GarageLove: Restoring the Sport Compact Generation

Restoring the Sport Compact Generation

by Per Schroeder

I am wearing a Casio G-Shock watch that dates back to the late 1980s—it was one of the first models with a full stainless steel case under the thick plastic bezel. I recently purchased it online in a fit of nostalgia—it is a twin to the one that I had back in college. It’s a cheap way to relive my youth, but what’s really cool is that the watch has an aftermarket reproduction bezel. The originals are no longer available from Casio and some enterprising folks made new ones.

Yep, you read that right—people are restoring Casio digital watches. They’ve become hard to find in good condition because of what they are: a watch you can beat the snot out of that will keep on chugging along.


Don't start with the Members Only jacket jokes, but this restored vintage Casio G-Shock is bitchin'. 

So, now I watch with some fascination as 1980s cars are selling for real money—a first generation BMW M3 recently sold for $58,000. Other icons of the 1980s, like Honda CRXs and early Volkswagen GTIs are starting to move upwards in value as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if other inexpensive enthusiast cars, like the Nissan SE-R and Toyota MR-2 followed suit shortly.

Thanks to their appeal to drifters, the AE86 Corolla and Nissan 240SX have become harder to find at a reasonable pricepoint—but we expect that these will also become great cars to have in stock, unmodified form as well.


As popular as it's become, Drifting has certainly took its toll on the available pool of stock AE86s. How many will be left in 20 years? 

That last part is the key. Finding a stock and otherwise unmolested original sport compact car from the 1980s through the 1990s is going to be well on impossible—even dealerships were slapping some pretty craptastic aftermarket wings and big wheels on Civics back then.

Just like that G-Shock watch, CRX and GTI owners modified, raced and otherwise beat the crap out of these cars from the get-go. They were cheap, they were fun and Lord, did we destroy a lot of them.

The Miata might soon be the poster child for this restoration movement, as the first ones are now a quarter of a century old. According to Keith Tanner of Flyin’ Miata,  “The NA Miata is at an interesting point in its life. It’s starting to show signs of being a classic car as parts that are becoming No Longer Available (NLA), but it still has a very active community of owners, so it’s not turned into a collector car that’s kept tucked away in the garage.”


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