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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    If I Could Turn Back Time - Sports Cars Edition

      If you could turn back time, which sports car from 1989 would you chose?

    It's time to roll back the clocks, and one of Cher's most famous songs, "If I Could Turn Back Time" debuted in 1989. That same year, automakers introduced at least 51 new models to the public.

    Each week for the next four weeks, we'll take a look at some of those cars, and you vote for which car would make you wish you could turn back time.

    The categories will be Family Car, Sports Car, Luxury Car, and Exotic.

    1989 was a good year for people who liked sports cars as many fun new options hit the market.

    1990-mitsubishi-eclipse-1315942-2758051.jpgMitsubishi Eclipse / Eagle Talon / Plymouth Laser – This trio from Mitsubishi was a product of the Diamond-Star Motors partnership with Chrylser.  While built with all-wheel drive in mind, the first year of these cars was front-wheel drive only, with AWD coming to the Eclipse and Talon in 1990 and to the Laser in 1991.  Three engine variants were offered; a 92 horsepower 1.8 liter 4-cylinder with SOHC, a 2.0 liter 16-valve DOHC with 135 horsepower, or a 2.0-liter DOHC Turbo with either 180 horsepower (automatic transmission) or 190 horsepower (manual transmission). The Eclipse got the broadest selection of engines, trims, and options with the Plymouth roughly matching it. The Talon was aimed at higher performance and did not get the base engine. All three have a hood bulge that is commonly thought to be for the turbo; however, it is actually to give clearance to the DOHC valvetrain.   All three were relatively well received; however, the Laser never sold as well as the Eclipse or Talon and was dropped at the end of the model run.

    1990-Nissan-240SX-S13-for-32750-01.jpgNissan 240SX – This rear-wheel drive sports coupe and hatchback replaced the famed 200SX in 1989. While there are visual differences, the 240SX is largely a direct counterpart to the Japanese market Silvia. This car was known for its excellent handling due to its light weight and rear-wheel drive. American models were let down with a relatively underpowered 2.4 liter SOHC 4-cylinder that produced only 140 horsepower, while Japan and Europe got to enjoy a turbo-intercooled 1.8 liter. Transmissions were either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. The coupes offered a heads-up display with a digital speedometer are part of a convenience package.

    15831286-1990-mazda-miata-std.jpgMazda Miata MX-5 – The MX-5 is the only car in this list to survive in production to the current day. Entering the market in September 1989 as a 1990 model, the MX-5  Miata was an instant classic. It took the formula of an English roadster and gave it handling plus Japanese reliability. In January 1990, it was awarded Car of the Year by Automobile Magazine. The MX-5 owed its great handling to a lightweight double wishbone suspension at all four wheels. Power was not amazing at only 115 hp and 100 lb.-ft of torque, but with a base curb weight of only 2,120 lbs., it still provided plenty of fun. The standard transmission was a 5-speed manual, but an automatic could be selected with a 10 hp penalty. The Miata's legendary manual transmission was conceived to have as short a throw as possible with minimal effort. Those who prefer simplicity could opt for the base model with steel wheels, roll-up windows, and no stereo or air conditioning. This first-generation Miata was in production for 8 years with 431,506 units produced.

    1990-ford-capri-5.jpgFord/Mercury Capri - If you hail from down under, another sports car debuted that would eventually make its way to the US, the Ford Capri. Production of the Capri started in 1989. It was built using Mazda 323 mechanicals in a body designed by Ghia. It was intended from the start to be a Ford Australia export model for the US market. Problems with parts and production delayed export until the 1991 model year. While heavier than the Miata, the Capri was saddled with a base SOHC engine of 1.6 liters that produced a mere 82  horsepower. Buyers could option up to a 1.6 liter DOHC turbo with 134 horsepower, but that was only available with a 5-speed manual. The initial teething problems with parts, roofs leaking, low  power output, and front-wheel drive left shoppers skeptical. Only 66,279 Capris were produced.

     

    So which of these 1989 Sports Cars would you own if you could turn back time?

     

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    Love the throwback. Makes me miss my old '95 Talon(s).

     

    My 2nd one here (circa 2005-2008). It got me from NC to Arizona when I moved there in '07. Just the ESI (non-turbo) model but it was a 5 speed manual. The autos in those were garbage. It was great on gas and gave me minimal hassle. No way I could sit in one now but I will always have a soft spot for them. Love the write up @Drew Dowdell!

     

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    Had a '93 Laser as well but it was an auto and was the slow poke model lol. It was my first car that was solely in my name back in '94 and I owned it for a year before I traded it on my first '95 Talon. It was the exact same trim model as my red one, only it was white and black. 

