By on April 5, 2019

Our recent first drive of Volkswagen’s warmed-up Jetta — the revamped and newly potent GLI — sparked a fair bit of discussion among the TTAC crew about front-drive cars that live double lives.

As sedans of all stripes cower beneath the executioner’s wavering blade, fears are mounting that we could lose even more practical and attainable fun vehicles in the years to come, forcing all of us into Ford EcoSport STs or something of that vein. Yes, front-wheel drive cars can be fun, and there’s certainly a lot to be said for a hotter, performance-focused mainstream FWD sedan that offers its driver a chance to work out the stress of a hard week on a twisty stretch of backroad. A roomy Jetta with the heart of a GTI, manual transmission box checked? Sign me up.

Drivers are slightly spoiled these days on that front, as the GLI pairs nicely on the shopping list with Honda’s Civic Si. But let’s travel back in time for a debate.

Let’s also steer clear of Germany and Japan. While Americans would probably list those exotic Depression-era Cords and the first-generation Olds Toronado as their top pic for most famous and desirable domestic front-drive car, today we’re asking you to shorten the calendar.

To make it interesting, and perhaps a bit challenging, we want to know your favorite FWD American car of the period spanning 1980 to 2010. The most desirable FWD car of that era. The one you’d rush out the door and buy this instant if the opportunity arose.

There’s 40 years of goodness (and a lot of badness) to choose from there. Malaise and bankruptcy-plagued recession bookends our time period, during which we saw weak duds like the Ford EXP and Plymouth Turismo, last-gen Mercury Cougar, and all sorts of lost-to-time creations that automakers hoped would spice up a staid lineup of automobiles. Then there were the more lust-worthy crates like the Dodge Spirit R/T, Dodge Omni GLHs worked over by Carroll Shelby, and of course the revered Ford Taurus SHO. Who would ever want to forget the Olds LSS or Buick Park Avenue Ultra? No one at TTAC, that’s for damn sure. (Adam Tonge’s probably thinking about a Calais right now…)

Perhaps you’re among the few who still long for an Impala (or LaCrosse, or Lucerne) with a Chevy or Cadillac V8 plunked under the hood. Certainly, we wouldn’t look down our noses at anyone who feels a supercharged Cobalt SS coupe might offer some fun on the cheap.

It’s not nearly as barren a landscape as some would suggest. Forty years of FWD choice, and you make the call. Sound off in the comments.

[Image: General Motors]

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103 Comments on “QOTD: Pulling From the Past?...”

  • avatar

    1989-1990 Dodge Daytona C/S Competition Package. If you’re looking for sedans, the Shelby Lancer.

    • 0 avatar

      I am more anti Chrysler/FCA than most. HOWEVER. My best friend owned the above mentioned Dodge Daytona when we were teens…

      Good times. Blue/Red lights in the rearview mirror and all.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup!! I’d do some cherry picking: ‘84-‘86 with quad sealed beams and an actual grille looks the best. Gimme the all-Mopar HO 2.4
      turbo and LSD transaxle from the SRT-4 Neon with baked in Stage 1 upgrades which should be good for at least 250 hp.

      I can think of several K based Mopars that when properly equipped were pretty formidable: any of the Shelby cars are a given. I really liked the Lancer/Lebaron GTS 5 doors, the P body Shadow coupes and also the LeBaron coupes too.

      I’m not a big proponent of fwd in general but on smaller cars with turbo 4 cyls and a sporty platform they can be fun. On bigger cars with bigger engines they’re pointless numb handling appliances. The GM W body coupes were great looking cars crippled by having the wrong layout. They could have been SO much better with RWD and starting out with high tech V6 engines but with the classic small block V8 available.

      • 0 avatar

        Dodge Spirit R/T.

      • 0 avatar

        Kyree might expect me to agree with him on the Riviera, but they were too big for me. The only American car I liked enough to purchase (the early Riv was inherited) was an ’84 Chrysler Laser Turbo, as you said with the quad headlights and actual grille, in a medium metallic blue, with the pizza disc wheels. After my 78 horsepower Scirocco, the Laser’s 142 horsepower was a hoot!

