What comes to mind when you think about European engineering? For a petrolhead, massive engines, extreme power, finesse, luxury, and extreme engineering are but a few of the things they think about.
European car manufacturers have outdone themselves when it comes to making the finest cars in the world. You can’t talk about European engineering without mentioning some of the biggest names from that continent. Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Pagani—the list is endless. Some of the best supercars the world has ever seen come from Europe.
Does this mean European cars are the best? That's a tough question since Europe does in fact produce some of the most reliable cars in the world, but have they always been like that? According to consumer reports a few European vehicles have been problematic since production in the '90s. They'll break down right on your driveway.
The '90s saw a lot of car manufacturers try new things to boost sales, and you can’t blame them. The competition was tight back then since a lot of nations around the world were experiencing an economic boost.
Because we know that you're curious, here are 10 European cars from the '90s that aren't worth the money (and 10 worth every dollar):
20 Not Worth It - 1996 Land Rover Discovery
The first time you ride in this car you'll think you're riding in a Cadillac. This is because of the vast array of new luxury options that were installed in this '90s luxury SUV. The Land Rover Discovery is probably the most utilitarian vehicle you can buy in this day and age.
The car has undeniably impressive looks, it has the building blocks of a workhorse, and it definitely has creature comforts. It sounds like it drives like a dream, right? Well, not really.
According to Consumer Reports, the 1996 Land Rover Discovery would ride like a charm in its glory days. However, buying this car used could be a financial mistake. According to one previous owner, you'll need to be ready to shell out some cash. the most common problem with this car is oil leaks. It’s almost impossible to miss big puddles of oil under a Discovery, even at the car sales yard.
19 Not Worth It - Fiat Multipla
First of all, you need to avoid this car because you could get attacked by a mob for driving a car as ugly as the Fiat Multipla. This car is famous for one thing: its negative looks. The car was derided for the blandness of its output back in the 1980s through to the early '90s.
The company’s new objective of thinking outside of the box couldn’t have been used more incorrectly. The Fiat Multipla is basically a box on wheels with a few curveballs. Apart from its outrageously hideous looks, the Fiat Multipla isn’t the easiest car to maintain. If you're looking to make a best friend out of your local mechanic, then you need to buy this car. The reason the Fiat Multipla could be so hard to maintain might have something to do with its looks.
18 Not Worth It - 1995 Vauxhall Vectra
The Vauxhall Vectra is sort of a joke, and if you've been a keen follower of Top Gear, then you probably know that former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson simply refused to drive this car. It’s no surprise that he did. He's spent years being extremely open about his hatred towards this car and anyone who may drive it.
To be brutally honest, this car is so mediocre that if you were to take a poll to make sure it really was one of the worst cars out of Britain, it would do pretty well. If you're one of the few people who actually own this car in this day and age then you probably agree with our sentiments. GM asked, "Will this do?" And the nation replied with a solid “NO!”
17 Not Worth It - 1993 Lancia Dedra
The Lancia Dedra was a sort of executive compact car that was produced between 1989 and 2000 by the Italian Car automaker Lancia. The uniqueness of the name tells the success story of this car, which sadly isn’t such a great one.
The Lancia Dedra was produced to replace the failing Prisma model six years after it had been launched. However, due to its unreliability, it was unable to compete with its closest competition at that time.
The Dedra nuked Lancia’s reputation when its cars were reported to be rusting in UK showrooms. That was in the '70s. By the '90s, the Lancia Dedra was a sort of self fulfilling prophecy. The Lancia Dedra isn’t a truly terrible car. however, it’s a perfect definition of what happens when a company decides to eat its own.
16 Not Worth It - Mercedes-Benz A-Class
A Mercedes-Benz on a bad car list? This has to be some sort of mistake, right? Nope. You just have to look at this car to know it’s problematic. Mercedes is known for elegant designs and luxury fits, but they clearly dropped the ball on this one. This car doesn’t define anything Mercedes wants to stand for.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class truly deserves a spot on this list. First, the car suffered quality issues since the A-Class, unlike any other Mercedes vehicles, had a large chunk of its metal removed to make it a more compact city car. A video of this tiny car rolling during an Elk test told all and gave it an instant image problem. The German manufacturer had a hard time recovering from this one.
15 Not Worth It - BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is a three door compact sedan that has had a mixed reputation all over the world, especially in the UK. Most car enthusiasts saw this car as an outdated cut-price Beemer for those who were simply suckers for the blue badge on its bonnet. Other enthusiasts saw this car as an entertaining alternative to the hot hatchback fare.
The BMW 3 Series was produced between 1993 and 2004. The car was based on the BMW E46 platform. The last BMW 3 Series was produced in 2004.
What makes the BMW 3 series so bad? As a descendant of the BMW 1 Series, the 3 Series compact wasn’t entirely a bad idea. Using the rear suspension from the older E30 3 Series was a bad idea, though. It was also known for its tendency to throw its drivers into ditches.
