With every decade comes new movies, music, style, and cars. A lot of times you can look at a car and tell which decade the car was from. While some cars are icons of their decade, not every car is a smash hit among the buyers. Cars of every decade had a few duds and the 1980s were no exception.
Some of these cars are ugly, badly designed, or both. Some of these cars eventually found their way to better models and some stayed the duds that they were and never left the decade. Whether they regained some of their reputation or just a sore reminder of a time that has long gone, here the worst cars of the 1980s.
Known for always making cars for the money-savvy buyer, the Kia Concord in 1987 was no different. The only issue with the Kia Concord was that it was too cheap to be any good.
It was made with parts that wouldn’t stay together long and needed replacing frequently. It was also uncomfortable to ride in and was slow compared to others. While it pays to be consumer-friendly, when you sell cars that are so cheap they can’t stay together, you only wind up hurting your brand.
Before modern times when most vehicles weren’t capable of handling more powerful engines, Maserati decided to try and put Biturbos in a car that wasn’t quite ready. In the 1980s most cars couldn’t handle the stress that Biturbo engines would cause.
Buyers would often report that the car could only sustain high speeds for a short period of time before giving out or before the engine blew up completely. That doesn’t sound very luxurious to us!
Over the years, Buick has tried to tread on the line of making cars that are both luxurious and fast. But sometimes when trying to appease two different groups of buyers, you wind up making something horrible, which was the Buick Skylark.
Released in 1980 at the beginning of the decade, Buick wanted to come in with something new, fun and exciting. Unfortunately, the Buick Skylark missed the mark and Buick wound up losing money on a car that didn’t appeal to anyone.
Some of the worst things about the Skoda Estelle were its build and product quality. Decades prior, Skoda was responsible for making thousands of cheap cars in response to a national crisis and government pressure.
While the techniques used then to make affordable cars by the droves worked, those same practices would prove ineffective for the Skoda Estella which faced poor sales and disappointed consumers.
The 1980s brought out a lot of boring and uninteresting cars and the Plymouth Caravelle was another one on the list. Outside of having a cool name, the car had no defining features or anything particularly special going for it.
Drivers had so many other similar options at the time since so many other manufacturing companies were using a copy and paste method to produce new vehicles. Not only was the car boring, but it also came in hideous colors as well.
The Ford Granada was the car that Ford wouldn’t let die. Despite having low selling numbers, Ford kept making small changes as an effort to keep what few buyers they had interested in the car.
Ford was too proud to put the car on the shelf where it belonged and ended up wasting time and resources they could have spent on other models people actually wanted to drive and buy. Thankfully the Granada no longer exists today!
The only thing that the Hyundai Excel was good at, was being painfully mediocre and boring. Hyundai isn’t widely known for releasing cars people are actually excited to drive and own and the Excel is just another example to drive home that fact.
In order to make the cars affordable and to remain competitive, the Excels were cheaply made and would end up rusting sooner and costing the owners more money in touch-ups and new paint.
Cadillac designed the Allante as a car that they would use to compete with other luxury brands, namely Mercedes Benz who had been manufacturing other two-door soft coupes.
Unlike the SL-Class of Mercedes, the Allante wasn’t good at anything one thing in particular. It didn’t have nearly the same engine or power behind the wheel as the Mercedes model it came after, and the Cadillac name on the front didn’t carry nearly as much weight.
Vantagefield Range Rover Hunter
There is not anything good or positive to say about this car. If you like the idea of a Frankenstein Mercedes, Range Rover, and military pickup truck then the Vantagefield Range Rover Hunter is probably a good choice for you.
But if you are like most of us, you think the Hunter looks absolutely ridiculous and is a complete waste of parking space and effort. We will say this big auto looks like it would fit in best with the military.
Just because a car has a luxury tag on it, doesn’t mean that the car is going to automatically be great and the Maserati Karif was proof of that.
For starters, its overall body and shape weren’t unique, especially in the late 1980s when boxy cars were going out of style. Trying to outperform their last model, the Maserati Bora, Maserati didn’t seem to think this one through and just wanted to give us something mediocre.
Another hatchback from the 1980s, the Subaru Justy was a boring eyesore that was small and powerless. It had no distinguishing features or parts and could have easily been confused with other cars on the road with the same look.
The Justy was released in the late 1980s, almost at the turn of the decade, and the 1990s would bring better looking and better-driving vehicles in just a few years. This is one car Subaru would prefer to forget about.
The 1980s for Oldsmobile wasn’t a time of prosperity. The automaker was struggling, and the release of the Oldsmobile Omega was another poor choice from the company. Not every car can be a hit.
Owners of the Omega’s had to deal with back to back recalls that were government-mandated shortly after being released. Powered by the Iron Duke engine, the Omega also was in poor form to make any impressive moves on the road.
Developed in Russia during a period of time where small and cheap cars were needed for a large population of people in small spaces, the Lada Riva hasn’t had many changes.
Although this version of the car was introduced in 1981, Lada has kept the Riva almost identical to what it used to be in the 1950s. On top of that, the Lada Riva was a small car that wasn’t suitable for those with larger families.
