You would have to go a long way to find a car enthusiast who hasn't heard of the phrase "never meet your heroes". As hard as the thought is to even consider, sometimes heroes can be arseholes that will throw all your hopes and dreams back at you with a big smile on their face.
We all have automotive heroes. Those cars that we envisage ourselves in every time we close our eyes, and the moment we drift off into the haven of our own dream world, we are imbued with every sensation our dreams believe the car is capable of providing. An immortal yet fictional memory that fuels our very passion for being in this industry. And sometimes, this fictional ideal can be better than the experience our heroes are capable of delivering.
In this blog, I aim to bring together a list of potential hero-cars that you should think twice before meeting. Of course, like anything, this is completely subjective. And also, if given the opportunity, you're not going to turn down a chance to meet your heroes. Some of the cars on this list are dependent on your perspective and expectation when you approach them; some are here because they're so pant-shittingly terrifying, you can't prepare yourself enough for them; and some and renowned crushers of dreams. Each for their own reason I feel can be called – to varying extremes – a never-meet-your-heroes car. So, with that, let's start the show...
15: Nissan GTR
Where most cars have fans, the GTR has a religious cult following it; therefore, any insult directed at it on the internet is dealt with by fire and fury. But facts don't care about people's feelings, so I'm going to have to say it: the GTR – while not exactly being boring – only really comes alive at ten tenths.
The most entertaining feature in the GTR's little box of tricks is, of course, it's famous launch control feature – the explosiveness of which will never be anything other than spectacular. But day to day, the GTR feels rather more restrained and less exciting than you'd perhaps want.
14: Ferrari F50
Your perspective when approaching the Ferrari F50 is everything. If you allow yourself to become partisan to all that F1-car-for-the-road bollocks – fuelled by the fact that people tell you the engine is from a Formula 1 car - then you'll undoubtedly come away disappointed.
It's nothing like a Formula 1 car, and the engine – which despite Ferrari saying was from an F1 car – only shares a block with an actual F1 V12. And even then, it was modified! If you approach the F50 however not believing in all that exaggerated nonsense and aim to just enjoy it for what it is, it's really rather wonderful.
13: Mazda MX-5
You're a petrolhead, but you weren't born into riches, and your job doesn't pay particularly great money. What are you going to buy? An MX-5, of course!
The idea of the MX-5 is that it's a working-man's hero, delivering a driving experience you'd normally only find on much more expensive exotica. But really and truly, that's all a load of rubbish!
The MX-5 works great as a cheap little roadster – but not as a serious sports car. You want to feel the wind rustling through your hair, but you only have 42p? Buy an MX-5. If it's a sports car you're interested in however, buy an Elise!
12: McLaren F1
Given the opportunity, the McLaren F1 is one of those heroes you'd never forgive yourself for refusing to meet. But if you were to ever drive it, a word of caution: it does not take kindly to inexperience. If you disrespect it and try to drive it like you would almost any other performance car, it will bite.
You have to do all the work in the F1. If you are truly willing to do that, and you listen to the car correctly, and you just so happen to possess the skill of a racing driver, you'll walk away with a feeling of fulfilment that nothing else on four wheels will ever be able to give you. If however you expect for one moment the car to do any of your work for you, you'll end up loathing it.
11: Jaguar XJ220
Down a narrow B-Road in the wet, little on this Earth can be more terrifying than a Jaguar XJ220. You know that there are two turbos present on the engine; you know they're going to wake up. You just don't know when, and you don't know what to do – other than pray – when they do wake up.
This is a car that will either disappoint or titillate depending on how much respect you give it, and the driving conditions that prevail at the time. If you're a nutter, you might like it - but if you're more refined, you'll probably require therapy after experiencing the XJ220.
10: Koenigsegg One:1
Who in their right mind would turn down a drive in a Koenigsegg for fear they might not like it? Well, in Koenigseggs, the only thing you've got to fear is the performance itself. And one rather vexing caveat.
The most important part of any performance car is the seat, because if you're not in a good position, you won't be able to control it at speed with the precision required. From my experience, Koenigseggs have the worst driving positions I've encountered, and when you consider the speed they're capable of, it only makes the terror-factor worse. But that said, if you're a contortionist, you might not find the driving position all that bad.
9: Dodge Viper
For many, the Viper is the ultimate American supercar – which is precisely why it's a hero car. The later cars are genuinely very good – but the same cannot be said of the 1st generation car. Infact, you could probably say that the original Dodge Viper was the worst engineered supercar in all of automotive history.
The thought of a car with an 8L V10 engine is one that fills you with excitement, but when presented with the opportunity to drive a MK1 Viper, be aware that it can hurt you in many different ways – and can even kill you.
8: Ruf CTR Yellowbird
The Yellowbird is one of my all-time favourite cars. But in its greatness and its desirability it is also one of the most difficult cars to drive enthusiastically if you are anything less than a racing driver.
