As an example of the last subcompact model sold in the U.S. to have actually been built in the U.S., today’s Nice Price or No Dice Sonic is a small car that’s kind of a big deal. Let’s see if this hot hatch is priced to hatch a quick sale.
I recently discovered that the shelving in my garage is something of a time capsule. That’s where I came across a small shrink-wrapped ream of paper that came with the Apple Stylewriter printer I bought back in 1996. The paper looked fine — no Dead Sea Scroll action going on here — so I opened it up and popped it into my current laser printer.
The discovery of an artifact from a long-lost past is something to get excited about. Especially when it turns up in seemingly as-new, or as close to it as possible condition. That was the case with last Friday’s 1979 Mazda RX-7, which was being offered for sale out of a car collector’s corral. Its appearance was so nice, it looked to have been stuck in time.
The seller asked $9,999 for the car, and both the price and the nostalgia resonated for a good number of you. Another good number — for the seller, at least — was the 75 percent Nice Price win you all awarded to the car at that price.
I wouldn’t go quite as far as to suggest that last Friday’s RX-7 was a forgotten car, but it’s safe to say that you don’t see that many early examples on the road today. The heyday of the traditional two-seat sports car began to wane in the late ’70s when more practical, and often cheaper, econobox-based hot hatches entered the market in significant numbers.
Today, the hot hatch category is itself at risk of being relegated to minor-league status, in this case by poseur crossovers. Case in point, this 2016 Chevy Sonic RS.
This little Chevy is a true hot hatch, offering a 138 horsepower turbocharged engine, a six-speed manual transmission and a suspension setup massaged by a Corvette Racing engineer, all wrapped in a small five-door body. If all that doesn’t scream “Hot Hatch,” I don’t know what does.
The thing of it is, I’ll bet some of you didn’t even know a hot edition of the little Chevy once known as the Aveo even existed. Here’s another fun fact: These cars were built in GM’s Orion, Michigan, plant making it a rare homegrown hot hatch to boot.
Apparently, those factors have so far failed to resonate with a single owner for any significant length of time. The ad claims this Sonic to have had fully three owners over the course of its short five-year life. That ad, by the way, is from Carvana, the used car retailer that’s known for having auto “vending machines” at some locations. Today the company offers to flatbed your car purchase directly to your home or secret lair. That touchless delivery might be an attractive option for some, although I prefer to kick some tires when I buy a car.
If you’re interested in a less personal car buying experience, you could have this Sonic RS dropped off after filling out all the online forms and shifting the cash.
The car has a modest 73,375 miles on the odo and appears to be fully loaded. The odometer, it should be noted, is part of an instrument cluster that has a pretty distinctive style. When the Sonic was designed, one of the guidelines was to give it a bit of a motorcycle appeal. The result was elements like the small cycle-like instrument cluster and the exposed round headlamps in the nose.
Those all look to be in acceptable shape. So too is the Bright Yellow paint and trim. The black leatherette interior does show some wear on the seat cushions. The cabin’s hard plastic surfaces also speak to the car’s bargain-basement origins.
Still, there are a number of extras here, including power windows and locks, as well as automatic headlamps and cruise control. The most notable inclusion here is that M32 six-speed stick. That’s a fairly rare option on these cars and should make the most of the 1.4 liter Ecotec four’s available 138 horsepower. The car comes with a clean title and a clear history.
The asking price is $11,990, which gets you bragging rights about owning the last (to date) U.S.-built hot hatch, as well as the onus of explaining to people just what exactly your car is.
What do you think, is this fairly rare Sonic RS worth that $11,990 asking? Or, is that price just a lot of background noise?
H/T to Bill Floyd for the hookup!
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