    • 0 avatar

      Having owned a GLH Turbo (although non Shelby) I always wonder why they had to pay Shelby to do something an intern could have pulled off…go to the parts bin and just spec the biggest wheels, brakes, and better seats…the 2.2 Turbo came off the line, narrowly avoiding van duty. The only “mod” was an intercooler, not a given in the 80’s. They could have had the intern do it all, slapped “Super Bee” on the back, and called it a day.

  • avatar

    Station wagon’s revenge has been scorched earth total.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Monday Morning Quarterbacks, please spare us from your reliability comments. This is my list coming from a perception that in a perfect world they would all work well:

    1st generation Dodge Intrepid ES
    2nd generation Buick Park Avenue Ultra
    1st or 2nd generation Pontiac Bonneville SSE
    2nd generation Ford Taurus SHO
    1990 Ford Mustang GT, manual transmission
    1992 Cadillac Seville STS
    1st or 2nd generation Olds 98 Touring Sedan

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re doing a “perfect world” scenario then you might as well go with the ’93 Seville STS so you can get the 300hp Northstar.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, this is the one FWD car I would pick and why I get so mad at Cadillac. They know how to make a decent car, they just choose not to :(

        • 0 avatar

          Having been born in 1977 Cadillac’s history during my lifetime could be represented by me shaking a fist at them.

          • 0 avatar

            Would agree about the current state of Cadillac, but the 90s weren’t half bad. Devilles and STS back then were both nice cars.

            I’d say the change to DTS from Deville was when it started to go sideways.

          • 0 avatar

            The Northstar cannot be ignored.

            If the Northstar had been as reliable as the 4.9 V8 it replaced this would be a different story. I would have owned a mid 90s – 2000s Deville, DTS by now.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve ranted this before, agreed 100%. The good to great design and engineering in my CTS, dashed to the rocks by the GGM Parts bin (nods to DW). The N* and others are the same issue….interesting design, but pulled to a price point that won’t support it.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        The added N* power was fun, but from personal experience with both powertrains way back when I’d have to give an edge in overall driveability to the lowly 4.9L.

        @Lie2Me perfectly expressed my own contempt for today’s Cadillac. Even a base model 1992 Seville made a more convincing argument as something special than any CT/XT/Escalade.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        “If you’re doing a “perfect world” scenario then you might as well go with the ’93 Seville STS so you can get the 300hp Northstar.”

        That’s the one I meant, ajla, thanks.

        • 0 avatar

          I would add an addendum, in this “perfect world” the Northstar is reliable.

          • 0 avatar

            Can I go live in that world?

          • 0 avatar

            In a world where all GM products are reliable and well built, I wouldnt be so hesitant on pulling the trigger on a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada I’ve found.

            I LOVE the 96-97 Bravada exterior styling. Best looking smaller-than-a-Tahoe SUV GM has ever built IMO (close with the Jimmy of the same year).

            The fact that its AWD means I could go spend Christmas with my “other family” in Washington without fear of the mountain passes. (That is if I wasnt worried about driving a 20+ year old GM SUV on a 6,000+ mile round trip.)

    • 0 avatar

      Mustang is rwd.

      I loved caddy STS when I was young.

    • 0 avatar

      Dad had an ’87 Touring Sedan which someone had taken as a trade-in on a boat of all things. It had a replacement engine and transmission which was still under mechanic’s warranty when he bought it. With the FE3 suspension and the 3800 under the hood it was a nice ride.

      I picked up an ’87 Ninety Eight Regency Brougham when I was in college but it wasn’t quite the same.

  • avatar

    I loved my 98 Grand Prix GTP

  • avatar

    0. 1980 Cadillac Seville. These have really grown on me over the years and in 1980 you could still get a ‘real’ Cadillac engine.

    1. Basically anything with the 4.5L, 4.9L or 3800 built from 1988 – 2000.

  • avatar
    John R

    ALTIMA SE-…!

