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By deebles
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#10462
Hello everyone,

Back in 1990 my stepdad made a deal with me:
He wanted to buy a new Sprint and if I offered my 1980 Fiesta Sport as a trade-in, the Sprint would be mine in 3 years.
At the time I was a student at the University of Victoria and getting along just fine without a car, so I agreed.

My time with the Sprint came to an end in 1997 courtesy of a Camry suddenly and unexpectedly crossing my path by proceeding through a two way stop. A week later I was driving a 1989 Swift GTi and silently thanking the Camry’s driver for my good fortune.

Around the turn of the millennium I joined TeamSwift; in 2003 expecting our first child I decided to replace the Swift with something a bit more family friendly, but hung on to the Swift until that car, a 2000 Esteem wagon, arrived. Before that, I got a call from a nearby Swift GT owner saying that his car was available due to his terminal brain cancer. I first noticed this car a couple of years earlier and left my phone number with the owner who as a senior citizen and vintage truck collector bought it new as a daily driver but garage kept alongside his wife’s black one! I was interested in it due to its pristine condition and would have been glad to replace my GTi with it, but the circumstances had changed with a child due to arrive. In the end I could not resist the GT. Being in such great shape it brought me back to when these cars were new, which was comforting to me. I pledged that I would do my best to preserve this car for as long as possible.

For a number of months, a GT and a GTi were in my garage side by side, a white one and a black one, before selling the black one and getting the Esteem.

The Swift is now registered with Collector plates. For the last few years I’ve been back and forth about selling it because on the one hand it’s a great joy to drive and to look at, but on the other hand that hardly ever happens as I’ve kind of ridden a bicycle away from car culture and although garaged it’s also under a cover most of the time so I don’t have to clean it. That takes away the visual appeal but it is fun to play peek-a-boo once in a while.
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By suzukitom
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#10463
i understand your desire to keep the GT even if you dont use it much. i drove my 90 GT recently after 15 years parked. the rev happy engine makes me smile.

my daily driver is a 01 Esteem wagon 1.8 5 speed and that feels like a more refined and spacious version of the GT. and its probably quicker.

if I had to sell one… surprisingly it would be the GT.
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By deebles
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#10464
Wow tom, you drive an Esteem wagon too … yes it is a superior car in many ways but I hate the overboosted power steering and love that the Swift has none.

I also parked my Swift for a period of time, about 6 years, and for the last few have only driven about 1000 kms per year. It always fires up as if recently driven.

I have developed a philosophy about the Swift GT/GTi that may differ from most. It’s likely a product of my experiences with them over the years, mostly that I owned one for most of my pre-parental adult life, and the respect I have for Suzuki in creating them.

The G13B engine is a little on the small side considering the weight of the MK2 and later cars. When Suzuki released the MK1 GTi the weight was 750kg if I recall which is a better match for the engine. I have found that a stock MK2 left alone can be a bit lazy when puttering around and generally being easy on the car, short shifting, y’know, being responsible and all, which is me most of the time. A car like the Esteem will behave better under these circumstances.

But a few tweaks here and there add up. Some weight reduction starting with forged alloys … there are more heavy bits that can be removed or replaced without altering the stock look or feel of the car. I need to go weigh mine as I’m pretty sure it’s well under 800kg now. Also you can advance the timing until it pings then back off a bit. Stock timing advance is for 85 octane gas which is < regular gas here. If you are willing to pay for premium you can advance the timing even more. The improved low end engine response coupled with lighter weight makes the whole system more responsive and effortless when driven sedately if that makes sense. So while there have been many great turbo success stories out there, I personally find enough power without going as far as that or any internal engine mods, and would rather not lose touch completely with the car’s original character. To satisfy any (unlikely) future power hunger I would look at something a lot newer, probably electric.
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By suzukitom
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#10467
The Esteem was supposed to be the natural successor to the Swift, as the early Esteem/Cultus Crescent even had a G13B hatchback variant. Yes it weighed 20% more than the Swift but the extra weight helped produce a much stiffer structure and was offset by 20% more power without much penalty in fuel economy. Every weak part of a Swift unibody / chassis was upgraded.. such as alloy control arms, bolt on subframes, better geometry, sturdy engine mounts/cradle, chain driven twin cam 1.8 16V, COP ignition, cable shifter with hydraulic clutch, better engine management controls, better rocker panel drainage and anti-rust coatings, etc. American Suzuki employee parking lots were reportedly full of Esteems because no one wanted to trade them in..

I like the power steering.. it uses the same hydraulics as in the JDM Cultus and Swifts with PS.. i find it naturally weighted and provides good road feel.

The GT is quick but not as refined. as in sportbike vs touring bike… the best part of both cars are the dizzying choice of global drivetrain variants and how they change their personalities.
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