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The first sport sedan

andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
edited March 7 in Alfa Romeo
BMW owners will probably tell you that the 2002
was the first real sport sedan but that's not so.
--The Jaguar 3.4 Mk.I was introduced ca. 1955 and eventually morphed into the beloved 3.8 Mk.II, a formidable factor in sedan racing during the 60's.
--Another candidate would be the Alfa Giulietta
Berline. I'm not sure what year it was introduced but it and it's descendants definitely
did well in racing.
--The MiniCooper S was tearing up the racetracks of Europe and America well before the introduction of the 2002.

Any other candidates?


  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    The Audi Fox and Saab 99 from the '70s.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    This little SAAB based on the 95 had some performance enhancements (I don't remember exactly which enhancements). It came out around '62 or '63 and was named after SAAB's victory at the challenging Monte Carlo Rally which came several years prior to that of the Mini-Cooper S. It's kind of interesting that two of the earliest sports sedans were fwd (at a time when fwd was rare). The 99
    didn't come along until '68 or so and had (as I heard from an owner)more power than a 2002 even before it was turboed in the mid-70s.

    The Audi Fox which came along in about '73 wasn't really very sporty
    although it's architecture became the basis for an entire generation
    of fwd VWs and Audis.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    the Audi 100 out way before the Audi Fox? I know the original 100 (I wanna say it debuted in '72 or '73) not a reliable car, though.

    OK, wasn't the first sports sedan any Chevy four-door made in '61-62 with a 409? Just kidding, sorta.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    but it wasn't a sports sedan either. Nick looking car for the time but trouble-prone (esp. the inboard brakes) to the extent that when Audi introduced it's successor the 5000 the name was changed (although the 5000 was called the Audi 100 in Europe.
    -Ghulet you could make a case for those early muscle cars like the Chevy 409s, Ford 406s and 390s and Plymouth/Dodge 426s. These could all be ordered w. heavy-duty suspensions and brakes. When so equipped they were decent handlers by standards of the day.
    -If we take this line of reasoning the first sports sedan may have been
    The 1955 Chrysler 300!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    "Picture a bright red 1960 Chevrolet Impala four-door with all the comforts of home--and yet with acceleration and handling not too far behind a standard Corvette. That's a thumbnail sketch of (the) 'police' Chevy."

    That's from a March 1960 road test written by Roger Huntington for Motor Life.

    The car he tested had 348/305, HD Powerglide, 3.55 Posi, HD springs and shocks. This wasn't actually the police package since that was only available on the Biscayne, Belair or Brookwood four-door wagon. The police package consisted of stiffer springs and shocks, hard bushings, HD steering knuckles and wheel hubs, HD roller wheel bearings, sintered metallic brake linings and 15" wheels. Not available with OD, Posi or wheel discs. LPO 1108, $49.50.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    I think those American cars were monsters. Even all stiffened up, they'd pogo stick five lanes to the left when they hit a bump. Fun cars, great cars, but nothing "sports" about them that I can remember. You could beef them up to flat track, though, maybe on smooth ovals, and steer with the gas pedal.

    The Audi 100LS might be called one of the first "eurosedans", which is a good handling, 4--door GT type car, but again it didn't much have the look and feel of anything "sporty". But I agree, it was a lot more car than the Audi Fox, which I recall as a modest and kind of boring little car.

    The Saab Monte Carlo was a fun, fun car. I wish I had one.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    Did I get those numbers right? Although Volvos Post-244 became known as fairly stodgy, even slow
    the earliest were quite sporty for their time and did rather well in sedan racing and rallying.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Yes, the PV544 was sportier than most. They even made a "B-18 Sport". It's still a fun car to drive.

