By on May 16, 2018

Today is the start of a series of related Question of the Day posts. Each Wednesday QOTD for the next few weeks will be dedicated to selecting vehicles for a different section of an ideal Special Crapwagon Garage you’ll be compiling.

Up for Part I in the series are hatchback and liftback vehicles. Start your brains.

The reason we’re focusing on building a crapwagon garage is simple: It’s what we always end up talking about in the comments. An article on a new truck gets us chatting old trucks. And a new Golf has us chatting about the quality item which was the MkIV Golf. Right now I hear you asking, “But Corey, what makes for a crapwagon? What does that mean?”

Glad you asked; there are rules.

  1. A crapwagon must be a vehicle which is relatively easy to find and purchase using an internet.
  2. All vehicles in the crapwagon garage must have been sold as new, in the North American market.
  3. Said vehicles must be obtainable to the casual crapwagon collector (CCC). This means in clean, running condition each one asks $7,000 or less on a normal day.
  4. Your suggestions must fit into the vehicle category of the week. If you don’t like the category, that’s tough. We’ll get to a category you like eventually.
  5. There are five rules to this garage game, and that’s the maximum number of vehicles you may submit for each section. Cinco.

This week we start with hatchback and liftback vehicles. Whether they be hot or lukewarm (like mine would be) they need to have a hatchback or liftback on their rear end, and must not be an SUV or wagon. I’ve got a couple in mind for my personal garage which would be well within our $7,000 budget (three others are undecided).

Sterling 827 SLi

The Sterling 827 liftback version, in high-zoot SLi trim makes my Crapwagon Garage. I’ve always liked the looks, and how it’s sort of an Acura Legend and sort of ruined, plus wood trim.

Mazda 626 5-door

Mazda’s 626 5-door always worked for me as well, particularly in fancy GT trim with these polished alloys. I was always fond of the smooth, continuous window line and general aero shape. And the utility here surpasses a normal sedan easily.

Give us your Special Crapwagon Garage hatchback and liftback selections!

[Images: General Motors, Sterling, Mazda]

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119 Comments on “QOTD: Can You Build an Ideal Crapwagon Garage? (Part I: The Hatchbacks)...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    1) 1982 Toyota Tercel SR-5
    2) 1998ish Honda Civic DX
    3) 1990ish Honda CRX
    4) 1976ish Datsun B-210
    5) 2003ish Ford Focus SVT 5 door

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    1. Mazda MX3.
    I mean, come on… a 1.8L V6. How hilarious is that?!?

    2. 2000+ Saturn SC2.
    My old SL2 was built like a brick outhouse with its only major flaw being the nut behind the wheel.

    3. Scion tC.
    Plenty of these things around. Not bad econoboxes. So you burn a quart of oil every 1200 miles… So what? I’ve had worse.

    4. Saturn Astra XR 2-door hatch.
    Come one… Get a little Opel in your life!

    5. Scion xA.
    Mostly so I can put a little blue and white dome on the rear roof, blasters on the sides, space fighter engines on the back, and call it the xA-Wing.

  • avatar
    ajla

    1. 80s C4 Corvette
    2. Saturn Astra XR
    3. 4th gen (’06-’12) Mitsubishi Eclipse GT
    4. Scion iQ
    5. 7th gen (’99-’06) Toyota Celica GT-S

  • avatar
    wagonsonly

    1. 1988-89 Merkur Scorpio.
    2. 1987-89 Toyota Tercel 5-door.
    3. 1987+ Plymouth Horizon (’90 if you want “real” air conditioning and an airbag).
    4. 1994 Subaru Justy 4WD (with EFI, good for an additional 6hp boost over the carbureted 3-cylinder).
    5. 1989.5 Subaru RX Turbo Full-Time 4WD.