14 Not Worth It - Porsche 996
If there's a car in the used market with an insane performance value, then it has to be the Porsche 996. The chassis of this car has spanned from 1999 to 2004. So, what’s the catch?
These cars are known for experiencing premature engine failure, which is mostly due to a small but integral part of the engine.
This car is, no doubt, a performance car, though. It packs a 3.4-liter and a naturally aspirated flat-six variant that is capable of producing 300 horsepower mated with a six-speed transmission system.
Another thing that makes this car such a performer is its light chassis coupled with its aerodynamic nature. It drives like a dream. However, if you're willing to sell your soul and look great driving a classic car with incredible street credibility, then you need to own this cash cow.
13 Not Worth It - Volkswagen Golf MK3
The Volkswagen Golf MK3 is a small family car that was produced in Europe back in 1991. It didn't get to America until the spring of 1994. The delay was due to a decision by VW to supply US and Canadian dealerships with MK3s and A3 Jettas from a VW plant that was based in Puebla in Mexico.
There were a few quality-control problems with this model that led to the plant rejecting Golfs and Jettas that came from Mexico.
The car also had a few design flaws. First, you couldn’t let down any of the rear windows without getting a weird wind-thumping sound. In comparison to the MK3, the MK2 was great. It had perfectly chiseled lines, low weight, and keen engines. However, when the MK3 came along back in 1992, it was a fat mess, and having the GTi’s meager 118 hp didn't help.
12 Not Worth It - Jaguar S Type
This car might not have a German badge on its bonnet, but the S-Type has pretty strong qualities that make it a realistic alternative for anyone in the market looking at cars such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
This car has a rather dated image compared to its competitors, adopting the classic Jaguar styling that has helped set it apart from its rivals. According to reviews however, the Jaguar S-Type is more likely to appeal to younger drivers.
This thunderous version packs a V8 engine and holds most of its strength in long distance comfort driving. The Jaguar S-type, like all of Jaguar's productions, is a superbly refined vehicle with an undeniably quality ride experience.
So why isn't it worth it? Well, in an age with the Jaguar XE, XF, and F-Type, the S-Type seems a little ancient. Its retro styling hasn’t improved, and when it was first unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show, it was overshadowed by the Rover 75.
11 Not Worth It - Land Rover Freelander
It seems like Fiat and Land Rover had a bit of an image problem back in the '90s. The Land Rover Freelander is a compact sport utility vehicle that was produced by the UK vehicle manufacturer Land Rover. The car was produced in two versions: the two-wheel version and the front-wheel version. These were produced between 1997 and 2014.
This sport utility vehicle uses a monocoque sort of unibody structure that's common with all other crossover vehicles in its class but differs from most traditional SUVs that were built with the body-on-frame designs.
The Land Rover Freelander was replaced by the Discovery Sport in 2015. In a lot of ways, the first generation of the Land Rover Freelander was awesome. At that time, it was Europe’s bestselling four-wheel-drive car, making it affordable for most people to own a Land Rover for the very first time in ages. However, the Land Rover Freelander was hopelessly unreliable.
10 Totally Worth It - Volkswagen Van 1950-1992
If there's a car that's instantly capable of picking up new generations of fans, then it has to be the VW Van. It creates an instant counterculture nostalgia for baby boomers. The VW Van is such a great car due in large part to the sheer devotion from its fans who almost always have a deep reserve of used parts (thanks to its connectivity with VW beetles) and keep this classic van going and going.
It’s hard to find this car in pristine condition. If it's at a collector’s yard, it'll likely be full of bumper stickers and duct tape to hold it together. If you're looking to get this car right now, you could easily get lucky with a little hunting, as many people still kept them around. The VW Van is clearly an awesome ride from the '90s.
9 Totally Worth It - Volvo 700 Series
What’s Volvo’s secret? They have one of the safest cars in the world, according to crash tests. They have built practically the same car for an eternity under a variety of model names.
It’s said that in its Swedish way, the carmaker decided to ignore fashion when every one of its competitors had that as a first objective, and instead decided to focus on the quality and the safety of the vehicle.
According to professional car reviewers, the first thing that will kill a Volvo will be rust, and we all know how long it takes to get rust on a car. The Volvos have seen it all, from being family cars to being passed on to college kids and getting packed at band shows. It seems like you could never really break these cars down. Long live Volvo!
8 Totally Worth It - 1993 Saab 900 Turbo
Want to see a bunch of Saabs? Then you might need to travel to New England or Colorado. Back in the day, these cars were very popular in these areas, and it was because of one reason: they handled perfectly on snow. Before we get into the details, be aware that the Saab 900 isn't a cousin to the Volvo 240, at least not regarding reliability or low effort regarding design.
The Saab has a cult-like following with its fans. It’s as if the car actually outlived the manufacturer (it actually did). The Saab 900 was actually the last car out of the auto manufacturer before GM bought it and revived it back in 2010 as part of their bankruptcy recovery. However, it died shortly after. It’s rumored that efforts continue to try to revive the brand.
