Most of us love a good sports car, and frankly, many of us lust after one, even if it’s in our dreams. From finances to practicality, to parking space – many factors come into consideration when anyone is buying a car. And even if you manage to find a cheap sports car that takes care of the financial aspect, you still need to think about parking and practicality. If you are living somewhere it rains more often than not, a convertible may not be the right sports car for you.
Then again, not every cheap sports car is worth buying, even if you seem to be getting it at a “steal.” New or old, a sports car makes for a good ride only when it gives you the requisite thrills, and also comes safe and reliable. Else, the only driving you will be doing is from the mechanic and back. On that note here are 10 cheap sports cars, you should radically steer clear of. We’ll tell you why.
10 1984 Pontiac Fiero: Fizzled Spark
The Fiero debuted in 1983 as Pontiac’s mid-engined sports car with two engine configurations, a base 4-cylinder 2.5-liter engine and a more-powerful 6-cylinder 2.8-liter mill. It sold like hotcakes for a couple of years until buyers started coming back to Pontiac for various mechanical issues particularly related to the car’s suspension and cooling system.
Plus, in either form, the engine remained underpowered. This is the reason why they are pretty cheap in the used car bazaar. If you still want this cheap sports car, make sure all these issues have been fixed by the seller.
9 1980 Corvette 305 “California”: Worst ‘Vette
The 1980s were the gloomy years for the iconic Corvette as the new Federal emission rules had clipped the wings of the raging American performance cars. The 1980 California Corvette was the runt of this litter as it was armed with a detoxed 305 cu in (5.0-liter) V8 engine coughing up just 180 horses.
This sports car was in line with the new California exhaust emission control regulations which is why today, it’s a cheap sports car. The inadequate 5.0-liter small-block V8 mill was paired with an equally poor three-speed automatic transmission to make matters worse. Not a ride for any self-respecting gearhead.
8 1981 Maserati Biturbo: Junked Economy
With Biturbo, Maserati wanted to reach out to the masses as it carried a lower price tag. The design was pretty old-school and buyers had a choice of three twin-turbo powerplants – a 2.0-liter V6, a 2.5-liter V6, and a 2.8-liter V6.
With any engine, it performed like a supercar but a few years later the owners started to have a lot of mechanical problems. Some of them even complained that the debut-year Biturbo had serious corrosion issues. Biturbo was later dubbed as an “expensive junk” and to date gets no love from autophiles.
7 2004 Chrysler Crossfire: Bad Combination
The Crossfire debuted at the time when Chrysler was owned by Daimler. So it borrowed yesteryear’s SLK chassis from Daimler and got dressed up in a rather contemporary look. While the styling was big and brash, the insides of the car were rather cramped.
The sourced engine was already outdated and people knew that it was just a cheap version of the SLK roadster. Sales were always low for the Crossfire, and it lasted for just four model years.
6 2007 Saturn Sky: Only Marketed Sporty
With the brand-new Sky, GM was planning to take the Saturn marque to the skies. However, the flight was short-lived. Like its twin sibling, the Pontiac Solstice, the Saturn Sky was pegged as a sports car, but it was never so and failed in many departments.
Also, known as Opel GT in some European markets, the Sky’s exteriors and interiors were far from appealing for a sports car. It lacked refinement and gained a suspicious reputation for reliability in a very short period. Only 34,000 were made and today, it’s a forgotten and cheap sports car.
5 2002 Ford Thunderbird: A Bit Too Retro
The millennium was the era of the retro-styled car. Many automakers belted out the old-world-inspired versions of the successful nameplates like the Mini Cooper and the VW Beetle. Ford hopped on to the bandwagon with the restyled 2002 Ford Thunderbird reminding people of the original T-Bird.
While the Mini and Beetle versions were winning many hearts, the T-Bird somehow got lost in the muddle. This newfangled T-Bird could neither remind people of the original 1950s T-Bird nor could it attract new buyers. Today, it’s mostly remembered as a rebadged two-seat Lincoln LS and is a cheap sports car.
4 1970 Triumph Stag, TR7s & TR8s: Disaster In Making
Despite being designed by a prolific Italian sports car designer, Giovanni Michelotti, the 1970s Triumph Stag was an epic failure. It looked lively from the outside, but the insides were catastrophic. Everything went wrong with the car in a few years including its timing chains, aluminum heads, oil & water pumps, carburetors, and main bearings.
Its other siblings, the doorstop-shaped TR7 and TR8, had similar issues plus a sunroof that was prone to leaking. Temperamental pop-up headlights that refused to open at times became the icing on the cake. So the Triumph did not triumph, rather it was vanquished.
3 1979 MG Midget: A Desultory Sports Car
The MG Midget was a good-looking sports car of the early 1960s and 1970s, but it never ran like an actual sports car. The 1979 Midget took a whopping 15 seconds to do a 0-to-60 MPH jig on its way to a top speed of near 100 MPH.
To meet US federal regulations MG had to detune the Midget’s engine, so it coughed up just about 50 horses and 67 lb-ft of torque. These are despicable figures for any sports car fan or rather, for any car enthusiast.
2 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS: Rather Unsporting
As a low-cost sport compact, the Cobalt SS was Chevrolet’s best bet in the segment. It debuted as a performance-oriented avatar of the Chevy Cobalt sedan but was nowhere near its rivals. Later the supercharged and turbocharged versions were also launched to equal the competitors, but they never quite lived up to the buyer’s expectations.
Other than power, the Cobalt SS lacked sporty interiors. It was judged rather bland with the use of lots of cheap-looking plastic overall.
1 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati: Wrecking Ball
The Chrysler TC by Maserati was in essence a Chrysler for the price of a Maserati. It was the lovechild of Maserati and Chrysler but inherited the worst characteristics from both of them. The faux-Italian style came from Maserati and awful build quality was earned from its other parent, the Chrysler.
This was the time when Maserati was already shaken by the failure of the 1981 Biturbo. Today, the average value of the classic Chrysler TC by Maserati sits at a rock-bottom $8,600, but it’s better avoided at all costs.
Sources: Motor1, Hagerty
JDM sports cars may be affordable, handle great, and look amazing with mods, but every owner is well aware of the struggles of owning one.
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