Cars

Badass Cheap Cars That Are Actually Total Money Pits

Published On 05/04/2016 Published On 05/04/2016

When it comes to opening your wallet, some used and classic cars fall into the "no-brainer" category: inexpensive, iconic, reliable with a proven track record and plenty of spare parts on eBay or in the junkyard. These five incredibly badass cars are NOT among them. The epitome of forbidden fruit, they might tempt you with their seemingly reasonable prices, but to keep them in good condition they'll either suck your bank account dry or destroy your will to live. Unless you're rich as hell, in which case do whatever you want, just take us with you.

Flickr/nakhon100

BMW 8-Series

Why you want it: The 8-Series is the kind of car you'd imagine Bruce Wayne driving when he's not otherwise occupied. With either a V8 or a sexy-sounding V12 under the hood and the kind of slick interior that's equally sporting and serene, it's a proper grand tourer. A quarter-century after the 8-Series' debut, it's now apparent that its lines have aged as well as any car, and its day in the collector-car sun will someday come.
Why you shouldn't buy it: Are there legitimately good 840s and 850s out there? Of course there are -- and they'll cost you $30,000 or more. The cars for sale at the $8,000 range are mostly traps. There is the occasional gem, but it's a needle in a haystack full of either clean cars with mechanical question marks, or mechanically fine cars with juuust enough interior degradation to bust your budget.

Flickr/pyntofmyld

Jaguar XK8/XKR Coupe (1996-2006)

Why you want it: Jaguar's return to sexiness in the mid-1990s after nearly two decades of XJ-S malaise is the rare car that drives like it looks -- silky, with subtle poise. The first generation of the XK8 and XKR had a wooden dashboard that remains one of the great masterpieces of the past quarter-century, and the wood-and-leather combination oozes old-school sporting style.
Why you shouldn't buy it: Given Jaguar's 1970s and 1980s reputation for unreliability, it might be a surprise to some that the XK8 is, overall, actually mostly reliable. Rather, it's that gorgeous interior that's the undoing. Connolly leather is brilliant -- unless it's been ill-maintained, in which case, it's a huge expense to get it done right. The wooden dash? If it's not mint -- and many aren't these days -- just walk away.

Flick/Pyntofmyld

Lotus Esprit

Why you want it: A classic 1970s Italian design married to a chassis by one of England's most legendary engineers (Lotus founder Colin Chapman). Say no more. It's a car that was good enough for Bond, and that -- especially by the late '80s -- has a timeless look that keeps getting better.
Why you shouldn't buy it: If you're not mechanically inclined, then you're at the mercy of the very few car shops that are actually capable and qualified to work on an old Lotus. Toss in the usual concerns with interior pieces that you'd never be able to find in a junkyard, and it's just more effort than the price point warrants.

Flickr/John Lopez

Land Rover Defender

Why you want it: Because it's a Defender, that's why. It's one of just a handful of vehicles that a) hasn't changed much in over a half-century, and b) can -- and has -- gone just about anywhere on Earth. A vintage Defender (or Series I, II, or III, depending on year), especially one with the right patina, just has a presence about it that's second to none.
Why you shouldn't buy it: A geriatric Land Rover is kind of the poster child for reliability woes. It might be capable of climbing mountains, but only if it starts in the morning. A properly restored Defender is another story altogether, since there are companies, like Arkonik and East Coast Defender, that can take care of some of the deficiencies and give you exactly what you want -- but by that point, the Defender isn't exactly cheap.

Flickr/photobeppus

Aston Martin DB7

Why you want it: Everyone wants to play James Bond at some point in life, right? Really, the DB7 is a beautiful two-door that you can't help but adore. Its lines are more suave than sultry, and nothing screams class more than an Aston.
Why you shouldn't get it: At the end of the day, it's not uniquely Aston. It's a highly modified Jaguar XJ-S, which was itself a fine car when it debuted -- in the 1970s. Ultimately, it's a combination of impossible-to-find trim parts and engines that were made needlessly complex as they struggled to remain competitive despite ancient roots dating back nearly to WWII.

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Aaron Miller is the Cars editor for Thrillist, and can be found on Twitter. He's flirted with both the 8-Series and the XK more times than any sane person ever should.

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