QotW: What was it like driving the least powerful car you’ve ever been in?

True car enthusiasts know it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast. But what about a really slow car? Maybe just getting home without a catastrophic event makes an everyday drive a thrill ride. Anyway, we don’t care about experiences in the latest and greatest supercars. We want to hear about the harrowing adventures you’ve had in the slowest boxes you’ve ever had the pleasure of wheelin’.

What was it like in the least powerful car you’ve ever been in?

The most entertaining comment by next week will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your favorite car-themed T-shirt?“.

We actually got a few good ideas from the comments last week. We just might make a Racing Mate one thanks to Alan, and if we do we’ll send him a free one. Also, we’re going to honor Sammy B‘s request to print a new run of Made in the 80s shirts with the Toyota Van on it in the size he wants. We enjoyed hearing Rainmeister‘s story about Shekhar Mehta’s Safari Rally shirt, Jacob B‘s frequently complimented CoTA shirt, and Fred Langille‘s self-made Nissan S-Cargo shirts.

This week’s winner was Nigel, who’s shirt not only served as clothing, but as a pit pass. Sorry, we don’t have an image of the Boss Tag Heuer logo he describes, so perhaps this photo of a Rocket Bunny Boss kit will do.

It would have to be my BOSS Tag Hauer T shirt. Back in the 90’s about three times we where able to get into the Pit areas at the Molson Indy just by wearing that shirt and an OMP stop watch…(A pit pass always cost more).

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

This post is filed under: Question of the Week and
tagged: .

18 Responses to QotW: What was it like driving the least powerful car you’ve ever been in?

  1. Fred Langille says:

    The slowest car? That would have to have been my 1972 Honda Z600 Sports Coupe. Great on gas … 45mpg city and 654mpg highway. Driving it From Fort Jackson, SC to Phoenix, AZ after leaving active duty in the Army was a challenge. It took me three days to do it. When I got there, I used it to go on all of my Army tours of duty in the Reserve … St. Louis twice, San Francisco Presidio and others as well. The little car drove well in the city but, on the highway was slower than molasses in January! The 18-wheelers passing nearly always caused heart problems. The big deal was that my travel pay MADE me money that usually lasted until payday. It finally died with 110,000 on it and, I reluctantly sold it to the Honda mechanic shop that had kept it running. Tough little car. Wouldn’t mind getting another.

  2. Jeff Koch says:

    I drove my Nissan S cargo from Phoenix to JCCS one year. No overdrive, 65mph top speed, a real handful through Palm Springs where it was particularly windy. Every 18 wheeler threatened to blow it off the road also. I stayed in the slow lane, caning it like it owed me money. No AC or radio either, and the windshield was literally 3 feet tall, so lots of light and heat coming in. No radio Nearly overheated coming back on 60, up in the hills past Indio. Years earlier, when I bought the car in Massachusetts, I made it as far as Indiana before something glitchy happened, and I had to trailer at home. Good times.

    • Fred Langille says:

      That’s about what we went thru driving our S-Cargo from Montreal to Huntington, WV (only an 18-wheeler got too close and, we were knocked off the road … still upright … with a tiny ding in the door and a LARGE STAIN on the driver’s seat … snow, if you don’t get my drift!). Had the same hot experiences in the Honda as well driving from Ft. Jackson to Phoenix. No overheat tho on an aircooled boxer 2. Right … fun times too!

  3. Franxou says:

    I fondly remember my first car even tought it was a true piece of third. It was great.

    It was an 1988 Volkswagen Fox 2 doors coupe, 13 inch steel wheels, 88hp though probably half of the stable died from old age when I got hold of this champagne-colored missile. Multiple exhaust leaks, one wheel stud missing, odd number of wheelcaps, rusty, reeked of cigarette smoke, could see the ground from the spare wheel well, I only prevented it from became a metal cube by a couple months altough, trust me, it yearned for it. My brother told me that if that car got stolen, I had to chase the thief down in order to apoligize.

