The Top Ten Most Under-Powered American Cars Of The Malaise Era – Who’s The Feeblest Of Them All?


#1:  1986 Ford Tempo Diesel  –  48.5 lbs/hp

2522 lbs; 52 hp

Technically, this is the winner. But how many Tempos diesels were sold? A few dozen? A couple of hundred, maybe? It wins on its stats, but the 1975 Granada, which was built by the hundreds of thousands and has a gasoline engine, is still the winner in my book.


Obviously, I didn’t get into all the imports, for a number of reasons. One was just the sheer number. And there’s the fact that for the most part, their power to weight ratios didn’t drop as much during the Malaise Era as American cars did. But I decided to check a few random ones to see how they would compare:

1981 Peugeot 504 diesel wagon: 3410 lbs; 71 hp  = 48 lbs/hp.  Right up there with the Tempo diesel.

1974 Mercedes 240D: 3080 lbs; 62 hp = 49.7 lbs/hp. A winner!

I’m hard pressed to think of two imports during this era with a less favorable power-to-weight ratio, but perhaps you can. And if you can find other American cars with better stats, let’s see them and get this updated.







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