Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, “Why?” In this instance, we’re wondering why some of these cars even got made at all! We know everybody’s opinions will be vastly different on this one, but for the most part we could all agree that a majority of these vehicles will wind up on everybody’s worst cars list. Some of them are just horrific and were discontinued for good reason, others may have looked the part but just didn’t perform as expected and the consumers showed their opinion in low sales. Some are not conventionally attractive, they serve little to no functional purpose, or they are simply poorly made – the following 50 rides are what we classify as the “Worst Cars Ever Made”. We hope you enjoy them!
50. 1971 Chevy Vega
The Chevrolet Vega has perhaps the most dramatic story arch of any car on this list. With its lightweight aluminum alloy engine block and unique inline four-cylinder design, it initially received great praise—even getting Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year award during its introduction in 1971. However, those glory days didn’t last. The Vega had nearly every problem a car could, short of just exploding on ignition: reliability issues abounded, engineering flaws led to part failure, rust was a constant battle, and the safety standards were well below what even the 1970s expected. Unlike the star for which it is named, the Vega faded quickly and for good reason.
49. Plymouth Prowler
A quick time hop to the other end of the 20th century shows us that the 1990s weren’t short of silly designs for automobiles—but they were more willing to look back in time to find them. Inspired by the hot-rodding roadsters of yesteryear. However, this is less “American Graffitti” and more “An American Tail”. It seems that the geniuses at Plymouth forgot to make the Prowler a hot-rod, instead installing a pitifully underpowered 3.5 liter V6 pushing a mediocre 250 horsepower. Visually intriguing but lacking in performance, the Prowler was a rolling metaphor for the decade from which it spawned.
48. Aston Martin Lagonda
You may not be old enough to remember, but the 70s were a happenin’ time. Disco was in full swing, funk was fresh, and hip-hop was on the horizon. Everything was fueled by cocaine, which may explain the razor like design of the Aston Martin Lagonda. It may also explain the gap between ambition and performance—the electronics were computer-run, the displays all CRT based rather than gauges, and the whole thing was intended to push the limits of what a car could achieve with the technology of the day. Unfortunately, none of the “advanced” gadgets worked, and Aston Martin scored a major case of “equipment failure.”
47. Suzuki Samurai
Like so many cars on this list, the Suzuki Samurai sums up its decade—in this case, the 1980s. Colorful, sporty, overblown, and with a penchant for being a bit too rambunctious, the Samurai fully embraced the twin mix of optimism and fatalism that defined the end of the Cold War. A chic little 4×4, the Samurai was just beginning to find its place in the market when drivers noticed that it had a tendency to—flip over and roll while taking perfectly normal corners at average speeds. Clearly not a win for Suzuki, and another rolling metaphor for Japan’s decline from dominance of the automobile industry.
46. Saturn Ion
Saturn was a company born of optimism—the idea that a new American automotive manufacturer could break into the market with made-in-the-USA vehicles seemed like a pipe dream. But they did it, broke through, and for a while succeeded. With no thanks due to the Ion. The Saturn Ion was under-performing, with a smaller-than-average engine pushing what at the time was one of the longest four door sedans on the market. There was also the small issue of side impact—specifically the frame did very little to protect passengers from a good t-bone wreck. For these reasons and more, the Ion vanished in 2007.
45. Yugo GV
Do we start with the foolishness of the importers, who assumed that there was an American market for this two-door hatchback built in Communist Yugoslavia during the apex of the Cold War? Do we look instead to the original manufacturers, who believed that a car so poorly received in its freedom-lacking homeland could possibly succeed elsewhere? Or the later fools who bought the dang thing for a song and then discovered they had somehow been ripped off? We suppose it doesn’t really matter—at the end of the day the lack of performance and reliability combined to make the GV one of the worst things on the road. Not surprising, given a car that listed “upholstery” as a standard feature.
44. Ford Model T
The Ford Model T also known as the Tin Lizzie, Leaping Lena, or flivver was produced from 1908 to 1927. It was widely known as the first affordable car for the American Middle Class.
