Ferrari Mondial

24 Sports Cars You Should Avoid At All Costs

Are you looking to get your hands on a fun car to provide you with some everyday thrills? A sports car can be an excellent option, and they don’t have to be particularly expensive to buy or own.

Unfortunately, not all sports cars are created equal. Some models will rope you in with their seductive design, only to nickel and dime you straight into poverty. Others are like the sirens with their alluring songs, or in this case, glorious engine sounds, that turn into expensive repair bills once your name is on the title.

We’ll take a closer look at 24 sports cars that are best avoided, either because they’re atrociously expensive to maintain or because they’re just plain bad.

Aston Martin DB7

1993 Aston Martin DB7
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

British carmaker Aston Martin is famous for its stylish hand-built GT cars, and the DB7 was the model that resurrected the brand to its former glory. The DB7 is from a time when Aston Martin was struggling financially, so its owners, Ford, decided to build it using parts they already had available.

That’s right, the Aston Martin DB7 is something of a container special. The switchgear is from Ford, giving the cabin a cheap feel. Other parts come from Mazda and Citroën, and the car was built on the already-aging Jaguar XJS platform. It’s still stylish to look at but not worth the price, so we’d steer clear of this sports car.

Pontiac Fiero

1984 Pontiac Fiero 
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Every gearhead knows the Pontiac Fiero, and most people don’t have anything nice to say about it. The Fiero was an affordable mid-engined sports car, but early models came with some problems.

The 4-cylinder engine was severely underpowered, and the Fiero also tended to live up to its name by catching fire. By the time Pontiac had solved its self-harm issues and fitted a more powerful V6 engine, it was too late, and nobody wanted it. The later cars are better than its reputation, though, so if you still want one, go for one of those.

Pontiac Solstice

Pontiac Solstice Coupe
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Pontiac Solstice looked cool and aggressive, but the base model didn’t really live up to expectations. Its naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine only produced 177 horsepower. Luckily, Pontiac also built the GXP version with a turbocharged 2.0-liter that pumped out 260 horses.

Pontiac’s Solstice sports car has suffered from various problems, and its reliability issues leave a lot to be desired. We’d avoid it as it has the potential to nickel and dime you into poverty.

DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

There’s no way we could leave the DeLorean DMC-12 off this list. Looks-wise, the DeLorean is second to none. It sports cool and exotic stainless steel body panels, and those gullwing doors are iconic.

That’s all there is to like about the DeLorean, though. The PRV engine was terrible, and the car was slow and very unreliable. There’s not enough nostalgia in the world to make us spend money on this.

Toyota MR2 Spyder

Toyota MR2 Spyder
Image Credit: r MercurySable99/WikiCommons.

Of all the affordable mid-engined sports cars from the ’80s, the Toyota MR2 was undoubtedly the best. Things had changed quite a bit by the time the 3rd-gen model rolled around.

While the first two generations were far from practical, the 3rd-gen car’s cabin space is limited to what you can carry in your pockets. It also didn’t have a supercharged or turbocharged version like its predecessors. The only engine option available was a 138 hp unit from the Corolla, and even that came with some reliability issues. If you want a track car, it’s still an excellent option, though.

Maserati GranTurismo

Maserati GranTurismo
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Maserati’s cars are stunning, but they have always been money pits. Quite literally, every model we can think of comes with a long list of known issues, and the GranTurismo is no different.

Some GranTurismo owners have reported that their annual running costs are well into five figures. Seeing how these cars can depreciate 60-70% within the first five years, it will almost cost the same to service it as it would to buy a used model.

Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG

Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

There’s no shortage of fun Mercedes-AMG cars out there, and the CL55 is undoubtedly one of them. Because of its fun factor, purchasing one of these used high-performance bargains may be tempting, but you really shouldn’t.

There’s a reason why the CL55 is so affordable these days. The maintenance costs are enough to bankrupt a small country, as they constantly develop new issues.

Saturn Sky

Saturn Sky
Image Credit: MercurySable99/WikiCommons.

Saturn cars were affordable, small, and lightweight, so the Saturn Sky should be great. But it wasn’t. It was ranked 16th of 23 Saturn models regarding reliability.

