There was once a lot of hurrah at Chrysler over the release of the Prowler. The car looked like the sports car you’d expect it to be. A retro inspired hot rod with a modern powertrain was an important concept. The only problem was that Chrysler recycled the V6 engine out of the Dodge Intrepid sedan (via Motor Biscuit).
The sad part about the story of the Plymouth Prowler is that the car had potential. Had Chrysler crammed a V8 power plant into this car, the result would have been epic. But instead, the company chose to build the Prowler out of parts in pieces. The end result was a roadster that barely sold well enough to cover the investing cost.
After a popular run with the massively successful K-Car platform, Chrysler continued to add more models. The Conquest was based on the Mitsubishi Starion, which was a twin-turbo powered sports coupe. Up until this point, Chrysler was mainly associated with luxury sedans and coupes (via Car Gurus).
Switching to a lightweight performance car like the Conquest was a bit of a departure from their tried-and-true strategy. Chrysler’s partnership with Mitsubishi in the late ’80s and ’90s proved fruitful for the company. Many shared products ended up being important, such as the Eagle Talon and the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has always been an excellent go-between in the luxury sedan segment. An AMG version of the sedan was a novel idea and an excellent way to attract new buyers. The 5.4 liter V8 boasted a reasonable 354 horsepower, at a time when most sport sedans were still under the 300 HP range (via Classic).
From a styling perspective, the E55 AMG was an attractive car. However, there was a barrage of reliability shortcomings that have made the car questionable. On top of that, the resale value of the E55 is also vastly inflated. The fact that the E55 had a V8 engine has since made it a novelty in the used car market.
The first generation of the Scion TC was a natural progression for the Scion brand. What had started as a company geared toward young car shoppers was evolving into a more diverse brand. In reality, the Scion TC was the logical successor to the Toyota Celica that had been sold for decades (via Every Auto).
Unfortunately, the styling of the first generation TC was questionable at best. Even when the car was first released, its styling was outdated. The build quality of the original TC was also reasonable when you considered the usual Toyota products. All in all, most of the original Scion TCs have been junked or modified to no end.
When the Japanese automakers entered the luxury car segment, every brand had a unique offering. Lexus had the SC400, Acura had the Legend, and For Infiniti, the offering was the M30 sport coupe. Available in a convertible or coupe, the M30 was a reasonable-looking machine. But shortcomings with the performance and build quality left drivers scratching their heads (via F31 Club).
Compared to other sports coupes in this segment, the M30 felt like it fell short. The model lasted for three years. During the years the M30 was on the market, there was also an economic recession. The car didn’t sell well enough to become a cornerstone for the Infiniti brand.
Audi was in a tough spot in the 1990s so the Audi Coupe was sold in small numbers. Although it’s a wonderful car by today’s standards, back then it was seldom seen. Luxury car shoppers at the time were searching for something different. The Audi Coupe didn’t deliver in the performance department, and the design was cheap (via Car Survey).
There were better options on the road for the price back then. Production numbers for the Audi Coupe were unsatisfactory. There are still tidy examples that you can find on the road for around $6000. Still, with the high maintenance cost and limited features, the Audi Coupe was destined for the junkyard.
Ah the Probe, how times have changed. At one point, the Probe was being contemplated as a replacement for the Ford Mustang. The executives at Ford didn’t foresee a market for pony cars in the future. That was wrong, and the Probe sold poorly compared to the Mustang model still on the road (via Driving Line).
There were some interesting versions of the Probe such as the 24V edition. But the Probe couldn’t replace the popular Mustang line. The design wasn’t what buyers were looking for in a sports car. Brand loyalty is also a major reason the Probe never took off because Mustang owners are loyalists.
Upon purchasing the Jeep division from AMC motors, Chrysler launched the Eagle brand with the remaining AMC models. One such car model was part of a joint venture with Mitsubishi, which also birthed the Chrysler Conquest. The Talon proved to be the most popular model during the brand’s run until 1997, when it was discontinued (via Drive and Review).
The combination of AWD and a turbocharged engine enticed car shoppers. Performance from the Talon was much better than sports cars that cost twice as much. Likewise, the Mitsubishi Eclipse was popular in its own right. Aside from the performance, the Talon was cheaply built, and you’ll seldom encounter very few of them on the road.
Over at General Motors, the company was looking for a way to entice compact car shoppers. The Geo Storm was based on the Isuzu Impulse, and it had many unique features. Lotus designed the suspension, and the styling wasn’t inadequate. Unfortunately, the performance was mediocre and reliability was equally dangerous (via Edmunds).
GM had hoped the car would resonate with buyers, but in reality it was a flop. There was also internal competition from the new Saturn brand, which also sold a two-door model. All-in-all, the Storm is a relic of the past. The Geo brand was discontinued, and eventually, Saturn as a whole was eliminated.
Have you ever heard of the Scoupe? Probably not, as the compact car was the first sports car sold by Hyundai in the U.S. The Scoupe suffered from a lackluster reputation due to the failure of the Hyundai Excel a few years prior. The performance of the Scoupe was also non-existent, which defeated the purpose of a sports coupe (via Edmunds).
