By on December 28, 2013

gts

In a world where Cadillac makes a “V-sport” knockoff version of its own CTS-V that still has over 400 horsepower and can actually out-accelerate its own depreciation, to say nothing of the new BMW 328i, which will have that name because it will have 3 cylinders and 28psi of boost, it seems impossible to even consider the idea that there used to be cars that looked fast but went slow. With super-exciting sport packages or fun fender flares or even giant spoilers but absolutely positively no ability to accelerate supplied as standard. But it’s true. We called it “more bark than bite”. The English used to say “all mouth no trousers”, a fun term that could also describe a great white shark, or Lena Dunham.

Some of the names that will forever ring with honor in the Hall Of Test-Drive Disappointment include: Eurosport. Cobalt SS Sedan Naturally Aspirated. Camaro Sport Coupe. Camaro Berlinetta. Camaro Type LT. And those are just the Chevrolets. Mostly just the Camaros, really. But when the underachievers (and the Achievas) of the sporting-car world meet in the a parking garage to fight to the death for the Prize, there can be only one. The Prize, by the way, is a K&N “Filtercharger”.

My vote for the car that best combines a bad-ass appearance with a weak-ass drivetrain is shown above. The 1984 Celica GT-S featured the aggressive fender flares and wheel package from the Supra along with modified bowtie taillights that were smoked for extra sex appeal and hidden headlamps. In black, the car was positively menacing. And with 105 horsepower, up from the Celica ST model’s 105 horsepower (no, wait, that’s the same) it ripped through the 0-60 mark in just 11.8 seconds on the way to an 18.3-second quarter-mile time. Anybody who lined up for the stoplight Grand Prix against one of these monsters in a Mercedes 240D or Rabbit Diesel would be well-advised to back off; anybody else, including drivers of the aforementioned Celebrity Eurosport V-6, could be confident of dusting it.

But don’t let your innate desire to please me, the Zombie McQuestionbot, change your mind to the obviously correct choice of the Celica GT-S. Place your vote below!

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258 Comments on “QOTD: Who’s The All-Time Bark-No-Bite Champion?...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    2013 Accord Sport.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Any non-GSX Eclipse.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The FWD turbo GS was fine. But the base models boy did they not deliver. A friend’s sister had the O.Z. special edition one of these, all the look of the turbo with the big spoiler and fancy wheels with none of the speed.

      The base model Stealth/3000GT were pretty bad too 3.0 Mitsu minivan motor.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Any non V8 Mustang from previous gens. The 4 cyl LX was particularly egregous.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      You’ll have to amend to not include the SVO which was a pretty good performer for its day.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s the caveat: Pretty good for its day. I picked up a book from the early ’30s, Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy. He and his unchaperoned girlfriend were following a black car driven by guys-up-to-no-good, and Jack said, “They must be doing sixty – I can’t keep up!”

        As late as the malaise ’70s, you could buy a late ’50s used car with 10-15 second 0-60 times, and those were the fast cars of the era. As has been pointed out here many times, the muscle cars of the late ’60s weren’t too quick by today’s standards.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          I think you have to take performance in the context of its time.

          Although the V8 Mustang GT from 96-98 would probably be hard pressed to out run the SVO Mustang, talk about a dog, those cars epitomized it.

          Truly a shameful period in the Mustang’s history when they first introduced the 4.6 2v MOD engined cars.

        • 0 avatar

          Even my low performance 77 Chevelle will outrun an average 50′s sled. However anything on the road now, will outrun that same disco era Chevelle.

          That car in its time was rather average performing with the smallest V8 available to it at the time (this case the first of the 305s)And a 0-60 time thats been clocked by me at 11 seconds. That makes it as fast as a pushrod six Explorer.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Most people don’t even know about the SVO, and most of those who do, don’t know that it was actually faster then the V-8 GT in pre-production.

        Management had the guys at SVO slow it down by putting a heavier flywheel on it. Helped to launch it, but in the critical low rpm range before boost came on, it revved slower and held the car back.

        Replace that heavy flywheel with a lighter one and all of a sudden you were in the boost range quicker, and about 00.3 of second faster 0-60mph and about 00.5 seconds faster in the 1/4 mile, and faster then the GT.

        The SVO responded well to little performance tweaks, for less then $1,500, in 1986 dollars, you had and SVO that ran 13.7 1/4 miles with a top speeds over 150mph, and it would still get 30+ MPG.

        With all of the factory structural stiffening, tunable suspension, 16′ tires, big brakes all around and lighter overall weight, especially on the front end, it would leave GT’s on the track(road course) and went and played with the gen-4 Corvettes and 911′s.

        It was a much better handling car then a 911, with better brakes. The 911 felt old in comparison, one of the reasons I never owned a 911. The 944 was also a much better car then the 911.

        Interesting bit about the SVO. Back in the day, hardly anybody new about the SVO, even stalwart Mustang fan boys. When I showed up with mine at the Bonneville Speed Trials, a guy driving a GT didn’t believe me that it was a stock factory/SVO built car. He swore that I had modified it with the front end, hood, and dual plane spoiler, wheels and brakes.

        One should also note that the SVO had 5-lug wheels and the rest of the Mustang line up didn’t, even the GT had 4-lug wheels and didn’t get the 5-lug till quite a bit later.

        Hope Ford remembers its history and brings the SVO back with the new Mustang.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          AS someone who bought a new ’85 GT, I did all the comparisons against the SVO. Sure, you could throw another $1500 at it, but that only made things worse as the SVO was over $2000 more expensive than the GT. At the transaction price of $11,666 for my GT (I still have the bill of sale), that’s one third more expensive. No sale, and I’m no the only one who thought so as the GT sales dwarfed that of the SVO. Plus that $1500 spent on the GT gave you all sorts of performance options that you didn’t have on the SVO given the Windsor-block 302.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @bunkie – Little things made for big gains with the SVO. We were running 19-20 lbs of boost on premium unleaded plus other minor tweaks. It’s no Pinto engine, btw. All forged internals and high nickel content blocks. The important thing is it could turn/stop on a dime, while the GT had to relay driver inputs via Pony Express.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    The MKIII Jetta GT and base GTI. They looked (mostly) like VR6 carrying GLXs and GTIs, respectively, but actually “packed” the 2.slow I4.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Corolla S [looks almost identical to the XRS, yet....is garbage]
    Hyundai Tiburon
    Honda CRZ
    Agree with above poster re: any non-turbo Eclipse
    I may even be so bold as to go for late 1970s Corvettes
    Early 1980s Camaros with the 4cylinder

    • 0 avatar
      NorCalSmog

      I wouldn’t say that about the Tiburon. I had an 05 Sonata with the same 173 HP and 181 ft-lbs 2.7 Delta V6 and it was a pretty nice little motor. It liked to rev, and it sounded good as it did so, even if it didn’t go all that high. (6200 in the auto Sonata)

      It certainly wasn’t a fast car, but it wasn’t as shameful as a Corolla S or a 4 cylinder Camaro

  • avatar
    jz78817

    The 2005 Neon with “SRT Design” package.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      You’re not meaning the SRT4 Neon are you? Because those things were pretty awesome. A deathtrap, but awesome nonetheless.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        No, not the actual SRT (I had a 2004.) I mean how you could get a standard Neon with an “SRT Design” appearance package which gave you the taller spoiler, rocker trim, and fascias which looked similar to the SRT-4 but uglier.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    The Mitsubishi Lancer O-Z Rally (from the early 00s) comes to my mind, but it’s probably not the worst.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      No I think you might have hit the worst…Mitsu gives us the “Lancer” while everybody with a PlayStation is discovering the existence of the Lancer Evolution. Mitsu tries to cash in on that with the almost wholly cosmetic OZ rally edition. Some folks buy in to it.

      Then Mistu dumps the actual Evolution on us…boy don’t those OZ rally edition drivers feel stupid when they pull up next to the real deal.

      • 0 avatar
        Kosher Polack

        I’ll never forget a guy in high school trying to convince me that his yellow OZ Rally was equipped with a turbo and could outrun everything in the parking lot. Dude, you can’t just make up stuff to impress random guys, some of us read about cars a lot!

    • 0 avatar
      Neutron73

      I have to agree with this one. The O-Z Rally was truly “all show, no go”. Pathetic

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Iron Duke Camaros and 4 cyl NON-SVO Mustangs.

