By on June 19, 2017

Mazda In Abandoned Dealership in Switzerland

Imagine for a second you’re living in Canada in the mid-‘80s. The Edmonton Oilers have brought the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1979, and it’ll stay in the Great White North until the next decade. A broad-chinned lawyer was just given a landslide victory to lead the country and the Tunagate scandal meant one could no longer enjoy tasty canned fish for supper.

That Detroit barge in the driveway is looking a bit haggard now, especially with the copious amounts of salt being dumped on the road every winter. Sure, we’re in the go-go ‘80s, but who wants to blow all that dough they’re charging for Hondas and Toyotas? A couple of new dealerships have set up shop in town, filled with cheap Eastern Bloc and Korean cars. But which one will you choose?

screen-shot-2017-06-19-at-1-30-28-am

For half a dozen years in Canada (nearly the length of one average winter), Skoda foisted its wares upon the public. That’s right, above the 49th parallel, one could buy a new Skoda 120/130 fitted with a rear-mounted water-cooled engine and a sideways-opening front trunk. Displacing 1.3 liters, the four-door sedan used 55 Cold War horsepower to motivate its sub-2000-pound weight. Acceleration was not death-defying but surviving a front-on collision would be, as there was nothing but an empty trunk and a few pounds of Czechoslovakian metal to keep that roadside moose out of the passenger compartment.

Lada Samara

To the Lada dealership then, where the Ruskies were peddling a 75 hp 1.5-liter Samara. Brittle interior plastics and t-square styling might send some customers scurrying, but real Canadians knew – from experience with that Niva across the showroom – that the mechanical bits were relatively solid. Available initially as either a 3- or 5-door hatch, this front-driver was advertised at $4,995 (about $9,600 in 2017 dollars). фантастика!

Hyundai Pony

What about that funny little new dealership across the road? Hun … Hon … what? Hyundai? Well, let’s see what they’ve got. This rear-drive, 5-door Pony looks like a good fit. A 1.4-liter Mitsubishi-derived engine makes about 70 hp and is priced a few hundred dollars more than the Eastern Bloc machines. Fitted with windows and doors and not much else, its switch blanks are labelled, so you know what features you don’t have, ya cheapskate hoser. It’s at least a cheap way to roll in new wheels with a warranty. Plus, you’ll get to learn how to use a manual choke.

So what’s your choice? Will you write a cheque for a rear-engined Czech? Plop down some rubles on the Samara? Or saddle up with a Korean Pony?

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59 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Pick at the Cheap ’80s Metal Buffet?...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    A small Japanese made pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      I dont think Aust. has too much affection for the 80s Jap utes unlike the Americans.

      Also the Jap ute culture in Australia has already corrupted the lot into that slammed utes sprayed candy apple on big wheels schtick.

      I think if I were to indulge my inordinate love of 1980s Australiana it would be something like a VK VL sedan tricked out with a RB26/30 or more realistically LS1 6 spd manual. I do like the VK Brock aesthetic and they should be serviceable with many units still at the wreckers.

      I do also like the sizing of cars of that day… 3,300lb sedan where you could *just* fit three passengers abreast in the back.

      I also find them to a curio on our roads. They’re all just about gone and they do hit the nostalgia buttons.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Tony,
        An A9X would be a nice vehicle from the early 80s, but it was a pony car and expensive compared to what is in this article. I’m not a fan of the 80s Commodore VC to VL.

        The best Commodore was an 86 VL with the Nissan turbo RB30 fitted.

        In 86 Australia went to unleaded and GM did not have a decent 6 to use in the Commodore. The OHC sequential injected Nissan 6 Commodore would of been GMs best or possibly most advanced family hack.

        But for a cheapass form of transport, I’d buy a 720 pickup with a 6′ by 8′ tray.

        Australia had lots of Japanese utes in the 70s and 80s. Not so many modified. In the mid 80s dual/crew, 4×4 and diesel started making inroads.

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          Toranas are more 70s and really… the 1970s was a much more important period of history for Australia… for everyone globally, speaking about automobiles.

          I dont dream of Toranas or Ford Falcon XB coupes because these are six figure propositions.

          For that period from 1980 to 1989 it really is very very slim pickings.

          MAYBE a 1st edition MX5 Miata if you’re into that malarkey.

