2020 Nissan 370Z

15 Sports Cars That Were Doomed from the Start

While some sports car models roar onto the scene like conquering heroes, others struggle to find their footing, fizzling out before they ever hit their stride. Let’s dive into the tales of 15 sports cars that faced an uphill battle from day one. From ambitious concepts that stumbled in execution to once-iconic nameplates that lost their shine, these cars offer a glimpse into the unforgiving gauntlet of automotive history.

Pontiac Fiero

1984 Pontiac Fiero 
Image Credit: WikiCommons.
The Pontiac Fiero, produced from 1984 to 1988, was an ambitious attempt by Pontiac to enter the sports car market with an affordable mid-engine vehicle. However, plagued by issues like engine fires and a lackluster performance, particularly in its early iterations, the Fiero failed to live up to its potential. Despite its innovative design and unique features, including its plastic body panels, the Fiero’s reputation for reliability issues and underwhelming performance contributed to its downfall in the sports car arena.

DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The DeLorean DMC-12, famously known for its role in the “Back to the Future” film franchise, entered the market in 1981 with high expectations but faced numerous challenges. While its stainless steel body and gull-wing doors captured attention, the DMC-12’s underpowered engine and uninspiring driving dynamics disappointed enthusiasts. Additionally, production issues and the arrest of the company’s founder, John DeLorean, further tarnished the car’s reputation, leading to its demise after only a brief production run.

Plymouth Prowler

Plymouth Prowler
Image Credit: Alexander Migl/WikiCommons.

Introduced in 1997, the Plymouth Prowler aimed to evoke the nostalgia of hot rods from the 1930s with its retro-futuristic design. Sporting a distinctive prow-shaped front end and exposed front wheels, the Prowler turned heads wherever it went. However, its lackluster performance, limited cargo space, and impracticality as a daily driver hindered its appeal to sports car enthusiasts. While the Prowler succeeded in making a bold statement, its shortcomings prevented it from achieving lasting success in the market.

Chrysler Crossfire

Chrysler Crossfire
Image Credit: GerdeeX/WikiCommons.

Derived from a collaboration between Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz, the Chrysler Crossfire hit the market in 2004 as a sleek two-seater sports car. Boasting a distinctive design and a potent V6 engine, the Crossfire garnered attention for its performance potential. However, its cramped interior, outdated platform, and mixed driving dynamics received criticism from automotive enthusiasts. Despite efforts to refine its performance and appeal, the Crossfire struggled to find its niche in the competitive sports car segment and was eventually discontinued.

Jaguar X-Type

Jaguar X-Type
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Jaguar X-Type, introduced in 2001, was positioned as an entry-level luxury sports sedan aimed at broadening Jaguar’s appeal to a wider audience. However, the X-Type faced criticism for its uninspiring performance, lackluster handling, and perceived badge engineering, as it shared its platform with the Ford Mondeo. Despite efforts to inject some sportiness into its design and driving dynamics, the X-Type failed to capture the hearts of sports car enthusiasts and fell short of expectations in a highly competitive market.

Nissan 350Z Convertible

Nissan 350Z Convertible
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Nissan 350Z Convertible, launched in 2004, was the open-top variant of Nissan’s popular sports car, the 350Z. While the coupe version of the 350Z received praise for its exhilarating performance and sharp handling, the convertible version faced criticism for its compromised rigidity and handling characteristics due to the absence of a fixed roof. Additionally, the convertible’s design did not translate as seamlessly as the coupe’s, resulting in a less cohesive aesthetic. Despite offering the thrill of open-air driving, the 350Z Convertible failed to fully capture the essence of its coupe counterpart.

Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Mazda RX-8, introduced in 2003, sought to carry on the legacy of Mazda’s renowned rotary engine sports cars, such as the RX-7. With its unique rotary powerplant, lightweight construction, and innovative suicide-style rear doors, the RX-8 garnered attention for its unconventional approach to sports car design. However, the rotary engine’s reliability issues, relatively low torque output, and high fuel consumption deterred potential buyers. While praised for its nimble handling and balanced chassis, the RX-8 struggled to maintain its appeal in the face of practical concerns and market demand for more traditional sports car offerings.

