Alfa Romeo Arna

15 Vintage Italian Models That No One Likes

Italy is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia, and Maserati—four of the most famous and iconic names in motoring history. 

Over the years, these companies and more have produced some fantastic automobiles. But Italy, God’s racetrack, has also made its fair share of clangers.

This list contains 15 vintage Italian models that nobody likes. We have included a few more modern cars to fill out the list, but they all have a reputation they would love to shake off.

Fiat Multipla

2002 Fiat Multipla Front Quarter VIew
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

While not technically vintage, the Fiat Multipla is one of Italy’s most polarizing cars. The concept was simple. Create a large, six-seater using the Bravo/Brava as the basis, with two rows of three seats and plenty of luggage space.

The execution was good. The Multipla had plenty of space inside for its occupants and luggage without making them feel cramped. The issue was that it looked so unusual that buyers outside of Italy never resonated with it. Fiat even gave the Multipla a facelift in the mid-2000s. So this was a great car that couldn’t shake off its unusual styling.

Alfa Romeo Arna

Alfa Romeo Arna
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Alfa Romeo Arna is an unusual product. It was the result of an alliance between Alfa Romeo and Nissan. The Italian manufacturer wanted to replace its Alfasud but needed more funds, so it turned to Nissan.

The Arna was what came from that partnership, but it quickly became something of a joke. The styling was dull, lacking any Italian flair or Japanese sportiness. The handling could have been better, as was typical of some Nissans of the era, and the Italian electronics under the hood caused many problems. The formula to create the Arna didn’t work.

Maserati Biturbo

1984 Maserati Biturbo
Image Credit: dave_7/WikiCommons.

The Maserati Biturbo was the manufacturer’s attempt at creating an Italian version of a high-performance, luxury BMW. The Biturbo became a family of executive grand tourers, which Maserati had produced for over ten years.

Despite its long production time, the Biturbo is less fondly remembered than other Maseratis, such as the Bora. The various engines suffered from overheating and poor build quality throughout its production run. The biggest problem was that the Biturbo ended Maserati’s involvement with the American market. 

Lancia Beta Berlina

1976 Lancia Beta Berlina
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Lancia was once at the forefront of Italian car design. But that came to a crashing halt thanks to the Lancia Beta Berlina, a fantastic car apart from one serious issue. The Berlina and other Beta models were all involved in a massive recall in the UK in the 1980s due to severe rust in areas such as the engine mountings. 

Lancia was then forced, at great expense, to buy back a whole host of Betas and then provide their owners with replacements. This cost Lancia well over $1 million and shattered the company’s reputation. Lancia never recovered, and a few years later, it pulled out of the right-hand drive market altogether. At the time, Britain was the company’s biggest market outside of Italy.

Maserati Quattroporte 2

Maserati Quattroporte 2
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Quattroporte is one of the most famous models in Maserati’s history. The second generation debuted in 1974. Produced until 1978, the new Quattroporte was a massive downgrade on the outgoing model.

Maserati was at the time owned by Citroen, and an extended Citroen SM chassis would be the car’s underpinnings. That alone caused issues, but more pressing was the feeble 3.0-liter V6 under the hood that produced just 200 hp. The Bertone styling was surprisingly bland, and in the end, Maserati produced just 12 production cars.

Fiat Argenta

Fiat Argenta
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Fiat produced the Argenta from 1981 to 1985. It was a large family car that replaced the previous Fiat 132. The 132 was a hugely successful car, selling over one million units, but the Argenta struggled to replicate this.

Fiat simply redesigned the 132 into the Argenta, which meant the 132’s poor trains, such as its poor handling, were all carried over into the new model. While the twin-cam engine under the hood was good enough, the later 77 hp diesel from an Iveco truck was decidedly gutless.

Lancia Voyager

Lancia Voyager
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Following the rust scandal that badly hurt the company, Lancia became a shadow of its former self. It went from producing cars as legendary as the Fulvia, Stratos, 037, and Delta Integrale to awful things such as the Ypsilon and the Voyager minivan.

The Voyager wasn’t even a Lancia. It was just the Chrysler Voyager minivan, slapped with a Lancia badge to sell the vehicle in Europe. As far as minivans went, it was average. But as far as a Lancia goes, the Voyager was criminal and showed how far the Italian company had fallen

Lancia Gamma

Lancia Gamma
Image Credit: Lancia Gamma/Flickr.

The Gamma is one of the finest-looking Lancias that the Italian manufacturer has produced. It has sleek curves, straight lines, and distinctive styling, making it an incredibly handsome car. But it did have its flaws.

