If there’s one thing Italy is known for, it’s fantastic sports cars. Italy is home to renowned sports car manufacturers like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Maserati, not to mention famous design houses like Pininfarina and Bertone. Over the last century, these Italian manufacturers have built many iconic sports cars, including the Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini Miura, and Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.
However, Italian automakers are not perfect, as they’ve also built many horrible sports cars over the years. This article explores ten bad classic Italian sports cars gearheads should avoid at all costs.
10 Ferrari Mondial
There’s no such thing as an entry-level Ferrari. Not that the automaker hasn’t tried to build one, but every time it does, it ends up being a failure. The Mondial is a perfect example of that, as it’s widely considered to be Ferrari’s worst model.
The Mondial debuted in the early ’80s as Ferrari’s most affordable model. Unfortunately, many gearheads hated it from the get-go. For one, it was a heavy four-seater that didn’t feel like a Ferrari. It was also slow, taking almost 10 seconds to reach 60 mph. Thanks to these shortcomings, the Mondial is one of the cheapest Ferraris you can buy.
9 Maserati Merak
In the early ’70s, Maserati felt that it was time to replace the aging Bora, so it built the Merak. The main problem gearheads had with the Bora was its horrible design, which is why Maserati hired Giorgetto Giugiaro to design its successor.
Giugiaro didn’t disappoint, as gearheads immediately fell in love with the Merak’s wedge-shaped design. However, with the malaise era in full swing, Maserati decided to replace the Bora’s V8 with an underpowered V6, making the Merak slow and uninspiring to drive.
8 Lamborghini Jalpa
When Lamborghini introduced the legendary Countach in 1974, every gearhead fell madly in love with it. Unfortunately, since it was incredibly expensive, only a lucky few got to see it, let alone drive it.
Lamborghini knew many gearheads who couldn’t afford the Countach were disappointed, so they developed the Jalpa as a cheaper alternative for them. However, the Jalpa wasn’t nearly as good as the Countach as it was ugly and a lot less powerful. Not many bought it then, so why should you buy it now?
7 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
The 124 Sport Spider is a two-seat convertible sports car Fiat produced from 1966 to 1981. The most impressive thing about the 124 Sport Spider was its design, which isn’t surprising as it was conceived by Pininfarina.
Beyond that, there was nothing to write home about the 124 Spider. It was powered by various four-cylinder engines, all of which made around 100 hp.
6 Pagani Zonda
When Horacio Pagani founded Pagani in 1992, he wanted to build supercars that could face off against anyone and win. Less than a decade later, Pagani showed it meant business when it introduced its first-ever model – the Zonda.
The Zonda was a huge hit at first, largely thanks to its eye-catching design, ultra-luxurious interior, V12 power, and million-dollar price tag. However, those who got to drive it instantly realized that it was built by an inexperienced automaker, as it was notoriously difficult to control. In fact Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who owned one, said it was the worst-handling supercar he had driven.
5 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
The 308 GT4 is a mid-engined sports car Ferrari introduced in 1973 under its Dino marque. The GT4 was a groundbreaking car for Ferrari, as it was the automaker’s first mid-engined V8 sports car and the first model designed by Bertone rather than Pininfarina. However, gearheads still hated it.
First of all, many gearheads felt that it was ugly, and the 2+2 cockpit layout didn’t sit well with Ferrari purists. It was also quite underpowered, as it had a 255-hp V8 engine.
4 Maserati BiTurbo
When Alejandro de Tomaso purchased Maserati in 1976, his first goal was to build a sports car that would have the prestige of the Maserati brand without the high price of the Merak and Bora. That’s how the BiTurbo came to be.
The BiTurbo was initially a strong seller, largely because it was the world’s first twin-turbocharged vehicle. However, sales figures crashed in subsequent years as the BiTurbo gained a reputation for poor reliability.
3 Alfa Romeo GTV6
In the early ’80s, Alfa Romeo wanted to spice up the Alfetta GT, so it built the GTV6. The GTV6 received many styling upgrades, including new one-piece taillights, C-pillar vents and side skirts, and grey plastic bumpers.
The GTV6 also received a power bump as it replaced the GT’s four-cylinder engine with a 2.5-liter V6. The GTV6 does sound appealing, but like many Italian sports cars built at the time, it’s extremely unreliable and should be avoided.
2 Ferrari 348
The 348 had a great start to life in 1989. It had a superb design and was the last V8-powered sports car built under Enzo Ferrari’s leadership before he passed away.
However, the 348’s fortunes changed when Honda introduced the legendary NSX. Although Honda had little experience building sports cars, the NSX was considered to be a better car than the 348 which cost a lot more. The 348 also had handling issues that made it dangerous to drive.
1 Fiat X1/9
The X1/9 looked like a promising car for Fiat when it debuted in 1972. For one, it had an eye-catching design penned by Marcello Gandini and had the beloved mid-engine rear-wheel-drive configuration. Its layout and proportions also gave it the most balanced handling in any sports car at the time.
Unfortunately, Fiat made one huge mistake with the X1/9 – they equipped it with a tiny 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine making a woeful 74 hp, giving it terrible performance.
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