PCH, 80s Japanese Muscle Edition: AE86 or Starion?

I know it's been a while since our last Choose Your Eternity matchup (in which, incidentally, the Hayubasa-powered Honda 600 just barely edged out the Duramax-powered '47 Ford, for which I apologize; the cruel overlords at the salt mine my tech-writing job shipped me out to New York for a 4-day weekend of PowerPoint presentations. Aaah, PowerPoint, the magical tool that makes time slow to a crawl! To unwind, we were treated to free booze each night at corporate-sponsored parties, including one with an "Eighties Prom" theme. And, as I fought my way to the bar to get another French 75 (F. Scott Fitzgerald's drink of choice while in Paris), contemplating the spectacle of a bunch of 24-year-old software geeks shakin' it to the usual Billy Idol tunes (how come 80s parties never have good 80s dance music, like George Clinton or Grandmaster Flash? And, yes, I know the answer: MTV), I tried to recall how the rear-wheel-drive Japanese factory hot rods of the era appeared to those of us who cared about cars at the time. And, of course, that was the inspiration for today's pair of PCH choices...


As we all know, it's pretty tough to find a Toyota that's really suitable for this series. They're just too reliable and the parts are too easy to find, so the Hell component is weaker than we like. Still, the mid-80s Toyota Corolla GT-S does qualify, and not just because you know that every single one has had the absolute crap beat out of it by generations of lead-footed hoons. The real reason the flames grow higher as soon as you pick up an AE86, however, is that every single component of every single car has been thoroughly molested by clueless 19-year-olds with a $19.95 set of sockets and dreams of being the Drift King of the parking lots of (insert name of suburban shopping mall here). The surprises will never stop coming, no matter how long you work on it! Such is the likely case with this '86 Corolla GT-S coupe (go here if the ad disappears), which can be had for only two grand in American dollars. The car runs, but it "has low compression in the third and fourth cylinders" (probable translation: lean condition during application of HELLA NOSSSSSS has added speed holes to pistons and/or repeated overheating has blown the head gasket). There's the telltale litany of buzzwords (JDM, HKS, carbon fiber) that indicate both hoonage and tons of drifto-centric mods applied by a series of 19-year-old owners dating back to the early 90s. But... if you could clean up the mess and add engine sap via properly-done modifications, you'd be doing the 80s right- "Loopzilla" instead of "White Wedding."

The AE86 is a pretty cool car, of course, but these days it's akin to what the '69 Camaro was to my generation: just about the only old car that every high-school kid can identify. What if you want a hot Eighties Japanese machine without having to listen to 16-year-olds tell you all about it? And you want a car that's already set up for turbocharging, because you have a (probably unfounded) belief that you'll thereby be able to stuff more boost into it? In that case, this 1988 Mitsubishi Starion (go here if the ad disappears) is the correct infernal choice for you! Actually, this car might be a Dodge Conquest, as the seller doesn't quite make the make 100% clear in the listing. What is clear, however, is that this Mitsu has had the hood and headlight panel painted "SUNBURST ORANGE, 07 CORVETTE/HHR OTHER KNOWN AS MANDARIN ORANGE METALIC IT WILL LOOK REALLY NICE ONCE FINISHED." The turquoise air dam is a nice touch, too. The car doesn't quite, you know, run at the moment, but when you "spray starter fluid into the intake it runs and idles really nice it might have a bad pump and relay or something." Yeah, a turbocharged Astron motor, with its funky injector setup- you have to figure the problem is just a relay. No sweat! Nervous Nellies might shy away from statements such as "it would be a waste to just let it go to crap with the rebuilt motor by previous guy," but everyone knows that engine rebuilds done by the "previous guy" are always up to manufacturers' specs. Don't worry about those minor details, though; you need to picture yourself behind the wheel of this Starion with a nice paint job and 450 turbocharged Astron ponies under the hood.

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