Why customers thought these were the worst cars
Yeesh .... What were these designers thinking?
Not all cars are created equal — some suck really bad. Those don’t fare well with consumers or the Department of Transportation because they are dangerous, ugly, or just overall a poor-performing vehicle. We present to you some of the worst cars in history.
1. 1978 AMC Concord
Designed to be an affordable luxury option, it certainly didn’t drive like one, says Neal Pollack at The Drive. The AMC Concord had features that normally appear in luxury models, like reclining “velveteen” seats and air-conditioning, but it seemed to lack shock absorbers.
You might’ve looked fly backing out of your parents’ driveway in this baby, but the drive to the movie theater would have been a bumpy ride — and an embarrassing one if you had a date in tow …
NEXT: Who killed the electric car?
When this battery-powered vehicle made its debut, it was hoped that it would be the future of transportation. GM had produced 1,117 EV1s for lease only, but the car was touted by environmentally conscious celebrities like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson, says a report in Quartz.
Some car company execs, like Rick Wagoner of GM, worked hard to get gasless cars off the road. Weirdly, his company both created and killed the EV1. Ironically, Wagoner joined the board of ChargePoint, a company that maintains a network of electric-car charging stations.
NEXT: It was built to compete with popular Asian-made cars on the market.
3. 2003 Saturn Ion
The Saturn Ion was created to compete with Asian car companies’ models, but was thought to have a tough time competing, says a review in consumer guide Edmunds. The same review also said the car’s build quality wasn’t up to “segment standards” and had “unusual stylings.”
The Saturn Ion had its good qualities, such as its innovative rear-access doors, many personalization options, and “great cargo capacity” — aka, enough space to put some junk in its trunk.
NEXT: The convertible version of this car was only produced for several years.
4. PT Cruiser convertible
Some things don’t need to be a convertible, but a convertible version of the PT Cruiser was offered from 2005 to 2008. Consumer Reports says that the wind noise in the convertible version was extremely pronounced. Production of PT Cruisers stopped after the 2010 model.
The photo we chose here shows a prototype of the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible displayed April 11, 2001, at the New York Auto Show. Ain’t it pretty? If you said “heck no,” you’re not the only one. Not many were pleased with this car’s performance or appearance.
NEXT: Its 6-speed transmission was described as “anemic.”
5. 2013 Dodge Dart
Our friend Neal Pollack at the Drive says, “The Dart hearkened back to an era when tiny cars tormented large men with their tight bucket seats.” It also had “anemic” 6-speed transmission and “antediluvian” design — not something consumers wanted or needed at the time.
It was an era when cars were getting good again, Pollack says, so nobody had time for the overall terribleness of the 2013 Dodge Dart. Unsurprisingly, Dodge stopped producing the Dart after its 2016 model. Bye, Felicia.
NEXT: No we didn’t spell it wrong, it’s spelled wrong.
6. Pontiac Aztek
You might’ve recognized this vehicle from Breaking Bad — Walter White drove this around New Mexico cooking blue. If you’re thinking it should have been spelled “Aztec,” you’re wrong. It’s purposely misspelled, named after the indigenous people of Mexico annihilated by Spanish conquistadors.
Pollack puts the Pontiac Aztek on his list of “10 Worst Cars of All Time” because of the sedan’s hideous looks. Its “elongated styling could be considered an evolutionary misstep, ten years ahead of its time, on the way to the CUV,” writes Pollack.
NEXT: Let’s go back to the future! Or not …
7. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12
Marty McFly took the DeLorean to Oct. 21, 2015, in Back to the Future Part II, giving audiences the impression that it was a symbol of what’s to come. Unfortunately for the makers of (and fans of) the DeLorean, it stopped production in 1983 — a mere two years after it started — says a report in The Telegraph.
Thirty thousand DeLoreans were planned per year, but only 9,200 were made in total. The cars were poor quality and “late, misconceived and soon mired in scandal when right in the middle of it all, (company founder John Z.) DeLorean was charged with drugs trafficking,” writes Andrew Frankel in The Telegraph.
NEXT: How many wheels are too many?
8. 1911 Overland OctoAuto
Milton Reeves, the designer of this monstrosity, thought that the eight wheels would make the 1911 Overland OctoAuto a smooth-riding car, says a report in Boys’ Life magazine. Reeves also thought the tires would last longer if grouped in eight. (Now we know to just rotate our tires … )
The Overland OctoAuto was over 20 feet long and had two extra axles in addition to the eight wheels. It was displayed at the first Indy 500 and Reeves received exactly zero orders, says the report in Boys’ Life.
NEXT: It was known for its potential to easily explode.
9. 1971 Ford Pinto
The Ford Pinto was famous, but not for a good thing. TIME recounts the product as “a famously bad automobile.” Ouch! What’s worse might be how Ford handled safety concerns over the small Pinto sedan before it even landed on the market.
