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5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots

These 5 Italian cars are some the worst ever made, and a reason for every Italian to be ashamed

Italian cars are best known for their beautiful styling and, sadly, being unreliable. However, with regards to both statements, this isn’t always the case, and despite some of the oldest European car brands being Italian, they have had their bad moments. YouTube channel, Number27 is giving us five examples of Italian cars that could make any Italian curse his/her roots.

Alfa Romeo ARNA

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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Alfa Romeo cars usually have an immense presence, soul, and passion, but the 1983-1987 ARNA is as soulless as they come. Jack, the channel’s host, describes the ARNA as, “the worst product Alfa Romeo ever came up with” and “a little bit of a travesty”, and for good reason. ARNA actually stood for "Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli" (Alfa Romeo Nissan Motor Vehicles) and you can see where this is going.

A the time, most countries had put quotas with regards to how many cars they can import from Japan and this was one of Nissan’s ways to try and go around it. It just so happened that Alfa Romeo had just discontinued the Alfa Sud and was in need of a budget car for its lineup.

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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The joint-project was a great opportunity to combine Italian design with Japanese engineering, but instead, they did the exact opposite, which resulted in a rebadged Nissan Cherry with the electronics and most of the mechanicals being Italian.

The ARNA was powered by a variety of gutless boxer engines, ranging from 1.2 to 1.5 liters, which were actually decent. The Italian electronics were sketchy and the interior was an odd mashup of Japanese 1980s design and Alfa Romeo switchgear. But the biggest mistake was combining Alfa Romeo Sud’s front suspension with the Nissan Cherry’s rear suspension, which meant they never worked in unison and made the car’s handling unpredictable.

Maserati Quattroporte 2

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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Produced between 1974 and 1978, the second-generation Maserati Quattroporte was a downgrade compared to the original. To start off, Maserati was owned by Citroen at the time and the Quattroporte 2 was underpinned by an extended chassis from the otherwise wonderful Citroen SM. Things only get worse.

The original Quattroporte was, at one point, the fastest car, with a top speed of 158 mph (255 km/h). It also came with a variety of potent V-8 engines, from 4.1 to 4.7 liters, with up to 285 horsepower. The second generation utilized a 3.0-liter V-6 with about 200 horsepower, which allowed for a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h). To make matters worse, Quattroporte 2 is also the only front-wheel-drive Maserati, ever made.

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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The car was designed by Bertone, which is odd, considering the car looks like an extremely obese and disproportionate BMW 7 Series E23. Luckily, Citroen did not have money for a Type approval – essentially, a certificate of conformity, granted to a product that meets a minimum set of regulatory, technical, and safety requirements. As a result, only 12 of these were made, most of which were sold in the Middle East and Spain, where such documentation was not required.

Fiat Argenta

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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The Fiat Argenta is a large family car, produced between 1981 and 1985. It’s also the replacement for the successful Fiat 132, of which over 1.0 million were sold. The Argenta was quite simply terrible. It was, basically, a rushed redesign of the Fiat 132, even retaining the same running gear, which even in the 132 was outdated. As a result, the Argenta handled just as poorly as the 132 did.

The twin-cam engines, which were also inherited from the Fiat 132, were actually quite good. However, at one point, Fiat introduced a 77-horsepower diesel, taken from an Iveco truck, which was as gutless as it was agrarian.

Lancia Beta

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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Back in its glory days, Lancia produced very well-engineered and advanced vehicles. However, it was always a low-volume manufacturer and eventually went bankrupt. After Fiat acquired Lancia, in 1969, the Beta was supposed to serve as Lancia’s rise from the ashes. It didn’t.

On paper, the Lancia Beta sounded impressive. Double overhead-cam engines, five-speed gearbox, disc brakes all-around, and an independent rear suspension were considered very advanced, back in 1972. However, the car’s hatchback (more like a hunchback) looked hideous, and the sedan version had one of the weirdest dashboards that looked like a cheese grater, with buttons nested inside the numerous holes.

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What made the car truly terrible is the sub-standard Russian steel, with which the Russians paid the Italians, for the Fiat 124’s production plans, which spawned the Zhiguli and Lada models. As a result, the Lancia Beta rusted even before it got to the showrooms. A year later, Lancia bought back all the cars. Quality was improved, but the damage was already done. As a result, Lancia was forced to pull back from the UK and US markets.

Ferrari 512M

5 Cars That Can Make An Italian Feel Ashamed Of His Roots
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The Ferrari 512M is what happens when a carmaker tries to keep a model alive, for too long. The 512M was produced between 1994 and 1996, with 501 copies made. It was an evolution of the 1984 Ferrari Testarossa, which to this day is one of the definitive Ferrari models. The Ferrari 512M wasn’t even the first evolution of the 1984 Testarossa. That title goes to the 1991 Ferrari 512TR, which featured a slightly modernized design and was more powerful than the 4.9-liter flat-12. The 512M was the second evolution, with an even rounder form and even more power – now 434 horsepower.

The problem of the 512M is that it was clinging to an old idea of what a sporty gran-tourer is. By that time, the iconic pop-up headlights were already deemed illegal and unsafe for pedestrians, so the 512M had to do with fixed units. As a result, the car looked like a Mitsubishi, as Jack (the host) says. Moreover, the Testarossa, which this is a facelift of, was never a great handling car, due to the engine sitting on top of the gearbox, making for a high center of gravity.

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In conclusion, the Ferrari 512M is, by far, not the worst Ferrari, but it was simply stuck to a 1980s philosophy and tried to make it work over a decade later.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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