    The drive I remember most in this car was coming home after some shopping with my older brother. I think we were in ’03 but I could be mistaken. It was about the end of summer, the traffic was light, we were coming to a 3-stop T intersection leading us to the highway ramp. Two cars before us, one car before us, then there was no one else and I completely stopped at the stop sign. And I waited. My brother was urging me to go, “wait, just a bit more room” I replied. When the highway ramp cleared out, I clenched my teeths and launched hard! First gear, all the way to when the power lessens since there is no tachometer in this barebones car! Everything was loud, my engine, my tires, my ego! It was now second gear’s turn and I floored it again with absolutely no respect to the car, the clutch and anyone within earshot! The ramp is now curving to the right, then turd gear got rowed in, the tall pedal got mashed again and Poof! I lost rear traction and the car was oversteering! I fully expected understeer and having to let go of the throttle, but losing the rear? In a fwd car?
    I got the car back straight in the blink of an eye, and I cannot remember how I did it. Luck, I guess? After the well-deserved yelling at from my brother, we motored home calmly.

    Over time, after having faster cars, I remember seeing slow cars and thinking “All that noise for going just that slow?”, but now I am enlightened. Like with this old Fox I had, they are going slow, but they sure are having fun.

  4. Fred Langille says:

    Sure it wasn’t an AUDI Fox? They were terrible sitting in the showroom!

    • Franxou says:

      It really was a Volkswagen Fox! They might have been Canada-only? It was kind of good looking car, 2 doors sedan like I got, 4 doors sedan and 2 doors station wagon car based on the brazilian VW Gol. Equiped with a de-tuned version of the Golf and Jetta’s 1.8l but in north-south orientation, with a completely flat rear window, like a mirror!
      It is a car from way back when Hyundai, Lada and Yugo came to north america and shook the market with their bargain-basement cars, so the more traditional automakers answered with super barebones cars like this one.

  5. fuel10922 says:

    Slowest car I have ever driven was a 1980 VW Rabbit Diesel 62hp and 76-ft of torque. At the time I could run faster that that car. Total death trap!!

  6. Alan says:

    Exhilarating. Like those sage words proclaim, “driving a slow car fast is more fun than driving a fast car slow.”

    I’m talking about my first car, an ’89 Tercel hatch with a 1.5 liter 3E-E that hammered out 78 horsepower and 87 lb-ft through a gloopy, soupy, slushy 3-speed automatic. It handled like a wayward shopping cart; all understeer, all the time, unless you tossed it into a turn like you were mad at it, in which case it would understeer, oversteer, and attempt to turn turtle all simultaneously. It also had no rev limiter, and would wheeze up to what sounded like 8,600 rippums while taking repeated neutral drops without complaint. I loved that car.

    She’s in the great junkyard in the sky now. Rust in peace you miserable, wonderful old shit bucket.

  7. Alan says:

    Also, looking forward to that tee! Size XL, please 😀

  8. crank_case says:

    97 Fiat Cinquecento SX


    Freakin hilarious

    no cupholders

    no problem

    drink espresso


    oh crap I’ve broke it…

    ah well…

  9. Clay says:

    My father’s Geo Metro (Suzuki.) 1000 cc, 3-cylinder, 50 hp, 5 speed manual. Flat on the floor the speedo needle was right on 90 mph. It was great. Nice shifter feel like Hondas had before they went to cable shift. Unfortunately I later had a rental Geo Metro with a 3 speed automatic. Apparently shorter top gear so too many revs on the highway with lots of tingly vibration and the brakes overheated and faded on San Francisco downhills.

  10. daniel says:

    countless kilometers on my 1997 Isuzu pickup… high-mileage trips (on Saturday I did 1100 km or 683 miles the day) that are enjoyed at a cruise of 90 km/h (56 mph) and with a ridiculous fuel consumption of 17 .5 km/l (41 miles per gallon) enjoying the landscape, in this case straight highways without many curves except for a few “fun” kilometers of curves. but I also made some trips on dirt, gravel or asphalt with very steep climbs that it was interesting to play with the gearbox between 2nd and 3rd to make the most of the 78hp and feel some “squeak” from the tires.

