Home » Which Cars Are Most Guilty Of Looking Way More Powerful, Fast, Or Capable Than They Actually Are?

Which Cars Are Most Guilty Of Looking Way More Powerful, Fast, Or Capable Than They Actually Are?

Aa Looks Fast Is Slow Copy
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“Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash!” is a taunt you’ve hopefully never heard outside of television (it originated with Flip Wilson, what?), and it always struck me as weird. It means “don’t say fighting words you can’t back up with fighting skill,” but in that case shouldn’t the saying be, “Don’t let your mouth write a check your fists can’t cash”? I can’t say I’ve ever seen a fight that involved battling buttocks, but maybe it’s a regional thing. As for check-writing and ass-cashing with cars, it’s styling that scribbles out the checks and performance that does the cashing–be it in the form of sublime handling, prodigious power, terrain-taming capability, or superior luxury swaddling. Some cars and trucks live up to the expectations set by their sheetmetal quite admirably. See virtually every supercar and most scooped and spoiler’d hot-rod versions of solid-performing sport sedans and coupes from the big brands. And Jeeps of the Wrangler persuasion, and Broncos of the not-Sport variety–with those, what you see actually is what you get. However … 
Dmc Bricklin

There are plenty of cars currently for sale and many, many machines of the past that wrote some downright extravagant checks and absolutely did not deliver the cold, hard cash of a suitably exciting/capable/luxurious driving experience. Suspects that immediately spring to mind are the hobbled C3 Corvettes that were foisted onto mustachioed men and disco ladies of the mid-70s; the very sexy Bricklin SV-1 that was so slow Time‘s Dan Neil proclaimed, “This thing couldn’t outrun the Rose Bowl Parade;” and the wonderful, terrible DeLorean DMC-12. Seriously, John Z, a Peugeot/Renault/Volvo-sourced 130 horsepower SOHC V6? Sure, we know you had much bigger dreams for the DMC-12 and we get why that lump landed in there, but still–blech.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Now you tell us: which cars are most guilty of looking way more powerful, fast, or capable than they actually are?

To the comments!

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Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
9 months ago

VW Arteon. Big, gorgeous, pricey, and you got the 2.0T (fine in a GTI, but not.in something that size), and you liked it. Yes, one can turn up the wick, but the car was not ENOUGH enough from the factory, and I suspect that’s why it didn’t sell.

Also, the Passat with the 1.8T. At least put the 2.0T in there so it looks like you’re trying.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

The Arteon is so pretty, though. The first VW I’ve ever wanted.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
9 months ago

The Volkswagen SP2. It looks fast as fuck but it’s a frickin’ Beattle under there!

Dirk
Dirk
9 months ago

Opel GT from the 70s

Kuruza
Kuruza
9 months ago

I’m going to go with the Vector W8, but that’s kind of a shoddy answer. As a powerful, exotic car, it *did* deliver on the first two, but that last bit about being an actual deliverable car left a lot of people unsatisfied. Saddling it with a 3-speed automatic from the Olds Toronado was a major disappointment as well.

Myk El
Myk El
9 months ago

Lancia Scorpion. But lord do I like how it looks.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
7 months ago
Reply to  Myk El

Though, the Montecarlo was both better looking and faster.

Scott Wangler
Scott Wangler
9 months ago

Fiero

77 Dodge Aspen
77 Dodge Aspen
9 months ago

Triumph TR-7

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

The Spitfire car, with an engine 24 times smaller than the Spitfire plane…

Njd
Njd
9 months ago

Saab Sonett

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

The Fiero with the 4 cylinder.
The Bagheera, all of them from all years.

-But they had pop up headlights and mid engines, so who cares? 😉

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
9 months ago

1982-1986 Toyota Celica (non-Supra). Owned one and it’s still one of my favorite cars. Just not as fast as it looked. Super fun, though!

JumboG
JumboG
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wright

Yeah, not super fast, but mine would chirp the tires shifting into 3rd (MT). That impressed a lot of passengers at the time.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

It was a long time before or since my 1983 GT notchback 5-speed that I had a car that could turn a tire changing gears. No, it wouldn’t win any top speed challenges, but it handled like a go-kart, and it was so fun to drive.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
9 months ago

Much as I loved my Solstice, it definitely had a much more badass styling than the I-4 could back up.

Goose
Goose
9 months ago

BMW i8. Looks of a supercar, with about as much power than a mid level compact luxury car. Crazy looks but only 369hp. A similar age 340xi is only like 2 tenths behind to 60 and only down like 40hp. Compared to other cars that look as crazy (488, Huracan, 570S), it’s got like 3/5th the power and performance. Compared to other cars it was priced more similar to (911 GTS, Audi R8) it’s just a bad overall package that doesn’t back up it’s looks with similar performance or experience.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
9 months ago
Reply to  Goose

It’s still a quick car tho, and with it’s CF tub it’s more setup for handling/being fun to drive. Looking at metrics doesn’t do that car justice. IMHO it’s the closest thing we have to the 1G NSX.