    Special mention to the current Dodge Dart which I think is fetching and fast looking in all of its option packages but only actually fast in perhaps one of those option packages.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    1969 Opel GT. 67 horsepower with the base engine.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      My sister’s fiancee had one, in orange. It was a turd. With just him in the car, it was tolerable, barely, but with two in it, wow, freeway merges were an adventure. My 1985 Caravan with 106 HP was much less dramatic, and after 3 years of it, I had to get rid of it. The 160HP the replacement S10 Blazer had made it feel like a rocket.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      The GT was even slower than the Kadett because it weighed more and had the same drivetrain!

  • avatar
    labrat

    My vote goes to the 1974 Mustang II Mach 1 with a mandatory V6 putting out barely more than 100 hp.

    Honorable mention would be the competing Chevy Monza. Prior to its release as a 1975 model, it was touted as a “V8 Vega” by the press and highly anticipated among Chevy performance fans. The final product had a 110 hp 262 ci V8 thet took about 13 seconds to do the 0-60 run and 18-19 seconds for the 1/4 mile. A current Chevy Sonic could easily out run this.

    The Malaise era is chock full of similar examples.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      The much criticized Prius C can easily beat that.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      how much would it have really taken to make a V-8 Monza a fun car? wow.
      Wouldn’t want to break a fingernail.

      • 0 avatar
        abdoozy

        The Monza was originally developed to have a two-rotor Wankel under the hood. IIRC, the first gas crisis put the kibosh on that idea, as the rotary engines of the time got putrid mileage; and the V8 was added in an effort to salvage something like performance. But the V8 was heavier, and the front end had to be strengthened to handle the extra weight, destroying the balance of what should have been a nice little car.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Well they managed to cram a 305 in that engine bay so remove 262 and replace with 350. Done.

        • 0 avatar
          seanx37

          I did just that. In the mid 80s, I had a 305 Monza. My best friend and his brothers have a few dozen Vettes between them. They had a 350 laying around from a 69. We installed that in the Monza, and did a little work to it as well. Turned out, it dyno’ed out at bet 305-315 hp. It got better gas mileage than tire mileage. I used to just stop at the junk yard, and grab wheels/tires off the junkers for $5-10 about once every 2 months. It was great on a roll however. Was so much blowing away 325′s and 944′s. Unless there was a turn in the road. Or a need to stop suddenly.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Modern times? Last-generation Hyundai Tiburon.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Yugo GT or Suzuki Swift (not)

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Can we call this the Wonderbra award?

  • avatar

    The XTS V-Sport “blowing the doors off the competition commercial”…

    Yeah… Come try that bullsh!t on my block and I’ll show you the taillights of a $18,000-cheaper Chrysler and a Jeep that weighs 500 pounds more than you.

    • 0 avatar

      I always thought that was such an obnoxious commercial. The message seems obvious in retrospect, but even now when I see it again it’s such a jarring image, with that grating music at the end, and the horrible CGI, I just can’t stand it. Most of all I just get the impression some mid-level manager had this bright idea at 4:59pm on a Friday, after having all their other better ad ideas rejected, and decided to just run this instead of more creative ideas. Then again I am probably half the age of the target audience so what do I know.

      Commercial is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHX7eMvKqks

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe

    Nevermind that it was the slowest and least powerful of all the performance G-Bodies, it could be decimated by pretty much any hot hatch circa 1987 (including the 3-cylinder Chevy Sprint Turbo). In fact, a number of bog standard econocars of the era would give it pause.

    • 0 avatar

      Wasn’t that more of a homologation special so they could race that body in NASCAR?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        It was a homologation special. I always assumed that it had the same 305 4 brrl that Monte Carlo SS had. Did they actually put the 301 V8 in the areocoupe Grand Prixs?

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          It still had the 305, just not the L69 HO 180hp version, it was 160hp (extra 10 from dual exhaust IIRC) There was a Monte SS aeroback homolgation special too.

          Honestly, though not particularly egregious, the Monte SS and 442 of the era were pretty weak, getting spanked all over the place by the turbo Regals, and anything remotely quick (i.e. better than 16 in the 1/4) of course as a platform to easily drop a monster drivetrain in they are phenomenal.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I guess when you say performance G-body you mean the Hurst/Olds or 442. Dunno how many of those GM made, but they should have made more.

          And yeah, it’s easy to replace a gutless Cutlass or Monte’s engine with something of the 350 cubic inch variety…

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            What is interesting is Chevy certainly could have done better, they had a cop 350, Tuned-port injected 350 and 305 on the shelf. The thinking must have been that it wouldn’t help sell the cars to have more HP, or maybe didn’t want to mess with Camaro sales.

            Meanwhile some guy puts a chip and an air filter on a V6 GN and runs 13s.

          • 0 avatar
            JD-Shifty

            Oldsmobiles RWD in the 80′s had 307′s which are nowhere as bad as this forum would have you believe.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            No the 307 was that bad. The HO in the 442 was ok though. I later owned a GN so I don’t give a pass to the choked up old 307 GM had the capability of a decent powertrain. Even the carb’d 305s were better.

        • 0 avatar
          JD-Shifty

          They might have. How hard is it really to get a V8 to breathe? you might have to modify it if stock isn’t good enough

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Yeah, it was primarily built for homologation purposes, but with the black trim and rally wheels and whatnot, they definitely meant for it to look sportier than the Broughamtastic standard Grand Prixes. And yet, even in the prime of their “We Build Excitement” days, their homologation special was about as thrilling as late-night C-SPAN.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    I’m not a MOPAR guy, but IIRC the 1979 Plymouth Roadrunner had a slant-6.

    An ignominious end to a name that once meant something.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “And with 105 horsepower, up from the Celica ST model’s 105 horsepower…”

    You have to put these things into context. Back during the mid-80s, a lot of regular passenger cars had less than 100 hp. The Honda Prelude and Nissan 200SX had 100 hp, while the Chrysler Laser/Dodge Daytona had 93 hp and a VW GTI had 90 hp. Even a 5.0-liter Mustang had less than 200 hp.

    Getting 200 hp was a big deal, while a 300 hp car would have been made of unobtainium. It is not like today, where you can lease a 250+ hp minivan that would beat all of the cars that I listed above in a stoplight race.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      That’s “Celica GT-S”. The ST was the base model. But sporty cars back then were much lighter than today’s, so I’d like to see that race with a modern minivan.

      Lots of cars were a blast to drive back then with 100 HP, a manual shift and low to the ground. If they came with radical (for their day) spoilers, ground effect and insane 15″ alloys, you had something going on.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        “Lots of cars were a blast to drive back then with 100 HP”

        And they weighed a lot less which added to the fun factor. My Opel Manta only had 74 HP but it weighed about the same as an NA Miata. My Lotus Europa ‘JPS’ ‘Big Valve’ only had about 126 HP, but weighed about 1,600 pds.

        Would I have liked more HP in those cars, yes, but it didn’t detract from the fun of driving them. Same goes for all Miata’s and the FRS/BRZ.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          With 126 horsepower and such a low weight, that Europa should still be decently fast even in terms of modern metrics…

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          This is such an insane misnomer. Yes, they were lighter but if we compare them size class to size class (Accords of the 1980s match up with Civics of today) the weight difference wasn’t as dramatic as you want it to seem. Even the 30% gain in total is more than offset by the gains in HP. In the end those cars were plodding with flimsy bodies that you reminisce about due to nostalgia.

          • 0 avatar
            Preludacris

            Accords of the 1980s were much closer in size to the current Fit than Civic…
            Maybe it’s nostalgia but I sure miss mine.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      remember when Nissan unveiled the 300ZX in 1989 with it’s mind-bending 300 hp twin-turbo V6?

      now any normally aspirated V6 that doesn’t come close to 300hp is a piece of junk, and twin-turbos get you 550 hp (if you don’t mind a warranty with a minefield of exclusions.)

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The Celica was always underpowered vs competition, as was the 200/240sx. In 1984 instead of the GT-S you could buy a Daytona Shelby Z with 146hp and way more torque, or a Conquest/Starion turbo (145hp) or a Thunderbird TurboCoupe (145hp) or a Mustang GT (175 hp). I didn’t check MSRPs but the Celica was never cheap.

      The subsequent FWD GT-S with 135hp was just as uncompetitive, I didn’t have the HP of most competition and the Prelude was a better FWD sports coupe if you didn’t care much about HP.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The naturally aspirated four-cylinder sporty cars at the time generally had 100 hp or less, as noted in my list.

