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These Vehicles Are The Worst Sports Cars Ever Made

Vukasin HerbezNovember 9, 2022

The essential measure of a sports car is performance. From its 0 to 60 mph time to its top speed and horsepower ratings, these numbers define a sports car. By default, sports cars are faster and more capable than sedans or SUVs. They also provide more excitement behind the wheel. This is all true and not that surprising. But despite their best efforts, the worst sports cars ever made failed to deliver on these otherwise obvious promises.

Vehicle manufacturers sometimes present sports cars with disappointing performance, weak power output, and embarrassing 0 to 60 mph times. We found the worst sports cars ever made and compiled them all right here. They were models made by reputable brands that failed to deliver the excitement and speed enthusiasts expected. Check them out below.

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Lamborghini Urraco

You might be surprised to find a Lamborghini on this list but just look at the specs of this ’70s wonder. The mid-mounted 2.0-liter V8 with 180 HP was capable of reaching 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Compared to later models and well-known Lamborghini supercars, this is just not as good.

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However, they produced the Urraco in the dark times for performance cars, and rumors were that Lambo assembled it poorly. Lamborghini managed to produce over 700 of them, so these wedge-shaped cars didn’t sell in big numbers whatsoever (via Lamborghini).

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Triumph Stag

The Triumph Stag was introduced in 1970 and produced until 1978. The market was impressed by the new model, which featured cool styling and an open top but still enough room for four adults and their luggage. It had a 3.0-liter V8 engine with 145 HP, which was barely enough. With its muscular appearance and V8 rumble, the Stag looked like a luxury muscle car and attracted some buyers (via Hemmings).

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Unfortunately, owners soon experienced the Stag’s notorious unreliability. That, along with its higher price, sealed its chances on the American and global market. When production ended in 1978, only 25,000 cars were produced.

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Pontiac Fiero

At the time it was made, this was the most advanced American production model. The Fiero’s appearance hyped its customers. With its cool and modern design and advanced technology, the initial response was great (via Auto Data).

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It was bold for Pontiac to introduce a compact, rear-wheel drive car with the engine paired with a five-speed manual transaxle gearbox and positioned behind the driver. But one of Fiero’s main problems was that it was pretty underpowered. With 93 HP and 0 to 60 mph time of over 10 seconds, it was painfully slow. Coupled with its dangerous recalls, this makes it one of the worst sports cars of all time.

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Honda Beat

The spiritual successor to the classic Honda S600 roadster is the ’90s Honda Beat. Introduced in 1991 and sold until 1996, Beat was a small, nimble roadster with just 660 ccm displacements and 63 HP (via Supercar Nostalgia).

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The car was naturally aspirated in typical Honda fashion and had a five-speed manual transmission. Weighing just 1,656 pounds, it was fun to drive but just didn’t deliver in terms of any realistic road performance. Around 33,000 were made in its five-year production run.

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MG B

One of the most popular standard British roadsters from the ’60s is the MG B. MG presented the B in 1962 as the successor to the MG A, which helped establish the roadster class in the U.S. By the standards of the day, the MG B was a reasonably modern car with unibody construction and a roomy interior, as well as a decent suspension and steering (via Retro Motor).

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Some contemporary tests consider the MG B underpowered. 95 HP from a 1.8-liter engine certainly isn’t much since the car weighs only 2,200 pounds. But for those who want more power, MG introduced their model C with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and 145 HP and the MG B GT with a 3.5-liter V8 engine, which was available only in coupe form. However, neither of those cars will provide drivers with any actual performance nowadays.

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Porsche 912

Worried that the costly 911 would narrow its customer base and affect sales, Porsche needed an entry-level model for people who wanted an everyday sports car that was dependable and economical. In those days, nobody considered the economy of performance models, but Porsche realized it could be a good selling point (via Porsche).

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So, in 1965 after the end of the Porsche 356 production, they released the new 912. It was a 911, but with a 2.0-liter, flat four-cylinder engine producing 90 HP and modest performance numbers. The car also costs significantly less than the 911 and was fuel-efficient at 36 mpg. You thought all Porsches are fast, but not all of them were. This model proved that.

