Welcome back! On today’s Shitbox Showdown, we’re looking at one of the hottest fads of the mid-1990s. No, not Friends, or Tamagotchis; I’m talking about teal cars. But before we discuss everyone’s favorite Clinton-era car color, let’s see how daring you all were yesterday:
Huh. I confess, I’m a little disappointed. Where’s your sense of adventure? I mean, it’s not like that Altima is some ’70s Jaguar or ’00s Audi; it’s basically a reliable car. Was it the title thing? Yeah, that’s a little sketchy, but it’s worth finding out what the real scoop is, right? I mean, if the alternative is the official car of “ketchup is too spicy for me”?
Well, I hope you’re not all as allergic to color as you are to dangerous fun, because today we’re looking at two cars that inhabit that wonderful mythical world between green and blue. Why did teal suddenly become a popular car color in the early ’90s, and why did it almost entirely disappear again only a few years later? We may never know. We have only the artifacts, brightly-colored and rapidly-aging cars that stand out in a sea of modern grey vehicles like the heads of the ducks for which the color is named. Teal cars take us back to a simpler time, before electronic stability control or turn-by-turn navigation, when Taco Bell burritos were seventy-nine cents and Counting Crows were on cassette. Was it really so long ago? Yes, yes it was. Just ask these two cars.
Engine/drivetrain: 1.8 liter overhead cam flat 4, five-speed manual, AWD
Location: Vancouver, WA
Odometer reading: 227,000 miles
Subaru wagons represent about every fifth car here in the Pacific Northwest. The combination of practicality, economy, and all-wheel-drive traction has filled every parking lot with star-studded oval badges for years now. Personally, I’m not a fan; I think the flat-four engine is too fussy and weird, and the all-wheel-drive instills too many drivers with a false sense of security in bad weather. But the market has spoken, and lots of Subaru sales means lots of used Subarus.
And this little Impreza is definitely used. It has well over 200,000 miles, mismatched paint, a missing gas flap, and little signs of wear and tear everywhere. It also has a rebuilt title, which may have something to do with the impromptu two-tone paint. It’s a base model, which for 1995 means a 1.8 liter version of Subaru’s EJ engine. It’s not what you’d call a powerhouse, but it’s a lot more reliable and durable than some later Subaru engines. This one makes the most of the meager power available with a five-speed manual and all-wheel-drive.
An aftermarket seat cover on only the driver’s seat almost certainly means the upholstery under it is trashed. And since the passenger’s seat is pristine, I imagine this car spent a lot of miles hauling only one person around. This car is for sale at a dealership, which means we don’t know much of anything about its history for sure. And that includes how it came by the branded title. Best to check it over carefully.
Still, if you’re on a budget and you simply must have a Subaru, this is probably the best you could ask for.
Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, FWD
Location: Oregon City, OR
Odometer reading: 225,000 miles
Runs/drives? Sure does
Looking for something with a more conventional small-car drivetrain? Something with fewer doors, perhaps? Well, here you go. This is a Nissan 200SX, a name that was used on a number of different coupes over the years, but in this case applies to what’s pretty much just a two-door Sentra. It’s no sports car, but then, it wasn’t meant to be; once upon a time, you could just choose to buy a car with only two doors because you liked how it looked with only two doors.
This 200SX SE is equipped with a 1.6 liter twin-cam engine, good for 115 horsepower. It powers the front wheels through an overdrive automatic transmission – don’t blame me; blame the original owner. Hey, at least they picked a good color. This particular automatic has a little slip between second and third gears, but then again, it has 225,000 miles on it.
The seller claims the interior is “immaculate,” but it has aftermarket seat covers and a steering wheel cover. Does that mean it’s immaculate under the covers? Or that it’s worn out, and the covers are new? Inquiring minds want to know.
Outside, it looks like it might have had some body work done on the right rear quarter panel; the paint doesn’t quite match. And the rear spoiler is black instead of teal. It’s nicer than a lot of $2500 cars, but it’s not the “squeaky clean” example that the seller claims.
I kinda wish we could still get teal as a paint option on cars. But then, I wish we could still get simple, lightweight two-door coupes or basic little station wagons too. These cars are relics of the past for more reasons than just their color. But even though they’ve both been around the block more than a few times, I’d wager they both have some life left to give.
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)