    I’ve had four out of the five on this list. And if I had to do it all over again, I’ll be honest – I don’t know whether I’d buy the Toyota that I’ve never been able to find or, as others have suggested, hold out for a Sterling or an MX-3.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    1. Merkur XR4TI
    RWD. Available speed parts. Questionable off-brand German engineering.
    2. 1st gen Honda Insight
    The highest-“performance” mpg machine ever made for the road. Still looks good 20 years later. Also, manual transmission hybrid.
    3. 1990 Ford Probe
    Available with the unkillable 3.0 Vulcan truck engine, totally changing the character of a formerly charming Japanese compact car.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    2004-06 Malibu Maxx SS (FTW)
    mid-1980’s Dodge Lancer ES (not the cheap ones)
    mid-1980’s Dodge Shadow ES (not the cheap ones)
    mid-1980’s Chevy Corsica hatchback (the Maxx’s direct relative)
    2000’s Dodge Caliber R/T (it was nominally a hatch)

    I really don’t know if the cars from the 1980’s would qualify, they may not exist / or be for sale on the market any longer. But then I guess I could logically substitute minivans for these vehicles (as they are nominally hatchbacks, too…) /s

    • 0 avatar

      I am on board fully with Corsica 5-door. Also like Maxx SS wheel design.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I thought about listing the Corsica 5 door, but I hated the early interior. And it’d probably have the terrible 2.8L V-6 like my 1988 LT sedan.

        I like my Corsicas from the last few years of production. There is a 1996 for $500 that needs work I can do, but I shouldn’t buy it, lol, as I don’t need another automatic sedan, time for something different.

        I do still like the Malibu Maxx. I forgot about the SS version.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I really wanted to list the Caliber SRT, but I have no clue as to what they go for on the used market. They’re probably the most desirable of that lost branch of the Mopar family.

      FWIW, the H- and P- body mid 80’s Mopars are the turbo versions, not the atmo ones. The standard 2.2 was pretty anemic compared to a boosted Trenton motor.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Caliber SRT is definitely NOT happening for under $10K without a salvage title or something similarly sketchy.

      A clean R/T or less…absolutely attainable. OR, you could always go retro and score a PT Cruiser GT. Those can be had for $5k-ish and they’re a lot of fun. Max sleeper factor too.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      If they exist, you can bet its out West. I saw a 5 door Corsica on craigslist out there a few months ago.

  • avatar
    dwford

    1. 1992 Mazda MX-3 GS V6. The gentle hug of the automatic seat belts before you start the great sounding, but weak 1.8L V6. (Side benefit: the front fenders are shaped to collect dirt down at the bottom by the front edge of the door – let enough dirt accumulate and you can grow things in there)

    2. 2006-7 Hyundai Tiburon GT V6 6 speed – It may not seem like much, but drive a Veloster and then get back in the Tiburon, and you’ll find yourself exhaling a sweet sigh of relief.

    3. 1994 Acura Integra GS-R – 8000rpm redline

    4. Chrysler Crossfire – one of the most interesting cars that came from the DaimlerChyrsler days

    5. Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo AWD – better looking than the similar Mitsubishi 3000GT

    • 0 avatar

      We got ourselves a Crossfire fan!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Still see the occasional Crossfire in my area; at least two different ones; one in gold and the other grey.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          The vast majority I still see are convertibles, strangely. The convertible took away the entire appeal of the Crossfire.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            I actually like the Crossfire convertible. The styling is a lot more cohesive and balanced. Plus the trunk is decent. You can find them for less than a Z3,4 or SLK.

          • 0 avatar

            I think in any sort of offbeat coupe/convertible, you’ll see more of the convertibles for longer.

            This seems down to a couple reasons:
            1) They’re purchased by older people who drive them less.
            2) They are seen as “collectibles” because they are convertibles, so they’re preserved.

            You see this time and time again with any convertible of even semi special or luxury pretension.

            2002 Thunderbird
            2002 SC430
            2006 Crossfire Cabriolet
            Plymouth Prowler
            Chevy SSR
            350Z Roadster

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        The lady (and husband) who own the little country store near my home have a Crossfire, and a 2wd XTerra, and two different older Chevy 3500 diesels.

