While my lifestyle is probably best-supported by modern technology, I sometimes can’t help but feel like my musical and automotive tastes would’ve been better served had I been born 10-15 years earlier. Of course, that would mean I’d be over the hill now, and there would be an even greater age gap between me and my special someone.
But I digress. It’s Halloween night. Before the holiday was about stuffing your face with candy and giving a chance for those of us with darker tastes to express ourselves more openly, it was about remembering the dead. So in a more traditional observance of Halloween, I’d like to take a few moments to remember a kind of car that was once dear to me- the affordable FWD sporty hatchback.
I’ve found that as I get older, I have fewer and fewer “favorite” anythings; favorite cars, favorite bands, favorite foods, etc. Experience has taught me that there’s far too much great stuff out there to just pick one or two things. But I must admit, if there was any car I wish I could’ve owned/driven that I was too young for, it would’ve been a 1989-91 Dodge Daytona, preferably an ES model in two tone red and silver with a V6 and “snowflake” wheel covers as shown above.
My enthusiast brethren will say I’m crazy for picking that over other more “deserving” pony cars of the period or that I should at least be more nostalgic for the Shelby model. I get that the V6 wasn’t the most powerful engine in the lineup and I understand that front overhang could’ve led to problems. But real performance wasn’t what this car was about. It was never what any car of this type was about.
It was about giving drivers the perception that they were driving something faster and sportier than the average economy car for far less money than a “real” sports car. Sure, some of them had “hot” versions, such as the aforementioned Shelby Daytona and the Shelby Charger before it, but the bulk of those sold were likely 4 bangers and medium output V6 models.
And at one time, the market was chock full of them. Chevrolet had the Cavalier z24; Ford had the Probe; Mazda, the MX3; the Mitsubishi Eclipse and its sisters the Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon; the Honda CRX, Prelude, and Civic Del Sol (those last two weren’t hatchbacks but the vibe is similar); the Isuzu Impulse and GM’s captive import version of it the Geo Storm; the Toyota Celica; and later on the Hyundai Tiburon and Scion tC...
And since Toyota feels there’s no place in the main lineup for the tC since pulling the plug on Scion, they’re all gone now (the Hyundai Veloster has too much of a two-box shape to fit in with the above). And they’re not likely to come back anytime soon.
Tastes have changed too much, I guess. People don’t want a car that just looks fast; they want it to act the part as well. Nor apparently do people care if fast cars have any practically either, hence the mail slot trunk openings on the Mustang and Camaro. You buy another vehicle, like a crossover (barf), for those purposes. Plus, since Europeans can’t be bothered to look both ways before crossing the street (or the EU is insisting that cars must be designed for every eventuality), pop-up headlamps are a thing of the past.
Who knows, maybe the next version of the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ will have a hatch/liftback design. Or maybe Toyota hasn’t totally retired the tC but simply taken it out of the market while they make a new Celica.
All I know is, it’s a shame.
RIP, wannabe sports cars.