With the demise of the Ford Focus and the impending departure of the fantastic Fiesta, your options for brand new sport compact cars are becoming more limited. I’m going to take you on a trip down memory lane with a tribute to those dearly departed souls who only exist in the halls of the sport compact car hall of fame. But wait, they don’t, they’re still for sale here on Autotrader!
This list is derived from what I could consider the “second tier” of sport compacts. These aren’t the Toyota MXIV Supra, the Mazda FD RX-7, the Mitsubishi 3000GT, etc. — but, instead, they were the next group down in performance and price when new. I looked for largely stock examples, which means they’re a bit more expensive than some others. So, will they be part of the next group of collectible 1990s and early 2000s sport compacts? Let’s go for a little ride.
2004 Dodge SRT-4
Hi! That was the tagline for the original Dodge Neon. It was small, it was cute, it was affordable. Then they went and added a big turbocharger and made it into the SRT4. It’s still a little cute, but it wasn’t for the faint of heart. Starting with the basic 2.4-liter Chrysler block, engineers beefed everything up and added a Mitsubishi turbocharger. Stock, the SRT4 made 230 horsepower in the 2004 to 2005 model years. Finding a stock SRT4 is highly unlikely, although this 2004 model offered for sale in Phoenix, AZ surely looks the part. Perhaps that’s why the price tag of $8,988 is higher than most SRT4 options on Autotrader. It’s worth a look! Find a Dodge SRT-4 for sale
1995 Acura Integra GS-R Hatchback
Behold! A largely stock Acura Integra GS-R. Prices for the vaunted Type-R are already starting to head north, but the GS-R is staying fairly steady. Of course, that depends on what you want, I found some pretty heavily modified Integras (naturally) for the sub $5,000 price point. This one in The Woodlands, Texas, is way higher at $10,995 — but it’s pretty attractive because of its non-modified status. The seller claims it was originally owned by a 70-year-old gentleman who bought it new in the Scottsdale, Arizona, area and has been garage kept and well maintained. It’s up to the buying world to determine if almost $11,000 for a fairly low mileage GS-R is worth it. Find an Acura Integra for sale
1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T
The Mitsubishi Eclipse was the stablemate of the Eagle Talon and the Plymouth Laser in a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler called Diamond Star Motors. So if you’ve ever heard the term “DSM” and wondered what they were talking about, this is it. There were four generations of the Eclipse spanning from 1990 to 2012. My favorite is the car you see above you, the second-generation Eclipse. Made famous in “The Fast and the Furious,” the Eclipse came in both front- and all-wheel drive with turbocharged and non-turbo engines. This specific car is a 1994 GS-T, so it has a turbo, but not AWD. The top of the range GSX trim gave you both turbo and AWD, but they’re hard to come by. Offered for $9,200 with just 69,600 miles, this car is already being referred to in the ad as a “survivor,” a term we used to just use for classics. Still, it looks very stock, and very clean, so it’s worth a look. Find a Mitsubishi Eclipse for sale
2001 Honda Prelude SH
This one has a special place in my heart, as I owned a 2001 Prelude back in the day. It came in the much prettier Electron Blue, but was not an “SH,” which is what we have here. While not quite as dramatic as the Integra Type-R, the SH (for Super Handling) was quite a car. Equipped with ATTS (for active torque transfer system) it handled even better than the stock Prelude, which handled pretty well. To confirm SH status, make sure the 8th digit in the VIN is a “5.” If it’s a “4” someone added a fake badge. The best part about the Prelude for me was the size. It was a bit larger than the Integra and the Honda Civic of the day, so it had more room inside. All Preludes came with a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder with 200 hp, which was more than many of the naturally aspirated sport compacts of the day. This one in Storrs, Connecticut, is being offered for $7,999 with 98,233 miles. Find a Honda Prelude for sale
2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The Lancer Evolution VIII was the first Evo to be sold here in the United States and is widely regarded as one of the all-time greats. Production of the final generation Evolution X ended in May of 2016, so this marks yet another sad entry onto this “can’t buy it new” list. With a stock 271 hp, this one is creeping into that “upper tier” of 1990s and 2000s hero sport compacts, but I included it because it’s still pretty great and the prices aren’t out of control. Yet. The Evo VIII, along with the next generation Evo IX, are already getting a little pricey. Expect to find a few well cared for examples in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. However, if you take your time, there are some gems out there. This 2003 Evolution comes to us from Addison, Texas, and it has a pretty well-crafted description listing all the modified versus stock bits. It’s got north of 120,000 miles, but that’s par for the course for most Evo models, since these cars were actually driven. But the $16,995 price tag for a 2-owner car with a clean Carfax is quite good!
So if you were old enough to drive back in the 1990s, like me, go forth and relive your youth! Or if you have yet to experience some great automotive icons, there are quite a few here on Autotrader to choose from. Just take your time and give it a good once-over before signing on the dotted line. You can buy someone else’s project car, but that doesn’t always mean you should. I’ll cover that one in another article, though. Find a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution for sale
MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | The Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Was a Crazy 1990s Icon
Video | Here’s a Tour of a $200,000 Custom Mercedes Sprinter Van
Autotrader Find: Imported 1993 Toyota Land Cruiser 2-Door