QOTD: Terrible Nineties Sports Car Design From Japan?

qotd terrible nineties sports car design from japan

Today marks the final entry in our Question of the Day series discussing bad sporty car design from the Nineties. So far we’ve covered America and Europe, and we now finish up with poor sports car designs from Japan.

Our rules today are the same as they have been in previous editions; let’s have a look.

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a Japanese manufacturer, even if sourced from an import.
  3. Any body style is eligible as long as it’s sporty.

Japanese offerings from the Nineties have become relative design classics in the decades since, so today’s example took a little bit more consideration from yours truly. Perhaps you’ll have an easier time thinking of a bad design, but here’s mine:

It’s the first generation of the Acura CL coupe, introduced for the 1997 model year. It was only the second coupe in the brand’s lineup, succeeding a Legend coupe which failed to catch on. The Legend’s sales suffered due to its overall cost and front-wheel-drive architecture, burdens not placed upon its direct competition, the Lexus SC 300.

The CL employed four- and six-cylinder engines. Appropriately for the decade, manual or automatic transmissions were on offer. The styling of the first-gen CL is best described as derpy. Awkward shapes combine with a general look that doesn’t really relate to other cars in Acura’s lineup. Given its age and its tendency to experience Honda wheel arch rust, you don’t see many around today. In 2001 the CL was replaced by a superior looking second generation version, to the delight of anybody with eyes.

Let’s hear your selections for bad Nineties styling from Japan.

[Images: Acura]

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4 of 81 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Oct 23, 2019

    I have a weak spot for the Mitsu 3000GT, AWD. It was the awkward kid at the party, trying too hard next to the sexy Supra or the modern 300ZX Turbo. The Chrysler-Dodge versions were even more confusing.

  • My nomination in this series discussing bad sporty car design from the Nineties is the 1995-1998 Nissan 200SX SE-R. Between 1995 and 1998, Nissan retailed the JDM Nissan Lucino coupe as the 200SX in the United States and Canada. At best design was incredibly bland, at worst just awkwardly styled and proportioned. It was based off the phoned in 1995 - 1998 Nissan Sentra (Sunny). Even though it was based off an economy car, the SE-R had sportyish hardware like a 140 hp engine and the 95-97 even had a viscous limited-slip differential (VLSD).

    • See 1 previous
    • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Oct 24, 2019

      "Even though it was based off an economy car, the SE-R had sportyish hardware like a 140 hp engine and the 95-97 even had a viscous limited-slip differential (VLSD)." So it was a discount G20 then?

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.