The Worst Cars in History

Design fails. Second World manufacturing. Helter-skelter management. For one reason or another, these go down as the worst cars in history.
worst cars in history

It’s human nature to always be searching for, let alone awed by, the latest and greatest. That tendency certainly extends to the automotive world, where the best new cars get all the headlines. But there are some important lessons to learn if we reverse course and look at some of the worst cars in history.

Ironically enough, there was a good idea hiding somewhere within each of these vehicles. But in each case those good intentions were betrayed by ulterior motives, fueled collectively by a calamitous combination of greed, frugality, ego and short-sightedness. The result is five of the worst cars ever.

The Worst Cars in History
Courtesy of DeLorean Motor Company

DeLorean DMC-12

It may be strange seeing the DeLorean DMC-12 on this list of the worst cars in history considering its fame and popularity. But off the silver screen, the car fell far short of expectations.

Former General Motors executive John DeLorean touted the DMC-12 as the sports car of the future. With its gull wings and sleek metallic look, it certainly has the aesthetics to meet that boast. But behind that façade was a heavy, underpowered and overpriced vehicle.

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Originally, the company expected to sell 12,000 cars per year. In the end, only about 9,000 vehicles were made during its two-year run and the company was shut down in 1982. Ironically, the DeLorean became iconic just a few years later with its prominent role in 1985’s “Back to the Future.” The movie franchise ensured that the car’s legacy would extend well past its seemingly destined fate as an automotive footnote. That’s why you can expect to see DMC-12s back on the roads soon.

The Worst Cars in History
1987 Yugo GV” by aldenjewell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Yugo

The Yugo was a decades-old Soviet-era Yugoslavia automobile imported to the U.S. in 1985. The decision to sell the car in America was the brainchild of entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin. One need only to hear his version of the story to know that the Yugo was destined for failure from the start. Bricklin recalled sending his people “to find the cheapest car in the world In an interview with Car and Driver. They found Zastava, in Yugoslavia, a 50-year-old factory building a 30-year-old car. We took this piece-of-crap car and within 14 months had set up 400 U.S. dealers and made 528 changes to the car.”

Yugoslavia had been manufacturing the car for years. Bricklin’s plan was to spruce it up and bring to America. There was no amount of changes that could overcome the vehicle’s poor quality, however. The Yugo’s engine generated a measly 55 horsepower, making the car dangerous to drive on American roads. The car was notoriously unreliable (the rear window defroster was reportedly there to keep your hands warm when you needed to push the vehicle), had many parts made of plastic, and oddly enough, featured carpeting as a standard feature.

But for the people selling the Yugo, the car was all about one thing: profit margin. The vehicle only cost $2,000 wholesale and was sold stateside for nearly twice that. Consumers quickly realized that even $4,000 was too much for the Yugo.

pontiac aztek - The Worst Cars in History
Pontiac Aztek” by SqueakyMarmot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Pontiac Aztek

For as much grief as the Aztek got, it was actually at the forefront of what would prove to be one of the top automotive trends of the past two decades. When the car was first introduced in the early aughts, SUVs were surging in popularity and the idea of crossovers – vehicles with the space and power of an SUV combined with the on-street abilities of a sedan – was just beginning to take hold.

In fact, if you look the Aztek concept car, it doesn’t look all that dissimilar to some of today’s crossover models. Time magazine may have put it best, saying, “The shame is, under all that ugliness, there was a useful, competent crossover.”

Clearly, the idea behind the car was good, but the execution was not. The problem was the Aztek suffered the same fate as the camel: It was designed by committee. No singular, coherent vision took the lead and just about everybody got a say in the design process. Even the bean counters made their mark involved. GM accountants reportedly ordered the Aztek to be built on an existing minivan platform in order to reduce costs. This platform, however, was not long enough to hold the Aztek, forcing designers to create a box-like tail end.

The Aztek was in production all of five years, from 2001-2005. But showing that everything comes full circle, the car got a significant popularity boost when it was prominently featured as Walter White’s vehicle of choice in the uber-popular television show “Breaking Bad.”

ford pinto
1971 Ford Pinto” by dfirecop is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ford Pinto

While most of the cars on this list are here due to aesthetic design fails, poor craftsmanship or lackluster sales, several of the worst cars ever made were actually dangerous to drive. These vehicles had such fundamental mechanical and design flaws that they posed a serious risk to the occupants of the car.

Chrysler’s PT Cruiser had a unique look, which many people derided, but it’s most notable for its mercurial nature. The car was known to shut off in the middle of driving, completely out of the blue. The 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, meanwhile, had an engine that exploded when it made 90 horsepower.