The worst thing about the Ford Tempo outside of its ugly box-shaped body was the fact that it was Ford’s half thought out response to the Chevrolet Cavalier.
Car manufacturers are always on the move to one-up their next competitor, but the Cavalier at the time wasn’t a car that anybody wanted or praised. So why waste time making a competitor? The Ford Tempo ended up selling poorly and didn’t impress anyone in the process.
Pontiac Trans Am Turbo
Even with Turbo in the name, the Pontiac Trans Am Turbo was anything but fast. Released in 1980, the Trans Am was a car that had all the makings of a brilliant sports car but the power behind the wheel was a major let down.
Pontiac would eventually take the cue and improve the speed of some of its later models but the Trans Am Turbo was a poor start to the decade for the auto company.
Another French car that wanted to be a fancy sports ride, the Renault Fuego was another failed attempt at a cool car that wasn’t cool at all. Looking at it, none of the curves stand out more than they would on other cars.
Its shape didn’t embody one that you would find racing and instead it looked like a family-friendly car that sadly didn’t amount to much of anything. The word “fuego” which means “fire” is the only thing remotely interesting about this ride.
The Gemballa Avalanche was a giant storm of all the things that nobody wanted or asked for in a car. The body of the Avalanche looked like a sad old man and didn’t resemble the sports car that it wanted to look like.
Gemballa, the German car manufacturer behind the Avalanch, based the car off of Italian models. It looks like one of those things that should’ve been left to the Italians.
For a stretch in the 1980s, Subaru went through a period where they designed cars that were odd-looking, odd-shaped and odd to drive and the XT was no different.
Its body style had no designated rhyme or reason and didn’t look like much else on the road, the car wasn’t a performance model and couldn’t offer much in the way of speed or power either. To top it all off, the XT had an even stranger steering wheel that made driving a chore all its itself.
The Lancia Prisma, which came out in 1983 was an Italian car that was sent overseas to compete with not only American sports cars of the moment but also other European cars.
Drivers complained about Prisma’s being rust-prone and the paint fading out well before it should have. This undoubtedly caused drivers more money to repair or repaint which proved not worth it even for the luxury Italian sports car that it claimed to be.
Chevrolet should have gotten a citation for unloading this heap of junk onto consumers and into the streets. Part of Chevrolet’s X-Body cars, which were known for being cruddy, the Citation was no different from the rest.
It was boring to look at, drove poorly and slowly, and it didn’t have anything going for it outside of just being affordable. If you were looking for a real car that provided any kind of enjoyment, its best to look the other way.
The only thing quick about the Zimmer Quicksilver was how quickly it faded from popularity. It was a tacky car with insensible styling from a company that didn’t want to do anything to separate themselves from the competition.
Zimmer tried to make the Fiero look good and the QuickSilver model wasn’t it. The car lacked imagination, innovation and was fairly conservative while other more daring companies blew ahead with more impressive models.
Creative Car Craft Bugs
This personalization kit looked extremely ugly on any car that you put it on. With the growing popularity of custom cars and customization, Creative Car Craft Bugs sold better than expected for drivers wanting to add a personal touch.
Buyers could get custom spoilers, badging and other custom parts from the company whose motto involved drawing attention to yourself in any way possible. The Car Craft Bugs kit was an example of something that you could do, but shouldn’t do.
The Chrysler Executive was a long, rectangular box of a car that was anything from the image Chrysler wanted it to have. Designed for the elite white-collar workers who could afford it, the Executive could be described as a stretched out LeBaron.
Sales for the Executive were very low and not even 1,000 models sold in its first year. Chrysler swiftly replaced the Executive though the car left a stain on the company’s luxury car reputation.
The Mercury Lynx had an outdated and funny looking box shape, didn’t drive fast and was heavy and clunky. The Mercury manufacturing company had been in decline for many years and the Lynx was just another model that poorly sold on their lineup.
Although it wasn’t a luxury model, the Mercury Lynx was expensive and marketed as a luxury car so even if there were buyers interested, they were kept away from buying the car because of its price.
Unlike the majestic bird it was named after, the Pontiac Phoenix could be said to one of the models that marked the beginning of the end for Pontiac. Released at the start of the decade, the Pontiac Phoenix didn’t sell well, wasn’t well received and wasn’t at all impressive in terms of its interior or its engine.
The Phoenix was the successor of the two-door Ventura which was had been released only a few years prior and which had also been a huge failure for the company.
On its last leg and almost in desperation, Renault tried to pull out all of the stops in its 1980s models as the last resort to bring the brand back and make money to keep the company afloat. Spoiler alert – it didn’t work.
The Alliance was based on other European imports but was very much just a Chrysler in Renault’s clothing which didn’t appease the general public at all and sales predictably suffered.
Sbarro Rolls-Royce Camargue
The Rolls-Royce Camargue was Sbarro’s take on a car that they very well should have left alone. Sbarro, which was known for “improving” the look and functionality of luxury cars, took almost everything that made the Camargue luxurious out of it.