    “Let’s also steer clear of Germany and Japan…”

    …R. dang it.

  • avatar

    Well, we’ve all been whining about boring CUVs, so here’s one that isn’t – the Saturn Vue Red Line.

    Not perfect, but at least the body panels won’t rust. Its’ spiritual successor could be the new Escape with the 2.0 Ecoboost. That car might turn out to be a good driver.

    • 0 avatar

      Aha! I worked at the Saturn plant back in the day of the Vue. These are great CUV’s especially the Red Line and with the Honda V6, 250 HP engine. Many are still available, my friend (a Honda lover) picked up a one owner V6 2007 for a measly $750, putting in another $400 or so on front brakes, rotors, and wheel bearing.

  • avatar

    1996 Park Avenue Ultra. The best C-body, right at the end before they cheapened everything up again.

  • avatar

    Also props to circa 1995 Bonneville SSEi.

  • avatar

    This is like asking who is your favorite shuffleboard player from the 80’s, and 90’s.

  • avatar

    Dad’s best friend traded in his nicely maintained 1978 Olds 88 for a brand new 1994 Bonneville SSE in a delicious shade of metallic forest green with tan “corduroy” cloth interior.

    Being an SSEi would have made it even better.

    That 2nd Gen H Bonneville is one I wish I could buy brand new today.

  • avatar

    I’d want my parents’ purple 1993 Cadillac STS back.
    (Yes I know about the head bolt thread issue, my response to that is Northstar Performance dot com.)

  • avatar

    1. Taurus SHO (2nd Gen)
    2. Olds Aurora (1st Gen)
    3. Pontiac Bonneville SSE-i (8th Gen)

  • avatar

    First generation Mitsubishi Eclipse. Built in the USA. Preferably 1992 or later after they stopped the pop up headlights.

    Of course, if I have to pick an American brand, then go ahead and go with the Eagle Talon.

  • avatar

    This is a tough one, my choices:

    1. 2003 Chrysler 300M Special
    2. 1996 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi
    3. 1996 Park Ave Ultra
    4. 1991 Oldsmobile Trofeo
    5. 1993 Cadillac Eldorado ETC
    6. 1991 Oldsmobile Calais Quad 442

  • avatar

    Solstice gxp / sky redline?

    Can’t believe I’m suggesting a Pontiac, but the hardtop they specifically made for the first (bad) Transformers movie was pretty slick looking.

  • avatar

    “…we want to know your favorite FWD American car of the period spanning 1980 to 2010. …There’s 40 years of goodness (and a lot of badness) to choose from there.”
    Isn’t that “30” years of goodness and badness to choose from?
    That being said I did seriously consider a Buick Lucerne in CXS or Super configuration for a while.

  • avatar

    Regal GS supercharged was one of FWD sleeper cars of its era. Wanted one really bad back then – and now they seem to be gone.

  • avatar

    It wouldn’t necessarily be my #1 choice of the era, but I’ll mention it for the sake of its being mentioned: the Pontiac 6000 S/E. The STE was well loved by 1980s scribes, but the package entailed a relatively large number of doodads and gewgaws and a correspondingly steep price increase over the regular 6000 (roughly equivalent to going from a base Mustang to a GT Premium). Pontiac rectified that in 1987 by introducing the S/E, which had the STE’s suspension and steering upgrades but not its “mandatory options.”


  • avatar

    A sleeper, at least in my eyes. The 1998 Ford Escort ZX2, 5 speed manual. We did some serious hooning in this little rig. It was not fast but handled itself in the twisties better than anything I’d been exposed to at that point. In the summer months my buddy ran Goodyear ZR1 tires, which I am sure had everything to do with what we thought was the best handling non sports car around.

    It had a relatively large factory moonroof. I remember flying by on the back roads of Central Pennsylvania in the summer with only the moonroof, wide open. We are lucky to be alive. To be 18 again….