    93_Laser.jpg.7b2fd3d12cbc06be79260fb01be77bc5.jpg

     

    95_Talon.jpg.66ebf93cb55f1f0842f4326342495f68.jpg

    Edited by surreal1272
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    Having gone to college in Japan, I truly fell in love with the Skyline series. Would have loved one here, but did really like the Nissan 240SX they had, but like all cars small, it just does not fit this Shrek of a man, so I will admire them while driving my SUVs. 😛

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    Of this group I'd have to say the Miata.  Not having driven any of them or having any experience with them, the Miata is the one that is still here so I assume is the best and most desirable.  Although I'd think the Toyota MR2 or Supra are better than this group.  And there is the Fox body Mustang, unless we are calling that pony car and not sports car.

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    55 minutes ago, David said:

    Having gone to college in Japan, I truly fell in love with the Skyline series. Would have loved one here, but did really like the Nissan 240SX they had, but like all cars small, it just does not fit this Shrek of a man, so I will admire them while driving my SUVs. 😛

    I once owned an '89 MR2 and my 6'5" cousin had to be shoehorned into that thing lol. (only once though). All those cars were tight quarters for anyone over 6 feet, in general. 

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    There is an advantage of being a short person.   At 5 feet 6 and a half to three quarters nearing and almost BEING 5'7", I got no problems fitting in these cars.  Let the fun times roll!   

    From the list that was given to us, Id gladly take the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon/The Plymouth Laser triplets.  With those Turbos spooling please.   A friend had an Eagle Talon TSi AWD. I believe it was a 1990.  

    2nd gens were awesome!  Loved those!   AWESOME that you got to experience them @surreal1272!!!  And the MR2!

    I had a 1989 2.8V6  T-Top Firebird in 1993-1994.  Now, between my '89 V6 Firebird and a '89 Eagle Talon Turbo, I think Id get myself THE Turbo.

    But NOT the Eagle Talon...  Pontiac's version of a turboed car.    1989 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition, Indy Pace Car — GF  Motorsports

     

     @Robert Hall's  choice of the Nissan 300ZX TT would be in 2nd place for me. 

     

    The Eagle Talon TSi would be tied in 3rd place with my V6 Firebird and Pontiac's other turbo car for 1989.  So 3 cars in 3rd place.

    The Real Story Behind McLaren Tuning The 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix For More  Power

     

    Rounding up the list would be the Nissan 240SX.   

    We dont have cars like these anymore.  Fun fun fun things to drive...   

     

     

     


     

    Edited by oldshurst442
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    56 minutes ago, oldshurst442 said:

    There is an advantage of being a short person.   At 5 feet 6 and a half to three quarters nearing and almost BEING 5'7", I got no problems fitting in these cars.  Let the fun times roll!   

    From the list that was given to us, Id gladly take the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon/The Plymouth Laser triplets.  With those Turbos spooling please.   A friend had an Eagle Talon TSi AWD. I believe it was a 1990.  

    2nd gens were awesome!  Loved those!   AWESOME that you got to experience them @surreal1272!!!  And the MR2!

    I had a 1989 2.8V6  T-Top Firebird in 1993-1994.  Now, between my '89 V6 Firebird and a '89 Eagle Talon Turbo, I think Id get myself THE Turbo.

    But NOT the Eagle Talon...  Pontiac's version of a turboed car.    1989 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition, Indy Pace Car — GF  Motorsports

     

     @Robert Hall's  choice of the Nissan 300ZX TT would be in 2nd place for me. 

     

    The Eagle Talon TSi would be tied in 3rd place with my V6 Firebird and Pontiac's other turbo car for 1989.  So 3 cars in 3rd place.

    The Real Story Behind McLaren Tuning The 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix For More  Power

     

    Rounding up the list would be the Nissan 240SX.   

    We dont have cars like these anymore.  Fun fun fun things to drive...   

     

     

     


     

    Fun, Fun, Things to drive if your SHORT! 😜

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    I remember back in 1990 briefly driving a new Miata...my late brother was then a salesman at a small VW/Mazda dealer, they had gotten a red Miata. I took it on a test drive, was fun on a winding Ohio backroad but I felt too big (at 20 I was 6'0" and about 180lbs) for it..felt very cramped inside compared to my familiar Fox Mustangs. 

    My sister had a '90 300ZX turbo, I drove it a couple times when visiting her in Boston, she had it only a year or so before trading on a more practical Saab 900.  Was pretty nice IIRC. 

    I miss sporty 2dr hatchbacks and trunked coupes...30 years ago there were so many choices, most w/ manuals available. 

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    From this list, I think I'd take the Miata for a couple reasons. There's an ENDLESS aftermarket support and it's RWD. 

