Hooniverse Asks- What Car Least Deserves Its Sporting Label?

Yesterday I wanted to know which GTO got your goat bleating. You came up with some most excellent choices – a lot of you focusing on those coke bottle urethane-nosed machines of their heyday. No matter which one you picked, there’s no doubt that each earned its GTO badge by packing big engines, lots of horses, and a general sassy attitude. But not every car fitted with such a sporting appellation has so earned them.

GT, Si, GTi, AMG, IROC, STi, GTO, GTA, there’s a seemingly endless series of letter and number permutations indicating that their wearer possesses sporting pretensions. Sadly, there’s no guideline for these nomenclature appendages requiring that to don such promises, one must demonstrate that prowess. You might expect a car that talks the talk to likewise walk the sporting walk, but that’s not always so. Sometimes ‘sporty’ isn’t a physical manifestation, but a visual one, being only a tape and plastic addendum rather than mechanical upgrade.

One of the most famous of these was Ford’s Mustang II King Cobra, a veritable orgasm of plastic and additional weight, adding to the woes of a smog-strangled V8 which afforded no sporting capabilities to back the outlandish visual treatment – or even speed the car past onlookers so they would be spared its egregious graphics. That’s but one example of a car that gained an appellation portending performance, but which in action proved unable to back that up with actual prowess, but there are many more. What do you think is the worst offender among the cars that are badged sporty, but in reality, are not?

Image source: [Jay Leno’s Your Garage]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. Spencedaddy Avatar

    Hyundai Elantra GT (my friend's quote) "those are by no means performance tires"
    there are so many examples of this!

    1. dolo54 Avatar

      Elantra GT was my immediate first response to this question.

  2. acarr260 Avatar

    I think it's a toss-up between the Cavalier and Beretta Z34's. Most everyone that I met that owned one wanted to race everything (and fully expected to win). I finally raced one guy in college, not against my old Monte (400 sbc), but with my Toyota pickup (22R with a 4-speed). I soundly trounced him without putting forth much effort and he maintained that "something went wrong"… for months after the event.
    Honorable mention goes to the Escort ZX2 Sport. Just typing that made me vurp a little bit.
    In more positive news, I bought a 1981 Scirocco last night. For under a grand, I'm eager to see how long it will run (with 250k on the odo). I titled it today and its first stop will be the muffler shop. The college guy I bought it off of has a muffler that doesn't fit the car suspended with chain from the rear of the car. Even with a beater VW, I think you have to maintain some semblance of taste.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Congratulations. I envy your find.

    2. joshuman Avatar

      Ah, but did you get the Scirocco S? I think they both have the 1.6L engine. My brother used to have a 1979 and wishes he still did. Those are fun cars and very economical to keep running.

      1. acarr260 Avatar

        Yes, it is a Scirocco S. It needs a couple of things sorted out, but it should be a fun little commuter after a bit of brake and exhaust work.

  3. Joe Btfsplk Avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    the 1977-78 Ford LTD II Sport 4 dr. Sedan is tops on my list. This scow motored along with a strangled 351 and gobs of fancy stripes to highlight it's "sporting heritage".

  4. tonyola Avatar

    Ford Pinto Rallye is bad…
    <img src="http://autopolis.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/win-pics-ford-pinto.jpg?w=450&h=276&quot; width=400>
    …but the winner has to be the Yugo GV Sport.
    <img src="http://www.ridelust.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Yugo-GV.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

      Agree. Objectively speaking it was the worst car sold in the US. Other "sport" models may tie for the "zero added sportiness" but when you're starting that low, it makes all other competitors seem vastly superior.
      In the words of Dean Wormer
      Zero. Point. Zero.
      <img src="http://funnycrave.frsucrave.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/dean-wormer-2-ab072010.jpg&quot; width="300">
      Image courtesy of freerepublic

    2. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

      What could be less sporty? The answer is none. None less sporty.
      <img src="http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR916L5NgIItM5NBE_q8PLkf_bTUyCMbFkZHzZt2ZB_gPCJQYXhNA&t=1&quot; width="300">
      image courtesy of imdb

    3. Jim-Bob Avatar

      No, that is not as bad as the Yugo GVX-complete with body kit, alloys and the same engine as the base Yugo. It's silly and stupid but yet I want one for some reason…
      <img src="http://www.mirafiori.com/~courtney/128/scott1.JPG"&gt;

  5. west_coaster Avatar

    I nominate the Chevy Celebrity Eurosport.
    It was neither European, nor sporty.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      It wasn't European to be sure, but did you ever drive a Eurosport? It had a handling package that was very impressive – I remember tossing about a Eurosport wagon for a month and it had a really good balance of ride and handling.