        Yes, you could get a turbo Daytona with more power. Or you could get a six-cylinder Toyota Supra with 150-160 hp. If you wanted something much above 100 hp, then turbos or additional cylinders were required.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I guess we are having separate arguments. The point of the article was cars that promised a lot and delivered little. the Celica GT-S really fits that bill based on its cost and looks. To get that level of body kit-ness and fender flare for a similar price I named a slew of other cars that delivered much more.

          Yes I do concede that the Celica GT-S had a reasonable HP/Liter just don’t think that is very relevant to the original question.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Celica was impressive in its day and time. It had a bit more power than its rivals, felt good behind the wheel and was built like a tank. During its era, it didn’t disappoint, because the expectations were different.

            The original question seems to have been written by someone who doesn’t realize that a 2014 Camry SE is quicker than a 1984 911. These days, you can buy a minivan with more horsepower than a 1984 Corvette. The market has completely changed, and the technology has improved markedly over that period — it’s apples and oranges, really.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Maybe I was too much a domestic guy then, and 1984 is a bit before my time for new car buying anyways, but I always thought of the Celica as “nice car, but underpowered” though perhaps that opinion is more formed on the later generations, which did lag behind in performance and HP save for the limited All-Trac models.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Pch101 – I guess it’s all kinds of ironic and stuff, that a current Camry can run with ’80s sports cars and put every sporty coupe of the era to shame.

            It just makes it sound like you weren’t there or were stuck in boring appliances back then (and now), while the rest of us enjoyed the best the ’80s car scene had to offer.

            I can guarantee you’ve never driven and MR2 (or the like)(with a stick shift), and tossed it into a decreasing radius, off camber and exited on a 4-wheel drift.

            Even a 120 HP V8 has way more character (and potential) than any V6 in any appliance.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I can guarantee you’ve never driven and MR2 (sic)”

            Thanks, but I have.

            In any case, I’m not sure what that has to do with the fact that today’s cars have a lot more power, and that a 1984 Celica was not underpowered by the standards of its day. Today’s cars are not lacking in straight ahead acceleration.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Pch101 – Just out of curiosity, what cars did you own in the ’80s and in the decades you’ve been driving? What do you drive now?

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Agreed. My mother’s fleet manager mistakenly ordered her a 1982 Olds Delta 88 with the 4.3 V-8 putting out 100 horsepower. That’s to power a 2-ton car! Guess he forget to check the 307 on the order form. Eek!

      While most of her driving was on flat highways and feeder roads, hills and fast merges were real heart-stoppers. I’d bet 0-60 took 19 or 20 seconds. The ride was smooth though, and the stereo was great. That’s the nicest thing I can say about the driving experience.

    • 0 avatar
      bufguy

      My 1981 Scirocco S has only 74 hp, but it weighs 1900 lbs. No power steering, power windows or locks, cruise, airbags, etc. Certainly not fast, but actually peppy.

    • 0 avatar
      Styles79

      The real problem is that at the time it seems that Toyota (and other manufacturers) didn’t seem to offer their best engines on export cars. I’m not sure if that was related to emissions, fuel, or regulations, but the A60 series Celica was offered in Japan with the 3T-GTE Engine, that had over 150hp, and even the 1600 4A-GE that was available on the Japanese would have out-gunned the USA spec car.

      Nissan did the same with the S13 240SX vs Silvia/180SX, sticking a pickup engine in a sports car seems silly, when they had the CA18DET engineered for the car.

      I suppose there were good reasons behind it though….

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Japan has displacement taxes that encourage Japanese automakers to make engines smaller than 2000 cc, and other regulations and market conditions that discourage large cars.

        The US has not had taxes based upon engine displacement or size. Because of this, Americans were offered a 2.8-liter V6 Supra as the performance model. It’s not a matter of “better” or “worse”, but of customizing product to meet local demand.

        • 0 avatar
          Styles79

          Yes, Japan does have taxes based on size of cars and displacement etc, but that’s not what I’m saying. The JDM versions usually had better performing engines available than the US-spec vehicles, so I don’t understand why those engines weren’t offered in the USA spec vehciles.

          In regards to the Supra, it is an I6, and it was also available in Japan, along with a number of differend engine options.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Japanese can’t sell enough of its low-volume exotic models to justify exporting most of them here. They would lose money.

          • 0 avatar
            Styles79

            So they’d rather sell less just selling them domestically? Doesn’t ring true to me. The Celica in question was built at the same place as the US market car, so it’s not like costs, other than the engine itself, would have made any difference….

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The US is a highly competitive market, which pushes down car prices, which requires the automakers to produce enough volume to offset the lower margins.

            For a car to be exported, then it needs to be worth the cost and exchange rate risk. Americans won’t buy enough of them at prices that are high enough to provide that justification.

            In any case, those odd models tend to be Japan-only, made only in RHD, so most of the world won’t be able to buy them as new cars. (NZ is the place to be if you want to pick up used JDM exotica on the cheap.)

          • 0 avatar
            Styles79

            You still aren’t understanding what I’m saying. In many of those historic cases the model was being produced in Japan, exported to the USA, but had different engines. It seems strange to sell an otherwise identical vehicle, with an inferior engine, when (presumably) the engineering costs of putting the same engine in as the JDM one would be minimal. Why put a whole different engine in for USA/Export markets when you don’t need to.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m understanding your point.

            What you’re not understanding is that automakers need to make money, and what you’re suggesting would not be profitable.

            If they can’t sell enough of a given model at a high enough price to justify offering here, then it won’t be brought here at all. Americans don’t pay prices that are high enough to get cars that others can get.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            @Styles79 I think what you are missing, is the engines have to be federalised, so there is a cost to using any engine, which has to be justified.

            In the case of using different engines, there seems to be a couple reasons for the Japanese makers to have used different engines.

            Driveability: due to the lack of displacement limits in the USA, extra HP sapping emissions standards to meet, and the expectations of the US consumer for easy revving torque over hign-winding HP. This seems to be why we would get a 3.0 turbo Supra instead of the 2.5 twin-turbo Mk III. Subaru developed a whole new 2.5 turbo STI motor for 2004 rather than give the US the existing 2.0 JDM version.

            Cost: See above as pch101 said, America is a competitive market, some of the JDM motors are not carried over here due to cost. Guessing this is why we got the 240SX and not the turbo 200SX, though I think Nissan really missed an opportunity there.

            The Japanese are just willing to pay much more to have their special editions and exotic motors.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Japan was ahead of the curve on regulating emissions, and modeled its emissions standards on US regulations. Federalizing isn’t much of an issue for them.

            The greater issues are twofold: they can’t make money selling those cars here, and they don’t provide the same halo benefit that they have in Japan. Americans have been conditioned to want low-end torque, and the cheapest and most reliable way to provide that is to add displacement.

            For that matter, the low-volume specialty cars probably aren’t profitable in Japan, either. But they need halo cars for the home market, and can afford to sell a few of them in order to support their brands.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        I have a theory about possibly why the US didn’t see the CA18DET or SR20DET, couldn’t pass the sniff test or too expensive to certify and for a car engine that would only be offered in a few vehicles?

        I like those engines, but maybe that’s why we didn’t see them….

        • 0 avatar
          Styles79

          I think that’s probably closer to the truth, but surely a turbo version of the SR20 wouldn’t have significantly worse emissions than the NA one, as seen in the Sentra etc?

          I think you’re probably closer on the certification bit. Here in NZ with regards to new car certification if it’s RHD and approved for another country we can pretty much have it.

          • 0 avatar
            wagonsonly

            What, if any, standards does NZ use for certifying cars within the country? Don’t you have Protons and Great Walls down there?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            NZ is loaded with used JDM cars that are exported to avoid Japan’s shaken inspection. If you don’t mind buying used, it’s a great place to buy some cars that will never make it to the US.

          • 0 avatar
            wagonsonly

            @PCH – I spent a few weeks in NZ some years back and saw ex-JDM cars everywhere – and heard complaints from several people about not knowing what “features” their cars came with since some ancillary features unique to the Japanese domestic market had buttons and controls labeled exclusively with kanji. Some other functions – I believe the cruise control on a Nissan Cefiro and the 4WD selector on an Isuzu Bighorn – were also labeled with kanji (not a big deal for the Isuzu, but certainly moreso for the Nissan). And of course the owner manuals, if they came with the car in the first place, are printed in Japanese.

            The question I was going for, though – what emissions and/or safety standards are applied to cars imported to NZ and how are they administered for new vs. used? Do imports have to comply with Euro, Australian, or other motor vehicle regulations?