          MAYBE an Alfa 164 if you’re in self masochism the Italian way (dont do this).

          MAYBE a Mercedes W124 for a bit less German sado maschism.

          MAYBE a Nissan Skyline R31 if they havent all been commandeered by the Japanese car lovers… of which there are many.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      How ’bout a little from column A, a little from column B?

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Hyundaiponypickup.jpg

      I’m pretty sure Canada only ever got the five-doors, but I could be wrong. The US never got the Pony at all, at least officially; the first-generation Excel was our introduction to Hyundai.

      If I’d be throwing more than a few hundred pounds in it regularly, though, then of course a Mazda B-series or Mitsubishi Mighty Max (L200/Ram 50/Arrow) would be a much better bet. (Or a Toyota or Datsun, if you could actually find a deal.) Of course, those still rusted out in five or so years in eastern Canada.

  • avatar
    mason

    86 VW Golf-Strom diesel/5 speed. It’s anemic 52 hp ensures all drivetrain components easily eclipse 200k miles.
    Or at the opposite end of the spectrum an 86 RC 360/4speed.
    I’ll take both, again.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Honestly, probably the Hyundai. Mitsu mechanicals (including a solid rear axle) couldn’t be simpler. The Samaras are fun cars in their own way (designed with help from Porsche dontcha know), but they’re a big enough hassle to keep in good shape in the Motherland where parts are everywhere and cheap (think GM J-body of Russia). In Canada where I’d guess most parts would come by way of the dealer? No thanks.

    A scene from a early 90s Russian action movie where the hero moonlights as a car-runner. Back then the Samara was the sh*t in Russia (just check out the aftermarket stereo in the dash!)
    youtu.be/NeqdUN_-vnA?t=648

  • avatar
    Joss

    Still take me 85 Chevette over a Pony. The Tercel was the best small car pick.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    K-Car all the way, preferably a Plymouth Reliant.

    Or, if I had more money, a Ford Fairmont.

    3rd world tin? No way, Jose’. Japanese? Maybe a Toyota pickup, but not ready for a Japanese car yet.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’d rather have a Daihatsu Rocky 4×4.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Daihatsu never made it to Canada.

      I knew various people who owned all the cars mentioned, and by far the Pony was the favourite. Very basic car, but decent value for the price. The Skoda was by far the worst, with the engine and drive wheels in the rear, the ability to steer the thing on a snowy winter road was questionable, and could make for terrifying drives. The Russian model had its advocates, but seemed plagued by continual problems – small and major.

      How did you overlook the Dacia models sold in Canada? Now those where cars that were just utter rubbish.

      By far the best deal was the top picture – Mazda GLC! For about $6500 you got unstoppable Japanese reliability. Of course it was very basic – with the cheapest model not even having arm rests on the door – only handles to pull it shut.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    How much had the ’83 CRX depreciated by this imaginary year? For the same expected longevity and maintenance cost / hassle the answer was …. ’72 280Z? OK, no. but however much Civic the same $ could buy used was the deal then. Not an early Hyundai or some Soviet technological tour de force.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You forget, the Canadian Tin Worm {swisscheesicus ironium} just adored early 80’s Japanese vehicles. That CRX was probably already bubbling healthily, and the Z was already a fridge.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Kijiji.ca *still* shows many CRX for sale. I believe a 5 year old CRX had more life left than any of these new heaps. I’m not sure a 5 year old CRX was as inexpensive though; my google-fu isn’t strong enough to figure out used car prices from the late ’80s.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Back in the 80s, my dad was getting tired of the reliability of GM. The Oldsmobile diesel in his 98 was the last straw. When looking for a pick up truck, he bought a Nissan truck. Two years later, a Nissan Stanza was his daily driver. Both were – for the time – very good vehicles. The seats and interior quality of the Stanza was light years ahead of anyting else I had been in before. Now both vehicles would seem hideously underpowered but back then, they were okay – the truck with it’s “big” 2.4L engine seemed quite fast to my teenage senses. (insert laugh track)

    I’m still on the lookout for a ’84ish Nissan truck but they’re all pretty much gone (salt!) since they weren’t very corrosion resistant.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      A friend’s parents in the 80’s went from the original accord to a Nissan stanza to save some money. Wow where they disappointed. The Stanza had lots of power and room and even reliability, but absolutely none of the finesse and refinement of the accord. Their next car was another Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        My dad sure liked them – he actually bought three ’87 Stanza(s)! I think ’87 was the first year of fuel injection? They sure were reliable though, logging over 200k miles each with very little maintenance. My dad drove a lot of miles for his job so they were mostly highway mules. Once he hit the hit over 200k, he would buy another, and then move the cars off on us, his kids.

