The 10 biggest sports car flops of the 21st century

sports cars are designed to be more exciting alternatives to everyday drivers’ cars and inject excitement into the driver’s journey – all without costing an arm and a leg to keep going. But sports cars are also designed to show off and zip down a side road or mountain pass with gusto.

Many automakers are trying their hand at producing sports cars – some for the first time. Sometimes they get the good formula and the sports car is a runaway success, while most of the time there is much to be desired. Some truly awful sports cars have been made by companies that have produced great cars in other segments, but should have known better with sportier offerings – which usually happens when two or more companies work together to reduce research and production costs.

These types of sports cars are then criticized for having many flaws, leading to low sales, ultimately costing the company or companies involved more money than they anticipated. Here are 10 of the biggest sports car flops of the 21st century.

ten Chrysler Crossfire


The 2008 Chrysler Crossfire on display.
Via: Wikimedia Commons

The Chrysler Crossfire was a terribly interesting car. It was based on the R170 Mercedes SLK and due to Chrysler’s acquisition by Daimler-Benz in the late 1990s, the Crossfire shared almost all the mechanical parts of the SLK.


2004 Chrysler Crossfire sports car
Via: BringaTrailer

The cars were so similar that even the interior was the same, but somehow the Crossfire was worse than the SLK in every way. Reviewers criticized the Crossfire’s ride quality and driving experience, with the automatic version receiving scathing reviews. The Crossfire was built between 2003 and 2007, during which time all of its rivals were much more advanced and popular.


9 Ford Thunderbird


2002 Ford Thunderbird: The original personal luxury car.
via: Mutual Companies

The eleventh (and final) generation Thunderbird was Ford’s attempt to revive the nameplate for a new era. Unfortunately, this generation only lasted three years. Unlike previous generations, the latest Thunderbird carried over the styling of the original in an effort to recapture the mid-1950s experience.


2002 Ford Thunderbird - Supercars
via: Supercars

It was not well received. The Thunderbird had the right recipe to become popular – 2-door layout, V8 under the hood, automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive – however, the execution was less than satisfactory. While reviewers praised the exterior design as a wonderful modern iteration of the original, the interior was heavily criticized for its liberal use of cheap plastics. So it’s not the best way to revive a much-loved classic.

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The Ford Thunderbird

8 chevrolet ssr


Front 3/4 view of a blue SSR
Chevy

The Chevrolet SSR is probably one of General Motors’ weirdest designs. It was classed as a Super Sports Roadster – hence the name – and could best be described as a convertible sports pickup that nobody wanted. The styling was described by GM designers as “retro modern” and they apparently used late 1940s Chevrolet Advanced Design pickup trucks as inspiration.


The back of the SSR in blue
Chevy

The good thing about the SSR was that it at least featured a V8 engine, unlike the similarly styled Plymouth Prowler. Another positive aspect was that the SSR was relatively cheap to buy and maintain as it used a reliable LS2 V8. The early 2000s were an interesting time for automotive design in the United States.

Related: Chevy SSR and 9 Other Ridiculous Chevys That Should Never Have Been Made

7 Cadillac XLR


2009 Cadillac XLR-V: The luxury sedan designed for performance.
via: Mecum

The Cadillac XLR was an attempt to create a performance luxury convertible under the Cadillac brand. It was based on the Y-Body platform that underpinned the Chevrolet Corvette, which resulted in relatively good handling and a sporty ride. Cadillac then added the North Star V8 under the hood and sold as a luxury car in line with other Cadillacs of the time.


2009 Cadillac XLR-V Sports Car in Silver
Via: BringaTrailer

When that didn’t work, they added a supercharger to the engine and created the XLR-V, a higher performance version to compete with the Corvette. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out either, and the XLR was discontinued in 2009, with only around 15,400 units produced over five years.


6 Buick Cascade


2018 Buick Cascade
Through Buick

The Buick Cascada was a hatchback convertible, like the VW Golf Cabriolet. The Cascada was based on the Opel Cabrio, itself based on the Opel Astra sedan. The Cascada could be fitted with a 1.4-litre turbo or a series of 1.6-litre petrol turbos or a 2.0-litre diesel.


