Home Cars Rating The Most Memorable Mid-Engine Cars

Rating The Most Memorable Mid-Engine Cars

Vukasin Herbez September 19, 2019

Does the engine go in the front or in the back? Ever since they made the first cars, engineers played with the idea of engines placed on either end of the car. However, in the ’50s and ’60s, the mid-engine configuration started appearing, first on concept cars and then on production automobiles. The advantages of mid-engine configuration are quite significant.

They have a better weight distribution and road holding. They have a lower center of gravity and improved overall performance and dynamics. That’s why mid-engine cars were always high-priced exotics and sports models. Read on to learn about the 40 best and most memorable mid-engine cars that shaped the industry.

Photo Credit: Classic Driver

40. Ferrari 246 Dino GT

The Dino was a big step for the company even if it was the smallest model Ferrari ever made. They presented it in the mid-60s as the 206 Dino as an entry-level model with a V6 engine. The Ferrari purists were outraged since this was the first sports car Ferrari made without the big V12 engine.

Photo Credit: Fav Cars

The 246 Dino debuted in 1968 and sales picked up, making this little car responsible for the financial stability Ferrari needed. But most of all, the Dino was a blast to drive even though it had a smaller engine with fewer cylinders. This car showed that sometimes less is more.

Photo Credit: Mecum

39. Porsche 914

They built the 914 from 1969 to 1976 as an entry-level model. Porsche designed and produced it in cooperation with Volkswagen, sometimes calling it the VW-Porsche 914. Behind the driver is a Volkswagen-derived flat-four engine producing around 100 HP.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Although 100 HP doesn’t sound like much, despite its low weight, this Porsche wasn’t a sports car. It looked like one, and it was produced by a notable sports car company with the engine in the back. But unfortunately, you could beat it with a V8 family sedan.

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

38. Pontiac Fiero

By the standards of the day, the Fiero was the most advanced American production model. The customers were hyped by the appearance of the Fiero. With its cool, modern design and advanced technology, so the initial response was more than good.

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

It was a bold move for Pontiac to introduce a compact, rear-wheel-drive car with the engine positioned behind the driver and then pair it up with a five-speed manual transaxle gearbox. But one of the Fiero’s main problems was that it was underpowered. With 93 HP and 0 to 60 mph time of over 10 seconds, it was painfully slow.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

37. Fiat X1/9

Behind this strange name lies one of the most interesting affordable sports cars of the ’70s. Introduced in 1972, Fiat X1/9 was a small two-seater with a T-Top. Also, it had a mid-mounted engine and two trunks, one in the front and one in the back. Think of it as Porsche Boxster, just 20 years older.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Despite its fantastic looks and technical layout, the X 1/9 was underpowered with just around 60 HP from its small 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The performance was not impressive, so most owners decided to fit bigger engines.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

36. Honda NSX

When the NSX first appeared in 1989, it revolutionized the supercar market. The buyers got Ferrari performance and looks at a supermarket price along with Honda’s signature reliability and maintenance costs. The heart of the NSX was a 3.0-liter V6 with 274 HP and later 3.2-liter V6 with 290 HP.

Photo Credit: Car Magazine

Since the car was light, 0 to 60 mph time was a lightning-quick five seconds and the top speed was over 170 mph. But the numbers don’t tell you the whole story. The NSX was an excellent handling car that was light and precise. That made it perfect for driving enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Car Buzz

35. Autozam AZ-1

If you don’t know what this is, nobody could blame you. The AZ-1 is a tiny sports car powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 660 ccs and 64 HP. It was built by Mazda and sold by Suzuki in limited numbers from 1992 to 1995. During that time, they made less than 5,000.

Photo Credit: Sketch Fab

Despite its size and 1,500 pounds of weight, the Autozam AZ-1 was a proper sports car. Some consider it the only supercar in the Kei Car segment. The perfect chassis, gullwing doors, and decent performance have made it a favorite driving machine in Japan. The bizarre styling and lively driving dynamics give the driver a unique experience.

Photo Credit: Car Buyer

34. Porsche Boxster

It has been over 20 years since Porsche introduced this roadster, so it’s safe to say the Boxster revolutionized the concept of the open-top fun car. It has stood the test of time as a future classic you can still own today.

Photo Credit: The Car Connection

The Boxster has a mid-mounted flat-six engine, perfect balance, two trunks, and sublime handling. Since the base 2.5-liter delivers a healthy 200 HP, it makes even the most affordable Boxsters agile, fast, and exciting to drive, especially with the six-speed manual transmission.

