QotW: What’s the most significant “new” nostalgic car from 1988?

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It’s 2013, and that means a new lineup of vehicles has officially crossed the magical 25-year threshold to become nostalgics. Cars built when INXS and Arsenio Hall ruled the airwaves can now officially qualify for historic tags and and collector’s car insurance in most places. Therefore we ask:

What’s the most significant “new” nostalgic car from 1988?

Our staff vote goes to the S13 Nissan Silvia. As other manufacturers abandoned the affordable RWD sports coupe, Nissan doubled down and created one of the most iconic Japanese performance cars ever made, still sliding at any given drift event a quarter century later.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?

The winner this week is invinciblejets, who vows to get an FJ20 motor just so he can listen to its sonorous notes every morning.

… My resolution is to find an FJ20 engine, buy it, and put it on an engine stand and start it up every day while I get ready for work. I know I should put it in a car but all I have is a 1987 Celica… so I’ll just listen to it eventually put it in a old 200SX and make it look like the 240rs. Ahhh 2013.

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Omedetou! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!

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31 Responses to QotW: What’s the most significant “new” nostalgic car from 1988?

  1. chris said:

    admittedly I had to look up what models were out in 1988 but one of them caught my eye right away and I should have know this, the Honda CRX HF. My mom owned one of these and I grew up riding around in the tiny back seat trying to see over her shoulder to the road ahead. If I had known at the time that the car i grew up with, had the potential to be a great track car, an even better audio car and in my humble opinion one of the most recognizable silhouettes in the history of automobiles i might have payed more attention to the inside. Sadly because of their tune-ability and inexpensive price, finding a nice unmolested example is near impossible and sighting such a “white whale” my soon be limited to museums or auctions.

    • E-AT_me said:

      I would have to assume you are not in America as the US versions did not have a back seat..

    • SRA said:

      I could not agree more. The new for ’88 CRX family was spectacular, as noted by a Motor Trend car of the year award. Back when these cars were new, the HF was the sleeper model in the line up. Gas was cheap, and everyone wanted an Si. The Si was great, but the HF was peppy, and made 51 MPG on the highway, and in the 40s city. It also benefited from the beauty of the body type, double wishbone suspension for great handling, and a great base price of about $11k out of the door. I have an ’88 CRX HF in Superior Blue with 74K miles. The engine is stock, as is the rest of the car with the exception of alloy rims (still have the 13″ steel wheels), and a pop up sun roof. I absolutely love the car. I get thumbs up all the time when I take it out, and it’s a great around the town car to this day. Also, aside from the usual wear and tear of a 25 year old car (i.e. brakes needing attention, a clutch when I was sloppy with it as a teenager), the car has needed nothing but oil changes and gas. I have had it since new, and at the time when I was a (lucky) kid and got it, I was disappointed I didn’t have an Si. Now I would not trade the HF for an Si. It’s a great car. And yes, I am keeping it stock, because I see 99% have been chopped up, poorly repainted, or ruined. So I vote 1988 CRX HF!

  2. E-AT_me said:

    I’m going to be a Honda Fanboi and say the “EF” chassis Honda. Everyone has had a friend that has one or has owned one themselves. I’ve owned two. the CRX really led the way as well with this generation. There are so many out there and so easy to work on and modify. They really led the US import scene for a long time before people found out about the rest of the Japanese automakers’ offerings.

    Also, in Japan, VTEC yo! With the B16a being offered in them, but not in 88.. Still, a very important car to Honda because it was the first Civic with independent, double a-arm suspension. Very cool cars and still very popular.

    • E-AT_me said:

      forgot to mention that i drive one every day. 270k miles and still averages 36mpg. Si version, too. It’s such a perfect daily driver. I’m aiming for a million miles.. Should make it alright. It’s also great at the local autocross courses. And back roads. And for hours at a time on the highway. Cost of ownership is next to nothing. The car is just so reliable and easy to drive. Seats 4, and can take plenty of cargo with the back seats down. It does everything I ask of it and never complains.

  3. Nigel said:

    You guys already mentioned the S13 but I chose the four door version.
    The Nissan Laurel C33. Similar performance but with four doors.
    (Same street cred but now cops don’t notice as much due, to the extra doors).

  4. nick spera said:

    this year, it’ll have to be the FC RX-7 for me. but next year, the 180sx. both have pop up lights, which I love, its practically the most iconic thing for 80’s sports cars. I can’t imagine pop ups on today’s futuristic looking cars. so FC it is! makes a great drift car today, with the lights up, front bar ripped off and intercooler out!

