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Who doesn’t love supercars? Let’s face it. Every automotive enthusiast dreams of owning or at least getting behind the wheel of a supercar. After all, supercars exhibit the type of performance you’ll never get in any other car, be it a sports car or a luxury car. But that’s not everything that makes supercars superior. In many ways, supercars are the most light and agile, making them easy to handle even for first-time drivers.
But looking back at the classics, there were a few instances when automakers produced extremely hard-to-handle supercars. Take a classic supercar like the Carrera GT, for example. It featured almost no safety features or driving aids, leaving it all up to the driver and their skills or ability to tame the car when things got sketchy. According to Walter Röhrl, Porsche’s test driver and legendary racer, the Carrera GT was the first car he drove that scared him.
There are few cars of this ilk, analog or hardcore supercars that are dangerous due to their monstrous power and challenging handling. Often demanding the top skills and ability of an experienced driver, here are 10 supercars that were too difficult to drive for rookies.
1974-1990 Lamborghini Countach
The Lamborghini Countach was among the most iconic classic supercars, and everyone dreamed of owning it one day, from the teenage boys who put up posters of this car on their bedroom walls to grown-up men. There’s no doubt the Countach is still one of the most beautiful supercars of all time.
Sadly, looks aren’t everything. Get behind its wheel, and you’ll realize it’s one of the most challenging supercars. The controls are heavy, especially the clutch, and changing gears is incredibly difficult. Countach owners claimed that long rides gave them terrible back injuries. And thanks to the car’s ultra-low profile, visibility is literally non-existent.
1991-1995 Dodge Viper
The Dodge Viper is infamous for besting even the most skilled drivers, but it’s the 1992 Viper that was the most dangerous version of the American supercar. Although an important car in Dodge’s history, the ’92 viper lacked basic safety features such as ABS, stability and traction control, airbags, and safety nets. It didn’t even feature exterior door handles.
Legend has it that several owners crashed their RT/10s on their way home from the dealer. The V10’s 465 lb-ft of torque tended to overwhelm the most inexperienced drivers, as the car loved spinning around on the road. Additionally, soft motor mounts meant the shifter moved an inch off-center occasionally. So instead of shifting from, say, gear 3 to 4, you’d go from 3 to 2. Let your leg off the clutch, and the tires would start skidding. Lastly, the gigantic 335-mm rear tires – the largest at the time – were skateboards when cold.
2010 Noble M600
The Noble M600 is one of the fastest, hardcore supercars you can buy today. The 650-hp twin-turbo Yamaha V8 supercar has a one-touch traction control button, but no ABS whatsoever. It’s definitely not a car for unskilled drivers.
On hard throttle, the car loves spinning its rear wheels, whether in first, second, or even third gear. Then there is the old-fashioned transaxle transmission that even the most skilled drivers admit getting a perfect launch from takes several attempts. The M600 is a car that gives little margin for error. You need a basic understanding of the car’s ability to avoid costly errors such as opening the throttle wide open at slow corners or else.
2006-2010 Koenigsegg CCX
Take a glance at the Koenigsegg CCX, and you’ll realize what a monster the Swedish automaker created. A monstrous twin supercharged V8 producing 806 hp and 678 lb-ft of torque, enough to rip to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, tells you the CCX is technically a race car masquerading as a streetcar – something no unskilled driver would want to drive every day.
The car was too powerful to throw around tight corners that it bested Top Gear’s racing driver ‘the Stig,’ who crashed while attempting to do a power lap. Apparently, the CCX lacked enough downforce, which Koenigsegg addressed by adding a rear wing after the incident. You can imagine what would happen if it was an inexperienced driver behind the wheel.
1989-1995 Ferrari 348 TS
While Ferrari has several world-class sports and supercars to its name, we reckon the 348 isn’t one of them. Besides reliability issues such as faulty electronics, the Ferrari 348 TS was a terrible car to drive, thanks to its inexcusable handling. Even the former Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, was once quoted saying the 348 wasn’t a true Ferrari.
According to many 348 owners, the car had little connection to the road. Firstly, steering the car at low speeds or trying to make tight turns at high speeds, you could feel the steering resistance. Again, poor suspension and the rear wheels that were somehow closer to each other made driving at high speeds scary. All in all, pushing the car beyond 155 mph was like playing roulette with your life.
1990-2001 Lamborghini Diablo
Lacking standard features like ABS, the Diablo is one of the most analog supercars. It also had heavy controls, such as the clutch and brakes, that required strong limps to operate. The stubborn gearbox also hated to shift, forcing drivers to push the pedal down harder.
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Driving the Diablo was like getting off a full workout session in the gym. Its low profile also meant visibility in the blind spots was non-existent. While enthusiasts would argue it was a proper driver’s car, the truth of the matter is that not everyone had the skills to handle or extract any meaningful performance from the car.
1993-1998 McLaren F1
Introduced in 1992, the McLaren F1 is one of the most iconic ‘90s supercars and arguably the best supercar ever made. It had the power to match its looks, thanks to a 618 hp 6.1-liter V12 engine. Capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 240.1 mph, the McLaren F1 was an analog supercar that featured no electronic driving aids such as traction and stability control.
That makes for a dangerous combination at high speeds or in bad weather. It’s no surprise that even though produced in limited numbers, the McLaren F1 has three infamous crashes to its name, under the stewardship of Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, and actor, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean).
Introduced in 1999, the Pagani Zonda quickly established itself as one of the best supercars in the world. Sporting a luxurious interior and a fire-breathing Mercedes-Benz V12 engine, the Zonda brought the fight to other exotic supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
However, being the Italian brand’s first car, it had a reputation for snap oversteer and unpredictable understeer, a sentiment echoed by F1 driver Lewis Hamilton during an interview with The Sunday Times newspaper. Hamilton said, “the Zonda is terrible to drive” and further added that while “it’s the best-sounding car” he owned, “handling-wise it’s the worst.” That’s a pretty definitive statement from Hamilton, considering his incredible driving skills and all the stunning cars in his garage.
1996-1998 TVR Cerbera Speed 12
Generally, all TVRs are some of the most popular exotic cars with challenging handling. This is because the British automaker is infamous for ignoring British Union guidelines to fit all cars with ABS and airbags. They also forego any electronic driving aids like stability and traction control.
Now, take the TVR Cerbera Speed 12. Having no driving aids, the automaker went ahead and fitted it with a fire-breathing 800-hp 7.7-liter V12 engine. Legend has it that it was so powerful that it blew up a 1,000-hp rated dyno, making the 800-hp figure an estimation. When Peter Wheeler – a skilled driver and the then TVR owner – took the car for a road test, he declared it too extreme and dangerous for the road. Eventually, TVR canceled all orders and returned customer deposits.
2004-2006 Porsche Carrera GT
Hard-core Porschephiles still sing the praises of the Carrera GT today, while owners are smiling since it's now worth over $1 million. At the heart of the car is a screaming 612-hp 5.7-liter V10 that sends power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission that had a race-specification clutch. While the car looks and feels iconic, the Carrera GT is one of the most dangerous Porsches.
It was raw and wild, with a highly temperamental and brutal drive. Porsche intended the Carrera GT to reward the most accomplished drivers with full control, which is why it lacks safety equipment like ABS and traction control, making it a hard-to-handle supercar. Paul Walker’s untimely death in a Carrera GT highlighted how the car offers zero margins for error.