Good morning, Autopians, and happy Friday! Today we’re mixing it up and cross-shopping two cars that no one in their right mind would ever compare. Conveniently, I’ve been told by quite a number of people that I’m not in my right mind, so that works out well. First, however, let’s go back to yesterday’s garden of air-cooled delights:
Oof. Sorry, Porsche fans, but the consensus is that the 914 is just too much work to bring back, jackstand collection or no. Besides, Sixties vans are just too cool to ignore.
Right then: Today we have a faded American icon, and a cheeky Japanese import. What do they have in common? Four wheels, two doors, and… well, that’s about it, really. But hey, I’ve seen marriages work with less. Let’s dig in, and see if we can find some more common ground.
1974 Chevrolet Corvette – $8,000
Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead-valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Kingston, WA
Odometer reading: 51,000 miles
Runs/drives? “Flawlessly,” the ad says
In 1974, to meet new Federal bumper standards, Chevy replaced the Corvette’s svelte chrome bumpers with a giant soft piece of rubber over an impact-absorbing structure. Purists howled in protest, but really, the Vette wore its five-mile-per-hour bumpers better than a lot of other cars. Apparently, however, when the rubber cover deteriorates, the remaining face is the stuff of nightmares. Just look at that image above; it’s easily one of the most disturbing visages I’ve ever seen on a car.
This is a much better view of this classic Corvette, and you can enjoy it right away, because according to the seller, it runs like a top. Its 350 V8 was rebuilt in 2008 and has barely been driven since. Hopefully it has had enough exercise to keep its juices flowing, otherwise some rubber parts beyond the bumpers might need replacing.
The car is filthy in the photos, but I think it’s actually in better shape than it first appears. Mechanically it seems to be top-notch, and there doesn’t appear to be any body damage beyond the disintegrated bumpers, and the interior looks quite nice. Mid-year C3s aren’t the most desirable of Corvettes to collectors, but that keeps them affordable. And this one, just before catalytic converters, still has a bit of power behind it.
Now the question is: Do you do something about that scary face, or leave it as-is as a conversation starter?
1995 Mitsubishi Pajero Mini Turbo – $7,499
Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 659cc DOHC inline 4, five-speed manual, part-time 4WD
Location: Tacoma, WA
Odometer reading: 77,000 kilometers
Runs/drives? Runs great!
Yes, the Autopian obsession with all things kei continues. Japan’s low-tax microcar classification has yielded some real gems that never officially reached the US. They’re really too small for US roads, and they’re noisy and harsh at higher speeds, but they’re just so damn cute that we overlook that. And they don’t get much cuter than the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini. Just look at that little bull-bar with the driving lights in it! And the little hood scoop!
Under that scoop is quite a serious little engine. Kei car engines are limited to 660 cubic centimeters and 63 “official” horsepower [Editor’s Note: Sometimes it’s listed as 64 hp? – JT] , but within those limitations, there is a lot of freedom. The Pajero Mini’s four-cylinder engine features five valves per cylinder, a turbocharger, and an intercooler (hence the hood scoop) to provide the power to all four wheels through a five-speed stick. The Pajero Mini has a dual-range transfer case as well, giving it at least a possibility of going off-road.
The seller says they have used this tiny SUV for commuting, and it does fine, although it’s “a bit frantic” on the highway. It needs new tires, and the door panels are de-laminating, but otherwise it’s in fine shape. Parts for an oddball import like this might be hard to come by, but if you use it as a weekend toy instead of a daily commuter, it shouldn’t need much.
With so few miles (sorry, kilometers) on it, this little off-roader should last quite a while yet, as long as you can avoid becoming a hood ornament on some inattentive bro-dozer.
Okay, so this is an apples-and-oranges comparison. But they’re both running and driving, they’re both around the same price, and I think they’re both cool. So there we are. Which one strikes your fancy on this Friday morning?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)
The kei would make me nervous just getting out of our subdivision. Cute though. The vette… I have fond memories of riding around in my dad’s 73 with the 454. My sister and I would fight over who rode on the shelf behind the seats or on the floor by our moms legs. A lithe tlc. Paint it bright yellow for the memories. And some performance mods for some oomph. It would only be a weekend cruiser so gas mileage wouldn’t bother me.