The 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter flat-four engines produced just 120 and 140 hp, respectively. However, their most significant issue was the severe power steering issue. Lancia engineers drove the pump off the camshaft, which could cause a total engine failure with bent valves when turning the wheel to full lock. This was more prominent if the engine was cold. As one-half remained unaffected, running the engine could result in total failure.

1988 Chrysler TC By Maserati

1988 Chrysler TC By Maserati
Image Credit: Pinterest.

The Chrysler TC by Maserati is a terrible American and Italian car at the same time. The idea was simple. Create an Italian sports car, bring it to North America, and sell it at Chrysler dealerships under the American manufacturer’s name. That sounds simple enough.

The problem was, however, that the Chrysler TC by Maserati was more Chrysler than Maserati. The first engine under the hood, the 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-four, was also two years late. Chrysler executives called the TC hopeless, and dealerships across America struggled to sell any of them.

Polski Fiat 126p

Polski Fiat 126p
Image Credit: Adrian Kot/Flickr.

The Fiat 126 replaced the iconic Fiat 500, and the Italian manufacturer allowed car production under license in Poland. Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych produced the car, becoming the Polski Fiat 126p.

It was cheap and readily available, becoming the most common car in Poland in the 1980s. The 126p was only a small city car, but as it was the only choice for most families, they had no choice but to buy it. Demand was so high that there was a two-year waiting list, and compared to comparable cars in the West, the 126p was incredibly outdated.

Fiat Strada (Ritmo) Cabrio

Fiat Strada (Ritmo) Cabrio
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

In the 1980s, Fiat wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. The idea of a small, convertible hot hatchback appealed to many, so they devised the Strada Cabrio.

Yet, where the Mk1 Golf was a handsome car, the huge anti-roll bar and low waistline made the Strada Cabrio look ungainly. Poor quality control, a lot of shaking when driving it, and poor performance were added to the mixture, and the Strada Cabrio was a recipe for disaster.

Fiat Stilo

Fiat Stilo
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Like the Multipla, the Fiat Stilo stretches the limit of vintage, but it is still worthy of a place on this list. The biggest issue was the Stilo’s drab and dreary design, which was easy to miss even if it was the only car in sight.

The problem was that Fiat was having a confidence issue, even though underneath the plain exterior was a good, solid, and reliable car. Fiat had banished many electrical and reliability problems in the past few years. Sadly, its attempts at becoming the Italian Volkswagen never resonated with the consumer.

Covini C6W

Covini C6W
Image Credit: Andrew Basterfield/WikiCommons.

Demand for a six-wheeled supercar has never been exceptionally high, but that didn’t stop Italian firm Covini Engineering from developing the Covini C6W. The small company took inspiration directly from the 1976 Tyrell P34 six-wheel F1 car and fitted it with a 434 hp 4.2-liter Audi V8. 

The C6W worked despite many expectations. Its top speed was also impressive at 186 mph, and its Audi engine was reliable. However, the vast $400,000 price tag for a car nobody wanted didn’t work. With most consumers still preferring their supercars to have four wheels, the C6W faded into the shadows. 

Alfa Romeo 90

Alfa Romeo 90
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Alfa Romeo only produced the 90 from 1984 to 1987. The all-new Alfa Romeo 90 as a new car was just the previous Alfa Romeo Alfetta with a redesigned body. In fact, the 90 still sat on the same chassis as the Alfetta, with the engines coming from the Alfa 6. 

During the mid-1980s, Alfa Romeo struggled for cash and needed to save money wherever possible. The 90 was its attempt at taking the Alfetta into a new generation, but it gave the public the impression that it was an all-new car. It didn’t work, and the outdated executive car lasted just four years.

Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

While it might be a modern car, the Fiat 500L is so terrible it deserves a place here. The 500L is a minivan version of the reborn Fiat 500, but it was stretching the truth a bit by using the 500 moniker in its name. Famous for its small size, the 500L was anything but small.

Fiat used the L suffix to denote that the car was “large,” and despite a production run of 10 years, the 500L had its problems. The 500L’s poor build quality was evident, as was the main Fiat 500 model. With base power at just 79 hp, it was a gutless minivan. Even the most potent 1.4-liter MuliAir Turbo, with 160 hp, was anemic.

Henry Kelsall

Author: Henry Kelsall

Title: Writer

Bio:

Henry has freelanced for over eight years now, mostly in automotive matters, but he has also dabbled in other forms of writing too. He has a lot of love for Japanese classics and American muscle cars, in particular the Honda NSX and first-generation Ford Mustang. When not writing, Henry is often found at classic car events or watching motorsports at home, but he also has a curious passion for steam trains.

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