If you’re into cars, you probably have a favorite low slung coupe. Odds are it is one of the more popular models that can be found on your local roadways, in popular video games, or the main character’s car in a blockbuster movie (shout out to Paul Walker’s GT-R in 2 Fast 2 Furious!). But there are some forgotten and almost forgotten coupes that I think deserve a little bit of attention again. Yea, these probably aren’t as well known or remembered as some of their competition, and some haven’t stood up to the test of time, but they’re pretty f@#kin’ neat!
1 – Nissan 200SX SE-R (1995-1999)
I know what you’re thinking: “The 200SX isn’t a forgotten coupe! This guy’s an idiot!” While you aren’t wrong about the idiot part, you are thinking of the wrong 200SX. We aren’t talking about the rear-wheel drive drift-boi’s wet dream. Nah, we’re talking about the Nissan Sentra coupe that is wearing 200SX badging.
Unlike its cooler Silvia chassised ancestor, the 200SX in the North American market was a front-wheel drive competitor to the Honda Civic Si. It wasn’t exactly the king of the road, but it certainly wasn’t just some economy car. With the SE-R trim (which is honestly the only trim you should have bought this car in) you’d be getting a 2.0L engine putting out a modest 140 hp, a limited slip differential, a five speed manual, and that’s really about it. It was a modest performance car for the modest performance car crowd.
2 – Ford Escort/ZX2 (1997-2003)
I know that the Ford Escort isn’t exactly forgotten to our European readers, but in the US, what most people think of the car can basically be described as “meh.” It wasn’t anybody’s go-to FWD performance car here, since ours were essentially neutered versions of the ones available in the UK. Lack of the same performance pedigree as it’s British brother led to a fairly standard, boring American hatchback. The ZX2 kind of changed that up a bit.
When the ZX2 Escort was introduced, it was a radical departure from previous Escorts. All of the sedan and hatchback models were replaced with one singular body type: the kinda sexy coupe. While engine performance wasn’t significantly improved over the previous generation of Escort GT’s, with the horsepower only jumping up to 130 vs the GT’s 127, overall sportiness was something that Ford wasn’t looking to skimp on. If you purchased the S/R trim of the ZX2, you’d be getting improved suspension, a Roushe cold air intake, rear disk brakes (when the standard was drums), a stronger clutch, and a short throw shifter. Definitely not too bad for a car that used to be Britain’s sloppy seconds.
3 – Mazda MX-6 (1987-1997)
I’ve already went into a fair amount of detail on the MX-6 in a previous article going over the forgotten MX cars, but I figured this would be a good article to bring it back for.
While the MX-6 obviously wasn’t the most popular of Mazda’s MX line, the goal of competing with Honda’s FWD coupe, the Prelude, was somewhat admirable. Obviously the Prelude ended up winning out in this deal, as that car is largely loved and remembered by enthusiasts, while the MX-6 has largely been reduced to being a fun fact about now extinct cars. It’s kind of a shame, since the MX-6 wasn’t really a bad car either (at least in the Japanese market…).
The second and final generation of the MX-6 was pushing out 198 hp out of its 2.5L V6 engine and had a lot of neat handling goodies going for it, including four-wheel steering similar to that of the Honda Prelude. Of course we didn’t get that in North America though, because everyone knows we hate having fun things. The USDM model was basically just a rebadged Ford Probe putting out 164 hp out of a 2.5L V6, and lacking the handling goodies found in its JDM brother. It was more or less just a standard economy coupe for us, with every reason to be forgotten here.
4 – Subaru Impreza (1998-2001)
I already know that the Impreza is nowhere close to being forgotten, but a lot of people tend to forget about the Impreza coupes of the 1990’s. I’m not talking about the Impreza 22B either (which I would do unbelievably horrible things to get my hands on), but the standard Impreza coupes sold in the North American market.
We could get Impreza coupes prior to 1998, but that was the year when Subaru introduced the 2.5RS, which was a pretty big deal at the time. While it wasn’t quite as good as the WRX that was available in Japan, the 2.5RS was a significant upgrade from the previous coupe offerings. Prior to 1998, the largest engine offering in USDM Imprezas was a 2.2L H4 cranking out 137 hp and 140 tq. The 2.5RS increased the power to 165 hp and 162 tq, while also including some new goodies like larger brakes, a hood scoop, and a big ol’ spoiler! This was the best AWD performer the U.S. tuner scene was getting for in the 90’s and it was pretty good for what it was.
This is probably the least forgotten car on this list, but I had to throw it on because it still is fairly forgotten about outside of Subie fans. It is a classic Japanese sports car that doesn’t get the same love as the Skyline GT-R or Supra of the same era, for obvious reasons. Now, I’m sure some of you will have your theory that I actually added it on because I’m a “vape-sucking, WRX driving douchebag.” I want you all to know that is also about 85% correct.
5 – Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS (2005-2007)
I’ll be straight with you; I want to be mad at this car for existing and be glad that it’s slowly going away. The classic muscle car purist inside of me wants to despise this thing, but I just can’t. It’s a FWD car with a f@#king 5.3L V8 in it and that is super cool to me!
It isn’t the best performance car in the world, but it definitely is fairly interesting and showed that GM still gave a crap about the Monte Carlo name. If they didn’t, they’d have just kept the six-cylinder in there and called it a day. But they didn’t and the result was a fairly attractive FWD coupe with 303 hp and 323 tq. Biggest downside for me though is the lack of a manual gearbox. How are you gonna give me a V8 coupe and just restrict me to a four-speed auto slushbox!?
That’s my list though. There’s a good chance I missed one of your favorite forgotten coupes, so be sure to let me know what I forgot in the Facebook comments. I’d love to hear about even more cars that time has forgotten/is forgetting.