Ever since the birth of the automobile, sports cars have represented the pinnacle of performance and engineering. Technological advances that are pioneered for motorsport eventually trickle their way down into the consumer market, where they reach the more high-end, expensive products first.
As much fun as owning a sports car may seem, though, all those technological advances aren't necessarily the greatest boon to a vehicle's reliability. There are always quirks that pop up during the adoption of new ways to make cars go faster and handle better, which results in many fast cars being less reliable than commuter cars.
There are plenty of exceptions to this rule, however, and oftentimes, buying a sports car in its second or third generation is the ticket to long-term reliability and happiness. But this list represents the opposite, 17 fast cars that were built to crumble.
17 Ferrari 458 Italia
Speaking of catching fire, it seems reasonable for the lucky few who can afford Ferraris to expect that their pride and joy—and the serious financial investment their car represents—not to suffer from combustion issues. Besides Ferrari's notoriously expensive maintenance regimes, the 458 Italia especially is prone to lighting up at any given time.
16 Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S has become the poster child for the future of the automotive industry. Fast, sleek, and technologically advanced, the Model S is everything Elon Musk promised—except reliable. Owners complain of interminable wait times when their cars break down, and even though electric cars typically need less maintenance, flaws seem to be widespread. Throw in the chance of battery flare-ups, and the Model S definitely counts as a fast car that was built to crumble.
15 Audi R8
Jacky Ickx deemed the Audi R8 the best-handling road car on the market, which shouldn't be surprising given its mid-engine, Quattro all-wheel-drive layout and low center of gravity. But anyone trying to get their Tony Stark on should be forewarned that the R8 shares lots of parts with the Lamborghini Gallardo and Huracan—making it a parts-bin special that's made many mechanics wealthy men.
14 Mini Cooper S
BMW's resurrection of the Mini Cooper brand brought the tiny car back to life in perfect style (even if the convertible and Countryman version leave some fans scratching their heads). But BMW sourced many parts from Daimler and doesn't even have great reliability for their own cars. Combine a tiny engine bay with those issues and there's a reason the car has earned the moniker of "Money Cooper" from many mechanics.
13 Dodge Charger Hellcat
The Dodge Charger may not have received the insanity of the Challenger Demon, but that doesn't mean it's not one of the most potent sports sedans on the market and definitely the best bang for the buck. Still, everyone should remember that Dodge is owned by Fiat-Chrysler so electronic and interior parts are probably going to go flying with every burnout.
12 BMW 335i
BMW purists couldn't have been more offended when the E92-generation 3-Series including a twin-turbo inline-six engine under the hood of the 335i and a V8 under the hood of the M3. They quickly got past their issues, though, when they actually drove the cars—BMW has always gotten their engines just right. Except, that is, for reliability, where the 335i suffers from issues like wastegate and turbo failures.
11 Cadillac CTS-V
Few cars can match the Cadillac CTS-V's combination of a massive supercharged V8 engine, a stick shift, and a station wagon layout. Even fewer cars can match the abysmal reliability stats that Cadillac has earned over the past decade, having placed 29th out of 30th in a survey by Consumer Reports—putting them last for American brands.
10 Audi RS7
Audi struck gold with the RS7—and the A7 Sportback profile in general—and has since spread the four-door hatchback form to their other models, as well. But the RS7 remains the brute of the bunch thanks to a twin-turbocharged V8 engine pumping up to 605 horsepower to all four wheels in Performance trim. But that extended warranty will start looking very attractive once the RS7 starts racking up the miles.
9 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI
The Volkswagen Touareg is an awesome off-roader, especially when optioned with the rare V10 diesel engine, locking center and rear differentials, and the air suspension lift system. Unicorn Touaregs even have a locking front diff—good luck finding one, though. With 553 lb-ft of torque on tap, the V10 TDI Touareg is a beast, even if it could be one of the least reliable SUVs ever built.
8 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
It's safe to say by this point that Alfa Romeo's reintroduction onto the domestic market has been a resounding success. Sure, the carbon fiber 4C didn't sell like hotcakes but it was a superb example of styling and nimble handling. Now the Giulia and Stelvio are looking just as good, with a little more room for the fam—and the Giulia Quadrifoglio even has a Ferrari-based engine. Just don't even bring up reliability, though.
7 Mazda RX-8
The Mazda RX-8 may go down as the last time the Japanese manufacturer attempted to convince the public that rotary engines are great. On paper, they are great, combining light weight, sky-high revs, and power output in unique fashion. In the real world, though, rotary engines are less reliable than a Tinder date while consuming for fuel and oil than an airplane.
6 Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86
While admittedly not the quickest in a straight line, the trio of siblings known alternately as the Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, and Toyota 86 can keep up with the best when things get twisty. However, the sporty little coupe can't keep up with Subaru and Toyota's other, more reliable offerings, because of faulty engine design that can quickly lead to hairy situations.
5 New Acura NSX
The original Acura NSX stunned the world—and is still stunning the world because happy owners are driving their cars hundreds of thousands of miles with little more than regularly scheduled oil changes. Honda and Acura stumbled off the path with the new generation, though, creating an overly complex, expensive sports car this time around.
4 Nissan GT-R
The Nissan GT-R may be one of the quickest cars off the line thanks to a beefy powertrain that combines a twin-turbocharged V6 engine with all-wheel drive and launch mode. But that launch mode comes by way of a transmission that simply cannot handle the GT-R's power levels, creating a nightmare just waiting to happen.
3 Audi TT
The Audi TT stands out as one of the automotive concept cars that was changed the least between its initial debut and eventual production. But as awesome as the various TT iterations may be—especially the 225-hp, six-speed, Quattro coupe—there's no doubt that Audi was still experiencing some of the reliability issues that plagued its 1990s models.
2 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
Dodge took Detroit's escalating power wars to a new level with the release of the Challenger SRT Demon. The beast is a drag-strip monster, though it's not even legal under NHRA rules because of its lack of safety features. Anyone hoping to do burnouts for days should consider the fact that over 800 horses roaring through what is essentially a Fiat might be a recipe for a short lifespan.
1 Jaguar F-Type
The old saying that anyone who buys a Jaguar should probably buy two—because one will always be at the mechanic—may not be 100% accurate anymore. And to be fair, Jaguar has always produced stunning cars, including the current F-Type coupe. But reliability issues come to a head with the F-Type, which is prone to catching fire and melting to the ground.
Sources: Consumer Reports, Car and Driver, and Wikipedia.