Toy4x4 List tests sports cars for Dateline
Numerous persons have reported that sports cars are dangerous, unsafe,
and poorly engineered, so an investigative team from the Toyota 4x4
Mailing List was sent to validate their claims and report back to
Dateline. Tested sports cars include Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda Miata,
and Acura NSX, which seemed to be representative of all sports cars
currently on the market (they are all more-or-less the same).
The Toyota 4x4 Mailing List Investigative Team (T4MLIT) took
these vehicles out for a day to some of the roads they usually drive,
and have made the following observations:
All vehicles exhibited a severe lack of articulation on rocky and
rutted terrain (average RTI: 14). This apparent engineering error
greatly contributed to numerous 3-point situations, necessitating
increased throttle usage to get through certain obstacles. This
increased throttle usage put driver and vehicle at great risk in
off-camber situations, resulting in a roll-over of the Miata. The
Miata's windshield and frame collapsed under the weight of the
vehicle (the only convertible-top vehicle in the group), and it was
only luck that the test driver did not suffer serious injuries.
Although the driver of the Miata had only put 12 miles on the
odometer, he maintained that his unfamiliarity with the vehicle's
handling had nothing to do with the obvious design flaw.
All vehicles also exhibited a striking lack of ground clearance. This fact
was painfully obvious when we took the NSX through a small creek, only
to have the undercarriage hang up on a small rock. The resulting water
cascading in through the drivers' window was slightly disconcerting
to the driver, who was used to driving his taller Toyota 4Runner.
The end result was that the ECU shorted out and died, but not before
water was sucked in through the unusually low-mounted air intake.
Our test drivers found it amazing that any vehicle manufacturer would
build a vehicle with such limited ground clearance, then expect anyone
to drive it on a back-road.
The vehicles were not equipped with the proper equipment for the terrain.
This test involved a high-speed run on a twisting logging road,
including some muddy patches. As the Corvette was the only vehicle
to escape unscathed thus far (save for some minimal body pinstriping
and undercarriage scrapes), we were only able to test it, and not
the others. It was decided that this would not abnormally skew the
test results, as this vehicle was similar in design to the other now-disabled
test vehicles, and would in all likelihood produce identical test
results. We found that the V8-equipped Corvette, with it's wide
Z-rated mall-terrain tires, tended to fishtail wildly in corners
with just a minimal application of throttle. In addition, those tires
were absolutely useless in any kind of mud, and would not self-clean
no matter how much spinning they underwent. This appeared to be due
to the lack of voids between the lugs; we think that perhaps a narrower
all-season tire may be a more appropriate venue. Finally, when we
aired the tires down, the 45-series tires did not have enough sidewall
bulge to protect the 17-inch aluminum rims.
As the Corvette was still running, we decided to subject it to a crash test
with a SUV. Our testers used a 1997 4Runner with an ARB front bumper,
3" lift, and 33" tires, and attempted to engage the Corvette
in a head-on collision. The 4Runner ended up driving over the hood
of the Corvette, crushing in the Corvette's windshield with it's
front tires. We propose that manufacturers who build such
low-slung, aerodynamically-shaped vehicles should incorporate a
frame-mounted 6-point cage to protect the occupants in the event of
a front-end collision with a SUV. Still, others have proposed that
instead of manufacturing passenger cars to tougher crash standards,
SUVs and other vehicles should instead be manufactured to the lower
crash tolerances of passenger cars! The T4MLIT thinks that all
vehicles, including sports cars, semi-tractor units, and buses,
should be built to SUV standards, to keep everything fair. But I
This brings us to the obvious conclusion that no sports cars should be driven
on rocky or rutted terrain, or they will suffer damage or even a life-threatening
roll-over. And when driven on the street, they have a tendancy to
severely injure their occupants when involved in an accident with a
well-built vehicle. To paraphrase the great Ralph Nader, all sports
cars are unsafe at any speed.
WARNING! This vehicle has stiffer springs, and less
ground clearance than you are used to. It will not handle like your
SUV. Do not attempt to drive this vehicle in the same manner as you
would your SUV; doing so may result in serious injury or even death.
Please read your owners' manual before attempting any hard-core
Note: The T4MLIT has submitted a warning-label design
proposal to the sports car manufacturers to warn new drivers of the