Photo Credit: Art And Revs

33. Lancia Stratos

This little two-seater is one of the most recognizable wedge-shaped cars ever and one of the wildest homologation specials. In the mid-70s Lancia wanted to go rally racing, so they made their first purpose-built rally car in the form of the Lancia Stratos.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

However, they had the design, but not the engine. So the company borrowed a compact V6 from Ferrari. Lancia powered by the Ferrari engine created a legend and became a world champion in 1977. With its design, special driving feel, exclusivity, and racing success, the Stratos combined several important factors to be the perfect driver’s car.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

32. Lotus Elise

When the Lotus Elise was introduced in 1996, it caught the automotive world by storm. Such a compact yet beautiful roadster with a lightweight body and precise handling was unique on the market. In fact, it influenced many big manufacturers to produce similar models.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

The Lotus perfectly captured the essence of sports car dynamics and introduced it in a sleek, balanced package. The early models had a mid-mounted 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and just over 100 HP, but it was more than enough for a lively performance.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

31. Honda Beat

The spiritual successor to the classic Honda S600 roadster is the ’90s Honda Beat. Honda presented it in 1991 and sold it until 1996. The Beat was a small, nimble roadster with just 660 ccm of displacement and 63 HP.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In typical Honda fashion, the car was naturally aspirated and came with a five-speed manual transmission. At just 1,656 pounds, it was immensely fun to drive. They produced over 33,000 in the five-year production run.

Photo Credit: Super Cars

30. Ford Mustang I Concept

The Mustang I concept was a big deal when Ford introduced it in late 1962 as a fully functional concept vehicle. This was the first time they officially used the Mustang name. Right from the start, it was clear the public loved the name. Also, the connection with Wild West mythology was a great marketing gimmick.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The Mustang I was a little two-seater roadster with a mid-mounted V4 engine from Ford Europe and a modern wedge-shaped body consisting of aluminum. The original idea behind the concept was to develop a small sports car to compete with European imports like the Triumph TR3 or MG A. But despite the favorable reaction from the enthusiasts, Ford decided to go the other way.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

29. De Lorean DMC12

Started by John Z. De Lorean in the late ’70s, the De Lorean was briefly marketed as the next big thing in the sports car world. For a short time, it looked like America got a sports car brand that could rival Europe’s finest companies. De Lorean presented the interesting concept of a sports car with Gullwing doors. It had a modern wedge-shaped design, a mid-mounted V6 engine, and stainless steel body.

Photo Credit: De Lorean

However, the production was late. When they finally presented the car, it turned out to be slow, underpowered and riddled with quality problems. Due to its prominent appearance in Back to the Future movies and numerous music videos, the DMC 12 is still a popular car and one of the automotive symbols of the 1980s.

Photo Credit: Top Gear

28. Audi R8

The sportscar world was surprised when Audi presented the first-generation R8. Nobody expected such a bold move from Audi and such a great sports car. The Audi R8 is a supercar with its mid-mounted V8 engine and design but at sports car prices, making it available to a wider audience.

Photo Credit: Honest John

The engine itself is a true piece of art. It’s a naturally-aspirated 4.2 liter V8 producing a mind-boggling 420 HP. Packed in a lightweight body and mated to a perfect dual-clutch gearbox, the R8 V8 is capable of attacking some Italian exotics with no problem.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

27. Toyota Previa

The first generation Toyota Previa is a popular ’90s minivan that’s common on American roads. From the outside, it looks ordinary and outdated, so you might ask why this minivan is on a list of mid-engine cars. The answer is the technical layout. While it looks forgettable from the outside, from the inside, the Previa has the same technical layout as some of the world’s best supercars.

Photo Credit: Auto Mdb

You probably didn’t know that the Previa has a mid-engine 2.4-liter four-cylinder tilted at 75 degrees. That makes it almost flat and low, which helps the center of gravity. The engine is positioned below the driver’s seat and in some versions, comes with a supercharger.

Photo Credit: Youtube

26. Ford GT

The early 2000s supercar explosion motivated many manufacturers to offer exotic cars, introduce new models or revive some legendary names. Ford jumped on the bandwagon with a new, retro-styled supercar they simply called the GT. It was the obvious successor to the fantastic Le Mans-winning GT40 from the late ’60s.

Photo Credit: Romans International

The heart of the Ford GT was Ford’s fabulous 5.4-liter supercharged V8 delivering 550 HP. The GT was capable of a 0 to 60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph. Even though Ford didn’t design the GT with racing in mind, the car was capable on the track in the hands of private teams.