        In at that store now, getting a pizza, and its just a few feet away lol.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’m not sure you can find a ‘teggy like that for the price limit set. Unless its salvage title, 3 different colors and all the Pep Boys “accessories” a job at McDonalds can afford.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    1st Gen Isuzu Impulse. A small Japanese/GM importer that specialized in small piclups, on the Chevrolet Chevette chassis, powered by (of course) truck engines, with (sometimes) Lotus tuned suspension. Styling by Guigario, and it was *gorgeous* inside and out.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    Sorry, I can only come up with 3, but I owned them all:

    1989 Ford Festiva
    1990(?) Geo Metro
    2008 Chevy Aveo

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Can I? Ha, I’m already living the dream.

    ’87 Nissan Pulsar
    ’88 Nissan Sentra Sport Coupe

    To bump it up to 5, let’s add:
    ’91-93 Nissan NX2000
    ’88-91 Honda Civic hatchback, with a ZC swap from a 1st-gen Integra.
    ’90-92 Geo Prizm GSi hatchback (4AGE)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    1) BMW 318ti
    2) Mazda 6 hatchback (in red with the V-6)
    3) Jaguar X-type wagon. Discuss.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’ll give y’all credit, at least these are proper hatchbacks, vs the tailgate styles now being called ‘hatches.’

    Personally, my all time favorite would be the GM style from the late-’60s, early ’70s Nova and its multi-branded stablemates; a good-looking 2-door with proper room to carry things much like an aerodynamically-covered compact pickup, especially when you folded the back seat down. And it still carried the moniker of 2+2 so it was insured as a four-seater even if you never used that back seat. The Nova was the best looking of the bunch through those years in my eyes, followed closely by the Olds Omega. But once they started taking on hard edges in the mid- to late ’70s, they lost that appeal because they simply looked cheap.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Was never really deeply into hatchbacks unless I find the rest of the package compelling.

    Malibu Maxx SS (because big engine/little car has been a winning formula forever)
    The most pristine 1996 Escort GT manual I can find.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    1) 1989 Acura Integra (first gens were rarely riced)
    2) 2004 Mazda6 Sport V6 5-speed
    3) 1988 Nissan 200SX V6
    4) 1983 Toyota Celica GT-S
    5) 1985 Ford Mustang 5.0

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      You are like my spirit animal.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        I had close acquaintance with all these cars. I put 230,000 miles on my Integra, bought new. I’d have put my 86 CRX-Si, but the Integra was a better car. The engine sang up to the 7,000rpm redline too. Also owned a 1983 Civic S and an OG Rabbit that would qualify. As for the rest–the engine in the Mazda6 was meh, but the VG30 in the 200SX SE was great, pretty much the same as the 300ZX. The 22R in the Celica and the 302HO in the Mustang require no accolades for this crowd.

        For a rarity, I suppose the Mercury Capri analogue to the Mustang would be interesting. It was available with the 5.0, had stylish box flares, and a huge bulbous fastback glass hatch that might have looked good on a Mustang. Somebody must have transplanted one by now.

    • 0 avatar

      3) 1988 Nissan 200SX V6
      4) 1983 Toyota Celica GT-S

      Yes and Yes. Almost bought #4 way back when, ended up with #3 & still have it.

      May the karma of your comment translate to me being able to get that VG30E started this weekend, for the first time in several years.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    1. Mid 80’s Ford EXP: I had an 85′. Exceptional car for the bare bones price of $250 that I paid in H.S.

    2. 92′ Dodge Daytona IROC.

    3. Fox Body 5.0 of course (no notch, as that would not fit the category)

    4. Ford Festiva for my high MPG motoring needs

    5. Mitsubishi Conquest TSI

  • avatar
    paxman356

    My list:

    Mazda 323 GTX and Toyota FX16 GT-S (Nobody else has mentioned them? SHAME!)
    Honda CRX Si or HF first Gen
    Nissan Pulsar with hatch and wagon
    Pontiac Vibe (I loved my 2003).