      1. west_coaster Avatar

        All I remember was that as soon as they were more than six months old, the flat black paint GM added to the stainless window trim (the "Euro" in the styling department I guess) would start coming off in big flakes, making them really look like shit.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      The hair! The hair!
      I'd recognize Kenny Bernstein anywhere. That smile of his is one-of-a-kind.

      1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

        In this particular picture, the hair coupled to the nut-hugger shorts caused me to mistake him for Richard Simmons.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Technically, it's named after Sebring, Florida, which is itself named after George Sebring, an Ohio pottery manufacturer who developed the city. I'm sure there are blander things than midwestern pottery, but those things would also be blander than a Chrysler Sebring.

    1. Morro00 Avatar

      Next year Polo:
      <img src="http://www.vwvortex.com/artman/uploads/polo-wrc-4.jpg&quot; width="600">
      from VW Vortex

  6. Chris Avatar

    Any S-trim compact car which shares the engine, transmission, and suspension with the non-S trim.
    A cosmetic spoiler and different plastic wheel covers do not make anything sporty.

  7. PrawoJazdy Avatar

    Equinox Sport (last gen) and anything Redline from Saturn. Sans Ion. That was a pretty fast, poorly built turd.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      The Saturn Vue Redline is even funnier. I see one of those occasionally, on my way to work.

      1. Feds_II Avatar

        Hey, the Vue redlie has V-tec, yo.

  8. Kah Avatar

    Gen III Grand Caravan Sport

  9. Paul_y Avatar

    <img src="http://www.carsdesign-review.info/images/ford-explorer%20(5).jpg">
    I mean, SERIOUSLY. Neither sport nor utility is present this POS.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      A friend of mine almost bought one of those, way back in '78. He looked at the Plymouth version, too (the Sapporo). What did he end up buying? A '70 Pontiac Executive 2-door hardtop, with a 400 2-bbl.

      1. Froggmann_ Avatar

        Sounds like he chose wisely.

  10. salguod Avatar

    Look like kah was first with the Caravan, but I'd nominate the gen 2 caravan 'sport' instead because it's boxy lines and k-car roots are even less sporty than the gen 3's jelly bean shape and updated chassis.
    <img src="http://memimage.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/2776/3061/6939030011_large.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    See, it says 'Sport' right there, so it must be so.

    1. kah Avatar

      I was blissfully ignorant that the gen 2 came in Sport trim, I'm with you on this gen 2 is even less worthy of the label

      1. salguod Avatar

        Yeah. I had a gen 1 and always wanted those 5 spoke wheels for it. Alas, it was a beater and not worthy of a wheel upgrade.
        I thought the gen 3 sport package was good looking. Nothing 'sport' about it really, but attractive none the less.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      At least with the second gens, you could get a turbo, though. A few have been tuned to run 12's in the quarter.
      <img src="http://www.turbovan.net/bryburn2.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. salguod Avatar

        That's a first gen. Did the turbo carry over into gen 2?

  11. Alff Avatar

    I was tempted to respond with my automotive nemesis – the Corolla Type S. Then I realized there is also a Yaris Type S.

    1. Paul_y Avatar

      Tangentially, it's a shame the 9th-gen Corolla XRS is so obscure — the Celica GTS drivetrain (2ZZ + a 6 speed) is apparently a hoot, and a great sleeper that takes well to upgrades.

      1. Alff Avatar

        For the record, my beef with the Corolla S has less to do with the car, which I've never driven and know little about, than it does with the drivers who seem intent on adhering to prevailing speed limits while always traveling in the leftmost lane.

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      The XRS with the 2zz 1.8L Yamaha motor is actually a decent performer…the kind of car Hooniverse 8.2 will be covering on the hypernet in 20 years.

    3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      There's a Yar…
      …oh, wow.
      I suppose I can't knock the Yaris too badly, though. A Toyota Yaris sedan and my 740 wagon (sans boost, at that moment) were the fastest-moving things on the highway last night on my way home – I couldn't tell you how fast, because my speedometer stopped working earlier that day, but it was a hoot.

  12. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    The Volkswagen SP1 (Sem Potência 1, No Power).
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2006/03/Orange-VW-SP2-front-3-4-resized.jpg"&gt;
    The looks are quite sporty though.

    1. Paul_y Avatar

      I don't care one bit how unsporting it is; it's ridiculously sexy.

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Perhaps that needs to be a second Hooniverse Asks: "Which car can be excused for its absence of power because it's outrageously sexy?"
        I do have to vote for the Karmann Ghia…
        <img src="http://nsa19.casimages.com/img/2010/09/28//100928023323297009.jpg&quot; width="600">

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          <img src="http://www.fvwa.sitefactory.fi/data/6131.jpg&quot; width=600>

          1. Deartháir Avatar

            You're a strange boy, Sam, but I approve.

    2. Alff Avatar

      Lack of power does not prevent me from wishing for one. Brazil gets some interesting iron.