        Back in the 90s I owned – rather beaten and abused – two Honda Accords from the 80s. An ’86 LXi and an ’87 DX – both hatchbacks – and I thought the Stanza was a better car for comfort. It felt like a mini luxury car but that 2.0L engine (99hp!) was certainly not the greatest thing on the road for power. The Accords handled better and the engines were a lot more fun to drive.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I don’t need to “imagine” living in Canada in the mid 80’s. The Skoda and the Lada were absolute garbage. The Hyundai marginally better..

    The Skoda and Lada went from the showroom ,to the crusher after about winter number 6. They were such a P.OS. the wreckers didn’t keep them around for pickers..Simply no demand for used parts.

    The Hyundai’s fared a bit better . The sheet metal would rust,, and you needed to tinker with the electrical, however if you were careful , you might squeeze 8-9 winters. The wrecker did keep the Hyundai’s around while they were picked clean.

    If I was looking for cheap metal in 1985 ? I’ll take a Chevette Scooter, 2 door, base model with a stick. Yes the Chevette was an awful car. However, parts were available, and repairs were easy,and cheap…A generous annual application of an oil based rust inhibitor kept the rust monster under control.

    Its a rare sight , but I still see the odd Chevette still on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I didn’t want to, but I will agree with you on this. I HATED my Chevette (’83 Scooter in dark blue with 5 speed) but the upkeep was oil and tires. And if something were to have gone south on it, parts were plentiful, and my dad would have fixed it (he still wrenched his ’81 5 door).

      I would have loved a 3 door Mazda 323. I had an ’89 in 2002, and almost bought one new in ’92 because I got a great job with good pay, but I never pulled the trigger (and thank god, I lost that job not too much later). The ’89 started with reduced power when I bought it, and it wound up being a timing pulley attached to the crank that was slipping. After the dealer quoted something north of 3 times the value of the car to fix it (replacing the crank I believe) a local repairman suggested a simple weld would work, and it did, restoring power and giving it life for many years after.

      I wound up hitting a deer with it. Got the neck on the A pillar, the rest of the deer hit the side of the car. The insurance company labeled it totaled, but fixed the glass, and I got a new rear view and rear light from “uneedapart.com” (my favorite online version of pick-a-part, where junkyards would list their parts and you could get them cheap.) Wound up selling it to a nephew who grenaded the engine while doing reverse donuts. Le sigh. Kids never learn.

    • 0 avatar
      macmcmacmac

      There was a demand for parts in St. John’s, where roving Soviet sailors would offer money for dead Ladas parked in driveways since it was a much cheaper and quicker way to obtain parts. They were often seen on the decks of ships leaving port.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        There was a really funny/odd re-exporting of all the exported Ladas throughout both Soviet times and much more so in the 90s after the collapse. The Ladas that were so reviled and let go of for almost nothing were gladly scooped up by Russians looking to make a buck and sent back home. There was a general opinion that the export cars were better built. Valmet in Finland did some localized assembly of the Samara IIRC, those were particularly highly prized.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @mikey – agreed 100%. I looked at the Lada Niva. It was available dirt cheep but I ended up with a new ’84 Ranger 4×4. There wasn’t much in the 80’s that I liked. My ’68 2 dr Galaxie 500 was faster than most of the so called muscle cars of the period. It definitely was the malaise era.

    • 0 avatar
      DuffMan

      Driving by the Oshawa Costco the other day and saw an moded up Chevette. Custom sparkly paint, over sized tires on chromes rims, loud side pipe, manual. Certainly was unique. Too bad I was driving, I wanted a video

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      Sorry. Simply not true.

      I was driving a Canadian Skoda until 2014 or 15, and know of a few still around.

      Yes they were cheap cars, but what really killed them was the lack of parts support during the dark years following the VW purchase but before the intraweb.

