These European Classic Cars Aren’t as Awesome as People Think

Acquiring European classic cars can be a real hit-or-miss kind of affair. Some deals will just seem so enticing, but the cars often do have a history.

Some models have serious reliability concerns, others do a really good job of hiding well documented corrosion related issues, and several actually have it all going against them. If you are not careful, you might end up just paying actual money for somebody else’s problems. But naturally, there are several exceptions, all well worth the risk. However, just avoid these 10, unless you are willing to own a long term project car.

10 Fiat X1/9

Fiat X19 - Front

Bertone continued to produce this little sports car for several more years after they went out of actual production. Some late models look like great deals, but don’t be fooled.


Even though Bertone assembled the cars, their choice of sheet metal was still very much of Fiat standard and the rustproofing left much to be desired. Corrosion is the enemy of these otherwise lovely cars, and if there is a market for a carbon fiber Porsche 928 (above) they should consider doing one of these with an uprated Lampredi twin cam.

Triumph TR7

1975 Triumph TR7 Sports Car

One look at a TR7 and you have to wonder where it all went wrong for the British automaker. Desperately trying to comply with North American safety and emissions laws sapped both power from the engine and looks from the sleek design.


Sadly, this was the final push from Triumph as an automaker, but the name lives on with Triumph motorcycles, which have been going from strength to strength.

Related: 10 Things We Just Learned About The Carbon-Bodied Porsche 928 Built By Nardone Automotive

Citroën DS

The front of a black DS

There is no denying that the hydropneumatic suspension made the DS, and by extension any car fitted with it, the most comfortable car to drive back in the ’50s and ’60s.

Sadly, that hydropneumatic suspension can corrode from the inside out, and it’s literally connected to everything. If it looks like a low rider, you already know what’s gone wrong, and it will be best to walk away, no matter how beautiful this French goddess looks.

Lancia Beta Coupe

Lancia Beta Coupe

To sum up just how bad the corrosion problem was on these cars, there once was a class action lawsuit against them that essentially ended Lancia’s presence in the UK.

Lancia Beta Coupe White

One look at these little coupes might fill you with desire, but reality will strike hard once you look underneath them. For some, the pain is worth the pleasure, but for the rest of us, it is better to look at something else.

Maserati Biturbo

Parked Maserati Biturbo

Nothing will be more expensive than a cheap Maserati. This is one of those cars that you will see pop up really cheap all the time. Sadly, they are cheap for a reason.

Maserati Biturbo engine

Maserati were struggling to make ends meet back in the ’80s, and as much as this was supposed to be a more affordable option, in truth, it was actually overpriced for what it was and today most of them are just awful.

MGA Twin Cam

MGA Twin Cam - Side

Today, there is a known fix for these little sports cars, but back when they were new or nearly new, they had a really strange issue that caused all sorts of other issues under the hood.

The fuel in the carbs would froth at a certain rpm, this caused piston burning, plug fouling, and often catastrophic failure, if left unchecked. Changing the carbs is the solution, but by now there is no telling how many times the engine has been rebuilt or if the job was done properly.

Lotus Esprit

1977 Lotus Esprit

When in good running condition, these cars are worth a lot of money. However, not too many are in “good, running condition” for a few simple reasons.

The Lotus Esprit Turbo's Engine

The engine is a pain to access, so basic inspections won’t happen often unless the owner was mechanically minded. Also, the car is made of fiberglass, but the frame rusts and Lucas, AKA “the prince of darkness,” supplied the electricals.

Range Rover Classic


Few vehicles will match one of these off-road. They are incredible. As much as Jeep and Toyota make good off-roaders, Land Rover made the best off-roaders.

1970 Range Rover Classic

Unfortunately, their choice of engines was dire, you either got an underpowered, unreliable diesel, or a thirsty, underpowered, unreliable Rover V8. LS/EV swaps are popular, but expensive options.

Triumph Stag

Triumph Stag

Much like the other Triumph on this list, the stag was very much the victim of the malaise era emissions restrictions, and a perpetually striking workforce.


Build quality was suspect right out of the gate. Although we admire Triumph for trying to make their own V8 engine, it was woefully under-engineered.

Land Rover

Front 3/4 view of a gray Series II Land Rover

Series II and III short wheelbase Land Rovers are growing in popularity, and in the right condition they are worth a mint.

A blue Series III Land Rover convertible

It is a little absurd though considering these were basically used as farm implements in their day, a slightly newer Land Rover is just as capable off-road and all too often more affordable

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