Hooniverse Asks- What Car is Most Transformed In Its Sporting Iteration?

Lipstick on a pig, it’s not just for failed political candidates anymore – carmakers like it too! At least that was the impression yesterday from all the Gran Turd-isimos that you nominated as cars with delusions of sporting grandeur. Strangely none mentioned my favorite craptacular mashup of promising name and utterly disappointing execution – the Dodge Omni 024 De Tomaso!

But that’s not always the case, and sometimes, Cinderella-like, a car goes from mundane to marvelous when its maker decides to sport it up. Consider the Impreza – that’s not exactly a top choice for small car buyers outside Vermont and Colorado, but have the good fairy wave his magic wand over one, turning it into an STi, and suddenly you don’t want to be home by midnight when rolling in it. A similar transformation occurs when that Subie’s competitor – the Lancer – goes full EVO.

Taurus SHO, BMW M3, nearly anything with a Shelby plaque on its dash, there are a number of cars that become superman to their progenitor’s Clark Kent due being the Sporting edition. Which one benefits most from this transformation?

Image source: [hatchlife.com]

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    Buick Regal. From vinyl topped, wire hubcapped, white wall, 2bbl V-6, grandma mobile:
    <img src="http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/upload/images/Regal.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    To Darth Vader's ride of choice:
    <img src="http://buickturboregal.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/1987gnx.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. acarr260 Avatar

      I think you win.. on the first post. I too was going to point out the GNX.

    2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      And, we're done here folks.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    Low hanging fruit: Dodge Daytona/Plymouth Superbird
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/75/ChargerDaytona.jpg/800px-ChargerDaytona.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Most people wouldn't consider a 69 Charger to be mundane without the wing and nosecone, though I suppose if you tie the Daytona to it's direct predecessor, the 69 Charger 500, those earlier aero efforts did seem pretty bland in comparison.
      <img src="http://images54.fotki.com/v564/photos/7/707157/2815745/969DodgeCharger500HEMICoupef3q-vi.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. tonyola Avatar

        The base 1969 Charger could be had with a 145-hp 225 Slant Six and a three-on-tree manual. That's not exactly a recipe for excitement.

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          I am interpreting the headline question as applying to appearance as well as performance. While I like wing cars, all second generation Chargers were good looking vehicles the day they rolled off the line.
          Even the owner of a slant 6 car could pull some ass in his Charger back in the day.
          [youtube z5kSNwAidSk&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5kSNwAidSk&feature=related youtube]

  3. Josh Avatar

    As much as I hatet to say it Dodge Neon SRT-4.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    In 1969 a Chevrolet Nova was available with everything from a 90HP 153ci I-4 to a 375HP 396 V-8. That might be the biggest horsepower spread in a single year. Any other cars with a 285HP+ differential in the same model year/same chassis?
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/ba/1969_Chevy_Nova_SS_.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. skitter Avatar

      2005 BMW 520d: 163 hp
      2005 BMW M5: 507 hp
      2011 Mercedes-Benz E200 CDi: 134 hp
      2011 Mercedes Benz E63, Performance Package, 557 hp

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I forgot about the Euro diesels.

      2. FЯeeMan Avatar

        Way to go rain on his parade, skitter… sheesh!

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      A friend of mine once inherited his great aunt's '69 Nova, and it was the 250 I-6 with the rare-as-hen's-teeth Torque-Drive transmission. Torque-Drive was basically a Powerglide that had no automatic shifting, so that you had to up upshift and downshift between Low and Drive manually.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Wow, never even heard of Torque-Drive before. I guess GM found a way to make the transmission $20 cheaper and pass the savings on.

      2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

        Holy CARP! I vaguely remember that… my uncles used to joke it was the transmission for cheap clumsy blondes.

    3. OA5599 Avatar

      1968 Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant with 170 CID slant 6 – 115 HP
      1968 Dodge Dart/Plymouth 'Cuda with Super Stock Race Hemi – 425 HP nominally, 507 HP according to NHRA factoring (the same system documents the iron-headed "375" HP Chevy II above as 390 or 395 HP, depending on transmission).
      During the Street Hemi years, just about every body style that offered an Elephant under the hood could also be obtained with the leaning tower of power, though sometimes nothing smaller than the 225 slanty.

