“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 …
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.
Now you tell us: which cars are most guilty of looking way more powerful, fast, or capable than they actually are?
To the comments!