- Chevy Corsica Hatchback
- By all accounts, the Chevy Corsica was never a very good car. In fact, it was downright horrible. General Motors first began selling the Corsica back in 1987, and somehow the nameplate lived on all the way until 1996. For a few short years between 1989 and 1991, The General offered the unloved Corsica in a five-door hatchback bodystyle, which at least made the car a bit more useful.
One of our fondest childhood memories of the Corsica and its coupe-shaped sibling, the Beretta, is a sign that we remember from a local automatic car wash prohibiting just these cars from entering its facility. It seems the paint quality was so bad on these twins that the high-pressure spray was sufficient to send it flying in multi-colored chunks. Click above to see our next forgotten hatchback.
- Fiat Strada
- In most parts of the world, the Fiat Strada is best known as a small pickup truck. Here in the United States, Fiat first applied the name to a small hatchback that was otherwise called the Ritmo. Underneath the Strada's interesting Bertone-designed bodywork was the chassis and running gear from the plebeian Fiat 128, which meant the car wasn't all that entertaining to drive in standard guise. In any case, Fiat stopped selling the Strada hatchback in the United States at the end of 1982. Click above to move along.
- Mercury LN7
- In 1982, Ford's product marketers figured that what the masses in the United States really wanted was an affordable, sporty, two-seat hatchback coupe with a rakish and modern body design and plenty of room for stuff in the back. They may have been on to something with that plan, but unfortunately, the car they came up with was based on the anemic Ford Escort platform.
The Blue Oval's little 1.6-liter engine was barely able to move the Ford EXP and Mercury LN7 out of their own way. Sales were so slow that Ford dropped the Mercury LN7 after 1983, though the EXP lived on. A few years later, Ford added a turbocharged engine option, but even that was of little help, and in the face of perennially sagging sales, the EXP was officially killed in 1988. Click above to see another forgotten hatchback that was released in '82.
- Mitsubishi Cordia
- Joining the aforementioned Ford EXP and Mercury LN7 in 1982 was the Mitsubishi Cordia, a car who's name was reportedly a strange amalgam of the words cordite (a mineral) and diamond. The front- or all-wheel-drive Cordia was available with a base 1.4-liter engine with 68 galloping ponies, a larger 1.6-liter that put out 74 horsepower and a high-output turbocharged version of the larger 1.6-liter engine that offered up an impressive-for-the-time 112 horsepower. By the time 1985 rolled around, the Japanese automaker had introduced a new 1.8-liter engine that was again offered in turbocharged form with 135 horsepower. The fun lasted all the way until 1988 when the spunky little Cordia was dropped from Mitsubishi's U.S. lineup.
- Mitsubishi Precis
- Don't remember the Mitsubishi Precis? Sure you do, just maybe not by that particular name. Back in 1987, Mitsubishi apparently - and inexplicably - decided it needed a replacement for the outgoing Cordia hatchback, so the Japanese automaker contacted Hyundai in order to procure a rebadged version of the Korean company's front-wheel-drive Excel. The resulting vehicle was known as the Precis and sold in the United States all the way until 1994. Powered by an underwhelming 81-horsepower 1.5-liter engine, the Precis was anything but sporty, but at least it was cheap. Click above to see the next obscure hatchback on our list.
- Oldsmobile Firenza
- Back in the early-to-mid '80s, every division under the General Motors umbrella was bestowed with its very own J-body subcompact. Oldsmobile was no different, and it's version was known as the Firenza. Until 1987, the Firenza was available with a hatchback bodystyle, which was generally marketed as the sportiest version of what was generally a completely unsporty car. Throughout the course of its life, the Firenza was available with nearly every four-cylinder engine GM had available, but the 2.8-liter 60-degree OHV V6 engine was also offered with as much as 130 horsepower underhood. The basic J-body would go on to live all the way until 2005 when the final Chevy Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire rolled down the assembly line. Click above to see another '80s hatchback from another (soon-to-be) expired GM nameplate.
Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe
- Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe
- For the 1986 model year, General Motors decided to homologate a new Aerocoupe body shell for use in NASCAR competition. Although not a hatchback in the true sense of the word, we decided the GP 2+2 deserves inclusion because of its silhouette and rarity, even if the mail-slot trunklid offered none of the utility of a proper hatch. Pontiac opened up the history books and dusted off the 2+2 moniker for its new aerodynamic mid-sizer, which was offered with a 5.0-liter V8 engine and four-barrel carberutor that put out a whimpering 150 horsepower and was mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. This is one rare machine - just 1,225 Grand Prix Aerocoupes were produced in 1986 - far fewer than Pontiac's counterparts at the Bowtie brand. At least in this company, the GP 2+2 Aero was actually a pretty cool car - minus the horsepower deficiency. Unfortunately, the next machine on our list is definitely not. Click above to find out what it is.
- Renault Encore
- Back in the mid-'80s, AMC was on the ropes and didn't have the development cash to bolster its aging line of rear-wheel-drive coupes, sedans and wagons. Enter Renault, which offered up its Alliance subcompact. Starting in 1984, the car was also available as a hatchback known as the Encore.
Initial sales were strong after the Alliance and Encore took home major awards from both Car and Driver and Motor Trend. A few years later, however, it became obvious that the Encore was not a very well-built machine and its reliability was, to put it mildly, horrible. Earlier this year, Car and Driver went so far as to apologize for naming the unloved Renault to its 1983 10 Best Cars list. Click above to continue.
- Sterling 827
- In 1987, Austin Rover Cars of North America, otherwise known as ARCONA, launched a new brand of cars in the United States under the Sterling name. The Sterling 825 was a sedan, but the object of our ardor is the far rarer 827 hatchback bodystyle. In either case, both were essentially Rover 800 Series cars (themselves Acura Legends in Britannia guise) and were fitted with V6 engines from the Japanese automaker. Somehow, the British automaker managed to take an eminently trustworthy Acura engine and platform and put it at the bottom of every reliability index in the late '80s. The Rover 800 went on to become something of a success in its home market and was eventually replaced in 1998 by the Rover 75, but here in the States, Sterling was soon consigned to the scrapheap. Click above to see the final car on our list.
- Subaru GL
- No list of obscure hatchbacks from the '80s would be complete without a mention of Subaru's interesting line of vehicles from the era. Before there was an Impreza, there was the Leone, which was a replacement for the front-wheel-drive 1000 series. This is one of the models that popularized Subaru's use of the horizontally-opposed "boxer" engine and all-wheel drive.
For whatever reason, Subaru referred to this line of vehicles in the '80s only by its two-letter trim level designation, which included the GL-10 hatchback shown here. Available equipped with four-wheel drive and a turbocharged 1.8-liter engine producing 115 horsepower, the little GL was an interesting model that lasted until 1990 when Subaru replaced the line with the re-named Loyale sedan and wagon.