  5. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    This doesn't count, I assume…
    <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200705/1994-renault-espace-f1_460x0w.jpg"&gt;
    My serious answer, however, is this.
    GL/GLS: 2.0, 5M/4A, 115 HP, 122 ft-lbs:
    <img src="http://imganuncios.mitula.net/1999_volkswagen_new_beetle_2dr_cpe_gl_auto_silver_521276181563417.jpg&quot; width=600>
    Turbo S: 1.8 Turbo, 6M, 180 HP, 173 ft-lbs:
    <img src="http://www.kennyscarstyling.fi/B3/BeetleTurboS10.jpg"&gt;
    RSI: 3.2 VR6, 6M, AWD, 225 HP, 236 ft-lbs:
    <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I5-Tl8h8JsI/S8Px9yhPfqI/AAAAAAAAAE0/cXoZ_rLxJXs/s1600/new-beetle-rsi%255B1%255D.jpg&quot; width=600>

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      mmmmm RSi….. If i could have had AWD on my chipped TDi i would have been feeling even more awesome than i was… granted… it was a chipped TDi with GTi level suspension upgrades… so it was a fun little corner carver as it was… keep the revs high and follow a good line…. not to mention drowning the person in black soot smoke off the line…

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        Mmm. My mother's five-speed 1.8T is great fun, though I imagine you did better than her ~30 combined MPG with Gunther.

        1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

          i am proud to say that i once got Gunter (supposed to have an umlaut over the u–but i'm too lazy to find the code/character) down to 19MPG… other than that… he ran 55-60 mpg on the interstate and 45+ around town

      1. facelvega Avatar

        I see your jet-engine beetle and raise you a dual-jet MR2.
        <img src="http://hackedgadgets.com/wp-content/Car_With_Twin_Jet_Engines_On_eBay_7.JPG"&gt;

      2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        If this isn't limited to factory cars, I know of a few stupidly fast Volvos. None of them, however, are jet-propelled.

    2. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Funny and true.
      The New Beetle Turbo was de-tuned (I don't know the particulars of how) because when VW swapped the motor from the Audi TT into the New Beetle, it was significantly faster than the TT.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        The New Beetle turbo (non-Turbo-S) always shared its engine with the contemporary Jetta/GTI/TT, but when those cars were bumped to 180 HP in 2001/2002, the New Beetle kept its old 150 HP rating. Word on the street is that it actually managed around 165 from 2001.5 on. It kept the five-speed, though.

  6. Maxichamp Avatar

    Lancia Thema 8.32

  7. tonyola Avatar

    The gentleman's express, but no longer so gentlemanly.
    <img src="http://www.topgear.com/content/timetoburn/sections/galleries/other/100_sexiestcars/77/main.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Particularly if you consider it an extension of the 2000cs or e3 Bavaria (same chassis in both cases)

    2. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      (Insert Batman/Bruce Wayne joke).

  8. CptSevere Avatar

    As far as trucks are concerned, I nominate the Dodge SRT 10. There's one here in town, and I admire it daily. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram_SRT-10

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      They're everywhere around here, and I do love them dearly. Particularly as I watch them fill up with $140 worth of fuel, and make it about 100 km.

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Yeah, but they get there fast, you can bet on that.

      2. Peter_Dushenski Avatar

        They do live constrained existences as particularly parched city commuters in these parts. Not to mention eminently affordable second-hand buys.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      This, due in no small part to its Imperial Green paintwork, is high on my list of Fantasy Garage candidates.

    2. blueplate Avatar

      That's a Lotus Carlton, right? And a Opel Omega/Cadillac Catera?

      1. skitter Avatar

        From milquetoast to one of the very quickest cars in the world.
        And they followed it up with the Catera and sold nearly 100 times as many.
        Breaks your heart.

    1. Alff Avatar

      How about the former AC Ace next to the SHOgun?

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Actually, I think that would have to be the winner. It went from British, to excellent!

      2. OA5599 Avatar

        I didn't consider it to be a mundane enough "before" model.
        <img src="http://www.ritzsite.nl/AC_Cobra/1959_AC_Ace_Le_Mans.jpg&quot; width=500>

    2. Festiva_Movemnt Avatar

      Good call on the Syclone!

  9. oldcarjunkie Avatar

    Sunbeam Tiger? The Alpine is the most mild mannered of British roadster but the addition of a Ford V8 makes the Tiger a hairy beast.
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3058/2723421239_f0d5dfd496_m.jpg&quot; width="240" height="180" alt="Sunbeam Tiger">

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      I'm thinking of a different British car with a Ford V8 in it…

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell


      1. P161911 Avatar

        Or even:
        <img src="http://www.2blowhards.com/Volkswagen%20-%201948.JPG"width=500&gt;
        <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2008/10/24/11/29/1988_porsche_959-pic-52286.jpeg"width=500&gt;
        That might be stretching it a little bit, but I'm one of those guys that sees a 911 and thinks "Oooh, a pretty and fast Volkswagen"

        1. Deartháir Avatar

          Yeah, I'd give you the air-cooled 911's, but the 959 is a bit of a stretch. 🙂
          In fairness, I'm not stretching the truth. They are the same car, under the skin. And I made sure to pick both of the MkIV-platformed cars.

      2. Deartháir Avatar

        Now isn't that a much better answer than a GLH-S?

