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Dream cars aren’t typically a rational purchase, but rather the subject of dreams, fantasies, or perhaps even an iconic film. Unfortunately, there are a lot of iconic cars that are actually a nightmare to own, and these are five perfect examples.

Is the Plymouth Prowler a good car?

The Plymouth Prowler is an iconic car that doesn't live up to the hype.
Plymouth Prowler | Getty Images

Ah, the Plymouth Prowler. We’re pretty sure this iconic car was designed exclusively for bedroom wall posters because the driving experience is middling, at best. In short, it’s simply not a good car to live with, even just for fun.

The open-wheeled roadster had just a six-cylinder engine and, worse yet, a four-speed automatic transmission. That’s right, the Prowler was a modern hot rod with open front wheels…and the automatic transmission from a minivan. We’re not sure what else to say.

The notoriously unreliable Mazda RX-8

On the other hand, the Mazda RX-8 is an absolute riot to drive. The rotary engine sounds incredible, and the short wheelbase paired with rear-wheel drive make it an iconic car for enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, rotary engines require a lot more maintenance than traditional combustion engines. Failing apex seals are a common problem causing a loss of power. Pre-ignition can also tear these seals apart, and the remaining deposits cause damage to the entire combustion chamber as the rotary spins inside the housing.

Overall, as fun as the RX-8 can be to drive, keeping one running is both expensive and frustrating. Unless you know rotary engines inside and out, or have a mechanic who does, the RX-8 experience will likely end in tears.

An original Dodge Viper is worth it — if you can handle it

The original Dodge Viper is a ripper of a thing, sporting a V10 engine that made over 400 horsepower and sent it through the rear wheels. However, the iconic sports car doesn’t have any traction or stability controls, which means any wheel spin is up to you to sort out.

That’s fine if your name is Kyle Busch – not so good for leaving the local Cars and Coffee. Driving the Viper means respecting its power – not doing so will find you visiting the scenery in a classic bit of American metal.

The Shelby 427 is among the worst classic cars to buy

The Shelby Cobra 427 is one of the most instantly recognizable cars of all time. Unfortunately, owning one isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Similar to the Viper, the Shelby Cobra sends shedloads of power to the rear wheels with no traction control system to help manage it.

Even worse, the aluminum bodies weaken over time, and in a car that’s 50-plus years old, that means stress fractures that diminish the structural integrity of the whole car. Unsurprisingly, that’s not a cheap problem to fix, and it’s why most of the Cobras you see on the road today are kit cars rather than original models.

The Back to the Future car is actually a miserable thing to drive

The iconic Delorean DMC-12 is a car who's fame is born in Hollywood.

Without Back to the Future, we’re pretty sure the Delorean DMC-12 would belong in the dustbin of history. Instead, that film propelled this hatchback to the forefront of American consciousness. Described by Hoovies Garage as a ‘mechanical basketcase’, the Delorean has a reputation for being, well…terrible.

Common Delorean problems include electrical problems, leaky weatherstripping, and transmission problems, and none of these issues are cheap to fix. Worse yet, the stainless steel body can’t be fixed, despite being easily dented at the slightest contact. Overall, it’s a fun car for the local car show, but actually driving one probably isn’t all that enjoyable.

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