European cars were not very good back in the 60's and 70's, however, during the muscle car era. At this time, american muscle were the lead performers in the world, and everyone has to agree that the 60's and 70's was the time of the muscle car. However, as european companies got the hang of it and and started making better cars, things changed. They began making the most exotic, most exclusive cars the world has ever seen, and during the 90's, they began making a lot more high-performance cars, such as the lightning-fast Mclaren F1. It was this car that proved that the europeans know how to make fast, good-looking cars. As we neared the 21st century, european manufacturers were clearly making the fastest, most exotic cars the in the world. The europeans have clearly taken over and stole the crown from the muscle cars as King of the Road.
The muscle car era ended for 2 reasons. One, american companies got cocky and overconfident after their success with the muscle car. They started making cars for money, not out of pride and passion to perform. The second reason is that as the years passed, technology got more advanced, and it was the europeans (and the japanese) that kept up with the newer tech. The americans, however, thought their original muscle car "recipe" was the best, and tried to use it on their cars today. They failed to do so, obviously - american muscle don't look or perform half as well as they did 40 years ago. As with all muscle cars, they are specially built and tuned for the dragstrip, so their understeer is expected to happen but very annoying. Their weight distribution is also a problem - majority of their weight is on the front, so the rear wheels constantly spin out of control. This leads to slow right-off-the-line acceleration and the rear end to constantly swing outwards through turns. However, muscles have a lot of torque, which explains their fast 1/4 mile times, but their heavy weight and loss of traction explains their slow 0-60 times. Euros, on the other hand, have near perfect weight distribution, and many are rear engined, so it has more grip from the rear tires. Some are also mid-engined for balance and can lead to better cornering through turns.
Unlike muscle cars, which are built with cheap, low quality materials and sold in mass production, euros are built with high-quality materials and performance parts, and many are hand built to perfection. The times and effort put into building these magnificient cars is what makes a european car european. Of course, all of this means a high price tag, however, this large tag is there for other reasons as well. European exotics are meant for the wealthy, skillful, top-of-the-line buyers who either truly want one or just have money to burn. Also, this large price tag is what keeps european cars exclusive and unique - they aren't meant for everyone. Its what makes them special, for example, you see a ferrari on the road and average of about once a month. And when you see them, it makes you say "look at that ferrari. Amazing." obviously this wouldnt happen if everyone had one, which is why they're priced high.
This shows that european cars really are one of a kind. When being built from engineers that have the passion to build cars to outperform and be the best in the world, what do you expect?