        1. OA5599 Avatar


          1. Deartháir Avatar

            I think I'm one of the very few who doesn't get tingly in my naughty bits over the GLH-S.

          2. Alff Avatar

            There are at least two of us. I'd much rather have a nice Mk1 Rabbit. I can add go-fast bits myself … or not.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      I think the Lumina might have it beat.
      <img src="http://www.rmauctions.com/images/cars/jg08/JG08_r209_01.jpg"width=500&gt;
      Or if we are going to play this game, Monza
      <img src="http://www.imca-slotracing.com/images/81-IMSA-Chevrolet%20Monza.jpg"width=500&gt;

      1. Alff Avatar

        Ooh – I quite like that last one.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          yes, indeed. The IMSA cars are what made me like Monzas back in the day. I still dreamwant an IMSA Monza replica.
          <img src="http://www.genefeltonrestorations.com/pics/genes_rides/1975_chevy_monza.jpg"&gt;

      2. tonyola Avatar

        I think we should leave pure race cars out of consideration. Otherwise, we'll be getting into funny cars and such.
        <img src="http://www.beloblog.com/ProJo_Blogs/carsblog/BobTasca_FunnyCar%2006.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      The second one looks so… deliciously ANGRY!

  10. Devin Avatar

    If I remember right, this generation of Escort was largely considered a disappointment, but the Cosworth version was amazing and as a little kid I remember being jealous of those dastardly Europeans who got to have it while I couldn't.
    <img src="http://www.ford-locals.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ford-escort-cosworth.jpg"&gt;

    1. TurboBrick Avatar

      The Cossie didn't really share anything with the Escort other than the name and blue oval logo – it was built on a modified Sierra chassis and they just made the topside resemble an Escort.

  11. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
    Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

    The humble Mk1 Ford Escort 1300….perfect for mum's trip to the shops.
    <img src="http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/uploads/cars/ford/79636.jpg"&gt;
    The Cosworth powered RS1600….perfect for short flights
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4084/5014992385_63a998d644.jpg&quot; width="500" height="406" alt="72 scottish rally hannu mikkola ford escort rs1600">

    1. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar


  12. fisheater Avatar

    Suzuki Swift: 53hp economy car
    Suzuki Swift GT/GT: 100hp, 4-wheel disc sleeper

  13. Festiva_Movemnt Avatar

    [youtube Ng-yFnXF0Fo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng-yFnXF0Fo youtube]
    1992 Dodge Spirit R/T

  14. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Woo! Actually beating someone to something…
    Base Fairlane: 170ci I6, 90hp, 2 spd auto
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/1962_Ford_Fairlane.jpg/800px-1962_Ford_Fairlane.jpg&quot; width=500>
    (complete with car show guy glaring at the camera)
    Thunderbolt: Full-race 427ci, 657hp, everything-delete, only cleared the NHRA 3200lb minimum weight limit with a full tank of gas (3203lb).
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d1/1964_thunderbolt.jpg/800px-1964_thunderbolt.jpg&quot; width=500>
    One other OT commentary: the Fairlane was already on it's 4th generation by the 62-65 models. Talk about long-running.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Oh, and it raced on 7" wide tires.
      …and ran 11s while doing so.

    2. Devin Avatar

      My favorite part of the Thunderbolt is the small plaque warning people that it's a race car so some fit and finish has been sacrificed.

      1. blueplate Avatar

        Really? Surprisingly– I can't find a photo .. and want to. Help.

        1. Devin Avatar

          I will link here because the image is massive.

    3. Deartháir Avatar

      Car Show Guy totally makes that first photo.

  15. B72 Avatar

    From this FWD car:
    <img src="http://www.renault.com/fr/PassionSport/les-vehicules-historiques/Images_Without_Moderation/renault5-3-zoom.jpg&quot; ,width="500/">
    We get this mid engine RWD screamer:
    <img src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2010/04/renault-r5-turbo.jpg&quot; ,width="500/">
    It makes 345 HP in "turbo maxi" trim, but I think Renault takes the win just for moving the motor and driving the proper wheels!

    1. dr zero Avatar
      dr zero

      Renault are serial offendors:
      From the humble Clio:
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Renault_Clio_II_1.2_Confort_Authentique_Facelift.JPG&quot; width=500>
      to the V6
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/RenaultClioV6.jpg&quot; width=500>
      Images stolen from Wiki

  16. Tomsk Avatar

    From front-drive basic transportation…
    <img src="http://www.auto-types.com/images/peugeot/Peugeot_205_1_366.jpg&quot; width="500" />
    …to mid-engine, AWD monster.
    <img src="http://www.comp.co.uk/gallery/pics/PEUGEOT%20205%20T16%208X17%20TH21780.jpg&quot; width="500" />

    1. B72 Avatar

      The French did it more than once then! Is this one street legal?

