The $13,000 Sporty Car Question of 1988

1987 Shelby CSX (P), Image: Shelby AutomobilesIn 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

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

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

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]

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