Why hello and welcome to Shitbox Showdown. It’s October, which means the snow will probably start to fly in just a few weeks if you live in, say, Ontario. Time to think about a winter beater, yeah? Well, with the car market still riding high in Canada, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but these two uniquely Canadian machines should brighten things up a touch. However, before we get a little northern exposure, let’s check in on how our Friday battle of the French cars went.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nicer Alliance won out over the Peugeot 405 Mi16. Secretly, I was rooting for the Peugeot, partly because it’s a respected performance car and partly because its engine’s name sounds like a gun and a Tom Cruise movie rolled into one. Anyway, let’s go from French cars in America to market oddities from a country with a strong Francophone population. That’s right, we’re hunting for crapcans in my own backyard, and today’s battle is between two cars Canada got that America didn’t.
While Mark typically makes a point of finding surprisingly nice cars, both of my picks for today are proper shitboxes, since they’re dented, rusty, and have already been well-used. So, grab a tetanus booster, it’s time to dig into two Canadian curiosities.
Engine/drivetrain: Two-liter eight-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Port Dover, Ontario, Canada
Odometer reading: 200,000 km (124,275 miles)
Runs/drives? Absolutely, but it might not stop so well.
To the untrained eye, this is just a funny-looking Mark IV Golf. Indeed, it is a Mark IV Golf, but one offered on the basis of cost. As the Mk5 Rabbit went upmarket, Volkswagen Canada kept things cheap and cheerful by importing continuation Mk4s from Brazil and Mexico, calling them the City Golf and City Jetta. While 2007 models were essentially carryover two-liter base models, 2008 models gained a whole host of updates that I’ve previously detailed here.
While Volkswagen doesn’t exactly have the shiniest reliability reputation, these cars generally do alright. The City Golf’s older-than-dirt two-liter eight-valve four-cylinder engine hitched to a classic five-speed manual gearbox should get you everywhere you want to go, just not quickly. That’s okay though, as this City Golf seems rather well-equipped. Sporting the optional alloy wheels, it looks dashing in silver and offers such modern conveniences as a USB input and stability control. Alright, so it’s not quite Apple CarPlay, but for $2,000 Canadian, what did you expect?
This particular City Golf needs a little recommissioning as the seller claims it’s been sitting for a year. However, if you’re handy and a bargain-hunter, you might be able to install fresh pads and discs, perform an oil change, and still come in under what this facelifted Golf’s rival is listed for. At least scrape the decals off the back, please.
Engine/drivetrain: Two-liter 16-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Odometer reading: 337,268 km (209,568 miles)
Runs/drives? Technically yes, although it sounds like things could be smoother.
Wait a second, this just looks like a Honda Civic! Why yes, although not the Civic sold in America. Welcome to the Acura CSX, a Canadian Civic with Japanese bumpers, Acura emblems, and a little extra heart. Oh, and it’s exceptionally well-equipped for a mid-aughts economy car, featuring real leather, a banging stereo for your tunes, and automatic climate control. Oh yeah, we’re moving up in the world.
Instead of the little 1.8-liter R18A1 four-cylinder engine found in base American Civics, the CSX sports a two-liter K20Z2 four-cylinder engine with 155 rampaging ponies. Alright, so an extra 15 horsepower doesn’t sound crazy, but access to the host of modifications available for the K-series four-cylinder engines is worth the cost of admission. Indeed, one owner of this CSX ended up tapping into that by adding an AEM intake, a Yonaka catback exhaust system, and HSD coilovers to round out the package. Interestingly, this CSX is also said to have a four-month-old clutch, a new clutch master cylinder, a new reverse gear, and a new alternator.
This CSX has a few flaws the seller was candid enough to point out in the ad. The air-con is broken, the steering system has a squeak somewhere, and there’s a code for a misfire on cylinder three. They could be cheap problems, they could be expensive problems, it’s all a roll of the dice. As more of a sure problem, the left rear arch looks like a job for James Bondo himself, and those brake discs are roached, but there’s some solace in knowing that the leather upholstery is incredibly nice for a car of this mileage.
Like Coffee Crisp or ketchup-flavored chips, these odd compacts never officially made it south of the border. However, hypothetical shitboxing knows no borders, so pretend you can just pick up either without any pesky regulatory requirements. So, what’s your money on?
(Photo credits: Kijiji Autos sellers)
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