Good morning! It’s another Two-Door Tuesday as we check out a pair of cars that never – and I mean never – come up for sale. I’m even breaking one of my search rules for one of them, just because it’s such an oddity. But first, let’s settle the score on yesterday’s slowpoke trucks:
Autopians all over the world, join hands, and start a LUV train! These little Isuzus-dressed-as-Chevys seem to win every time I post one. And kudos to you all for all the LUV puns in the comments; I really enjoyed them. I agree with this vote; I like a good Rabbit pickup, but the jury is out on whether or not that’s a good one. Besides, that Chevy is just so charming. And I like the fact that it’s completely stock – it is in no way a tainted LUV. (See? I can do it too.)
Today we’re taking a trip down memory lane, for those of us old enough to remember, and a trip to the history books for those who aren’t. Today’s cars have all but disappeared, from the roads, the classifieds, the zeitgeist, everywhere. And yet here they are, sitting forlornly in dusty Western towns, just waiting for someone to come along and give them a chance to shine again. And they’re cheap, too! Let’s check them out.
Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, FWD
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Odometer reading: 62,000 miles
Runs/drives? I think so?
Had this been even a slightly less rare car, I would have passed right by this ad. I like to see a minimum of four photos, and a good paragraph or so of description, so I have something to work with and can assess a car properly. In this case, there are only three not-very-good photos, and barely a line of text. But I always liked these little cars, and they so rarely come up for sale anymore that I’m willing to ignore my own guidelines for this one.
For those too young to remember it, the Ford EXP was to the Escort what the Honda CRX was to the Civic, or the Scirocco to VW’s Rabbit, a sporty two-door fastback variant of a small economy hatchback, mechanically identical, but wearing sleeker sheetmetal and with only room for two passengers (yes, technically a Scirocco has a back seat, but it’s more punishment than transportation). Introduced in 1982, the Escort EXP and its badge-twin, the Mercury Lynx LN7, were powered by the same seventy-horsepower 1.6 liter CVH engine as regular Escorts and Lynxes. A few fools chose to pair this engine with an automatic transmission, but most of the ones I’ve seen, including this one, were stickshifts. Later in its run, the EXP received a “High Output” CVH, with an optional turbocharger, which sped things up a bit. Sadly, this car is not so equipped.
It isn’t equipped with much, actually, from what I can see. It has the basic four-speed manual instead of the optional five-speed, and the seats are standard vinyl. I’d be astonished if it had air conditioning or power steering, and convenience features we take for granted now, like power windows and locks, probably weren’t even available on the ’82 EXP. But all that means is there are few things to go wrong. The CVH engine is pretty robust, if a bit coarse, and since it’s all Escort under the skin, mechanical parts won’t be hard to find.
I am not completely sure, based on the terse ad, that this car runs and drives, but I think it does. The seller is the original owner, and they claim it needs paint and “minor stuff.” That claim, in addition to the fact that it’s parked nicely on aired-up tires, makes me think that it is, in fact, drivable. If so, it’s the rarest classic you’re likely to find for fifteen hundred bucks, and even with its current patina, it would be a guaranteed head-turner at car events.
Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.6 liter overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Laramie, WY
Odometer reading: 167,000 miles
Here we have a captive import from Mitsubishi, sold by Chrysler Corporation, with an interesting distinction: it’s the only car ever to be sold in the US by three divisions of a company – Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth – under the same nameplate. Chrysler and Dodge shared the Conquest for the first couple of years, until 1986 when the revised “widebody” Conquest debuted and became strictly a Chrysler. To make matters even more confusing, Mitsubishi also sold this same car in their own dealerships, under its Japanese name, the Starion.
No matter what you call it, it’s a rear-wheel-drive 2+2 sports coupe, powered by a turbocharged 2.6 liter four. Later versions were intercooled, and made quite a bit more power, but even these early cars weren’t slouches. You could get one with an overdrive automatic, but wisely the original purchaser of this car chose a five-speed manual.
This car is in rough shape, but it’s all there, and it runs and drives. It has some surface rust, but the seller says it’s solid underneath. But it looks terrible outside, and the interior is just plain grubby. It isn’t trashed, just dirty, and it looks like it would clean up all right. It’s got that great futuristic ’80s Japanese aesthetic, with lots of buttons, and some really cool gauges.
But that paint – or rather, lack of it – is going to be more difficult and expensive to remedy. I guess you could always wrap it, or do something else interesting with it, but this Mad Max-reject look isn’t doing it any favors. At least you can drive it while you figure it out.
These are both pretty scruffy, it’s true, but you’re not likely to find another one of either of them for sale for these prices. Or any prices, for that matter. Either one is a worthy project, but I can already guess which one is going to win. But do me a favor, and don’t dismiss the other one out of hand. I think they could both be cool cars to putter around with. Ultimately, however, the choice is yours. Which one will it be?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)