But the most infamously dangerous worst car in history is the Ford Pinto. The only feature that needs to be discussed about this 1970s vehicle is its fuel tank. The Pinto famously featured an exposed fuel tank. Cars involved in rear-end collisions, even at slow speeds, tended to burst into flames. Later on, the “Pinto memo” was publicized, which proved the company concluded it was cheaper to settle victims’ lawsuits ($50 million) than to recall and fix the cars ($120 million).

Aptly, the coda to the Pinto’s story is the car’s presence in American Museum of Tort Law.

pontiac aztek
Ford Edsel Ranger” by foshie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ford Edsel

We’ve reached the pinnacle of the worst cars in history. For decades, the terms “automotive failure” and “the Edsel” have been all but synonymous. So what went so wrong?

In the mid-1950s, Ford came to the conclusion that it should expand its product line. Specifically, it needed a new, mid-priced brand to go in between its flagship Lincoln and mid-level Mercury. According to Time, studies predicted that “by 1965 half of all U.S. families … would be buying more cars in the medium-priced field, which already had 60% of the market.” And so the Edsel was created, named after Henry Ford’s son, no less.

It’s not so much that the Edsel was such a terrible car – although it certainly had its faults, namely its price. It’s that it suffered the unfortunate fate of being hyped up as the greatest thing on four wheels. Believe it or not, Ford booked an hourlong prime time television slot on CBS to unveil the car, claiming the broadcast day as “E Day.” “The Edsel Show” included performances by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Louis Armstrong. By this time, however, the push for compact cars was well underway. Just two years after its prime-time debut, the Edsel’s run was over after less than 120,000 were sold. Ford had estimated it could sell up to 400,000 cars a year. In total, the company spent roughly $350 million on the Edsel’s research, design, tooling and production facilities, the equivalent of nearly $3.2 billion in 2021.

To add insult to injury, while the Edsel was cementing its place as the biggest automotive flop ever, “The Edsel Show” was nominated for an Emmy.

What do you think are some of the worst cars in history? Let us know in the comments below!

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331 Thoughts on “The Worst Cars in History

  1. Corvairs were good enough to have been manufactured for ten years…still plenty , restored and customized, being driven safely….I think their biggest problem was that the front tires were routinely overinflated,out of owners’ habit from front engine driving…made steering terrible

      1. I’m ashamed that I owned one as well. Should have known when I drove it out of the showroom and it’s radio failed! Before I sold it it’s passenger side door fell off and it developed a hole in the upper area of its gas tank!

      2. The AMC Pacer was the all time worst car I ever owned. I had to keep calling for service every day. The mechanics would come and say “THAT PACER, THAT PACER, AGAIN!!!!
        I only had it a short time (bought used). I sold it privately. When buyer offered to drive me home, I said NO! I was afraid it would stall out again. It was a good riddance, even though I sold it at a loss. –MMK

    1. Of all the worst cars, remember that only one had a book written about how bad it was. “Unsafe At Any Speed” told the real story of how dangerous the Covair was.

      1. I owned 40% of the cars on the list. The Corvair was a decent car. It’s survival in the vintage car community shows that. Sadly, the suspension was corrected after the death sentence was pronounced. I owned a ’64 and enjoyed it til the salt corroded the rear crossmember. The right side of centerpiece fell out and dragged on the roadway. Luckily, I had my hokey gear in the car and was able to hold it in place with straps from my goalie pads. I finished the ride to the camp where I was working and sold it to the managers son for fifty bucks.

        I later owned two different pintos; a wagon (which I really liked) and a sedan that I didn’t. I left it parked every night on the street with the keys on the dashboard for a year, hoping someone would take it. I eventually junked it.

        The AMC gremlin received an honorable mention in the comments. I had one of those, also. Couldn’t keep a battery charged. I parked it facing downhill every night. The manual transmission was made of Silly Putty and at one point, you couldn’t find where the gear was. I just had to swivel the stick around until something caught.

        I currently drive a 15 year old stick shift Hyundai Tucson which just keeps going. I may never have to buy another car.

    2. With practically no weight on the front wheels, GM apparently decided to use the same low (slow) steering gear ratio as on its heavier front-engined cars. One time, I saw a guy practically twist his arms off executing a 3-point turn in one of those babies.
      The firewall/floorboard was also so close to the front seat that a normal-size person (I’m 5’9″) couldn’t straighten out his legs. Think of the horror if you were 6′ or more. Hit a bump and break you nose with your knee?
      Lastly (on this list), quite often, when you saw the back end of one of those things, it would be coated in motor oil. The engines were terrible “leakers”.
      People credit Ralph Nader with killing the Corvair, but some Google results I just read said that GM had decided to drop the car to concentrate on the Camaro by the time Nader’s book was published.

