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35 Affordable Turbos Drivers Overlook Far Too Often

Cameron EittreimJune 25, 2020

Shelby Lancer
Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

9: Shelby Lancer

Mitsubishi was originally known more in America for selling imported economy cars through Chrysler dealerships than for its vehicles. But there was a compact car that caught Carroll Shelby’s attention, and that was the Lancer. Chrysler had been importing this model for some time and the team at Shelby decided to make it into a performance version.

Shelby Lancer
Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Shelby Lancer is remembered for its bright red paint job and silky smooth ground effects. The look of the car was more than just skin deep though. The 2.2L Turbo II drivetrain was good for 175hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the lowered suspension and an affordable price tag, this Lancer was a steal. This car was faster than a comparable CSX off the line, which was Shelby’s other project around the time.

Chrysler Conquest
Photo Credit: Bing

8: Chrysler Conquest

A car that you don’t see too often on the road anymore is the Chrysler Conquest. The Conquest was part of the partnership that Chrysler had with Mitsubishi. For lack of a better term, the Conquest was an amazing sports car. Not only because of its affordable price tag but also because of its performance. The car was cheap to maintain and easy to fix.

Chrysler Conquest
Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

With the Chrysler version, the company added luxury features. The Conquest was never going to become a major hit for the company. But as far as Mitsubishi was concerned, this was a great way to get into the market. The Conquest had a lot going for it in terms of the twin-turbo design and functionality. This car was one of the first real competitors to the Toyota Supra.

Neon SRT-4
via: Top Speed

7: Neon SRT-4

Perhaps one of the most unique cars to come out of the last decade, the Neon SRT-4 was a radical departure from the standard economy car. The most capable turbo-powered car in this price range, the SRT-4 was a real treat. For its stripped-down price, the car was lacking a lot of features such as power windows in the rear.

Neon SRT-4
via: Modified Car Trader

But aside from that, the Neon SRT-4 is perhaps one of the best turbos created in the last few decades. At the price point, the Neon SRT-4 is a steal no matter which way you look at it. The car has a lot of features and power that more expensive models don’t come close to. The SRT-4 is one of the most underrated and iconic turbos to hit the road.

Mustang SVO
Photo Credit: Car Domain

6: Ford Mustang SVO

The Ford Mustang is most commonly associated with a powerful V8 engine. However, during the ’80s, there was another unique option. Ford was experimenting with various turbo-powered options during this period and the Mustang was at the forefront. With the lightweight design of the Mustang, there was no reason why the company wouldn’t try a smaller engine. GM did it with the Camaro “Iron Duke,” but Ford wanted to do it differently.

Mustang SVO
Photo Credit: Car Domain

The blue oval wanted a car that was both exciting to drive and gas efficient. The Mustang fit the bill with the lightweight rear-wheel-drive platform that was carried on into the 1990s. While the SVO had some reliability problems, the car was for the most part a great choice. There was a good deal of factory options that made the car a great choice for fans of turbos.

Datsun 280ZX Turbo
Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: Datsun 280ZX Turbo

There’s no denying the significance that the 280ZX has in the sports car market. The 280ZX had gotten quite bulky by this point in time. That was a drawback for many aspects of the car, but Nissan innovated with the addition of the turbo. The turbo-powered 280ZX is still an affordable option if you can find one in good condition.

Datsun 280ZX
Photo Credit: Mecum

The car was simplistic to work on and it had a great deal of factory performance options. Most drivers were pleased with the factory setup that the 280ZX came with. But there are also tons of aftermarket upgrades you can purchase for the legendary Z. This is why this body style is one of the most popular options in terms of turbos on the road.

Volvo V70
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

4: Volvo V70 Turbo “The Brick”

There are many different affordable options drivers can get in terms of turbos. There is one, however, that’s even more unique than the rest, and that’s the V70. Known in the enthusiast community as “The Brick”, the V70 has a lot of good options for tuners looking for cheap thrills. To start things off, the wagon has seven-passenger seating, which is almost unheard of in most circles.

Volvo V70
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Then you also have a luxurious interior, which Volvo is famous for. Volvo cars are among the safest vehicles on the road. Getting one with a turbo is a real thrill, especially if you love how Swedish cars drive. Volvo has produced quite a few stellar turbo s. The V70 is one of the more iconic models and the wagon has quite a loyal following.

PT Cruiser
Photo Credit: Chrysler

3: PT Cruiser Turbo

The PT Cruiser was one of the most popular cars for the new millennium. The retro-themed style was part of a plan by Chrysler to reinvigorate the Plymouth brand name. Of course, this never happened and the PT Cruiser ended up being sold as a Chrysler model. The PT Cruiser Turbo was a fun little car. The setup was almost identical to that of the Neon SRT-4.

Pt Cruiser
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

In typical Chrysler fashion, a good deal of the parts on the PT Cruiser were borrowed from other models. The PT Cruiser broke a lot of barriers for Chrysler in the new decade. There have been many cars that have come and gone after the PT Cruiser such as the Chevy HHR. The PT managed to carve a niche out for itself in an already crowded marketplace.

VW Beetle
Photo Credit: VW

2: Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo

The Volkswagen New Beetle was one of the most influential new cars in the last couple of decades. But as the years waned on there were quite a few other “halo” cars that stole the spotlight. Fortunately, there is a bright spot in the history of the New Beetle, and that was the Turbo version. The Turbo offered a powerful German driving experience with the same motor that you’d find in a Jetta or a Passat.

VW Beetle
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The Beetle had a short wheelbase the drive was much more intuitive. Although the Turbo version had a lot of reliability issues overall, the car was a blast to drive. That made it a great choice for anyone who wanted a turbo-powered tuner on a budget. The turbo version was also released in a convertible.

Volvo C70
Photo Credit: CDN

1: Volvo C70 T5 Turbo

Another interesting car that has been under the radar for the last decade is the Volvo C70. This rather sedate looking convertible was one of the best selling cars in the Volvo lineup. But aside from a calming demeanor, there was a performance version of the car as well. The C70 T5 was a turbocharged variant of the already excellent wagon. The interior of the C70 was only one of the radically different features.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The turbocharged engine is at the heart of every special-edition Volvo. The Volvo lineup has not often been associated with performance. But when you merge Swedish engineering with a turbocharger, you get a pleasant combination. Volvo has long been associated with an upscale driving experience, and the C70 is true to that.

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