Hooniverse Weekend Edition – Remember the Inexpensive, Sporty, Two-Door Coupe?

This past Friday, I ran a posting about some rather delicious Toyota Celicas and Celica Supras, which got me to thinking…. What happened to all the little, affordable, and sporty two-door coupes. Almost every make had one, from the big three, to Volkswagen, every Japanese brand, even Hyundai offered one. Let’s do a quick photo review to see if you remember them.

For this review, let’s concentrate on the 80’s and the 90’s. Cars like the Mustang and Camaro are well known, but how many remember these?
The Ford EXP:

The Mercury LN7:

The Dodge Omni 024, Charger and The Plymouth Horizon TC3, Turismo, Duster:

The Plymouth Sundance Duster:

The Toyota Paseo:

The Nissan Pulsar NX:

The Nissan NX2000:

The Mazda MX-3:

The Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse:

The Hyundai Scoupe:

The Hyundai Tiburon:

The Acura Integra:

The Honda Prelude Mk 1:

The Subaru Leone (Loyale) 3 Dr Coupe:

The Renault Fuego:

If you have any others, please share them here. This seems to be a category that is virtually dead now, replaced with 4-door sedans as sports cars. What do you say?

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    Who remembers the Mitsubishi Cordia? You can be excused if you've forgotten it – the Cordia went by unnoticed even when new.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/1985-1989_Mitsubishi_Cordia_(AC)_GSL_hatchback_01.jpg/800px-1985-1989_Mitsubishi_Cordia_(AC)_GSL_hatchback_01.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      It's Sportia and Roomia!
      [youtube YDwnT1j-zWw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDwnT1j-zWw youtube]

    2. MuiDucK Avatar

      The Turbo version had quite a following in Australia, sadly most of them have been wrapped around a tree or junked.
      I went for a ride in a rust bucket with extra boost, all I can remember is lots and lots of understeer..

      1. sporty88 Avatar

        Lots of torque-steer too. That's why so many ended up wrapped around trees.
        I remember following one off from a set of lights once. Both of us in the fast lane of a three-lane highway, me on a motorcycle. I dropped into the middle lane, ready to pass, just as the Cordia's turbo came in. Scared the hell out of me when it took off across the front of me, front wheels smoking, the driver desperately trying (and only just succeeding) to avoid an off-road excursion into somebody's front yard. Looked like it scared something else out of the driver, judging from the look on his face when I passed him as he was just managing to get it straightened up in the slow lane.

  2. humblejanitor Avatar

    It looks like the Dodge Charger ripped off the LN7 as far as front styling and the rear profile are concerned.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      If you mean the pictured L-body Chargers, they were introduced over two years before the LN7/EXP.

    2. ptschett Avatar


    3. Dutch Avatar

      Probably the other way around. The Omni/Horizon 2 door was introduced in 1979. The Ford twins followed in 1982.

  3. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

    I think that the truck/SUV craze and cheap gas is responsible for killing off cars like these. Leased/used near-luxury cars like the BMW 3-series probably also made a big dent in this market.
    Honda still does pretty well with the Civic coupe, although I always thought the old hatchback was the better car. And I see a lot of Cobalt coupes, so I don't understand why Chevy's abandoning that niche with the Cruze. Ford's attempt at a Focus coupe was laughable and pointless. Other than the Kia Forte, there's nothing else left in this segment.

    1. Feds_II Avatar

      The focus coupe was pointless, but the 3-door was pretty slick, and follows your civic analogy.

      1. FTGDHoonEdition Avatar

        It was effing ugly! And didn't have the practicality of the 3 door either! I thank my stars that I hung on to my '03 SVT Focus 3-door to this day. It's still my DD, freaking love it.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      It didn't help that 4-doors have gradually been getting better-looking by adopting coupe styling traits like faster rear glass; there hasn't been as much style downside to buying a sedan as there used to be, making it easier to pick the 4-door. (I can even think of a few 4-doors that look better to my eyes than their 2-door counterpart… mostly GM's from the last 10 years.)

  4. facelvega Avatar

    Well, the Saturn SC also counts, though not too exciting. I assume a 240sx or MX-6 would have been just a little to expensive for this category. Also, does this have to be a 2+2 configuration, because the old MR2 was pretty cheap, and maybe a Fiero and a couple of others.
    But really, were any of these cars all that sporty when push came to shove? The MX-3 was good around curves, but not fast, and the Integra could be ordered very sporty but then wasn't cheap. Maybe the turbo Impulse was the real deal, though– I notice there is a tiny but rabid online presence that insists they were really faster than almost anything else you could get back then. But then what car doesn't have a rabid minority somewhere?