    • 0 avatar

      I had a ’93 Escort and loved it even with an anemic tractor motor and slushbox – if I’m not mistaken, the next gen (both regular sedan/wagon and the ZX2) were based on the same Mazda chassis, so this is a good choice. Although, I’d be very tempted by the LX-E sedan if I ever found one (if just for all that greenhouse, plus being a pretty decent little sport compact that looked like a grade school teacher’s ride).

      • 0 avatar

        I owned a ’91 Ford Escort GT back in the day. It was a lot of fun and astonishingly capable in the snow, but that sport suspension made it feel like you were riding on the axles most of the time.

        Then a few years later I picked up a 2000 Escort ZX2 and used it as my daily driver. It looked so different and drove so much smoother that it was hard to believe that it was based on the very same Mazda 323 DNA. It combined a fairly light curb weight with the 2.0L engine from the Focus, so it could be a decent little dance partner when asked. Pretty good bang for the buck and rather reliable to boot.

    • 0 avatar

      The ZX2 wasn’t a bad little car. I only had issue with the seats on a multi-hour drive, but they’re fun to zip around in.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Calais 442 or Achieva SCX. The W41 models in particular. All hail N-Bodies powered by the HO Quad4.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the ’86-’94 Cavalier Z24. It was crude, loud, dumb, unrefined as hell, and all kinds of fun. They basically took the base Cavalier, added the MPFI 60-deg V6, fat Goodyear Eagles, and stiff springs, and called it a day.

    Cavalier Z24 is to VW GTI as Camaro IROC-Z is to 944.

    • 0 avatar

      You reminded me when C&D drove the refreshed “2nd gen” Lumina.

      GM is like an all you can eat buffet where everyone raves about the price but no one talks about what the food actually tastes like.

      • 0 avatar

        I think of GM as the Gap. You could get that pair of pants that falls apart after the third wearing, or you could get that shirt that you wear regularly for five years and is a great value.

  • avatar

    Also, the 1987-1995 Chrysler LeBaron convertible.

  • avatar

    I owned a Lacrosse Super like the one in the picture with bigger wheels. It would fly down the interstate, only a transmission away from greatness. And I think that a 260 horse HHR SS would be a fine source of cheap fun.

  • avatar

    I still miss my Volvo 850 sedan. When the frame finally rots out on my ’65 Wildcat I may have to find a good example. Maybe the wagon this time, but I do love the formal roofline of the sedan.

    T5 with rear heated seats, fog lamps, and CD changer, please. No spoiler.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My vote would be (surprise, surprise) the eighth-generation Buick Riviera Supercharged, specifically the 1996-1999 ones. 1995 had the Series I N/A and supercharged 3800 engines. 1996 was when they switched over to the Series II N/A and supercharged engines, which both came with a considerable performance boost over their predecessors. For 1998 and 1999, the supercharged engine was the only one you could get.

    To be clear, that final Riviera had some crap-tastic fit and finish, but there’s just something about the design and the way it drives (and the fact that it’s a big coupe) that I really like.

  • avatar

    I only know two American FWD cars from personal experience, living as I do in Germany, and of those two, the winner is the 1993 Pontiac Trans Sport 3.8 V6 auto. (European Trans Sports were actually closer to your Oldsmobile Silhouettes in appearance, but without the black stickers around the windows.) My employer then had such a thing, and I got to drive it occasionally. It was a ridiculous gas-guzzler of course, at least to Euro standards, but it was effortless, comfortable, roomy and … different. Enough so that when they put it up for sale, I seriously considered the purchase — for more than ten seconds, but not much more. :-)

    (The other one was a Chrysler PT (Pity ;-) Cruiser, of which the less said the better.)

  • avatar

    I’m not sure what the question wants here, American FWD sedans, or just FWD vehicles of any kind.

    For sedans, can’t say there’s too many I lust for, but I’ve always had a weird love of the Achieva, and it’s only grown as they’ve become a much rarer sight over time. I do also like 1st gen Auroras (without the obnoxious rear fog lights) and pretty much any Mercury, since they always were weird looking for no reason and the later ones weren’t sold in Canada so they had their own kind of Mystique.

  • avatar

    No love or even mention of the Ford Probe. I never sat in one but thought they looked cool.

