Some of these awful cars simply failed to sell due to their terrible design, while others were underdeveloped and spiked with serious safety issues. One vehicle would even explode upon impact! These are the worst cars from the 1960s and 1970s.
It should be pretty clear by now that the 70s clearly weren’t the best for Ford Motor Company. The debut of the Maverick back in 1970 only seemed to make matters worse.
This awkward sedan was developed as an alternative to pricey European imports. Unlike its premium competitors, the Maverick lacked any kind of quality or high performance. The flat-four powerplant fitted in the base model was average at best. Even the optional 4.9L V8 was incredibly underpowered. The model was discontinued merely 7 years after its debut.
Unlike the majority of the cars on this list, the Marina has not gone down in history as one of the worst vehicles of the 70s. Quite frankly, that’s because nobody even remembers that this awful family car was even made!
This cheap automobile was sold by British Leyland between 1971 and 1980. It is easily one of the most boring cars of that decade. Bland design and an underpowered motor weren’t the only problems of the Marina. The car was also notorious for a wide array of different mechanical issues. Its cheaply-made body was prone to rust, too.
The Pacer is perhaps one of the quirkiest American vehicles of all time. While this compact car has accumulated a bit of a cult following in recent years, it wasn’t exactly the best car of the 70s. In fact, many considered it to be one of the ugliest vehicles ever produced. Its flat-six motor was notorious for awful fuel economy, too.
The Pacer was not exactly off to a great start, though its awful reputation has changed dramatically. Pacers quickly disappeared from the streets and became a rare sight. Today, this quirky vehicle has become sought-after by collectors. Don’t expect good gas mileage, though.
The SV-1 is the 1970s sports car you have never heard of. This great-looking sports car was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin, a famous American entrepreneur. Despite the extravagant design language, the SV-1 never really took off. In fact, it shared a similar story with the DeLorean.
The jaw-dropping SV-1 suffered from terrible quality issues. To make matters worse, its price tag kept on going up. Production ended around a year after the car’s initial debut. Bricklin only built 3,000 units in total.
Ford Mustang II
Even the biggest die-hard fans of the Ford Mustang can agree that the second generation was a total miss. The redesigned pony car was nothing like its legendary predecessor. It was neither fast nor exceptional in terms of design.
The questionable styling and utter lack of performance were only a small part of the problem. Unlike the original pony car, the second-gen was actually based on another vehicle. In fact, it was built on the frame of the Pinto. It even shared the same powerplant.
Believe it or not, the Chevrolet Vega was actually an absolute hit at first. This subcompact went on sale back in 1971. General Motors offered the Vega in all kinds of body styles and a flat-four beneath the hood. The Chevy Vega was even named Motor Trend’s 1971 Car Of The Year. It all went downhill from there.
A few months after the debut of the vehicle, it became apparent that the Vega was nowhere near as good as everyone thought. It suffered from a whole bunch of mechanical and reliability issues and was extremely prone to rust. The model was eventually discontinued after 1977.
Clearly, the American auto industry changed quite rapidly after the ’73 fuel crisis. Buyers no longer wanted massive land yachts powered by enormous V8 engines. Instead, the demand for fuel-efficient compact vehicles kept growing. The Omni was developed by Chrysler to satisfy the needs of the post-oil crisis buyers. The vehicle went on sale back in 1977.
Sadly, the Omni wasn’t exactly ideal. The vehicle was cheaply-made, underdeveloped, and its small flat-four engine was massively underpowered. Don’t forget the awful handling, weak brakes, and lots of other flaws. Despite all of its issues, Dodge managed to sell over 3 million units of the Omni.
Following the 1973 fuel crisis, buyers across the US flocked to small fuel-efficient cars rather than enormous land yachts powered by gas-guzzling V8 motors. Most American automakers were busy developing cars to satisfy the new needs of car buyers. Chrysler clearly missed the memo. The Cordoba was released for the ’75 model year.
In reality, the Cordoba was the polar opposite of what buyers wanted at the time. The Cordoba was a massive coupe powered by a 318-cubic inch V8 motor, with the option to upgrade to a 360-cubic inch or even a 400-cubic inch powerplant. Unsurprisingly, the Cordoba wasn’t a favorite among buyers. It was replaced by a toned-down, slant-six powered second-gen Cordoba after 1979.
At first, the Beta was praised by the general public. This should come as no surprise, as the sporty luxury car seemed to tick all of the boxes. It featured a high-quality finish, exceptional design inside and out, and a relatively powerful flat-four motor under the hood. Its positive reception was short-lived, however.
