1986 Isuzu Impulse Turbo: Dream Project

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted an Isuzu Impulse Turbo. As a fan of MK2 Volkswagens, I saw it as the Scirocco VW should have built, with rear-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine. Factor in the other touches of 80’s period goodness, like the flip-up headlights, clamshell hood and ample Turbo graphics, and you have one of my favorite potential project cars. This 1986 model here on craigslist is available for $2,500 and looks like a great starting point – the automatic is unfortunate, but these cars are hard enough to find in any form that I’d gladly buy it as-is. The interior is in astonishingly good condition for the age, as are the polished OEM wheels. A car I wish I could buy, right now. If any of our readers have experience with these turbocharged hatchbacks, let us know in the comments below.

1987 Pontiac Fiero GT: Missed Opportunity

When you look back at the ways oil crises have shaped the American automotive landscape, it’s rather amazing how often manufacturers squashed cars with endless potential in the interest of a knee-jerk reaction to selling fuel efficient vehicles. Or, the tendency to shove ill-conceived engines into a decent platform for the same goal – either way, the outcome is similar: good cars saddled by engineering shortcomings that tarnish their reputation for life. Enter the Pontiac Fiero, a mid-engined coupe that should have been a home run if not for its economy car roots. This 1987 Fiero GT here on craigslist in Pennsylvania is a great example of what might have been for $4,950. Read more »

1986 BMW 325ES: The Sensible E30

I’ve made it known on Barn Finds that I’m a bit of a fanatic about 80s BMWs. I own a 1987 325is and a 535is of the same year. I’ve always been partial to the early E30s for that reason, especially the higher-end models that set it apart from the every day 325E and 318I models. While examples like my IS were considered the poor man’s alternative to the M3, the ES was an option for consumers who wanted efficiency but didn’t want to miss out on the goodies that were unique to models with an “S” at the end. As prices for E30s have risen and the good ones get snatched up by bandwagon boyracers, cars like this 1986 325ES on Maryland’s craigslist for $3,900 are getting harder to find. Read more »

1987 Chrysler Conquest TSI: Identity Crisis

Over the years, I have been largely disappointed with the efforts put forth by manufacturers to share platforms or re-badge niche models. The latest insult was the Subaru BRZ and Scion FRS, which was not a bad car on its own but neither manufacturer seemed interested in supporting its continued development once sales figures didn’t materialize. But there are a few bright spots of resource-sharing or badge engineering, and the Chrysler Conquest and Mitsubishi Starion twins are one such example. This 1987 Conquest here on eBay has a buy-it-now of $4,500 and despite its salvage title, looks largely original. Read more »

1989 Subaru RX Turbo: Snow Patrol

When you say the words, “turbocharged all-wheel coupe,” I guarantee you most folks will assume you’re talking about an Audi. For the privilege of owning such a foul-weather beast, you’ll likely have to concede that the car features complexities and maintenance requirements befitting of its exotic drivetrain, not to mention the regular service commitments that come with 4WD systems. But what if I told you there was another way? A cheaper way, in only the purest Credit Card Classics tradition? Enter the 1989 Subaru RX Turbo, available here on craigslist in Oregon for $3,295. Read more »

1990 Honda Prelude 4WS Si: Full Circle

When people wax poetic about Hondas of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the conversation very quickly turns to CRXs. And why shouldn’t it? Lightweight, super chuckable, two seats and quick for its modest power rating, with the obvious bulletproof reliability anyone buys a Honda for. But here’s the thing: it wouldn’t be my first choice, as I was heavily influenced by my first car, a 1987 Honda Accord. If you owned a GTI, you lusted after the CRX; if you owned an Accord, you wanted the Prelude. I’m in love with this 1990 model here on craigslist in North Carolina for only $3,500, and it’s one of the rare and quirky 4-wheel steering models. Read more »

1989 Ford Probe GT Turbo: Swiftly, Cheaply

When you think about the cars that top an enthusiast’s wish list for cheap projects, the usual suspects are there: GTIs, Miatas, 944s, and the like. I don’t often hear the words “Probe GT” thrown in to the mix despite a fair amount of reporting that seemed to indicate it was a half-decent way to get from Point A to Point B. Even harder to find is a clean first-generation Probe that came from the factory with a turbocharged and intercooled 2.2L 4-cylinder, unless you happen to live near Wichita where one in excellent condition is listed here on craigslist for $2,200. Read more »