  2. The Corvair was by far the worst car ever made. My wife had one when I first met her and I would steer in one direction and the car would go in the opposite direction. I still married her after that experience.

  3. Remember Ford’s slogan “Have you driven a Ford lately?” Think about what they’re saying. “We used to make really crappy cars but…TRUST US NOW!”

      1. My first husband purchased a Ford Pinto – FOR ME. It indeed stopped at every corner. My kids laughed hard when it stopped in the middle of a puddle and the water seeped into the so called “car”. Maybe he hoped to get rid of me this way – he was a cheap …

  4. I think you have all forgotten the AMC Gremlin. They had a horrible reputation though I drove one for a couple of years. The window wouldn’t go up or down. The shift broke. It seemed like everything broke!

    1. I have always loved The Gremlin and I still have one to this day. I drive it often for fun and show. BTW today is it’s Birthday 4/1/70 the first Gremlin rolled out.

    2. oh yeah! I had one too and it had the cheapest tinny feel of any car I’ve ever been in. It was also the absolute worst car in snow; even 2 inches made it handle like a bobsleb.

    3. I had a couple of Corvairs and if you talk to the owners of them today, they are collectible. there is a Corsair society with chapters all over the country and a few in Europe and Canada. The issue was with the tires which was easily solved. I also had a Gremlin which I loved. It had great pick-up and power. Unfortunately, the doors fell off! I saw many with doors that had been replaced by doors of a different color.

      1. Actually, I recall that the Corvair problem was the rear wheels independent suspension design which caused them to tuck in on turns under certain conditions (see: Ralph Nader “Unsafe at any Speed”). The rear suspension problem was eventually corrected after years of production, but the model was already on the way out, at least partly due to the Nader book. BTW: I leased and drove one for a summer, before the book, and loved it!

  5. I had a Pontiac Aztek for years which my husband and I loved. So practical for sports equipment, building supplies everything and ran well until 80,000 miles.

  6. The Pinto was my first car. They finally did the recall. But that wasn’t the only problem with the car. The transmission didn’t work very well either. I could put the car in reverse from park in cold weather and wait almost a minute for the shift to actually happen. I also had multiple problems with the starter and other things. Traded in the car with 3 years and 36,000 miles. I usually drive cars until they die. Nuff said.

  7. Where is the Chevette “Scooter” in this list? Talk about cheap! All plastic and cardboard interiors. We had an “up scale” 4 door 1978 Chevette hatchback and it was pretty good, but we didn’t have it long. Gave it to our niece.

          1. Volare and Aspen were not a K car.
            Volare and Aspen were replacing the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart. Although the Volare/Aspen were pretty bad cars.

          1. Kaiden, you remind me of Roy Orbison’s song written for his Wife, “Pretty Woman” . Great guy, great singer, passed at 52, “The Good Die Young”. I’ll be around for a while.

      1. I had a 1985 Chevette, manual 4 speed, only ,uxury was a/c and fm radio, no power steering. That car proudly climbed MT. Washington in NH. Only traded it in because I needed a bigger vehicle. It was a fun car.

  8. This is the first time I have heard that it was well-known that PT Cruisers mysteriously shut off while driving. I suffered years with this dangerous problem, with five different repair shops telling me there was nothing wrong with it (and that it didn’t stall on THEM!). I donated the car in the end because in good conscience I couldn’t sell it to anyone!

    1. I had a 2003 PT Cruiser GT. This was the turbo model. It never stalled but transmission leaked and lost fluid. No lower gear. Repairs cost a fortune. The upper radiator hose started leaking. I cost $1200 to replace due to the fact you had to remove the intake manifold to get to the hose. The other basic repairs were also costly. I couldn’t give the car away.

    2. I think it might have been the module on the distributor. This would happen on the Chevy Chevette. In the middle of traffic it would just die. Over heating on the electronics perhaps.

      1. I’m glad someone mentioned the Chevette. My wife-to-be had one with an automatic tranny. Most of the time we had to drive the POS up to 35-40 MPH in first gear before it would shift. We took it back to the dealer time after time and were told that nothing could be found that was wrong with it. That was our first and last Chevy.

    3. I had a 2002 Cruiser which lasted 210,000 miles and 16 years. The only time that happened to me was about 10 years in, I was in a parking lot after I had just had the battery replaced a week or so before. Turned out to be a loose connection. I did have the right front axle separate while driving it (fortunately within my condo complex) about a year before I retired it.