Subaru BRZ

Subaru BRZ
Image Credit: Subaru.

The Subaru BRZ, introduced in 2012 in collaboration with Toyota (known as the Toyota 86 and Scion FR-S), aimed to deliver an affordable, rear-wheel-drive sports car experience. While praised for its balanced handling, precise steering, and driver-focused dynamics, the BRZ faced criticism for its lackluster acceleration and modest power output from its naturally aspirated flat-four engine. Despite its potential as a driver’s car, the BRZ struggled to attract buyers who prioritized straight-line performance over handling prowess, resulting in relatively modest sales figures compared to its competitors.

Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat 124 Spider (2016)
Image Credit: Charles01/WikiCommons.

The Fiat 124 Spider, reintroduced in 2016 as a modern reinterpretation of the classic roadster, aimed to capture the charm and excitement of its predecessor. However, despite its stylish Italian design and agile handling, the 124 Spider faced criticism for its underwhelming performance and lack of refinement compared to rivals in the segment. Powered by a turbocharged inline-four engine sourced from Mazda, the 124 Spider struggled to stand out in a crowded market dominated by more established competitors. While praised for its spirited driving dynamics, the 124 Spider failed to resonate with enthusiasts seeking a more engaging and compelling sports car experience.

Volkswagen Scirocco

2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R
Image Credit: harry_nl/Flickr.

The Volkswagen Scirocco, reintroduced in 2008 after a lengthy hiatus, aimed to revive the spirit of the original Scirocco coupe from the 1970s. However, despite its sleek and sporty design, the modern Scirocco faced criticism for its lackluster performance and uninspiring driving dynamics. While offering a range of turbocharged engines and sharp handling, the Scirocco failed to capture the imagination of enthusiasts who sought more engaging and dynamic sports cars. Hindered by its relatively high price and limited availability in certain markets, the Scirocco struggled to compete against its more established rivals.

Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai Veloster
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Hyundai Veloster, first introduced in 2011, attempted to blend sporty styling with practicality by offering a unique three-door layout. Despite its eye-catching design and affordable price point, the Veloster faced criticism for its lackluster performance and mediocre driving dynamics. While praised for its spacious interior and extensive list of features, the Veloster failed to deliver the engaging driving experience expected of a true sports car. Despite updates and revisions over the years, including the introduction of the Veloster N performance variant, the Veloster struggled to shake off its reputation as a quirky yet uninspiring choice in the sports car segment.

Lexus RC

2022 Lexus RC F
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Lexus RC, introduced in 2014, aimed to challenge established luxury sports coupes with its blend of performance, comfort, and refinement. However, despite its upscale interior and smooth ride quality, the RC faced criticism for its weight and handling dynamics, which fell short of the standards set by its competitors. While offering a range of powerful engines and available all-wheel drive, the RC failed to capture the attention of enthusiasts who prioritized driving engagement and agility. Hindered by its conservative design and subdued personality, the RC struggled to carve out a distinct identity in the competitive luxury sports coupe market.

Nissan 370Z

2020 Nissan 370Z
Image Credit: Nissan.

The Nissan 370Z, introduced in 2009 as the successor to the popular 350Z, aimed to uphold Nissan’s reputation for producing affordable and engaging sports cars. However, despite its powerful V6 engine and sharp handling, the 370Z faced criticism for its aging platform, dated interior, and lack of modern amenities. While praised for its raw and visceral driving experience, the 370Z struggled to compete against more refined and technologically advanced rivals in the sports car segment. Despite updates and special editions over the years, the 370Z’s diminishing sales reflected its waning appeal among enthusiasts seeking a more contemporary and compelling driving experience.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor

Bio:

Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion. Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.

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