A couple of months after the release of the Beta, it turned out that the automobile was extremely prone to rust. Rumors spread that the car’s body was built using Soviet steel due to a partnership between Fiat and Lada, though this was never confirmed.
General Motors unveiled this weird compact car shortly after the debut of the AMC Pacer. A quick peek at the Chevette is enough to understand that the oil crisis clearly had a negative impact on the car world.
The price tag of the Chevette was low, and that was reflected in the build quality of the car. The interior would fall apart before even leaving the assembly line. The performance of the Chevette was equally pathetic. This car needs almost 20 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour!
Don’t let the spectacular exterior design fool you. While the Chevy Corvair did look like a proper cruiser from the 60s, it has gone down in history as one of the worst American automobiles of that decade. This was primarily because of its weird engine layout.
A rear-engine layout can improve the handling of a small sports car, the same cannot be said about a large compact car. In fact, the Corvair quickly became infamous for its awful handling and performance. Owners weren’t used to poorly-balanced rear-engine cars, and it showed. GM had to fight over a hundred lawsuits from unhappy buyers.
Hold on a minute, doesn’t the Bobcat look a bit familiar? That’s probably because this ugly subcompact is simply a rebadged Ford Pinto.
Ford Motor Company attempted to save the reputation of the Pinto. Instead of fixing some of the vehicle’s worst issues, the automaker decided to rebadge it and call it a day. The Pinto in disguise hit the market in 1974. Both the Bobcat as well as the Pinto were discontinued in 1980.
It’s pretty difficult to understand what the design team had in mind when designing this absolute eyesore. The first generation of the Renault 5, also called the Renault Le Car, hit the market for the ’72 model year.
The French automaker did not hide the fact that the Le Car was built on a very tight budget. Depending on the market, the original Renault 5 came with a flat-four motor that was anywhere between 0.8L and 1.4L. Although the legendary Renault 5 Turbo is based on the Le Car, the base model wasn’t particularly great.
Most automakers would agree that three-wheeled automobiles never work out, with some exceptions such as the Morgan Three Wheeler. The infamous Reliant Robin, however, is a solid piece of proof that it’s best to stay away from three-wheel-drive drivetrains.
This quirky vehicle hit the market for the 1973 model year. It quickly became infamous for lots of different issues, though one of them was particularly worrying. The Robin would simply fall on its side when cornering at high speeds. Over the years, the Reliant Robin has gone down in history as one of the most famous British cars ever made. Robins rolling on their side quickly became a leitmotif in different skits.
At first sight, the Austin Allegro seemed like a decent budget-friendly family car. Even its name was inviting. After all, Allegro translates to cheerful. Unsurprisingly, the Allegro was not hated at first. In fact, the initial reviews from the automotive press were quite positive.
The good reputation was short-lived, however. Owners quickly became aware of the car’s numerous design flaws. The body was prone to rust, and the entire vehicle seemed underdeveloped. This small family car was even nicknamed the “All Aggro”. The model was eventually discontinued after 1982.
The P76 is a large sedan that was developed by Australian Leyland, a subsidiary of British Leyland, to compete with similar vehicles offered on the Australian markets. The development seemed to be going well up until the ’73 oil crisis.
All of a sudden, the demand for large vehicles like the P76 plummeted. Leyland’s development budget was cut down to just $20 million. The vehicle was rushed into production and hit the market in 1973. The lack of quality was apparent inside and out. The vehicle was only produced for 2 years before being discontinued.
The TR7 is a British sports car that has a lot in common with the previously mentioned Bricklin SV-1. Both of these automobiles look absolutely spectacular. In addition, both of them have gone down in history as some of the worst cars of the 1970s.
Sadly, the TR-7 did not offer much more than exceptional styling. Its 2.0L flat-four motor was quite underwhelming, to say the least. What’s more, the TR-7 suffered from notorious overheating issues. One of the units even overheated during speed trails right at the cars’ launch event!
The fourth generation of the legendary Charger is often regarded as one of the worst downgrades in the history of American muscle cars. The Charger has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the coolest muscle cars on the market, or at least the first three generations. The fourth-gen, released in 1975, came and ruined it all.
It’s difficult to understand what Chrysler was thinking here. Clearly, the design of the Charger was affected by the oil crisis. The final generation of the Charger built on the B-Body platform was an absolute failure. It was discontinued just a few years after its initial debut.
AMC released the Gremlin, a subcompact that doubled as an absolute eyesore, just a few years before the debut of the infamous Pacer. The Gremlin hit the market for the ’70 model year as an answer to the growing demand for small compact cars. The Gremlin was actually a shortened version of the Hornet, another automobile produced by AMC.
The Gremlin quickly became infamous for its weird design language. As for the technical side of things, many buyers complained that the Gremlin was outdated ever since its debut.
