Hooniverse Asks- What Cheap Fun Car From the Past Would you Like to See Resurrected?

Pocket rockets, GT packages, Euro trim. There used to be a lot of fun little cars out there, and they didn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy and own. Today, Honda still gives us the Civic Si, and Nissan’s Sentra SE-R won’t cost you a kidney to buy, but that’s pretty much it. Where have all the good cars gone?
The quintessential pocket rocket – the VW GTI – has moved up-market and from that perch it looks down its nose at our skinny wallets. Even Mazda, who goes zoom-zoom in their ads doesn’t seem to want to go cheap-cheap with their 3 as they load up the fun version with turbos and all wheel drive, making it heavy and expensive.
But back in the day you could pick up a Colt, or the original Rabbit GTI, and you wouldn’t have to mortgage the house to do so. Suzuki’s Swift GTi was equally affordable and fun, so of course they killed it.
Setting the Way-Back Machine for the sixties puts us in the midst of a ton-o-fun with Cortina GTs, Hillman Imps, original Minis and other amazingly engaging but cheap to own cars. Most of those, owing to their low price points and disposable nature have gone to the crusher, and today the survivors command premium dollar for their rarity.
Sure, modern safety and emissions controls demand cars weigh a lot more than even a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean that we should be denied cars that make us feel special while not sucking up all our fiduciary resources.
So what cheap fun car from the past would you like to see resurrected?  Do you hanker for that Colt’s twin-stick four speed? Or maybe you’d like a Mini that’s more go than show and doesn’t cost the Crown Jewels to own. Whichever it is, let us know.
Image sources: [productioncars.com, philseed.com]

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50 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Cheap Fun Car From the Past Would you Like to See Resurrected?”

  1. Michael Avatar

    My personal favorite was my bare bones, radio delete, 5.0 Mustang LX. Cheap Fun.
    It was V8, two door, rear wheel drive, dual exhaust, manual transmission and it put a smile on my face everyday I started the engine.

  2. bigfuz Avatar

    It would be a glorious day for all if the Integra came back. I had a first-gen that was all steel construction, yet highly toss-able. I cannot stand this TSX crap that we're stuck with today.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      That is a good call…

    2. Fej Avatar

      I'd love to see the integra come back. Though you know it wouldn't be the lightweight, quick, tossable rockets like your 1st gen and my old 94 gsr. The RSX was a nice car, I've driven one a couple of times, but they just aren't the same. And whatever they came up with as a replacement would probably be worse…

  3. Tripl3fast Avatar

    Specific models aside, just make any car to these standards and I'd be a happy camper. Basic safety, then firm suspension and revs revs revs and some more revs with a manual gearbox. Heat, A/C, and a radio. Am I asking too much? or too little? I don't care whatcha call it either.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker


  4. tonyola Avatar

    Honda CRX. I had an '84 1.5 for ten years. Endlessly entertaining, even with only 76 hp.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Better economy than a Prius, too.

      1. Fej Avatar

        I'll never respect the Prius when any idiot can drive a crx hf like a raped ape and get 50+ mpg. Hell, you can get into the upper 40's in a dx with out much effort

    2. Fej Avatar

      I'll jump on this bandwagon! They came close with the insight, then they misplaced a cylinder and mucked it up even more when they threw in all those batteries. The sad thing is that the 1st gen insight is the closest we'll to a true modern crx…
      But if you want to give these guys an insight and a bunch of money, you can have your modern crx si http://www.hondatuningmagazine.com/features/htup_

  5. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Graverobber where did you find an AWD Mazdaspeed 3?

    1. greenvanman Avatar

      he probs got it confused with the 6, they are both amongst the worst smelling cars of all time

    2. Robert Emslie Avatar
      Robert Emslie

      Yeah, my bad, I was thinking of the 6.

  6. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    Damn that thing looks good…
    Also, maybe this is where Ian Callum ACTUALLY got the idea for the rear pillars on the new XJ

  7. Josh Avatar

    I would love Nissan to ressurect the old early 90s 240sx.

  8. P161911 Avatar

    Corvair Monza Spyder

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      Only with something easier to tune and maintain than the evil Carter YH carb. That's the main complaint of everyone I know that owns a Spyder or a Corsa turbo.

    2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      How about a modern non-Corvair Monza Spyder.
      Don't laugh! Remember that a modern one would be damn-near rustproof compared to the old ones AND it would be LS3-powered. In fact, I want one now.

  9. PFG Avatar

    Had one. Not my all-time favorite car. However, this may have been a case of one bad example…I'm pretty sure mine was a theft recovery.