    4. I drove a PT Cruiser for six years and LOVED it! I named it Ursula K. (after Ursula K. LeGuin) and hoped I’d never need another car. She never shut down on me, was mechanically sound and repairs were few and far between–as well as inexpensive. The only reason I traded her in was because of rust issues. She was scrapped, but if she’d been sent to Arizona or New Mexico, she’d have have made some driver there very happy. I miss her!

  9. Omission of the “Unsafe at Any Speed” Corvair, which made Ralph Nader famous, was a huge mistake on your part. Buying a Fiat 128 in 1974 was a huge mistake on my part. It went through four clutch cables in the one year I owned it. The good news is that, when a belt broke while I was driving on the Brooklyn Bridge, the car was so light that I (5’1″, 120 lbs) was able to push it across to Manhattan myself.

    1. I had a ’76 Fiat 128 Sport hatchback. First transmission blew at 6 months, 2nd a few months later. By 2 years, every belt, hose, pump, wire had been replaced. Windshield wiper motor burnt out during a rainstorm. Body rusted out around me. I had a mechanic on retainer. But when it ran, it was a blast!

      1. I owned a 1976 Mediterranean blue Fiat 128 3P…..I used to joke that if there was a threat of rain, it looked like it might rain, or there was a cloud in the sky 50 miles away, the car wouldn’t run….but on those 4 other days of the year it was a fun car to drive…..I had to completely replace the electrical system, the clutch cable would snap unexpectedly, the car stranded me more than several times and the straw that finally made me break down and cry was when my gas cap key snapped in the gas cap….a truly terrible auto

    2. I had a Fiat and had to learn to drive a standard which was fine. But I hated that car because the clutch cable kept breaking. I was so happy when I sold that car.

    3. I was curious when I opened the AAA email which featured the list of the worst cars in history, and wondered if they put the Chevy Corvair at the top. I had a white 61 and had no idea I was driving a potential death-trap. It rolled over while I was rounding a sharp turn going down hill on the winding road through the Westchester Country Club golf course in New York state, it was during the summer of 1967. I was with a friend and we were both wearing seatbelts, as the roll-over seemed to be happening in slow-motion and so unexpectedly, I looked at my friend and said “hold on, here we go.”
      The car landed on its roof and slid for at least 30 feet before coming to a stop, and we were still in the right lane! A few golfers ran up from the adjacent green to see if we were ok. Thankfully there were no injuries to ourselves or to anyone else. I had the chance to take a good look at the front suspension and saw the left wheel had just folded under for lack of any lateral stability controls, a serious design flaw, and wish I had known what Ralph Nader had to say about the infamous Corvair. Two years later I got a 1968 Chevy Corvette, it was also white and I had no problems with it.

      1. I’m from the area and think I know the road you’re talking about near the golf course. Wow, good thing you and friend weren’t hurt. Wheel folding under, horrible!

  10. The 1980 Ford Fairmont 4 cylinder was probably the worst car I have ever purchased. It burned a quart of oil a week. I found out it had the dreaded Pinto engine. I complained to Ford and they supposedly had a fix. It was better but still burned oil. My local repair garage was able to replace parts which ended the oil problem at a lower cost than the geniuses at Ford.

    1. My mother had one, bought used. On a rare sub zero morning in February, the cam seized. I learned from a friend who maintained a fleet of them that the hole feeding oil to one of the cam bearings was undersized; the fix was to pull the cam, put in a new bearing and cam, and not run the car on similar mornings; ran it another 2 or 3 years with no problem. Fortunately, they used the larger of the 2 Pinto engines, so I was able to undo the front mounts, and jack the engine up high enough for the cam to clear the upper part of the radiator mount; on the smaller Pinto engine, the cam came out the back of the head, and the engine would have had to come out. Other than that, no real problems.

  11. You Forgot the Chevy Vega. The car was designed for a V-6 GM engine that they sold to Rover so instead they reworked and old straight 4 cast in aluminum. The first time the engine would get to hot the head would warp and the cylinders would scratch the silicon sleeves causing them to burn oil. Towards the end I was getting 25 mpg and a quart of oil every 50 miles. It also took 20 minutes to build one start to finish. There were numerous short cuts used from snap in fiberboard headliners to shipping them nose down in special railway cars to increase the capacity by 2 per railway car,

    1. I was wondering when someone would mention the Vega! That was my first car which I drove to my first job. A colleague had one as well. Every payday we would meet at the register with our gallon of oil. Before that habit I would pull up at the gas station and say “Fill it with oil and check the gas, please!” It finally died at a major intersection, for any NY folks, at the junction of Northern Blvd and the Cross Island Pkwy. I think I had my license about 6 months at the time. I had to push the car out of the way with drivers honking all around! Nightmare! The engine warped beyond repair. We replaced it with a Pontiac engine as I recall and sold it later that year.

