Thursday Five: show ponies that should be put down
In today’s Thursday Five we celebrate the best of the show ponies - sports cars that look great but don’t back that up with any real performance.
This will make people angry (making fun of Porsches always does that), but remember this: all of these cars are incredibly sexy and we would welcome every single one of them in our driveway. But they are all slower than an entry spec Volkswagen Golf.
The VW Golf can hit 100km/h from a standing start in 9.3 seconds. None of these cars can do that, yet we love them anyway!
Pontiac Fiero: 0 to 100km/h in 11.2 sec
Conceived and designed to be a two-seater, mid-engined sports car, the Fiero was the first two seat Pontiac since 1938 and was considered quite advanced for 1984.
It should have been fast too, because the original intention was for it to pack a V6. But GM’s beancounters baulked at the idea of investing in an in-house rival to the Corvette (which was painfully slow itself at this time) and instead insisted that the Fiero be pitched as a fuel efficient commuter car. Because two-seater mid-engined cars are good at that.
Thus saddling it with an anaemic 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with an “economy” three-speed automatic transmission, the Fiero was undoubtedly frugal, but remarkably slow with a positively glacial 0 to 100km/h time of 11.2 seconds.
As the fuel crisis eased a V6 was introduced, but the promise of a newer engines and turbos never emerged before the Fiero ceased production in 1989.
Opel GT: 0 to 100km/h in 11.1 sec
The original Opel GT was an incredibly sexy car that first appeared at the Paris motor show in 1965 and entered production in 1968. With its sleek, curvy mini-Corvette lines, the GT looked fast just standing still. Except it most certainly wasn’t fast when it was moving...
The GT came standard from the factory with a dismal 50kW 1.1-litre engine that was painfully slow, even with the GT’s tiny unladen 845kg weight.
There was an optional 76kW 1.9-litre engine, but then US emission regulations strangled that down to a paltry 62kW in 1971 and when hooked up to the 3-speed automatic transmission it just got even slower.
Still, it does look fantastic. That’s enough isn’t it?
Porsche 914/4: 0 to 100km/h in 13.7 sec
Originally conceived to be sold as a Volkswagen in four-cylinder form and a Porsche in six-cylinder form, an internal spat and discomfort from Porsche over the idea of selling a car that looked the same as a VW saw the deal collapse and the price of the 914 skyrocketing after Porsche had to wear all the development and tooling costs itself.
This saw the 914/6 cost almost as much as a 911 and the 914/4 go on to be Porsches top seller during its production. But the catch was - it was very, very slow. And not even just by Porsche standards.
That probably had something to do with the VW 1.7-litre flat four that powered it - it was the same 60kW unit that powered the VW Type 2, otherwise known as the Kombi. That’s right; a hippy van engine powered what was supposed to be a sports car.
But just look at it...
Ferrari Mondial 8: 0 to 100km/h in 9.4 sec
While later versions were much improved in the performance stakes, the original Mondial 8 was slow for a Ferrari. Or any of its competitors really.
Conceived as a four-seater GT car, the Mondial 8 was just heavy and slow. It also handled poorly (in comparison to other Ferraris) and featured traditional Italian build quality, so something was almost guaranteed to fall off or catch on fire. Or catch on fire, then fall off.
But what made it most disappointing was its dismal performance. Ferrari tried to deflect media criticism of the Mondial 8’s performance by claiming that the US magazines had tested “faulty” examples of the car, but the reality was it was just crap.
Something the company all-but admitted when it introduced the much-improved Mondial Quattrovavole a mere two years later.
Ferdinand GT3 RS: 0 to 100km/h in... never
An absolute unashamed knock-off of a Porsche 911, the Ferdinand GT3 RS is one of the greatest examples of show over go.
Constructed out of lightweight materials, the GT3 RS weighs an astounding 99.6kg, but while that is remarkably light, the power plant still isn’t really up to the job.
You see, the power plant inside the Ferdinand GT3 RS is a person. Pedalling. Given that the an average healthy male can produce around 0.25kW at most, even “just” a 99.6kg car is going to be slow. Even with two of you doing the pedalling.
Made from plastic tubing and duct tape, the body is mounted on an aluminium frame that seats two (with both supplying pedal power), the Ferdinand GT3 RS looks awesome, but would be fairly crap on hills...