Last night, I watched a “Throwback” Motorweek which reviewed the then-new top-tier twin-turbocharged Japanese sport coupes. It pitted the height of the market cars against each other – the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, the Toyota Supra Turbo, the Mazda RX-7 and the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo in a head to head. It’s hard to believe only a year or two after that segment aired, all of those cars would have disappeared from the U.S. market. While vestiges of them have returned, we’re still generally left without that glut of fast Japanese GT cruisers that were available in the early 1990s. It reminded me of another segment that all but disappeared around the same time; the sports economy coupe. True, cars like the Scion TC live on, but remember when there were 11 or 12 different small coupes you could buy? Like the “HYBRID!”s of their day, each offered shouty colored badges about what made them special; a DOCH here, a 16 valve there, or if you were really, really cool, you had a TURBO badge somewhere on your car. Preferably, multiple places. I remember fondly my friend in high school’s Plymouth Sundance Turbo; it might as well have been a Ferrari to us. While Volkswagen never went that far, they did continue to offer their version of a sport coupe, the Scirocco, through the late 80s. Still sporting its Giugiaro-inspired but Karmann-stolen all-angles design proudly, the Scirocco had a bit of a mystique as all Volkswagen coupes had that it was the best of the class, even if by the numbers it wasn’t:
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