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April 18, 2019
My first sports car was a station wagon
Despite my lack of mechanical aptitude, I'm fascinated by cars. And, while I've favored Jeeps over the past two decades, I ached for a proper sports car in my youth. "Sports cars” are an elusive concept, however. They're known for handling and performance, whereas the universe of two-door cars includes those designed for different purposes altogether: so-called "sporty cars." Let's take a look and see why two doors don’t make a sports car.
I don’t believe there is any universally-accepted definition of “sports car.” Furthermore, there is the modifier “sporty” that can be applied to virtually any car in a given context. So the answer to your question isn’t quite crystal clear. A few examples.
The Smart Car provides efficient urban transport. Some may even consider it “sporty” because of its cute styling and graphics.
This is the Ford Granada, a popular car in the 1970s. It was considered a small two-door that could be equipped as an entry-level luxury car (note the “opera windows” that were considered a luxury car feature). The Granada was a “personal car” or “second car” from that era — not typically purchased as a family’s primary car.
The Ford Edsel from the 1950s was offered in various forms, including a two-door. While buyers from that era may actually have considered it “sporty,” it would fail any practical definition of a “sports car.”
And then there are cars like this AMC Gremlin that defy categorization. It, too, was considered “sporty” in its day (note the “racing stripes” as they would have been called in the 1970s). I learned to drive in a ’74 Gremlin. Was it a sports car? Not in my opinion. Sporty? At the time, yes.
Some two-doors are designed to deliver reliable transportation as economically as possible. Case in point, the enormously popular Toyota Corolla from the 1970s. Drivers of the era found them fun to drive, as I recall. But it was an economy car first.
But — just to obfuscate the topic — this is a Datsun 510. It was offered as a two-door, four-door, and station wagon. The Datsun 510 was and remains famous as an SCCA racing platform (SCCA = Sports Car Club of America). So while it was a direct competitor to the Toyota Corolla shown above, it is legitimately considered a sports car, especially when properly modified. And -- it was the first car I ever drove as my parents owned one. Sadly, it was a station wagon.
(The above is not our actual car, but it's twin. Photo was filched via Google Images.)I hope the preceding has been fun, if not helpful.
[Since your question specifically notes “car,” I have excluded two-door pickups, SUVs, and other vehicles from this brief discussion.]