Saturday, March 8, 2014

5k: Star Light Star Bright: 1981 Toyota Starlet

There's no shortage of rear-drive hatches in America. Corvettes, Supras, and Mustangs all fit the description. "But but but," you whine, "I want something boxy like a Golf that I can stuff a 13B into." Ah yes, the much-heralded hot hatch. Few are rear-wheel-drive. In America, your best bet is the 1978-1984 Toyota Starlet KP61. They're far from "hot" in stock form, so here's a 1981 Toyota Starlet with an upgraded 1.5L engine for $5,900 in Santa Fe, CA.  Original content by DT commenter & contributor  slowcarSLOW-MPGlol. 

Starlets are gaining popularity with tuners thanks to their FR layout and scant weight: 1724 lbs. You can find them with 4AGE swaps making 120+ horsepower. This one has a 5KC 1.5L, probably from a 1980s Toyota LiteAce van, good for roughly 70 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque. That and the stock 5-speed (later versions had 4-speed manuals) should provide plenty of scoot for your commute, and will sound great in the process thanks to the Magnaflow muffler.

If $5,900 seems steep for a modified 1980s crapbox, consider the spare engine, wiring harness, and transmission that come with it. The stock 1.3L 3KC has a supportive aftermarket should something go wrong, or if 60 horsepower seems wrong to you. 9,000 RPM and double the horsepower is possible, but you're pushing the limits of streetability.

See a better way to get 35 MPG in rear-drive fashion? Email it in.
 Thanks to slowcarSLOW-MPGlol for another great feature.

1 comment:

  1. Those were popular SCCA Pro-Rally cars back in the 80's due to their RWD.

    This might be a fun alternative to get 35 mpg and have RWD.


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