            I certainly envy the variety and quality of cars available to Kiwis. If I lived there I’d take an Autozam AZ-1 and a Mitsubishi FTO in a heartbeat!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            NZ no longer has any domestic production, so they’re pretty tolerant. Basically, if it complies with US, EU, Japan or Australian rules, then it can be imported.

            http://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicle/classes-standards/list.html

            But since the cars (mostly) have to be right-hand drive, there won’t be many US cars that will fit the bill.

            There’s also an regular inspection requirement, called the WoF.

            I helped someone buy a used car in NZ — as it turns out, it ended up being a JDM Corolla, complete with Japanese safety warning labels, etc. — so I had a bit of personal experience with the local rules. I was told at the time that rust was a big deal for making it past the WoF, but that it wasn’t otherwise too hard to pass if the car wasn’t modified.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Can nominate a few…
    Early malaise Mustang/Superbeetle/MG badged Austin America. Chevette ‘S’ or Sport. Today’s detuned Sentra with SR pkg which throws rear spoiler & discs on a paltry non SPEC V.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    After listening to the hype about the new turbo engine for two years, the emerging V8 Trans Am – screaming chicken and all – revealed itself to be less than impressive. Or, as my Texas acquaintances say, “all hat, no cattle”. The Toyota package at least added IRS and tires and wheels to its build, so it tracked a little better. Remember, everything from 1972 until about 1992, with a standard RPO-type engine, was constricted in every sense. Context is everything. Even the 328 Ferrari didn’t crack 300 h.p. in the early ’80′s, did it? I echo Mr. PCH.

    • 0 avatar
      labrat

      …Or worse yet, the non-turbo 80-81 Trans-Ams with a 301 ci engine and about 140 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The Trans-Am did have 165 HP in 1982, perhaps not impressive but certainly enough to dispatch a Celica, though probably not as good a handler.

      By 1984 you could have a WS6 equippped 190hp L69 firechicken with a 5 speed stick, so lets keep things in prespective, however crude it may be a properly optioned Trans Am would certainly obliterate the Celica in any objective measure.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The ’82 F Cars actually set a new benchmark for lateral acceleration in enthusiast mag testing when they came out, better than any others including exotic supercars.

        I think it was around .82Gs, a value that was eclipsed by front drive cars just a few years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You might find this amusing: a 1984 Ferrari 308 tested by Edmunds had acceleration and braking performance similar to a 2007 Toyota RAV4 V6.

      http://www.edmunds.com/kia/sedona/2007/comparison-test.html

  • avatar
    FordRangerFTW

    Hyundai Veloster. The non-turbo one with 138hp. An aggressive design ruined by 1.6L of naturally aspirated econobox fodder. Look at my center exhausts! Even the name is a lie.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I think you nailed it. While the 138hp doesn’t sound bad on paper, this car is a complete slug..especially off the line. The similarly powered Accent feels way more peppy. In addition to the weak engine, I blame 2 other things. The big heavy wheels it comes with, and the DSG transmission which needs more slip on initial engagement to get this thing going.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      +1, and I’ll add the elantra gt also

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Winner winner, chicken dinner! I’d also argue that the garbage suspension under the N/A and turbo model makes it a pretty good all bark, no bite candidate.

  • avatar
    mcs

    The 1988-1993 Pontiac LeMans. The car couldn’t handle 24 hrs. of anything.

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    Early 80′s re-baged Mitsubishi twins: The Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo.

  • avatar
    Justice_Gustine

    From personal experience, the 1984 Nissan Pulsar NX. Styled totally different from it’s other Pulsar models on the lot and with that NX badge the looked like a ZX when tilted slightly.

    When optioned with the instant deceleration (some call it A/C) and automatic it was slower than slow.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Ignoring the obvious malaise era cars, the Monte Carlo SS Dale Earnhardt Signature Edition, with 200 horsepower, has an impressively high bark-to-bite ratio for a current century car.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Many german models have “sport packages” that are now available regardless of engine, at least in France.
    So you can have Audis A3 and A4 with 105hp diesel engines and S-line looks, A, CLA, C classes with 122hp gasoline and AMG packs, BMW 1-series 114 with a 102hp gasoline engine and M packages.

    Totally horrendous.

    On the other end of the spectrum, you have wonders like the renault megane estate GT 220, with a 220 2.0l turbo, and the most discrete bodykit I’ve seen this side of a volvo…

    Europeans are really getting into the bark and no bite, especially the hip, young crowd, for whom cars are accessories. They couldn’t care less about the mechanical bits, but are all about the looks.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      True, but on the other hand, these S/M/AMG spoiler packages are so expensive that in real life there is very little of this actually happening. Dealerships order demo cars with all the options but when customer orders his/her car, rarely base model buyer has money to order spoiler pack which costs thousands of Euros.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Isn’t fuel at $9/gallon over there? I’d bet that factors into making the Show/No Go trend more popular

  • avatar
    Tommy231

    Cadillac ELR is by far the worst example from this century. How about most bite for the least bark?
    I have a few to nominate for that honor…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    There are 2 main types of the 80s BMW 5 series. the 535i and its 121 hoss ,mostly automagic,528e. The Ultimate Commuter Car.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    No mention of the DeLorean ? It cost 25K in 1981 over double the cost of the 84 Celica GTS pictured , looked like a super fast exotic car , put out a measly 140 horsepower from it’s V-6 and took almost as long as that 4 banger Celica – 10.5 seconds to reach 60 and 17.9 seconds at the strip . Has any other car looked so fast and gone so slow ?

  • avatar
    omer333

    You hit the nail on the head as far as Camaros from the 70s and 80s. Somehow GM managed to make 305ci V8s absolutely HORRIBLE during this time.

    What about that 454SS Chevy pick-up? I heard that was a lot of show, but no go.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      It was most useful for converting rubber into smoke.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        I’ll give a lot of Chevys from that era credit for one thing: most of them could peel out of a parking lot pretty good.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          It only had 230 horsepower, yeah, but it had 385 lb/ft of torque to go with it. That helps. The 1991 454SS made 255 horsepower and 405 lb/ft of torque.

          Hell, even the sluggish Olds 307 had a respectable 245 lb/ft of torque, so you could at least get your Cutlass or Caddy Brougham moving.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            The 307 made that 245 lb-ft at like 1500rpm, then promptly ran out of breath. That is how you make just 140hp from 245 ft-lbs. I had a couple of the old boats with these, the earlier Buick with 3.08 gears was OK, the later Olds I had with 2.73s was so damn slow. Don’t know if it was the tightening emissions from 83 to 85 but there was a big difference there.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        I remember a “Rockford Files” where he had to borrow one of those and it made more tire smoke than the Firebird.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The 454SS was sort of the real deal, not an SRT-10 but pretty quick. I hear the later models have 4 speed trans with 4.10 gears, those are the ones to have, beats the 351 Lightning of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      But you could you do some modding on it and it would become stupid fast. A friend of mine had one he bought new, and as soon as the 3/36 warranty expired, on went the headers, cam, etc, and it was a rocket. I think since he did all the work himself, he had about $1800 in mods, including a custom exhaust. I know it would run about 13 flat at the strip, beating my 13.3 Trans Am unless he totally screwed up the launch or slept at the lights, which he was known to do.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    The original Nissan Pulsar. Second choice Ford EXP.

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      I second the Ford EXP, although I do have a soft spot for them, especially after racing one in LeMons.

      Also — 74 Pontiac Ventura-based GTO
      78 Ford Mustang King Cobra — way too much show to go ratio

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      The EXP and the sister Mercury LN-7 would be my vote as well. I worked with a guy in the early 80s who had one, and he was obsessed with it. I admired the passion, but my goodness what a sheep in wolf’s clothing that car was.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    Oh, someone else mentioned the Iron Duke, so if I can nominate an engine, it would be that one. christening that lump as “Tech 4″ is about the most egregious example of writing checks you can’t cash as I can remember. When the highest “tech” part of it is throttle-body fuel injection…

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Car and Driver christened it the “Lo-Tech” 4 which was highly appropriate. At least it allowed GM to explore the advantages of fuel injection although it only took them till 1989 to start using it across the board on even the pedestrian V8s that were they’re bread and butter. (FYI the Iron Duke had fuel injection by 1982.)

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Wasn’t the Iron Duke literally one of the V8 engines sliced in half?

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        no; it shared a few valvetrain components with one of the V8s (can’t remember if it was the SBC or a Pontiac engine.)