43. Citroen Pluriel
The French have a lot to proud of. World War II collaboration aside, they’ve lead the way in the arts, in liberty, in literature, and their proud creative tradition continues to this day. And none of it, not one inch, is captured in the Citroen Pluriel, also marketed as the Citroen C3. A three-to-five door hatchback, depending on the configuration, the C3/Pluriel was once described by Top Gear Magazine as “about as useful as a chocolate teapot.” And with good reason; the reliability issues and frequent “it’s not a glitch it’s a feature” incidents began to wrack up very quickly. Combined with mediocre performance, it’s no wonder it wound up here.
42. Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo
The Bi-Autogo was a prototype American Cyclecar produced from 1908 to 1912. It was originally designed by James Scripps Booth. Only one exists.
41. Reliant Robin
For most Americans, the Reliant Robin is one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. For whatever reason, three-wheeled cars never caught on in the States—the country that tried out eight wheels, as you’ll recall. So the Robin’s tricycle design tends to give North American drivers pause. It’s a bit dodgy in its native Britain as well, but for different reasons. The unique design and fiberglass body earned it the nickname “the plastic pig”, and its tendency to fall over is still the butt of a lot of jokes. Note we said fall—not roll, not slide, just, fall over. Thankfully it’s light, so you can put it up on the wheels again easily. That’s about the best anyone can say about this dinky little car.
40. Briggs and Stratton Flyer
This two-seat vehicle was originally called the Smith Flyer which was renamed to the Briggs & Stratton after the rights were sold. This vehicle was produced from 1915 to 1925.
39. Overland Octoauto
The brainchild of Milton Reeves, the Overland Octoauto challenges some of our core assumptions about automobiles—namely, that two axles and four wheels is the name of the game. In keeping with the grand American theory that bigger is better, Reeves concluded that adding a few extra wheels could provide a smoother ride for the discerning automotorist of the year 1911. And thus the Overland Octoauto was born. 20 feet long with the steering and handling one normally associates with a pregnant hippo.
38. TransAm Type K
The concept car from Pontiac was nearly a reality in 1977 when artist renditions and models were heavily discussed in the GM/Pontiac front offices. But alas, this unique design never saw production.
37. 1957 Trabant P50
The P50 is often seen as a symbol of East German life. It has a design that aimed high – plastic body, transverse-mounted engine, front-wheel drive. However, the two-stroke engine meant drivers had to add oil directly to the fuel tank and the resulting pollution probably clouds the skies over Berlin to this day. Coupled with a cramped, uncomfortable interior and a bone-shaking minimalist approach to shocks, the P50, like communism, is best left in the dustbin of history.
36. Desoto Airflow
The Desoto (Chrysler) Airflow was produced from 1933 to 1936. At the time the Airflow was revolutionary due to its price structure compared to other more expensive Chrysler cars.
35. 1981 Delorean DMC-12
You know this one—it’s the car from Back to the Future. The one with the aluminum body and the gull-wing doors. Pretty cool, right? Admit it—you wanted one when you were a kid just so you could make believe you were with Doc and Marty on an adventure through time. The reality of this ride is a bit different than the movies, however. Produced in Northern Ireland in a time when Northern Ireland wasn’t safe at all, the DMC-12 captured the spirit of its time and place with a whole host of problems: it was far too heavy for the underpowered engine beneath the hood, plagued with internal electrical problems – and that’s before the CEO of the company got caught trying to buy a mountain of cocaine with a suitcase full of cash. It was 1981 in a nutshell, is all we’re saying.
34. The Michelin
This is a French vehicle called Poids Lourd Rapide (PLR). However, the nickname it earned from people is Citroen Centipede. Michelin engineers designed the car to test tires. It has ten wheels on the outside, but the inside is an enormous truck tire. The Centipede also has two 5.7-liter small-block V8s. One is for the vehicle’s axels, and the other is for the tire inside the car.
33. 1958 Edsel Corsair
Up next is an American contribution, this time from Ford, and one so bad that it remains synonymous with “lemon” to this day. The 1958 Edsel was a machine designed to . . . well, we’re not sure. It had all the outer hallmarks of 50s greatness: fins on the body, a boxy design, an elaborate front end including a suggestively shaped vertical grill. And while mechanically sound, the Edsel was the victim of media over-hype: the marketing campaign presented it as the car-to-end-all-cars, but rather than defining the decade in automotive engineering, the Edsel was just another run-of-the-mill sedan. There’s a lesson there: under promise and over deliver, not the other way around.
