Streetwalker – Prodding the edges of two inexpensive Japanese coupes

jeppis_selected_4 My brother – consider him the Bark M equivalent, then – needs a new car. Well, a new old car. Since the 323F shuffled towards the end of its mortal coil pack due to terminal thievery vandalism, he needs an another set of wheels at some point. For the time being, he’s reasonably happy driving a slushbox MKIV Golf, but there’ll be a time when he’ll shell over the estimated two grand for something he’s deemed fit for purchase. Let it be known, he’s even pickier about mileage than I am and he values sporty exterior pretentions more than staid-but-worthy sedans. French cars are viewed with suspicion. Naturally, the more reasonable end of the used Japanese coupe segment pricing is very enticing. This weekend, a friend came to my town by train and we did the best thing you can do here: we took the Saab and drove to another town. Kidding, kidding. But as I had my camera tagging along, I snapped a couple of photos of the kind of cars that make the cut when I check the listings. jeppis_selected The first thing here isn’t for sale, but a random curbside sighting. The Honda Prelude will always retain interest, as it’s technically reliable, always nicely styled and quite often very affordable. It’s just that the desirability of the Prelude, no matter which engine it has, is always tied to the amount of modifications the owner or former owner has done. Unnecessary go-barely-faster mods, shoddy audio, tacky wheels and all are always removable, but sometimes just kill the interest dead. The other thing is the near-unescapable rust, which will always be a problem over here with Hondas, even if that’s definitely not solely limited to them. You would have to buy a winter-stored car and keep storing it over winter, and that sort of takes some of the useability away. jeppis_selected_3 Since my brother started out with a Sunny and moved on to a 323, a Nissan 100NX is sort of a natural contender here. Note, though, that this is just me marking things down: the extremely rounded design language of the 100NX can be off-putting, just like some people find the Miata overly cutesy. But I stand to defend the NX, as it’s a product of its time, the sharing, caring 1990s. Most of the cars only had the same 1.6-litre engine as the Sunny did, so there aren’t many thrills to be had from the 12-valve lump. There are some 2.0-litre SR20 cars that have travelled here from Germany, but those aren’t exactly common. But, since the car would be a commuter and the thing most asked of it would be the eagerness to start in any weather with just the turn of the key, the 100NX would fit the bill fine. The plastic conk can probably withstand some creative Helsinki parking without getting all dented, and if the car happened to be a T-top version, that would make it a perfect boulevard cruiser. An obvious demerit is the inherent creakiness of a Japanese econobox interior, which is always exaggerated by the downtown Helsinki cobblestones. jeppis_selected_5 Note, please, the tow bar. It’s an addition that’ll always make my car-checking friend do a 180° and immediately head away, and that’s what he did right here. I understand his derision, as it’s like a middle finger to anyone willing to appreciate the clean lines of a sporty car, no matter how inexpensive. And it’s always a weird thing to mount on a dainty little coupe: what would you pull with one of these? A boat? Of the two cars here, only the 100NX was listed for sale. While it was clean, it wasn’t quite clean enough to merit the 2,5k price tag, so I’ll have to find an another 100NX to sample. I’d really love to. [Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here