Kicking off the top half of our list in action, more serious contenders emerge.
130 PS | 950 kg | 137 PS/t
English speakers unfamiliar with this model may remember it as the Strada Abarth. If the name still fails to register, simply consider it to be a dinosaur. Primitive, creaky and carburetted; yet keeping enough bite to send a herd of GTI owners pleading for mercy on the track. Knowing Fiat, most are equally extinct.
160 PS | 1165 kg | 137 PS/t
Mundane would be an unwise word to describe such a car. Rather, it was a Celica with more doors and less kilograms; stealing the position of the aforementioned nameplate in our rankings. Rest assured, it maintained the rear-driven layout both cars were to shed just two short years later: making it the last of a kind.
175 PS | 1271 kg | 138 PS/t
Despite dealing with a marque clashing in priorities, Lancia, Saab reliably produced one of its quintessential later models. The resultant package remained a constant in the Saab lineup for over a decade. Even Giugiaro-assisted styling did little to reveal any Italian DNA, but once the turbo kicked in, the act was off.
175 PS | 1270 kg | 138 PS/t
Deceiving badges aside, this straight-six wedge shared less in common with the Celica than the lowly Carina four-door. Now on its second generation, it served as the halo car to front the Toyota revolution of the decade. Renamed in the West, in fear of particular connotations, the reign of Toyota Supra had begun.
130 PS | 940 kg | 138 PS/t
Amid the incoming Toyota storm, the zenith of the mid-engined commuter car arose from humble Corolla parts. Fiat and Pontiac dabbled with similar concepts beforehand, although now two new ingredients sat in the mix: power and reliability. Hence, soon settled a sweet cocktail of optimism and snap-oversteer.
270 PS | 1940 kg | 139 PS/t
Indisputably, the most obscure brand to make the cut, De Tomaso cooked a fusion of Dearborn motors and Torin styling in a Spaghetti Western of the automotive world. Against best efforts, the Jaguar XJ6-inspired Deauville left little impact, its rarity fuelling further mystique. In short, few cars are cooler.
152 PS | 1088 kg | 140 PS/t
Meet the car to knockout the Corvette and Buick Grand National in a one-two punch. Meet the car which threw the Camaro and Firebird off this list entirely. It may owe parts to the Chevrolet Cavalier and Opel Ascona, but the art of the turbo Buick does not lie. Trust it to turn the history book into a colouring book.
145 PS | 1035 kg | 140 PS/t
Better known as the 626 outside Japan, the mid-tier option for much of Mazda history has since been rendered largely forgotten in the performance world. Featuring styling boxy enough to inflict a paper cut, the stereotype held basis. Underneath, however, forced induction bred a wolf in white-collar clothing.
160 PS | 1135 kg | 141 PS/t
Faced with the untimely passing of the company founder, Colin Chapman, Lotus grew starved of the funds to develop an entirely new model. Enter the Excel, a design derived from the decade prior, updated to undercut the trademark Esprit. Quietly, it paid off; perhaps not in beauty contests, but certainly in cornering.
182 PS | 1290 kg | 141 PS/t
Fame, infamy and anonymity could each be attributed to this car. Many recall it as a milestone in automotive aerodynamics, due to a drag coefficient of a mere 0.3. On the other hand, a fallacious TV scandal concerning this model nearly drove Audi out of America. In any case, you could rely on the driving dynamics.
Next time, all stakes will raised in a flurry of JDM icons and Euro luxury cars.
All photos sourced from WheelsAge.org.