Saturn built it to go head-to-head with the Acura Integra, but even with a 290 horsepower engine, it still couldn’t compete. Saturn never managed to convince gearheads to buy the Sky, and it disappeared after just three years – a shame since it actually looked good and had potential.

Chrysler Crossfire

Chrysler Crossfire
Image Credit: GerdeeX/WikiCommons.

The Chrysler Crossfire has one of the coolest names in automotive history, but that’s about the only thing it had going for it. If Chrysler had done it right, the Crossfire could’ve been one of the best sports cars of the mid-2000s, but they messed up.

Chrysler decided to build it on the Mercedes-Benz R170 platform, so it was already outdated when it launched. It only had a 215 hp 3.2-liter V6 engine, so it was slow, but that was probably a good thing since it also had poor handling and road feel. The interior was cheap and suffered from shoddy build quality as well. In the end, Chrysler had to sell the Crossfire via Overstock and eBay.

First-Gen Dodge Viper

1991 Dodge Viper
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the first-gen Viper, but it’s not a sports car most people should buy. It had a massively powerful V10 engine but no safety features or driving aids, such as traction control, ABS, or airbags, making it unsuitable for inexperienced drivers.

It’s believed that when the Viper is left in the garage by itself, it spends its time plotting and scheming how to scare and potentially kill its owner – it’s downright evil… but a lot of fun for those who know what they’re doing.

Ferrari Mondial

Ferrari Mondial
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

It’s best to avoid the Ferrari Mondial if you want a sports car that’s remotely sporty. The Mondial was slow when it was new, struggling to keep up with hot-hatchbacks from the early ’80s. These days, the average Kia driven by someone’s grandmother will leave it choking on road dust.

If performance doesn’t matter, and you think the Mondial is a bargain since it’s the cheapest Ferrari available, you should know that service and maintenance still cost Ferrari money.

Porsche 986 Boxster

Porsche Boxster 986
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The 986 Boxster is now one of the most affordable and accessible Porsches you can buy. Haters will say it’s a poor man’s Porsche, but thanks to its mid-engine configuration, it can out-handle the 911.

So why wouldn’t we buy one? Because it suffers from the dreaded IMS bearing failure. Not all Boxsters will experience this problem, but if it does happen, be prepared to pay around $10,000 for a new engine. You could buy another Boxster for that money.

Fiat X1/9

Fiat X1/9
Image Credit: r Charles01/WikiCommons.

Chances are you’ll never be able to find a Fiat X1/9 for sale. Not because they’re so good that the owners don’t want to sell them. Because they suffer from such severe rust problems, most have returned to Mother Earth a long time ago.

Even if you were to find a solid Fiat X1/9, why would you want one? Sure, the Bertone-styled wedge-style sports car looks good, but it’s severely underpowered. Early models came with a 1.3-liter engine that produced 61 horsepower in US specifications. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this atrocious sports car.

Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Mazda’s RX-8 had some huge shoes to fill, as it was the successor to the iconic RX-7. Sadly, the RX-8 can’t hold a candle to its predecessor.

The Renesis 13B Wankel engine is notoriously unreliable and often requires a total rebuild every 50,000 miles. It also uses a lot of oil, and its thirst for high-octane fuel knows no equal – not exactly qualities you want in a car with today’s gas prices.

Lotus Esprit Turbo

Lotus Esprit
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Lotus Esprit was almost as famous as the Porsche 911, Ferrari Testarossa, and Lamborghini Countach. That was primarily thanks to its appearance in James Bond movies and its own line of video games.

What the movies and games didn’t mention was that the wedge-shaped Esprit had a ton of reliability issues. The Turbo version suffered from overheating as well as turbo failure. It’s a beautiful British sports car, but you’re better off avoiding it.

BMW 8-Series E31

BMW 8-Series E31
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Compared to modern BMWs, the old models were damn near bulletproof, but there are exceptions to every rule. The E31 8-series is a cool GT car that suffers from some potentially costly problems.

The 850 version, with its V12 engine, can be particularly troublesome since it features a lot of fancy technology. Considering that these cars were introduced in the ’90s, all the tech is at risk of breaking down at any moment. Most people shouldn’t buy a BMW 8-series.

