Hot Hatch: 1982 Toyota Starlet


While we often think of the MK1 VW GTI as the one and only hot hatch, the rear-wheel drive Toyota Starlet – like this one here on eBay – is a tempting alternative if you feel the cars of Wolfsburg are a bit played out. And for our long-time readers, you might even recall Jesse ran one of these cars for a while when his Saab 900 was down for the count.


This particular Starlet is a bit of a project half-way complete. The seller has replaced the factory engine with a Japanese-market 2T, which makes just over 100 b.h.p. and ft. lbs. of torque. The Starlet is said to be a fun driver but he doesn’t have time to finish the car, which does have some cosmetic issues and a finicky carb at the moment. The later Toyota alloys look fantastic, and I love the fender-mount sideview mirrors.


The interior is OK at best; obviously, it is not stock and the radio is missing. The dash and glove box door look pretty rough, and I’m not a huge fan of aftermarket steering wheels. However, it’s probably far more enjoyable to grip than the stock unit. The seller said he added a custom kill switch and push button start, which I still really don’t get the point of. I guess the kids will enjoy it.


The seller has refreshed the suspension and added new tires along with a custom exhaust and a Toyota T50 5-speed transmission. While it’s not perfect, I think there’s some potential here to undo the custom tweaks and make this more of a Japanese resto-mod with some additional go-fast bits. The asking price is $2,000 with the option to make a best offer; what would you do with this Asian hot hatch?


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  1. Bob's your uncle

    That wouldn’t qualify as a hot hatch if you set it on fire

    • RayT Member

      But…but…but…it has the JDM fender mirrors! That’s enough to make the rice-rocket crowd’s heads spin!

      That said, it might be more fun with 100 bhp to play with. I had a Renault 5 (LeCar) with the European-spec hemi-head engine stuck in. With 93 bhp instead of the original 56, it felt like quite the little rocket sled. But that was back in the early, early 1980s, and I suspect my ideas of what’s hot and what’s not have changed a bit since then.

    • krash


  2. Scotty G

    This is a heck of a deal. There is absolutely no question that this car will be worth 2-3 times this asking price in a handful of years, if even that.

    Like 1

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