1: 1990-93 Isuzu Impulse RS
|An odd but strong performer, 1990 Isuzu Impulse RS (pic from Craigslist/previous IG feature)|
While this car resembles a Geo Storm, and indeed both share many parts, the Impulse RS (also known in Canada as the 1993 Asuna Sunfire) is no slouch and is a strong performer, with ties to legendary automaker Lotus and unusual but pleasant styling. The aftermarket may be small and it may be an orphan marque, but the Isuzu car fanbase and the number of parts shared with the Geo Storm and Lotus Elan M100 help keep it easy to maintain. A minor project like this car (presumably sold now) normally runs under $1000 USD, a very nice one can often be had for under $3000. As with any 90s Japanese car, reliability and engineering are good, but electrical problems can and do pop up at times, and "riced" examples are not unknown. Also, fit & finish were perhaps worse at Isuzu than any other Japanese marque at the time, and the Isuzu twincam four is known for blowing head gaskets, so those two issues are to be kept in mind.
2: 1989-99 Ford Taurus SHO
|pic from Wikimedia Commons, 1989-91 model shown|
Yes, it's a Taurus, the ubiquitous, bulgy, flimsy family sedan that Ford sold zillions of. But the difference in the SHO lies in its engine (Yamaha-Ford DOHC V6 in first and second generation, Yamaha-Cosworth DOHC V8 in third), brakes, suspension and virtually all other aspects that pertain to enthusiastic driving. This is not the same trashed $300 hooncar candidate seen all over your local Craigslist, it's possibly America's best attempt at a European-style sport sedan that wasn't made with a poached European design. Build quality and fit-and-finish issues are the same as with any other Taurus, that is, highly variable between great and horrible, deferred maintenance is something to watch for on all generations, automatic transmissions on 1992-99 cars are highly suspect as with the standard Taurus, and camshaft failure on 1996-99 cars is a common problem. Cost of entry is anywhere from $500 for a parts car/crapcan racer candidate to $4000 for a nice and well-sorted car.