  10. alex Avatar

    Merkur XR4Ti and the original 2002 WRX

  11. engineerd Avatar

    My dad had a Colt with the twin sticks! I remember that car well. He sold it and bought another Colt when the miles on the first got pretty high (he was commuting from Riverside to LA at the time and reliability was a big concern). The second Colt committed suicide by engine fire years later. For an insurance salesman with a young family, they were great cars because they were pretty darn reliable and were affordable.
    My answer, other than the Escort Mk 1 and plethora of cars mentioned by Mr. Robber, would be the Fiat X1/9. Actually, I'd throw in the Spridget along with it. Affordable, fun little European runabouts on our shores. Now the European runabouts we get have a Z in the name and are heavy and/or expensive.
    Runner up is the the 1st gen MR2. Remember? From Toyota! Back when they knew how to do fun.

    1. YoYo Noritake Avatar
      YoYo Noritake

      My 1st car was an orange Colt with the twin stick, I became pretty adept at splitting the gears with the power/economy stick (8 speeds effectively).

  12. Maymar Avatar

    On that note, I'd be content with a 4-cylinder Boxster, if they could get it somewhat affordable – I'm sure the current base price of 47 grand makes that difficult.

    1. dragon951 Avatar

      I seemed to remember thinking it was affordable when it first came out, but looking back, it started at $40k, I guess it's price really hasn't swelled that much. Good thing a base 90's model is under $10k now.

  13. Saturnsufferer Avatar

    Volkswagon Corrado circa 1995. Update powetrain to DI, turbo, 4 and change NOTHING else.
    [img ]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Corrado_VR6_Storm.JPG[img]

    1. Saturnsufferer Avatar

      Ok image post = fail. Time to read the board interface directions.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Do it like a normal HTML image embed
        [img src="IMG URL" width="500"]
        Replace the square brackets with pointy ones.

        1. Saturnsufferer Avatar

          Thank you!
          <img src="http.com//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Corrado_VR6_Storm.JPG" width="500">

  14. Feds_II Avatar

    Plus amillionty!
    I had the Canadian LX version… Everything but the turbo… 10 years later, that is the car I miss the most.

  15. Dorkus Malorkus Avatar
    Dorkus Malorkus

    [youtube imuAxpqfKAA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imuAxpqfKAA youtube]
    The Chevette would be a good one, but I'm a little partial myself 😉

  16. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    I can't see half the pictures here, so hopefully this isn't a repost. The original DSM Eclipse/Talon TSi AWDs were bad ass little monsters, and fairly cheap to boot. Over the years they got way more expensive, bloated, and girly. The current Eclipse sucks.
    For bare bones fun, a CRX Si would be a hoot.

  17. Corvette_Poncho Avatar

    Really? No one has said it yet? Dodge Omni GLH! 146 turbo charged 5spd sh!t-box dodge! Hoonage at it's finest!

    1. Rockford_Brodie Avatar

      +1. Too bad ol' Shel never got his hands on any Rampages…

      1. Atomo Avatar

        He did, there is a picture I found once and lost that shows the concept rig they did up… the thing looked AWESOME!
        My favorite would the a 4dr Sundance with a 2.5L Turbo I, stealth that can whoop alotta can!

  18. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    Jeez — no way can I narrow this to one. The front runners:
    1957-60 Bianchina (the one with the suicide doors and the rollback fabric top
    VW Karmann Ghia
    Honda 600 or Z Coupe
    Corvair (1964 or any 2d generation)
    1962 Tempest or Special/Skylark convertible
    A bone stock, 3 on the tree, manual everything, no options except V8 Chevy Biscayne coupe, 1961-68

  19. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

    I had two of these that I put many hard pizza miles on. The sedan is very inconspicuous in traffic and surprised many a non-turbo first-gen Eclipse/Laser driver that thought they were going to pass me and cut me off from a standing green-light start.

  20. Black Steelies Avatar

    Cosworth Vega. But give us that sleek Kammback style and a more reliable turbo engine.

  21. James Avatar

    Alfa Romeo GTV6, thanks!
    since everyone's already mentioned the 5-and-dime and the '02. The 2002tii Touring is the real answer here.

  22. JayP Avatar

    I hope the Polo GTi is as fun as the old A1.
    or A2… that was a fun car too!

  23. Mechanically Inept Avatar

    BMW 2002 or 318i. Give me a basic 4-cylinder driver's machine: light weight, manual transmission, good fuel economy, and great handling. And make a straight-six an option, as well. That or the Porsche 968; even though those weren't really cheap, they were awesome. A new 4-cylinder front-engined Porsche must happen.

  24. JayP Avatar

    Spotted one last week in my neighborhood. Looked good with the alloys and lowered.

  25. JayP Avatar

    MGB-GT. Beautiful proportions, good power and easy to work with. And if you knew how to finesse live axles, a good handler.
    BMW came really close in style to it with the Z Coupe.
    There's no way a modern car can be as simple as the old tractor based lumps. Part of the charm that we'll never get back.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Got 3 MGBs, including a B-GT and a Lemons racer. 2 of the cars have racked up many-many miles on daily driver duty, and the racer survived a nice triple roll on the track last year. Fun cars you just don't see out that often anymore. The only vehicles I know of that tell you how they feel and warn you "Hey dummy, I'm about to break".

