Buy/Drive/Burn: The $13,000 Sporty Car Question of 1988

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn the 13 000 sporty car question of 1988

In the recent Shelby CSX Rare Rides entry, long-term commenter 28-Cars-Later suggested some sporty competitors to the Shelby, all of which cost the same according to the state of Michigan. Japan, Germany, and America are well-represented in today’s trio.

Which one sets your sporty-small-car heart aflame in ’88?

Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen had a hot hatch hit on its hands with the original GTI, following it up with a second generation in 1985. Between 1985 and 1987, a lower-powered 1.8-liter GTI produced 110 horsepower. VW introduced a more powerful 16-valve version in 1987 that carried GTI through 1992. With lots of valves, the new 1.8 produced 137 Germanic horsepowers. Only the three-door hatch was available, and all 16 valves paired with a five-speed manual.

Toyota Celica

The Celica entered its fourth generation in 1986, donning front-drive as it moved further away from its former relationship with the Supra. The three base trims — ST, GT, and GT-S — were topped by a much more expensive Turbo All-Trac model that featured four-wheel drive. Competing today is the GT, in five-speed liftback guise. GT focused on additional power equipment over the base ST. From 1987 onward, the 3S-FE powered the GT. A 2.0-liter mill with 16 valves, it made 152 horsepower.

Shelby CSX

Produced only for the 1987 model year, we’ll assume there were some CSX examples left over in 1988. A product of the Shelby Automobiles company in California, the CSX started out as the sportiest Dodge Shadow turbo, then received additional modifications outside and underneath. The 2.2-liter Turbo II produced a trio-topping 175 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, routed through a five-speed manual. Not for those fond of choice, all 750 examples were painted in the color scheme shown here.

Liftback, hatchback, two-door sedan (with a liftback). Three continents; one price point. Where do their fates lie?

[Images: VW, Toyota, Shelby, seller]

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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Sep 18, 2019

    Buy/Drive the Shelby - I've had a non turbo Shelby Charger and driven the intercooled GLHS's - fun cars to drive. Since I have no preference on the other two, I'd buy them to drive occasionally. No burn, no way.

  • Doug Dolde Doug Dolde on Oct 16, 2019

    I don't get the write ups for all these old crappy cars. Not of interest !

  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part.
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
  • ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."