      I only sold off as I reproduced.

      Probably the most reliable ‘classic’ car that I’ve owned, well, the carb’d examples. I’ll admit that my FI one left me stranded a few times.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    How about a mid-1980s Hyundai Stellar? It was sold in Canada though parts may be a serious problem now. If you squint really, really hard you can see a resemblance to a 1980s Maserati Quattroporte. No coincidence – both the Stellar and the Maser were styled by Giugiaro.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Stellar.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I was going to say that I’d get a Hi-oon-day Stellar. Crappy like a Pony, but with a trunk! My mother’s boss had one, and there was nothing stellar about it in terms of mechanical reliability.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Ugh, if it’s a choice between those three cars, it’s kind of a tough one. In hindsight, Hyundai parts would be in good supply for the following decade(s) through the normal sources and in the junkyards. The Lada dealer network would be like an absentee parent before finally departing for good in the early 2000s. The Skoda was probably the best of all the eastern bloc automobiles to be tested in the Canadian market but their dealer support faded away after a short time.

    Trivia about these cars. The Pony had points ignition and manual choke, I think right up until the line was last produced in 1990 (a Canadian market only, stripper version of the Volvo 240 had both of those features until MY 1984). The Skoda’s engine had a weird combination of iron head and aluminum block (you read that right). They were good “snow cars” with the weight of the engine over the drive wheels. A lot of people who have never driven in deep snow don’t realize there is some benefit to the drive wheels being able to roll on packed-down snow, packed down by the front wheels. In really deep snow, the underside of the front of the car can ride up on the snow and take weight off the front wheels- this is a disadvantage to front wheel drive cars with low ground clearance. Actually, any of these three cars would make good “snow cars” because they are all so light that if/when you got stuck then one person could push while another person work it from the driver’s seat. Detroit barges needed more people to push.

    Joss beat me to it, but I automatically thought “Tercel” when I read the headline.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @JimC2’s comment demonstrates why the original VW Beetle was so beloved in Canada. “What car does the man who drives the snow plow drive to work” being the best commercial to illustrate this.

      However, air cooled VW owners knew each other by the heavy coats they wore to work, and the small pocket sized ice scrapers they carried to clear the inside of their windshields.

      • 0 avatar
        turbo_awd

        Lots of flashbacks here.. (grew up in Ontario in the 80s). We didn’t need to buy a car in the mid 80s – we had our ’79 Aspen and ’82 Civic Wagon (aka the rusting oil tanker). It had a manual choke. We got ~8 winters out of the car. At that point, it had ~100k miles and drank 2-3 quarts of oil PER WEEK – we had to check/re-fill Wednesdays and Saturdays. My dad bought 24-packs of no-name 10w30.. Plus, the rust was so bad (it started UNDER the paint within the first year, dealer wouldn’t do anything) it was actually a real boon for us when I got rear-ended in it by a pickup at maybe 30-40 mph. Got way more from the insurance company than it was worth..

        Of course, that led to the VAG adventure (’87 Jetta, ’89 Fox) – the “any service visit must end with approximately $700 of ‘absolutely necessary’ work” period. Which steered my dad towards Toyota, and he’s been happy there ever since.

        Edit: oh yeah, totally forgot: my sister’s ’84 Dodge Colt (~$7k, IIRC), which was a Mitsu-rebrand, was pretty solid. Only around 70 hp and topped out around 140 km/h, but not many major issues, IIRC..

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “The Skoda’s engine had a weird combination of iron head and aluminum block”

      Just like a Cadillac of this era!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    To follow up in the postings by @deanst and @gtemnykh.
    The Samara was intended as a successor to the Signet and Niva, which were both rugged and fairly simple vehicles. The Samara was supposed to be an ‘upgrade’ being a more modern design but unfortunately damaged the brand name in Canada. The previous vehicles fared much better in Canada.

    ‘Good news’, Dacia did make it into Canada for a short while. Not sure why that brand was ignored in this post. Although it certainly was the worst of the 4.

    The Hyundai Pony actually made the top seller lists in Canada for a couple of years. Those that bought this instead of ‘ponying’ up for a Honda or Toyota were generally left with a bitter taste. Used to see a red Pony, driven by an elderly gent, regularly each summer at our local grocery store. Both were in remarkably good condition. But have not seen either since 2015.