  5. Aaron said:

    1988 – The Supra and RX7 had just been revamped a year or two prior, the z31 was still roaming around ugly as ever, and the R32 had one more year to unleash its fury. The Corollas, Camrys, Sentras, Maximas, Civics and Accords were still blah… But the 240SX & S13’s release mid-1988 was a beautiful thing. The body being much longer, wider and lower and the new “smooth” lines took it away from the 80’s group of short, stubby and cut your hand on a body line as you walk by. Its proven a great motorsport platform, and the coupe and hatch models give enthusiast something to argue about.

    Obviously, the S13 chassis has become known as one of the best drift platforms and is still being widely utilized today; however, the thing I most enjoyed about this car was the day I found out my mom bought one. I was in grade school, and I’ll never forget when she picked me up after class, to my surprise, in a brand new, red, Limited Edition 240SX with the top down. She got there early and my entire class was still outside, and to a bunch of small town fourth graders, we all thought it was a Ferrari.

    • primusconvoy said:

      Hey, I’m rather fond of the V21 Camry… they were copied, albeit poorly by most of the rest of the industry for years. The V6 in particular were great. I should know, I have a 4 and a 6.

      • Aaron said:

        I have a soft spot for anything Toy. We had an 89 Camry LE in the family. Blue on blue.. It got handed down until one of my closest cousins got it. We had a blast in that car and we called it the BEAST. But apparently the beast needed oil and it seized in 1998. RIP

        I disregarded those cars because they didn’t show anything groundbreaking for 1988. I’m not a huge S13 fan, I’ve always wanted another (mom sold the droptop before I was driving), but I think it truly deserves the title significantly “new” Japanese car of 1988.

        • primusconvoy said:

          Mechanically, the VZ series V6’s were somewhat groundbreaking as it was the first mass production quad cam V6 in a transverse application on the market.

  6. justin said:

    My choice goes to the ae92 corolla gts trueno. To me it has a more sporty look to it than the ae86 with the same heartbeat as the ae86. Sure it’s fwd but to me there is more untapped potential with this model.

  7. Steve said:

    Pre-production models of the then-new 1989 Mazda MX-5/Eunos Roadster were produced in 1988. As it’s turned into the most prolific sports car in the history of automobiles and has single-handedly kept the tradition of european roadster motoring alive for an entire generation, I vote for that.

    But I understand if you force me to hold onto this vote for another year :)

  8. Benjamin said:

    The most significant “new” nostalgic from 1988 is the Subaru XT-6. A spaceship shaped like a cheese wedge, it is an automotive time capsule that best captures the spirit of 1988. The CRX, RX-7, and S-13 are timeless, but the XT6 is forever stuck in an era when people danced on giant keyboards and video games were fun.

  9. Arend said:

    being a Suzuki maniac I have to go for the Suzuki Swift GTi MK2 (Cultus AWD)
    the Mark 1 was a lot more fun but the mark2 was better build (and not so dangerous)

    It also was the beginning of my carrier being a Suzuki Sport car part dealer (&collector)

  10. chin said:

    1986-1988 Acura integra, it was a sink or swim car for then Honda US luxry division upstart Acura, 25+ years later the Integra is dead but the company is alive and well.
    The Integra and it’s only other / \ badged sibling the Legend, lead the way for other J-tin companies to follow suit and show the world that Japanese auto makers could make stylish and afordable luxry cars with reliabilty to match.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=iQ8D32oeqTg&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DiQ8D32oeqTg

  11. IMO said:

    My current S13 coupe is from 88, just a few months younger than I, and #000035! The s-chassis will always be my ultimate nostalgic car, since it was my first car lol. My chassis now needs a good amount of work, but it seems like a good candidate to restore with the VIN being so low. Though I am much more of a fastback person over a coupe, and if the right offer comes along I will sell this to get into another one. I miss seeing my sort-of clean hatch with my overly fat tires on 16 inch sportmaxx(2006), pig face and stuck up lights parked next to the curb every day. Seeing a broken down coupe in the driveway and Honda sedan at the curb just do not give the same feeling of wholeness in the car world as that one S13 did. Hatch or coupe though I have to be able to sit behind that dash every few days just to remember why I started on the path I did, seeing I am almost done getting my associates in automotive. Hope this hobby I picked up can do me well as a career!