TIME says that there were concerns that a rear-end collision might cause the Pinto to blow up. This was due to the Pinto’s positioning of the fuel tank and how it could possibly be punctured in a crash. Seems like that’s an adequate concern, no?
NEXT: Drive this Bad Larry on land and water!
10. 1961 Amphicar
The idea of a land-to-water consumer product just never really took off, it seems. “(Amphicar 770) isn’t a particularly good car, nor is it an especially good boat,” writes Máté Boér in Petrolicious. “Frankly, the car doesn’t make much sense; it’s essentially an absurd recreational vehicle.”
Just like you like the idea of dating a bad boy, people liked the idea of Amphicar. Doesn’t it sound like an absolute dream to drive straight into a lake and not sink to the bottom? Production eventually shut down in 1967 after the creation of 3,878 units.
NEXT: This was one of the largest recalls for the United Kingdom.
11. 1973 Triumph Toledo, Triumph 1500, and Triumph Dolomite
Back in August of 1973, Triumph recalled several vehicles: the Triumph Toledo (pictured here), Triumph 1500, and Triumph Dolomite. It was a massive vehicle recall for the United Kingdom — possibly one of the largest for the country. The risk involved the front radius strut in front suspension assembly.
If that broke, steering was impossible. Triumph car manufacturers were able to replicate the defect in tests but they said that this problem could only happen if someone misused the vehicle. They went ahead with the recall anyway.
NEXT: Purchase of this car included a pink raincoat, umbrella, and purse.
12. 1955 Dodge La Femme
Automakers noticed that car models with advertisements featuring women sold the best. Taking this factoid into account, Dodge thought it made perfect sense to make a car specifically for women, says a report in Autoweek. Dodge took inspiration from the 1954 Chrysler La Comtesse concept, as it was popular.
La Femme came with over-the-top paint jobs, a pink raincoat, umbrella, and purse complete with “lady items” — compact, lipstick, lighter, and cigarette case. Marketing a car for one gender didn’t work, and Dodge only moved 2,500 units.
NEXT: Car manufacturers literally tried to reinvent the wheel with this one.
13. Austin Allegro
This British-made vehicle had a buttload of problems. For instance, its front axle would just collapse and there were all sorts of dimensional issues, says Pollack in The Drive. Car manufacturers at the time were literally trying to reinvent the wheel, so the Allegro had a “quartic” steering wheel.
This unfortunate shape for a steering wheel consisted of a rectangle with rounded sides. The car itself also had an unusual shape. Designers usually made more rectangular cars at the time, however “this thing resembled a series of metal bubbles pasted together with a soldering iron,” writes Pollack.
NEXT: If you thought the Austin Allegro was ugly, wait till you see this one.
14. 1958 Zündapp Janus
This is one of the weirdest-looking cars on our list, hands down. It was built for just a year, says a report in Car Buzz by Jacob Joseph, probably because drivers didn’t like it much. The company Zündapp first made motorcycles before trying their hand at cars.
It could seat four adults despite being a microcar, but its design wasn’t very appealing to some car enthusiasts. It looked like taking “two BMW Isettas and sticking them together, but for some reason, facing opposite directions,” writes Joseph.
NEXT: This ride wasn’t very powerful or fun to drive.
15. 1997 Plymouth Prowler
“Well, let’s face it — it was not a beautiful car. Original — yes, but not really attractive,” writes Anthony Karr in Motor 1. The Plymouth Prowler was a two-seat car with retro styling, manufactured by Plymouth and assembled by Chrysler. Production first started in 1997 and ended in 2002.
Its design was inspired by a hot rod named Chip Foose, but it wasn’t a hot rod itself. It wasn’t very powerful or fun to drive, says Karr. On top of that, it was an expensive choice at the time — $5,000 to be exact.
NEXT: Building an all-new car in a new plant proved to be a mistake for Eagle.
16. 1989 Eagle Premier
“By the time the car made it to market it was the late eighties, and the Premier looked dated right out of the gate,” reads a Makes That Didn’t Make It blog post. “The Premier’s impact on the midsize car market was, shall we say, minimal.”
Premier was a victim of timing. It was the last true co-creation of the design teams of Paris and Kenosha. Its design was an issue, as it was clearly more appealing to an early ’80s audience, not 1989. Some pains might’ve been caused by building a new car in a new plant.
NEXT: It was one of the cheapest cars in the U.S., but also one of the worst.
17. 1987 Yugo GV
“It’s generally agreed that the Yugo is one of the single worst cars ever sold in the United States,” writes Doug DeMuro in Autotrader. The Yugo is a small hatchback that came to the U.S. from Yugoslavia (hence the name) in the late 1980s for one purpose only …
That purpose was to be the cheapest car in the nation! It was one of the cheapest but also one of the worst cars, apparently. DeMuro says the Yugo’s interiors are especially ratchet. There are only a few buttons within the vehicle, and everything is made from plastic. That’s why smart people value QUALITY over QUANTITY.