        You may be thinking of the early ’60s Pontiac Tempest 4-cylinder which was as you describe, as I recall it was a 389 V8 sans one bank of cylinders.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Ah, okay. Thanks for the response; I think you’re right in that I was thinking of a different engine. I do, though, remember that one of my relatives had a Camaro with the Iron Duke when I was young. It probably got outrun by dump trucks, it was so slow…

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            if you’ve the time, do an image or YouTube search for “Pontiac 195 4 cylinder.” It’s very literally a 389 with one bank lopped off and a flat-plane crank. I can see why it didn’t last very long, it was a vibrating, miserable POS.

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Yes! Half of a 389″ V-8 . My mother bought one new in 63′ as a Pontiac ‘Tempest’ convertible. Had the auto transaxle with too much drive line flex and the HC 4-barrel engine.

          It had its problems right from the get go, and she traded it for new 64′ Dodge Dart GT convertible, slant six auto. That car could get up and go pretty good for a six, but was no match for the HC Tempest despite its GT moniker.

          The Little Tempest had pretty good handling, but the auto box could let you down driving out of a corner at speed so you had to carry a lot of late speed in, power braking into the apex and full throttle out. When the torque convertor finally fully loaded up, it would squat on its IRS and drive out pretty nice. It would run a tighter, faster corner then my new 442.

          My mother never suspected what my brother and I were doing with her cars. Even when we had to replace broken wheel studs on the front of her cars ever so often. That all ended when she quit buying fun cars we could put through a testing trial.

          How we never wrecked one, was pure luck. Though, I have too admit running her 57′ Chevy into a telephone pole after the right front wheel came off in a hard left hander. Just a slight tweak to the bumper.

          Never forget those phone lines jumping up and down all the way down the street.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “Never forget those phone lines jumping up and down all the way down the street.”

            That might be the funniest thing I have ever read on TTAC!

  • avatar
    labrat

    Going back a ways, it was possible to get a 60s era Impala SS with a straight-6.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      An uncle of mine owned a 66 Nova SS. Though it had the SS package which included bucket seats, SS wheel covers, SS trim and emblems, it was equipped with the 230-6 and 3 on the tree.

      • 0 avatar
        CGHill

        Which I’m pretty sure wasn’t much faster than my ’66 Nova without any of the SS stuff, with the selfsame 230 — and two-speed Powerglide, which I once had rebuilt for something like $175. (Four decades later, $175 won’t buy you so much as a shift solenoid.)

        I later obtained a ’75 Celica GT with all of 96 hp, but it didn’t seem particularly slow. (Short gearing, I’m guessing; I did once coax it to 102 mph, though it took about a week, or so it seemed.)

  • avatar
    Mervich

    Two offered for consideration…based on personal experience. 1982 Corvette Collector Edition: when it wasn’t in the shop, it felt and sounded like you were driving an engine around and with the automatic (no manual available) constantly hunting up and down…made lots of noise and went nowhere in a hurry. 1982 BMW 528e: when it wasn’t in the shop, made lots of noise but couldn’t get out of its own way…painfully slow.

    On the other hand, the 1986 BMW M5 was an absolute blast…incredibly fun “Q” car with the appearance of a standard four door sedan to the untrained eye. Pulled up next to a jacked-up-in-the-back Camero at a stoplight. Camero guy was revving his engine and grinning at us (4 in my car). Light changed and made quick work of Camero guy without much effort. At the next light, he lowers his window and shouts, “what’s under the hood?” My front passenger replys, “It’s a six cylinder, sir.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wait – no 84 Fiero SE!

    Agree any Iron Duke Camaro and what about the Mustang with the 2.3 4-banger.

    There was the Tempo GL Sport in 1987 (owned one)

    The 3.8 power Thunderbird was so underpowered that the engines would die an untimely death from dragging all that bulk around – but they sure did look fast.

    One has to list the previous gen Corolla S with it’s added on body kit, and alloys and rear spoiler – wheeee!!!

    And although not a total dog, the Malibu MAXX SS had no business wearing SS badges.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I actually owned a 87 Thunderbird with the 3.8. Since it was a bit lighter than the later model MN-12 T-Bird/Cougar 2800 lbs vs 3400 lbs it had a decent amount of pep. Though up hills with a/c on was quite a strain.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      I remember an 81 4 cylinder mustang with auto, metallic blue paint and T-tops. It was nice, and much better than driving an escort or crappy looking poopbox most 4 cylinders were.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Eh. The Essex V6 died young in just about everything Ford put it in, light or heavy — it never met a head gasket it liked. Mainly had to do with the iron block and aluminum heads. The SC wasn’t underpowered by any stretch, and it ate gaskets just as often.

      The MN12 didn’t have as much power as it *should* have, but it wasn’t *that* slow — 0-60 on the base trim was in the 8s.

    • 0 avatar
      CoolCreek

      I owned the “sporty” Tempo GLS for 120k miles. 2 extra horsepower than the standard Tempo, chrome wheels, a pinstripe, a couple of bumps for head-rests in the back seat were the upgrades. Purchased for my wife who quickly abhorred it. Not admitting a mistake I kept driving it and hated every highway minute of the 4 cylinder screaming at 3k+ rpm.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I remember a lot of cars – and also minivans – for which the sport model consisted of the word SPORT painted on it somewhere, and maybe also a body-color grille.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Chrysler is definitely the most guilty of this. Putting Sport emblems and body colored trim on a Caravan doesn’t make it sporty…even the Celebrity Eurosport had a little more effort than that.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      fincar1, purely for aesthetics.

      nogoyo, I bet the current Pentastar 3.6 V6 would do wonders for many of the current Chrysler/Dodge Sport models.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Came here to post this. The term “Sport” should not be associated with any minivan. Putting that moniker on a Ford Windstar was bad enough, but on a Chevy Astro takes the cake.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I nominate the Beretta GTU. My dad had a Beretta GT Z51 and I liked that car, but the GTU body kit and wheels promised a whole ‘nother level of performance…and delivered the same experience as the GT. The GTZ delivered the goods.

    A lot of the General’s 80s-90s cars failed to deliver, mostly the ones saddled with the 2.8/3.1. The 88 Grand prix SE looked fantastic…and had 125 hp 2.8. Took them too long to deliver the 3.4 DOHC (with its own problems) and finally stuff the 3800 in the W-body.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Pontiac 6000 SE. Not as well equipped as the sportier STE but both still only 135 hp from the 2.8 or 140 hp from the 3.1. Later versions did offer the AWD option that was available in the STE.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Cosworth Vega. Lots of unheard of crazy advanced features then, routine engineering now. Test drove one at the time. I was amazed how it really did not have that much power. Why they did not extract more power is beyond me.

    Ford Maverick grabber.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      What am embarrassment for Cosworth…

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Not really, Kyree. That Cosworth headed engine holds a land speed record.

        I waited for the Cosworth Vega for well over a year as it was delayed time and again, but I would still like to add one to the collection and I know where a beauty is, but he isn’t ready to let go, yet.

        By the time it arrived it was smothered in smog equipment. Still was more then a decent performer for the day and outclassed its rivals.

        Cosworth didn’t do anything wrong, that head was a beauty. The Vega bottom end was as tough as they get, even by today’s HP build standards.

        And stripped of performance robbing emission equipment, goes pretty good, even compared to today’s performance cars. That and excellent handling, makes it a very enjoyable car and a keeper.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      Greg I drove a maverick grabber way back when it (and I) were young. Had a 302 with 4bbl. Someone may have liberated some horses from a smog choked engine but that thing would run.

      On a lighter note, that was driven by my two seventy something parents. Certainly looked like a mismatch but dad drove pretty fast. Mom dumped it as soon as he died and my nephew drove it into the ground. Had you dropped the grabber stripes it would have been a real sleeper.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Back in the day I swapped a (allegedly) Hi-Po 289 into a 1974 Ford Maverick. It was worlds better than the 250 I-6 that it replaced. But the car still had the stock 6 cylinder suspension, steering and brakes. Scary stuff.

        The Grabber package was basically a tape-stripe “upgrade”, the 302 came with a 2 barrel carb, with maybe 140 HP. A pre-smog Slant Six could outrun those things. Several friends had 350-powered Novas and I later owned a 360-powered Dart Sport which were much more powerful and quicker than any factory version of the Maverick.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Wow there are a ton I can think of, so I’ll just stick to something I’ve owned: 1995 Mazda MX-3. Looked fast and sporty, and where I lived at the time I had the only one so nobody knew what it was (is it a Porsche? was asked more than once, not kidding). At least I had the 1.6 DOHC, which was 106hp instead of the older ones that had the SOCH with 88hp. And I had a 5 speed. Even though it wasn’t fast, probably one of my favorite cars, not that I’d like it now. Handled good, quick enough, great gas mileage, and surprisingly good in the snow.