  5. earlofhalflight Avatar

    Fiat Coupe, or Coupe Fiat, depending on where you lived.
    <img src="http://www.carstyleplus.co.uk/Fiat_coupe/fiat_coupe_spoiler.jpg"&gt;

  6. Raze1138 Avatar

    I for one have a soft spot for a first-gen Chevy Cavalier hatchback coupe. IMO one of the best looking cars of its day, and certainly the best looking of the gen1 cavaliers. And it had some go with the v6.

    1. Feds_II Avatar

      My first car was an '86 Z-24 Hatch. Digital dash, red interior. '80's AWESOME. Fun in its day, but it disintegrated pretty quickly.

  7. dragon951 Avatar

    I am not sure it really qualifies as affordable, but a 924 seems like it belongs in this group.
    <img src="http://images16.fotki.com/v316/photos/1/10258/3458193/Front2-vi.jpg&quot; width=400 />

    1. facelvega Avatar

      Whoah wrong price bracket. In April 79, Car and Driver had the base price of a naturally aspirated 924 at $14,600, while a Corvette L82 started at $10,220. The combined price of a Fiat Spider 2000 and an RX-7 was about the same as the cost of one 924, and remember we're not even talking the turbo or later S models that were actually slightly fast.

  8. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    My mother had a blue-and-white '85 Charger Shelby that was sold before I was born – she remembers it being too powerful to drive in the winter, but great fun when the roads were easily passable. Three cars later, she's had her '01 New Beetle for the past seven and a half years – the same basic formula (two doors, hatch, turbocharger, five-speed) but far more refined; I borrowed it to get to work today and had a blast.
    A friend of the family had a champagne (beige) MX-3 – I remember it for the 1.8 V6 (smallest V6 ever in a production car, I believe) and little else.

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      the new beetle is a fun little car to drive… i've really only had fun in the 1.9 TDi versions (auto and 5-speed).. wet or dry.. they can be fun…
      also… the 1.8 V6 in the MX-3 sounds AWESOME with no muffler when run through full revs in a 5-speed… (not any faster… but it sounds sooo nice..)
      also… did you know that you can fit a full sized ( 4-rotary valved) concert tuba (in case) in the back of an MX-3 (with the hatch up.. and a very uncomfortable passenger)… i do… i was that passenger…

  9. CJinSD Avatar

    The Subaru representative should be an XT Coupe. The VW Scirocco and Corrado belong here too, considering that the somewhat upmarket Acura Integra made the cut. That goes for the various FWD Celica generations too. Also the Ford Probes, although the Mazda MX-6 doesn't seem as obvious an inclusion. The Honda CRX was the reason that cars like the Mazda MX-3 and Geo Storm came to market, so it is conspicuous by its absence. The Ford Escort ZX2 has a place on this list. How about the 1985 Toyota Corolla SR5? Not the FX, or the AE86, but the FWD 2 door that replaced the AE86.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      I agree that the CRX and ZX2 fit here, and think that the Integra really fits on that other list with the MX-6 and other cars one price bracket up.

      1. CJinSD Avatar

        The grouping makes a lot more sense without the Integra. Once you take out the Acura, many of the other exclusions start to make sense.

  10. JoeyM Avatar

    Geo storms are fun….How can you *not* love a cheap beater with a 7700 RPM redline?

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Made fun of a kid for having one once. When you put it that way it makes me seem rather foolish, or a bully one might say.

      1. JoeyM Avatar

        <iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/aWr_jvNSZns&quot; frameborder="0" allowFullScreen></iframe>

      2. JoeyM Avatar

        [youtube aWr_jvNSZns http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWr_jvNSZns youtube]
        Trying this video embedding thing again…..moderators, please delete my two previous attempts

    2. Jo Schmo Avatar
      Jo Schmo

      I have actually spent some time behind the wheel of a Storm and amazingly they are kinda fun to flog. What gets me is they look so much like a Camaro (in the front) of similar vintage.

