Some Of The Worst Cars Ever Made Will Make You Rethink Your Buying Options
No one wants to drive a lemon. You know, the car you buy, then as soon as you take it off the lot something fails. The engine goes kaput, or the brakes don’t work. The worst thing that could happen goes wrong, and you’re left with a huge monetary loss. How do you avoid this? One of the easiest things to do is to avoid cars that were made poorly to begin with. This list will show you some of the worst cars ever made, so you don’t end up trying to make lemonade out of a lemon.
The 2004 Chevy SSR Was All For Show
The SSR in Chevy SSR stands for “Super Sport Roadster.” Upon release, consumers realized this car was anything but a super, sporty roadster. Instead, it was a heavy and slow failure of a car with shiny retro design.
If only Chevy had cared as much about what was under the hood as they cared about what it looked like. The car’s body was too heavy for its engine, resulting in a sluggish performance that many critics described as lazy. Just as quickly as this car was released, it was put to rest.
No One Liked The Pontiac Aztek
As soon as the Pontiac Aztek was announced, it was universally hated by car lovers. Critics claimed the design of the car itself made no sense, especially its oddly-shaped front end. It didn’t help that the body was made of plastic instead of something safer.
When Pontiac announced the features that would come with the Aztek and the price tag they would have to pay, it became clear the crossover was doomed. People just weren’t willing to pay for unimpressive performance and underwhelming design.
The Mustang II Was A Major Mistake
Ford bought into the idea of Pinto like no one could have expected. The Mustang II was based on the same idea as the Pinto. It was designed as a coupe that was supposed to drive like a roadster.
Like the Pinto, the Mustang II suffered from several fatal flaws, including a generally underwhelming performance. Upon its release, critics called it the poor man’s AMC Gremlin, a similar car which offered better performance. Of course, the Gremlin wasn’t popular either, so maybe that wasn’t a good thing.
The Lincoln Blackwood Vanished In Less Than One Year
Raise your hand if you remember the Lincoln Blackwood. Released in 2002, the crossover project between Lincoln and Ford was a strange attempt to create a luxury pick up truck. It was so strange that consumers rejected it entirely, and Lincoln and Ford pulled the plug in less than one year.
In reality, there was nothing wrong with the car, it was just that everything Lincoln tried, from rear wheel drive to the luxury trimmed interior, seemed out of place in a truck.
The Lamborghini LM002 Made Zero Sense
Lamborghini’s first mistake in designing and releasing the LM002 was thinking their consumer base wanted to take their car off roading. Before being released to the public, Lamborghini marketed the LM002 to the American military with their “Cheetah” prototype.
We don’t think anyone buys a Lamborghini to go play in the mud, though. Lamborghini stuck by their beliefs, producing 382 of these off road super luxury vehicles between 1986 and 1993. It became known as the Lamborghini truck.
The 1975 AMC Pacer Was Great For Professional Drivers
The 1975 AMC Pacer did not help reverse the poor fortunes of the American Motor Company. Released at the height of the ’70s compact car craze, the Pacer was the king of the hill when it came to size and fuel economy.
Getting behind the wheel of one, however, turned out to be pretty dangerous. Critics were quick to point out the Pacer’s poor performance and difficult handling. In other words, the car might have been fun for race car drivers, but not consumers who just wanted to get to and from work safely.
The Maserati Biturbo Ruined The Brand’s Reputation
In the early ’80s, Maserati was under new ownership who wanted to released a “more affordable” sports car under the brand name. The result was the Biturbo, a car which many blame for Maserati leaving the American market in 1991.
Surprisingly, Maserati kept making Biturbos overseas until 1997. In 2002, the brand finally returned to the United States. The Maserati Spyder, priced at $89,000, helped the company return to prominence, with over 800 orders placed (high for a luxury model) before it was even shipped.
The Cadillac Fleetwood Was The King Of Awkward
The Cadillac Fleetwood that we’re referring to was manufactured from 1976 until 1996 and never found stable footing in the market. Even though it lasted for 20 years, the car had a bad reputation for stalling, jerking, and making awkward noises.
