This collection of oddball, boxy cars marks the humble beginnings of the list.
167 PS | 1613 kg | 104 PS/t
Before we get to the supercars, we’ve got to start somewhere. Now a relic of the 70s, soon the Diplomat would suffer the fate of a fleet car; not unlike the Ford Crown Victoria later did. Most famous as a cop car on the silver screen, the car certainly held merit (or disdain) as one of the last truly big and nasty Chryslers.
102 PS | 985 kg | 104 PS/t
This is not the Peugeot 205 GTI. I repeat, this is not the Peugeot 205 GTI. Instead, what we have here is yet another design first from 1977. The rugged 305 soldiered on in the guise of a hot hatch; although it was lukewarm in performance and lacked a hatch entirely. Still, it held a tried and true formula.
150 PS | 1430 kg | 105 PS/t
Three cars in, but we’re yet to come across a car which first debuted in the 80s. Regardless, the Alfa 6 sported just what it said on the tin: the smoothness of the marque’s famed V6 engine. Unfortunately, this also meant a grand total of six carburettors, thankfully replaced in favour of fuel injection for the new decade.
115 PS | 1093 kg | 105 PS/t
Much like the Peugeot from earlier, the Volvo 300-series held a reputation for being not exactly daring or forward-thinking. Unlike the Peugeot, this was rear-wheel drive. Built in the wonderful Netherlands, the top trim 360 models sported a two-litre unit from the mid-size 240, making them almost fast too.
115 PS | 1085 kg | 106 PS/t
Breaking the theme of dated four-doors, even if appearances state otherwise, we see a more radical design. Do not be fooled, for these Passats sported some of the first five-cylinder engines available on a mass-market car. It’s a dire shame they slipped under the radar, but their legacy is strong by default.
190 PS | 1780 kg | 107 PS/t
You’ve seen the future, now the Toyota Century is here to thrust you back into the past. Clearly a staple of Showa-era sensibilities for Japan, this was a car intended to be earned from years of business. Regardless, its V8 powerplant was never exactly flamboyant, it was all about relaxing in the quirky woollen seats.
120 PS | 1110 kg | 108 PS/t
Meet the first and only Subaru to make it on the list. Already, the model was on its way out, but turbocharging and punchy boxer engines earned it a similar appeal to Subarus of more recent times. It may be overlooked now, but can be considered the genesis of some of the more powerful Japanese cars to come.
141 PS | 1288 kg | 109 PS/t
Believe it or not, this was the largest and most luxurious Renault you could buy at the time. It did not scare off any 5-Series or E-Class owners but, much like the Alfa 6, offered the wonders of a smooth V6 to the public. Hence, this front-wheel drive executive torque-steers its way to a respectable position.
106 PS | 965 kg | 110 PS/t
Enter what was, according to the British public, a punchline on four wheels. Even a talking digital dashboard couldn’t save it, but perhaps a touch of extra power could. Later a turbo version would move it to the top of the hot hatch war, but until then, one would settle for MG badges and a simple EFi upgrade.
150 PS | 1350 kg | 111 PS/t
Entirely unrelated to the fuel crisis-stricken Granada from the USA, this European Ford offered both sheer size and fuel-injected power to the rear wheels. It serves as a bookend for the first few cars of our list; mostly unpretentious, but not to be underestimated. You guessed it, it sports a V6.
Join us next time as we climb into the world of hot hatches and turbocharging.
All photos sourced from WheelsAge.org.