Buy/Drive/Burn: Early Eighties Converted Convertibles From Japan
Think back to the Eighties, that optimistic decade when automakers hired aftermarket companies to create convertible versions of their two-door models. The big three Japanese brands each offered their own aftermarket “sports themed” convertible in the first half of the decade.
Which masterpiece is worth a Buy?
1982 Honda Prelude
1982 was the final model year for the first-generation Honda Prelude that debuted in 1978. Honda farmed out the conversions of its high-priced Celica competitor to various coachbuilders. Under hood was the CVCC engine from the Accord, making 72 horsepower out of 1.8 liters. Between 1981 and 1982, around 150 convertibles were sold. Dealers weren’t shy about asking prices, demanding around $41,000 (adjusted for inflation).
1983 Datsun 200SX
This Datsun is the most luxurious and broughamic of today’s trio. The 200SX convertible was available one last time for 1983, as the aged, square design made way for a new model that was a bit more sporty. A company called ACC in California handled at least some of the Datsun’s conversions. The 200SX (nee Silvia) entered production in its original form in 1979. In 1982 the engine was upgraded from a 2.0-liter inline-four to a 2.2-liter unit with fuel injection. 103 horsepower were shifted through a three-speed automatic in these convertibles.
1984 Toyota Celica
The Celica is the newest offering today. It was offered in convertible format and sole GT-S trim for the first time in 1984. ASC handled the third-generation Celica’s roof surgery. Introduced in 1981, Toyota made small changes to the Celica each year as emissions regulations shifted around. For 1982, the standard engine became the 2.4-liter 22R (105 hp) mill from the Hilux, paired to a five-speed manual. The first-year Celica convertible was very limited in production — only 200 were made. 1985 was this generation’s final year, as the fourth-gen soap bar Celica was ready.
Three obscure Japanese convertibles, each of them Rare Rides even when new. Which one’s worth buying?
[Images: Toyota, sellers]
Thomas Kreutzer on Nov 14, 2019
My sister had an 200SX coupe of this model and it was a kicking little car for the era. I rode in preludes of that era as well, and they were nice enough but I never saw the attraction, honestly. Although these cars were built into the 80s, there were both really late 70s cars and, as such, are a generation behind the Celica. The Celica GTS is no Supra, but has enough in common that it would be pleasant to own and use. I think that would be my choice.
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