Photo Credit: Classic

25. Lotus Esprit V8

The Esprit was available since the early ’70s up to the early 2000s. It was always a fantastic supercar despite the fact it had smaller engines than the competitors. The last and the best version was the V8 that produced 350 HP.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

They put it in a lightweight body that could outrun many competitors while still retaining that classic wedge look. The 3.5-liter V8 wasn’t particularly powerful but in a light, aerodynamically-efficient body, the Lotus Esprit V8 was a blast to drive.

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

24. Lamborghini Countach

The Countach was the best-known supercar of its day. It was also the most popular poster car on most kid’s walls in the ’70s and ’80s. Introduced in 1974 as a concept, it soon became a reality. It was notoriously hard to drive and cramped inside, yet it was one of the most popular wedge-shaped cars ever.

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

All Countach models had a mid-mounted V12 and with displacement ranging from 4.0 to 5.2-liters. Since the Countach was introduced in the ’70s during the oil crisis, having a big, thirsty V12 under the hood was a brave thing to do.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

23. Toyota MR2

Back in the mid-80s, Toyota shocked the automotive world by introducing the MR2. It was a small mid-engine sports car with great performance, superb road holding, and an affordable price. Most people consider Toyota to be a dull manufacturer of economy models without any interesting cars for enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Gq Magazine

However, the MR2 changed all that since it was different from all other Toyota models. In fact, it appealed to fans of spirited driving and dynamic handling. The first-generation MR2 debuted in 1984 and featured 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines. They mounted them centrally behind the driver and between the cabin and rear axle, which gave this little car fantastic handling.

Photo Credit: Mecum

22. De Tomaso Pantera

Perhaps not as famous as Ferrari or Lamborghini, De Tomaso is another legend of the Italian sports car scene from the ’60s. The first car was the De Tomaso Mangusta they introduced in 1967. However, the Pantera they introduced in 1969 proved to be far more successful and popular, even though it shared a lot with the Mangusta.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The key to Pantera’s success was the modern wedge-shaped design and mid-mounted powerful V8 for great performance. Also, Alejandro De Tomaso made a deal with the Ford Motor Company so they could officially sell De Tomaso products in America through the Lincoln-Mercury dealership network.

Photo Credit: Auto Classics

21. BMW M1

Even though the M1 was not a commercial success since they only sold 453 copies, this limited production sports car was tremendously important for BMW’s future. It is also one of the best known wedge-shaped supercars they ever made.

Photo Credit: Bmw M

The heart of this sports car was BMW’s famous M88 six-cylinder engine with 3.5-liters of displacement. It also had advanced fuel injection and 273 HP, which was a high number for the standards of the day. They positioned the engine longitudinally just behind the driver and the passenger.

Photo Credit: Amalgam Collection

20. Lamborghini Miura

Many car enthusiasts claim that the Miura is the first proper supercar in the world. It has all the right ingredients like a fantastic design, crazy power, and performance numbers. Add to that the high price tag and the fact they produced it in limited quantities.

Photo Credit: Kidston

The Miura was also the first car to feature several technical solutions that later became mandatory features in the supercar segment, like a mid-mounted V12 engine. If it wasn’t the first, the Lamborghini Miura is certainly one the most influential and iconic.

Photo Credit: Which Car

19. Chevrolet Corvette C8

The revolutionary C8 Corvette debuted in July 2019 as a 2020 model and already it is one of the most important Corvettes they ever made. First, it has a new architecture since the early ’80s and the C4 generation. Second, it is a new concept with a mid-engine layout.

Photo Credit: Car Magazine

Third, it has a fully new design and improved engine for upgraded performance. You can expect this car will be a Ferrari-beating beast from GM like the Corvette always has been.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

18. Ford Mustang Mach II Concept

The success of their production models gave the Ford designers a chance to explore the sports car concept in every direction. As soon as the first redesign of the car appeared in 1967, Ford introduced the Mach II concept. This was one of several cars with the Mach name that would later appear as a regular production version, but the shape and layout were unique.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The Mach II was a two-seater sports car with a long hood and short rear end, as well as mid-engine configuration. The car was something like an affordable version of the GT40 race car. It looks stunning painted in red with Shelby-style alloy wheels. Unfortunately, Ford never produced the concept, so the Mach II only served as a car show item.

Photo Credit: Motor Biscuit

17. Renault 5 Turbo

The essence of the R5 Turbo was a mid-mounted 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivered 160 HP. They redesigned and reengineered the whole car to move the engine from the front hood to behind the driver. The rear track was much wider and the side scoops made for better cooling of the engine.

Photo Credit: Laurent Auxietre

However, such an extreme car lost one of the main hot hatch characteristics and that is practicality. Basically, it was a pure racing car they built for homologation purposes. It still deserves an important place in turbo history as one of the craziest hot hatches and coolest cars of the ’80s.