    3. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      i respect the storm… 3 or 4 cyl… little economical cars that were capable of decent compact car driving…. but i always think of this guy i met (dorm-roomie of a good friend) who drove a '91 storm convertible.. and always defended his sh*tty little car as being awesome for one reason or another…. my favourite was a slip of the tongue (on his part) " my car will do 85 on the internet!!" (he meant interstate)

  11. Maymar Avatar

    It's a minor stretch, but the 3-door VW Golf is still available. There's rumblings of a Jetta couple also, right? Of course, if they stick with the North American engineering, it won't be very sporty.
    Going a few years back, there was also the Mercury Cougar. Since it was basically a Mystique coupe, the dynamics weren't terrible.
    Oh, and we're still stuck with the Altima coupe and Mitsubishi Eclipse.

  12. OA5599 Avatar

    The Plymouth Sundance listed above was a sibling to the Dodge Shadow and for a few dollars more, the hoonworthy Shelby CSX.
    <img src="http://www.shelbycsx.com/history/birthday/groupsantefesprings.jpg"&gt;
    Also on the Pentastar front, Neons used to be available in coupe bodies.
    <img src="http://erik.vandermey.net/images/topeka_2000a.jpg&quot; width=500>

  13. DeadinSideInc Avatar

    Don't forget the Asüna Sunfire! (it should be up there w/the Storm/Impulse)
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Asuna_sunfire.jpg"/&gt;

  14. Feds_II Avatar

    To me, the Gen III prelude fits here better than the gen I. A clean one still looks good, and they were very good cars in their day (and even today). Quiet, comfortable, adequate performace, stylish. Everything a sporty coupe should be.
    I wasn't into the import scene while the MX-3 was available, but I can't understand why they are not popular now. they're decent looking (as long as they are not wint-o-green), and have potential for lots of power with a 2.5l swap, but they just never seemed to catch on. Has anyone owned one? Are they particularly poor cars?

  15. James Avatar

    I'll just leave this here.

  16. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Way too many latitudinal engines. I'm scared.

  17. jiveturkey Avatar

    Ahhh, the 024. An '82 024 was my first car. It was, without a doubt, the slowest car I have ever owned. At least it had a four speed manual transmission and AM/FM/8-track standard.

  18. kah Avatar

    I think we should add the Opel Manta for us folks who started driving in the mid 70s
    <img src="http://i729.photobucket.com/albums/ww296/FOTOerento/Autovermietung/opel-manta.jpg”&gt;

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      The Manta (and the 1900) were cars I considered as my first one. I ended up buying a '75 Vega. Remember when these were called "super coupes", and SCCA Showroom Stock was new?
      Also don't forget the first and second-gen Mercury Capri.

      1. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
        Ate Up With Motor

        Just Capri. The U.S. cars were sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers, but they were imports, and they were not actually badged as Mercurys. Elsewhere, they were sold as Fords.
        <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2551/3939324057_88538bb105.jpg&quot; width="500" height="355" alt="1976 Mercury Capri Ghia 2.8 front" />
        Shameless plug for the history of the Capri: <a href="http://ateupwithmotor.com/sports-cars-and-muscle-cars/219-ford-capri-history.html” target=”_blank”>http://ateupwithmotor.com/sports-cars-and-muscle-cars/219-ford-capri-history.html

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      The Manta (and the 1900) were cars I considered when shopping for my first one. I ended up buying a '75 Vega. Remember when these were called "super coupes", and SCCA Showroom Stock was new?

  19. Black Steelies Avatar

    Noting a lack of GMs that qualify I'll toss a Citation X11 in the mix.
    <img src="http://nozama.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ed05fc28833011278d9a71f28a4-400wi"&gt;

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I had a '97 Cavalier coupe, a Z22 even (you know those stickers helped performance). It wasn't a fantastic performer (just sort of average FWD econobox), but it was sporty in the marketing sense (having a 5-speed and sunroof helped).

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      The ones with the high output 2.8 V6 weren't too shabby.

    3. Tomsk Avatar

      The Olds Quad 442 (and its successor, the Achieva SCX) were fairly reasonably priced while still offering enough performance to win IMSA Firehawk series championships.
      <img src="http://www.faroutinc.com/pastlargepics/91%20quad%20442%20001.jpg&quot; width="500" />

      1. ratler Avatar

        Hey that was my car. I had just rebuilt the motor and trans. I got hit in the rear on I-25 and near Hwy 72. It buckled the rear quarter so bad a chip of paint came off. That is the white spot behind the rear quarter window. To bad that car was fun to drive and kind of fast!? I also spent way too much money on the face lift. It had phantom flames on the hood. I'll miss that car. I also had a black 93 SCX. It too was fund to drive and fast. Sold that off too. Say what you want I had fun driving them and will miss them both!