The name “Fleetwood” had been used as a pre-fix by Cadillac since 1935. It described cars with longer wheelbases than the DeVille and Series 62 Models. In 1996, the final year of the production, only 15,109 units were produced by Cadillac, less than half of the 1993 production number.
The Ferrari Mondial 8 Was Never Meant For Greatness
The Ferrari Mondial 8 was produced for two years starting in 1980. In that time there was a rumor that every single model’s system failed. That’s how bad this car’s reputation was. It was replaced in 1983 by the Mondial QV.
At the time of its release, the Mondial 8 wasn’t met with the worst reviews. It was called “impressive” and “respectable.” It was only after the car was on the road for about a year that the truth came out. In a retrospective, Time Magazine listed it as the eighth worst car of all-time.
The Cadillac Cimarron Nearly Ruined The Auto Maker
In 1982, Cadillac introduced the world to the Cimarron. The car was a disaster from the tart. GM wanted to move Cadillac into a smaller market, not nearly end the brand forever.
Obviously, Cadillac is still around today, but that doesn’t change the fact that GM almost cut the chord in the ’80s. All because of the Cimarron. Few cars in history have been so bad, they threatened to end brands. Thankfully, GM didn’t do the unthinkable.
The Iconic Chevy Bel Air Is Actually A Dud
Here’s a controversial opinion; the iconic Chevy Bel Air is actually one of the worst cars ever made. We’re not talking about every Bel Air made, however, just the 1955-57 model. That’s three years worth of cars Chevy probably wishes didn’t exist!
The problem is there’s nothing original about the Bel Air. Chevrolet took the most generic 1950s car design they could and mass-produced it. Maybe because it had the Chevy logo people thought more highly about it then they should have? On the bright side, the car itself drove fine.
The Trabant Was East Germany’s Answer To Volkswagen’s Beetle
When the Berlin Wall went up, Germany was divided into West Germany and East Germany. Volkswagon existed in the west and was flying high on the success of the Beetle. East Germany refused to buy cars from the west and came up with the Trabant.
The problem was too many features were missing from the Trabant to make it worth driving. There were no seat belts, the hood needed to be opened to refill its gas tank, and there was no fuel gauge or tachometer on the inside. Yikes!
The Ford Pinto Is Legendarily Bad
Be happy if you’re too young to remember the Ford Pinto. Widely regarded as one of, if not the worst car ever made, the Pinto was a nightmare for Ford. Marketed as the future of compact cars, the Pinto offered decent performance and good fuel economy. The problem was it had a tendency to explode.
That’s not an over-exaggeration, either. The Pinto became notorious after its release for exploding when hit by another vehicle. Ford refused to fix the problem, instead preferring to pay any victims, we mean buyers, and end production of the vehicle.
The Morgan Plus 8 Ran On Propane
Made by British manufacturer Morgan, the Morgan Plus 8 is credited with saving the company. That doesn’t mean the car was without any quirks, though. In the United States specifically, the car was fitted to run off of propane, the only way it could pass emissions tests at the time.
So what were the results of running the car on propane instead of traditional fuel? It felt sluggish, making 30 miles per hour feel like 60 miles per hours.
The Smart Fortwo Was Too Hot To Handle
In a big city where parking is limited, Smart Cars are immensely popular. They can fit just about anywhere, and have incredible fuel efficiency. That doesn’t mean they’re comfortable, though. The Smart Fortwo is the best example.
Built with its engine in the back and cooling system in the front, it’s easy to cook your passengers on a warm summer day. The heating and cooling problem proved to be too much for casual consumers, causing sales to plummet and almost bankrupting the brand.
The Peel Trident Speaks For Itself
What is there to say about the Peel Trident? It was launched in 1964 at the British Motorcycle Show and was intended to be used as an “occasional two-seater.” By 1966, the Peel Engineering Company ended production on the strange little car.
The Trident might be gone, but the legend lives on. On Monster Garage, Jesse James got his hands on one and tried to fit it with a motorcycle engine and new frame. The experiment failed and James destroyed the car for his television audience to see.
