The ’80s were not a pleasant time for any automaker, much less the domestic brands. When you took a look at GM’s product portfolio, most of the sports cars were weighed down by smog regulations. To put this in perspective, the California Corvette stands as one of the slowest models to hit the road. The smog-choked 5.0L V8 is one of the worst in GM history. This was the same engine that you’d find under the hood of the Camaro Z28. The engine was notorious for running hot and having vacuum line issues.
Needless to say, the California Corvette was not a standing achievement for the brand. Cars around this period were being pinched for EPA regulations. This is why the Corvette and many other V8-powered sports cars from this era are lackluster at best.
Although Maserati has recently been a strong presence in the media world, the brand has been around much longer. Maserati is not the first brand that comes to mind when you think about buying a car. With that being said the Biturbo was a highly hyped up model. The car was released at a time when exotics were becoming more of the norm. The main selling point for the Biturbo was the fact that it had a functional backseat and interior. While the car performed admirably for the time, consumers couldn’t get over the hideous looks. The car had questionable reliability for a car in this price range.
The Biturbo is often a forgotten part of the eighties sports car world and with good reason. There was nothing increasingly special about the Biturbo to make us remember it. This car is in the same ranks as the Ferrari Mondial.
General Motors wasn’t the only automotive brand that was in the dumps during the ’70s and ’80s. Heavy smog regulations were crushing all of the automakers. The days of the fuel-gulping V8 was becoming a distant memory. Ford decided to base the Mustang off of the lightweight Pinto platform. The car was a good effort. But the performance was mediocre at best and the car suffered from a lack of quality. Dials would fall off and interior parts were cheaply made, as with most domestic cars around this time frame.
The Pinto based Mustang model will go down as a blip in the history of Ford. The Fox-body hit the market not long after to try and repair some of the damage that was done. Interestingly enough, Ford is attempting a drastic change again with the release of the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.
At some point, during the 2000s renaissance of the Ford brand, there was an idea to give Mercury another sports car. The Cougar was a lightweight, V6-powered sports car that brought with it a rather edgy design for the time. This vehicle was part of Ford’s “New Edge” design philosophy which emphasized lots of edges and ovals. Performance-wise, the Cougar was nothing amazing by any means. The car was downright slow and the unimpressive exterior styling made the car an forgettable part of history. People would often mistake the Cougar for the cheaper Escort ZX2.
Sadly, the Mercury brand didn’t survive the new millennium. The Cougar was just one of many lackluster cars that made their way onto dealership lots. Perhaps if Ford had based the Cougar off of the Mustang, things would have been a little better for the car.
You’ve probably seen these cars in grocery store parking lots. The paint peeling off and hubcaps missing from years of abuse. But at one point in time, GM had high hopes that the Geo Storm would attract a younger buyer into the showrooms. The Storm did have some redeeming qualities such as a reasonably sized backseat. There was also the hatchback which made loading the little sports car a breeze. Color combinations were quite wild for the Storm, ranging from purple to yellow. In a lot of ways, the Storm was a revolutionary, but as far as a sports car, the Storm just didn’t add up.
In a sea that was flooded with cheap sports cars during this period, the Storm is a blip. If you want a ’90s sports car that’s good on gas there are many options. The Geo Storm was a car that was just intended as a budget-minded addition to Chevy dealerships.
The final incarnation of the Celica was a curvaceous little car. Designed to entice younger buyers into the Toyota showroom, the new Celica had a lot going for it. But the model never really had a performance-minded version. This was a drawback for Toyota since the competition for the Celica was cars like the turbo-powered Tiburon and the 350Z. Sadly Toyota never offered this generation of the Celica in a convertible version.
With good reason, as far as a commuter car, the Celica was golden. But when you wanted to take the car out to see what it could do, the lack of performance showed. Toyota didn’t go all out designing this car. The Celica line disappeared from the Toyota brand soon after the car hit the market.
The Eclipse that hit the market in 2006 was a bold new statement for Mitsubishi. The new design was much more radical than previous versions. What made the Eclipse unique was the fact that it was always an affordable sports car. This generation of the Eclipse was lacking in the power department. Shoppers also complained about the cramped interior, which made living with the car hard. If you wanted to drive something fast this generation was basically on its way out. The engine was average in terms of performance.
Buyers were quick to dismiss this Eclipse model. You can tell by how the resale values have dropped in recent years. Still, if you can find one for really cheap this might be a fun first car for a new driver. The exterior styling is still beautiful to this day.
Finally, we have a sports car that really shouldn’t even be called a sports car. During the’90s, Ford introduced us to the ZX2. Which was essentially a bite-sized version of the Escort sedan and wagon. While the car had some pretty cute looks at the time, performance was lackluster at best. Then you got into the shoddy build quality which resulted in many reliability issues. The ZX2 lasted for quite some time, even as the rest of the escort lineup was replaced by the modern Focus. But if you wanted a lightweight sports car, the ZX2 should be avoided.
There was actually nothing that was or is remotely sporty about the ZX except for the name. When it comes to forgotten relics of the early 2000s, the ZX2 is the pinnacle. The forgettable styling and ho-hum reliability make the ZX2 avoidable