Maserati Shamal

Maserati Shamal
Image Credit: WIkiCommons.

Maserati’s Shamal looks stunning, but you know it’ll come with more problems than it’s worth. It was based on the Biturbo model, which is infamous for its electrical and mechanical issues.

While the Shamal did see some overall improvements compared to the Biturbo, it still had all the same mechanical and electrical problems the brand is known for.

MG F/TF

MG-F
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

MG seriously thought they could challenge the Mazda Miata with their MG F. Ironically, Mazda had based its little roadster on MG’s past sports cars. As we all know, the MG never stood a chance against the Miata.

The MG F offered typical British build quality, which was far inferior to the Japanese. The MG’s Rover K-series engine also suffered from severe overheating issues that often led to a warped engine block.

Cadillac XLR

Cadillac XLR
Image Credit: Sirimiri/WikiCommons.

The Corvette-based Cadillac XLR sports car aged well and looks great today. It’s not something you see often, and Cadillac even added more technology and creature comforts, so what could be wrong?

These days, you can pick up an XLR for a song. Since they’re relatively cheap to buy, you might find that some previous owners didn’t follow the recommended service intervals. The XLR is also slower than the Corvette it was based on, so why not buy that instead?

Mercedes-AMG GT

Front view of three supercars. green Mercedes-AMG GTR, red Lamborghini Huracan, orange McLaren. Beautiful Machines.
Image Credit: Johnnie Rik/Shutterstock.

Mercedes-AMG introduced the GT in 2014, and it was available in coupe and roadster guise. There’s no doubt that the Mercedes-AMG GT is a fantastic machine, but you need some bottomless pockets to keep it running.

There have been several complaints about the AMG GT’s reliability – or lack thereof. It also had 36 NHTSA safety recalls related to electrical issues, fuel system problems, and various safety equipment, among other things.

Morgan Super 3

Morgan Super 3
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Morgan likes doing things the old-fashioned way, and a couple of years ago, they brought back the 3-wheeler car. This time, they didn’t use the S&S V-twin engine; instead, they opted for a 118 hp naturally aspirated 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine.

The main problem with 3-wheelers is that they aren’t the most stable on twisty roads. Morgan’s design is at least better than the Reliant Robin’s since Morgan fitted the single wheel at the rear. Still, the Morgan Super 3 is roughly as practical as a motorcycle but nowhere near as fun. Just buy a bike instead – they’re also a lot cheaper.

Honda Civic Del Sol

1994 Honda del Sol Si
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Honda Civic Del Sol is as fun to drive as the Mazda Miata. It’s also built on the Civic platform, so there’s a ton of aftermarket parts for it. So why is it on this list?

The Del Sol came with a Targa roof, which leaks. It doesn’t matter if you buy brand-new parts directly from Honda to fix the leaks. They may stop for a short while but will be back sooner rather than later. It will drip in where the roof meets the windshield/A-pillar, and if you don’t park it in a garage, you’ll have a wet floor and seat.

Ferrari F355

Ferrari F355
Image Credit: Lothar Spurzem/WikiCommons.

After Honda/Acura sent Ferrari back to the drawing board when the NSX destroyed the 348, the Italian prancing horse returned with the F355. It was better than its predecessor in every imaginable way, yet we still wouldn’t touch one with a ten-foot pole.

The F355’s 3.5-liter V8 has suffered from some issues. There were poorly fitted screw clamps that could rupture the fuel lines, which could ignite and turn the car into a pile of ashes. Ferrari did fix that, but then there are the weak valve guides, and it also has brittle exhaust headers. Fixing it can set you back over $10,000, provided you notice it in time; if not, you may have to get a new engine.

Smart Roadster

Smart Roadster
Image Credit: Dennis Elzinga/WikiCommons.

We don’t know if any research was done to find out if there was a market for the Smart Roadster. It’s a sports car version of a city car, which made it less practical and more expensive.

When new, it cost the same as a Miata and offered nowhere near the same performance. It only has a 0.7-liter engine, so it’s sluggish and won’t keep up with anything remotely interesting on your favorite stretch of road.

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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