    Now, if I had owned the MX-3 with the V-6 I wouldn’t have put it on my list.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    The Mustang II-based Mach 1, Cobra II and King Cobra. The Volare-based Road Runner. The Concord- and Spirit-based AMX. The Calais-based 442 (4 cylinders, 4 valves per cylinder, 2 cams).

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I don’t think this is a contest that can be definitively won. If you were a driver or enthusiast in 1968 you saw the start of a trend that soared to new depths by the 80s. Some have been mentioned already such as the volare based road runner. The EPA had gelded a whole generation of cars by the end of the eighties. Took technology (think Buick and Mustang) to start the trip back to respectability.

    Just think of what was kitted in the most garish manner. That’s your winner. Nothing could get out of it’s own way. The biggest advantage of owning an old car (in Texas anway) is the smog inspection exemption. Cars from about 86 on are winners IMO over anything older.

  • avatar
    SimRacingDan

    I’ll vote for a different Celica. Even Toyota admitted that it looked faster than it was:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12CDQ5UlLGU

    Of course, with the Yaris’ slogan of “It’s a car” I guess Toyota is setting the bar pretty low for their vehicles these days, even in their own marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      Not that long ago Toyota had the sporty and fast T-Sport models. You had the Yaris, Corolla and Celica T-Sport. The Corolla and Celica had a high revving naturally aspirated 1.8 liter engine, about 200 hp if I recall correctly.

      But then Toyota went the “green way”, not a single sporty Toyota available here anymore. Only the GT86, but that’s basically a Subaru.

      That’s what I like about French automakers Renault and Peugeot. Of course you can have a very basic and low-power small Clio and 208.
      You want one with a 200 hp engine ? No problem, they have them too.
      At least you have a choice !

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      The GT-S model with the Yamaha 1.8L is a blast to drive. Even the GT isn’t too bad; still has great handling. My problem with that car is the cheap-ass interior.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Wasn’t there a California market 1980 Corvette with 135HP 305?
    Or the Lamborghini Urraco with similar HP?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I think CA banned the Chevy 5.7 V8 with the manual trans in certain years. You had to get the auto trans with the 5.7 or 5.0/manual, IIRC. (or 5.0/305 auto, yuck!)

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      Yup the 1980 “California” Corvette. Only available with an automatic. Why CARB sucks.I forget the exact power figure, but it was terrible.

      Also the ’81 Trans Am Turbo 4.9. Smokey and the Bandit was an awesome movie and the ’78 Trans Am with the Pontiac 400 could move for it’s day. It was faster then the Corvette with only a 190 hp 350. Smokey and the Bandit was only second to Star Wars that year, so of course there would be a sequel, Smokey and the Bandit II. Since the events of the first movie, the Bandit’s ego gets to him and he becomes a raging alcoholic and he “drinks up a Trans Am” in Snowman’s words and “Frog” leaves him for Bufford T. Justice’s son. Of course the Enos brothers bet on getting the Bandit to do another delivery, so Frog and Snowman get the Bandit back into shape and Frog gets him a Trans Am Turbo to replace the ’78.

      One scene really puts this movie and car into perspective. The Bandit is alluding a large posse of Royal Mounted police and some other agency out in the middle of the desert and they’re using Pontiac X cars (don’t remember model, but I’m sure they’re X cars) and hence not real police cars. In that scene, the Bandit is LITERALLY begging the Trans Am to go faster and the X cars are actually GAINING on the Trans Am! That’s all you need to know about the 301 Turbo Trans Am and Smokey and the Bandit II, they both sucked. Let’s not even get to Smokey and the Bandit III…..

      Also on the suck list;
      Mustang II King Cobra- it looks cool but with only 129 hp at best…..
      Dodge Magnum (early 80′s) hey look a 2 door St. Regis! What could go wrong there?
      The Cosworth Vega. It cost more then the ’78 Trans Am with a legit 400 V8 and really close to price with a 350 Corvette and it still had the Vega’s really big problems…. like it’s engine…. and rust… and quality….
      The Volare Road Runner. The Coyote easily got this one.

      Here’s one for the import and JDM lovers. The R32 Nissan Skyline GXi. Take all the good stuff that Skylines are known for and throw it all in the trash and drop in a miserable CA18 4 cylinder with Throttle Body Injection….. what a POS, rare because it was terrible.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    There were a ton. Just from the late 1970s/early 1980s:

    1975-80 Plymouth Road Runner
    1976-80 Asprin R/T
    1975-77 Charger Daytona
    1971-77 Vega GT
    1976-77 Chevette Rally
    1973-77 Nova SS
    Any Camaro from 1974 on except Z28 models.
    1975-80 L48 Corvette
    1980 Citation X-11
    1980 Corvette 305 “California”
    1981 Z28 305
    1982-83 Z28 (the “Cross-Fire” models were actually slower than the base models because you couldn’t get a manual and it only had like 5 more horsepower or something)
    1977-79 LTD II “S”
    Any Mustang II (with the King Cobra being the most garish offender)
    1979-81 Mustang Cobra (particularly the 255 cid models)
    1976-79 Olds 442 5-speed 260 V-8.
    1978-79 Oldsmoturd (i.e. the 403 T/A)
    1980-81 Turbo T/A (supposedly the producers of Smokey and the Bandit II had to use nitrous to get the stupid thing to spin the tires).

    I’d be astonished if any of the above could break out of the 17s despite their sporting pretensions. They were all ridiculed, even during the times. They were stupid and slow.

  • avatar
    red60r

    1974 Corolla SR-5. Slick 5-speed, wider tires. bolt-on fender flares, and concrete suspension, slagged by an emission-strangled 67 bhp engine (down from the ’73 model’s 75). Totally out of breath and redlined at 90, although it still could beat a contemporary Pontiac subcompact at a stoplight. Poor aerodynamics probably contributed to ho-hum mpg as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      In the same vein, Plymouth sold the “Fire Arrow” and “Arrow Jet” models that were similarly ridiculous. They looked fast but you’d get your — handed to you by a Divco milk truck

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        http://www.plymouthfirearrow.com/Car-and-Driver–April-1979.html

        Not quite. 105 horsepower and 0-60 in 10.1 seems poky now but it wasn’t back then.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          I’m loosely using a 17 second 1/4 mile time as my “all show and no go” threshold. This one, at 17.8, makes the cut.

          Your point that this wasn’t terrible by 1979 general standards is well taken. Vehicle performance was at near historic lows back then and cars should be judged in perspective. However, for a car with sporting pretensions, the Arrow was still slow. The top cars of the year, probably the W72 Trans Am and Dodge Lil’ Red Truck, were able to run the quarter in the mid/high 14s and hit 60 in the mid 6′s. Even the smog choked LM1 and L48 in the Z28 and Corvette respectively would get you into the low 16′s. That’s quite a bit ahead of the “Fire” Arrow, LOL!

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    That 1984 Celica GT-S, is a good looking car. Don’t recall ever seeing this in an upright coupe body.

    The cure for its meek performance, is an LS transplant. Will be cruising the net looking for one.

    Post any leads for one _ here at TTAC

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Toyota sold the coupe pictured here, and the liftback, which IMO looks better. My parents’ first brand new car they bought together was a 1984 Celica GT. They were hugely popular at the time in SF and they loved theirs and it never gave them any problems. My mom learned to drive stick in SF with it.

      The 3rd Gen Celica is a very handsome car and I wish Toyota would do a retro Celica based on it. These car are also starting to go up in collector value, which goes to show that the author of this article is completely out of touch.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        The hatch is, for me, ok looking, but that coupe looks great. The hatch’s were popular in their day.

        Stick in SF, your Mom is a keeper.

        Agree about desirability, but collector is a bit of a reach, but that depends on your definition of a collector car.

        Like the various Mitsu cars of the eighties, it has a certain appeal that is finding an audience and a market.

        Find a nice example and add some Toyo performance, and you have something of interest for those weekend car events.

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Shifty

        yeah I’m sure the market is out of touch on how classic a 70′s or 80′s import hamster mobile is really worth.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Corolla S. No performance upgrades whatsoever.

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      Glad someone brought that up. Now the XRS, offered in 2009, had a different engine and a modified suspension to make it quicker. The S model just seems to be popular with college people who think the LE is boring.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      No performance upgrades. Tell that to Toyo builders. And for a while back in the early nineties to later nineties, there were the JDM high performance motors available at your local used JDM engine importer.