    If there's something I didn't like about it, there will be an aftermarket upgrade or conversion kit (LS swap ;) ) But, 115hp in a car that only weighs like 2100lbs still can't be all that bad. I know I've had a motorcycle with more power but 2100lbs is damn light. 

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    25 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Well the point of this is that these were the new releases in 1989.  We still have 3 more categories to go.

    In my case, I completely understood the concept, and I cant wait for the other conversations to start.  In my case, in 2022, , for me to turn back time and choose from the list you gave, the 1st editions of brand new models, like I stated,  would be the Mitsubishi/Mopar triplets.  

    But since I did own a 1989 V6 Firebird...turning back the time  for me is just returning back to a model year vehicle I actually owned.   Maybe I didnt buy the Firebird new in 1989 and bought it used just a couple of years later. But still.  And yes, the Firebrid at that time was definetly not a new model entry, it was 22 years old at this time.  But in 1989 , the sports car that I lusted after was a Trans Am.   Be it the Turbo 20th Anniversay or the new 4rth gen F Body Trans Am when I bought my V6 Firebird used from a friend.   And while in 1989, I did love a Mitsubishi Eclpise and Eagle Talon, I much much MUCH preferred THE Trans Am.    So that would be my story for when I was 16-17 years old in 1989 and 20 when I I actually owned a 1989 model car. 

     

     

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    2 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

    I miss sporty 2dr hatchbacks and trunked coupes...30 years ago there were so many choices, most w/ manuals available. 

    Me too.

    Despite my then, American car bias, today, I sorely miss all those sporty 2dr hatchbacks and coupes regardless of where the country of origin these cars were from.  Nothing like that is being made anymore.  And those kinds of cars back then, were more or less affordable for a 20 year old to buy. At least in base form.  My friends in the 1990s all drove these kinds of cars. And most of us were not rich kids either. Just kids with  regular, shytty jobs flipping burgers, selling shoes or stocking shelves...   Like the shytty jobs kids have today paying for their schooling and trying to buy a vehicle to get to school and work and maybe a date here and there. 

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    I had fun w/ RWD coupes in my teens and twenties...for the 1st half of the 90s I drove my '86 Mustang LX notchback and my '87 Mustang GT (both in my tiny avatar pic)...fun, RWD, manual.   After the '86 was totaled in '94, I got my first SUV (Bronco II 4x4 w/ a manual).   Then in '98 my last manual coupe ('96 M3).    Wasn't until I was 30 that I got into Grand Cherokees for my primary vehicle.

    Looking forward to driving my '87 GT next year (getting refreshed this winter along w/ the '69 Mustang and '67 Cougar).   

    Maybe I can dig out my '90s CDs and mix tapes and remember when I had hair...;)

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    1 hour ago, oldshurst442 said:

    In my case, I completely understood the concept, and I cant wait for the other conversations to start.  In my case, in 2022, , for me to turn back time and choose from the list you gave, the 1st editions of brand new models, like I stated,  would be the Mitsubishi/Mopar triplets.  

    But since I did own a 1989 V6 Firebird...turning back the time  for me is just returning back to a model year vehicle I actually owned.   Maybe I didnt buy the Firebird new in 1989 and bought it used just a couple of years later. But still.  And yes, the Firebrid at that time was definetly not a new model entry, it was 22 years old at this time.  But in 1989 , the sports car that I lusted after was a Trans Am.   Be it the Turbo 20th Anniversay or the new 4rth gen F Body Trans Am when I bought my V6 Firebird used from a friend.   And while in 1989, I did love a Mitsubishi Eclpise and Eagle Talon, I much much MUCH preferred THE Trans Am.    So that would be my story for when I was 16-17 years old in 1989 and 20 when I I actually owned a 1989 model car. 

     

     

    I've said before that I really loved the Talon, particularly the late second-gen one... but I wouldn't say no to a first gen.

    Yes it was a Japanese designed car, but for some reason the Talon seemed slightly Euro to me, particularly on the interior.

    What tended to kill these was the timing belts. They had an unusually short life.

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    On 11/8/2022 at 11:15 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

    I've said before that I really loved the Talon, particularly the late second-gen one... but I wouldn't say no to a first gen.

    Yes it was a Japanese designed car, but for some reason the Talon seemed slightly Euro to me, particularly on the interior.

    What tended to kill these was the timing belts. They had an unusually short life.

    Have driven the 2nd gen Talon TSI AWD a few times and that car was a blast to drive. The AWD in that really got it off the line in a hurry and greatly improved the handling over the FWD only models. I loved my Talons but part of me wishes that I had pulled the trigger on one of those TSI models. The only reason why I didn't was because I didn't need the temptation of collecting speeding tickets as a career choice lol.

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