    2. I had three of them. The oil was fine as long as I changed the oil every 3,000 miles and they were good on the gas mileage. Only problem I had was the brakes. Right along with the oil change every 3.000 miles I had to put on new brake pads every time on all three. I got so good at replacing those brake pads it took me less time to change the pads and put the wheels back together than it took do the oil changes.

  12. You didn’t mention the Chevy Vega. The engine was guaranteed to overheat and warp requiring a replacement. A cast iron head with an aluminum block assured it was a throw away. Also, you could grab a beer and a lawn chair and watch the car rust away .

    1. I agree with your comments on Chevy Vega. My first car was a second hand ’73. So little power it couldn’t get out of it own way. At least it was a standard. This allowed me to pop the clutch to get it going. That came in handy far too many times. As for the rust, by the time I got rid of this in ’85, you could see through the driver’s side floorboards to the road. Somehow on this particular vehicle, you couldn’t kill the motor. The car was sold to the mechanic at the local garage. He placed the motor in a fine buggy he had built. The rest of it was scraped.

    1. You only need to Google “Pinto deaths” to come up with multiple stories, law suits, automotive magazine articles etc. detailing that what this article says about the Pinto is completely accurate. Forget the Mother Jones article, there are dozens of other references to how unsafe the Pinto was. Nice try though…

      1. The problem wasn’t the tank. When rear ended it would spray fuel into the back seat area. Was fixed with a deflector shield. I had 4 of them and they used to get 28 miles to the gallon. In the 70’s that was huge. Had a five speed and used to red line that thing. Couldn’t blow the motor. Felt like you were in a Porche944. We used to imagine anyway!

      2. The so called Pinto deaths were no different than anybody else’s at the time.Their problem was somebody leaked a badly worded memo to the press. Millions of people happily drove Pintos thru gas shortages for years.

  13. How could you possibly not include the Chevrolet Covair (“Unsafe at any speed”) or the Chevy Nova – whose principle problem was right there in the name, “No va” (“it doesn’t go” in Spanish)? Also what about leaving off a total clanger like the AMC Pacer, or for that matter, any one of the Chrysler K-car models?

    1. We had a K-car wagon, and it was fine for our family with two small kids. It had plenty of room, enough power, and was reliable. It replaced our Saab 95 wagon that got squashed by a tree limb in a hurricane. Too bad, but the extra two doors in the K-car came in handy.

      1. My dad bought 2 K cars directly from Chrysler (had connections from years earlier when he was hauling cars), got them to have AC but with smaller engines, not a great idea. He should have known better, he was an engineer. To make things worse, they had bad routing of the fuel line, which tended to over heat in summer…

    2. Chevy Corvair was another beauty! Had to use a paper clip in the distributor cap to allow the plugs to fire! Go figure

        1. As a child I remember my father and uncle complaining about the rambler and oil problems, something about throwing a rod. My father worked on it for my uncle, but no one in the family owned one again.

        1. That 86 Nova was actually a rebadged toyota corolla as that was the beginning the GM-toyota joint venture. They went on to not only make the nova, but the Geo Prizm which became the Chevy Prizm once they did away with the Geo brand and the Pontiac Vibe-Toyota Matrix. I had a geo prizm and a pontiac vibe–both were excellent cars

      1. I had a ’73 Nova hatchback that I loved — it had a big engine (don’t remember the specs) and I loved to surprise people by beating them when the light turned green. It got pretty good mileage, too. I was sad when it was totaled by a 17-year-old who, faced with a traffic light outage on her side of the intersection, decided to barrel through anyway. My light was green — and I wasn’t jackrabbiting at the time — and she t-boned my passenger side. Then she submitted a fake police report (her boyfriend worked at the station) saying it was my fault. It all came out OK in the end, though.

    3. i had a 66 corvair, it had that rear engine. ran well. went fron queens ny to morris plains nj in 18 inches of snow while most cars were stuck. kept in for 10 years and resold it

      1. Hear Hear! My sporty ’62 Corvair Monza saved my life when an inattentive driver rear ended me going 50mph in 1969. Not only did the rear engine on the Corvair absorb much of the impact but the lower height saved me from getting decapitated because my car was shoved under a flat bed truck. So, there, Ralph!

      1. My Dad had a Chevy Nova SS, and that car was a beauty! It was loud and fast!!! I’ll never forget when it got a flat tire while on our way to the Cape! It was scary…but my Dad (my hero at the time) was able to wrestle the car over to the breakdown lane and put the spare on. ????