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Lancia Scorpion

In 1976, Lancia presented the Scorpion, a US-spec version of its Beta Montecarlo model. The Montecarlo name couldn’t be used for the American market since Chevrolet already had Monte Carlo, so Lancia decided to go with a more aggressive Scorpion nameplate. However, despite the car’s modern looks then and technical layout, the Scorpion could have been a better performer as its four-cylinder engine delivered only 81 HP (via Motor Trend).

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The Scorpion was on sale for two years (1976 and 1977) and sold around 1,800 examples in America. Today, these Lancias are rare but not exactly expensive. Most of them have Fiat’s 2.0-liter engines, which produce more power and give Scorpion the performance it deserves.

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Fiat X 1/9

Behind this strange name lies one of the most interesting, affordable sports cars of the ’70s. Fiat presented the X 1/9 in 1972 as a tiny two-seater with a T-Top. Also, it came with a mid-mounted engine and two trunks: one in the front and one in the back. Just think of it as a Porsche Boxster, only 20 years older.

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Despite its fantastic looks and technical layout, the X 1/9 was underpowered. It got just around 60 HP from its small 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. And because the performance could have been more impressive, most owners decided to add bigger engines (via Motor Trend).

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DeLorean DMC 12

Started by John DeLorean in the late ’70s, the DeLorean was briefly marketed as the next big thing in the sports car world. For a short time, it looked that America got a sports car brand that could rival Europe’s finest. DeLorean presented an exciting concept with Gullwing doors, a modern, wedge-shaped design, a mid-mounted V6 engine, and stainless steel body (via Supercars).

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However, production was late. And when the car was shown, it turned out to be slow, underpowered and riddled with quality issues. Due to its prominent appearance in the ‘Back to the Future’ movies and numerous music videos, the DMC 12 is still one of the automotive symbols of the ’80s.

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Ford Capri

The success of the Ford Mustang made it highly influential, inspiring American car brands to offer a pony car of their own. Even in Europe, the Mustang was popular and common. However, Ford wanted to explore the market further with a smaller European version. That’s how the Capri came to be in 1969.

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Designed in the UK, the Capri was a European Mustang in every way. The Capri looked great with the “long hood-short deck” formula and semi-fastback styling. Although they based it on the standard Cortina and used the same engine, the Capri looked like a thoroughbred muscle car. Most people thought it was a U.S.-built Ford. However, most Capris had diminutive four-cylinder engines. Even six-cylinder versions were not that powerful, even for a fastback (via Auto Express).

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Porsche 356 Speedster

The first Porsche that gave driving enthusiasts a taste of a “race car for the street” was the tiny but significant 356 Speedster. They presented it in the mid-1950s as a special model. It came without luxuries and an open top. Porsche designed the Speedster to be easy to drive on the track and the road (via C Net).

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Although the mechanics were the same as the standard 356, the Speedster came with a flat-four engine with 75 HP on tap. Despite the fact the power was so diminutive, so was the weight. However, 0 to 60 mph figures are around 10 seconds which is ridiculous today. However, its low weight made the 356 Speedster an extremely fun car to drive on the track. Legendary actor and racer Steve McQueen had one too.

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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 broader and the side scoops made for better cooling of the engine (via Evo).

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However, such an extreme car lost one of the main hot hatch characteristics and that’s practicality. It was a pure racing car they built for homologation purposes. The 5 Turbo still deserves an essential place in turbo history as one of the craziest hot hatches and coolest cars of the ’80s. It wasn’t that fast but it was insane.

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Mitsubishi Galant GTO

To fight other Japanese companies in the profitable compact sports car market, Mitsubishi introduced the Galant GTO in 1970 as their affordable sports coupe. The car was built on a Galant sedan platform, sharing all critical components and dimensions (via Mitsubishi Motors).

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However, the Galant GTO had its own range of four-cylinder engines ranging from the diminutive 1.6-liters to 2.0-liters fed through multiple carburetor setups. The power output was only a mere 100 HP. However, it looks cool and is somewhat desirable to collectors.

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Matra Bagheera

French company Matra is one of the most interesting automotive design and development outfits. For decades, this firm has delivered innovative solutions and new technologies. They work with some of the biggest names in the industry. In the early ’70s, in cooperation with Simca, Matra decided to produce a small sports car for the European market. They called it the Bagheera, introducing this cool-looking three-seater in 1973 (via Hagerty).

