Friday Evening Question #8: Cars That Disappoint Under the Hood

(REPOST) You step on the gas pedal, and instead of getting the rush of amazing sound and power you were expecting, you get an underwhelming feeling. There have always been great cars that have been let down by their power plants—the MR-S, USDM E36 M3, 240SX, SN95, later C3 Corvettes, and (most recently) the Toyobaru twins have all had somewhat disappointing, while good, engines. Please understand that I'm not saying that the engines these cars came equipped with were inherently bad, but simply let the rest of the car/lineage down a bit. Because of the exciting onset of the AE86's spiritual successor, we have realized that we should embrace a car for how it drives and not how fast it drives. We realize that a car's handling and other attributes are more important than MOAR POWER. But, even if it's not about the engine being fast, it's about the engine being right. The boxer engine in the BR-Z/FR-S/GT86 is often bemoaned because it doesn't have a particularly exciting power delivery or sound and doesn't really make up for it with power. Sure, the aftermarket is perfectly fine (as is the engine); however, most any engine can be awesome with tons of modifications and tweaking and the car really should be available with a performance-oriented unit.

Friday Evening Question #8: Cars That Disappoint Under the Hood

I'm going to use the 240SX as the prime example here. The Toyobaru is what made me think of the topic for this FEQ, but it really is not that bad of a fit by most accounts. The S13 chassis was one of the best of its time, delivering a great driving experience, fantastic handling, and astounding value. Perhaps Nissan took value to a bit of an extreme by only offering the car with a KA24-DE engine designed for use in the Hardbody truck. It was great as an economy truck four—plenty of torque, decent efficiency, and very robust. Despite these good qualities, the sheer number of SR20DET swaps done over here in the states should give you an idea of whether people thought the engine had a place in the car. It just did not quite satisfy people who wanted something up-to-par with the other great qualities of the car. Perhaps the KA24 made the car a better daily driver or workhorse beater or hoonmobile, but a better sports car it did not. Again, I am not saying it was all that big of a letdown, but it truly did have the same effect (although to a greater extent) on people as the boxer in the FR-S has to some. It's a slightly weaker link in the car. People deemed that it deserved an engine swap, and looked for an engine that Nissan to swap in that should have installed in the first place: the SR20. These days, more and more people who appreciate the merits of the FR-S/BR-Z/GT86 (is there an easy way to refer to them other than Toyobaru?) and have money look straight to the aftermarket to improve the performance and sound of the FA20, as well as doing engine swaps. So, this week's Friday Evening Question is:

What good cars deserve engine swaps to become truly great?

Friday Evening Question #8: Cars That Disappoint Under the Hood

Questions of Friday Evenings Past:

#7: Cars That Look All Wrong for the Part

#6: Ugliest Dream Garage

#5: Automotive Dopplegangers

#4: Options in a World of Compromise

#3: What cars have vast price ranges?

#2: What are the "douchiest" cars out there?

#1: What cars that look slippery but really aren't aerodynamic?/What cars that look slippery but really aren't aerodynamic?