Photo Credit: Talacrest

16. Ferrari F40

When they introduced it in 1987, the Ferrari F40 was a commemorative model to mark the company’s 40th anniversary. However, it was much more than that. It was and still is one of the greatest sports cars they ever built and one of the best Ferraris they ever produced. Most of the chassis and drivetrain came from the 288 GTO.

Photo Credit: Evo

They improved the engine to produce around 450 HP. Contrary to other models in its lineup, Ferrari decided to put a twin-turbo V8 with 2.9-liter displacement instead of the naturally-aspirated V12 people commonly associate with the brand.

Photo Credit: Evo

15. Ariel Atom 500

Possibly the craziest car for sale today you can put license plates on is the Ariel Atom 500. It only weighs 1,200 pounds and gets 500 HP from a V8 engine mounted directly behind the driver. The car is a go-kart with a spoiler and room for two people.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

It has no trunk, body panels or fenders. It’s just a naked chassis with a screaming V8 behind you. It has 500 angry horses that want to run free in full power, a seven-speed sequential gearbox, and four tires.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

14. Saleen S7

In the early 2000s, Steve Saleen decided to enter the supercar market with the S7 model. It was a fast, good looking, and powerful exotic car featuring the latest technology and proven V8 power. Saleen invested a lot of time and money into constructing the S7. He even used companies that produced parts for Formula One cars to help in the development of this car.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

The result was the 550 HP Saleen S7 that debuted in 2000. Immediately, it drew attention from the supercar crowd. The S7’s superb performance, looks, and technology were up to par with the best European supercars at the time. In 2005, he released the even more powerful Twin Turbo version with 750 HP and a top speed of almost 250 mph. The car proved to be relatively successful even on the racetracks, so Saleen produced a racing version too.

Photo Credit: Super Cars

13. McLaren F1

There is so much information about the F1, like the way they designed and produced it. The McLaren changed the supercar world forever. They introduced the F1 in 1992 and it stayed in production until 1998. During that period, McLaren produced just 106 cars.

Photo Credit: Motoring Research

That included the GT-R versions, which were highly successful racing models. The F1 featured a bespoke 6.1-liter V12 engine from BMW Motorsport. It delivered 627 HP and used a six-speed manual transmission.

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

12. Ford GT

Ford’s newest and most advanced supercar is the mighty GT. Armed with a racing heritage and the latest technology, the GT is one of the best and fastest cars you can buy today. The engine of the new GT is particularly interesting.

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

It’s a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 656 HP that gives the car 0 to 60 mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 216 mph. Also, it is a mid-mounted unit, which makes new GT handles like a dream and wins races too.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

11. Nissan MID 4

The 1985 to 1987 Nissan MID 4 is a brave and competent mid-engine sports car concept that unfortunately didn’t become a production model. Even though it is mostly forgotten today, it is still an interesting piece of engineering that deserves a closer look. The MID 4 had a mid-mounted 3.0-liter V6 engine producing around 200 HP.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Nissan equipped it with specially-designed all-wheel drive and an almost perfect weight balance. Nissan envisioned it to fight sports cars from Ferrari and Porsche. Unfortunately, the company pulled the plug at the last moment, leaving the MID 4 as a concept that influenced the Honda NSX.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

10. Dauer 962

If you ever thought about what it would be like to drive a Le Mans racing car on the street, here’s the answer in form of the crazy Dauer 962 Le Mans. This car is possibly the ultimate supercar ever built since it is so extreme and fast that it could put most of the latest and fastest supercars to shame despite the fact it’s over 20 years old.

Photo Credit: Super Cars

Built from 1993 to 1997 by German company Dauer, this supercar is a race car with some trunk space and license plates. Dauer 962 produced 750 hp from its 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six engine. The performance figures were also crazy. The 0 to 60 mph time was 2.8-seconds and the top speed was 251 mph. But the problem with this model was that it was too much for most owners.

Photo Credit: Twitter

9. Isdera Imperator 108i

Isdera is a small, ultra-exclusive manufacturer of supercars based in Germany. It was founded by Eberhard Schultz, ex-Mercedes engineer, in 1969. Over the years, Isdera produced only a few models all of which used many Mercedes parts, engines, and components, and the company became known for a very exclusive production approach.

Photo Credit: Tpe Japan

It was introduced in 1984 and remained in production until 1993 during which time 30 examples were produced. The car had space frame construction with a plastic body and Gullwing doors that are timeless and everyone’s favorite supercar detail. Behind the driver was a Mercedes produced V8 engine with 5.0 liters of displacement.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

8. Gumpert Apollo Sport

This is not the prettiest supercar ever produced but it’s one of the most brutal. The Gumpert Apollo was the brainchild of German engineers. Using Audi`s 4.2-liter V8, carbon fiber chassis, F1-syle suspension, and aggressive aerodynamics package, Apollo produced truly incredible performance numbers.

