Entering a new century that even the dreaded Millennium bug couldn’t dampen, sports cars from 2000 have only gotten better, more powerful and faster.
for every good sports car launch, there come the inevitable bad ones, begging the question of what they were thinking, launches, model updates and relaunches of famous models from the past that dropped the ball, making buying a tricky decision. Better then, it’s better to look back at the second-hand market, awash with used sports cars that can show new models who’s boss.
That new car feeling is only as good as the technology behind it, and it doesn’t always deliver the same thrill. Grab a copy of the local ad and start browsing, there are some firecrackers just waiting to be driven into a rage.
10 Terrible as New – Ford Thunderbird (2002-05)
No prizes for guessing where the 11th-generation Thunderbird fits into our lineup of good versus bad. In 2001, Ford unveiled a new breed of Thunderbird that missed the mark by a country mile. Gone were the brand’s brawny looks, replaced by a damp squib that even Gerry Anderson would struggle to get off the ground.
Ford’s shared platform program had some success in both Jaguar’s S-type and XF built over the DEW chassis, but in the Thunderbird, a two-seat convertible whose size is critical to its overall appeal, the Thunderbird was too bulky and looked he just looks crazy. † At least under the hood, Ford installed a V8.
9 Used car hero – Mitsubishi EVO X (2007-13)
The power of four cylinders is no more apparent than on an EVO X, with Mitsubishi transforming the humble Lancer into a fire-breathing all-terrain vehicle that could startle many a supercar owner.
Originally designed for the WRC scene, first-generation EVOs up to the latest incarnation X model of 2008 adhered closely to FIA regulations requiring engines to be no more than 2 litres, while barn-sized turbos kept it to a minimum. power to over 400 horsepower.
8 Terrible when new – Chevrolet SSR (2003-06)
A strong contender for “what were they thinking” Chevrolet’s mixed-identity SSR sports car, roadster convertible, was met with lukewarmness among gearboxes simply stunned at how the SSR managed to escape the prototype sketch stage. Launched in 2003 with a marketing campaign targeting sporty heritage that just didn’t work, Chevrolet dropped the project in 2006.
Imagine reading a press release without images, the SSR with a GM 5.3-litre Votec V8 Pumping out 300 horsepower and promising a sprint to sixty in 7.7 seconds, only to find on arrival at the dealership that you weren’t getting a sports car at all, but a retro inspired dog dinner that didn’t do anything special.
7 Second Hand Car Hero – Porsche 997 Turbo (2004-13)
Pick a Porsche, and you won’t feel shortchanged. Grab a late Porsche 997 Turbo and you’ll not only get one of the most devastatingly fast sports cars this side of a hypercar, but it’s also probably the most user-friendly daily driver you’ll come across. Unlike its great rivals, the 911/997 doesn’t stoop so low to scrape its chin spoiler at every opportunity.
None of these make the slightest difference once you hit the throttle and get the engine and turbos up to speed, Porsche’s flat-six 3.6-liter lump with 480 hp and enough growl to launch driver and passengers to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.
6 Terrible as New – Mitsuoka Orochi (2006-14)
Getting behind the wheel of Mitsuoka’s Orochi is bad enough, let alone considering buying one of these manga-meets-hammerhead-shark-inspired Japanese sports cars, recalling the days when Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini made some of the most beautiful cars built money can buy.
Mitsuoka was unveiled in 2001 and production started in 2006. Mitsuoka chose to limit production to 400 cars, which we suspect had more to do with a lack of genuine interest. Take away the odd styling, and even the spec sheet makes for disappointing reading. Powered by a mid-mount Toyota 3.3-litre V6 rated at 230 hp, the Orochi would have no more grunts at 255 mph at best
5 Used car hero – Nissan GT-R R35 (2007)
A Skyline in anything but name, Nissan’s GT-R has been the benchmark by which all other Japanese cars are judged for 15 years, only the re-emergence of the Supra and NSX comes close to delivering the same insane wave of raw power and grip. . Difficult to drive fast? Not at all, crammed with clever electronics that control grip, four-wheel drive and everything in between, even your grandma could launch the GT-R to sixty in under four seconds.
The secret to nearly 200 mph is under the hood, Nissan’s legendary VR38DETT 3.8-litre turbo engine 480 horsepower, later examples with greater power figures from essentially the same base engine.
4 Terrible Like New – Fisker Karma (2011-12)
Great to look at, less to own, Fisker’s first and only model to date came in defiance of misguided promises to deliver supercar performance while saving the planet. The Karma lasted a year in production before Fisker filed for bankruptcy.
First the good stuff, Fisker prides itself on a hybrid powertrain consisting of two electric motors and a turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine that produces a total of 403 horsepower. In a good way, sprint to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, topping out at a somewhat disappointing 125 mph. Green credibility is where the Karma really dropped the ball though, fully charged and full throttle you would be lucky enough to cover 230 miles.
3 Second Hand Car Hero – Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (1997-04)
The ultimate bargain for an American sports car, new Corvettes deliver the best bang for your buck, as a used proposition you’d be crazy not to consider one. The final production run of fifth-generation cars rolled off the assembly line in 2004, with a commemorative Z06 edition packing a 5.7-liter 405 horsepower LS6 engine good for 175 mph flat.
Chevrolet, until recently, played its trump card not in complex engineering or construction, but rather the opposite. A simple steel load-bearing chassis topped with a fiberglass body, almost guaranteeing supercar performance with minimal maintenance.
2 Terrible Like New – Smart Roadster (2002-06)
Small to be cute, aiming to convince city dwellers that these tiny engines and tiny bodies were true sports cars must be one of the biggest sales deceptions in automotive history. Ignorant buyers shelling out $20,000+ for not much performance.
As the name suggests, the Roadster offered a little more space with a wind in their hair driving experience. With a 698cc three-cylinder engine that produces just 60 horsepower in basic form, the Roadster beeps to 60s in 10.9 seconds and can hit 169 mph in full.
1 Second-hand car hero – Lotus Elise S2 (2001-11)
Worth every penny and then some, the Lotus Elise is a modern road/track hero who, despite being nothing more worrisome than a 1.8-litre four-cylinder enginecould run rings around more serious machines.
The secret is what you don’t get, reduced to just the essentials, Lotus giving gearboxes with acres of lightweight aluminum and fiberglass held together with glue resulted in a total weight of 1,699 lbs. A lack of weight propelled the 158-horsepower Elise to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, with a top speed of 131 mph, while still being cheap enough to drive so creative commercial vehicle drivers could justify one.
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