The Chevy Vega Was Named ‘Car Of The Year’ Before Its Many Defects Became Known
The Chevy Vega received plenty of attention and praise when it was first introduced. It was even named the 1971 Motor Trend Car of the Year! That good reputation quickly unraveled though, as the 1971 Vega was riddled with problems. From a tendency to rust, to being unreliable, to engineering and engine problems, the car was a disaster.
Even though GM put the vehicle through a slew of design upgrades and recalls, it was just too much of a stain on the company’s reputation and production ended with the 1977 model.
The Triumph TR7 Was A Maintenance Nightmare
From 1974 until 1981, the Triumph TR7 haunted roads in the Unites States and the United Kingdom. Well, it was supposed to come out in 1974, but production delays pushed back its actual release to 1975 (United States) and 1976 (United Kingdom), which was the first sign of trouble.
Early models were littered with maintenance problem, turning the sports car into one of the more expensive vehicles to own. By 1980’s redesign, a lot of these issues were gone and car enthusiasts were starting to come around, but it was too late for the general public to care.
The Chevrolet Chevette Was Too Late To The Party
Under the hood, there was nothing wrong with the Chevrolet Chevette. At the time Chevy commissioned the sub-compact car to be made, Americans were energy conscious, preferring fuel efficient and smaller cars. By the time the car finally came out, however, big trucks were making a comeback.
Chevrolet initially predicted that 275,000 Chevettes would be sold, including 150,000 from import sales. By 1976, those same predictions were cut in half. By the end of the ’70s, the Chevette became the best selling small car in America, which sadly wasn’t enough to save it.
The Ford Edsel Was Grossly Overpromised
You know what they say in marketing: under promise and over deliver. Unfortunately for Ford, the exact opposite is what happened with its Edsel sedan when they presented it as the “car of the future.” Consumers found the Edsel to be underwhelming and overpriced. Whoops.
Today, the name “Edsel” is synonymous with “commercial failure.” Especially since it was named in honor of Edsel B. Ford, the son of company founder Henry Ford. Edsels were only manufactured from 1958 through 1960.
Don’t Let The Movie Fool You: The DeLorean DMC-12 Was A Failure
The DeLorean DMC-12 is synonymous with the 1985 film Back to the Future, which is where many people were introduced to the iconic car. But don’t let its fame or impressive appearance fool you: DeLoreans are often called expensive failures.
Deloreans are known to have many issues with their electrical systems, which leads to general reliability problems. Additionally, the cars are underpowered and have poor build quality. There’s still a huge demand for the, though. In 2016 DMC in Texas announced that it was making 300 replica models.
The Saturn ION Was Plagued With Problems
The Saturn ION was sold by Saturn under the GM Delta platform from 2003 and 2007. Its automatic transmission was problematic because of a “shift flare” which was a disorienting shift pattern that ended up scaring some drivers. When the transmission downshifted on a downward incline, as the driver released the gas pedal, it created a lurching sensation.
The ION also had trouble with transmission failures, with keys becoming stuck in the ignition, and with a problem where the engine wouldn’t shut off. No big deal, right? GM ended production of the ION in 2007.
The PT Cruiser Was A Blast From The Past
At some point in time, everything that was once old is new again. That was the case with the PT Cruiser, a retro style car released by Chrysler intended to use nostalgia as its best weapon. If only the car company had taken performance into account.
The PT Cruiser failed to catch the eye of the consumer, who preferred more modern looking cars and better overall performance. Around the same, time Ford tried to relaunch the Thunderbird to similar lack of interest.
The 1998 Fiat Multipla Was Confusing At Best
Designed as a minivan, the Fiat Multipla left consumers scratching their heads when it was released in 1998. The car brand planned to use the new model as the heir to the throne of the Multipla name. Instead, it was the downfall.
The biggest problem was that the 1998 Multipla just made no sense. It looked like Fiat took several different car designs, smushed them together, then crossed their fingers for good luck. In its inaugural year, only 426 of these strange beasts were sold.
The 1947 Davis D-2 Divan Never Got Off The Ground
Only in Hollywood would a car company come up with the Davis D-2 Diva. The strange, and we’re guessing futuristic looking(?), car was designed by the Davis Motor Company in Southern California. Thankfully for everyone involved, it never found its way to the market.