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Ok, as I mention far too much I worked for Dodge in the early 90’s. This was pre-Intrepid revival. The worst cars I’ve ever known, and I’ve owned Volkswagens. So I’ll go for extra style points…all of these you could buy at one dealership during about 24 months. Let’s get masochistic!

    1-Dodge Colt 3-door (soft-riding, powerless, 3-door flyweight)
    2-Dodge Shadow (hidden hatchback! I dare you to google its interior pix)
    3-Dodge Omni (oh yes, it still lived on…the pinnacle of Omnis)
    4-Dodge Daytona (actually fun with T-Tops but the K car roots were visible)
    5-Dodge Stealth (not the turbo RT that sat in the showroom for years but the BASE model 12v automatic in TEAL!)

    All models available with Miami Vice hot pink grafix at no extra charge.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Any of my picks would have to be a manual…non negotiable. And I’ll keep it to ‘00-ish and above since some of my turbo K car fantasies can’t be consistently found…and my irrational love of the Shelby Daytona and Charger says they’re definitely NOT ‘crap wagons’…

    1–PT Cruiser. Owned a manual trans GT. Basically the Neon SRT-4 drivetrain wrapped in an infinitely more versatile bodystyle and I even like the looks.

    2–Dodge Caliber. Make mine an R/T with the bigger 2.4 engine even though at that point the manual is even tougher to find.

    3–1st gen Scion xB. Good mpgs, roomy, excellent city car…looks cool dumped and fitted with those wide minilite knockoffs.

    4–Celica GT-S. Yeah its a fwd shell of its former self but still a fun car to drive. It’s more of a lift back but that counts, right?

    5–MK2 GTI. Probably an excercise in masochism, taking on an older VW especially one embraced by the wannabe F&F crowd…but a clean and solid one just HAS to exist somewhere.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    1. 1994 V.W. Corrado VR6
    2. 1994 Acura Integra GSR
    3. 1993 Toyota Celica All Trac
    4. 1993 Ford Mustang LX 5.0
    5. 1994 Nissan 300 ZX

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Good choices (you’re definitely ten years younger than I am) but you are never going to find an All-Trac for less than five grand any more. The word has gotten out. :(

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Bronco
    Tahoe
    Suburban
    Pickup with a cap
    Jeep Wrangler

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Next version, pickups:

      GMC Envoy XUV
      Astro cargo van
      Mack dump truck
      Lexus RX350 with sunroof open, rear seats folded and a monogrammed drop cloth laying over them

      (LOL)

      BTW, Broncos and Wranglers don’t even have liftgates, pretty sure their cargo doors either drop down, or open from the side. If that’s still true for the *next* Bronco (or all versions of the Wrangler) I don’t know.

  • avatar
    azmtns

    I had the pleasure of owning all of these:

    1991 Honda Civic Si
    1987 Ford Mustang 5.0
    2005 Toyota Celica
    1986 Nissan 300ZX turbo
    1972 MGB GT

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    1) Honda civic wagovan, 4wd, 6spd (1990-1991)
    2) Mitsubishi Eclipse GST, 1998
    3) Mazda 6 lift-back (how has this one not been mentioned yet???)
    4) Subaru Justy, 4wd
    5) Toyota Celica all-trak

  • avatar
    scott25

    Most of my econoboxes dreams are forbidden Japanese and European fruit which I can’t use for this list…so….

    -Plymouth Arrow (there was a super clean Fire Arrow on Kijiji last year for 5k, but most of the other survivors were snapped up by drag racers). With the most decals and stripes possible

    -Ford Aspire. In purple or turquoise

    -Isuzu Impulse. In purple.

    -AMC Eagle SX4 (or Spirit if that’s too crossoverish to qualify)

    -To keep it Canadian, either a Passport or Asuna (Canadianized early 90’s Pontiac Le Mans which was a rebadged Daewoo). There’s no way any of those still exist.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I almost put a 1995 Ford Aspire SE on my list.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        Aspire to a better car. Geez, they were awful. So much worse than the Festiva it replaced.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          How is it worse? By having modern hubs in the front with 13″ wheels instead of 12s? Was it because it was safer with dual airbags and optional ABS? Was it more practical with the 5 door availability that makes it worse? It did “aspire to be a better car” than it was, and it was in most any measurable sense.