NEXT: It’s a rebadging failure.
18. Cadillac Cimarron
Rebadging — the practice of relaunching a product under a new name or logo — has been successful sometimes, but not in the case of the Cadillac Cimarron, says Jacob Joseph in Car Buzz. Carmakers tried to rebadge an economy car into a luxury car. Let’s face it, they’re not the same thing.
The Cimarron was a bit smaller than other Cadillac automobiles (perhaps the company took note of the 1975 Seville’s success). Competitors from Europe began to stream in, threatening the Cimarron’s existence.
NEXT: It was named after a Polish dance.
19. 1978 FSO Polonez
The Polonez’s name derives from the name of a Polish dance called “polonaise.” Sounds like it would be a graceful, elegant ride, but in fact it’s known as one of the ugliest cars of all time, says a report on “cars that should never have been built” in The Telegraph.
“It was a rebodied Fiat 125p, which Polish firm Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych (FSO) built under licence from the Italian firm from 1978 to 2002,” reads the article. The Polonez Coupé is now a sought-out rarity for some reason …
NEXT: This vehicle was known as a car that damaged GM’s reputation.
20. 1976 Chevy Chevette
“The Chevrolet Chevette was already outdated when it appeared in 1976,” writes John Pearley Huffman in Popular Mechanics. “Based on GM’s ‘T’ platform, it was a primitive, front-engine, rear-drive subcompact in a small-car world.” Other cars were already more revolutionary than the Chevette.
Chevette’s design was picked up from GM Brazil and built in Georgia. It had solid sales but Huffman writes that it sold only on price and had no virtues of its own. In a bad move, GM didn’t develop another small car for the U.S. for 11 long years post-Chevette.
NEXT: If the Corvette is to the U.S., then this sports car is to Canada.
21. 1974 Bricklin SV-1
Bricklin has found itself on many “worst cars” lists, writes Andrew Newton in Hagerty. Built in New Brunswick in 1974, the Bricklin SV-1 was a financial failure with exotic-looking features, bright bodywork, and gullwing doors. Its maker was U.S. entrepreneur Malcom Bricklin.
Surprised? Us too. We’d thought a car built in Canada might be designed by a Canadian as well. Riding off the success of founding Subaru of America, Bricklin wanted to build a sports car and put his name on it. Thus, the SV-1 was born.
NEXT: It earned a No. 1 spot in the book Crap Cars.
22. 1974 Ford Mustang II
Remember the Ford Pinto? The one that exploded when rear-ended? So, Mustang II shared the Pinto’s gas tank design (for some reason) and had a little engine due to the oil embargo in the ’70s. Makers of the Mustang II were trying to comply with new emissions and safety standards but ended up with a subpar vehicle.
“All of this had the Big Three trying to offer the public performance, economy, and style all at the same time. They failed,” writes Bill Wilson in Motor 1. In conclusion, it was dangerous and not very fast. The other Mustangs must’ve been ashamed of their “worst car cousin.”
NEXT: You didn’t need a “full license” to drive this baby off the lot!
23. 1973 Reliant Robin
This is a photo of a Reliant Robin 21E 700. The Reliant Robin was a three-wheeled monstrosity that qualified as a motorcycle. You didn’t even need a “full license” to drive one of these babies off the lot! Designer Tom Karen said because of its size, it required an innovative design.
“Even though it’s a four-seater with a four-cylinder engine, it still had to weigh less than eight hundredweight (about 400kg),” Karen tells The Guardian. But it wasn’t sound design — its doors cracked in the wind and its steering wheel came off …
NEXT: This clunker was marketed as a “personal luxury” vehicle.
24. Lincoln Continental Mark IV
“It’s hard to imagine anything more personally luxurious than a 4,906-pound two-door with 460 cubic inches under its 50-foot-long hood and an interior done up in classy brown-and-cream two-tone,” writes Murilee Martin of a 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in The Truth About Cars.
Besides being absolutely massive, the Continental only got eight miles to the gallon, writes J. Kelly Flory Jr. in American Cars, 1973-1980: Every Model, Year by Year. Contemporary to the ’70s, the Continental did little to help customers impacted by the oil embargo.
NEXT: What’s 19 feet long with a loooong fender? Answer: a piece of junk.
25. 1971 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron
You know what they say about cars with long fenders … They look ridiculous. The Chrysler Imperial LeBaron is often placed in publications’ “worst cars” lists because of its design and inexplicably gigantic size. It was over 19 feet long for some reason and had a massive V8 engine.
Add an unattractive interior and you’ve got yourself one butt-ugly car. TIME described this as a dark time for American carmaking: “Here we are approaching the nadir of American car building — obese, under-engineered, horribly ugly.” More ugliness continued with the 1980 Chrysler Imperial — it never ends!