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Yes, the Bagheera had three seats up front. So even though it was compact and small, three people could sit comfortably next to each other. Unfortunately, the power came from a miniature 1.2 or 1.4-liter engine, which didn’t provide exhilarating performance at all. However, it was a moderate success with three seats and French charm.

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Volkswagen SP2

The biggest car company in Brazil was Volkswagen. The combination of air-cooled quality, usability, and low price made Volkswagens the most popular cars in Brazil by far. However, Volkswagen didn’t have any performance credentials or a sports model, and in the early ’70s, they wanted a piece of the action (via Silodrome).

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So they took the Beetle floorplan, a 1.7-liter flat-four engine, and tuned it to 75 HP. Although that wasn’t much, it was faster than the stock Beetle. They called the finished product the SP2, and it debuted in 1972. It looked modern with a long front end, low profile, and sporty silhouette.

RX-7
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Mazda RX7

The first generation of compact Mazda sports car has all the right ingredients to become a cult classic, But it still lacked performance. The first generation was introduced in 1978 and stayed on the market until 1985. During that period, almost 500,000 RX-7s were made, most of them sold in America (via Mazda).

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Under the hood was a 1.1 to 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine, the RX-7’s most notable feature. The extremely compact and light engine produced 102 to 135 HP, which wasn’t enough to create any really lively performance out of this little coupe.

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Dome Zero

Dome Zero was a small Japanese car company dedicated to producing expensive road-going and race models. The production started in 1976 and continued until 1986, but it is still unclear how many cars ever saw the light of day.

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The Dome Zero had a 2.8-liter SOHC six-cylinder engine with 147 HP, which doesn’t sound like much, but the car was extremely light and the performance was still barely acceptable. This car would remain forgotten, but its appearance in the Gran Turismo video game series cast some light on this exciting project (via Supercar Nostalgia).

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Porsche 944

In 1983, Porsche presented the 944, which proved to be an essential model for the brand. One of the main features of this new car was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that could deliver 170 HP at first. The big four-cylinder, which grew to 3.0-liters, provided drivers with a deep and strong sound (via Zero 260).

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Apart from sublime handling thanks to the transaxle gearbox, the 944 had a distinctive sound that is still recognizable. However, with just 170 HP, it wasn’t very fast, but the Turbo version delivered some additional speed.

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SAAB Sonett

Even though SAAB was always famous for sedans or convertibles with turbo engines, they produced a sports coupe during the ’60s and early ’70s. As people expected, it was strange, obscure, and quirky, just like the rest of the range. There were three generations of the SAAB Sonett sports car (via Top Gear).

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Initially, they equipped the Sonett with SAAB’s tiny three-cylinder two-stroke engine delivering just 60 HP. As you can expect, their customers were disappointed with the poor performance. But soon the company fitted it with a 1.7-liter V4 borrowed from Ford’s European division. Even though that was an improvement, more was needed to save the model. Due to disappointing sales numbers and the 1973 oil crisis, Saab ceased production in 1974.

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1980 Chevrolet Corvette C3

In 1970, the hottest Corvette pumped out a whopping 435 HP. But by 1980, the most desirable Corvette only produced a modest 180 HP. In California, it was even 10 HP less due to the stricter emission standards. So what happened in only 10 years? Where did all those horses go?

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You can blame the recession, tighter emission standards, and safety regulations. They killed almost all the performance of the legendary Corvette. The 1980 Corvette was a bit of a dinosaur with old technology under its plastic skin. Also, it came with lazy engines and an outdated interior. It still looked like it meant business, but the years had caught up with it (via Car and Driver).

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Skoda 110 R

During the ’60s, Skoda’s primary sedan model was the 110. It was an essential four-door car with a rear-mounted four-cylinder engine. In Eastern Europe in those days, sports cars were almost nonexistent as a category. So Skoda wanted to introduce a sports coupe to widen its appeal and export sales. The result was the Skoda 110 R, a true sports coupe with a dynamic fastback design and more power (via Magazine DeRivas Ivez).

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They presented the 110 R in 1970 and it immediately became a highly sought-after model in Eastern Europe. It retained the basic technical layout but had an upgraded engine producing 62 HP. But even though the performance was diminutive by today’s standards, back in early 1970s Czechoslovakia, it was a proper sports coupe.

