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.
$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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to slowcarSLOW-MPGlol for another great feature.