5 Mediocre Cars Named After Great Race Tracks
Race tracks, places where manufactures put their products to the extreme test. At the track, future technology is tested and legends are made. Race tracks such as Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring and others are forever associated with prestige and iconic moments. Unfortunately, sometimes these legendary names get tacked on to uninspiring cars. Here are 5 mediocre cars named after great race tracks.
The historic 24 Hours of LeMans is one of the most prestigious races in motorsport. Its storied history has been the feature of many movies and the pinnacle of many racing careers.
The Pontiac LeMans started life as the top trim level of the Tempest in the early 60’s. Over the years it became a performance car with the GTO trim then as a luxury coupe in subsequent years. It wasn't until the 80’s when Pontiac decided to shame the name by slapping it on the back of an entry level economy car. Made and designed in Korea, the 88-93 LeMans was far from the prestige of the famous race track.
The most powerful Lemans made 96 horsepower, ironic for a brand whose slogan in the 80's was "We Build Excitement". Throughout its production cycle, the Lemans was associated with poor build quality which contributed to slow sales. After four years, Pontiac put America out of their misery and discontinued the LeMans.
The legendary Bonneville Salt Flats is where men and women strive to be the fastest human on the planet. It is home to some of America’s early auto racing and world land speed records.
The Pontiac Bonneville on the other hand, doesn’t have much fame to claim. By its last two generations, it became far disconnected from the Bonneville Salt Flats and its rear wheel drive heyday. It had turned into a full-sized, faux luxury, front wheel drive sedan.
Shown above is an 87-91 Bonneville SSE with 80s-tastic mesh wheels and square fog lights. In 2006, Pontiac put the Bonneville out to pasture and in 2008, it was replaced with the more exciting rear wheel drive, V8 powered Pontiac G8.
Daytona International Speedway calls itself the world center of motorsports. It hosts the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the Daytona 500. Meanwhile the car that shares its namesake was a front wheel drive, 140 horsepower hatchback.
The Dodge Daytona was a front wheel drive “sports car” that offered powertrains from 93 horsepower to 150 horsepower.
Dodge not only shamed the Daytona name with this mediocre coupe but also tried to bring down the Shelby name with the Dodge Daytona C/S. CS for Carol Shelby, featured a performance tuned suspension and turbo power but didn't add much to the Daytona's lack of sportiness.
Sebring, home of one of the premiere 12-hour sports car races in America. Not quite something you’d associate with one of the most mediocre vehicles ever created.
The Chrysler Sebring was offered for three generations. Initially the Sebring was a front wheel drive coupe, based on another uninspiring sedan, the Mitsubishi Galant.
The 2nd and 3rd generations were “European styled” mid-sized sedans. It seemed the most popular place these cars could be found were the rental car lots. The closest a Sebring ever got to any on track action was probably as a rental car in the parking of a race track.
Chevrolet Vega Monza
Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is a historic race track near Monza, Italy. Built in 1922, it was the worlds 3rd purpose built race track following Brooklands in the UK and America’s Indianapolis International Speedway.
With the exception of 1980, the track has been the home of the Italian Grand Prix since the series inception. The 1975-1980 Chevy Monza on the other hand, was designed to compete against the Ford Mustang II and featured an exterior design inspired by Ferraris of the time. Unfortunately, the sporty design wasn’t backed with sporty performance. With an optional 262 ci carbureted V8, the Monza made 125 horsepower, which crawled from 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds.
It was cursed with lifeless performance and sketchy build quality but to be fair, many cars built during this time were terrible and suffered from low build quality.
Would you take any of these cars to the track that they’re named after?