          It couldn’t be the drivetrain, as it was exactly the same as the EFI Festiva. The chassis is largely the same as well. The only way I can imagine its so much worse would be styling, as though that isn’t subjective and the Festiva was a beauty queen.

          • 0 avatar
            rocketrodeo

            A good example why paper comparisons are useless. Next door neighbor had both, sequentially, following an OG Fiesta. Objectively: heavier, slower, worse visibility, worse handling. Subjectively: did nothing well. He ditched it for a new Focus after about 18 months. His other driver was a 300SEL.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Well, I owned a 1990 Festiva and spent a lot of time in a 3 door Aspire. I found it more refined, it drove nicer with bigger wheels/tires, and never felt like it was hard to see out of or notably slower than the Festiva. The seats were better, hell the whole interior was more modern and generally a nicer place to be.

            Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Festiva, but I’d rather have an Aspire 3 door manual.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    1986 cavalier z24 hatch.

    1982 Toyota starlet

    1998 VW GTI VR6

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    99) Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe
    98) Honda del Sol
    97) Volkswagen Rabbit
    96) GEO Storm
    95) Buick Skyhawk

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, the del Sol has a real trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Not just a “Geo Storm”, but the elusive GEO STORM GSI.

      That car is awesome. it redlines at somewhere around 8500 RPM. Thats like motorcycle sportbike RPMs.
      2200 LBS, 1.8 L 140 hp! Thats insant! Thats 15.7 lbs/HP, or the same as an MX-5 Miata! 0-60 in 7.1 seconds. thats the same as a Ferrari 308!

      They were incredibly tossable, and a blast on the curves. Their ultra-high redline made them great at AutoX.

      All that and its gets like 30 MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Yup, those little things were awesome.

        I worked for a dealer group back in the day, occasionally, I would fill in at the Chevy store. GSi’s were a lot of fun. I remember going to a sales rally for the Toyota store (that I mostly worked at). ‘Yota was seriously concerned about this car blowing the Paseo out of the water… Too bad for Toyota the 1958 Edsel Pacer blew the Paseo out of the water… /s

        Later, I knew some folks who raced these in AutoX, tough to beat in their bracket. Had I the room, I might have popped for one, but in reality, I was too busy raising kids.

        I would have a Storm GSi in my crapwagon stable.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    ’78 Cobra Mustang
    ’86 Mustang SVO
    ’86 Supra
    ’90 Turbo Supra
    ’89 Conquest TSI

  • avatar
    jlyon

    1993 Mazda RX7
    2005 Acura RSX-S
    1988 Acura Integra 5 door
    1990 Saab 900s 3 door
    1993 Nissan 240sx

    I would love to have a celica All trac,
    but I don’t believe they exist anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      https://www.kijiji.ca/v-classic-cars/city-of-toronto/1988-toyota-celica-all-trac-gt-four-st165-turbo-awd/1321690096?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true

      If they exist up here, they have to exist in the US

  • avatar
    idesigner

    Surprised no one mentioned;
    Audi TT
    Audi 90 coupe Quattro
    I have an 87 CGT that looks like a hatch but has a trunk.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    Porsche 944. I fit a big wingback chair under the hatch on one back in the day.

  • avatar
    gtem

    My top picks, that I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    1980s Subaru GL Coupe:
    bringatrailer.com/2015/11/03/rare-hatchback-impressive-1987-subaru-gl-coupe/

    1980s Sentra 4wd liftback wagon, and coupe that bumpy mentioned:
    bringatrailer.com/listing/1989-nissan-sentra-xe-4wd-wagon-2/

    Both are awesome snow cars, but the ultimate irony would be that I’d be mortified to use either in the winter for fear of starting the tin-worm process.

