Re: The mentioned Celica (which is apparently pronounced “Cel-EE-ca” by our UK friends)— when those first appeared I thought they were really ugly. In comparison to so much on the market now (Civic, Vette, all Toyotas, BMW…) they look understated and rather good.
Thank you for this, Adam. Well done. I would choose the Prelude, which I have driven. It belonged to a friend of mine who bought it new, I can;t remember the year, and used it as his driver. He lent it to me while he was out of town once. Lovely car and certainly a great value in its time and probably now although I haven't checked. I liked the design of the earlier Toyota Celicas, once again I can't say what years but I could tell you in a second by viewing. Stay well.
A Cobalt SS Turbo or HHR SS with the GM tune are amazing vehicles. While the cars themself in standard trim are forgettable the GM Performance tuning made these vehicles monsters compared to these models.
The only weakness is the difficulty in putting the power to the ground.
My HHR SS on pump gas with the GM tune was seeing 23 PSI of boost daily. I could spin the tires rolling up to over 50 mpg. It could run 13 second 1/4 miles and if you were crazy enough hit 160 mph.
The suspension with the stock tune at 15 psi ran a 8 min lap at the ring. The Cobalt with no tune lapped right with the Camaro SS.
I did not like the HHR. I hated Turbo engines and FWD. but one drive in the SS and I loved mine for ten year.
All great cars. I have owned a '97 Eclipse GSX. It was a great car. I sold it to get my Supra back in 2002. I also owned an older '90 Eclipse GS and a '92 Eagle Talon TSi AWD. Good luck finding one of these that is halfway decent these days. Easier to find a live Unicorn these days it seems. Most are on their 20th owner and 15th body kit by now.
The Prelude was such a great car. Too bad it never came back. Loved them.
IS 300, great car, almost bought one back in the day. If I could have found a low mileage SportCross model in the past I probably would have owned one.
Pulsar, I saw one here in Austin. Such a funky car and looks like a blast to drive.
Celica is the weakest one here to me, but it will rev and it is fun to drive.
My daughter had a 94 Civic EX coupe with a 1.6 liter VTEC engine and 5-speed manual. Even though it wasn't an SI, it was a blast to drive and revved to the moon when the larger exhaust lobes kicked in.
At the same time, I was driving a 91 AWD Eagle Talon (essentially a Mitsubishi Eclipse). Its 2.0 liter turbo would rocket that car up a 12,000 foot Colorado mountain pass at 90+ mph. And its AWD system worked better in the snow than a Jeep we had. As I recall, the Talon had 16 inch wheels and 55-series tires, which were not very common back then. It's one of my all-time favorite cars.