Alfa Romeo Brera

24 Affordable Sports Cars That Will Bankrupt You Through Maintenance And Repairs

Scouring the web, we’ve found plenty of used sports cars we can actually afford to buy. There are websites filled with affordable luxury models that cost a small fortune when they were new. We’re not going to lie; it’s tempting to buy a Maserati or Porsche for the same money as a two-year-old Toyota.

Being able to buy one doesn’t mean we can afford to maintain and repair it, though. Often, regular running costs can be several thousand dollars per year. That’s without anything breaking and having to be repaired.

We get that nobody buys a sports car expecting it to be practical. They’re low and don’t offer much interior space, but they’re so desirable we can live with that. Something that’s a lot harder to accept is that many sports cars are ridiculously unreliable, even ones built by otherwise reputable manufacturers. Take a look at these 24 affordable sports cars that will bankrupt you through maintenance and repairs.

E63 BMW M6

2010 BMW M6 E63
Image Credit: Alexandre Prévot/WikiCommons.

The E63 BMW M6 was a great success when it was first released. The E63 M6 could’ve been one of the best M cars ever if it weren’t for its engine reliability issues.

BMW fitted the 500+ horsepower S85 V10 engine, infamous for being troublesome these days. Rod bearings, oil leaks, and throttle actuators are known problems with this engine, and they all cost thousands to fix. In addition, the M6 also suffers from transmission failure and other issues. No wonder the M6 is so cheap these days.

Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Mazda RX-8 will never achieve the same status among JDM fans as its predecessor, the RX-7. While the RX-7 wasn’t the most reliable sports car, it’s nowhere near as bad as the RX-8.

Mazda’s Renesis 13B Wankel engine drinks premium fuel, and its oil consumption is excessive. The apex seals wear out, and the engine needs regular rebuilds every 50-60,000 miles. We’d avoid this sports car at all costs.

Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The stylish and aggressive Jaguar XK is much cheaper today than when it first hit the market. While buying one of these luxurious beasts may be tempting, we’d advise against it.

The Jag XK has a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine known to cause a few headaches. In addition, there are electrical issues, and some owners have complained about brake failure and a sticking throttle.

Acura RSX Type-S

2005 Acura RSX Type-S
Image Credit: Russell Purcell/Flickr.

Honda and Acura were on a roll in the 2000s. The Acura RSX, sold as the Honda Integra overseas, could’ve been great. It delivered on all its promises, except for reliability.

The Acura RSX Type-S really is a sports car bargain, but don’t buy one unless you’re prepared to potentially deal with gearbox problems, leaky gaskets, faulty oil pressure sensors, and various other minor niggles.

Audi S5

2010 Audi S5
Image Credit: Russell Purcell/Flickr.

The Audi S5 is stylish and luxurious, and it’s also very cheap on the used market. Some owners report that their S5 has been practically bulletproof; others have nothing nice to say about it.

RepairPal states a 17% chance of the Audi S5 suffering from a severe or major issue, compared to 12% for other luxury midsize models. Carbon build-up, worn control arm bushings, various gasket leaks, failing fuel pumps, and broken transmissions are the most common problems.

Alfa Romeo GTV6

Alfa Romeo GTV6
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Top Gear taught us that you’re not a real gearhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Unfortunately, the brand isn’t exactly known for reliability. The GTV6 looks fantastic and sounds even better, so it may be tempting to buy one.

These cars were among the last models Alfa Romeo built before Fiat took over. While they’re often not as bad as their reputation would have you believe, expect to pull your hair out if you buy one. Electrical issues are pretty much guaranteed, but also engine failure, loss of power, vibrating steering wheel, and the list goes on.

Nissan 300ZX

1989 Nissan 300ZX
Image Credit: Kazyakuruma/WikiCommons.

The Nissan 300ZX is a desirable Japanese sports car, largely thanks to the very tunable engine. Speaking of which, that engine does come with some troubles.

Worn turbochargers are known to fail, the car suffers from electrical issues, and the fueling- and cooling systems can cause problems. The rear diff on the Twin-Turbo model is also known to fail. Since it’s an old car crammed with tech, things are bound to go wrong at some point. The 300ZX is also known for being challenging to work on because of its cramped engine bay filled with complex wiring and plumbing.

