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These cars pack all the performance a gearhead could ever ask for, but we’d still avoid them like the plague.
There are tons of tempting cars on the used market right now. Even though inflation, supply chain issues and various speculators have turned the car market into a total train wreck, there are still lots of tempting cars, from just about every segment. Let's be honest, for just about any car enthusiast, what's more tempting than buying a cheap car that's very, very fast?
It is incredibly tempting, and even though a lot of performance cars have skyrocketed in value over the years, some of them have stayed pretty much firmly on the ground with their prices. You might be interested in snagging an ultra-fast car for basically no money. But, while there are some that are begging to be purchased and driven, it's better if you stay away from the others.
A lot of people seem to agree that the peak of Ferrari's V8 lineup was reached during the day of the F355. It is definitely one of the best-looking Ferrari models of all time, and it's everything you could possibly want from such a vehicle; amazing drive, a howling V8 engine and a gated 6-speed manual transmission.
Unfortunately, the F355 is perhaps a little too well known in the Ferrari community for being a disaster waiting to happen. The most common problems are the valve guides and the exhaust manifold. One of them can yield a $10,000 repair bill, and the other one could lead to an entire engine rebuild.
The 2000s was the era when a lot of automakers just went totally crazy and shoved the most ridiculous powertrains possible under the hood of everything. This included BMW, who, for the first and only time, stuck a V10 engine under the hood of the M5.
The E60 M5's 5.0-liter V10, codenamed the S85, developed 500 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, giving it supercar-worrying performance. There is a catch, however; the rod bearings. Rod bearings are the most common failure point on the S85, and quite a few M5s have suffered an early death because of them. If they do fail? An engine rebuild is in the neighborhood of $40,000.
After the total flop that was the Allante in the late 80s and early 90s, Cadillac wanted to try again with a two-seat luxury roadster. In 2003, they introduced a modern interpretation of the Allante, the XLR. It was based on the Corvette, but it used a completely different powertrain, and it had an altogether different focus.
With the V brand on the rise in the 2000s, Cadillac also made an XLR-V, which had a supercharged V8. There in lies the clue; the XLR and its V derivative used the Northstar V8, which is known to be a pretty unpredictable engine. What's more, we've heard the horror stories about the electronics in the car.
When the fifth generation Quattroporte arrived in 2003, it looked pretty exciting. It still looks surprisingly good, even today, and the Ferrari-sourced V8 provided great performance and an exhaust note to die for. However, there was a major problem; the gearbox.
The earliest fifth gen Quattroportes received a 6-speed automated manual transmission, dubbed DuoSelect. This transmission shifted gears with all the grace and efficiency of a failed circus act. It was also extremely unreliable, with lots of potential repair bills looming over you if you had it. Mercifully, beginning in 2007, Maserati offered a far improved ZF automatic.
The early 2000s saw the beginning of the German performance sedan battleground. The underrated E39 M5, the E55 AMG, the Jaguar S-Type R (if anyone remembers that) and so on. Audi's response came in the form of the C5 RS6, which they also sold in North America.
The 4.2-liter biturbo V8 made 444 hp, propelling the C5 RS6 to 60 mph in around four seconds. Quattro AWD was standard fare, and the power was dispatched to the wheels through a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which is this car's biggest downfall. It's pretty much guaranteed that a Tiptronic Audi will have transmission failure sooner or later.
Mercedes' AMG performance line got off to a flying start in the 90s, with the original C43 AMG, E55 AMG and others. Spurred on by the success, Mercedes prepared the next assault, and it's one of the perfect representations of peak engineering insanity; a trio of V12-powered AMG models.
Alongside the SL65 and S65 AMG models, Mercedes also put out the CL65 AMG. Easily one of their best looking cars from the time, the CL65 AMG had about as much torque as a diesel locomotive, 604 hp, and it could do over 200 mph. It actually sparked discussions about whether it's a supercar or not. It also cost $190,000, and that's back in 2004. It goes without saying, but taking a gamble on a cheap V12 AMG Mercedes almost never pays off.
We can make fun of Elon Musk and Tesla owners for days, but the original Model S is often credited as being the kick that legacy automakers needed to start making electric cars of their own. Of course, a lot of them are better nowadays, but we'll gloss over that for now.
The original Model S proved that electric cars can look good, be good to drive, powerful and practical. It's easy to forget that the Model S has been around for a decade, and there have been numerous reports about reliability problems, with some of them even catching fire. Plus, we already know about the quality checks at the factory.
In theory, the Fiat 500 Abarth looks like the perfect performance car for a lot of people. A cutesy small hatchback with retro looks, with a stupidly powerful engine and a characterful exhaust note, and a manual transmission to boot. According to a lot of people, journalists and owners alike, the Abarth 500 is some of the most fun you can have in a FWD car.
The 500 Abarth is, sadly, a product of Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis), and it doesn't do a very good job of hiding it. While you may find a decent example that's well taken care of, just know that it's prone to a lot of gremlins and issues, as is any Fiat or Chrysler vehicle.
The L322 Range Rover is easily one of the finest examples of the breed. It's the generation that cemented the Range Rover's reputation as the go-to vehicle for celebrities and rich folk in general, as it's truly a do-it-all machine. You no longer have to be very rich to buy a Range Rover, and that includes the absurdly brisk Supercharged model.
However, everyone who's owned a used Range Rover have the devil's own job of maintaining and repairing one, as this car is perhaps a little too well-known for its reliability issues and expensive maintenance. Let's hope the latest one is better with that sort of thing.
Everyone was a little sad when Mercedes reported that the SLS AMG, one of its greatest supercars, is going out of production. However, Mercedes did have a consolation prize of sorts; an all-new, V8-powered sports car aiming straight for the Porsche 911.
The AMG GT lived up to a lot of people's expectations, as it was everything we had grown to love about AMG and Mercedes sports cars, in a modern and fantastic-looking package. Unfortunately, the AMG GT consistently scored below average on reliability, and over its production run, Mercedes issued 18 different recalls.
Marko has been part of the HotCars team since July 2020. He started out writing for various sites on a variety of topics. He prefers weird, unusual cars to luxobarges and sports cars.
10 Ridiculously Fast Cars Anyone Can Buy… But Probably Shouldn't – HotCars
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