Cars whose performance don’t live up to their looks

For your consideration, we submit the MG MGB GT.

Disclaimer: we actually don’t have direct experience with these cars, so please take with a strong dose of salt (and owners, do sharpen your knives and vigorously defend their honor as you see fit). But reliable sources tell us that these cars leave much to be desired in the performance category (basic things such as going, stopping, and turning). So, if you can come up with a car that’s as lovely to behold as the MGB GT but as underwhelming to be behind the wheel of, let’s hear it.

In any event, boy do they look fantastic. Do we still want one? We have to admit yes!

All images via Google Image search

~ by velofinds on April 3, 2013.

22 Responses to “Cars whose performance don’t live up to their looks”

  1. As the owner of a 1970 MGB GT, I agree that overall engine performance (though mine is fantastically reliable) is lacking power-wise. However, if you want to take it out into the mountains, or on curvy roads, the thing can tear through them no problem. I daily drive a 2006 Nissan 350Z, handling is my favorite aspect of any car. I can assure you that the handling in an MGB GT is on point. Brake travel is… Good-ish. Engine performance is lacking. But the handling is excellent. Great pics by the way guys!

  2. They did make a V8 version in the 70s, aluminium, 3528cc 135bhp.

    • True, but they are not nearly as lovely as the ones above!

      • The best thing about the v8 was that it weighed less than the iron 4 it replaced, giving you better handling and more power all at once.

        • Interesting! I wouldn’t have thought the v8 would be lighter.

          • The Rover V8 was sort of a big deal. It was among the first all aluminum v8’s. Originally it was a Buick engine, but apparently there was some kind of issue with the material, or something, so they sold the design to the British who kept making them till just a handful of years ago. Top Gear had a big send-off for it. My favorite car to be get a Rover V8 was the TVR Griffith 500.

  3. I love the look of MGB GTs, especially that Dove Grey one with red interior, but have always been put off by the performance.

    BTW, can I suggest a follow up post: “Cars whose performance isn’t evident in their looks”. My Alfa Giulia TI fits the bill!

  4. My 1963 Karmann Ghia’s looks far exceeded her capabilities, where looking good was about all she could do. That and perhaps return excellent fuel economy. Perhaps reliability too. Or…


  5. Agreed, handling is excellent, and there’s always the MGB GT V8 if you need more power… As for other cars – Porsche 912? DeLorean?

    • I’ll second that DeLorean nomination. A great example of the body writing checks the drivetrain couldn’t cash.

  6. Volvo 480, great looks, good handling (with help from lotus)
    but that renault 1,7 or even the 2,0 turbo wasn’t really up to it
    imagine what a 480 could do with the 850 5cylinder in the front, bigger wheels and a bit more stance 🙂

  7. Alpine A310. That PRV engine was a lump.

  8. The addition of a 289/302 Ford V8 and an upgrade of the suspension (GT 40 front and cut down Mustang rear axel) with disc brakes made a refined Cobra. Stock motor was weak to be kind.

  9. As the owner of a ’71 MGB GT, I, too, agree that their power output in stock trim is pedestrian. The handling is great, the stock brakes so so.

    However, the feel of the thing is what interests me in a car, and sitting as low as you do in a GT, even the speed limit can feel rather quick, especially on a good twisty road.

    Besides, a little tuning helps things tremendously. I have upgraded brakes on mine, so it stops rather well, and I have an engine that’s .060 over, with a hot cam, some head work, and a 45DCOE Weber just waiting to go in it. According to my friend, the previous owner of that engine (who had it in a ’70 B GT), it flies.

    So, stock out of the box? Not so quick (though it’ll feel like it). Add a little tuning, and you’re solid.

    Or you can get crazy, like this guy who put a turbo Supra motor in his:

  10. Unfortunately, thanks to Initial D, people expect the AE86 to be fast… But let’s just do the math: 2496 lb for my “USDM” (even including my ~40lb lighter JDM bumpers) + 1.6 NA ~110hp (on a good day in 1986) + Very poorly selected gear ratios = Struggle to keep up with Prius off the lights or into the freeway…

    • Note: That weight is with a 165lb driver and 3/4 of a 13.2 US gallon tank

    • I met a guy who had one at a track day, once at Putnam in Indiana. I blew by him on the straights and gained substantial ground on him in the corners as well. Then there was another guy with a modified GTR who did the same to me. He had to pull in each session after only 5 or 6 laps, because his transmission kept overheating. That’s not a problem for those of us with clutch pedals. I’d say ‘rolla driver had plenty of fun, even if he wasn’t fast.

      • Oh yeah, that’s pretty much my story in every trackday, haha. Even Miatas look like bullet trains as they overtake me… but hey, if I haven’t sold it, maybe it’s because there’s something else to it 😉

  11. The Triumph Spitfire (and even the GT6) are also good examples.

    However, you have to understand that these cars weren’t built for outright performance. They were built for performance to a price. There are, and were, thousands upon thousands of people who want a stylish, fun handling and exciting car but couldn’t afford a full-blooded exotic sports car. These are the cars for them.

    They were the BRZs and GT86s of their day.

  12. i’m not sure i understand the question. older cars will never live up to their looks….most of them are slow, bad handling, and badly built…as compared to current standards. If one is concerned about performance and dynamics…one is far better exploring current automobiles…..many of them are simply fantastic. The “myth” that “older is better” is completely false, in my book.

  13. […] week, we asked you to nominate cars whose performance don’t live up to their looks, providing the lovely MG […]

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