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Here Are the Three Coolest Cars I Saw Last Week

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author photo by Chris O'Neill May 2018

Here's a very nice 1993 Toyota T100 SR5. Built from the 1993-1998 model years, the T100 was Toyota's first foray into the full-size pickup market -- but it was met with minimal success. While it came with an 8-foot bed, the T100 still utilized the engine and suspension setup from the compact Toyota Pickup, thus lacking the true heavy-duty capability of its competitors from Ford, GM and Chrysler. Other shortcomings included its relatively small size and lack of an available extended-cab model during its first two years on sale. Perhaps the most interesting fact about the T100 is that it was the last U.S.-market pickup to be built in Japan (U.S. production started for MY 1996), with the retail price of early T100s including a 25 percent import tariff, otherwise known as the Chicken Tax.

Here's a pair of first-generation Rambler Americans; one wearing a Rat Fink decal. The Rambler American was technically built from 1958 to 1960, but its history dates back to a few years earlier. From 1950 to 1955, Nash produced a compact car known as the Nash Rambler. In 1954, Nash and Hudson officially merged to form the American Motors Corporation, better known as AMC. As soon as the ink dried on the merger, Hudson dealers began selling their own Hudson-badged Ramblers -- but as American tastes shifted to larger vehicles, this compact Nash/Hudson Rambler was discontinued after the 1955 model year. A larger 1956 Rambler was introduced, again sold through both Nash and Hudson dealerships. After the 1957 model year and with the discontinuation of the Nash and Hudson brands, Rambler became its own line within the AMC family. As economic downturn set in in 1958, AMC saw an opportunity once again for small, economical vehicles, and opted to restart production of the original Nash/Hudson Rambler, this time selling it as the Rambler American that you see here.

Here's perhaps the last remaining bone-stock Eagle Talon TSi AWD. I would've dismissed it for any old run-of-the-mill DSM car if it weren't for the "16V DOHC TURBO" lettering ahead of the rear wheel well. This is a 1998 model, the last year for the Talon -- and it's extremely rare to find one of these in such clean, straight-from-the-factory condition.

The first-generation Talon was introduced in 1990, along with the Plymouth Laser and Mitsubishi Eclipse -- a badge-engineered trio of 2-door sport coupes built by the Chrysler-Mitsubishi joint endeavor known as Diamond-Star Motors. The Laser was dropped for the second generation, leaving only the Eclipse and Talon; the former of which accounted for most of the sales volume. In all, 54,262 second-generation Talon models were built from the 1995-1998 model years; and only 4,308 were made for 1998. For context, 188,545 Eclipse models were built during this time, 156,834 of which were of the coupe variety -- outnumbering the Talon almost 3 to 1.

What was especially notable about these DSM cars was the presence of AWD on the top-of-the-line Talon TSi and Eclipse GSX trim levels, not to mention their potent 210-hp turbocharged engines, enabling them to outperform cars costing two or three times as much at the time. This gave them a serious leg up on competitors like the Acura Integra and Honda Prelude, and contributes to their desirability today. It was remarkable to spot one of these in its original showroom condition, let alone an Eagle-badged example.

By 1998, the Talon was the only product for sale under the Eagle name, and Chrysler opted to wind down the brand at the end of the model year. In a last-ditch effort to capitalize on any remaining brand equity, Chrysler actually used the TSi trim level for a sporty edition of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in 1997, and then again on a "high-performance" Chrysler Sebring in the mid-2000s -- both of which featured color palettes and subtle styling cues that channeled the Talon TSi.

Chris O'Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for a while, helping Germans design cars for Americans. On Instagram, he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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Here Are the Three Coolest Cars I Saw Last Week - Autotrader