Chevy has officially unveiled the new Corvette and, in the process, upped the ante for the rest of Detroit in a big way. The huge news that the C8 would finally become a true mid-engined supercar has been swirling online for years and most fans are stoked to discover that in this case, the rumors were right.
With a claimed 0-60 time under three seconds and a price tag under $60,000 for the base model, the C8 Corvette almost sounds too good to be true. And plenty of critics have quickly jumped on the concept that there is simply no way that a car can be built with so much power for so low a cost and still maintain any semblance of reliability.
But a mid-engined layout is ideal for performance—if not for practicality—so much so that almost every manufacturer has tried their hand at the design over the decades. Keep scrolling for 10 attempts that were built to crumble and 10 that are worth every dollar, even today.
20 Built to Crumble: Lotus Elise
There's no debating that the Lotus Elise is one of the most spectacular driver's cars in the world. Ever since Colin Chapman instilled the company with the ethos that light weight was king, Lotus has churned out nimble little cars that can take tight turns with the best. But Lotus has never built cars that are sturdy and reliable, and the Elise is no exception.
19 Built to Crumble: Jaguar XJ220
Jaguar took the world by storm with the XJ220 supercar, which was the fastest car in the world for a few years in the 1990s. But combining Jaguar's notoriously low build quality with supercar-level power output from a complex twin-turbocharged engine isn't a recipe for a car that's going to run reliably for a long time.
18 Built to Crumble: Pontiac Fiero
The Pontiac Fiero could have been so great—and that's exactly what makes it so sad. Instead of creating a true mid-engined sports car, GM produced a slow and heavy imitator. The worst part about the Fiero is that it's as unreliable as it is uninspired, with a tendency towards catching on fire that makes its name slightly ironic.
17 Built to Crumble: Audi R8
The Audi R8 is a stunning car to look at, as evidenced by its cameo in the MCU, and also a stunning car to drive, as evidenced by none other than Jacky Ickx calling it "the best handling road car today" during its first generation. But everything positive about the R8 is balanced out by the fact that it was truly a parts-bin special that's made many Audi mechanics wealthy men.
16 Built to Crumble: Porsche 914
Porsche has long maintained a commitment to offering an entry-level product in their lineup, going all the way back to the 912 in the 1960s. Continuing through to the 914, 944, Boxster, and Cayman, this tradition has been solid all around. But among the crowd, the 914 stands out as the least reliable, coming from years when rust was a huge issue and VW-sourced parts weren't the best.
15 Built to Crumble: Alfa Romeo 4C
On paper, the Alfa Romeo 4C sounds great. Combining angular, futuristic looks with carbon-fiber construction and a lightweight, punchy engine typically results in a car that people will love. However, Alfa Romeo has always struggled with reliability and build quality, something the 4C's sales figures reveal may still be a problem.
14 Built to Crumble: Lamborghini Veneno
When someone buys a million-dollar sports car, they expect it to run flawlessly—even if they don't rack up many miles behind the wheel. The Lamborghini Veneno is one of the world's rarest contemporary cars, though Lambo fans sure weren't happy when all 13 examples were recalled due to a propensity for catching on fire (a flaw which was shared with the Aventador).
13 Built to Crumble: Fiat X1/9
Fiat is another auto manufacturer from Italy that has always struggled to build reliable cars—though they haven't exactly built a ton of mid-engined vehicles. The X1/9 that left factories from 1972 to 1989 was exactly the kind of affordable, lightweight sports car that could have been a true classic. Unfortunately, reliability issues plagued the X1/9 from the get-go.
12 Built to Crumble: New Acura NSX
Acura and its parent company Honda have always had a legendary reputation for reliability. The original NSX—a mid-engined sports car intended to beat Ferrari at their own game—was no exception. However, the latest generation of the NSX seems to have lost the thread somewhere before hitting the market as a hybrid-electric, mid-engined sports cars with all-wheel drive and a price tag well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
11 Built to Crumble: Bugatti Veyron
Bugatti may sit at the top of the world with their Veyron and Chiron supercars—each powered by a mid-mounted, quad-turbocharged W16 engine—but there's strong evidence that both models are among the most expensive cars in the world to maintain. An oil change reportedly costs upwards of $21,000 while a set of four tires can run into six figures.
10 Worth Every Penny: Original Acura NSX
Honda took the world by storm with the original NSX, a mid-engined sports car that could easily compete with Ferraris at a fraction of the price. But almost thirty years later, the true standout for the NSX—besides its stunning looks, comfortable cockpit, and VTEC engine—is the fact that many owners daily drive their cars for hundreds of thousands of miles with no problems.
9 Worth Every Penny: Toyota MR2
The Toyota MR2 is known as the "poor man's NSX" despite having been on the market for much longer. The moniker applies mostly to the second generation, which grew in size, power, and refinement when compared to its angular predecessor. Today, an MR2 is easily found used for under $20,000 and offers reliability that most new cars on the market can only dream of.
8 Worth Every Penny: 986 Porsche Boxster S
The first generation of the Porsche Boxster S may be the best deal for a sports car on the used car market today. There are some reliability concerns, to be fair, surrounding the IMS and RMS issues, but there aren't any cars that can match the Boxster's mid-engined balance for under $10,000 and the rest of the car is famously reliable, as well.
7 Worth Every Penny: Porsche Cayman
The Porsche Cayman is another of the best sports car buys on the used car market these days. Although the Cayman is newer and more expensive than a Boxster, it's also got more power and a hardtop. But if fun in the canyons for around $20,000 is the goal, a higher-mileage Cayman after the 2009 model year might just be attainable.
6 Worth Every Penny: McLaren F1
The McLaren F1 is in no way a car that most people will ever be able to afford, much less ever see, sit in, or drive. But for anyone that has the funds, the F1 is one of the best automotive investments possible, as well as one of the most resoundingly popular cars to drive ever. Simply put, the mid-engined F1 changed the supercar industry for good.
5 Worth Every Penny: Autozam AZ-1
The Autozam AZ-1 may not be quite in the performance category that most mid-engined sports cars try to live up to, but it's a mid-engined car no less. Built very small to fit into Japan's kei-car class, the AZ-1 has gullwing doors, a mid-mounted and turbocharged inline-three engine, and just about the shortest wheelbase possible on a production car.
4 Worth Every Penny: Ford GT
When Ford brought the GT to life in the early-2000s, it seemed like a dream for many gearheads had finally come true. Sadly, the cars were all so valuable that no ordinary citizen is about to get their hands on one. Still, with heritage from the original Le Mans racers and more modern amenities, this is one of the best mid-engined cars ever built.
3 Worth Every Penny: Ferrari Enzo
No list of best mid-engined cars would be complete without a Ferrari, though the Italian brand has definitely struggled with reliability over the decades. Still, there's no doubt the Ferrari Enzo—named after the company's legendary founder—is worth every dollar, even if it takes millions to actually earn the opportunity to buy one.
2 Worth Every Penny: New Ford GT
The modern iteration of the Ford GT is a bit more technologically advanced than its predecessor of nearly 15 years ago, which makes it seem more likely to suffer from reliability issues. Still, for the price, there aren't many cars that can hope to keep up with the so-sleek-it-looks-photoshopped GT and its twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
1 Worth Every Penny: BMW M1
The BMW M1 is the only mid-engined car that BMW ever produced prior to the modern i8 hybrid supercar. But the M1 contributed to BMW's success throughout their M lineup over the years and has now become one of the world's most desirable collector cars. It may not boast the insane performance of other historically significant models but it's worth every penny nonetheless.
Sources: Car and Driver, Jalopnik, and Wikipedia.