    4. idiotking Avatar

      My girlfriend in high school had one of these. 55MPH on the highway and it sounded like a blender on warp-speed puree. It was assembled so poorly I could see outside through the body panels.

  20. rikadyn Avatar

    What, have the RX-7 and 240sx become too popular to even be considered now?

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      In '78, my second car was almost a then new RX-7 GS. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet learned to drive a manual, and would have wound up with an automatic. Instead, my next car was a '78 Audi Fox 4-door. A neat car, but incredibly unreliable.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      I think the RX-7 would be a full-on sports car instead of a sporty coupe. Probably a bit too expensive for the list, too.

  21. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    All of these are really from the third and fourth generations of this genre of cars. The VW Karmann Ghia and the Corvair Monza coupes are arguably the first of the breed. Some people might also consider the early Skylark, Tempest, Falcon Sprint and Dart GT to be in this category. Skip to the 70's and you have the Opel Manta, early Celicas, Chevy Monza. The '70s term used by all the car mags was "Super Coupes."

  22. Thrashy Avatar

    You. Forgot. My. Car.
    Ahem. Anyway, the category has indeed been dormant for several years, but we're seeing the makings of a comeback. After all, between now and this time next year, we'll be able to buy this:
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2011/01/02-2012-hyundai-veloster630-2.jpg&quot; width="250">
    and this:
    <img src="http://autoworld.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/fiat-500-abarth-essesse-official-img_3.jpg&quot; width="250">
    and while we wait, we can still get this
    <img src="http://hyundaitalk.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/2011-Hyundai-Genesis-Coupe3.jpg&quot; width="250">
    for less than $25,000.

  23. coupeZ600 Avatar

    The '72 Honda AZ600 Coupe! It's brand-new off the show-room floor price was $1250, and the curb weight was, right, you guessed it, 1250 lbs! That's a measly dollar per pound! The other truly amazing coincidence is that the 0-60 and the quarter-mile times were exactly the same as well, a mind-numbing 25.4 seconds!
    (Sorry if this a double post, I thought I sent it a long time ago.)

  24. Wunno Sev Avatar
    Wunno Sev

    I remember many of these. I remember few fondly.

  25. raphaelinberlin Avatar

    Unsurprisingly, not a lot of comments on the Paseo. Will people look back with nostalgia on the Paseo? dream of owning one? I can't help myself but dream of last-gen Fox mustangs and Pontiac Grands Prix (in shimmerey copper-beige, please), so I suppose that lusting after a Toyota Paseo is POSSIBLE, but I will not say that it is anything resembling likely.

  26. DGT Avatar

    '90 Eagle Talon? It was affordable and would have dusted everything else on here.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I heard someone describe the DSMs as having "the structural integrity of a bran muffin" – I don't remember where, though. Admittedly, they're solid cars if they're not driven hard, but by now all of them have been.

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        My sister used to have a 1st generation Laser. She got rear-ended by a flatbed wrecker (not loaded at the time). The wrecker was mangled enough that it had to be towed away, The Plymouth was stll drivable-just needed a bumper, a taillight, and some paint.
        She never really drove it that hard that I saw, though she did cook a turbo during the warranty period.

  27. paxman356 Avatar

    I had a 1983 Plymouth Sapporo. It was a great little coupe. It didn't have a B pillar, which was good, because it also didn't have air conditioning. It was silver with a black top (more heat in the summer) and had a digital dash. It's kinda like the car in the link below, only with a manual instead of an auto.

  28. bboxy Avatar

    this segment is all i ever wanted to drive and modify into little screamers, until i grew up and suddenly realized they'd stopped making the damn things years ago and i was/am left trolling Craig's for some ten-year old example of a very light and tossable manual-trans coupe *sigh*
    Also, Paseo? Really? What a grossly under-performing little burp. I had a 93 Probe GT in high school that got a bad rap for some reason but would unmercifully crush my buddy's Paseo in all situations. Truly a fun car to drive for $2500 in '00….