After a refresh to the front and rear, the Scoupe was better received, but it was too little, too late. The car failed to grab any portion of the market, and full-size SUVs were already on an upswing. Nowadays, most Scoupe models have made their way into the junkyard. You’ll encounter one on the road only every once in a while.
The Chrysler and Mitsubishi partnership in the 1990s birthed quite a few unique cars, the Colt being one of the most popular of them. Although the coupe was not a particularly fast sports car, it had a loyal following. The 1.5-liter engine was a lackluster example, only offering a measly 92 horsepower (via About Automobile).
There was also no hatchback model, which was a popular option prior. You’ll seldom find the Plymouth Colt on the market anymore. Reliability was an issue, and parts have become harder to come by. The build quality on these cars was never that important for this model either.
GM tried to introduce many unique coupes in the ’80s and ’90s, but the Reatta was particularly eye-catching. The design was far different than anything on the road at the time. The digital display and the interior were luxurious for the time period. But the rest of the Reatta was questionable at best (via The Truth About Cars).
The compact design of the car didn’t feel like a traditional Buick model. This is something that alienated a lot of the consumer base. The Buick Reatta was by far one of the most unique GM sports coupe offerings on the road. However, the reliability and cheap build quality of the car simply gave it a lackluster reputation.
Developed as a partnership between Chrysler and Mercedes, the Crossfire was unique, to say the least. From a technological standpoint, the car was cutting edge. You got Mercedes engineering for a considerably more affordable price. The entire car was based on the SLK-320, which was an excellent car (via The Car Investor).
But the styling and reliability of the Crossfire were best. There are few cars that have held up to the test of time from this era. The Crossfire is not one of these vehicles as the lack of style and reliability made it questionable.
A two-door coupe was a seemingly dated proposition by the 1990s. The SUV boom was in full swing, and sports cars were being phased out. Never to be deterred though Chrysler launched two coupes, the Sebring and the Avenger. The Dodge Avenger wasn’t a particularly fast sports car, but it offered a unique exterior (via Car Gurus).
The R/T version was all Dodge when you first looked at it. The performance of the V6 engine wasn’t weak but the reliability was questionable. The build quality of the Avenger also wasn’t that decided, which caused many of these to hit the junkyard. You’ll seldom find an original Avenger on the road.
Why not try and make the Ford Escort a sports car, Ford asked at one time? Ford’s Ford Escort EXP was a questionable experiment by Ford, to say the least. The Escort had many exciting options, including the GT model, but the EXP was unparalleled. The styling of the car was almost like a baby Fox Body Mustang (via Auto Trader).
Drivers almost never see a Ford Escort EXP still around, and that’s because the build quality was awful. Rusting caused many of these Fords to hit the junkyard early on. The reliability was also not the best, even when the cars were new. From a conceptual point of view, the Ford Escort EXP had potential, but that’s about it.
What happens when you dress a Ford Pinto with a V8 engine? You get the Ford Mustang II King Cobra. No, this car wasn’t meant to be a joke or meme, it was an actual car. Finding a Ford Mustang II King Cobra is almost impossible. The reliability of the car was awful and the build quality was even worse (via CJ Pony Parts).
Most enthusiasts like to avoid the Mustang II body style altogether, and there is a reason for that. The platform was by far a dark spot in the history of the Mustang. There were much better options later down the road. When you think about the Mustang, these Pinto-based models don’t come to mind first.
Ford would continue to build competition for their own Mustang models. The Ford Thunderbird S/C was another version of a pony car. The supercharged V6 engine provided modest power for the price. But the styling of the car was something that most consumers couldn’t get over (via Hagerty).
The build quality of this generation of the Thunderbird was also questionable at best. Reliability was something you hoped for, to say the least. The interior was cheap, and many parts were shared with other Ford models.
Kia is not shy when it comes to testing the waters with a new model. The company launched the Borego SUV in the middle of a recession. The Kia Forte Koup was the same concept, releasing a sports car when no one wants them. The naming of the car was bad enough, but the reliability of the car was even worse (via Cheers and Gears).
There were numerous transmission failures that affected this car when it was brand new. The warranty Kia offers was a big help, but not enough. Buyers were not convinced to get the Forte Koup and Kia quietly discontinued the model. Kia still sells a two-door model, but it isn’t called the Koup anymore.
The final Mercury two-door was a failed endeavor for the brand. With the Ford executives seeking to appeal to female buyers, the Mercury Cougar was radically different. The car had all the lines you’d expect a Cougar to have. But there was no longer a V8 engine choice, and the car was no longer a luxury coupe (via ARFC).
Instead, Ford had hoped the redesigned Cougar would entice young professional women to go with the Mercury brand. Needless to say, the Cougar didn’t sell well. The final years for the car had some of the lowest production numbers to date. The Mercury brand was ultimately phased out a decade after this car was released.