    • 0 avatar

      Just put the ’89 Ford Probe GT on my list. Like the looks of Gen I over Gen II, and ’89 is the only year in the first gen without motorized seatbelts. It also has a single year body style and amber rear turn signals.

      • 0 avatar

        I still fondly recall the first gen Ford Probe. I almost bought a 1990 LX with the 3.0 V-6 from the Taurus. I liked the “big engine in a small car” idea, but it felt a little nose heavy when I test drove it.

        Man, the eighties and nineties were such a great era for inexpensive front wheel drive sport coupes/hatches. I miss those days, when automakers would still offer a lot of variety in their lineups.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’ll mention my 93 Probe GT 5spd. Great car. But it really was a Mazda.
    I’m a fan of the last gen Grand Prix (in Electric blue) with the Lumina z34 in 2nd . Both were powered by the , then high-tech 24v V6 and offered manuals.

  • avatar

    In no particular order:

    Dodge Spirit R/T — this is a no brainer
    Pontiac Grand Prix McLaren — those buttons and 4 buckets
    Pontiac Grand Prix GXP with the LS4 and offset wheels
    Ford Probe GT – 1989 model with every option
    Dodge Stealth in whatever trim I can get up to and still maintain the FWD rule
    Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible
    Mercury Topaz XR5 – 1992 model – 5-speed
    Buick Reatta Convertible – 1991 model

  • avatar

    The DTS was a better Cadillac than everything not an Escalade that Cadillac had done since the 70s. Better than everything not an Escalade that they’ve done since, too.

    Runner up: 00-03 Bonneville with the supercharged 3800. Maybe. Transverse cars that shouldn’t have been crushed before leaving the factory gates are an awfully short list.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Really? I thought the 2004-2011 STS was the sweet spot for Cadillac’s modern lineup. It was RWD, but big, comfortable, and well-handling. And then there was that glorious STS-V, with the supercharged Northstar V8.

      Not that the STS is a contender here; I just think it was a better effort than the Deville/DTS ever was.

      And as for that final DTS, it was fine enough, but the XTS is a better car in every way other than the capacitative controls. You couldn’t really exploit the DTS’s V8, anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with you 100% that the STS was a sweet car, the 2nd gen CTS too, I just can’t reconcile either of them with what I think that a Cadillac should be. There’s no luxury to me in coming off as trying too hard or in copying somebody else. Cadillac’s BMW clones did both.

        I agree with you that the XTS is a better car than the DTS too, but in the same way that an Avalon was also a better car than a DTS. The DTS didn’t have to be, wasn’t supposed to be, and wasn’t a very good car. It was an OK car that was distinctly not any of those other cars. It looked different, it sounded different, it was a terrible value. It was a Cadillac.

        But then again I didn’t buy one, and at the time couldn’t have bought one if I wanted to, so who am I kidding that my ideas of what they ought have built are worth anything.

  • avatar

    My vote is for the 2002-03 Maxima SE.

    It was the last two model years of the smaller lighter body style, which was very attractive, before it upsized.
    It was the debut of the VQ35DE engine, blessing it with 255 torquey horsepower

    So, in 2003, you got the (subjective opinion:) Zenith of the Maxima “4DSC”. 3,200 lb midsize FWD sport sedan, with a 6-speed manual, a 255HP V6, and arguably one of the most handsome Maximas Nissan produced.

    • 0 avatar

      Quality fell down quite a ways with the 2000 restyling. Really either of the 90s Maximas are better. Maybe a little down on power with the VQ30, but a better built car with a more refined engine.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The VQ35 did get a torque boost, but it lost the smoothness and refinement of the VQ30. Not much of an issue with the harder sporty image Nissan was trying for with that Max.

  • avatar

    Chevy HHR SS windowless panel van, manual with GMPP Stage I upgrade

  • avatar

    Gen 1 Honda CR-X
    Gen 1 Acura Legend Coupe
    Dodge Neon ACR (I have one already)
    Dodge Neon SRT-4
    Dream Cruiser Series 3 (have one already)
    Gen 1 Sentra SE-R
    Caliber SRT-4
    Pontiac 6000 STE (the car upon which the Cadillac Cimarron should have been based!)

