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5 Fast-Looking Cars That Are Actually Slow

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2016

Most car enthusiasts enjoy the idea of a fast car that doesn't look fast -- a vehicle that looks like any other family sedan or SUV on the outside but can actually keep up with the most powerful sports cars on the road when you stomp your foot down. Various cars fitting this description have been fairly popular over the years, and naturally, this got me thinking: What about cars that were the exact opposite?

Today, I'm listing five fast-looking cars that were actually... slow. Five cars that would turn heads on the street, draw stares of awe from onlookers and inspire jealous glances from people in Honda Accords who have absolutely no idea that their boring family sedan is probably much faster. Behold, the list: five fast-looking cars that are actually slow.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette (C4)

Before I get started here, I must admit that there were fast versions of the C4 Chevrolet Corvette, which was sold from 1984 to 1996. Later models had some grunt, for instance, and the high-performance C4 Corvette ZR1 is still one of the coolest American cars built in the last 30 years. But the early C4 Corvette... well, let's just say the Corvette wasn't always a revered sports car. When the C4 debuted in 1984, it used a 4-speed manual and a 205-horsepower V8. Yes: two-hundred and five. The 4-speed manual eventually gave way to a 6-speed, and power eventually climbed to 230, then 240 and then 250, but things didn't really get going until 1992 -- when the C4 had already been on the market for nearly a decade -- when Chevrolet finally stuck 300 hp under the hood. Back in 1984, charitable magazines published the 200-hp Vette's 0-to-60 time at 6.6 seconds. Really, it was probably more like 7 seconds -- or worse.

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DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean

No list of fast-looking slow cars could possibly be complete without the DeLorean, which was made from 1981 to 1983. Despite the car's impressive styling, which still looks pretty cool today -- 35 years later after its launch -- and despite its world-famous movie performance, where it quickly reached 88 miles per hour and traveled through time, the DeLorean was dog-slow. It used a 2.8-liter V6 that made about 130 hp, which was weak for the time period, and it reached 60 mph from a standing stop in 8.8 seconds -- which was slow for the time period. It didn't help that many DeLorean models used a 3-speed automatic transmission, which further hampered performance.

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Honda CR-Z

Honda CR-Z

The Honda CR-Z is almost too easy: a sporty-looking coupe-esque hatchback that desperately deserved some sort of powerful engine to appeal to enthusiasts but never got one. Instead, the spry CR-Z was only ever sold with a hybrid 4-cylinder that made all of 130 hp -- and most people opted for the performance-dulling continuously variable automatic transmission. The result: Despite its cool look, its 2-door design and a fairly low curb weight, the CR-Z did 0 to 60 mph in 8 to 9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 120 mph. Effectively, the CR-Z was a hybrid for people who wanted to look fast. People who actually wanted to go fast were out of luck.

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Mitsubishi 3000GT

Mitsubishi 3000GT

Of course, I'm not talking about the high-performance 3000GT VR-4, which offered a turbocharged V6 with 320 hp. I'm not even talking about the 3000GL SL, which boasted a reasonable 222 hp. No, the 3000GT ends up on this list for an entirely different reason: the little-known base model, which was offered from 1997 to 1999 and touted just 160 hp from its 3.0-liter V6. And even 160 hp wouldn't have been all that bad back in the 1990s, with only one little problem: The 3000GT weighed something like 3,400 pounds. And not only was the base-level 3000GT slow, but it came standard with front-wheel drive. And not only did it include front-wheel drive, but many examples used a 4-speed automatic. The result was 0 to 60 mph in something like 9 seconds for a car that looked like the most exciting thing to come out of Japan in the 1990s.

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Plymouth Prowler

Plymouth Prowler

There are essentially two versions of the Plymouth Prowler: the fast one and the slow one. The slow one is what Plymouth gave us first: a wildly styled, insanely crazy-looking, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seat sports car with... a 215-horsepower V6 and a 4-speed automatic transmission. The result was 0 to 60 mph in a lackluster 7.2 seconds, along with a top speed of just 118 mph. Those are roughly the same numbers as the Dodge Intrepid. Fortunately, Chrysler realized its mistake and dramatically boosted power the following year. While there was no 1998 Prowler, the 1999 model (and subsequent versions) used a 253-hp V6 that had a 0-to-60 time of just below 6 seconds. Although that still wasn't lightning-fast, it was a huge improvement from the fast-looking slow car that was the '97 Prowler.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
5 Fast-Looking Cars That Are Actually Slow - Autotrader