The auto maker’s owner was notorious for shady business practices and overestimated the supply he needed of the vehicle. Investors, in turn, became increasingly upset waiting for their return. Eventually, they abandoned ship, sinking the D-2 Divan for good.
No One Knew Which Way The Zundapp Janus Was Facing
Perhaps the most absurd car on this list, the 1958 Zundapp Janus holds a special place in our confused little hearts. When its doors are open, it’s impossible to tell which end is the front, and which end is the back.
The car was designed by a motorcycle company trying to make a splash in the car industry. Wanting to stand out, the put the doors to the Janus in the front and back. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the car could only reach a top speed of 50 miles per hours, which is great if you prefer driving in the slow lane.
Consumer Reports Hated On The Suzuki Samurai
Although the Suzuki Samurai has its fair share of die-hard fans, it was completely torn apart by Consumer Reports in 1988 when the esteemed publication called it “dangerously unsafe” for roads. Consumer Reports actually demanded that Suzuki recall the vehicles due to its findings.
Although it was later discovered that the magazine had tweaked its testing method to boost the possibility of rollovers, the brand never recovered from the public condemnation. In 2012, Suzuki withdrew from the American auto market.
Chevy Should Have Been Cited For The 1980 Citation
The Chevrolet Citation was a frontrunner for compact cars entering the 1980s auto market. It initially sold well — 800,000+ in its first year alone — and was even named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1980. As a replacement to the disastrous Nova, the company had high hopes for the Citation.
Consumer Reports dashed that hope, however, when it declared that the car was so poorly designed that it was actually dangerous. Sales plummeted immediately, and Chevy stopped making the Citation by 1985.
The Plymouth Prowler Was Pitifully Underpowered
Like many automobiles released in the 1990s, the Plymouth Prowler was not destined to become a classic. Although its designers took a look back at the days of hot rods for the Prowler’s appearance, they apparently overlooked a key feature of hot rods: horsepower.
The Prowler’s 3.5 liter V6 packed just a measly 250 horsepower. In 1999 the Prowler got a boost in power with 253HP, but a manual transmission wasn’t even an option. Chrysler stopped producing the vehicles in 2002.
A Three-Wheeled Car… What Could Go Wrong?
The Reliant Robin is a compact car produced by England’s Reliant Motor Company. It’s actually the second most popular fiberglass vehicle in England, despite its odd appearance and tendency to flip over due to its three-wheel design.
The Robin never took off in the United States, and many American drivers are surprised the first time they see one! A Reliant Robin was featured in an episode of Top Gear, in which host Jeremy Clarkson famously flipped the car with every turn he made (which he later admitted was a staged move).
The Dodge Omni Had A Big Role In Automotive History
In 1977, Chrysler was in bankruptcy protection. But when the company released the Omni, sales of the tiny hatchback almost single-handedly brought Chrysler back. That doesn’t mean the Omni was a good car, however.
Consumer Reports gave it a “Not Acceptable” rating, citing difficulty with maneuvering. Time magazine found similar faults with the Omni, and Chrysler responded with some tweaks to the vehicle. People bought the Omnis up like crazy, despite all their issues. Between 1977 to 1990, Chrysler produced almost three million of them.
The 1968 Ambassador Sunk AMC
As the first American car to offer air conditioning as a standard feature, AMC’s 1968 Ambassador sedan was poised to be a huge hit. The company churned out lots of them to meet the demand they expected upon release. Unfortunately, this incarnation of the Ambassador was poorly engineered and one of its first models received a “Not Acceptable” rating from Consumer Reports.
Ouch. This complete failure crippled AMC’s reputation as an independent automaker, and the company was eventually bought out by Chrysler in 1988.
The Elcar Was A Real Head-Scratcher
The Italian company Zagato produced this zany electric microcar called the Elcar (known as the Zele in European markets). Zagato was known for collaborating with manufacturers like Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin to produce some amazingly gorgeous cars.
The fiberglass Elcar, on the other hand, was not considered an attractive car. Only in production from 1974 to 1976, it had a low top speed and a range of just 10 miles in weather below 40 degrees! And with a recharge time of eight hours, the Elcar never took off.
