When I saw the teaser photo for your article, it reminded me of one of mine that got away... a 1977 Celica GT
Well mine didn't exactly get away - I had one in my early driving days when it was just an old car providing basic transportation. I probably had it for better than 10 years though... through three engines and two transmissions. By the time I parted ways with it, oil pressure for engine #3 was topping out at 10 psi, it didn't have a panel on it that didn't have a rust hole, and the strut towers had rust holes in them the size of a fist.
I still look them up from time to time, but when I find one, I remember that although it looked like a Mustang, it didn't exactly perform like one, parts were hard to find in the 90s, and it attracted rust like you-know-what attracts flies. Sometimes our guts do better thinking than our brains
Respect the tighter tolerances. Keep it full of oil and coolant, remember its a high strung powerplant. And get around to changing the timing belt every five years or so. You'll be fine and have a reliable car. I used mine all over southern California when I was a field service engineer. My region was 250 miles by 120 miles. It never me left stranded. She's now a weekender and not a daily driver.
In a world were people placed such vehicles as the BMW 2002, Datsun 510 and Afla GTV on pedestals, here is the one underdog that many forget existed. Some of the others didn't look as nice on paper, sporting a SOHC engine, a 4-speed or drum brakes. Here we have it all. The makings of a semi-exotic at blue collar, working mans prices...a five speed, four wheel disk brakes and a high revving engine designed by an ex-Ferrari engine over fifty years ago. I'm biased of course. I've had one in my collection for 30 years.