Saturday, October 11, 2008

Top Gear $3,000 First Car Challenge

It was 1990. I was buying my first car. I had a budget of $3,000. Here were the finalists.

1. 1984 Isuzu Impulse SE. This Giugiaro designed hatchback had controversial styling. I don't think I ever got used to the bulbous rear end. The SE meant Special Edition. It was loaded with power mirrors, windows, and a way too complicated stereo with equalizer. It even had an aftermarket sunroof. The piece de resistance was the single windshield wiper up front. Though it looked sporty, the soft suspension, the 2 liter 4 (120 horsepower), and the 4 speed automatic were not.

2. 1981 Maserati Biturbo. That the Biturbo sold for $67,000 when new and $3,000 nine years later told volumes about its lack of reliability. The one I saw was in a used car lot, shiny and Armor All'ed to death. It came with a 2.5 liter twin turbocharged V6, which was based on the Maserati Merak. The styling was boring but it was a Maserati!

3. 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. This gas guzzler came with a 403 cubic inch (6.6 liter) engine. The American car industry was still a little bit behind in engine development-- hence the 185 horsepower output. It was custom painted a deep dark blue and it had a personalized plate that read "BLUBAYU". It was a sweet ride and complimented my mullet perfectly.

In the end, practicality beat sheer excitement. I ended up with the Isuzu.


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