cars, but nice ones ARE hard to find.

I'm also, not very seriously, contemplating finding a rusty GT to donate its soul to my wagon... The extra 40hp would be nice.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:29 PM
 
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The later year Sentra SE-Rs were the last Nissans I craved.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Riverside Ca
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I drove
Escort GT
GEO metro
Honda Civic, CRX,Accord
Acura Legend
Chevy S10, SUV and pick up
Toyota SR5
Camaro Z28 and RS
Mazda Protoge
Ford Probe
Mustang GT and LX
Ford Ranger
Nissan Sentra
Oldsmobile 88
Oldsmobile Calais
Pontiac Trans Am
GMC Syclone
GMC Sierra
GMC Jimmy S10
Ford F-250 diesel


All new or around 6-8 years old. Depending on when you start counting. 86-95 year ranges. Some were mine some friends or friends parents. Most of the cars were great. Comfortable plenty of power. Others were just absolute crap falling apart from the factory. Some were carbureted some were fuel injected.
As time went on the import cars were by a large margin just better built than domestics
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:46 PM
 
377 posts, read 403,503 times
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One of these things is not like the others...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrician4you View Post
GMC Syclone
The '90s "Godzilla"... What awesome trucks those things were. I always wanted a Typhoon...
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:12 PM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
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I drove a friends Pontiac Sunbird with the standard 4cyl engine it couldn't get out of its own way and it fell apart on him. I Had a 90's version of the Grand am as a long-term rental for about a month or so with a 6cyl that was a much nicer car.
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Old 09-25-2017, 04:38 AM
 
Location: Riverside Ca
22,155 posts, read 28,914,811 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_is_here View Post
One of these things is not like the others...



The '90s "Godzilla"... What awesome trucks those things were. I always wanted a Typhoon...

Sure it was. It was just hmmmm.....a little faster. I remember the day I bought it. Dealer had about eight of them. All on special because he wanted them gone. They were all the same so it was basically a pick one. Traded my Mustang GT. Most people were clueless as to what it was. Surprised plenty of yuppie drivers back then. Some jerks stole it and stripped it. Back then I thought it was gonna be a ongoing production. No idea it was going to be a limited run. What I should of bought was a Grand National or a 25th anniversary turbo T/A.
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:17 AM
 
2,269 posts, read 1,595,342 times
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Of those and during that time period, I had an '86 VW Jetta GL (pretty sure it was just the GL, not the GLI) and an '89 VW Jetta Carat, both bought used.

Solid cars, very comfortable ride and decent handling. Certainly not known for top end or acceleration, but did as well as other cars on the road outside of the CRXs and other smaller sports coupes, I think.

Both were easy to work on as well, though the Carat had the digifant engine management system that made it particularly touchy. I recall it seemed like even a spec of buildup on the contacts in the distributor cap or on the rotor would cause it to run rough. Nearly always a simple cleaning job, but much more touchy than the other cars I have had before or since (a Pontiac, VWs, Hondas, Toyotas, a Mazda, and more).

The '86 GL was still in great shape at 106k miles on it when totaled in '92. The '89 Carat was nearing or just over 200k when I sold it to a high school kid in '01 or '02 and still on the road a couple of years later.
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