Buy/Drive/Burn: The $13,000 Sporty Car Question of 1988

<img data-attachment-id="1437121" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1280,960" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="1987 Shelby CSX (P)" data-image-description="

Image: Shelby Automobiles

” data-medium-file=”×338.jpg” data-large-file=”×458.jpg” class=”aligncenter wp-image-1437121 size-large” src=”×458.jpg” alt=”1987 Shelby CSX (P), Image: Shelby Automobiles” width=”610″ height=”458″ srcset=”×458.jpg 610w,×56.jpg 75w,×338.jpg 450w,×576.jpg 768w,×90.jpg 120w, 1280w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>In the recent Shelby CSX Rare Rides entry, long-term commenter 28-Cars-Later suggested some sporty competitors to the Shelby, all of which cost the same according to the state of Michigan. Japan, Germany, and America are well-represented in today’s trio.

Which one sets your sporty-small-car heart aflame in ’88?

Volkswagen GTI

<img data-attachment-id="1688778" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="800,493" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="1988 Golf GTI 16V" data-image-description="


” data-medium-file=”×277.jpg” data-large-file=”×376.jpg” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1688778″ src=”×376.jpg” alt width=”610″ height=”376″ srcset=”×376.jpg 610w,×46.jpg 75w,×277.jpg 450w,×473.jpg 768w,×74.jpg 120w, 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>Volkswagen had a hot hatch hit on its hands with the original GTI, following it up with a second generation in 1985. Between 1985 and 1987, a lower-powered 1.8-liter GTI produced 110 horsepower. VW introduced a more powerful 16-valve version in 1987 that carried GTI through 1992. With lots of valves, the new 1.8 produced 137 Germanic horsepowers. Only the three-door hatch was available, and all 16 valves paired with a five-speed manual.

Toyota Celica

<img data-attachment-id="1688780" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="2048,1536" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"Exp10000XL10000","caption":"1988 Toyota Celica","created_timestamp":"1199461095","copyright":"Toyota Canada Inc.","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"1988 Toyota Celica","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="1988 Toyota Celica GT" data-image-description="


” data-medium-file=”×338.jpg” data-large-file=”×458.jpg” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1688780″ src=”×458.jpg” alt width=”610″ height=”458″ srcset=”×458.jpg 610w,×56.jpg 75w,×338.jpg 450w,×576.jpg 768w,×90.jpg 120w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>The Celica entered its fourth generation in 1986, donning front-drive as it moved further away from its former relationship with the Supra. The three base trims — ST, GT, and GT-S — were topped by a much more expensive Turbo All-Trac model that featured four-wheel drive. Competing today is the GT, in five-speed liftback guise. GT focused on additional power equipment over the base ST. From 1987 onward, the 3S-FE powered the GT. A 2.0-liter mill with 16 valves, it made 152 horsepower.

Shelby CSX

<img data-attachment-id="1683730" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="717,511" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="1987 Shelby CSX" data-image-description="

” data-medium-file=”×321.jpg” data-large-file=”×435.jpg” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1683730″ src=”×435.jpg” alt width=”610″ height=”435″ srcset=”×435.jpg 610w,×53.jpg 75w,×321.jpg 450w,×86.jpg 120w, 717w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>Produced only for the 1987 model year, we’ll assume there were some CSX examples left over in 1988. A product of the Shelby Automobiles company in California, the CSX started out as the sportiest Dodge Shadow turbo, then received additional modifications outside and underneath. The 2.2-liter Turbo II produced a trio-topping 175 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, routed through a five-speed manual. Not for those fond of choice, all 750 examples were painted in the color scheme shown here.

Liftback, hatchback, two-door sedan (with a liftback). Three continents; one price point. Where do their fates lie?

[Images: VW, Toyota, Shelby, seller]