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      Yeah, that story sounds familiar somehow….
      <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4015/4424467567_26d7f2d823.jpg&quot; width="400">
      <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3639/3327360831_3a19cbb0c1.jpg&quot; width="400">
      Hey, I'm halfway to owning one of each!

  17. Feds_II Avatar

    Going back to my roots here (an '89 323 was my first car)
    Before: FWD, 89 hp econobox:
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/%2786-%2789_Mazda_323_GT_Hatch.jpg&quot; width=500>
    After: AWD 135 hp turbo screamer
    <img src="http://sturtevant.com/reed/323pics/gtx1.jpg&quot; width=500>

  18. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    R5 > LeCar.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Yeah, that takes it all the way to a rip-roaring 150 horsepower.

      1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

        Always Mr Sunshine.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Sorry if the truth hurts.

          1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

            Truth, because factory quoted (malaise era) specs are written in blood/stone and thus everlasting law.
            Truth because 150HP (net) is not NEARLY enough in any car.
            Truth because no one has ever bumped ignition timing or swapped in a hotter cam, carb or set of headers/glasspacks.
            Truth because torque has never moved a car or soul, only peak horsepower numbers in some arbitrary brochure matter.
            Truth in your mantra that the only car that has ever been worth a damn (and thus the only vehicle that can EVER be any fun) are your precious (yawn) Miatas.
            The "truth" you so freely dispense quite depends on one's frame of reference. You are obviously highly intelligent but from a different very world than I. For every "fact" you offer up, I've got a differing argument based on my own unusual context. It's a loosing battle for either of us so I leave you and your stats alone, and you've done a decent job ignoring my crazy stories as well. Let's keep it that way.
            You and I are like Ying and Yang buddy. You hate everything I love. When you scowl, I laugh. You hate on utter crap, I say "Let's hoon the crap out of it!"
            So back to your original reply; Yeah, with the addition of glasspacks it WOULD be rip-roaring. Even more-so than my old 4.2 litre '72 that I used to canyon race over 2 decades ago.
            Nice talking to you again.

          2. tonyola Avatar

            1. I'm not a champion of Miatas. Nice cars to be sure, but I'm not a Mazda fanboi. You have me confused with someone else.
            2. Spend enough money and time and you can turn any sow's ear into a silk purse. Even a Gremlin.
            3. I've street-raced driving a '70 Monte Carlo 454SS and a few big-block Mustangs and Torinos. Don't try to tell me about torque.
            4. My daily driver for five years was a '75 Duster 360. About 400 pounds more than the Gremlin V8, but with 260+ net hp simply by tuning it for leaded gas. I chewed up AMCs for breakfast.
            5. It's "losing battle", not "loosing".
            You're touchy. That's fun.

          3. Tim Odell Avatar
            Tim Odell

            Play nice, you two.

    2. TurboBrick Avatar


  19. muthalovin Avatar

    Out of current vehicles, I would have to say that the Raptor is the most transformed vehicle. Sure, it is just an F150 with a F150 motor, but it is much more, uh, sporty.
    <img src="http://www.worktruckonline.com/fc_images/news/10F150-Raptor-WHEELS-HR-W.jpg"&gt;

  20. Pinkerton1 Avatar

    Some great examples so far. Submitting the 1963 Ford Galaxy.
    233 V8 Mileage Maker @ 138 HP http://www.galaxieclub.com/internationalcarshow/m
    427 V8 R Code "factory rated" @ 425 HP http://www.galaxieclub.com/internationalcarshow/m

  21. ptschett Avatar

    Have we already forgotten the '87-'93 Mustang? Once the V6's were gone, these were the engine options:
    2.3L OHC I-4, 90 HP
    5.0L OHV V-8, 225 HP

  22. buzzboy7 Avatar

    From this
    <img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/12/2008/12/Project-Volvo-245.jpg"&gt;
    To this
    <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/1984_Volvo_242_2_Door_Turbo_Front_1.jpg"&gt;
    Everybody else got some really good ones that I wanted to say. This or maybe a VW 914 to a Porsche 914/6.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I considered it myself (as I drive a grandma-spec '89 244 and a '92 745 Turbo), but I didn't feel that a few suspension alterations, a turbo (and, later, an intercooler), and some blacked-out trim were sufficiently different. (Matt Hardigree's 245 in the first photo is actually wearing 15" 'Virgo' alloys from a 240 Turbo – it would have had 14" steel wheels from the factory.)
      Here's a better stock-for-stock:
      <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_TsdjySqKQlI/SzpLm0BiktI/AAAAAAAABQA/W7xi3jg0lcQ/s1600/IMG_3466.JPG&quot; width=600>
      <img src="http://i223.photobucket.com/albums/dd200/mrsam740/IMG_1475-1.jpg&quot; width=600>