Arguably the go-to destination for the most beautiful cars ever produced, Italy is home to the most famous sports car manufacturers the world over, but all this style and beauty does come at a price.
Aside from the associated high-maintenance costs, these beautiful automotive works of art have a few hidden quirks that can test even the most patient of owners. In short, the common rust issues, poor electrics, weak mechanicals, and generally shoddy build quality are all part of owning one of these beautiful Italian cars.
10 Alfa Romeo GTV6 – Beautiful Coupe With Bank Account Draining Ability
Irresistible for the way it looks and goes, the Alfa Romeo GTV6 has been praised by journalists since the day it was launched, but as most owners will confess they are a bit of a money pit.
Ignoring for a moment the fact most Alfa’s left the factory with a healthy dose of rust completely free of charge, a sort of thank you gift. On paper, this fastback coupe has a lot of positive points, such as one of the finest V6 engines ever built. However, appalling reliability means the chances of finding a well-sorted one are slim, you would be better off buying a few extra lottery tickets.
9 De Tomaso Pantera – Beautifully Designed With Development Flaws
A genuine Ferrari alternative, if only in appearance, the De Tomaso Pantera is one of the most underrated sports cars of the 1970s, and for good reason too. Despite Ford’s heavy involvement on the mechanical side, the Pantera had more than its share of quality and reliability issues.
In fact, Ford’s Cleveland V8 is one of the car’s best features, it’s just a shame typical 70s Italian build, and corrosion protection let the Pantera down, added to which notoriously unreliable electrics often left drivers stranded. If that doesn’t put you off then factor in woefully inadequate cooling could spell disaster, necessitating an expensive engine rebuild.
8 Maserati Shamal – New Mechanicals, Same Reliability Problems.
Lacking sufficient finances to build a new car, Maserati reworked the unloved Bi-turbo to produce a much more accomplished sports coupe. The Shamal arrived in 1990 and featured a new, more aggressive look, and more importantly, a new turbocharged V8 engine.
No matter how well the Shamal performed, the same production issues blighted Maserati’s coupe. Poor quality control showing its face again, with a list of reliability concerns that were carried over from the Bi-Turbo.
7 Lamborghini Jalpa – Frail Entry Level Supercar
How times have changed! In a complete u-turn, entry-level Lamborghinis are now the brand’s best-selling models, unlike the rare 1980s Jalpa that managed to shift just 410 cars.
Anything wearing the famous raging bull badge must be a great car right? Well not quite. The Jalpa, as beautiful as it is, had its fair share of problems, mainly due to Lamborghini’s lack of development. First the good news, a powerful 3.5-liter V8 engine provides enough grunt to see a top speed approaching 160mph, not bad for a budget Lamborghini. Now the bad bit; weak engine mounts are known to give way without warning, and more worryingly, soaring brake temperatures resulting in complete failure.
6 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Ferrari Power Delivers Huge performance
There was a time when Alfa ownership was guaranteed to drain your bank account faster than a supermodel with a taste for expensive clothes, not so much due to the initial cost, but rather the ongoing maintenance. Without question, they are some of the most desirable cars on the planet, the latest Giulia Quadrifoglio looks stunning and has the punch to back up its looks.
Under that gorgeous body beats a 2.9-liter turbocharged Ferrari V6, punching out 505 HP in Quadrifoglio guise, more than enough power to distract owners from what remains the Alfa’s biggest issues. Like all Italian works of art, the Quadrifoglio has a few gremlins from iffy air-con to dodgy interior electrics, but worst of all the fuel system without warning just stops working completely.
5 Lamborgini Miura – Unashamedly Beautiful With A Hint Of Danger
For many Lamborghini’s Miura is the best supercar ever built with an intoxicating blend of downright gorgeous bodywork and a potent V12 engine. At its debut in 1966, the Miura featured a unique mid-engine layout that allowed a much lower front end, and also provided sharper handling.
All that power and performance comes at a price, leaking vital fluids is a common trait among early models, the complex V12 engine has more than a few weak seals that can cause real headaches for owners, added to which, under load, fuel lines can rupture, turning the Miura into a potential fireball.
4 Lancia Fulvia Coupe HF – Cool Until The Engine Overheats
Lancia’s reputation in rallying is unrivaled dominating the WRC with icons such as the Delta Integrale and Stratos, but before these greats, the Italian carmaker’s success started much earlier with the Fulvia Coupe.
Essentially a shortened and lightened version of the sedan, Lancia engineers having chopped 15cms from its chassis and replaced non-structural panels with aluminum items created one of the earliest lightweight specials in history. Stripped of weight and size proved to be a masterstroke, if only Lancia had beefed up the V4 engine’s cooling system, water pumps are notoriously weak leading to engine failures.
3 Ferrari California – “Cheaper” Supercar
Luxury carmaker Ferrari doesn’t use “budget” or “entry-level” to describe their lesser models, but essentially the 2008 California was an attempt to attract new customers with a cheaper model.
Like all Ferraris, the California is a work of art, the graceful flowing Pininfarina bodywork screams style and performance, the gamble had at first paid off. Over the next three years, several high-profile engine failures forced the Italian carmaker to recall California with reports of defective crankshafts causing engine seizures.
2 Fiat Barchetta – Handicapped Layout And Weak Ancillaries
Fiat has long been associated with small cars, the Italian carmaker’s most successful models being designed for small families in rural Italy, which made the 1995 launch of the Barchetta a surprising move.
Arriving at a time when Mazda pretty much dominated the small sports car market, Fiat didn’t help sales with the Barchetta only produced in left-hand drive form. Despite its factory imposed handicap, the Barchetta with a 1.8-liter engine was a potential rival for the MX-5. This being Fiat, the same poor quality build and corrosion protection are to be expected, however, it would be the engines weak ancillaries that caused most failures.
1 Maserati 3200GT – A New Beginning… With A Few Flaws
Maserati had struggled through two decades of financial issues that left the once-famous Italian carmaker with a range of dated and unreliable boxy coupes. However, everything was about to change with the arrival of a new coupe.
In 1998, Maserati produced their first all-new car for decades. The 3200GT with its Giugiaro-styled body seemed to be the model gearheads had been waiting for. A sleek long-distance GT backed up by a potent 3.2-liter V8. Arguably a fine car that had a few flaws, weak electrical systems, poor brakes and transmission, and failing drive-by-wire throttles are common.
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