    Alfa Romeo made a very fierce little sedan in 1963 called the Guilia TI super. It looked just like a regular Alfa 4-door "Berlina" but had thinner sheet metal, no sound-deadening and plexiglass door glass that didn't work, a 5-speed floor shift, Campagnolo wheels, light weight bucket seats. With a bumped-up engine and 200 lbs less weight, it looked like an Alfa sedan but it was significantly more fun. It would slaughter a PV544 I think, with 130+HP and a weight advantage.
  • mminerbimminerbi Posts: 88
    How about the late '50s Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1300 sedan? I drove one in Italy, and was very impressed, considering what was on the market from that period. It was refined, with excellent road manners, and its spirited acceleration rivaled some 1600s of its day.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Oh, yeah, Alfas in the 50s were way ahead of their time. Think about it. In 1956 you got 4 on the floor (later 5), buckets, dohc alloy engine, good brakes and handling, easy drop top, stylishness and good fuel economy. Does that sound like the year 2000 or what?
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Maybe the first for a domestic automaker, the Ford Fairmont. Basically, a Mustang with a 4-door body. Certainly no smoker by todays standards, but when you consider what was out at the time, a Midsize car with a V-8 looked pretty good, and most of the Mustang aftermarket goodies will bolt right up, so it's certainly a car with potential. And certainly a car nobody would suspect of being fast.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    You'd be off by a couple of decades. The Fairmont came out way later than the first domestic sport sedan! As far as I can tell it was the Chrysler 300 (1955).

    As for being sport sedan because it shared the Fox platform and the 302 with the Mustang,!
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Maybe even the Hudson Hornet. They were pretty quick and are actually vintage raced and lovingly restored today. So they must have had something to capture people's imagination all these years. Same with the Chrysler. If the Fairmont was a sport sedan, nobody noticed back then, as that was not how people regarded it.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Yeah, I was thinking about the 7X Hudson, ideally with the "police" parts they used in NASCAR. Speaking of NASCAR, the '49 Plymouth won a championship--maybe that was the first American sports sedan ;-). No, I owned a '50 Plymouth, nothing sporty about it.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Peopel are actually beefing up some of those old late 40s, early 50s slugs and racing them in the "Nevada Carrera". It's just gentlemanly vintage racing, but they do go like hell. I guess Juan Fangio started his career in a '41 Chevy sedan.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Yes, and David E. Davis spent his entire fortune restoring not Fangio's car (that would almost be worth it) but one "just like it". Made for some interesting articles.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    If not DEDs got rocks in his head, IMO. I'd have replicated any number of more interesting cars that JMF drove.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I thought that when he first got into the project but I'm 99% sure a subsequent article indicated it was a repro. Could be wrong--maybe I misread it. I'm not sure what Fangio drove (all I really know about him is that incredible come-from-behind win at the Nurburgring) but a '41 Chevy might have been the cheapest option.
  • bburlandbburland Posts: 5
    Greetings: If the discussion is actually about the first sport SEDAN, then, by definition, the BMW 2002 (and the 1600, for that matter) and the 850 SAAB are automatically eliminated, as they had only two doors, despite having a fixed roof. I'm surprised that the only mention of the British car industry is a passing refernece to Jaguar. Lest we forget, the Brits were producing some pretty hot (for their day) large iron back in the '30s and '40s. Some came equipped with hydraulic brakes (a rarity for the time), supercharging from the factory, pre-selector gearboxes and two or three carbs. Coming to mind are the 2-litre Bristol, 2.5-litre Riley, the Sunbeam-Talbot 10, and, of course, the Blower Bentley, all of which were hot rods, in and of themselves, and wild machines in racing trim. Let's harken back to the days of 'balls out' machinery if we're going to talk about 'firsts.'
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Well, historically 2 doors can certainly be sedans. A sedan differs from a coupe in having more room for rear passengers.

    I suppose one could reach way back but the 30s and 40s concept of "sport" doesn't usually sit well with the modern enthusiast, as the performance seems, in hindsight, a bit off the mark.

    But surely the British have always placed a high regard on the "sporting" car, but not all that many of their closed cars were thrilling to drive. I suppose for a postwar offering the Bentley Continental might be good candidate for an early sport sedan.

    Another car that pops into my mind is the 3.8 Jaguar Mark IIs.
This discussion has been closed.