Carmakers will always make mediocre products, but we'll forgive them so long as they give us one great version of a platform. Maybe it's a new engine, suspension, interior, or all the above. Here are ten cars that exceeded their humble origins.
10.) Opel Kadett GSi
The standard Kadett wasn't a godawful car, but as JayHova explains, the GSi was something people actually wanted to own:
The Opel Kadett GSI 16V. You might know it as Pontiac LeMans, Daewoo Racer or Isuzu Optima. But instead of less than 100hp (which the most powerful of these versions had), the GSi has 150, a reworked suspension and even a comparatively nice interior with Recaro seats.
9.) Buick LaCrosse V8
How to turn Florida's favorite into a sleeper? With a bit of chrome, and a V8 of course!
The last-gen Buick Lacrosse was a car that no one lusted after, but the 2008-2009 Buick Lacrosse Super was the best of the worst. It was the first time that GM had ever dropped a V8 into the Lacrosse, and at 300hp, it was a bit of a sleeper. A 300hp V8 sedan for under $34K? Not too shabby. But it was still a Lacrosse.
8.) Volkswagen New Beetle RSi
The New Beetle was all about cute styling appealing to female buyers. The RSi was a different animal. 220 horses and all-wheel drive made sure of that.
7.) Shelby GLHS
Carroll Shelby looked at the miserable Omni, put a turbo under the hood, and named it the Coyote. Chrysler didn't like the name, so they changed it to GLH. That stood for 'Goes Like Hell'. They had to add 'S'More' when the 175 hp Shelby GLHS variant came out in 1986.
6.) Ford Taurus SHO
There's something about the 220 hp SHO Taurus...
v70RRRRRgh: I owned a white one for a few months and it was actually a pretty fun car, engine was fantastic...everything else kinda sucked though. add the fact that it looked like a police car everyone on the highway would move to the right lane and slow down when I came up behind them.
02BMW530: I had a 1st gen (90) and 2nd gen (93). Both were 5 speeds. To tell you just how good it is, I sold the 90 to make room for my 530i (considered one of the best all-around cars of all time) and I still miss my SHO. There was a certain mechanical connect you don't get nowadays.
TheMyth, aka Dart Hoarder: I actually just test drove a V8 last week. Sweet motor, great power, and actually handled really well for being a FWD family car. Alas, this particular car had shit tires and wheels with curb rash, and the AC went out on my test drive. The seller (my friend with a used car lot) wouldn't come off the price and would only fix the AC (in his defense, it would've been an even trade with my minivan) so no sale. Though I'm still arguing with myself over it.
5.) MG ZT-T V8
MG took the rather boring and unreliable Rover 75 Tourer, and gave it a 4.6L Ford Modular V8 with rear-wheel drive. Meet the MG ZT-T V8. Don't ask about reliability.
4.) Porsche 924S and 924 Carrera GTS
The Porsche 924 made you a Porsche owner. The 924S was where the fun started, as angryenoughtopost explains:
I used to own a 924S, that I bought off the street, on a whim, in a "oh shit, I need a car and I can afford this one" type of situation, not really knowing anything about the model except that it was front-engine, rwd, water-cooled and stick shift. I didn't start doing any actual research on the car until after I already bought it. I saw tons and tons of hate on the internet about the 924, saying that it was underpowered, not a real Porsche, blah blah blah, but I didn't really see anything about the 924S. So, after a little digging, what I came to find out was that they had a few thousand old 924 bodies laying around, and instead of scrapping them, they decided to bolt them onto 944s, downgrade the interiors, and sell them for $17,995 as the 924S, only in 1987 and 1988. What a lot of people didn't realize, is the lighter, simpler body actually wound up making the 924S a bit faster than the 944...... not much faster, but a bit faster. Either way, it was a great car, excellent alternative to an RX-7 or an old Miata. The car was 20 years old when I got it, and it gave me three years of loyal service.
Still, the ultimate version is the road legal GTS, with 280 proper horses. The bus-engined original 924 has nothing on it.
3.) Dodge Caliber SRT4
The Caliber didn't make any sense. The 265 hp SRT4 with a six-speed manual changed that.
2.) Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Chevy took the blunt Cobalt and supercharged it so that it could punch way above its weight.
Amazing what a supercharger and a tuned suspension can do.
1.) Buick Grand National
One is an underpowered G-body. The other is a legend.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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