    4. MY 70 NOVA RAN 12 SECONDS IN THE QUARTER WITH THE 396 ENGINE . NO DRIVELINE FAILURES ! DID YOU PEOPLE REALLY OWN OR DRIVE THESE CARS ???

    5. I think both you and Ralph were wrong about the Corvair. While not without its flaws, it was a creative and adventurous design amidst a sea of American Automotive mediocrity. Execution was not perfect, but if given a chance to evolve it could have competed with vastly superior engineering and style of the European marquees.

      1. Once they put a true IRS in the car it was decent. I had a 63 triumph spitfire, also had a swing axle. When the unloaded axle tucked under, one tended to worry. A December spring helped immensely
        The Mercedes 300SL was a properly engineered swing axle.

  14. My Mom and Dad had a Chevy Vega in the early 70s.Burned oil by the quart.I think it had an aluminum block.

        1. OMG – My first new baby also , and BLUE too! (A ’71) Never had oil problem, but guess what, after about 3 yrs it caught on fire en-route to work on Westchester Ave. (luckily I’d just exited the CWE!) My co-worker, an ins. adjustor who saw me & came to my rescue, said the fire dept. told him the cause was… my going too long without an oil change!

        1. I had a Vega from the mid 70’s to early 80’s. I loved that car, it was such fun to drive and never had a mechanical problem with it. I was a 4 cyl. engine with standard 3 speed transmission. Took the Vega on 2 cross country trips (Boston to LA) without a problem. I used synthetic engine lube (yes, it was available in the 70’s) and it hardly burned any oil at all. After 120,000 miles I sold it to a friend who drove it for 5 more years before I lost track of it.

      1. Chevy Vega should definately be on this list. This is one of the reasons why the cars from Japan and Korea gained a large part of the US car market in the late 70’s and 80’s

    1. Friend from school had a 73 vega engine was locked down we dropped a turbo v6 out of a Buick grand national in it hooked to a muncie T10 rock crusher 4 speed and a narrowed ford 9 inch rearend …it was mean …im crazy and not alot scares me but ……that car scares me to drive …..but his 429 powered pinto is scarier ……..

    2. My Dad drove a Vega in the early 70s as well, when they were living in the LA area. Never had an issue with it until one day it just stopped – on the freeway. My Dad just got out and left it there.

    3. I had a Vega 1974.. every 3 weeks needed 2 quarts of oil. Kept it running for 93,000 miles. Paint corrosion was also common. Best sales job in my life was trading it in to a Buick dealership for $400.
      I also owned a Pinto wagon and Jeep Eagle Premier.. the Jeep Eagle Premier was by far the worst car ever made.. name something, it was faulty

    4. I bought a well-used ’72 Vega in the mid ’80s for about $350. Passenger side door used to fly open if you cornered too sharply. My girlfriend loved that (not)… but married me anyway.

    5. I has a 73 Chevy Vega with aluminum block and Steel Piston rings that would Wear away Aluminum Cylinder and burn oil and put out clouds of smoke. I used to run thick STP additive to limit the oil burning. A Complete piece of Junk from GM.

      1. I had a 1967 Ford Galaxie 500- the steering was held together with a cotter pin that would rust away and break rendering the car unsteerable down the highway like a missile.

    6. Have to pile-on in the VEGA criticism. Sad, too, because it was my first car and i adored it. A mohave-gold ’72 GT, with white racing stripes. But lousy engine, aluminum head, iron block. Different alloys cool at different rates, so one overheat, and the car was trash. GM was even forced to recall it to install a warning light and a coolant recovery tank: worthless. After an engine rebuild, lasted 1000 miles. with 73k on it, sold it to young family in Chicago. Always felt bad about that.

  15. I remember the AMC Pacer as being one of the ugliest cars ever built. Not only were they ugly but with all that glass mimicking a fish bowl they were also very dangerous to drive if involved in an accident.

    1. Yeah I remember the Pacer and I always thought it was interesting so I kind of liked it. My family had always bought AMC Wagons so that a plus, however I think the spacecraft bubble look doomed it more than it’s performance.

    2. I told my mother that very same thing! We drove passed the local dealership and she though it was cool-I told her it looked like a fishbowl on wheels! I was around ten (?) at the time.

    3. My father’s last car was a Pacer. We literally had to junk it, as no one wanted to buy it, even cheap. it was five years old and we got $100 for it as junk.

    4. I helped someone move some stuff and had to ride in the back. Sitting under that glass on a bright sunny day for over an hour felt like being under a magnifying glass.

    5. My boss in the 1980s inherited his grandmother’s Pacer. He used it as his airport car, because he didn’t care what happened to it LOL. I rode in it a couple of times — it was a little tank that got very hot because of all the glass.

