The Top 10 Japanese Pocket Rockets of All Time
For performance enthusiasts on a budget, the “pocket rocket” – a compact, small-engined runabout tuned to strike a balance between performance and practicality – is manna from motoring heaven. And few nations have made as many of those over the years as Japan. The island nation’s automakers turned Americans on to affordable, quality compacts during the energy crisis of the 1970s, and in the 1980s, started turning us on to affordable, quality compacts that were fun to drive.
But which Japanese pocket rockets had the biggest impact on the enthusiast community? Well, we’ve tried to narrow that list down to the top 10 contenders for the title of best all time, though we’ll stop short of naming a number one, since we’re going to be getting enough flack for leaving so-and-so off the following list. Note, too, that we’ve limited the criteria to fixed-roof cars that have more than two seats and were available new in the U.S.; in other words, no whining about gems like the MR2, Miata, Civic Type R and Pulsar GTi-R not making the cut. Yes, we realize that makes the title more than a little misleading, but making a more accurate one would have made for a long-ass title, wouldn’t it? With that out of the way, here are our picks.