Photo Credit: Youtube

They designed the Apollo to be the missing link between the race car and road-going supercar, something that it did quite well. However, the market was looking for more comfortable machines, so sadly the Gumpert Company soon closed its doors.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

7. Mosler MT900

Debuting in 2001, the MT900 was the product of a long development process. The goal was to present a car as light and as powerful as possible. Most people can say that Warren Mosler managed to do just that since the MT900 weighs only 2,500 lbs, which is less than the competitors.

Photo Credit: Deviant Art

The car is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 delivering 350 HP or 7.0-liter V8 with 435 HP in the MT900 S version. Both engines came from Chevrolet. The Mosler MT900 stayed in production until 2011. During that time, they only built 14 cars. Mosler even produced a racing version that competed with some degree of success in the World Endurance Racing championship.

Photo Credit: Carligious

6. Ascari KZ1

Ascari presented the KZ 1 in 2004 and it featured cool styling. The construction was high-quality thanks to the carbon-fiber tub. Also, it had an S62 V8 engine from the E39 BMW M5, which was good for over 400 HP. Since the KZ 1 was light and balanced, the performance was great. In fact, going from 0 to 60 was possible in just four seconds while the top speed was 200 mph.

Photo Credit: Super Cars

The specifications and features in popular magazines added to the hype. However, when they announced the pricing, the KZ1 hit a wall. Ascari priced this car at a hefty $400,000, which was more than a comparable Ferrari or Porsche. So unfortunately, that sealed the destiny of the KZ1.

Photo Credit: Drive Tribe

5. Vector W8

The legendary Vector W8 is a wedge-shaped, V8 powered monster presented in 1990. It was an ambitious project by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation. They wanted to produce the most advanced supercar in the world by using aeronautical technology and materials in car production

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Under the engine cover was a typical American powerhouse in the form of a Chevrolet small-block V8. They paired it up with twin turbochargers to produce 625 HP, which was an impressive figure. The company claimed that at full boost, the 6.0-liter twin-turbo engine was capable of 1,200 HP.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

4. Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

Despite the fact it’s now irrelevant in the supercar class, in the late ’60s, Alfa produced one of the most interesting supercars ever built, the Tipo 33 Stradale. It was not only the most expensive production car at the moment; it was also the most exclusive. Powered by a screaming race-bred V8, Alfa sold only around 15 of them.

Photo Credit: Hot Cars

The 33 Stradale looks gorgeous but its production and public appearance were so limited, people forgot about this car. Under the hood was a 2.0-liter V8 which revved up to 9,000 rpm, which was unheard of in the late ’60s.

Photo Credit: Auto Express

3. Hennessey Venom GT

The Venom GT is not a 100-percent American car but kind of a British-American hybrid. They based it on the Lotus Elise but significantly modified it. Hennessey widened and stretched the car, adding a different suspension, brakes, design, and drivetrain. Practically everything is new and different from the original car.

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

The power comes from a 7.0-liter LS2 V8 engine with three power levels, 800, 1,000, and 1,200 HP. The Venom GT was available as a coupe or convertible. But best of all, it held the world record for the fastest production car. It went from 0 to 186 mph with an average time of 13.63 seconds. They ceased production in 2017 after building just 13 cars.

Photo Credit: Super Vettura

2. Koenigsegg Agera R

One of the newest members of the exclusive supercar society is the Swedish brand, Koenigsegg. With its bespoke cars, advanced technology, and super powerful engines, Koenigsegg is the pinnacle of automotive engineering.

Photo Credit: Koenigsegg

And the Agera R is just that with its twin-turbo V8 producing 1,100 HP and a 280 mph top speed. The first Koenigsegg models used a V8 they based on Ford’s block. But later on, the company developed its own V8 that is capable of insane power levels.

Photo Credit: Gooding Co

1. Spyker C8

The 2000s brought several great supercars, but just a few managed to survive the economic recession. But one of the cars that didn’t was Spyker with its fantastic C8. The C8 was a great looking model with a unique design.

Photo Credit: Gooding Co

Also, it had a 4.2-liter V8 in the back to deliver respectable performance. However, it was something totally different from the rest of the cars in its field. Best of all, the Audi C8 had a V8 engine, which the same as in the R8, proved to be a perfect match. These are 40 of the most memorable mid-engine cars ever made. Although not all of them made it into production, each one had an important part in automotive history.

Please wait 5 sec.