      I have a friend in Vancouver, Washington, who has been building Toy engines for many years, mostly for the sand buggy crowd, and mostly turboed. Those engines scream.

      With its RWD IRS, it could be a fun car with some poop mixed in.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      That was true until this year. The new Corolla S does have a different suspension tuning.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Wasn’t the first Corvette fairly slow?

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      The first corvette was made on 30 Jun 53. The sbc debuted in MY 1955. Wikipedia says it had chassis and running gear of a 53 chev sdn. That means it had the six cyl engine predating the 235. Since they didn’t have a stick that would hold up to 150 hp (flywheel) it had the same two speed powerglide that is in my 57 wagon. MY 1955 was the first 265 sbc. Yup Kyree, It was slow to 57 when the 283 hit the street.

      Not a real auspicious beginning. I saw my first one at Dodge City Days rodeo in 1954. Hooked ever since.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Vette slow till 57′, hardly. The 56′ had several hot V-8′s, one with dual fours and 225 HP, and the rare and unforgettable, special ‘Duntov’ issue with 240 HP.

        The 283″, Fuel Injection 283HP ‘one horse per cube’, and a 4-speed came with the 57′s.

        I was lucky to put a few miles on a 56′ Duntov Vette… thanks, Bob.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      The original Corvette, a 1953 model year first produced in 1952, had a souped up stovebolt 235 cu. in. OHV straight six worth about 150 HP coupled to a two speed powerflush transmission. Some say it would do zero to 60 in 11.2 seconds with a top end of 108 mph. Yeah, maybe on a good day. Either GM’s V-8 Olds or V-8 Caddies of the same year could run rings around it. Flathead Ford products were a tad slower, but still in the mix. None of these vehicles cornered very well, but neither did their competition.

      The Jag XK-120 from 1949 was the badass sports car of this time. The nice looking MG TD was a slug. Zero to 60 in 18.2 sec with a top end of 77 mph. Very cool for squiring about a really good looking girl, but not much for the go.

      One slick looking pre-war piece of Detroit iron that really let everybody down in its day was the 1934 Chrysler/Desoto Airflow. It looked great, but zero to 60 was an incredibly slow 37 seconds with a top end of 70 mph. One of my earliest memories was driving across western Kansas at night in a 1941 Desoto with mom at the wheel. She averaged 75 mph, which I later learned was top end for that piece of machinery.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That very XK-120 is near the top of my dream car garage.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Me too. I first saw one in a garage being worked on circa 1950. Stats on it are zero to 60 in 8.7 seconds and top end the as advertised 120 mph.

          Funny thing, by 1960 the Chevvy V-8 had by far the better engine. A Jag XK with a quality V-8 engine swap was considered superior to the stock Jag. One of the biggest problems with the swap was that the souped up V-8 engine and its tranny were so much lighter and the engine was so much more powerful than the stock Jag units that properly retuning the suspension was a huge issue.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        ‘Jimbob47′_ Your Mom’s 41′ DeSoto would do nearly 90mph, but durable cruise was about 55-60 mph on a good road. Sustained 75mph would be punishing for the engine.

        Did it have the ‘Simplimatic’ semi-auto trans? I used do part time work for a woman who had a 51′ DeSoto with that trans. She used to have me take it out of and put it back in the garage for her. It had a clutch pedal to get started in ‘High’ or to get into ‘Low’. The torque multiplication in Low as amazing and it would easily lay a serious patch of rubber as I later found out when a friend bought one.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Well, Mom’s Desoto was six years old and well worn. It did have Fluid Drive, a semi-automatic transmission.

          According to: http://www.automobile-catalog.com/auta_perf1.php ,top end new (theoretical) was 81 mph with an 18.8 zero to sixty time. I did find your source for the 90+ mph number, but I also remember a source for my 75 mph recollection.

          The point is that the Chrysler L-head six of that era powered cars that were slooow. This may be why Dad bought them. He knew full well that Mom liked to drive hell for leather.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I’m going to nominate the Oldsmobile Silhouette. It looked like a rocket ship from the future! An abysmal and terrible future.

    I’m still disappointed Ford never made the SHO-star minivan.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    One word: Delorean. Huge bark, but 0-60 around 11…

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Does anyone else remember the 1977 Chevrolet Monza Mirage? It was the Monza hatchback (in itself not a bad looking car) made to resemble the then-current IMSA racers.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      Yes, sensible neighbor gal bought one back in the day and I never could figure out why.

      I have the Starfire version of the Monza. First campaigned it as a road race car where it easily out ran the Mustangs and Camaro’s of the day and are still quite competitive on the track in local club events.

      It is now our LSR car.

  • avatar
    Travis

    Many of the cars you people are listing definitely fall into the category of slow. On the bark end of the spectrum, I present to you the Roush Stage 1.

    No performance upgrades over the starting V6, just a body kit and maybe some suspension upgrades. In 1999, 200hp was pretty pathetic. 10 years later, it’s fucking shameful.

  • avatar

    I do have to Say..

    The Subaru XT Automatic All wheel drive. Looks like it should seriously fly, but has a wheezing EA82 with single point F1 and a automatic. The XT6′s were not bad and the turbos were okay, but the base with a auto dogger. WOW.

    • 0 avatar
      wagonsonly

      The XT coupe didn’t have anything to make it look like it was a rocket, though – all the 4-cylinder models came from the factory with plastic wheel covers (alloys were a dealer-installed option) and the base DL model even had a cheap cardboard parcel shelf in the back and black plastic (not body-color) bumpers. The looks-like-it-should-go-fast bits, like the standard alloys on the XT6 and the hood scoop on the turbo cars, only came standard on models that actually went fairly quickly. The worst of the bunch, the 4WD XT Turbo with the 3-speed automatic, is still fairly respectable given the limits of ’80s engineering.

      On the other hand, the Subaru 360 Young SS added a whole bunch of aesthetic modifications while bumping horsepower more than 50%….from a wholly-inadequate 25hp in the base 360 to a merely laughable 36hp.

      There was also an RS model of the 3-cylinder Justy offered for the last year of the first generation and the first year of the second generation (1988 and 1989 – but they are completely different cars). In both cases, the extra cash for the RS package got you white or black paint with painted bumpers, mirrors, and body-color hubcaps. Unless you count the passenger-side mirror, which was optional on other Justys, as a “performance” modification, the RS-package Justy was probably the most egregious Subaru non-performance car. Runners up – coupling the turbo to automatics only in 1983 and 1984, and the RS-package Loyales of ’89-’92.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    First-Gen Taurus MT-5

    Looks like an SHO, but drives like a really heavy Tempo.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Wow, nobody’s mentioned the Prowler yet? At least the earlier ones were pretty slow, compared to how they looked..

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Yes! I’m surprised I didn’t mention this, since it’s one of the few qualifying cars that I’m actually old enough to remember when new. Even after they upgraded the performance, the numbers weren’t exactly congruent with the Prowler’s looks.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had completely forgotten about it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      457 of 11,702 of the Prowlers produced were slow. That’s less than 4%. Had they offered a manual transmission, chances are that they’d have all been capable of 0-60 in under 6 seconds. The 11,245 of them produced after the first model year were at least that quick anyway. The official 0-100 kph(62 mph) time was 5.9 seconds for the 1999-2002 models. Considering the design was patterned after Fords of the early ’30s, I’m not sure how they were slower than they looked. They had a front suspension design borrowed from the Reynard CART chassis of the day and rear mounted transaxles, so the potential was there to create something exceptional. I’d do it myself, except messing with Daimler-Chrysler hardware doesn’t appeal to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Fair ’nuff, I really only cared to look when they launched, and I think my exact words were, “It shoulda had a V8″. Never really gave a crap afterwards, though in googling it I did see someone pull off a Hemi version that looks pretty sweet (and should have been offered in the first place).

        Launching it as a Plymouth rather than as a Dodge with a V8 was its fatal birth defect.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The SSR can go here too.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    Last generation Celica GT with the big wing and body kit yet cheapo tiny wheels. Even the TV ad acknowledged that it only “Looks Fast”.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The Celica GT-S wasn’t just a tape and spoilers package. It was also differentiated from less expensive Celicas by its independent rear suspension and other Supra components. It wasn’t all that slow for the time, but the engine was better suited to truck use than a sporting application. It wasn’t exactly a free breather at high rpm.

