Man, who doesn’t love a powerful car? The more power, the more better, amirite? Even when all that’s required is basic transportation, a little extra oomph is appreciated. No one visits their mechanic and says “I’d like a little less out of the engine.” And rest assured, any salesman accompanying a starry-eyed first-time econobox buyer on a test drive will invite them to mash the pedal (once up to about 30mph or so) before offering a suitably impressed, “it’s pretty peppy, right?”
College-me had a 1988 Dodge Omni that could dash to 60mph in a mere 11 seconds and I thought it was great.
But woe to those who find themselves behind the wheel of a truly underpowered car. Merely not-powerful is disappointing, sure, but livable. A bonafide underpowered car, however, is true misery. Frustrated drivers in real cars whiz past you the moment you clear the on-ramp. Not only is the left lane off limits, so is the center lane. Even the right lane requires a sharp eye on the rear view mirror, lest you overlook an angry moped rider crowding your rear bumper. A steep hill on the horizon? Better mat the pedal now and build up as much momentum as you can.
Oh boy, the Camaro Sport Coupe. Imagine the disappointment of sliding into the driver’s seat of this beauty back in 1982, then discovering the “Iron Duke” 2.5 liter four only made 90 horsepower. And people at stoplights wanted to race you, because Camaro.
Tell us about your underpowered-car experiences. If you suffered through stewardship of a malaise-era machine, you no doubt encountered some steel sleds boasting V8s with big cubes but precious few ponies. Or perhaps you commuted in a hatchback that, while lightweight, was very lopsided when it came to power to weight and rewarded you with great fuel economy and zero fun. Hey, at least you were speed-trap proof.
Where my Geo Metro fans at? If you had the one-liter 3-cylinder, a full 70 horsepower poured into the front wheels. Hold on!
What cars, trucks, and/or motorcycles wheezed you to school or work with the bare minimum of muscle? Let’s hear those stories!