  • avatar

    Olds Achieva that was a bit of a homologation special with 195HP Quad-4

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “we want to know your favorite FWD American car of the period spanning 1980 to 2010.”

    I already have a B13 Sentra SE-R (it was built in Tennessee, so it counts).

  • avatar

    2010 minus 1980 equals……… not 40.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    My Old Man leased a new Cadillac STS every year from 1988 to 1999. So emotionally that would be my choice.

    However rationally a nice 3800 powered Buick would do me just fine. Quiet, smooth and with an utterly reliable powertrain.

  • avatar

    Surprised the Cadillacs are mentioned but not the Lincoln Continental’s from the period. The 4.6’s were nice cars (transmission issues aside)

  • avatar

    Totally left field, but having driven one, a 1991 Buick Reatta.

    My wife’s brassy (and loaded) grandmother had one when I first met her (1997) and after we got engaged a few years later, she wanted someone to drive the Reatta to her winter home in Florida and bring her late husband’s 1995/96 (I think) Cutlass Supreme coupe (fully loaded) up to PA so she could drive the Reatta while down there. (She got tired of the Reatta in winter I guess?). I had just planned on re-locating to where my now-fiance was for med school and had a week between my last day at one job and my first day at another. So I said I was available, and could do it and be back in 4 days.

    Not going to lie, it was a weird car and the interior has a ton of buttons (not the touchscreen) And sure, it was an “old persons car” and I probably looked odd cruising down I-95 in it, especially in Florida. But it was fine to drive. Peppy even. It had the 3800 in it I think.

    Its not going to be a classic, but I think its also way better than many reviewers said because they were given incorrect expectations. It was not a sports car as marketed….but as a personal touring coupe? Very good. Seats were very comfortable. Rear visibility was excellent. Sound system was ok for a stock system of the era…had a CD player, which I had yet to have in one of my cars at the time.

    Its just too bad the interior was like straight out if a 70’s Caddy Eldorado. A flat plank of a dash in whorehouse red to match the leather and carpeting, just…..dated. In some sort of brown or tan it would have been SO much more tolerable.

  • avatar

    Okay, here we go.

    1992 Tempo GLS coupe, manual
    92-94 Tempo LX V-6 manual (offered in sedan only)
    1985 Tempo GLX coupe manual
    1999 Oldsmobile Aurora
    2002 Lincoln Continental CE with floor shift
    My 1995 Taurus
    1986 Taurus LX sedan
    Late 90s Pontiac Bonneville SSEi
    Late 90s Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe
    2002 Mercury Cougar XR V-6/manual
    Oldsmobile Achieva with h/o Quad 4/manual
    Plymouth Breeze manual
    Plymouth Neon coupe manual (first gen obviously)
    Plymouth Acclaim manual (yes I’ve seen them)
    1995-97 Ford Contour SE manual
    2004 Ford Focus SVT (3 or 5 door)
    1987 Tempo GL manual coupe (gas saver lol)

  • avatar

    No 6000 SUX? 8.2 MPG. An American Tradition!

    Having driven (and loving the rawness of) the Calais Quad 442, I’ll throw that one into the mix as well. It was like driving a blender at high RPMs, but worth it.
    The Impala SS with the V8 overloading the front wheels. Floor it and hang on! I loved driving that thing on flat, straight Ohio farm roads. In the twisties, not so much.
    First generation Aurora. Daring styling, new technology, proof that GM was at least trying in an era when we were all wondering. Wish they could have taken this even further.

    • 0 avatar

      Oldsmobile tried to take it further, but GM put the kibosh on the second gen Aurora, so they had to release what was supposed to be the model that sat under it as the second generation Aurora.

      Leave it to GM to handicap a brand and wonder why it fails.

  • avatar

    “The one you’d rush out the door and buy this instant if the opportunity arose.”

