If you’re wondering, that’s a Volkswagen SP2 in the top shot. Developed for the Brazilian market and sold from 1972 to 1976, it is one hot-looking machine. Just beautiful! As for performance … ehhh, that’s a different story. As an early-70s VW design, you’re getting an air-cooled 1,700CC flat-four producing about 65 horsepower. Not awesome. According to the SP2’s Wikipedia page, Brazilian car enthusiasts of the era joked the SP stood for “Sem Potência,” Portuguese for “without power.” Needless to say, we’d still love to have an SP2. Not to mention Volkswagen’s much better known sports-car-styled offering, the Karmann Ghia …
Volkswagen famously winked at the Karmann Ghia’s mix of racy, European sports car styling and unaltered Beetle mechanicals with a confession that it “can’t do much at the Sebring road races,” and was unabashed in pointing out the Ghia had the “same engine, same chassis, same transmission,” as the Beetle. Was anyone turned off? Hardly: the Karmann Ghia was in the VW lineup for nearly twenty years (1955-1974), and the final production number came in at 445,000. That’s a whole lot of sales on Monday despite absolutely no racing on Sunday.
Whereas the Karmann Ghia looked fast, was actually slow, but was nonetheless thoroughly entertaining to drive (just ask OMD!), Chevrolet’s notorious spin on style over substance, the third-gen Camaro Sport Coupe, was an ineffably frustrating driving experience. It looked the business with genuinely exciting styling that broke sharply from the super-70s aesthetic, but with just 90 horsepower via its Iron Duke 2.5 liter pushrod engine, this Camaro was pig-slow and definitely un-fun. [Editor’s Note: I nominate the Saab Sonett or the Mazda RX-7 SA22C/FD. -DT].
As for a sheep-clothed wolf, consider the Lincoln MKZ 3.0T. The MKZ was basically a tarted-up Fusion, and with 240-horsepower I4 and 300-horsepower V6 EcoBoost engine options, it had pretty good scoot. Wolf-mode arrived with the 3.0T model, which delivered 400 horsepower via a twin-turbocharged V-6 with direct injection and variable valve timing. Not that you’d ever suspect it from the MKZ’s exterior–just look at that blandly attractive, unfussy sedan. You’d probably never even think to challenge an MKZ to a stoplight-to-stoplight race, let alone be worried about losing.
And so, the Autopian Asks:
Which Slow Cars Look the Fastest, And Vice-Versa?
To the comments!