  16. I had a Pinto in 1974. It didn’t burst into flames thankfully, but the stick shift broke off mid-shift and the back hatch clips broke. Not a good car for a new driver!!

    1. 2006 vw passat b6! Brakes would lock up randomly, or plastic housing on e-brake would crack and leave you unable to release the brakes. Most costly and dangerous vehicles ever made!

      1. Did anyone have a VW. 411 or 412? That was a nightmare as well as my brand new Volvo S40. The Volvo had to be towed at 6 weeks because of computer failure and it just started to fall apart – piece by piece

        1. My dad had a VW 411…if I remember correctly it had a bunch of electrical issues and he traded it in for a Chevy Nova before long.

          1. Had a co-worker who’s Pontiac Grand AM caught fire while he was driving down the highway. Luckily he was able to pull over and get out of it before he was injured, then watched it burn to a cinder.
            He collected on the insurance and then bought another Grand AM!!

    2. Yup had 2 pintos in the 70’s
      Pull in to gas stations and say”check the gas and fill up the oil!” The gas meter never really worked.

      1. Had a ‘71 sedan, and a 74 Hatch. 71 used oil, but otherwise as a 19 y/o I drove it like it was a muscle car. Ran great. Towed a U-haul trailer from Mississippi to Illinois in 1976, then from Illinois to Connecticut in 1978 with the 74. Never gave me any problems, finally succumbed to rust in ‘86. Always felt they got an understandable bad rap, but still loved them!

        1. 1980 Ford Pinto Wagon – a five thousand dollar automobile! Auto-power off circuit engaged at the most inconvenient times; water leaked through firewall; catalytic converter seized. Other than that a great car that fit 6 adults, two Boston Sunday Heralds, case of Heinekens, 6 Macanudos and a medicine ball down Rte 3 in the rain at 75 mph. 18 years and 98k later, traded for a ‘97 Buick Skylark.

          1. I had a catalytic converter get blocked by melting the honeycomb. the mechanic that found the problem said ” in my 40 years as a mechanic I’ve never seen this happen” It was my 84 VW van.

        2. My father loved his Pinto back in the day, He gave it to my younger sister and she had a very bad accident, No Fire. I saw the wreckage and believe it was rear ended. My father had to pay someone to take the wreck away…

      2. We had 2 Pinto’s a ’72 and ’75, at the same time. We never had major problems with either one, and the ’72 was hit from behind and didn’t burst into flames or leak a drop of fuel.

        After being repaired I drove the ’72 until ’77 and sold it to my brother. He drove it until ’79 and sold it to another brother who sold it in 1980 to a guy who needed the suspension and drivetrain for a kit car he was building. I wonder if those parts are still driving around?

      1. I will attest to the low power but fun to drive & with added turbos (which they were in the process of having as an option) moves along pretty well.

    3. OMG I was 20 years old and my last parent just died . Just a grand time . Anyway, I was going to school in very rural upstate NY. On the way home pitch black at night and the car caught on fire. My roommate and I had to go to a strangers house for help as you know there were no cell phones etc. That car was HORRIBLE. It almost never ran. Of the 2 times maybe that I could drive it it caught on fire and burned completely. Luckily we were okay and got out before it caught on fire. The Pinto is the absolute worst care EVER.

    4. Had a Datsun I think it was maybe a 280? Cute car but same thing mention before with another car. Was driving and it would shut down. Never found the problem. Traded it into for a Nissan pulsar. Engine crank fell off at 77,000 miles. I will never buy Nisan car again after those two problems

      1. The 280 had an initial run of bad fuel pump check valves. The valve was the same as the Volvo 240. So, using the Volvo part until Nissan corrected was the answer.

      1. The thing about the Corvair was that it had a rear mounted engine with a partial racing suspension in the rear. It was not really unsafe. Most people just couldn’t get used to handling that suspension correctly.

      2. I had one. If you went over 50 mph the front end would actually lift up making steering less accurate and responsive. I carried a bag of concrete and a heavy tool box in the front trunk to correct this problem.

        1. I had 4 different Corvairs and drove them on the Massachusetts Turnpike for years at speed and never had the front end lift nor the front end slide out. A bag of sand in front compartment winters helped stopping front end slide in the snow. Nader was an idiot and it was a shame that GM buckled under to the fool. I had the 140 and also the Turbo Spyders. Fun and dependable. Heat duct operator failure on one and push rod tubes had to replaced on one. Change the oil and fill up the gas. Great Car.

          1. Learned to drive on a 1960 Corvair. Loved the car. Got around my first winter with no problems. Wish I knew then to replace the gasket to stop the oil leak. Carted all my friends around after school.