    • 0 avatar

      @GTEM

      Been meaning to show you this.

      https://cnj.craigslist.org/cto/d/1990-lexus-ls400-low-miles/6566328722.html

      !!!

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Oh man that’s perfect, with velour no less! rainy wet paint is a minor cause for suspicion… but that’s a solid deal if it all checks out. I assume it would need a t-belt and a few odds and ends right away, maybe fresh Michelins, but you never know.

  • avatar
    JMII

    What no VW Corrado love?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Also missing from everyone’s list…

      Mitsubishi Starion

      The Starion is lust worthy for me, its one of the few 80s cars that I would honestly buy just to have one. Also high on my want-stupid-bad list is an FD RX-7.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    1. 82-85 AMC Eagle SX4 or Spirit-Not the revised Gremlin with the flip up window.
    2. 85-87 Buick Skylark T-Type Turbo hatch
    3. 85-88 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo
    4. 88-90 Ford Escort GT
    5. 84-88 Ford Mustang SVO
    6. 87-89 Mazda 626 ES 4WS
    7. 87-88 Merkur XR4Ti8. 87-88 Nissan Pulsar hatch-because T-Tops
    8. 80’s-90’s Saab 900S 3 door-16V or Turbo

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Couple adds:

    1st gen VW Scirocco
    2003 Mercedes C230, the Mercedes of Hatches
    And since this is the crap garage: Chevy Citation X-11

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, I will just list most of the cars that I owned. I sold them all for under $5000, though I don’t know their present worth.

    1) 1975 VW Scirocco
    2) 1984 Chrysler Laser Turbo
    3) 1989 Toyota Supra Turbo (Mk III)
    4) 2000 Audi TT

    Of course, none of them were crapwagons when I owned them, I loved them all. I can’t list my current car, as it is my first non-hatchback since the ’64 Riviera (and is still worth over $5000.)

  • avatar
    Igloo

    1987 Dodge Shadow Turbo. Fun car.

  • avatar
    la834

    1992-93 Saab 9000 Turbo
    1980-81 Rover 3500 (SD1)
    1984 Pontiac Phoenix LE V6 manual (it’s better than you think!)
    2006-09 VW Golf GTI Mk5 (either 3 or 5 dr will do, but must be a stick)
    1979 Toyota Celica Supra (before it became a sports car, it was an interesting, attractive Japanese take on the personal luxury car – with a hatchback!)

    I like the Merkur Scorpio, Rover Sterling, Mazda 626 Turbo (both generations), and Scion tC (first gen only) too but too many others have mentioned those I wanna be original.

    Anxiously awaiting for the BMW 5 GT to fall in price. Those are really nice once you’re inside.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    In order of my ownership:

    1983 Accord hatch (90-91)
    1987 Accord LXi hatch (93-94)
    1982 Corolla Liftback (94-95
    1988 Isuzu Impulse (95-98)
    1984 Nissan/Datsun Sentra wagon (98-99)
    2002 Chevy Venture (2002-2009)
    2006 Honda Pilot (2009-2017)
    2017 RAV4 Hybrid (2017-)

    If the 87 Accord or 88 Impulse weren’t wrecked, I’d still have them.

  • avatar
    threeer

    My favorite category! Oh, where to start (and keep it to only five)…

    1) First gen CRX. Yes, the Gen II was likely the better car, but the simplicity and design of the first gen just makes me smile. Probably hard to find a decent Si, but I’d try.
    2) VW GTi (Mark 1). Again, for a really clean one to come under $7k is likely a stretch, but I would be willing to look at just about any truly clean first gen Rabbit.
    3) Opel Astra, er, Saturn Astra. Long-time association with Opel in deference to my late father, who only drove Opels whenever we were stationed overseas. Make it the four-door XR.
    4) BMW 318ti. Man, did I want one of these when new. Yes, not the hottest Bimmer out there, but again…relatively simple and fun.
    5) First gen Acura Integra. Because pop-up headlights and seriously open glasshouse.

