Car fan kids today would definitely not know it looking at today's lineups, but once upon a time manufacturers like Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi went on an automotive coke binge that would make the late Rick James say 'yo maybe u should put down the pipe player'. Fueled by the manic stock bubble of the 80s, Japanese manufacturers indulged in ways that sound downright ridiculous now. Who do you think did the most? Here are some examples I can think of that speak to the insanity of the times from some of the manufacturers.

Mazda- AZ-1

If you are here you probably already know about Kei-cars. In their infinite wisdom, Mazda, Honda and Suzuki came together and said "you know what would be a good idea? Some Kei-car sized sports cars". HEre's a brief synopsis from Mark Wan at Autozine.org:

Japanese motoring enthusiasts called them "ABC", which denotes Mazda AZ-1, Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappucino. The Suzuki was the most conventional of them, being front-engined and convertible. Both the Mazda and Honda were mid-engined mini-exotic, but I suppose the Mazda was the more spectacular of the two, no matter judging from its mini-Ferrari looks or gullwing doors. Unfortunately, a combination of high-price and recession led to its short life. Just over 4,000 units were sold from 1992-94. Today, AZ-1 becomes a collector's favour.

Pure insanity.

Honda- CR-X Exclusive

Advertisement

I was so close to putting DOHC VTEC in the Civic SiR hatch as my vote, but I found out about this a while back and thought it was more insane. Basically, Honda took a CR-X, ripped out the proletariat plastic interior and put in a full leather interior (yes, the dash too), Gathers/Alpine stereo with a sub (!!!!!), wood gear knob (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a DOHC ZC (y u no VTEC?). This thing was basically a CR-X outfitted like a damn Rolls Royce. I want one. Again, INSANE.

Subaru- XT/Alcyone

Advertisement

RCR did a review on the SVX saying it was a real technological tour de force. This thing is its dad, and it makes the SVX look tame and conventional by comparison.

Wikipedia has a list of weird features it has but here are the standouts to me:

  • Cybrid adaptive electrohydraulic steering- used no belt, used hydraulic fluid instead you have to buy from Subaru directly ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$)

Advertisement

This steering wheel.

  • Ahead of its time stuff like an ECU when cars were using carbs
  • A turbo 4 banger that only made 111 HP

This thing was basically the Starship Enterprise for the street.

I have to go to bed now but I'm def curious to hear what other wacky cars people can come up with. These are the nuttiest ones I can think of now.

Advertisement

When the bubble popped Japan woke up in a massive economic hangover and let out a Krusty groan heard round the world, seen in the steep cost cutting and decontenting of cars in the late 90s. But that's another entry for another time......