          2. Also owned multiple Corvairs, 1965 & 1966. Great handling car, especially with John Fitch Sprint modifications. I never had a front end lift issue, found the car great in snow. Rear weight bias was also true of VW bug and Porsche 911/912.

          3. My first car purchase was the Corvair, from a used car lot August 1967. I was only 19yrs. of age. I had a break down from the car lot to my home. Th car had strange fumes and a local garage said I needed a valve job…had no idea what he was talking about. Two days later, pack my belongings to move into my college dormitory 7hrs away. Never made it. Lost control on the NYS Thruway and car flipped over onto an incline . Both front and rear windshields were popped out completely with much os my property. Witnessed by others who went ahead to notify the toll takers who in turn contacted the troopers. They all came looking for the “bodies” judging by the observation of the wreck. [Prior to his arrival, I had already crawled out onto the hood and off of the wreck]. Trooper said I was travelling’ to fast for the weight of the car’…Say Wha???. I recall being at the speed 65mph limit. The local judge suspended my license. Took two photographs of the wreck I still have on my bulletin board. Thank you Mr. Nader, your book title says it all.

    5. Funny thing – my Capri had almost the exact same engine but it was a wonderful car to drive once the worn out clutch was rebuilt (I bought it used). Light, handled well, decent acceleration and speed.

      1. My husband had a new ‘74 Fiat 128SL. He never knew if it would start so he kept an extra battery in the trunk in a wooden box marked “ Fiat First Aid kit”.

    6. 1980 Ford Pinto! Cost me about $1500 bucks back in 1987. No power steering but a cool little car to get around. I just never realized how much DANGER I was in. I had it about 8mo. then sold it when I got out of the Military…to a used car lot for $500 bucks.

    7. Chevy Vega was trying to be cutting edge but was pretty horrible.
      Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra was awful car. Mine died at 18,000 miles.

        1. The Chevy Vega was my worst car. It was a nice looking vehicle, but, the aluminum block engine was just awful. You are right, it needed more oil than gas. I always had a case of oil (the cheapest brand) in my trunk. I’d drive to the beach & before I headed home I’d have to put in a quart. Every time!

          1. My friend had what we called ‘the Vegs’ and when driving up a big hill in town, it would chug all of the way up, everyone in the car would be silent wondering if we would make it up the hill or start rolling backwards. Once we finally made it to the top of the hill, we’d have to pull over and put more oil in it!

    8. Believe it or not, the worst car I ever had was a 1996 Camry! Came from a family of camry lovers who great success with them. Historically, and still, a highly rated car but Toyota really messed up that year. Car would accelerate unpredictably and I couldnt brake it to stop! Hated that car.

      1. Yup. Sticky throttle cable. It made the car accelerate unpredictably. Congress was investigating Toyota and were looking into that. I wrote to Congressman Stupack they needed to look back ten years earlier. My Toyota Camry was a 1990. The only way to stop it was to crash it. Fun times! Thankfully, it sank into the mud along the exit (it had rained the night before). Will never ever, ever buy a Toyota again.

        1. OMG, I have a a 1995 and does the same! I sprayed WD40 on it from time to time, and got used to it— , just toss it in neutral and slam the gas to 4K RPMs!! Lol That’s what unstuck it. But very unsafe if you don’t know the throttle problem..

    9. The Ford Pinto has to be the #1 worst car ever. And with it’s history of the poorly placed transaxle bolt that resulted in explosions it has been the subject of many business school case studies. And there is the Volkswagen Thing!!

    10. I think that the bmw e39 (5 series) was the worst car ever built. Also- believe it or not- the Delorean was a well built car- in that it was made to last.

    11. The Chrysler “K” car. A more stripped down moving vehicle likely never existed. However it did run, not quickly or fast but it did start every time. Had that lovely “plastic” feel to every single feature.

    12. The Honda Element and the Toyota FJ Cruiser and the Sciom Xb are 100xs uglier than the Aztec. And every Subaru SUV made. These are low points in car design, consistory failure by Japanese in auto design.

    13. I had a1975 Ford Pinto. My first car. The rack and pinion steering went. And it wasn’t covered. Then came the gas tank. Disaster. But I was lucky because I sold it for $1000 to a mechanic. It was 3 years old (bought it for $3000)

    14. Pinto – a Five Thousand Dollar Automobile, once shuttled seven men, five Churchill cigars, Two Boston Sunday Globes ( sat ed. ), one medicine ball and a case of Heineken from The City of Champions to the old Boston Gardens at an amazing 80 mph.
      Being the Pony Wagon version, there was never a fear of rear-end collision explosion.( Backlund retained title vs Mosca – RSC ).

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