Before kids started tuning imports, there were some lesser known compacts that were where it all started. These include classic Toyota's, Volkswagens, Mazda's and other foreign automakers that did not produce muscle cars. The import markets produced compact cars that had interesting designs and modest performance, but power could be added with a few simple modifications. Here are some of the classic imports that began to take over before tuning became popular:
Toyota Celica GT/R and Rear-Wheel Drive—The Celica has been import to break barriers and get into the domestic market in North America. It was one of the first foreign compact sports cars to succeed in a market where the muscle cars of the past were king. Starting in the '70s, Toyota gave the GT models a fastback design with dueling front headlamps that made this car have an aggressive appearance. With its 2.0 4-cylinder turbo motor, it is also an interesting import, and one of the few Japanese models that also featured rear wheel drive.
Hopping Volkswagen Rabbit 2-door And Truck Variant—The German automaker Volkswagen is another foreign car maker that had success in the muscle car market of America. Starting with the small bug, and then moving on to the golf, rabbit and pickup body rabbit. They also manufactured the Karmann Ghia, which is a rear engine car in its own category. If you are looking for a simpler restoration project, the rabbit is a good choice, and you can choose from a two-door sports model or the pickup body models. These cars make great projects to customize and make into modern day customs sports cars.
Mazda Compact Sports Cars and The First Mini-Trucks—The Mazda's of the 1970s and '80s are also great cars for restoration. The Mazda Cosmo was another Japanese sports car that had a sleek design and was an alternative to the big domestic cars with V8 engines. In addition to the compact cars from Mazda, there are also classic Pickups that were some of the first mini-trucks, such as the B1600, which is a tiny truck, which was also grouped under the Ford Label as the Ford Courier, but it was manufactured by Mazda.
Nissan's Datsun Compact Sports Cars with Speed—In the '70s, the muscle car era was coming to an end, but people still wanted sports cars. The answer was the compact imports with 4-cylinder and V6 engines. One of the most popular imports to hit the seen was the Datsun 240Z. Nissan marketed cars and small trucks in the US under the Datsun brand.
These are some of the popular imports that make exciting restoration projects. These cars were usually compact, but in their small designs they packed a punch with some ground-breaking auto technology for the time. If you are getting to restore one of these cars, contact an auto body repair service, such as Westside Fender/Body & Refinishing, to help straighten the body and get ready for a new coat of paint. They will also be able to help with the installation of aftermarket parts and customization improvements to the bodywork.Share