Italian car manufacturers can channel all the passion and determination they want, but it doesn’t always produce results. Every major auto brand has a few bad eggs in its lineup, and Jay Leno probably has most of them in a barn somewhere. This list covers Italian cars, but American car makers have sinned an equal amount. These metal mishaps can be caused by rogue designers, an inexperienced team, or by misjudging the market. A vehicle that impresses critics upon release, might age like roadkill, not a fine cabernet.
In most cases, these spectacular failures were helpful lessons. In the case of the first car on this list, the company learned that a six-wheel car is not as irresistible as they expected. Design freedom is something that we should treasure, even if there are a few speed bumps along the way.
10/10 Covini C6W
At first, the Covini C6W looks like a Saleen S7, but with something extra. If you didn’t notice right away, it has extra wheels at the front. At a great sacrifice to styling, having an extra wheel on either side does come with benefits. Hydroplaning will be less frequent, drag is reduced, braking is increased, and supposedly the ride is more comfortable.
Less than ten were built each year by the Italian artisanal designers of Convini.
9/10 Ferrari 512M
The 512M is going to get mixed reactions from Ferrari fans. Something’s just not quite right, and it appears to be having an identity crisis. The side panels and roof are arguably the most brilliant parts of this ultra-rare Ferrari, which probably wasn’t the designers’ aim. Although it packs a lot of performance for a 90s sports car, the styling seems uninspired.
The second thing that leaves a sour taste in our mouths is the high maintenance cost, which comes standard with most Ferraris.
8/10 Lancia Beta
The Lancia Beta is considered a Fiat by many, but it’s made by an independent brand. The Beta is not the car you want to pick up your prom date with. Shockingly, this miniature Delorean-style car wasn’t an instantly fatal blow for the Lancia brand, but it should have been.
Almost a decade after the Beta emerged on the scene, Lancia was bought out by Fiat after losing 20,000,000 British pounds in 1969.
7/10 Fiat Argenta
Without looking closely, you probably aren’t quite sure if this is a Mercedes or Volvo from the same era. While it’s got a quaintness that some love, the styling is more forgettable than the last Youtube ad you saw.
In a spectacular marketing blunder, Fiat debuted a car in 1982 with a name that sounded like a country involved in a war with Britain. Even if they hadn’t fumbled first impressions with one of their major customers, the Argenta represented everything that drivers weren’t looking for at the time. Also, American cars were starting to look brilliant in the 80s, digging the Argenta’s grave even deeper.
6/10 Alfa Arna
The shameful union of Alfa Romeo and Nissan is just a memory now. The Arna, which is an acronym for “Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli,” took the worst qualities from its parents. Alfa has made a few unusual vehicles over its history, but none quite as bland as the Arna. Nissan controlled the styling and Alfa provided the engine, electrical, and other parts. Both companies excelled at things they delegated to the other, and the final product suffered tremendously.
One of the first things that Fiat did when they took over Alfa was to scrap the deal with Nissan and shelve the Arna. Who could blame them?
5/10 Maserati Quattroporte
Just about the only thing this car is known for is its looks. Quattroportes have good and bad years, but modern versions have some of the worst depreciation of any car in the world. Even Maserati acknowledges the terrible loss of value, at 72.2% over the 3 years after purchase.
We are nothing without our health, and a car is nothing without reliability. Modern Quattroportes are notoriously unreliable and their value doesn’t match their price.
4/10 Alfa Romeo 166
Let’s avoid the glaringly obvious and talk about reliability. The Alfa Romeo 166 had an engine that was supposed to push boundaries, but customers find themselves pushing the car to the mechanics instead. Using the word “styling” in relation to this car insults the word, but it does have a few redeeming aspects to balance out the negative ones.
So do you think the designers were inspired by birds, sea life, or perhaps Mr. Bean’s facial features?
3/10 Maserati Biturbo
Don’t waste your money on a Maserati Biturbo if you consider yourself a gearhead. This car isn’t good-looking, and the performance is only adequate when the engine is running. Reliability is a major issue, and you’ll have to name your firstborn child after a mechanic before they will want to go near it.
Perhaps the addition of two turbochargers and Maserati’s reputation for electrical problems didn’t let the Biturbo reach its full potential.
2/10 Ferrari Superamerica 410 Ghia
You have to wonder what a car designer is thinking when they create something like the Ferrari Superamerica 410 Ghia. The Jetsons would have appreciated the styling, but on this planet, it wasn’t warmly received. Even if the Superamerica 410 Ghia could travel at the speed of sound, nobody would want to look.
This was Carrozzeria Ghia’s last Ferrari, and he left a legacy, of sorts. We’ve got a great article with 10 of our favorite Ghia designs.
1/10 Lancia Thesis
The Thesis is heralded as the last true Lancia and was once used by Pope John Paul II. We won’t need to write an entire thesis on why this car should be avoided though. The interior is the most appealing part of the vehicle, adorned with an inviting mix of plush upholstery and wood accents. This car might have looked regal and elegant when it debuted in 2002, but time worked its dreadful magic on this vehicle. At this point, Lancia needs to make a huge comeback, and impress us with future offerings.
Some of the aspects, especially the rear, are reminiscent of the Maybach silhouette. The designers were clearly on the right track but missed the mark slightly.