The Strange-Looking Aston Martin Lagonda
The 1970s were some interesting years, and this vehicle that was introduced in 1974 is a perfect example of just how odd the decade was. The Aston Martin Lagonda is a luxury four-door vehicle built by the English company Aston Martin from 1974 to 1990. Only 645 were ever produced.
With a hefty price tag, the Lagonda failed (by a long shot) to meet expectations. Bloomberg Businessweek called it one of the 50 ugliest cars of the last 50 years, and Time magazine included it in its “50 Worst Cars of All Time” list. Time called it a mechanical “catastrophe” and said that its novel electronic instrument panel would have been impressive if it had actually worked.
Many Said “Yuck” To The Yugo GV
One Autotrader review of Yugo as a brand said, “it’s generally agreed that the Yugo is one of the single worst cars ever sold in the United States.” Manufactured by a Yugoslav company called Zastava Automobiles, the petite vehicles have long been the subject of ridicule in the US.
The GV model series is the one that was sold in America, and it’s especially loathed. It has been included on numerous publications’ “worst cars in history” lists, including Car Talk and Time magazine
The Citroën Pluriel Was Called ‘A Teapot On Wheels’
The French-produced Citroën Pluriel was panned by Top Gear Magazine, which declared that the vehicle is “about as useful as a chocolate teapot.” The publication also added the supermini convertible to its “13 worst cars of the last 20 years” list.
Reviews indicate that the Pluriel is glitchy and problematic, boring to drive, and many people describe it as cheap-looking. Citroën withdrew the Pluriel from production in July of 2010.
Mitsubishi’s Mirage Fails To Deliver Anything Beyond Basic
Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi started producing the Mirage in 1978. After a hiatus, they began manufacturing the vehicles again in 2012. The fact that it’s still being produced doesn’t mean that the Mirage is a good vehicle, however.
US News had this to say about the latest year’s model. “The 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage ranks near the bottom of the subcompact car class. While it’s affordable, the Mirage’s glacial acceleration, poor ride quality, cheap cabin materials, and uncomfortable seats all drag down its appeal.”
The Trabant Is Known As “A Spark Plug With A Roof”
The East German car manufacturer VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau produced its Trabant model from 1957 to 1990. Known as a “spark plug with a roof,” the cars nonetheless have a soft spot in some auto buffs’ hearts and are sought-after by collectors.
As Wikipedia describes it, the 1980 Trabant had “no tachometer, no headlights or turn signals indicator, no fuel gauge, no rear seat belts, no external fuel door, and drivers had to pour a mix of gasoline and oil directly under the bonnet/hood.” Doesn’t sound very luxurious.
The Completely Forgettable 1967 Renault 10
The French Renault 10, with its rear engine and air conditioning, was wildly popular in the United States in the 1960s. However, the 1967 model was seen as a failure for problems with handling and braking.
In a review of the Renault 10 that year, The Enthusiast Network had this to say: “one serious fault we found is its sensitivity to the wind. Even playing with the tire pressures did nothing to improve its instability.” Production of the 10 was ended in 1971.
The Mercedes CLA Is A Waste Of Money
You’d probably expect any Mercedes Benz to be pretty high-quality, given their hefty price tags. The CLA is a more budget-friendly model but doesn’t have that famous Mercedes quality.
In Consumer Report’s first review of the CLA, it said, “This coupe-ish sedan is certainly intriguing, but it begs the question whether a lower-cost car that dials back traditional Mercedes qualities will dilute this esteemed brand.” The CLA has made it on the publication’s “worst of” list nearly every year since its debut.
The Dodge Royal Wasn’t Received As Royalty
The Dodge Royal was anything but royalty. Consumer Reports‘ review of the 1957 model was a laundry list of problems plaguing the sedan, from “disastrous” water leakage in the trunk and cabin to a tendency of parts to rust and fail.
Chrysler’s reputation was marred by the Royal’s many problems and it took years to rebuild itself as a reputable automaker. The Royal was discontinued for the 1960 model year.
The Overland Octoauto Was Huge!
This one isn’t necessarily a terrible car but it’s so unusual that it merits a spot on just about any automotive list. The 1911 Overland Octoauto got its name from — you guessed it — the fact that it has eight wheels. This was an enormous car and one that was difficult to maneuver.
