Monday, April 11, 2016

Pocket Rocket: 1987 Chevy Sprint Turbo

Fuel economy and speed don't always have to be at odds.  In fact, efficiency is the ally of the hyper-miler and racer alike.  One way to achieve the best of either worlds is to decrease the mass of your vehicle.  Here is an example of a car that took weight advantage to the extreme to achieve both ends.  Find this 1987 Chevy Sprint Turbo for sale in Selma, NC for $3,500 via craigslist.

Sold only 2 years in the US, 1987 and 1988, the Chevy Sprint Turbo weighed only 1,800 lbs.  With 70 HP and 79 lb/ft. of torque, this car could get to 60 in a little over 8 seconds.  Not bad for the era and impressive for a car with less than one liter of displacement, three cylinders, and 40 mpg capability.

Hot hatches like these were not unfamiliar overseas and there were even a few available domestically. The Honda City, Renault 5 Alpine Turbo (not the rally car) and the Turbo Mitsubishi Mirage/Colt Turbo all predate the Sprint Turbo.  The Sprint was the stateside small displacement and MPG champ, however.  Nowadays, these force fed Sprints are rare as hen's teeth and should be remembered for their 3-cylinder descendants.  The familiar shape of the pumpkin-seed smooth Geo Metro housed the naturally aspirated version of these tiny Suzuki mills, too.  They are still prized for their fuel economy.

The Geo Metro (aka Suzuki Swift and Pontiac Firefly) as we know it was still available in Europe as late as 2004.  The one liter, three cylinder Suzuki engine design may soon live on, yet again.  If the 3-wheeled Elio autocycle ever sees production, it will be powered with a redesign of the engine.  Its fuel economy target is 84 MPG.    

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  1. Another long-forgotten-about model that I deluded myself into believing I could actually get behind the wheel of when I was in high school. Sigh. It was always thus.

    Speaking of that Elio, they had a booth at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach this weekend and were seeing a healthy amount of foot traffic. The car itself looks familiar in a deja vu kind of way. I found it moderately amusing that the Elio booth was sandwiched between the Backdraft Racing tent and this HPDE outfit that was displaying a slew of exotics. Juxtaposition of conflicting agendas.

  2. So, these actually exist. For the longest time I imagined these cars came from the bad Thai food poisoning hallucinations suffered about 20 years ago. That was 5 days I will never get back.



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