9 Worst Performance Car Redesigns
Updated May 18, 2018
The ever-changing world of automobiles has brought us some of the best and worst ideas ever. Redesigning a car is often one of the hardest things a manufacturer has to do, and it is even harder with a popular performance car. The designers need the redesigned car to be more modern without abandoning its heritage, while engineers want to maximize power and agility. However, governmental regulations and bean counters often get in the way of designers and engineers, and the result is a complete flop.
Click next to view the list of what we feel are the nine worst performance car redesigns. If you feel we missed something or you think we unrightfully bashed your favorite car, feel free to sound off in the comments below.
1974 Mustang II
The Mustang has gone through some low point in its life. One example is the bloated `Stang from 1971 through 1973. However, nothing compares to the sheer stupidity behind the generation that followed these oversized “muscle” cars. I am talking about the 1974 through 1978 Mustang II.
With emission regulations and gas prices on the rise, Ford moved the Mustang from the Falcon chassis over to one that was eerily similar to that of the rolling hand grenade known as the Pinto. With this borrowed chassis came a good bit of styling cues that made the Mustang II look somewhat similar to the Pinto too.
Beyond being ugly, the new Mustang II was underpowered thanks to an 88-horsepower four-cylinder and 105-horsepower V-6 as its initial engine options. It wasn’t much of a handler either.
For now, the Mustang II will go down in history as the worst Mustang redesign. It was almost trumped in the mid-1990s, when Ford nearly moved the Mustang to front-wheel drive. Fortunately, Mustang fans quickly put a stop to that.
1991 Mercury Capri
The Mercury Capri underwent some crazy changes in its brief lifespan. It began as a German-built rig with a range of small-displacement engines, but in 1979, it turned into simply a rebadged and slightly revised version of the Fox-body Mustang. The best part of sharing the Mustang’s platform is that it also gained its engines. The best of those engines were the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the 5.0-liter EFI V-8.
Unfortunately, the Fox-body Capri died in 1986, but Mercury redesigned and re-released the Capri in 1991 as a two-seat, front-wheel-drive convertible. Not only was this convertible not too hot looking, but it was a huge change from the muscular Capri of the 80s, and it was competing with the now-legendary Miata.
2004 Pontiac GTO
I hate to list the GOAT here, but this icon of the muscle car went south when GM decided to import a Holden Monaro and rebadge it as the Pontiac GTO. Yes, the new GTO was fast, thanks to its 5.7-liter V-8, but it was also the most boring-looking GTO ever. In 2006, Pontiac helped buyers more easily overlook the plebeian body by replacing the 350-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 with a 400-horse 6.0-liter V-8. To some, myself included, this wasn’t enough, and the 2004 through 2006 GTO is remains one of the worst redesigns of a performance car.
2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse
When Mitsubishi released the Eclipse in 1990, it had a hit on its hands. The small, front-driven coupe was adequately quick as a base model and downright fast for its class and era in its GS Turbo and GSX trims. The Eclipse got even better in its second generation, which arrived in 1995. However, things spiraled out of control with the introduction of the larger, heavier, and over-styled third-generation Eclipse in 2000. Mitsubishi tried to regain its lost fans with a redesign that injected more of the second-gen Eclipse’s style, but it failed to catch on.
1983 Dodge Charger
The Charger effectively died in the 1970, thanks to emission regulations, but it continued through 1977 until being replaced by the Magnum. In 1982, Dodge added the Charger name to the Omni 024 three-door coupe, dragging the once-iconic name through the mud.
In 1983, Dodge dropped the Omni 024 name from all three-door hatchbacks, leaving them to carry on purely as the Charger. These cars were pretty ugly, even by 1980s standards, and they were an utter disgrace to the Charger name. There were some exceptions here, as the 1985 Shelby Charger and the 1987 Shelby Charger GLH-S were pretty damn fast for their era, making it easier to look past the styling and the misuse of the name.
1972 Ford Thunderbird
The Thunderbird went through some significant changes throughout its life, moving from a two-seat Corvette competitor to a four-seat pony car in just a matter of a few years. However, the introduction of the 1972 Thunderbird went against all the thunderbird was known for through the 1950s and 1960s. The 1972 Thunderbird was gargantuan at 214 inches long – 38.7 inches longer than the original Thunderbird – and tipped the scales at 4,420 pounds, making it a luxury coupe instead of a pony car.
The 1972 through 1976 T-birds weren’t only rolling yachts, but they were also way underpowered, as the 460-cubic-inch V-8 could only muster 224 horsepower in 1972. This output dropped to a paltry 215 horsepower in 1973.
2000 Chevy Impala
In 1994, more than a decade after Chevy discontinued the Impala, the nameplate returned on a hopped-up Caprice known as the Impala SS. With a sleek four-door body and 260-horsepower V-8, the Impala SS was starting to show that big cars deserved some love too. Unfortunately, the Impala SS lasted only three model years.
In 2000, however, the Impala nameplate returned. Unfortunately, with it came a front-wheel-drive platform and a V-6 engine. It also arrived with a body that was rather uninspiring, and that’s being pretty kind.
1973 Chevy Chevelle
Throughout its years, the Chevelle was a beautiful muscle car that combined decent handling for its era with impressive power in its SS trim. Like all muscle cars, the Chevelle was hit hard by the emission regulations of the 1970s, but it retained its sporty styling through 1972.
In 1973, however, the Chevelle received a redesigned body known as the “Colonade” style. This new body just looked awkward when compared to the Chevelle of years past, and its odd proportions were met by equally disproportionate engines, as even the 454-cubic-inch engine of 1975 produced just 235 horsepower.
2016 Mazda Miata
Yeah, I am going there… The 2016 Mazda Miata falls on this list of worst redesigns ever. The Miata has long been known for its whimsical design, adequate powertrains and snappy handling, and the 2016 model caries on with only two of the three must-haves.
The new design goes against everything the Miata stood for, as Mazda went overboard to give it a more “manly” look. This adds in sharp bodylines, squinty headlights, and taillights that look way too similar to those of the Jaguar F-Type. Mazda has denied the similarities to the F-Type’s taillights, and instead claims the 1989 Miata inspired them. I call BS on that claim, as these taillights look nothing like those of the 1989 Miata.
Categories: Gear Grinding