In most cases, it’s pretty easy to tell when a fast car is coming. Eye-catching design, low-slung sporty body, two doors, loud exhaust and huge rear fenders are some of the telltale signs that a car is fast. However, this is not always the case.

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Occasionally sports cars will look fast but perform poorly once you get behind the wheel. This problem affects sports cars all over the world, but more so in Europe, because Europeans are known to put a lot of emphasis on design. Let’s explore ten European sports cars that look fast but are unfortunately slow.

Volvo P1800

Volvo is known for building strong, dependable and dependable luxury cars with solid safety ratings. Volvos are generally not sporty, however, in the 1960s the Swedish brand decided to enter the sports car market by developing the P1800.

The P1800 has a lot to offer. On the one hand, it was an absolute beauty. It is also one of the most reliable sports cars ever made, as it holds the world record for the most kilometers on the odometer. However, the P1800 has one problem – it’s powered by a small four-cylinder engine producing just 100bhp, which makes it super slow.

Ferrari Dino

In the 1960s, powertrains built for Formula 2 racing had to be based on engines used in road cars. Since Ferrari could not produce the required 500 cars per year to meet homologation requirements, they called fiat for help, resulting in the Dino.

Like any other proper Ferrari, the Dino’s body was designed by Pininfarina, which is easy to tell by looking at its gorgeous curves. However, instead of a powerful Ferrari engine, the Dino had the same engine used in the Fiat Dino – a 2.0 liter V6 producing just 180 bhp.


The Ace is a two-door roadster produced by AC Cars from 1953 to 1963. If the Ace sounds familiar to you, that’s because its body was the basis for building the legendary Shelby Cobra in 1962.

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However, unlike the Cobra, which had a powerful V8 engine tuned by Carroll Shelby, the Ace used a 2.0-liter straight-six producing just under 100 hp. It was extremely slow, taking almost 12 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.

Alfa Romeo 4C

The Alfa Romeo brand is synonymous with beautiful vehicles. Just look at the Tipo 33 Stradale, 8C, Giulia, Montreal and other beauties the automaker has built over the years. The 4C is another beautiful car in the Alfa Romeo range.

Introduced in 2013, the 4C is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Italian sports cars of the last decade. Unfortunately, Alfa Romeo dropped the ball by fitting the 4C with a tiny 1.75-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing just 240bhp. For the nearly $70,000 the 4C costs, we’d prefer a C8 Corvette with twice the power.

Vauxhall GT

In the late 60s, Opel presented the GT at the Frankfurt Motor Show as a styling exercise to show what its future models might look like. The GT had many styling cues borrowed from the 1968 Chevy Corvette, which is why so many attendees loved it. The GT’s popularity grew so much that Opel decided to produce it in 1968.

While the GT looked great, things weren’t so great under the hood. Buyers could choose between a 1.1-liter inline-four with 67 hp on tap or a 1.9-liter unit with 102 hp. Regardless of engine choice, buyers got an extremely slow car.

MG Midget

After MGA production ended, MG decided to fill the void left by the Midget. The Midget impressed many at first, as it had a gorgeous design inspired by the Austin Healey Sprite.

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However, many were disappointed when they got behind the wheel of the Midget. Powered by a tiny 65-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the Midget was no fun to drive. For this reason, the Midget is one of the cheapest classic British sports cars you can buy today.

Porsche 924

After 914 production ended, Porsche needed a new entry-level model to appeal to budget-conscious buyers. So in 1976, Porsche introduced the 924. The 924 was an important car for Porsche, as it was the brand’s first road-legal model to use a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and water cooling.

The 924 looked like a great car, but one thing was behind its success: the engine. At the heart of the 924 was a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine from Volkswagen producing 95 hp, which made it very sluggish.

Maserati Merak

In 1971, Maserati introduced a mid-engined two-seater known as the Bora. The Bora had many great features, but it was too ugly. So in 1972, Maserati asked the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro to redesign the Bora, resulting in the Merak.

Giugiaro did not disappoint, as the Merak had a beautiful wedge-shaped design that stunned everyone. Sadly, Maserati ditched the Bora’s mighty 4.7-litre V8 and replaced it with a lackluster 3.0-litre V6 producing a paltry 187bhp.

Deer Triumph

The Stag is a luxury Triumph sports car built in the 70s to compete with the best sports cars from Germany and Italy. The deer’s best feature was its design, which is no surprise since it was penned by the famous Giovanni Michelotti. The beauty of the deer has earned him several roles in films, including that of Sean Connery Diamonds are forever.

Unfortunately, like many other British sports cars produced at the time, the Stag didn’t have much power. Despite its V8 engine, the Stag only produced around 140 hp.

Lotus Elise

One of the ways Lotus made money in the 90s was by selling its revolutionary technology to other automakers. In 1996, Lotus needed a new sports car to showcase its advanced technologies, so it built the Elise.

The Elise had a lot of advantages – it had an excellent design, it was mid-engined and had an ultralight bonded extruded aluminum frame and fiberglass body. The only thing wrong with the Elise was its engine; a 1.8-litre four-cylinder with just 118 hp on tap.

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