    I could go on…just too many cars that would fill my garage in this category. And not a one of them would be saddled with an automatic trans.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      I bumped my 1986 CRX-Si from my list because my 1987 Integra was just a better car. And that 7Krpm redline … still miss that car. Nothing else at the time did those things and made those sounds.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Great choices. :)

      I had a first gen CRX, and drove a first gen CRX Si, they’re great little cars.

      I also loved the 318Ti when it was new (I was in high school, I said I’d buy it to drive to school if our family suddenly became rich, lol).

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Second team:

    1973 Buick Apollo
    1978 Pontiac Sunbird V8 (so what if you have to jack the engine to change the plugs)
    1977 Ford Mustang II w/ T-tops (don’t ever talk bad about II’s around me)
    1980 Chevy Citation X-11
    1983 Renault Fuego

    okay, one more:

    2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor hatchback
    now *there’s* a crapbox.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I’m with you on the Mustang II. I’ve been a Mustang fan and owner going way back and have always dismissed the II but have seen the logic of Iacocca introducing them in that era. In recent years I’ve warmed to them.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        Besides my ’75, I also owned a ’67 390 GT fastback. for any measure other than straightline speed–which was in no way comparable– the Mustang II was the better car, by far.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    I would pretty much build out a classic VW garage of mk1’s and mk2’s, though some travel may be required to find clean rust free cars. All are still surprisingly available sub $7K.
    1) ’91-’92 mk2 GTI 2.0 16V
    2) ’94 Corrado SLC VR6
    3) ’86 Scirocco 16V
    4) ’83-’84 Rabbit GTI
    5) ’99-’03 Golf TDI (the legendary ALH diesel was the reviving feature of the mk4 era… that and the R32, but you’re not touching a clean R32 for <$7K)

    Outside of the VW arsenal I have a soft spot for the SVO Mustang and 318ti

  • avatar

    I’ll start with 3 cars from this category that I have owned, still own one and wish I still owned the others:

    1) 82 Datsun 200SX (S110)
    2) 88 Accord DX hatch
    3) 88 Nissan 200SX (S12)

    And round it out with a couple dreams
    4) 78 Corolla SR-5 Liftback like my dad had
    5) 90-91 Dodge Daytona SE or IROC

    Man it’s tough to only pick 5 from this category, though. I need more:

    6) 76 Toyota Celica Liftback
    7) 82-83 Celica GT-S
    8) MkII Supra
    9) 91-93 Nissan NX2000
    10) Datsun B210
    11) Datsun F10 for max ugly weirdness

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    Man $7000 is a tough price point for the cars I like in this catergory, as the few nice ones left are really going to push that budget. They all tend to be owned by the hat backwards/cheetos/weed/mt dew crowd that have $2 to their name and beat the piss out of them.

    1. 1992-1996 C4 Corvette. These had the 300hp LT1 V8 and much nicer interior vs the 80’s ones.

    2. 1998-2002 Camaro Z28/Firebird Formula- has the LS1 V8 stock, still fast by today’s standards, burnout city time. These tend to be either really nice or really trashed by the meth/juggalo crowd.

    3. 2001-2006ish Acura RSX, preferably Type S with the bigger engine. Base model is fun too if you avoid the automatic

    4. 1993-1998 Acura Integra GS-R- I was going to say 1992-1996 Prelude, but you stipulated hatchback.

    5. 2003-2013ish Mazda 3 hatch, 5 speed of course. Great handling, probably the easiest one on the list to find a nice one.

  • avatar
    richthofen

    ’07 Mazda 6 V6 Sport hatchback
    ’85 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z
    ’88 Mitsubishi Starion TSi
    ’87 Honda Accord LXi

    And just to be absolutely, utterly, weird:
    ’84 Volkswagen Quantum Coupe (which was actually a hatchback). Then update it with the Syncro 4WD/I5 setup from a later Quantum sedan or wagon. And for good measure give it the ’85-up facelifted front clip. This could probably all be done for under $7K but finding a 3-door Quantum in the first place would be an absolutely monumental task as they seem to have sold about 12 of them total.

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