Hard one for me, as a rural mail carrier with a insanely high mile, wore out xj I could really use the cute rhd. However my son’s dream car is a c3 corvette and he is getting damn close to driving age. The prices are the tipping point though. That’s a damn good price on the mitsu, and I don’t know about the coast, but that vette is 2-3 k over the going rate for similar condition c3s here in the Midwest.
That’s my read on it too. I love a disco Vette, and I bet this one will clean up OK, but this example is about a $5k car.
I really want to go vette, but can’t resist a small, adorable off roader. With that, there are many kei cars that there is the standard and the turbo, but both are rated at 64, or 63 or whatever, so I wonder if it is like the “276” that all were limited to for a while or if they are just a tune away from having 80hp or something. I know I drove a modified cappuccino a few years back, and that thing supposedly had 95hp with just a couple bolt ons and while that’s still not a lot, that’s freaking 50% gain which sounds far more insane. It was amazing and I have wanted one ever since!
I could dig a C3 with the flying buttresses. Especially a pre-’75 so I can do what I want without Big DEQ looking over my shoulder.
For those that didn’t look at the ad for the Corvette, the seller also includes a picture of the car after a car wash. I’m confused as to why the seller included the pre-wash photo. The car actually looks nice when it is clean and looks like it is probably a good buy at $8,000.
I’m voting for the Corvette, but with some reservations given the owner apparently hasn’t treated this car well.
Oddly enough the ad says the price is $7500.
I didn’t even notice that. I would have paid $8000. I’m not a shrewd negotiator, I guess.
When my dad was young, he used to drive vettes of this vintage from the factory here in St. Louis to various local dealers when they didn’t have enough to necessitate a truckload. He always told me what rattle traps they were. Still, I actually like C3s, and always thought it would be cool to own one. My brother-in-law does great body work, so mark me down for the likely loser today!
Mechanically sound, but looks like an unwashed donkey’s ass?
That Corvette is begging for a safari treatment. Have you ever seen one so ready for it?
Lift the suspension, cut away some fiberglass for some chonky tires. Add a fat brush bar and some sweet yellow spotlights up front. Bolt on a winch and mount some D-rings. Build a nice intake snorkel or just cut a hole in the hood to bring air in from windshield level or higher. Slap on few underbody plates, maybe a spare tire and gas can carrier on the trunk, maybe not. I’d even consider putting a couple of stainless steel, coarse mesh inserts in the floorboards under the floor mats, to make it easier to wash out.
This is the perfect car for that. I don’t even think I’d clean the outside up. Ever.
Considering they ride on what appears to be truck frames, I suppose it is doable. Just not that good of a base vehicle to start with. 1974, the first year of the catalytic converter is the non starter for the malaise era anything really for me. I would want a 73 or older if I was going to go with a Mako shark Vette.
The Pajero already has much off what you need for light safari work, with and actual transfer case and at least one front and one rea tire going, It would likely do far better than the vette offroad no matter what you did to it outside of setting the body on a K5 frame maybe.
Yeah, but the Pajero wouldn’t be that special kind of “this is a totally sketchy idea” fun, would it?
Lol It’s not a debate. I’ll say o-kei to the millennial import.
I like Corvettes, and I never even noticed the 5 mph bumpers on the C3s before. You’re right about the ghastly look of them once the rubber wears away, though. I wonder if ‘Vette owners remove those bumpers the way that Prowler owners sometimes remove the little “mustache bumpers”.
It looks nice on the inside and the mechanicals seem to be in good shape. Not sure what it’d take to clean up the outside to look presentable, though.
But that little Mitsubishi is pretty nice! I feel like it’d be worthwhile just to see the face of the barista as I take my dog through the drive-through lane at Starbucks for a pup cup.
Hmmm, dust off the leisure suit and the Saturday Night Fever 8 Track or crank up the techno on the CD player and squeeze into some old capri pants? Capri for me! I love Corvettes generally but I despise the malaise C3.
The Pajero is cheaper than most side-x-sides, plus it’s street legal.
For the Vette, I guess you could weld white fang-looking things on what’s left of the bumper, paint it in a reptilian green and gold motif and travel back to the year 2000 for that famous death race.
Your first reasoning is exactly why it is the better choice here. plus it is very clean and the price is not as out of line.
what is wrong with you people? 🙂
The Mini Montero is clearly the better car here
Because I am a very odd man my favourite of the C3 corvettes are the 74-77. So it’ll always be a win for me. Parts will be easy to get and I’m sure no end of options to enhance the performance exist.