They removed the doors of the Camargue and instead placed a hideous steel pole, and then changed up everything about the car’s performance so that it wasn’t any more fun to drive than a bike with a flat.
Alfa Romeo Milano
Alfa Romeo has a hard history with its vehicles in the US and the Milano can surely be partly to blame. Not only was the compact executive car small and unruly but it was also chock full of issues that made it a pain for drivers.
Constantly breaking down and having to take it to get back to back repairs, the Milano wasn’t worth the trouble it caused and to top it off, Milanos often rusted making the car even uglier.
Though Lotus has redeemed itself since the release of this monstrosity, it has had a long way to go. The Elan was supposed to be a lightweight sports car designed to compete with the likes of Chevrolet and others who were making a big footprint in the sports car auto industry world.
If you are comparing the Lotus Elan to other cars at the same time, for instance, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, you may not find many if any differences.
Definitely not something you would want to pickup a date in, the Glenfrome Facet was a one of a kind car that tried too hard to be different.
Its body came from that of a Range Rover and with just a few minor body adjustments and a new name, the Facet was sent out to be sold. Thankfully the Facet didn’t do well and Glenfrome stopped producing the car just a few years after it was released.
The Austin Montego was another car in the lineup of British cars that were sent to the US in the hopes that Americans would like them.
While they had some little success, the American car scene in the 1980s just wasn’t one which included the likes of British influence. Because of this, the Austin Montego just wound up being another failed European car that had to tuck its tail between its legs and head back home.
DeLorean DMC 12
The DeLorean DMC 12 which is best known for its role in Back to the Future, was anything far from spectacular.
The manufacturing company which created the DeLorean made the car as an attempt at something cool and futuristic looking that would win over buyers. The car was slow and looked unlike anything else on the road which though was the goal, wasn’t what anybody found intriguing enough to buy.
An American entry from the neighbors across the pond, the Sterling 800-Series was a luxury automobile that did very poorly in the US.
The brand name Sterling came from the British company Rover who was too busy making poor car choices of their own to notice the failure they shipped overseas. With too much fierce competition on the road, the 800-Series was destined to fail and after 4 years, Rover pulled the car.
This British manufactured car came with all the potential in the world. It was marketed as a luxury car in the mid-1980s but once it was actually released, it was a major dud.
For starters, the Rover 200 was expensive, which cut off some of its buyer base. For those who could afford it, they may have quickly regretted that decision because of its poor performance. Rover 200s were known to often break down and leave drivers stuck on the side of the road even shortly after buying the car brand new.
One of the furthest things from being a noble warrior, the Suzuki Samurai was a complete disaster from beginning to end. The 1980s brought along the popularity of compact everything and Suzuki was just another car company looking to get in on the action.
The Samurai was built and marketed as an off-road compact SUV but drivers who tried to take it off-road oftentimes found themselves flipped over. If that wasn’t scary enough, the Samurai’s sales also suffered tremendously before Suzuki finally decided to pull the plug.
Sbarro Mercedes 500 Portes Papillon
Made by the Swiss manufacturer, Sbarro, the Mercedes 500 Portes Papillon was Sbarro’s attempt at refining a car that was already doing well in its own right. Sbarro took already existing models and tried to improve upon things it thought that the model needed.
In the case of this Mercedes 500, Sbarro could’ve left this one alone and focused on other Mercedes models of the same decade or stick to making cheap pizza slices at shopping malls.
Triumph was an auto manufacturing company for almost 100 years that faced hardship in the 1970s and ’80s and was hoping to make a comeback with its Acclaim model. While the car had some promise, it left its potential unfulfilled.
Known best for its wedge-shaped car designs, the Acclaim was different from its predecessors but not much different from other vehicles of this decade. Essentially just a rebranded Honda, the Acclaim never hit any reasonable height of popularity.
This Pontiac 2-door sports car not only performed poorly but was also incredibly dangerous and unsafe to drive. Pontiac was on the hunt to create a car that would compete with larger sports models and came up with the Pontiac Fiero.
The word “fiero” meaning “fire” was a highly ironic name for the car which was known for going up in flames. Pontiac would end up fixing the issue that started the fires, but by then it was already much too late to salvage the car’s reputation.
Eventually replaced by the Cadillac ATS, the Cimarron was Cadillac’s original small compact luxury car. Cadillac, originally known for its larger luxury vehicles wanted to create a vehicle that would compete in a compact vehicle market that had been gaining in popularity over the past few years.
The Cadillac Cimarron missed the mark with the public but it ended up paving the way for better Cadillac models to come later on.
Introduced in 1982, the Oldsmobile Firenza is nothing special. Based on the Chevrolet Cavalier, the Firenza didn’t have much to differentiate itself outside of a few more bells and whistles.
The Firenza was supposed to attract buyers who wanted more luxury than just a basic Chevrolet. The 1980s would wind up being home to many similar models like the Firenza and it turned out to be just another car of the 1980s that nobody asked for.