In normal driving situations, it's perfectly approachable. But nobody ever granted a car hero-status because of its friendliness in traffic. Heroes are all about their potential, and unless you are an expert, you will never be able to exploit what the CTR has to offer.
7: Caterham 620R
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Something as stripped back as a Caterham might give the impression of providing the ultimate unfiltered driving experience. You, the machine, a twisting road, and nothing else. Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?
In reality, driving a Caterham is an experience only a select few will find enjoyable. You may think you're ready for the hardcore nature of the beast – but unless you'd already driven one, you wouldn't know what it was you were preparing yourself for.
The open-cockpit will leave you exposed to not only every driving sensation, but also every stone and potential weapon littering the road. It's an exceptionally characterful experience that you might love, but also, might hate.
6: DeLorean DMC-12
A car of such legend it can be referred to simply with one word: DeLorean. With such legend resting on its shoulders, the DeLorean has become the hero of many – but those who get behind the wheel often say just how bad it is to drive.
Not having high expectations isn't quite enough for the DeLorean to not be a disappointment, for the driving experience is truly awful. This is one car that is definitely best left in the fantasy world of the movies that helped craft its hero status in the first place.
5: Aston Martin Vantage
I list the Twin-Supercharged Aston Martin Vantage as one of my personal heroes. It all comes from seeing it in a car book I was given as a young child, and how I used to lose myself in a dream-world envisaging myself driving it.
According to motoring journalists of the time however, the Vantage was actually rather tricky to drive normally. The reason Aston opted for a Twin-Supercharger set-up as opposed to Twin-Turbo was because they wanted the car's 550bhp to be available whenever the driver wanted it. But the superchargers were so vicious when delivering power, they'd give you far too much when you didn't want or ask for it.
Thankfully, for the more powerful V600 version, Aston Martin sorted that problem out by some clever fettling with the superchargers. If you rank it as one of your heroes, you're better off meeting the V600.
4: Ford RS200
A rallying homologation legend – but one that rewards your dreams with being horrendous to drive 99% of the time. In the majority of driving environments, it feels more like a tin-shed on small cart wheels – only one that's phenomenally difficult to get off the line without stalling. You can't say you're good at not stalling until you've driven an RS200 successfully through a town centre.
Really and truly, it's the type of car you'd own only if you could afford to save it specifically for those special 1% drives. When you ring it out, it rewards you for punishing it – but for travelling TO the 1% experiences, the only way you'd like the RS200 is if you have a fetish for horrible mechanical rattles and clonks, and a snappy clutch.
3: Lamborghini Miura
A car that many hold as the world's first supercar for positioning its engine in the middle, the Miura is dripping in all the hero qualities. But unfortunately, to drive, it's what you might call a "dog's breakfast". And to be honest, that would be putting it politely.
Despite the Miura's stunning looks and blissful engine, it's known to be something of a pig to drive. Given that the fuel tank was positioned at the front, the presence of a fuel gauge isn't required to know when you're running low on juice, as the gradually worsening ability to change direction will be the clearest reminder that you need to find a filling station.
If you want to be impressed with the Miura, you need to approach it with the narrowest of minds, focusing solely on the character of its delightful V12 engine. If you can – albeit, with difficulty – block out all the other irritations, you will love the Miura.
2: Aston Martin DB5
The DB5 is without question one of the all-time classics, and also, one of the most gorgeous cars ever to have graced the Earth. But in its bewitching beauty, it is far from something you'd describe as particularly pleasant to drive.
The DB5 has always been more of a GT car than a sports car – which is exactly why you'd like it to be soothing at slower speeds. Unfortunately, the car has other ideas. Road testers who revisit the car nowadays frequently recite how awful it to drive in virtually all environments. Really and truly, the DB5 is a car you buy to be aroused by your own reflection as you cruise by shop windows, thinking you're 007, but really being Double-O-Wanker!
1: Lamborghini Countach
I can think of no car that crushes dreams quite with the same aplomb as the Lamborghini Countach. A thing of such staggering visual excitement, it became the hero of many: a bond which it broke for the few that got to drive it.
Quite a few people in this motoring journalism business found the Countach to be their ultimate bedroom wall pin-up. It was such a hero-car, it intensified the passion people had for cars just on the basis of its looks alone. Dare I say, it may've even created a car enthusiast or two.
Some of those journalists have since driven the Countach, and have exited the experience broken, both physically and emotionally. All the controls are so heavy, you feel like you need to whack them with Mjolnir to get them to move, and when they do move, none of them relay to you a sensation you'll find particularly inspiring or befitting of the hero-status you foisted onto it.
Forever echoing in the wake of those who met their hero, the Countach, are words depicting how much they loved the car, and how horrible the car is to drive. And that's why I see it as the ultimate never-meet-your-heroes car.
Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
Facebook: Speed Machines - DriveTribe