    The British roadsters of the late ’70s deserve a mention here. Cars that had been peppy at best in the ’60 lost about a third of their power to emissions controls and unleaded gas while ride heights were raised for lighting regulations and heavy bumpers and other crash regulation compliant equipment added mass haphazardly. Most were about as quick as the diesels of the day.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Late 70′s LTD II Sport and Ranchero Sport. I had a ’66 Impala SS with a 283, 2 barrel carb and a power glide. It sure looked good but was slow as hell.

  • avatar
    Atum

    Every XSP Toyota. If you live in the southeast, you know what I’m talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      That isn’t technically from Toyota. SE Toyota (one of the major distributors of Toyotas in the US) made those packages and installs them at their distributor. You can’t order an XSP Toyota from Toyota.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ. Two (one) cars with which this website has a love hate relationship. They handle pretty darn well, but straight line speed is lost.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Toyota GT86 isn’t really made for Americans. It was designed to hit a youth price point in markets where the price of fuel is at least twice what it is in the US, and where engine displacement taxes are common. (There is a reason why many Japanese motors come in at just under the 2.0 liter mark.)

      It’s a fine performer for its intended markets. But Americans who are accustomed to cheaper fuel and cheap displacement, and who care more about low-end torque than tossable handling may not be so pleased. The upcoming turbo may help with that.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “The Toyota GT86 isn’t really made for Americans.”

        So why bother selling it over here, at least in naturally aspirated trim?

        Toyota builds many vehicles and engines that don’t end up in the United States. Plus, they build a few things for this market that don’t end up elsewhere. Why was this car any different?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          They’re already building it for the rest of the world, so it can’t hurt to offer it here, too.

          They’re moving over 25,000 units per year in the US, which is probably enough to justify its existence.

          There isn’t much competition in the space, and it doesn’t have to be a home run. It’s a niche car; it does not need to sell in Corolla or Camry volumes in order to have a place in the lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      To be fair, they never exactly promised straight-line speed, and it’s not hurting that badly in that department, except that our modern standards have been raised by ludicrously quick V6 Camries and such. It’s still slightly quicker than the Miata, which has always been its prime target.

      I got to take a 6-spd BRZ out several months ago, a short spin around my neighbourhood. There’s a big six lane boulevard a little over a km from me, 60km/h limit, but you’re usually safe up to 20 over the limit. I was on one of the feeder streets, waiting to make a fairly tight left turn into the merge lane that spits me onto the eastbound half of that boulevard. Almost immediately after the bend (the first time I looked down), I was already at 80. I have no doubt if you take it to a track it comes up wanting, but on the street, there’s only so much you can do without losing your license anyhow.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I agree. These are the same people that shift at 4k RPM and say an S2000 is a dog. The engine has a different character compared to what you normally see. It isn’t tuned for high torque at the low half of the rev range for being a lazy daily driver. It boggles my mind that so many enthusiasts are unwilling to rev out an engine. If the redline is 7500RPM, it is designed to play in that upper range. These same enthusiasts don’t want to ever have to downshift to make a pass but then they complain about the manual transmission disappearing. Rev match down shift, and let it sing!

  • avatar
    Alex Mackinnon

    You guys are looking too far back on this one. Up here in Canada we got the “Tuner Edition” Kia Rio back around 2004.

    http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/1134/kiariosportpac129bs.jpg

    Yes, it came with a wannabe STi intercooler intake and giant rear wing. No other changes than the visual ones. Good for a WRC inspired 110hp and suspension made of recycled spam tins.

  • avatar
    ajla

    This comment might be a little fanboyish, but here is a Youtube video of a stock 301 4-speed Firebird running around 16.5 quarter mile times. There are a few features in Pontiac/GM publications about this car and it is truly a stock 301 Formula.

    So not fast by any means, but not losing to the garbage truck either.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I’ll eat my hat if that car is stock! A road test from the era has the turbocharged 301 at 0-60 mph in 8.9 and quarter mile in 16.8 in a 1980 Trans Am, and that’s probably a ringer, as anyone who’s driven in one will tell you.

      http://www.zeroto60times.com/Pontiac-0-60-mph-Times.html

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Virtually any 80′s or 90′s era pickup.

  • avatar
    juror58

    Since someone already mentioned the Dodge Caravan Sport (and its twin, the Plymouth Voyager Rallye) I’ll reach back to 1970 for the Ford Maverick Grabber. It could be had with the 170 ci six! There’s even a Grabber registry. Who knew!

    http://maverickcorral.homestead.com/grabberregistry.html

    More pics:
    http://hooniverse.com/2013/04/19/hooniverse-obscure-muscle-car-garage-the-ford-maverick-grabber/

  • avatar

    a few favorites…

    FWD Monte Carlo “SS” before they got superchargers
    Malibu SS
    Lincoln LS-E
    Celica GT with Action Packaqe (the silly bodykit but with the 130bhp Corolla engine, not the actually-fast 180bhp Yamaha nutso motor)
    EP3 Civic Si (nice car anyway!)
    Non-Turbo Supras with the wing
    “S-Line” Audis, “AMG Package” MB’s, “R-Line” Volvos, “M-Sport” BMW’s etc
    GMC S-15 “GT” – had the Syclone body kit but not the actual turbo /awd stuff
    Dodge Dakota/Durango 5.9 R/T -nice wheels, not really faster than the 318 IRL.
    oh, oh lord, the 318Ti M-sport in the final year, you gotta be kidding me
    actually, the Z3 1.8/1.9L too, sheesh
    Audi Q7 S-Line with the 3.0 TDI too

    so many!

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    I’m sure you’d rather drive a bug or a 70′s honda than a GM with a small V-8 in it. what pretension.

    • 0 avatar
      juror58

      <<>>

      No pretension here. I would…and did…prefer a ’70′s Honda over anything GM, Ford, or Chrysler made.

      I had a ’73 and a ’77 Civic and loved them so much I bought two more, an ’84 and an ’89. By the time I was ready to trade the ’89 (in ’97) Honda no longer made a Civic wagon so I moved oh.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I know 0 – 60 times are the most important metric when it comes to declaring a vehicle a winner on the internet, but the 1984 Toyota Celica was declared one of Car & Drivers magazines ten best cars of that year.

    The Chevy Celebrity Eurosport was not, even though it “won” by virtue of having more HP.

  • avatar
    Roader

    Fiat 850 Spider. The first street legal car I bought. I was a stupid 17 y-o. Real sporty looking. 0-60 in 20 seconds.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Speaking of JDM and Eurospec cars we couldn’t get. Actually, more are available every year, if, you can find one, since a lot have been parted or crushed.

    Start searching those foreign ‘CL’ listings.

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20131230/CARNEWS01/131229923?utm_source=DailyDrive20131230&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=article1&utm_content=20131230-The-coolest-25-year-old-cars-you-can-import-to-the-United-States-this-year&utm_campaign=awdailydrive

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think I saw a contender this weekend, but I dunno what it was.

    It was about a 78-81, two door fastback/hatch. The front looked like an early ford EXP (larger grille slats), but the back had narrower full-width taillamps like a 78 Camaro. The emblem on the front was circular. It was a horrible cream/orange/red striped version.

    What is it?!

    I thought it was some weird Mustang, my dad thought it was a Chevy.

  • avatar
    revrseat70

    Late 70′s/ 80′s Trans Ams. 455 Cubic Inches… of what, I don’t know. But it certainly wasn’t making horsepower every time it turned-over and drove off, waking every neighbor within a 5 block radius.

    • 0 avatar
      Mervich

      Had a 1978 Olds Delta 88 Royal with the big V8…think it was a 455. The thing was incredibly S-L-O-W and slurped gas like a pig…floor it and watch the fuel gauge drop! That was before catalytic converters and it had so much smog-reduction crap hanging off the big V8 that, I’m sure, it could not have made more than 150 HP! Otherwise, it was like riding around on the living room couch.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The 455 was last used in 1976 model Oldsmobiles. The ’88 could have had a 260, 350, or 403 V8. The 250 was particularly slow, and all three engines were exactly the same, externally. Catalytic converters were on all gasoline engine Oldsmobiles from the 1975 model year on.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    If anyone mentioned it already I apologize but the Pontiac LeMans GSE — the “performance” version of the Korean built embarrassment — deserves a spot on the list. Also worthy of mention is the Renault Alliance GTA. It looked tough but it came with a wheezy 95 horsepower motor and couldn’t hit 60 in under 10.

  • avatar
    karlbonde

    I can’t believe that nobody said it yet – VW Karmann Ghia!

  • avatar
    zeus01

    The first-year 95-hp Audi-engined Porsche 924. For zero-to-sixty you’d need Tennessee east-to-west.


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