    3. buzzboy7 Avatar

      Luckily it uses the standard VW motor. It could use something like this 2276 quoted at 250hp
      <img src="http://images.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/pix/medium/1889634.jpg&quot; width="500">

  13. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Oldsmobile Starfire GT. I could have almost as easily gone with the Monza Spyder or the Buick Nighthawk, too, but C'mon…
    It's. an. OLDS. GT.
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/olds-starfire-gt.png"&gt;

    1. Jesseahoon Avatar

      While your selection is appropriate,
      These folks would probably disagree with your assessment of Olds.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        Sure, there are fanbois for any make. The Olds lovers are conveniently forgetting 442s like this.
        <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/4/370/261/38422630001_large.jpg&quot; width=400>

        1. P161911 Avatar

          Pontiac wasn't far behind with the 1986 Grand Prix 2+2 with all of 160 HP and a 0-60 time of about 10 seconds.
          <img src="http://media.motortopia.com/files/5519/vehicle/466c1f4717990/stuff_134.jpg"width=500&gt;

    2. tonyola Avatar

      There were even sillier Monza clones. Ever see a Buick Roadhawk? Those macho looks are backed by 115 rompin' stompin' horsepower from a 3.8 V6.
      <img src="http://ned.ronet.ru/0/1979%20Buick%20Skyhawk%20%27Road%20Hawk%27.jpg&quot; width=400>

      1. salguod Avatar

        I don't know, 115 HP in the late 70s with less than 2,500 lbs and, I think, available with a 4 speed? Sure, it sounds pathetic now, but you have to remember this is the era where I don't think even Corvettes made 200 ponies.

  14. tim Avatar

    Ford Festiva Sport, it was just aluminum wheels, different seat covers and door panels, and a spoiler.
    and though the caravan was nominated i also think the Ford windstar should be put on this list

  15. chrystlubitshi Avatar

    i don't have time to post the pic. but Pontiac TransSport Sport, they had to put "sport" in there twice to make you think it wasn't just another dustbuster.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      This probably wins. I was thinking there was a FWD Lumina/Monte Carlo Sport or SS, but obviously the minivan on the same chassis wins (or is that loses?)

  16. Alff Avatar

    I had a hatch with the 3.8. The best feature was the broken motor mount that allowed the air cleaner to bang against the inside of the hood when I revved in neutral. That really impressed the ladies.

  17. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Pontiac_LeMans_Hatchback.jpg"&gt;
    Pontiac had a history of LeManses (Les Mans?), but this Daewoo wasn't renamed.
    In North America. Elsewhere it was a Daewoo Racer, which is equally inappropriate in a generic way.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      GM Canada really got into the silliness when it came to renaming Daewoos. They didn't stop with Pontiac. How about the Asuna GT? Yes, I know there's supposed to be an umlaut above the ''u" but I'm lazy.
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/54/Asuna_GT.jpg/800px-Asuna_GT.jpg&quot; width=400>
      Remember the Passport Optima?
      <img src="http://autos.sympatico.ca/docs/4b2c29903e2f0/large/03_passport.jpg&quot; width=400>

    2. Syrax Avatar

      It's just that you guys got the bad part of the deal. We had the Kadett GSi with a 155HP 2.0L. Pretty sporty at the time.
      <img src="http://www.motorbase.com/pictures/contributions/000121b/std_1984_opel_kadett_gsi.jpg"/&gt;

      1. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

        'Mercan tuned suspention are not exactly improvement.

        1. Syrax Avatar

          I thought they came from Opel…

  18. Feds_II Avatar

    Nothing says "Sport" like a 4000 lb body-on-frame 4×4 with a v6 and an automatic:
    <img src="http://www.theautochannel.com/media/photos/mitsubishi/1998/98_mitsubishi_montero_sport_4wd2.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Unless it's a 5000 lb body-on-frame 4×4 with a v8 and an automatic. But in that case it's o.k. because it's a SUPER sport!
    <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200708/2008-chevrolet-trailblaze_460x0w.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. Paul_y Avatar

      My point above about the Explorer "Sport" also applies here. I think too many folks here are forgetting that the "s" in SUV stands for "sport," for some reason. They are neither sporty nor especially utilitarian.

    2. wallaka Avatar

      The Trailblazer has 400 horsepower with 400 lb-ft, AWD, 0-60 in the low-5 second range…of all the crappy SS-badged vehicles, this isn't one.
      It's no 2000 Monte Carlo SS, in other words. It actually backs up the badge.

    3. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      At the risk of sounding fanboyish and crude…don't speak ill of the Trailblazer SS, they're fncking fast.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I really want a Saab 9-7X Aero. A Trailblazer SS without the flamboyant SS badges.