  11. Brett says:

    The least powerful car I have owned and driven was in fact my first car; a baby blue Ford Escort MKII Coupe with the lowly 1.3 Kent. It possessed all of the qualities that made the MKII Escort a storied rally and race car without the power to really exploit them. For all of that it made me focus on my driving to get the most that it could give, which admittedly wasn’t much, and it made me a much better driver. I could ring its neck all day long without ever reaching terminal velocity and it never broke or protested, rear tyres excepted when the back stepped out, and I have immensely fond memories of it. Everyone who aspires to be a good driver should own a car like it; they are the best driving instructor you could ever have.

  12. Jacob B says:

    I’m inclined to say it was my 2004 Chevy Colorado but that thing likely had more power than my daily driver, a 2013 Scion FR-S. I’m absolutely in love with it, it’s light and nimble and fun to drive, and I think the power is appropriate for its size and purpose, but compared to some of my friend’s cars, it’s slow! Plus they’re notorious for their huge torque dip around 4k rpm.

  13. While I’ve driven a slew of European microcars and French sans permis cars as part of my job, I’ve never driven them on the street. The slowest street-legal car I’ve driven on public roads was the 1986 Honda Today. Two cylinders, 545cc, 31hp, and four forward gears. Top speed claimed by Honda was 75mph, Car & Driver got 69 out of their test model, but 62 was all I dared ask out of it on I-440. Once.

    This was on a stretch of road where us locals typically drive 75-80. Fortunately, I only had to go four miles, with the 80km/h speed warning beeping almost the whole way (took a while to get up to 60). Whenever I drove the car after that, it was only on surface streets.

    Several months ago, the museum put the car up for sale. As an employee, I was not allowed to buy it. A flipper bought the car and later sold it to a young man who did not know what he was buying. The young man didn’t know it was a Japanese city car that was never designed for American interstates, and the flipper wasn’t going to let a little thing like honesty get in the way of a substantial profit. So the young man drove it from Clarksville to Louisville and back, blowing the head gasket and overheating somewhere on I-65. He also hit a pole in a parking lot with the passenger front corner. He then listed the car on Facebook Marketplace, where a friend saw it and forwarded it to me. I contacted the owner and bought it a week later.

    Parts are simply not available for the original EH engine, so it will be replaced with an E07A and a 5-speed. Perhaps then it won’t be quite so scary slow.

  14. Taylor C. says:

    A bit late to this game, but I wanted to add my bit. My parents have had their share of gutless cars, and I remember the 1984 Chevrolet Chevette. It didn’t feel the underpowered, but looking back, 63hp was gutless. My mom drove that and she knew how to handle that car. We had a long narrow driveway the she easily backed out at 10MPH, and sped through the streets of Oakland. However, when we took it up to Reno, the Sierra Nevada mountains revealed the Chevette’s weakness, and we’d struggle up the grade at 35-40MPH.

    My dad had a 1985 Plymouth Reliant, 96HP? It didn’t feel so bad.

    Then my mom had a 1986 Ford Taurus L with the 2.5 4-cylinder. It was either 88HP or 90HP, but that was gutless either way. I remember we went to Yosemite with that, it struggled up the hill so hard, that the lady passing us by in her F250 gave us a hard middle finger. We took it over the Tioga Pass and into 395 in Nevada. That evening we took it back up the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains, into Lake Tahoe using the Kingsbury Grade Road. It was the slowest feeling ever slugging up that endless grade.

  15. Peter Q says:

    1956 Bond Minicar, 197cc of throbbing, vibrant 2 stroke power. A bit like driving a biscuit tin with a lawn mower engine. A 3 wheeler with FWD via chain to the single front wheel – when you turned the steering wheel the engine turned with the front wheel. In a later but otherwise similar Bond I regularly drove the 100-ish miles between university and home in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *