Complained for a long time they don't make cars like they used to, to the point began feeling like a grumbly old man, but for the opposite reasons a normal person would. Quality's up all across the board, but so are the prices.
The following cars I've all had the pleasure of driving, biased of course as i've owned most, but they were all ridiculously affordable cars brand new, good on gas, and endlessly fun to toss around. If it's not fun to drive, i don't give a damn about it.
Better styling than it's accord hatch counterpart, cheaper than the honda when new. $12,000 bucks got you a surprisingly agile and peppy car that's still more fun to drive than most new entry level cars 22 years later. With the rear seats folded you could almost fit a full sheet of plywood in the back, and add 33city/40hwy gas mileage and your looking at a car most manufacturers are still trying to match today.
Another $12,000 gem when new. Visually unassuming in stock form, these little buggers were laid out well for the driver, roomy enough for regular passengers, fun loose going into the corners, they managed to always lock in late and feel good through. Always added to the excitement of pushing 'em hard, and the SR20 loved it the harder you pushed.
$20,000 new, but didn't hold their price well. You could pick up one with a couple years on it for half that. Fantastic interior in it's range for the time, decent handling stock, and a whole lotta go packed into a little shell. Passenger seating left something to be desired, but who gives a damn when you can toss it around a gravel lot like a rally car in total control, then zip past a soap bar mustang on the highway home.
$25,000 new, but another that became affordable quickly once it hit the used market. Styling that still holds up, roomy interior, good layout, Fun as shit to drive. Honda's been blowing it for awhile now, making unecessarily bigger and heavier cars while stagnant in the hp department, perhaps they need to look back in their own history books. This thing fit a family of four comfortably, and is svelt compared to even todays fatty civics. I'd still rather have one of these than any of it's successors.
What would you add to the list?
A great result of the unfortunate economy and gas prices, hatchbacks and economy cars are once again becoming legit options to regular consumers, and in turn more appealing to manufacturers to make. Next post, awesome new options that don't require you ditch the fun in order to get a bargain.