For a street car it’s plenty quick. It’s not a supercar. It’s a crazy looking composite street car.

Last edited 9 months ago by ADDvanced
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  Goose

It’s so pretty though

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
9 months ago

83-86 Fox Body Mustang –  175 HP from a 302 V8 with a 4 barrel carb. 0-60 7.5 seconds standing quarter 16.06 sec/87.5 mph

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
9 months ago

For reference my 2011 Camry with a 4cyl – 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, standing quarter mile 15.2

Last edited 9 months ago by Farty McSprinkles
Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
9 months ago

Eh…kinda. You could certainly make that argument for the early foxes, especially the ’79 pace car and ’80-81 cobra (can verify, I had the latter as a first car), but the specs that you are quoting are more from ’83/’84, not the later variants. By ’85, Ford added the roller cam, tubular exhaust “headers”, and dual exhaust which took it up to 210 HP. It did 0-60 in 6.6 and a sub 15 quarter (can verify, I owned one of these as well). The ’86 switched to EFI and dropped to 200 HP, but was a tick quicker and faster. Yeah, those numbers are mundane today, but for a car in that era, it was plenty fast.

Thomas Ogle
Thomas Ogle
9 months ago
Reply to  Pneumatic Tool

My own ’79 Cobra 302, 2bbl would wishes it had the 4bbl and could out run my buddies 4cyl Fiero.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
9 months ago
Reply to  Pneumatic Tool

Can confirm. I had an ’85 GT t-top at the same time my uncle had the pace car. The quad eye will never be the pretiest mustang but it has a special olace in my heaart.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
9 months ago
Reply to  Pneumatic Tool

Thanks for the clarification, but I think my point remains. For as much flash and noise made by these things, I find it comical that a modern 4 cyl Camry is faster in the quarter mile ( and it is not fast). They don’t call the 80s the malaise era for nothing.

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
9 months ago

Nah, why? Fox body Mustangs don’t look fast. In fact, they look like a rental grade Escort from the same era.

Extremely-Good-Opinions
Extremely-Good-Opinions
9 months ago

https://gmauthority.com/blog/2020/12/nearly-new-1989-camaro-iroc-z-up-for-grabs-video/

3rd gen Camaro. I really love those cars I think they look sleek, fast and futuristic but the reality is that the engines were the absolute dregs of the malaise era emissions choking

I guess you could get away with a 5L V8 making all of 170hp back then. The one in the picture has 230hp instead. Hold on to your hats…

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
9 months ago

Disagree about the X1/9, though. It was never meant to be fast or look like it, and it’s a terrific sports car.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
9 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

A Fiat Uno turbo swap will fix the slowness, and possibly kill you and the tree you inevitably hit.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
9 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Nah, the tree will be fine, most probably.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
9 months ago

That C3 Vette, of course: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUdh_FvP9YR/

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
9 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

The 1980 model came with the same 305 as the Impala and had a two into one into two exhaust. Ick.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
9 months ago
Reply to  Dudeoutwest

It was 1980. Were you there? I was there. We thought new cars would never be fast again.

And the junkyard is chock full of SBCs waiting to live their best life between the two sexiest fenders ever designed by an American automaker.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
9 months ago

The single model year 1980 Ferrari 208 GTB/ S without the Turbo, a 155hp Ferrari that is often regarded as the slowest Ferrari ever made (not technically true as the first Ferraris are undoubtably slower, but certainly the slowest when you consider what else was on the market). They do sound good with a 2.0 V8 though.

TheCrank
TheCrank
9 months ago

Your ass cashes the check because you about to get your ass whooped.

Chris D
Chris D
9 months ago
Reply to  TheCrank

“Your ass” substitutes for “you”.

“Get your ass over here!” doesn’t mean that the speaker wants the other person’s smelly backside to be nearer.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

This is the correct answer. Also, any saying catches on faster if there’s mild swearing involved.

Jesus Helicoptering Christ
Jesus Helicoptering Christ
9 months ago

Anything with the base model engine and one of the following trim designations:
R-Line
S-Line
AMG Line
M Sport

Brynjaminjones
Brynjaminjones
9 months ago

I came here to say this! I see so many cars badged along the lines of “A180 AMG”, “M318d” etc.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago

Fiat x1/9
Fiat spyder
Karmann Ghia
Pontiac Fiero
Porsche 914
Pontiac Grand Am (just the name)
Renault Fuego
Renault 15/17
Peugeot 504 Cabriolet
Volvo 480

Last edited 9 months ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
SuperNova
SuperNova
9 months ago

As much as I really wanted and still wish I could own one, the Fuego was a bit of a “looks the part, but really isn’t…” has there been an article written on that car in recent years? good list btw

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  SuperNova

Not specifically about the Fuego, but it did get a mention here.

GertVAG
GertVAG
9 months ago

The Matra Ranchero, all adventurous looks but not really a go in off-road. But it remains a beautiful car that started the SUV craze.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago
Reply to  GertVAG

Rancho

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