Used Car Face Off: Battle Of The Euro Coupes, '90s Style

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!


Front-wheel drive coupes may be unwelcome among some purists, but I have no reservations towards attractive two-doors with more power than their chassis can probably handle.

The two-door coupe is always under threat, losing ground these days to curvaceously styled four-doors that are illogically called four-door coupes. That folding hardtop fad of last decade also did no favors to the fixed roofs, but I can look back on some of the ones from the '90s with fondness because there are some designs that have stood teh test of time far better than others. Naturally, they're European.

I realize I'm starting to sound like a VW fanboy, but the Corrado has always been one of my favorite cars of the ‘90s. It might be how the wedgy looks of it attracted me as a five-year-old because there was always one parked around the corner from my house. The name itself is cool, too, and easier than Scirocco to sound out when you're learning to read. I'd happily make room for a VR6 one in my imaginary garage. Clean ones, or ones that haven't gone hella flush are a bit of a rarity in my parts, so I got excited when I saw this pretty green ‘93 SLC for sale.


The Corrado was one of the first vehicles to benefit from Volkswagen's narrow-angle VR6 engine, in this iteration producing 178 horsepower from 2.8 liters and mated to a five-speed manual, naturally. I've never driven a Corrado, but I drove a Mark 3 Golf VR6 years ago and remember what a nice noise the engine makes. But the Corrado came out in 1990 and it shows in areas like the passive seatbelts, the worst idea ever. The back seats are pretty useless, too.

That's what makes the Volvo C70 look way more modern, even though it's only five years newer and is also based off of an early-1990s sedan chassis. Remember though, that the C70 was the first Volvo to really get away from the straight edges and the professor's car image. While I see loads and loads of the first-generation convertibles driven by PTA moms having a midlife crisis, the hardtops are rare.


This 1999 coupe is even rarer, since it has the five-speed manual transmission. It's hooked to the high-pressure turbo that pumped 236 horsepower out of the warbling 2.3-liter five-pot. On top of that power, you get the traditional Scandinavian niceties like amazing seats and logical controls, unlike those in old VWs. And these old five-cylinders last.


What isn't such a good omen is the fact this is going to torque steer like a pig. When this engine was hooked to the all-wheel drive system of the V70R it's fine, but going just to the front wheels here will no doubt make for some tire smoke. And the stick shift in these cars was never known for BMW accuracy, either. But the worst thing is the absurd price on this one, no doubt influenced because it's at a Volvo dealer. The manual C70s were rarely ordered, but it doesn't warrant the $12,000 asking price here.

On that basis, I'd have the Corrado. It's not mint, but it's also rare and I love the old VR6s. I'd buy it just so no one could drop it to the ground or ditch those sharp five-spoke wheels or paint it some ridiculous sparkly color. Come on, we have to protect these cars!


So do you side with me on the Corrado, would you rather have the turbo'd Volvo, or do you stay away from these front-drive Euro coupes with a meter stick?

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