I like them both, but for that condition the Vette is too expensive. I’ll take the wee Mitsubishi.
I despise the C3 more than any other car. Even if the Mitsu wasn’t so cute and in better shape, I’d chose it. My commute can be done by bicycle anyway 😀
[Editor’s Note: Sometimes it’s listed as 64 hp? – JT]
In Japan they use KW instead of HP so maybe it’s a conversion issue?
I thought that as well, but I checked and 47KW is 63HP, 48KW is 64.4
The limit is 47 kW, which is 64 pferdestärke (PS) and 63 hp.
It’s a typo. Sorry.
The Pajero’s cute, but I unapologetically love C3s and C4s. And the interior is in shockingly good shape. It’s the Corvette for me, after some haggling and a good power-washing.
I am wary of the C3 for two reasons: the length of time it has been sitting, and the owner couldn’t be arsed to wash off even a little of the dirt. This to me says that the car was generally neglected and is likely hiding some additional issues because of it. (Though the interior is surprisingly good, as you said.)
The Pajero’s owner appears to have loved the car, which is nice.
I sort of figured (optimistically) that the owner was dealing with mechanicals first and then addressing the outside, but you’re right to be suspicious.
I love Corvettes, just not C3s that look to have been pulled out of a pond. $8,000? If that ‘74 was in perfect shape, it wouldn’t grace my garage.
I went Corvette. I already have a RHD Japanese car and don’t really feel the need to get another. I understand the appeal of kei cars but most of them just aren’t for me anyway. I’m small and fit in them just fine but I’d usually just rather have something else instead.
However a ratty Corvette sounds like it could be a lot of fun to have. Assuming it’s really as mechanically sound as they claim, I’d probably drive it while looking for a bumper then just leave it as is. There’s still plenty of nice C3s out there so I wouldn’t feel bad at all leaving mine a bit rougher. Remember, it’s not crappy it’s patina.
Just this morning, I was telling my wife, I says, “You know, I could really use a mini truck with a 20 valve 4 cylinder turbo engine.” I can’t believe it’s right here, but I got to, because I’m looking right at it. I’ll be dipped.
Derek? Is that you?
Derek Has no Jeeps that I have ever seen. Reliable is also kind of a questionable thing at VGG too. But you don’t have to have reliabilty if you are handy.
Jeep? No, but close, he has an IH Scout with a Nissan I-6 diesel engine.
(came from the factory that way, back in the day)
We don’t *know* for certain that he doesn’t have a Jeep. He’s got crap squirreled everywhere so maybe…..
Or it could be his son with the little blue Jeep bodied go-kart.
Mitsubishi , cute ute! Rhd! My choice, right or wrong.
If I had the vette I’d leave the front bumper alone, so surly, might have to do something on the rear to hold the lights but this is the corvette I remember from childhood so there’s that 😉
O Kei! A conversation starter or just another old ‘Vette without the proper transmission? The Mitsubishi will snap heads from now until forever. And parts can likely be sourced without too much trouble.
That Corvette needs an EV swap and frame stiffening. That old 350 hooked to a gen-u-wine slushbox will turn vast quantities of premium into noise and heat like your Musk-fanboi rich uncle did to the Johnny Walker Blue at Christmas dinner complaining how much his Tesla stonk dropped.
Oddly specific reference there, do we need to talk?
Trying to come up with a thing a rich tech-bag would conceivably complain about to the plebs who happen to share an ancestor.
The Mitzu just has more directions and would be easier to get there. Want a weekend soft or off roader? Throw on some appropriate tires and maybe a winch and off you go for less $$ than a side by side. Want an autocrosser? A different set of tires and possibly a short throw shifter to rip through gears quicker. I don’t pretend it will rule any SCCA class but it sure looks like it would be a hell of a lot of fun.
The Vette is going to need either a lot of love to get the body in decent shape or a lot of work to convert it into a cart.
Just look at that image above; it’s easily one of the most disturbing visages I’ve ever seen on a car.
Remember that one kid in school that had the overly braced braces? Always lisped when they spoke due to the braces?
Imagine an exhaust note with that lisp.
That’s what that car sounds like.
Still, I’d probably want it over the Mitsu. Price is a bit high, though.