7 Totally Worth It - Jaguar XJ6
Having a Jaguar on this side of the list really got some of the car enthusiasts and professionals into a bitter argument. Some of them stated that if you want to make friends then you can’t be driving this car.
Back in the '70s, the Jaguar’s reliability wasn’t anything to look forward to, and a common solution to the car’s problematic engine was to rip out a Chevy V8 engine and put it in your Jag.
Jaguar improved its reliability in the 1980s after an industrial turnabout specialist, Sir John Egan, got involved. Ford's input into research after acquiring Jaguar made things start to improve, and that's one of the few reasons the classic Jaguar XJ6 is still pulling through many years after it was first introduced.
6 Totally Worth It - BMW M5 (E39)
We had to have a BMW on this list. The E39 BMW M5 is one of the most iconic vehicles to come from the German car manufacturer, even by today’s standards. The BMW M5 was exactly what it was produced to be: a car with sheer power and brute force and a fun-enough sports car that can be justified to one’s wife when shopping for a family car due to its big family-sedan design.
Don’t let its size fool you, though. This car can beat most two door cars produced five years ago on the track. This huge family sedan can manage a 0-60 sprint in less than five seconds. These are very impressive standards for a car that was manufactured in the '90s. The BMW M5 packs a 4.9L V8 engine and produces a whopping 400 hp.
5 Totally Worth It - Ferrari 500 Mondial
How can you talk about the '90s without mentioning the Ferrari? It’s often easy for people to forget that Ferrari makes the best tourers in the world. Yes, these mid-sized sport-oriented cars out of Ferrari make fantastic drives.
While this is a statistic that's often ignored, some of the best cars that have ever come out of Maranello call California’s Pacific Coast Highway home. The Ferrari 500 is one of those cars.
It's perhaps one of the most timeless designs of the decade and honestly, it's still a little bit hard to beat. While half the cars produced in the '90s look like they've been left behind after a hurricane or were a blurry photo of actual great design, the Ferrari 500 still looks amazing. While the Ferrari was no cheap vehicle to buy, it’s still one of the best cars of the '90s.
4 Totally Worth It - BMW M Coupe
Want to know a cool fact? Due to the BMW M Coupe’s weird profile, many people refer to this car as the "clown shoe" today. However, for whatever insane reason, the BMW M Sports division has always been shielded away from the Z-Line of roadsters that, of course, seems like the obvious candidate for tuning.
While the engineers at M were tuning the fantastic Z3 into a track-ready monster, they decided that a roof would be better for rigidity and surprised all BMW roadster fans by making the little roadster into a hatchback.
While some people mocked it, most were unable to keep up. This car packed a 3.2-liter engine and produced a whopping 240 hp. You don’t want this tiny beast stalking your behind on track day.
3 Totally Worth It - Ferrari F50
It’s very hard to hear anyone discuss this iconic supercar out of Ferrari nowadays. It’s easy to understand why, as this car has been overpowered and outshined both in raw experience from its predecessor the Ferrari F40 and the sheer excess and world-changing technology of its successor, the Ferrari Enzo.
Does that mean that the Ferrari F40 should be forgotten and fade into the background? We don’t think so. The Ferrari F50 is, in fact, every car enthusiast's dream car. First, this car has a v12 engine that's been lifted off a race car, a stick and three pedals, and an Italian body design, and it's not over pampered by today’s computerized technology. This car packs a 4.7-liter V12 engine and produces a whopping 513 hp. The Ferrari F50 was Ferrari's 50th anniversary gift to themselves.
2 Totally Worth It - Jaguar XJ220
Jaguar has spent quite a lot of time building its grand tourers and luxury sedans. However, there's one model out of Jaguar that held the record as the fastest production car in the world for some time. That was the Jaguar XJ220.
It was praised not only for being a fast car but also for being very stable and predictable at high speeds. Its aerodynamic design is also appealing and gives it unavoidably striking looks with a hint of aggression.
The Jaguar XJ220 packs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. The Jaguar XJ220 was initially going to have a V12 engine, but it wouldn’t have passed the emissions test, hence the V6 engine was lifted off of a race car. This is a pretty awesome car, though you might have to be wary of the high maintenance costs. The freeway will be your friend.
1 Totally Worth It - Mercedes 500 E
You're probably thinking about what an early '90s E-Class is doing in a list of best performing and reliable cars. Well, as it turns out, this is no ordinary E-Class Mercedes Benz. In fact, this is the only Mercedes Benz in history that was hand crafted by Porsche.
It’s very confusing why Mercedes would pass off one of their most exclusive executive sedans of all time to a boutique sports car builder. But that was the early '90s, and during that time, anything was possible.
The 500 E packs a 5-liter V8 from the 500SL Roadster, and it took 18 trips back and forth between the two companies to properly assemble this car. Only 1,500 units made it to the US. The 500 E was one of the best Mercedes-Benz vehicles to come out of Europe in the '90s.