2018 Buick Cascada Sport Touring Convertibles with Dark Effects Package
Through Buick

Depending on the market, the Buick Cascada was available in Opel, Vauxhall or Holden, thanks to all of these companies under the GM umbrella. Thankfully, the Cascada was discontinued in 2019, along with all of its counterparts, because it obviously wasn’t that popular.


5 Pontiac GT


2006 Pontiac GTO 2-Door Coupe
Via: Mecum

The Pontiac GTO is one of the greatest muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s. But when GM decided to revive the GTO name in 2003, it turned out to be a flop. The GTO was based on the Australian Holden Monaro platform, which by the time the GTO arrived was outdated and outclassed.


2005 Pontiac GTO 2-Door Coupe
Via: Mecum

Yet Pontiac carried on, and like the Buick Cascada, the GTO was one of many identical cars, along with the Vauxhall Monaro and Chevrolet Lumina. The Pontiac GTO only lasted two model years before being discontinued due to slow sales. Quite a flop for a legendary name.

4 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe Redline Edition


Saturn ION 2 via BringATrailer
Via bring a trailer

The Saturn Ion is one of those cars that looks so incredibly generic that it would go unnoticed when parked between a Chevrolet Malibu and a Dodge Journey. Saturn realized this and so decided to make a more visible version in the form of the Ion Quad Coupe Redline Edition, which was a 4-door coupe with a generic rear spoiler.


2004 Saturn Ion Red Line with rear clamshell doors
Via: BringaTrailer

The Quad Coupe Redline Edition had one aspect worth discussing, and that was the fact that the engine was the same supercharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that could be found in the Chevrolet Cobalt SS. Saturn even offered factory upgrades to the car, which increased power to 241 hp. It still didn’t work.

Related: This Is What Made The Saturn Ion Redline A Sports-Bed Car

3 Pontiac Solstice


2008 Pontiac Solstice: the forgotten little sports roadster.
By: Pontiac

The Pontiac Solstice was a pretty cool sports car built by Pontiac between 2006 and 2010 and featured either a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter i4 or a turbocharged 2.0-liter i4. The latter engine produced 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, making it the highest specific horsepower engine in GM history at the time. New owners could even opt for an upgrade that increased engine performance to 290 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque.


2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP sports car
Via: BringaTrailer

The Solstice in its entirety was also used as the Saturn Sky Roadster, Opel GT and Daewoo G2X. The Solstice sold around 65,000 units during its production run, but it’s now a forgotten sports car.

Related: 10 Things Most People Forgot About The Pontiac Solstice

2 Chrysler Sebring Convertible


Chrysler Sebring Convertible
Via Edmunds

The Chrysler Sebring was another rather generic car until the third generation arrived in 2007. One of the last Chryslers to follow the retro-inspired design language that was evident on the Prowler and PT Cruiser, the Sebring looked more like a boat than a car. , thanks to the vertical lines on the hood.


Chrysler Sebring
ThroughChrysler

The Sebring Convertible featured the same 2.4L as the PT Cruiser, but was later updated to a 2.7L V6, with the option of the 3.5L V6 from the 300C. The Sebring Convertible was a truly terrible car with bloated styling, thirsty engines and terrible handling. Fortunately, the car only lasted two model years before being discontinued altogether.


1 Fisker Karma


Karma front 3/4 view
Fisker

The Fisker Karma is probably the coolest sports car ever. It was meant to be a sporty electric car from the mind of the man who designed the Aston Martin DB9, BMW Z8 and the impressive Mustang-based Fisker Rocket. The Karma had a revolutionary drivetrain, with electric motors constantly under control, but a gasoline engine under the hood to act as a generator when the batteries ran low.


The back of Karma
Fisker

The Karma produced 403 hp and a massive 960 lb-ft of torque from two rear-mounted electric motors. Unfortunately, despite relatively good sales, the Karma fell apart as a car, due to various issues regarding spontaneous combustion and parts supply delays, which cost Fisker Automotive far more money than it did. they hadn’t originally planned. Today, the $100,000-plus Fisker Karma can be found on the used market for less than $35,000.


Front 3/4 view of a silver PT Cruiser

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