Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
We shouldn’t be so harsh to companies that are at least trying something new, but it’s hard not to laugh at adventurous designs from decades past that are rather laughable today. A few weeks ago, we looked at failed visions of responsible sports cars. Today, it’s all about the wedge.
In 1975, British Leyland thought the wedge was the shape of things to come! Do we need to talk about the Austin Princess? No. Do we need to see an old Triumph TR7 ad? Yes.
The TR7 hardtop was actually an awkward looking thing that was underpowered and was such a mediocre product when compared to the company’s other sports car efforts. But by cutting the roof off and doubling the cylinder count, the TR8 presented a much more compelling proposition. Alas, no one bought it and the TR8 is a bit of a rarity.
So here’s a very nice 1980 Triumph TR8 convertible going for a pricey $15,000. But for that you get one an example that could very well be better screwed together than when it came out of the factory and a 3.5-liter V8 that’s been fussed over so it produces a sizeable horsepower bump over the stock 140 horses that would’ve come originally.
The convertible looks really good with the top down and the idea of a relatively small car with a V8 excites me. It’s still going to be a mechanical nightmare, though, and this price would buy a very nice TR6 which, I’d like a lot more probably. It’s not a screaming bargain a TR7 might be, even if it’s a better car.
But since I bring up screaming bargain, we have to talk about the wedge of the ’80s – the Subaru XT. When it came out in 1985, it looked strange. Seeing its Motorweek road test proves it still is strange. And yet I love these things because of their intangible coolness. This one, though, is not the even more bizarre XT6 with its Porsche-esque flat six and Cybrid steering system. But it’s a far more sensible 1988 XT with a 2.2-liter four and a five-speed manual. It may be slow, it may be an awful shade of turquoise, but it’s cheap. One-owner, too.
Why have I matched this $3,100, slow XT in an awful color against a pristine TR8 costing almost five times as much? Because while they may have styling similarities, they attract very different buyers. I know lots of people in their right minds won’t touch a BL product and I respect that decision.
The same people probably won’t touch an XT6 unless they have a secret way to get that Cybrid hydraulic fluid from Subaru without the need to rob a bank. That’s why this slower four-cylinder makes a lot of sense.
Me? I’d rob the bank to buy this TR8 and pay to keep it running. I may have an irrational admiration for the XT, but I have a greater irrational admiration for the TR8, the last of the Triumph sports cars, partly because it’s a V8. But at least if you’re in the market for a car shaped like a doorstop, at least you have some choices.