BMW Z4

BMW Z4
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The BMW Z4 can be a great purchase, but you need to be prepared for something to go wrong, and being a Bimmer, it usually will be costly to fix.

Like most modern cars, the Z4 is complicated, and electrical gremlins cause the most common issues. A joint on the driveshaft has been known to fail. Oil leaks, coolant leaks, and failing control arm bushings are other issues reported by owners.

Aston Martin DB9

2003 Aston Martin DB9
Image Credit: Aston Martin.

The Aston Martin DB9 is one of the most stylish, used cars you can buy. Unfortunately, being a British luxury sports car, it comes with some issues, and ownership won’t be cheap.

If you plan to use it daily, expect annual maintenance costs to be around $4,000 if nothing else breaks. The fuel will probably set you back a similar amount.

Alfa Romeo Brera

Alfa Romeo Brera
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The Alfa Romeo Brera is a stunner, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the Italian carmaker. It won multiple awards when it first arrived, including “Most Beautiful Car in the World” at the 2006 International Automobile Festival.

As with any Alfa, there are some pitfalls to be aware of. Electrical issues and annoying minor mechanical stuff are bound to happen. The Brera also needs a new timing chain every 100,000 miles, but some owners have reported issues before that. If you find a car nearing that magic number, only buy it if you get an excellent deal.

Maserati Quattroporte

Maserati Quattroporte
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Maserati has one of the worst reputations of the entire auto industry regarding depreciation. During the first five years, a Maserati tends to lose 60% of its original value.

The Maserati Quattroporte is no different. Electrical gremlins, engine problems, brake failure, and steering issues are known to rear their ugly heads. Maserati parts aren’t exactly cheap, neither are dealership mechanics. If you want some money back when you sell it, you’ll have to service it at dealerships.

Porsche 986 Boxster

Porsche Boxster 986
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The 986 Boxster is often called a poor man’s Porsche. Yes, it’s one of the cheapest Porsches you can buy, but it’s also a great sports car in its own right. Thanks to its mid-mounted engine, it even handles better than its big brother, the 911.

The Boxster does have one severe issue, though. The IMS bearing is known to fail. It’s less common than the internet will have you believe, but it can happen to any 986 Boxster. If it does, it typically requires a new engine, which can cost as much as buying an old Boxster in the first place.

Mercedes-Benz SLK250

Mercedes-Benz SLK250
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The Mercedes-Benz SLK250 is a direct competitor to the Porsche Boxster and a great alternative if you prefer the traditional front-engine layout rather than a mid-engined car.

There have been a few recalls over the years, and owners are complaining about engine, transmission, and suspension troubles. Maintenance costs will be around $1,500 annually, but the SLK250 has also suffered from depreciation, potentially losing you even more money.

Fiat Coupe Turbo

Fiat Coupe Turbo
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Before the 124 Spider, the Fiat Coupe Turbo was the Italian manufacturer’s last mass-produced sports car. Like most Italian sports cars, the Fiat Coupe’s styling was on-point.

Fiat based the car on the old Tipo platform, and while the 220-horsepower 2.0-liter engine made the car relatively quick, it was also its downfall. Sooner or later, the Fiat Coupe will experience fatal engine failure, with plumes of smoke often being the only indication that it’s on its last verse.

Jaguar F-Type

2019 Jaguar F-Type
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Jaguar F-Type is a very desirable British sports car. It looks great and makes all the right noises, so it turns heads everywhere it goes.

Unfortunately, it also makes a lot of bad noises. There are squeaks and rattles that can be difficult to fix. The F-Type also suffers from a leaky differential. On the supercharged V6 and V8 models, the timing chain is known to jump due to faulty tensioners and guides – this can lead to a complete engine rebuild.

Honda Prelude

Honda Prelude SiR.S
Image Credit: Honda Prelude SiR.S/Flickr.

The Honda Prelude was a flagship model filled with fancy tech, and that can often become a problem with age.

As with most Japanese cars from this era, rust can be a serious concern. In fact, it’s potentially the Prelude’s worst problem. The Prelude is also known to develop gearbox issues on models fitted with a manual transmission. Various engine issues, such as sticking valves and timing belt tensioner failure, can also pop up.

