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.
Mitsubishi 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.
Nissan 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.
Mazda 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.
Ford/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?