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Ferrari Mondial

Debuting in 1980, the Mondial was a successor to the 308 GT4. It was a compact Grand Turismo sports car with a 2+2 seating configuration and a mid-engine layout. And that meant it offered more space than the 308 and 328 GTB models, which were only two-seaters (via Auto Express).

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Even though the Mondial was more practical and somewhat more affordable, it was less popular. Today, it is one of those rare yet poorly regarded models in the Ferrari community. That was because the design needed to be more dynamic. Also, the performance figures were much slower than the rest of the Ferrari lineup.

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Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam is a classic English brand, long gone from the market and remembered by only a handful of enthusiasts. But the Alpine is a nice-looking car with reliable and conventional mechanicals. Also, it comes with a small 1.5 or 1.7-liter four-cylinder motor. Over the years, Sunbeam built over 60,000 Alpine roadsters, so finding one is easy. For under $20,000, you can find an excellent example of this exciting car (via Supercars).

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However, if you are looking for a more serious machine, look for the Sunbeam Tiger. This model seems identical to the Alpine but packs a 260 or 289 Ford V8 engine under the hood. That gives it a much better performance and soundtrack. However, it still needs to be exhilarating. But best of all, the legendary Carroll Shelby designed this model before he worked for Ford.

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Toyota Celica Supra

For those customers who found the standard Celica not agile or powerful enough, Toyota introduced the 1978 model year Celica Supra with a cool-looking hatchback body style and a six-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels (via Car and Driver).

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The main engine for the Celica Supra was a 2.5-liter straight six with 110 HP, but for those who wanted more power, the 3.0-liter with 116 HP was also available. Despite the fact it wasn’t anything special in terms of output, the Celica Supra had sharp handling and an optional limited-slip differential which helped drifting and spirited driving. The model proved popular and the Supra later evolved into a separate model.

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Maserati BiTurbo

The BiTurbo lineup of cars started with the 222 model, which was a handsome two-door coupe, and continued with 420 and 430 sedans built on the same basis. The BiTurbos were entry-level Maseratis at more affordable prices than expected (via Maserati).

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Under the hood was a new generation of turbocharged 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter V6 engines with high power output, from 180 HP up to 270 HP in later years. However, the BiTurbo generation of cars was known for its lack of reliability, disappointing performance, and terrible mechanical issues. Maserati made over 40,000 BiTurbos in 13 years and only a tiny fraction of that number is still on the road.

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Lancia Fulvia Coupe

Back in the ’60s, Lancia was an independent luxury manufacturer with very specific and highly respected cars which boasted very unique designs and technical solutions. So, when the company presented the Fulvia Coupe in 1965, the car world took notice (via FCA Heritage).

 

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The Fulvia Coupe was a little 2+2 two-door car with a narrow-angle V6 in the front powering the front wheels. This unique layout was handled fantastically and with the small weight of the vehicle itself. Despite having 85 to 115 HP, Lancia Fulvia Coupe was a rally champion but is very slow by the standards of today.

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Honda S600/S800 Roadster

Introduced in 1964, the S600 was a two-seat convertible with compact dimensions powered by a tiny 600cc engine. It had 57 HP but felt lively since the car weighed just 1500 pounds. Interestingly, the S600 had chain drive, a primitive drivetrain system from motorcycle production. In 1967, Honda introduced the S800, an upgraded and more powerful version with a bigger 800 cc engine and 70 HP, which was also available as a coupe (via Car Magazine).

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The production was over in 1970 after more than 22,000 Kei car roadsters and coupes were made. The car wasn’t initially popular on the American market, but today, it’s sought-after by collectors.

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Triumph Spitfire

The Spitfire was the definitive British sports roadster of the 1960s. Despite having similar mechanics, similar modest power, and performance, the Spitfire got its name from World War Two fighter plane and boosted a much more aggressive and sportier design with lower sides and a sharper front end (via Auto Express).

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This legendary roadster was introduced in 1962 and powered by a pretty diminutive 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine with 63 HP. Over the years, the power grew to a 1.5-liter engine with 71 HP and more torque, improving the driving dynamics. Like all other British roadsters, the biggest market was the US, and from 314,000 made, most of them ended up here.

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Bricklin SV-1

The SV-1 was the brainchild of automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin. It was produced in Canada from 1974 to 1975 in less than 3000 examples. For a short while, the SV-1 was the best and most advanced sports car in America. Yet as soon as the first cars started rolling from the assembly line, it was clear that the SV-1 wasn’t as good as people expected it to be (via Supercars).