Maserati Biturbo

Maserati Biturbo
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Maserati Biturbo has a design you’ll either love or hate. If you love how it looks, you may be tempted to buy one of these cars; after all, it’s considered one of the most important Maseratis ever.

The Biturbo was the first production car fitted with two turbochargers, which was groundbreaking. However, the twin-turbo setup is known to cause problems. The Biturbo also comes with other reliability issues and electrical gremlins. Steer clear unless you’re a good mechanic.

Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird (11th Gen)
Image Credit: Kevauto/WikiCommons

Ford’s retro-styled Thunderbird was a massive failure. Initially, it sold well, but the car-buying public soon realized it was essentially a Lincoln LS in a fancy dress.

Most owner complaints are about the Thunderbird’s Jaguar-sourced 3.9-liter V8 engine. It has many problems, including stalling, overheating, running roughly, etc.

Porsche 911 996

Porsche 911 996
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The 996 is the least loved of all the 911s, primarily because of its headlight design. It also caught some flak for being water-cooled back when it was first introduced, but Porsche fans have gotten used to that since then.

However, its water-cooled engine is why it’s on this list. The 996 may be the cheapest way to become a 911 owner, but it suffers from the same infamous IMS-bearing issue as the Boxster. Buying a cheap 996 could bankrupt you if the engine must be replaced.

BMW 850 CSi

BMW 850 CSi
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

BMW introduced the 8-series in the early 1990s, and it was a sight to behold. This flagship model had a stylish design and pop-up headlights. The top-spec version even came with a 5.0-liter V12 engine.

Being a flagship model, BMW crammed it full of technology, which hasn’t aged well. The V12 engine has 2 ECUs, and it can be a nightmare to repair if something goes wrong.

Aston Martin DB7

1993 Aston Martin DB7
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Another Aston Martin that can be picked up for much less than most people think. If you want to impress the neighbors, the DB7 will undoubtedly do that, at least until it’s broken down and permanently parked in the garage.

Aston Martin was owned by Ford when the DB7 was launched, and it was built on a budget. Owning and maintaining the ‘entry-level’ Aston Martin will be costly. Steering issues, electrical gremlins, vibrations, water leaks, cracked exhaust headers, and warped brake discs are among the most common problems.

Saturn Sky

Saturn Sky
Image Credit: MercurySable99/WikiCommons.

GM brands suffered in the early 2000s, and Saturn was nearly bankrupt. They decided to build the Sky, a sports car for the masses, to boost sales.

Saturn did get some things right with the Sky, as it was a fun sports car regular people could afford. However, it was affordable because it was developed on a strict budget, which meant corners had been cut. The Saturn Sky is unrefined and unreliable. Fixing some of its issues may not cost a fortune, but over time, it’ll nickel and dime you into poverty.

Maserati GranTurismo

Maserati GranTurismo
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get behind the wheel of an old Maserati GranTurismo. However, it will eventually cost you a fortune to keep it running.

It’s filled with Italian electrical gremlins. While the engine is an excellent Ferrari-sourced unit, it certainly won’t be cheap to service it at your local Ferrari dealership. Make sure you have tissues nearby to wipe your tears once the GranTurismo starts acting up, and be prepared to tell the kids they won’t attend college.

Pontiac Fiero

1984 Pontiac Fiero 
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Pontiac Fiero is best known for donating its platform to various kit car builds. Pontiac got some things right towards the end, but people had given up on it by then, and nobody wanted one.

Early Fieros are infamous for catching fire and for their poor build quality. Keeping one of these sports cars running is almost pointless, as there are better cars out there for the same amount of money – and they’re also cheaper to maintain.

Andre Nalin

Author: Andre Nalin

Title: Writer

Bio:

Andre has worked as a writer and editor for multiple car and motorcycle publications over the last decade, but he has reverted to freelancing these days. He has accumulated a ton of seat time during his ridiculous road trips in highly unsuitable vehicles, and he’s built magazine-featured cars. He prefers it when his bikes and cars are fast and loud, but if he had to pick one, he’d go with loud.

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