    There just isn’t one. Modern FWD is so much better than the craptastic stuff GM was pushing in the ’80’s but I still don’t like it and avoid FWD models as much as possible.

  • avatar

    I will say this about my 97 Pontiac Grand Prix SE 3.8, I bought it new after selling my 94 Saturn wagon, it now has 179K miles on it, it looks good, drives good and besides needing 2 window regulators everything still works, here’s the amazing thing – It has never been tuned up, by this I mean it still has the original plugs and wires! One day I will have to part with it but for now I drive it several times a week and sometimes can’t believe that I’m driving a 22 year old car that has been this reliable!

  • avatar

    Because it hasn’t been mentioned yet:
    1993 Cadillac Allante

    Of course, I’d fix the head stud and gasket issues first! :D

    Also high on my list:
    Ford Focus SVT – 5-door – a sweet handling machine. Add a supercharger and really fly!

    Ford Contour SVT – I’d swap the block for the 3.0 Duratec

    1993 Ford Probe GT – easily the sexiest ’90’s Ford ever built

    Dodge Caravan Turbo – with the 5-speed manual, obviously!

  • avatar

    I was a teenager in the ’80’s, so I’ll stick to some of the cars that Dad bought for himself, my mother, and my sisters, my brother, and me, in that era. With 5 sisters, that was a lot of cars, so only the good ones on this list:

    1985 AMC/Renault Alliance (R9), built in Wisconsin
    Amazingly fluid and smooth ride, this car had the larger 1.7L engine with 5-speed…wish I had one today. I drove this car the most, while the girls were mostly stuck with diesel VW Rabbits (not bad, but rough-riding and loud).

    1983 Dodge Charger, 2.2L with 5-speed, in red…almost gave one sister a reputation on its own!

    1986 Pontiac Grand Am 4-door, 4 cylinder, Tech4 (Iron Duke), automatic.
    Terrific robot of a car with exciting styling, and no defects up until it was traded in at 135k miles a few years later. Rear leg room was tight, but that was really only an issue on a trip with 3 sisters from NC to Utah and return.

    1989 Plymouth Horizon 2.2, 5-speed. Amazingly cheap, not bad-looking at all in black with a cushy whorehouse red interior. Good ride and solid power.

    1997 GEO Metro sedan (Suzui Swift)…special ordered from Ingersoll with the 1.3L 4cyl (73hp), 5-speed, with no power steering, no air conditioning, and a tachometer and nice radio. Fun to drive without the extra power accessories, and 55 MPG on a trip. Worst MPG was 38 or so during winter on a tank of city-only driving.

    2011 Impala, 3.9L with 6-speed auto. Dad’s 2nd-to-last car. I could get 37 MPG out of it, and the car had perfect robotic manners. Satellite radio and trip computer that would have been a dream in an ’80’s Cadillac. Rear seat folded perfectly flat for a huge sleeping area, were it ever to be taken car camping.

    I would be remiss not to mention the 1979 Austin Allegro that my brother-in-law bought for me to use while I worked for him in England during the summer of ’88. 1300 motor and 4-speed manual, and Moulton HydraGas suspension…the car had a fabulous comfortable ride, and had adequate power. The Allegro does not deserve the scorn that it usually gets!

    Those are the highlights. There’s a big blur of Cavaliers, Citations, Daytonas, Rabbits, a Corsica, Caravans, etc, that didn’t really stand out as terrible, but none were really exceptional as new cars. An ’83 Seville was pretty fine, especially in lemon yellow with yellow leather interior, but with a 4100, it would have been so much better with the 368 from my ’80 DeVille.

    These days I drive an ’06 GMC Envoy RWD Atlas L6 so that I can tow my 2014 Casita travel trailer and 1964 Airstream Land Yacht Safari, and still get 15-19 MPG.

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  • chiefmonkey: Ummm, Honda does the same thing. This isn’t such a big revelation anymore.
  • FreedMike: By today’s standards, practically everyone in Lincoln’s day was racist. Lincoln himself...
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  • Lie2me: They are, around where I am 2018/2019 Continentals are going for high $20s, low $30s
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