    Given the same choices I purchased an Accord sedan with dealer installed AC. And the following year a Civic ‘Realtime 4wd’ Wagovan with dealer AC and pop-up sunroof. Both with manual transmissions. The Accord stayed in the family for 11 years (a record just recently broken), the Wagovan was snapped up by the GM of the local Dodge/Chrysler dealership for his daughter when I went in to look at Caravans.

    Here are 8 vehicles that were sold in Canada but not the USA:
    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/8-imports-canada-got-america-did-not

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I know a lot of people who owned Ponys and loved them. They never said they were good, but quirky enough to remember them fondly.

    As for the Skoda, my hometown had a dealership for a short time. Despite this, I don’t ever remember seeing any on the road. There are still a few Lada Nivas kicking around, but no Samaras at all.

    Honestly, they were all crap, but I’d take the Pony.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    No Pony. Ever. My brother was working at the local Hyundai dealer when these were new and said it took about 6 months of use before major engine work was needed. Cylinder heads problems and general clattery running. He once witnessed a mechanic pump 90W gear oil into one out of frustration to quiet the racket. My grandfather similarly suffered through ownership of a less than stellar Hyundai Stellar.

    Of the East Bloc stuff, the only real answer is a Niva, although Lada parts prices were unusally steep for some reason. I thought the Skodas were kind of neat though, and they enjoyed a much better reputation than the Russian cars.

    Dirt cheap car? Probably a Horizon or Omni. No J cars thanks. Even as a clueless teenager I could see the crap GM was pulling.

    • 0 avatar
      Mn12Fanatic

      Strong second for the Omni. They rusted out pretty fast, even in Chicago, but it took about 15 years before it wasn’t useful anymore. I think we changed the timing belt several times on that car… But it didn’t matter because it was super easy to do and the engines on those were all non-interference.

  • avatar
    la834

    I vaguely remember a small Italian car called the Innocenti being sold for a couple of years in Canada. Anyone remember these?

    My pick, though a bit pricier than these, would be a ’88 Mazda 323 LX 3 door hatchback, a car the US didn’t get except in its first year (’86) which was pre-facelift. I liked the its ’83 GLC Sport and ’84 GLC LX predecessors too. Great interiors.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This is appropriate:

    complex.com/sports/2013/02/the-50-worst-cars-of-the-80s/

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @28-Cars-Later – that was quite the list. The Turbo Trans Am was a dog. I remember a few “rich” kids with them. It was always fun to beat them in a traffic light drag race.
      I’m surprised that the Suzuki Samurai is on the list. They might not have been popular then in more urban areas but I still see a ton of them around, especially during hunting season.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Not actually being Canadian, I’m going to have to guesstimate here to some extent…

    My Iraqi Taxi was pretty well rotted out when I traded it and cashed in my neighbor’s employee discount, but I’m taking my Iron Duke “powered” non-AC Celebrity back to the dealer for the third time in four months because that’s how cars are. I’m not going to “sleep in my import” or buy any cheap Jap crap. Ladas and Hyundais are for Quebeckers.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I would consider either a Civic 5dr hatch or Tercel 5dr hatch. I’ll forego the AWD for cheaper dollarbucks.

  • avatar
    alff

    Back in the day I had a GF with a new Hyundai Excel. Neither was a keeper. Let’s face it – if you’re buying any of these cars today, you’re not in it for practicality, reliability or drivability. I’ll take the Skoda on the basis that it is the quirkiest.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’d pick either a Dodge Omhni-Izon/K-Car or a Ford Escort, the latter having surprisingly good bumpers for an econo-box, the former becoming decent cars in the mid-late 80s when the Chrysler 2.2 was sorted out.

    From the list the Hyundai (this being the 80s you could apply Pony to things without summoning legions of “bronies”). Though I’d probably order options to go with it.

    Tercel? Nah, expensive, less power than the competition, and for a while couldnt be had with power steering. Later Tercels were okay if still “for those who think the Corollas too fancy”.

    Civic, I respect Honda for their efforts but this did drive up costs, their bumpers kinda sucked too (CRX in particular would fold in 5 mph tests). If you’re going to overpay for a grocery getter you wont be happy when Joe backs his old Beetle into your brand new Honda.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Public transit or a good pair of walking shoes would be my preference.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The Pony was a huge success in Canada, living near the border at the time I remember seeing a fair number of them that had come south to fill up on cheap gas, and for their owners to get milk and clothing (and leave their old clothing in the parking lots).

