Autocross events are among the few low-cost ways of racing. Go to some place with a lot of tarmac early in the morning, sit through a safety talk of some sort, know what work you're assigned to do, and then get 3-4 runs on a course that takes less than a minute to complete. And the best part is any car can take part! But there are some that shouldn't.
The cars on this list have the potential to: knock down dizzying amounts of cones (so the corner workers will hate you), leave bits of car and fluids on the racing line (so other competitors will hate you), or crash into lamp posts, fences, signs, or any other physical barriers (so the organizers will hate you).
There are only five cars on this list, as I gave people a lot more to be angry about last week. And no, the Corvette is not on this list.
Author's Note: I was tempted to put the Smart fortwo on here, but I foresaw the argument for it (and was a bit worn down from the last list's criticism). It's rear-drive, mid-engined, and it has the structural rigidity. And it's safe as numerous people have attested to from the last list. But its minuses are the small wheels, the maddening transmission, and no space for carrying the helmet, cones, and water bottles needed to keep cool for corner work. Meanwhile, I'll be swallowing my pride about writing that the Smart is relatively safe...
In case you haven't watched the Top Gear segment on the Robin, it will tip over on corners that need sharp turn-in, a hallmark of any autocross course. There's absolutely no question of that. It may be hilarious fun to watch for the first five minutes or so. After that, it just becomes tedious righting the car every 30 seconds. And the people in line behind the Robin will become impatient waiting to do their run. People will then cringe whenever they see a Robin at the starting line. In fact, an award should be given to the Robin driver that completes the course without tipping over.
Renault Fuego (1982-1985)
I'm a fan of French cars, especially the big Citroëns and any French hot hatchback. But the Fuego is a major reason why French cars aren't sold in the US. First off, they rust like crazy. This possibly means there'll be bits of car all over the racing line. And it has a tendency to overheat, maybe a result of the car's name. There's also the head gasket issue. And these were even recalled because the steering wheel could fall off. Not something you'd want to happen during an autocross. At this rate, it's a much better candidate for LeMons. With all this, it's no wonder the Prelude dominated the sports coupe market.
These are the actions of a Veyron driver on the first run: Engage launch control. Press accelerator completely down. Watch the power needle go to 1001 hp. Realize you have to brake.Brake. BRAKE! Notice that you can't see what's behind those huge A-pillars. Check if the speedometer is pointing to 0, which it isn't. Hit the lamp post that those pillars were hiding. Get out of the car. View the numerous cones you knocked over in the process. Then look at the damage on the car and think "It's only money." Incur angry stares from all the people doing corner work. Casually beckon to your staff to unload the Aventador off the trailer for the next run, all while the organizers are scrambling to throw you out of the event.
Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Diesel (in fact, any GM car with the Olds V-8 diesel)
As a Jalopnik rule, any rear-drive manual diesel station wagon is the ultimate dream car. The diesel Cutlass Cruiser is the exception with the Oldsmobile 5.7-liter diesel V-8. And GM tried hard to play up the fuel efficiency. But I should include all the GM diesel cars made in the late 1970s and early 1980s because they were responsible for diesel's bad image for much of the late 1980s and 1990s. Avoid the Olds 4.3-liter diesel V-8 which has a worse reputation than the 5.7-liter, with 90 hp and a propensity to implode at any point. And the thick black smoke will give environmentalists sufficient ammunition to ban further autocross events in that area for life.
(Pictured is the Brougham, since the print advertisement for the diesel wagon was too small to embed.)
Anything with a CVT
This one comes from personal experience. Now, my strategy during an autocross is to overdrive the car on the first run, so you know immediately where the limits are. In a car with actual gears, I know which gear and rev range the engine should be in. With a CVT, I have to throw that out the window because the engine sounds the same at any point. This poses problems when determining braking points, because they come right when you think “I have to slow down or I knock down that cone right in front of me!” And you promptly understeer spectacularly nearly knocking over the "SLOW" sign in the process. Which happens when autocrossing the 2013 Altima after driving a Camry. It is the only time I've legitimately been yelled at during an autocross.
Feel free to add cars that you think shouldn't compete in an autocross in the comments below. (Though it'll totally be criticism of my choices and my halfhearted attempts to defend them.)
This list originally appeared on my Kinja blog BecauseCAR.
All car photographs courtesy of the respective manufacturers. First image courtesy YouTube.