    4. buzzboy7 Avatar

      One of my friends loves his SS. He's put time and money into it and it'll pass like no other…still won't handle for shit(looks at own muscle car and hides in a corner).

      1. Feds_II Avatar

        That's kinda my point. A 409 impala was quick in a straight line, but you'd hardly call it sporty. Call me old-fashioned, but I like a little stop and turn with my go.

      2. austinminiman Avatar

        I wouldn't hide in too many corners- Johns been known to hit those occasionally.

  19. Devin Avatar

    <img src="http://www.swotti.com/tmp/swotti/cacheD2LUZHN0YXI=/imgFord%20Windstar4.jpg"&gt;
    Windstar Sport. Because what says "Sport" better than a minivan?
    I'm also going to throw it out there that the Cavalier pictured has aged way better than I expected. I thought it was ghastly as a little kid, but now it's sort of handsome, in a weird 80s kind of way.

  20. three_pedals Avatar

    George C Scott should commit ritual suicide for his part in the Renault Alliance. But the GTA sport model… really…
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2651/3899657102_9f465d02b8.jpg&quot; />

    1. tonyola Avatar

      It's a little late for Scott. He died nearly a dozen years ago.

      1. three_pedals Avatar

        Damn… I knew I should have checked my facts first…

      2. Paul_y Avatar

        I think there's a way to satisfy everybody here, it's been done before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadaver_Synod

  21. Lotte Avatar

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Isuzu_Bighorn_201.JPG&quot; width="500/">
    "Handling by Lotus" Sure…
    Seriously, that badge by the door =
    <img src="http://www.delorean.com/store/images/PRODUCT/medium/108726.jpg&quot; width="300">

  22. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Throwing it out there for discussion… but Jeep Wrangler Sport? Doesn't handle any better than the SE or Sahara… isn't going to be great in the twisties…
    I love it, but in the frame of what we are talking about…

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I think the "Sport" moniker on SUVs is supposed to imply off-road sportiness. They're more suggesting you'll be blasting down the beach with a peroxide blonde than blasting down the paved 2-lane twisties.
      Of course, many of them are just as non-offroad-sporty as non-pavement-sporty, so I guess the criticism would stand, but I would not include the Wrangler in that group. It actually has the chops for any number of off road "sports."

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Sport = 6 cylinder and 30 or 31 inch tires (at least on the TJs), which made it a hell of a lot more sporty than the 2.4L.
      With lower gearing, they're decently quick up to about 40mph. When my YJ had a Mopar ReMan 4.0L, 4.56:1 gears and only 32" tires, it embarassed a few people light-to-light.

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        Love it when I'm flat wrong here, you feel smarter afterward…

  23. TurboBrick Avatar

    Hey now, I have driven a Renault 9 TC (TC for Total Crap?) with the base model 1.1L and I can assure you that that the 1.7L model would have felt like a muscle car compared to it.

  24. Abe Avatar

    Yugo GV sport

    1. sc296 Avatar

      My little brother saw one in traffic and he said "wow that is bad ass."

  25. nofrillls Avatar

    I can hear the door rattles just looking at these…

  26. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    Let's not forget the 1975 Chevy Caprice Classic Sport Sedan:
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4149/4979049612_65a7e5407d.jpg"&gt;
    Back then, Chevy offered both hardtop and "post" versions of the full size sedan, and evidently the lack of a B-pillar was considered sporting enough to merit the name.

  27. Mr_Biggles Avatar

    I had a friend in shop class in high school who had that same 2+2 Monza hatch with the big ugly spider graphic on the hood. In this case however, someone had shoehorned an SBC into it with a 4 speed manual. So while not quite as nimble in the corners, it sure hopped along in a straight line nicely.

  28. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    190 horsepower and lowered suspension mean that this isn't the most ludicrous example, but… 'Xtreme'. Just, 'Xtreme'.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Chevrolet-S10-Xtreme.jpg/800px-Chevrolet-S10-Xtreme.jpg&quot; width=600>

    1. Paul_y Avatar

      Well, it does have the dumbest, most dated label, at least. The Xtreme did have some handling upgrades (quicker steering and an anti-wheel-hop shock in the rear), so it's not completely stupid.

      1. Paul_y Avatar

        …and at one point, my dad leased a non-Xtreme 4.3L/5 speed S10, and it was more entertaining to drive than one might imagine. It could spin the tires handily in second.

  29. salguod Avatar

    I (obviously) guessed on the weight. I would have never guessed that overgrown Vega weighed the same as my 2005 Mazda3. That's nuts, especially considering how flimsy the things felt.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      The base Vega hatchback went up in weight from around 2,200 pounds in 1971 to around 2,550 pounds in 1977.

  30. Larry Avatar

    Any "sport edition" of a bland, boring, plain vanilla, Toyota sedan. Worst offenders are the Camry SE and the Corolla S. Or maybe it's the people driving them…