  • avatar
    scott25

    I usually see one or two Ponys on the road per year, a Samara every 5 years (I remember there was an amazing condition one on kijiji last year), and I’ve never seen a Skoda or Dacia in my entire life. Nivas are still surprisingly common by comparison, same with Excels.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Would rather have a mule, even a donkey, than a pony. Dad rented one years ago for a family holiday on a Caribbean island. The four doors belied the fact that if an average human climbed into each door and expected to be carried within the vehicle as it labored over each hillock, they’d be sadly mistooken. Or reduced to Flintstones propulsion.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Of those pictured, I would probably gone with the Hyundai. Yeah, in hindsight they weren’t that good, but there was the “Asian car = quality” aura.
    If open to other econoboxes of the era, were the Omnirizon twins available in the Great White North?

  • avatar
    infinitime

    I wasn’t driving until the mid-90s, though that didn’t stop me from owing THREE Hyundai Ponies in succession. Being in Vancouver, the Ponies in my neck of the woods did not succumb to the rust worm, as it did in colder climates with salted roads. They remained plentiful well into the early 2000’s.

    The Pony was actually surprisingly good as a commuter. It was reliable (using either a Mitsubishi 1.4 or 1.6 engine), on a Ford Cortina platform with solid rear axle and leaf springs. It has a MANUAL choke, which make it easy to control fuel mixture on start-up. It was also RWD and didn’t have power steering, which made for a good workout at lower speeds, but somewhat rewarding at speed (at speed being about 100km/hour).

    A buddy had a Chevette of a comparable mid-80s vintage, and I can say that objectively, the Pony was better in every measurable way, except for ease of sourcing parts (which actually still wasn’t too bad, given how popular the Pony had been in Canada at the time).

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      *Chuckle* I’d forgotten about the Pony’s chassis… it made the Chevette look sophisticated. Of course, sporty handling was about #75 on the customers’ list of priorities.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      These Ponys have me quite intrigued. I love simple and rugged small cars with solid rear axles and such (like the Chevette, Ladas, Moskvitches, etc). At one point I was semi-seriously searching craigslist for a decent running stick shift Chevette.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The Hyundai Pony. Looks like a Morris Marina.

    Designed for Hyundai by ex British Leyland engineers using Mitsubishi and Ford parts.

    What else could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Renault Alliance….spectacular crapwagon. Or you could spring for the GTA! I remember a guy who worked for my Dad drove several and bought used ones cheap for parts, he had a yard full of them in various states of disassembly.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      These seemed soooo promising on paper- a successful car from a company that knew how to build small cars and sell them around the world, lightweight, decent (for the time… disclaimer!) performance.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    As mentioned, Dacia also made it here, I believe entirely in Quebec, and ARO too.

    A Dacia was spotted in Quebec, in nice shape, several years ago, so there’s at least one left, a few years ago.

    Did anyone mention the VW Fox or Innocenti DeTomaso?

  • avatar
    skotastic

    I was driving a Canadian Skoda as late as 2014 or 2015.

    The carb’d example was probably my most reliable classic for some time.

    Easy to work on, cheap parts, fun handling, SLOW, but with the 5-speed cruised at about 3200rpm in the 100-120kph range. Not bad for 1.2L/53hp.

    It was also remarkably stable and easy to drive on the highway too. Not twitchy at all, but more like steering a small boat than driving a car.

    I only sold as I had some kids, and it was just a bit too small/slow with all of the douchebag SUV/luxury pick-ups growling about.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I choose to walk, ehhh. Because any of the possible choices are going to put me in a position where I’ll be walking a lot.

  • avatar
    don1967

    I very nearly purchased a new 1986 Pony as my first car. Looking back it probably would have been a better choice than the 1980 Pontiac Lemans which nearly bankrupted me with its endless repair bills.

    What the Pony lacked in finesse it generally made up for in old-world-Mitsubishi simplicity. Give it an annual oil spray and it wasn’t a half-bad cheapskate car; certainly better than anything from Eastern Europe.


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  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States