The infamous Ford Pinto is easily one of the worst American cars of all time. It was introduced back in 1970, though the automaker pulled the model from the market just 7 years after its initial debut.
While the Pinto is filled with a wide array of different issues, spontaneously going up in flames is perhaps the most infamous one of them all. The gas tank was designed so poorly that it could explode in the case of an accident, even at the slightest impact.
Ford Gran Torino Elite
Back in 1974, Ford Motor Company attempted to enter the personal luxury car market. The oil crisis had just happened, and the budgets to develop new vehicles were dramatically cut down. Instead of developing a brand new model from the ground up, the American manufacturer took the easy way.
Despite the new name, the Ford Gran Torino Elite was nothing more than a redesigned Mercury Cougar. The vast majority of components used to build it were identical. Hence the Gran Torino Elite shared the same issues as the Cougar.
Vauxhall HC Viva “Firenza”
The appearance of the HC Viva “Firenza” was an incredibly sneaky move made by the British automaker in the early 70s. Vauxhall imported the seemingly new Viva Firenza through Pontiac dealers between 1971 and 1973. The new Italian name was an ingenious tactic to hide the car’s British origins.
The renamed Firenza threw the buyers off. The changed nameplate suggested that the vehicle no longer suffered from quality issues, like its predecessor. However, this was not the case. The Firenza suffered from frequent brake failures and overheating issues that could result in engine fires. As you may expect, the owners weren’t too happy when they found it.
You may be surprised to hear that the Plymouth Sapporo is really a Mitsubishi. Back in the late 70s, Chrysler decided to import the first-gen Mitsubishi Galant Lambda to North America. The automaker made very subtle stylistic changes to the vehicle and swapped out the badges. In 1978, the Plymouth Sapporo officially hit the US market.
The Sapporo is far from an exciting machine. In fact, it’s a pretty bland compact car. Its engine lacked any kind of power, and the whole vehicle would start to rust everywhere only months after driving off the lot. It’s a hard pass.
Rolls Royce Camargue
Who would have thought that the world’s most expensive production car could also double as one of the worst vehicles ever? The Rolls Royce Camargue is an awkward-looking luxury automobile released by the manufacturer back in 1975.
The automotive press heavily criticized the questionable design language of the Rolls Royce Camargue. What’s more, it quickly turned out that this vehicle was one of the most unreliable Rolls Royces ever. Once the most expensive car money could buy, this money pit is almost dirt-cheap today.
The Trabant 601 was one of the most popular cars in the former GDR, or East Germany. You might think that the best-selling car would also have to be good, at least to some extent. The reality was quite different, however.
When it came to picking a car, buyers in East Germany did not have much of a choice. While citizens over in the Western part of the country could pick from exciting sports cars built by Mercedes-Benz or Porsche, buyers in GDR were left with awful cars such as the Trabant. It was built on an extremely tight budget, the body was rust-prone and the drivetrain was immensely outdated.
At first, the Cougar was a great vehicle. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with a rebadged, slightly redesigned version of America’s favorite pony car, the Mustang. Things took a turn for the worse in 1974 when the third generation of the Cougar hit the market. From then onwards, the Cougar used a different platform than the Mustang.
The Mercury Cougar built after 1974 was an absolute disaster, in terms of both the performance as well as styling. The weirdly designed body was prone to rust, too.
Believe it or not, the Polonez was one of the most important vehicles to come out of Eastern Europe in the 20th century. You’ve probably never heard of this Polish vehicle, which was essentially a rebadged Fiat 125 with slight changes made to the car’s styling.
The FSO Polonez was the final product of a collaboration between Fiat and Polish automaker FSO, hence the similarities between the two vehicles. As you can expect, these cars were built on a tight budget and it showed.
The Versailles was easily one of the biggest flops in the history of Ford Motor Company. The American manufacturer developed a gas-guzzling luxury sedan that hit the market shortly after the oil crisis. The timing simply could not have been worse.
Despite the fancy name, the Versailles was nothing more than a slightly redesigned Ford Granada. The automaker’s pathetic attempt at hiding the roots of this seemingly luxurious vehicle failed right at its debut. There was no explanation for the ridiculous price tag of the Versailles, which was nearly three times higher than the regular Granada.
The 262C is unarguably one of Volvo’s weirdest vehicles to date. This strange-looking coupe was developed as a luxurious vehicle for the US market, made to compete against Cadillacs or Mercedes-Benz land yachts.
Other than its horrendous styling, the 262 C was a typical Volvo underneath the ugly body. The car was safe, reliable, and practical. If only it didn’t look like a Cadillac knock-off. Perhaps then the automaker would have sold more than 6000 units before shutting down the production line.