  26. antilagsystem Avatar

    My cheap fun car is a '94 Ford Ranger (actually, Mazda B4000 but that's splitting hairs). I think they should bring them back.
    They are cheap if you buy the bare-bones no-power-nothin' with cloth bench seat no A/C and a stick. It's a pure "tractor based lump" but with a 4.0L V6 so it's got enough torque to push the heaviness around. And the engine is driving the right set of wheels so the fun pedal is actually fun. Working on the things is like child's play too. '94 is after they got rid of carbs and distributors but when you could still see the engine block from the top of the engine bay.
    Oh wait, I heard they are still making them and still haven't redesigned them. And every time they try to kill them off they sell a bunch more of them.
    I guess I wish they would bring back the 1994 bottom-end everything-is-optional package.

  27. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I have a few that immediately come to mind. The B13 SE-R is a wonderful little car, and the B13 (Tsuru)is still in production in Mexico. Sadly though, you can’t get a new B13 in the US. The B13’s spiritual father and inspiration is next. Of course, I refer to the Datsun PL 510. Then there would be the Honda N600 with it’s tiny kei car dimensions and 2 stroke 2 cylinder engine. I also love the Honda City turbo-complete with the accessory scooter. The original Mini goes without saying, but then again so does the Golf GTI MK I.
    As far as cars we don’t see here that I want, there are several that fill these roles nicely. The VW Polo GTI is a neat little car with nice, clean lines and all in a package about the same size as a Golf I. The Renault Twingo also makes my list as does the Ford Ka, GAZ Oka (you can get an electric one here though…), VW Fox, Fiat Panda, Toyota Aygo and even the Maruti 800. All in all, the biggest problem is that, even when they are made elsewhere, the US market simply does not get too many good, cheap small cars.
    The Fiesta is a bit of a joke as it is priced way too high for what it is. It may be good, but the most basic hatch is almost $16k after destination fee and far more than that after tax, dealer prep, etc. It is also far from small. Sorry, but I saw a Fiesta sedan the other week at the local IKEA, and I could not believe how large it was. It should be smaller and cheaper. In Europe, Ford offers such a beast in the form of the Ka, but sadly, not here.

  28. Tomsk Avatar

    -BMW 2002 (not the porcine caricature that is the 1 Series)
    -Chevrolet Sprint Turbo (there's a white one that lives in town and I'm inexplicably drawn to it)
    -Mazda MX3 (peewee V6s FTW!)
    -Saab 96 (Eeeen-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee…)

  29. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Twin stick Dodge Colt Turbo! F@#$ YEAH!
    I wanted one as soon as I saw it in 1984. They did a magazine article (Hot-Rod?) that totally sealed the deal for me. I carried that magazine with me for months!
    Then, we rolled a regular Colt up in the mountains, late one night in the mid 80s. Buddy nodded off, hit a cliff wall, flipped at least twice while I screamed like a little wussy, crunched all 4 corners, and narrowly escaped rolling off the cliff backwards by just catching the guardrail. The car sat there purring with it's lights on as if nothing had happened, and would have been drivable except for the 2 broken CV joints. Not a scratch on either of us.
    After that I was convinced it was one of the safest cars out there at the time. Yet my enthusiasm kinda waned…
    I'll never forget the road going upside down in slow motion with a BOOM! Then right side up – BOOM! Upside down – BOOM! Right side up – BOOM! Not sure how many more times we flipped downhill. Then rolling backwards thinking "Uh-oh…hold on."
    Thank god for that last thunk against the guardrail.
    Ok, maybe not so much the Turbo Colt. I've had my fill of Colts. No more Colts. Crap, I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight.

  30. James Ash Avatar
    James Ash

    Definitely the original MK1 Peugeot 106 Rallye. You can cane it to within an inch of its life, and still get 40 mpg. I've had three (the first two succumbed to some pretty terminal lift off oversteer, managed to sell the third before I crashed it).

  31. Stephen Hood Avatar
    Stephen Hood

    Drove a Colt one summer. Don't remember the year, but it was a two door hatch with a stick and a speed boost button or some such nonsense. Liked the damn thing a lot. It was fun to drive. got great gas mileage, and it had enough room for my backpack and my dog. I also drove an '84 Tercel. Everything was falling off but it always started. Fairly soulless but good bare bones transportation.

  32. microbuss Avatar

    car I'd like see come back is the 1st generation Geo Metro LSI that thing got 50-60+MPGs! 4 door or 2 door or convertable version Which last I checked The convertable Geo Metro is becoming a colletor car hehe