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The idea was to produce a safe, fast sports car, as the name SV-1 (Safety Vehicle One) suggested. Bricklin designed the car with big bumpers, numerous additional features, warring sensors, power Gullwing doors, no cigarette lighters, an integrated roll cage, and many other things making it heavy and not very agile. The power came from a 360 AMC V8 engine which wasn’t very powerful. The company later turned to a 351 Ford V8, but it still needed to deliver actual performance.

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Datsun Fairlady Roadster

Everybody knows Japanese manufacturers started as downsized copies of European and American cars. One of the most attractive Japanese copies of European cars was a cute and compact Datsun Fairlady Roadster built from 1959 to 1970, also known as Datsun Sports (via Nissan USA).

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Japanese carmakers borrowed the design, technology, and feel from British roadsters, especially Triumph and MG. However, Datsun did more than copy the British. It gave the little roadster significant power with the 2.0-liter engine, better handling, and driving dynamics. Most importantly, it guaranteed the quality of the cars, which is something that British examples had difficulties with. Datsun made over 40,000 of those nifty little cars over an 11-year production period, with most of them sold in the USA, of course, with left-hand drive.

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Opel GT

In the late ’60s, the German brand Opel was one of Europe’s most popular economy car manufacturers. Since General Motors owned it, the design of all Opel’s models was approved or even styled by GM’s design department, which meant that Opel models looked like scaled-down versions of Chevrolets or Buicks. This was precisely the case with Opel GT, a sporty affordable coupe presented in 1968 (via Net Car Show).

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Opel needed a sports car based on its entry-level model – the Kadett, and in the mid-1960s, it got approval from GM to introduce such a vehicle. The design was heavily influenced by Corvette and GM’s concepts from the mid-1960s. Of course, with 1.3 and 1.9-liter four-cylinder engines, Opel GT didn’t have any of the Corvette’s power or performance, but it had the looks. Opel sold it in America through the Buick dealership network; interestingly, it sold well. More Opel GTs were sold in the US than in Europe during its five-year production run.

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Triumph GT6

The GT6 project started in the mid-’60s when Triumph realized they needed a coupe version of their popular roadster. However, just putting the roof on Spitfire wouldn’t do the trick. They needed to extensively re-engineer the car and add a more powerful engine for the chassis to cope with the added weight of the coupe body style. So Triumph engineers installed a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 106 HP, providing the GT6 with more power and performance than the similar Spitfire (via Auto Express).

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The GT6 was officially presented in 1966 and discontinued in 1973 after around 45,000 examples. The GT6 was never as popular as the Spitfire, but it was arguably a better car and a cool-looking alternative to all other sports coupes on the market.

Porsche - Volkswagen Group
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Porsche 914

Porsche 914 was built from 1969 to 1976 as an entry-level model. It was a product of cooperation with Volkswagen and is sometimes called VW-Porsche 914. Behind the driver is a Volkswagen-derived flat-four engine with around 100 HP (via Porsche).

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It doesn’t sound like much and this Porsche wasn’t truly a sports car despite its low weight. The 914 looked like one made by a notable sports car company. It had the engine in the back, but unfortunately, you could beat it with a V8 family sedan.

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Honda CRX

Japanese brands almost entirely dominated the market for affordable performance models in the early ’80s. The Honda CRX is the perfect example of one of the most memorable cars from that era. Built from 1983 to 1991, the CRX used the Civic with a lower and sportier body and only two seats. It was light, nimble, and with precise steering, although with front-wheel drive and up to 140 HP (via Road and Track).

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This model’s most significant selling points were a highly light body, as the whole car weighed 1,800 pounds and a high-revving four-cylinder engine. Drivers couldn’t expect any real performance, but it did deliver some driving feel.

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Mitsubishi Starion

The Starion is a forgotten JDM legend from the early ’80s. It featured a turbocharged engine and cool period styling with mandatory pop-up lights. It had rear-wheel drive and composed handling and was Mitsubishi’s answer to Mazda RX7 and Nissan 300 ZX (via Gauk Motors).

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Buyers could choose between 2.0 and 2.6-liter engines with the same power level, but the 2.6-liter had more torque. On the American market, the Starion was the Chrysler Conquest.

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