  12. john said:

    Technically we are looking for cars that premiered in 1988, not cars that had already been out for a year or two. ;)

  13. Hechtspeed said:

    I would say the S13 is the most significant. What was one of the biggest TAS tuner cars to debut? The S13 chassis “380SX” from BenSopra. Wow! It wasn’t an FC, not a Honda EF or CRX, not a Supra, not even an FD or a GC/GDB Suby chassis. What other car has been so popular among so many regions of the planet for drag, drift, street and track day/time attack? Even the record holding Under Suzuki’s S15 is the grandchild of the Silvia. IT’s gotta be one the cars with the most engine swap options too, RB’s, SR’s, LS, VQ and now VR. I just hope Jun Imai is working on an S13 How Wheels that JDM Legends can build a 1:1 after. ;)

  14. Nakazoto said:

    1988 marked a significant year for one very tiny tuner/manufacturer. In 1987 a small upstart called Tommy Kaira tuned a Mercedes Benz 190E and 300E. This put their name on the map and from 1988 onwards, they tuned Japanese cars explicitly, starting with the Nissan Skyline R31 (named the Tommy Kaira M30). They, stuffed in a non-turbo RB30, which pumped out a very respectable 240 hp and harkened back to the screaming N/A straight six performance of the Hakosukas. It was and still is the most sought after R31 on the market.

    Tommy Kaira went on to tune a whole slew of awesome cars as well as ended up making the supreme ZZ, which I’ve seen in person only once and can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’d rather have one of these over any Elise. Then they made the greatest concept I’ve ever laid my eyes on, the ZZ-II. They never produced it, but I would go to hell and back for one of them.

    So, there you have it. The most significant “new” JNC from 1988 is the Tommy Kaira M30. Not just because it was simply the best R31 available, but because it kick-started one of my favorite companies in Japan.

  15. Nate said:

    This gets to be a sticky subject when you talk about the “most significant” car from a certain year. You say to me “What’s the most significant “new” nostalgic car from 1988?” and I instantly think of the 1988 model year. Which includes the first supercharged MR2, the 4-wheel steering Honda Prelude SI and the most important car of the 1988 model year, the Subaru XT6. Our space-age introduction to the wonderful world of AWD performance cars! That was the grand-daddy of your beloved WRX’s and STI’s. That was the car that started it all. You may also argue that the 1989 model year debuted in ’88 and that the S13 Silvia is more important than the XT, because it’s more relevant today. While I can’t argue the fact that S13’s are more plentiful still today than most 1989 model year JNC’s, I’ll always argue that the importance of the ’88 XT. But, I believe that the MOST important car produced in the year of 1988 was the 1989 Nissan Maxima. That car and it’s brilliant marketing strategy of the 4DSC (4 Door Sports Car) are what REALLY won the American public over and got Nissan to the next level in this country. Nissan would have never have reached the level that they now reside at without that car making as big of a splash that it did. You definitely don’t see the amount of the J30 Maximas now as you do S13’s, but when you do see one, you should bow your head and pay tribute to what helped Nissan get a serious foothold in this country and help produce the many cars after ’88 that we all love.

    • john said:

      Yes, but most (if not all) MY88 cars were introduced in the fall of 1987.

    • pstar said:

      I agree with you about the year confusion. If were going with 89s then I’ll go with the s5 rx7. However I don’t understand your praise of the xt6 and why you call it the introduction to awd performance cars. There was ur Quattro (82), 323 gtx (85), and Celica all trac (87) first.

  16. S800M said:

    1988 was a great year for Mazda in the US market with the 323 GTX being my favorite.

  17. AW11_FTW said:

    Supercharged MR2. It’s the only car with the 4A-GZE in the USA, was only available for two years (88-89), was the fastest car in the world 0-35mph, and was just generally awesome.

    That said, I am VERY biased because I daily drive one.

  18. Terrance said:

    i my opinion i would say the question is not as simple as it seems, most if not all cars in the 1988 model year did not amount to much in that year. Meaning that the cars were still new, and the owners were bying them because of the reputation of the manufacturer and not how good or bad that model was. So to base an answer only on the 1988 period may not hit the mark. I think for a car to be given that award it should met at least this crieteria. The car that was debuted to the general public in 1988 but had the longest running production ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED from initial release. Here is my basis for this, in 1988 and the preceding years the car had not proven itself yet so it did not build a following or reputation so if the car lived longer that 1 model year unchanged then the manufacturer was responding to the public and giving them what they wanted, the car that meet this criteria has already been decided by the buying public. So while i agree about all the cars mentioned and their attributes in 1988 only 1 chassis accomplished it, the S13 from 1988 and ended in 1994 as the s13 silvia and s13 hatch from 1988 to 1998.

  19. Can’t believe I won! Now if anyone can help source me that sweet sweet fj to the states.
    How do I claim my prize to hold me over.lol

  20. Btw I vote the 1988 celica gts or all Trac I know the 1987 classic last year got same pick but it’s a underappreciated Generation in toyota.

  21. steveracer said:

    By far and away the Mazda 323GTX was the best car I have ever owned – the most fun to drive for sure, that really did what BMW thinks all their new junk does today.

    It defined a new segment of car – fun fast awd light weight drivers car – for winter use that you could drive FLAT OUT on the street.

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