Rioter Mk.4: Back to roots, turning over a new leaf
The FRTX made waves during its presentation at Detroit. But when Hugi Aleixo revealed the R badge which laid in its C-pillar, the waves turned into a tsunami of hope. To add to that hope, Hugi later revealed the true meaning behind the FRTX intials; Future Rioter Template Xperiment. The car was not just a tour de force, it was the blueprint to a new Rioter. Bigger, badder, more powerful than ever before; back to being a true muscle car.
The Mk.4 family tree began in 1983, with the bottom rung belonging to the car above; the S. Did the “S” stand for sporty? Not quite. That “S” stood for “SImple”. The car’s bare-bones trim, featuring nothing but rubber, coupled with its limited equipment, meant this was the Rioter for the sports car fan on a budget.
Not many complained about such a basic sports car, mainly because it opened the doors to many who could only dream of the Rioters of old. There was a funny footnote about the S, however; when it was released, its 260-hp V8 was only an optional (a costly one at that). The car was intended to be sold with a weaker, much-smaller 4-cylinder. However, many derided that engine, gladly forking over the cash just for the claims of V8 ownership. Hugi, seeing the sales boost, claimed the 4-cylinder was a launch campaign special, and wrote the version off after only 3 months!
Obviously the S was more about confort that sportiness, but it was still a solid range-opener. But for those with a bit more wallet, the next rung awaited;
The CB. Again, many questioned what the CB stood for. Some claimed it stood for “Cruiser Bruiser”, seeing as that was the promotional tagline for the model. But eventually, and once again, Hugi Aleixo was the one to sort out the doubts. During an interview, he mentioned the following;
What does it stand for? Well it’s no king lion, but it’s no simpleton either. To put it bluntly, it’s the cub everyone hated years ago. Just because it starts out small, that doesn’t mean a cub can’t become a lion of its own…
So yes, the CB stood for “Cub”; the same nickname which had been used as an insult for the Mk.3 Lion, by fans who claimed it was too small to be true to the name’s legacy. To ensure those same “fans” felt shame in the action, the CB was sold as a luxurious model, a far cry from the humble roots of the Mk.3 Adding chrome to its trim and a premium 8-track system, the CB was a bit of muscle, a bit of elegance, all in one sharp-looking package.
The rear end was an example of this elegance; the bars in both the upper and lower rear vents were rubber-based in the S, but the CB had chrome all around. It is also here where you can see the most obvious influence from the FRTX; the long stoplight stripe, paired with angled rear indicators.
What about the heart of the Mk4.? Well, things had changed in the '80s, including the ressurgence of a familiar engine configuration;
The fans rejoiced, for the V8 was back in its rightful place. But technology had added a remix to the popular song; a highly-advanced, 32-valve SOHC head was available for all Rioters, as well as the multi-point fuel injection. For a car promoted with luxury as the CB, this pot of technologies was a great help with boosting sales. And for a year, the CB had to carry the flag as the most powerful Rioter, so every little bit helped. But there was only one name who could top the Rioter charts. And in 1984, the CB welcomed its big(ger) brother…
The Lion was back, and back with style. Gone were the Cub insults, the engine strangling and the tiny bodies. This Lion had more of everything; more power, more advance technology, and more speed than any other Lion ever had.
The V8, originally a 4.8-litre unit, was enlarged to 5-liters, still paired with the same 32-valve SOHC head and multi-point EFI systems. However, power and speed were a completely different league from the CB; 418 horsepower propelled the Mk.4 Lion to an astonishing 181 mph (the CB’s speed being 167), with 0-60 being dusted off in 6.1 seconds.
Of course, the Lion was not shy to admit it had all this; along with the CB’s chrome trim, the Lion added a rear spoiler, two hood vents and the famed Lion decal, the one aspect left by the unloved Mk.3. All Lions had two-tone paintjob, as evidenced by this example’s Dark Greens/Brutal Black combo.
Along with all this, the Lion featured Hugi’s first ever targa-top; the Topper. Featuring two panels which could be taken off at will by the owner, this system added a bit of fresh air (rather literally) to the Rioter. Lions had this equipment stock, while in the CB it was an option. As for S owners, unfortunately the best they could do was live with a basic vinyl roof. As it was said before, S for SImple…
Either way, the Mk.4 was a rousing success. With a Rioter for each sports-oriented mind, there was hardly any gaps unfilled in its range. From its birth in 1983 up until its death in 1993, the Rioter Mk.4 was back where it deserved to be; a true American muscle car, now matched to technology that made it easier to live with (and harder to live without). Was the Lion the king of all Mk.4s then, the ultimate definition of this success? Well, not quite. But that is a post for another day…
Specs (model order corresponds to the post’s):
Author’s note: It did take me quite a while to follow up the FRTX post with this. But the reasons were threefold; I was busy with personal work and the CSR rounds. Then it took quite a while for the proper '80s American body to show up (and many thanks to thecarlover for finally delivering that in the form of this C4 body). Finally, the rear end design was the cause of many headaches, trying to deliver something cohesive, era-fitting and car-matching. Here’s hoping it didn’t fail too badly!