10 Worst Mid-Engine Design Sports Cars Ever

10 Worst Mid-Engine Design Sports Cars Ever

The mid-engine car emerged in the 1960s when Lamborghini unveiled the Miura – which then obliterated every car rivaling it. The Miura showed that, by putting the engine in the middle, the vehicle’s weight distribution is more balanced and the handling got better because of it.

As a result, most high-end sports cars and supercars employ the mid-engine layout to remain relevant and offer the best chance of success when racing around a track. While there are some pretty amazing mid-engine supercars in history, there are also some that really didn’t work out at all, with automakers simply using the layout to make the car more attractive or appealing. These cars were sometimes even slower than hot hatchbacks, or uglier than a 1980s lower-end Cadillac.

Mid-engine cars are supposed to be cool-looking and fast, but some designs just didn’t work out as planned. Here are ten of the worst mid-engine design sports cars ever made.

10 1985 Pontiac Fiero


The Pontiac Fiero was originally designed as a fuel-efficient city car during the energy crisis of the 1980s. Pontiac promised GM that due to the small engine and aerodynamic shape, the car would do an incredible 50 MPG – a promise that couldn’t be executed.

The Fiero eventually released, and it was a cheap car to produce, thanks to the plastic body panels. Unfortunately, the underpowered 4-cylinder left much to be desired and the fact that the Fiero had the tendency to catch fire resulted in many owners avoiding purchasing one. The V6-powered version was better, but not by much.

9 1974 Dino 308 GT4

1975 Dino 308 GT4
Via: Mecum Auctions

The Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 was the replacement for the 308 GTS of Magnum P.I. fame. The Dino GT4 featured the Ferrari 2+2 layout and was intended to appeal more to the grand touring community, rather than true sports enthusiasts.

The Dino turned out to be pretty terrible during testing and Enzo Ferrari decided to rather call it a Dino than a Ferrari to not spoil the Ferrari name. The Dino GT4 featured an updated version of the 3.0-liter V8, but was pretty slow, even for its time.

Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Ferrari Dino 308 GT4

8 2005 Mitsouka Orochi

mitsouka orochi
via topspeed.com

Mitsouka is a Japanese aftermarket company that specializes in body kits for existing cars. Some of their famous works include the Jaguar Mk II-style kit for the Nissan Micra and the current Chevrolet Blazer-style kit for the Toyota RAV-4.

Their most ‘out there’ body kit has to be the Orochi, which is a complete revision of the original Honda NSX. The car is wider and features a Toyota V6 rather than the Honda’s, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Orochi is not the prettiest of mid-engine cars out there, but it definitely garners attention wherever it goes.

7 1995 Vector M12

vector m12
via RM Sothebys

The Vector M12 is the successor to the W8 supercar, but rather than be an entirely new vehicle using a mish-mash of parts, the M12 is simply a rebodied Lamborghini Diablo for the American market.

Despite using the Diablo’s chassis and drivetrain, the M12 is named one of the worst cars ever made, featuring worse build quality than the Italians. The M12 is also slower and more expensive than the Diablo. As expected, the M12 didn’t last very long, and Lamborghini even took a W8 as payment after Vector couldn’t pay for engines anymore.

Related: Here’s What A Vector M12 Is Worth Today

6 1985 DeLorean DMC-12

The front of the DMC-12
Via: DeLorean 

The DeLorean DMC-12 is one of the coolest sports cars ever made, becoming famous for its stint in the Back To The Future movies. In reality, the DeLorean is a pretty terrible car in almost every way. Granted, the vehicle does feature a revolutionary chassis design used in many supercars.

The DeLorean was intended to be a futuristic American sports car to take on the Europeans, but due to John DeLorean’s dealings, the car got a terrible PRV V6 and barely enough power to get it up to highway speeds. It still looks fantastic though.

5 1972 Maserati Merak

1974 Maserati Merak
Via Mecum

The Maserati Merak is the cheaper and slower version of the Bora, featuring a V6 rather than a big V8. The Merak shared most of the Bora’s panels and styling, but due to the smaller engine and revised chassis, there was room in the cabin for a 2+2 layout.

The Merak wasn’t exactly revered for its design or performance, with many owners modifying their engines for more power. With it being a classic Italian performance car, the Merak also isn’t the most reliable of vehicles – as proven by Jeremy Clarkson.

4 1981 Lamborghini Jalpa

Lamborghini Jalpa

The Lamborghini Jalpa was intended to be the entry-level vehicle within the Raging Bull’s line-up, succeeding the Silhouette. The Jalpa featured a 3.5-liter version of the Lamborghini V8 and produced a respectable amount of power and performance.

The Jalpa shared the basic design with the Silhouette but got wheel-arch extensions and a Countach-like rear spoiler. Between 1981 and 1988, Lamborghini only managed to sell 410 units before Chrysler canned the model, leaving the ‘entry-level’ slot open until the Gallardo arrived.

3 2001 Toyota MR2

2003 Toyota MR2
Via Toyota

The Toyota MR2 is a legendary mid-engine sports car that featured a small but punchy 4-cylinder engine and even got superchargers and turbochargers for added oomph. This changed in 1999 when Toyota unveiled the third generation model – which had nothing to do with the previous ones.

The W30 MR2 featured a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter engine from the Corolla and the car had no trunk. It remained mid-engine, but its performance was unimpressive compared to even the first-generation model. All-in-all, it was a disappointment compared to its predecessors.

Related: Find Out How To Shove A Camry Engine Into A Toyota MR2

2 1986 Zimmer Quicksilver

Red 1986 Zimmer Quicksilver
Via Mecum Auctions

The Zimmer Quicksilver is basically a Pontiac Fiero in drag. Zimmer took a brand-new Fiero from the production line, dismantled it, and rebuilt the vehicle using custom Zimmer parts. The rear was extended by 13 inches and the front by 16 inches to give a grander look.

The whole interior was revised and trimmed in leather and wood to give it the ‘personal luxury car’ feel. The Quicksilver retained the Fiero’s performance – slightly hindered thanks to the added weight. The Quicksilver is a weird-looking vehicle, especially after realizing that the engine is in the back, rather than under the stretched hood.

1 1980 Ferrari 208 GTS

Ferrari 208 GTB Turbo

The Ferrari 308 GTS is famous for its television run as the Prancing Horse of choice for everyone’s favorite mustachioed private investigator, Magnum P.I. What many don’t know is that Ferrari made an Italian domestic market version that negated expensive taxing, called the 208 GTS.

The 208 still featured a V8, but de-stroked and de-bored to just 2.0 liters, as Italian taxes forced locals to pay 38% on engines larger than 2.0 liters as opposed to the 18% for those below. The 208 GTS is often called the slowest Ferrari ever made as it only produced 155 hp compared to the 255 in the 308. It is definitely one of the worst mid-engine sports cars ever made.