An Indiana car builder named Milton Reeves based this car’s concept on a Pullman rail car. He took a 1910 Overland and added a new axle to each of its ends and marketed it as being “safer and less likely to wear down tires” than normal vehicles. The Octoauto never took off commercially for obvious reasons, but Reeves went on to invent the muffler.
Only One Of These Cars Exists
There is only one Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo available to see in the world today. The cyclecar was an American prototype produced from 1908 until 1912. It was given two wheels, and was able to seat up to three people.
If you want to see the only model ever built, which took four years to make, you will need to go to the Detroit Historical Society, which restored it in 2017 to make it suitable for the public to view.
The Ford Model T Was America’s First Affordable Car
From 1908 until 1927, Ford produced the Model T. Considered America’s first affordable car, the general public had to look past everything the car did wrong to experience the joys of driving.
Of course, the car was a huge hit. Henry Ford came up with the idea of the assembly line, revolutionizing the auto industry. With the ability to mass produce cars, he was able to increase sales, and unfortunately replicate mechanical problems as well.
The Smith Flyer Was Like A Fancy Lawn Mower
The Briggs and Stratton Flyer, originally called the Smith Flyer, was produced from 1915 until 1925, although we wish they had stopped about five years earlier. The car was essentially a high end lawn Mower, with its engine connected to the wheel.
In 1919, the rights to vehicle were sold to Briggs and Stratton, who were able to apply the technology to ever dad’s favorite grass cutting device later. A 1922 model sold for $125, making it the cheapest car of all-time.
The Fuller Dymaxion Was Special
Designed by Buckminster Fuller during the Great Depression, the Dymaxion was featured at the 1933 World’s Fair. Three prototypes were presented with one goal in mind. To eventually have a car that could drive, fly, and swim.
Before the prototypes could be mass produced, however, Buckminster ceased production. He claimed the car had never been designed to sell to the public despite their obvious interest. In testing the car, Fuller discovered that it handled poorly, possibly contributing to his refusal to mass produce.
The DeSoto Airflow Was Unique
Built starting in 1934, the DeSoto Airflow was unique at the time for the design of its body. This alone generated huge interest on the auto market. That interest, however, could not be sustained and production was stopped in 1936.
So what happened? Overall, nothing. The car handled better then most others on the road. DeSoto failed to market the vehicle properly, selling it as “futuristic” to a consumer base looking for reliability. This is why they say hindsight is 50/50.
The Crosley Hotshot Was Cold
Back in the day, Crosley was know for making low end, affordable cars. In 1949, they were hoping to change their reputation with the introduction of the Hotshot sports car. The vehicle was everything the company wanted, except a good seller.
Perhaps the problem was with the design. The car was low to the ground and featured hinged doors. Customers just didn’t like it. They didn’t like the Farm-O-Road car Crosley tried to sell them next either.
The King Midget III Had An Unfortunate Name
The King Midget III was built introduced in 1957 as a micro car smaller than a Crosley. In 1958, you could buy one of these cars for around $900, which seems like a real steal in today’s economy!
By 1970, the King Midget III was put to sleep. The original makers sold the company in 1966 to retired. Three years later, the new owners were forced to declare bankruptcy. One year, only 15 models were produced, officially signalling the end.
No One Wanted The Waterman Arrowbile
The Wateran Arrowbile should have stayed a prototype. The small vehicle was built as a tailless aircraft, with the capability to be a highway vehicle (which is why it’s included here). Luckily for everyone involved, the public didn’t care.
The Arrowbile was a huge failure. Only five were ever made. It was the first car of its kind made, and did not prove the concept. Somethings are just years ahead of their time. We’re still waiting for this idea to sound good.
The Amphicar Was Modestly Impressive
All concept without success, the Amphicar was made from 1961 until 1968, but was never really impressive. The car was able to go from land into the water, but the transition between the two was not easy.
The car peformed in the middle of the pack on land, and required massive maintenance after going for a dip. At least 13 joints would need to be greased. Most Amphicars were sold in the United States, although there was some interest overseas.