The Anglia was a rather bland vehicle developed by Ford for the British market. It was first introduced on the market back in the 30s. Although it was always a rather boring car, it wasn’t particularly awful. That is until the type 123E rolled off the assembly line in 1962.
The last generation of the Anglia is often considered to be one of the ugliest cars of all time. A quick look at the awkward front fascia is enough to understand why. Unsurprisingly, it was discontinued merely 5 years after its debut and replaced by the Escort.
There is no doubt that releasing the 300SD in 1979 was indeed a major step for Mercedes-Benz. After all, it was the first turbocharged diesel sedan to ever hit the market. Like many first attempts, the vehicle was far from perfect.
One of the worst features of the 300SD is its powerplant. Under the hood, the 300SD packed a criminally underpowered diesel motor. In fact, it was only rated at 110 horsepower! It wasn’t a fast vehicle back in the 70s, and it certainly can’t be considered fast by today’s standards either.
AMC unveiled the Hornet for the 1970 model year, shortly before the debut of its shortened sibling, the Gremlin. The Hornet was essentially set up for failure even during its development. It took the automaker three years and over a million man-hours, as well as $40 million, to develop the vehicle. The final product was rather underwhelming, to say the least.
Whilst the Hornet wasn’t as bad as the Ford Maverick, it was still far from a good vehicle. What’s more, AMC promised to repair anything wrong with the car (except its tires). The company went out of business around 15 years later.
Chevrolet C/K Diesel
The Chevrolet C/K Series is one of the most iconic pickup truck series ever made. These pickup trucks were extremely durable, reliable, and powerful at the time. Except for the Oldsmobile-powered diesel version, that is.
The C/K pickup trucks that came powered by an Oldsmobile diesel motor were the polar opposite of their gas-powered counterparts. These outdated motors were painfully underpowered. In fact, they were only rated at 125 horsepower. To make matters even worse, GM decided to fit these engines in their trucks as well as cars.
Once again, many buyers could be fooled by the brilliant exterior design of the Triumph Stag. This sporty two-seater rocked a lightweight body as well as a removable roof. It was the perfect recipe for a fun sports car. However, the underdeveloped powerplant ruined it all.
Owners started noticing issues with the Stag shortly after its 1970 debut. The 3.0-liter V8 motor equipped with a single overhead camshaft wasn’t ideal. In fact, it was quite awful. Buyers should expect never-ending reliability and performance issues.
Although the Citation was theoretically released in 1980, its development took place back in the late 70s. In addition, this car is so awful it simply had to be included in this list. At first sight, you may not think much of the Citation. It looks like every other bland, somewhat fuel-efficient compact released after the fuel crisis.
In reality, however, this vehicle has gone down in history as one of the most frequently recalled vehicles ever made by General Motors. The car was prone to reliability issues of all kinds, many of which had to do with the car’s awful build quality.
Today, the market is full of fancy electric vehicles that buyers all over the planet can choose from. You could opt for an upscale Porsche Taycan or a popular Tesla Model 3, for example. Back in the 70s, the electric car market was a lot more limited. In fact, this weird microcar was one of the only choices at the time.
The Citicar could accommodate up to two occupants. Its 2.5-horsepower electric motor was underpowered, to say the least. The top speed is merely 40 miles per hour.
The Imp is easily one of the biggest automotive failures of the 1960s. The hype built around the vehicle prior to its release only made matters worse. The expectations of the general public were not met, to say the least.
The Imp was marketed as an affordable economy car that was meant to serve as an alternative to the Mini. Sadly, the Imp was rushed into production, underdeveloped, and lacked any kind of quality. The rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout negatively impacted the handling, too.
The Subaru 360 was a huge success in terms of sales over in Japan. Malcolm Bricklin, an American businessman who developed the previously mentioned SV-1 sports car, believed that the 360 would sell well in the United States. Starting in 1968, he began importing these tiny cars to North America. This little city car was so light that it was even exempt from US automotive safety standards. It all seemed perfect, at least in theory.
American buyers weren’t exactly fans of the first Subaru offered in North America. Sales never really took off, and the model only remained on the market until 1970.
At this point, you might think that the majority of terrible cars of the 70s were built in America. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and the infamous VAZ-2101, also known as the Lada Nova or simply the Lada, is a prime example.
This Russian sedan has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. It hit the market back in 1970 and had already been outdated by then. The build quality was truly awful, even Jeremy Clarkson considers the Lada to be the worst vehicle ever made. It was a massive success in terms of sales, though. Largely because buyers weren’t exactly spoilt for choice.