32. Space Shuttle Convertible
Almar Norhaug built this vehicle in Nesset, Norway, during the 1950s. He worked at a barrel factory, and many of his coworkers helped him with the vehicle. A 1954 Ford Fx-Atmos concept may have inspired Norhaugh’s design. Nesset used a Vauxhall Cresta chassis, engine, and drivetrain to complete the car.
26. Sinclair C5
This is the Sinclair C5. It was produced back in 1985. While this vehicle never had any good commercial release, it has a big cult following.
The Hoffman is a 3 Wheel Vehicle that was produced in 1951. There was only one of these made, and it is sitting at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
31. 1982 Cadillac Cimarron
Whereas the Edsel was just over-blown, the Cadillac Cimarron was a full-scale disaster. The kind that automotive engineers relay to their children on dark moonless nights when the forces of evil are exalted amongst the shadows. An attempt by GM to move the Cadillac brand into the small-car market, the awfully-designed and poorly-performing Cimarron made use of the already unpopular J-platform sedan as its base, leading to the perfect storm of a weak form and horrible function. How bad did things get? The good folks at GM were apparently considering ending the Cadillac brand over the debacle. When it’s serious enough to kill off an American icon, it’s serious.
30. Waterman Arrowbile
The Arrowbile was a tailless aircraft built in the late 1930s. The vehicle was the first of its kind but very few people were interested. Only 5 were produced.
29. 1958 Zundapp Janus
We have to admit a perverse love for these absurd little cars. Really, just look at them. They’ve got an odd neurotic beauty that you can’t help but “d’aww” over. The Zundapp Janus is what happens when a well-respected motorcycle company makes the leap into four-wheel vehicles. It has a design that was marketed as innovative with fore-and-aft doors, but in reality just looked incomprehensible to the point of making it hard to tell which way the car was facing. Coupled with its scooter-sized engine and top speed of 50 mph, the Janus was a disaster no matter which way you looked at it.
The Amphicar was an interesting vehicle seeing as its big characteristic was that it was an amphibious car. The vehicle debuted at the 1961 New York Auto Show. The vehicle was in production from 1961 – 1968.
27. 1947 Davis D-2 Divan
We were wrong earlier about the Reliant Robin. Not about its many flaws or anything like that, but about the role of three-wheelers in American motoring. As it turns out the Davis Motor company of Van Nuys, California built a three-wheeler back in the 40s in the form of the D-2 Divan. We’ll never know how the D-2 would have fared, however, because its demise was guaranteed early due to the shady practices of the company’s founder and the overly ambitious estimates for both performance and production. When investors got cranky, the whole thing tanked. With only 12 surviving examples, this is also one of the rarest cars on this list.
26. Lotus Elite
The Lotus Elite was produced by Lotus Cars from 1957 to 1963. The Lotus Elite Type 14 was designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor.
25. 1975 AMC Pacer
American Motor Company’s troubled history was not helped by the Pacer, a two-door compact car released just as the compact car craze was coming into full vogue. Initially hailed as the future of driving due to its fuel economy, compact size, and relative economy in a market still dominated by Detroit-made land yachts, there were high hopes for the Pacer. However, poor performance during hard stops and turns — apparently one needed professional racercar driver skills to keep the thing on the road — lead to serious criticism from reviewers. With the introduction of other, better compact designs, the Pacer soon disappeared from sales lots, as did AMC.
24. MGA Twin-Cam
The MGA Twin Cam was a produced from 1958 to 1960 as a high-performance roadster. Its maximum speed was 113.5 mph.
23. 1998 Fiat Multipla
Fiat has long used the Multipla name for its vans and mini-buses, dating back to the 1950s. The 1998 addition to the family was supposed to be the heir to a storied legacy, but instead became the punchline in more jokes than any American minivan design. There’s not way to say it politely: this thing looks bizarre. The front end appears to have been assembled out of leftovers from various model kits, the wheels are too small, and the back end could double as a greenhouse. Whether it was ahead of its time or just went too far is immaterial: the end result is that this Multipla divided by zero.
22. Chevrolet Corvair
The Chevy Corvair was a compact car produced from 1960-1969. The Corvair came in numerous models including a two-door coupe, convertibles, four-door sedan, four door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup trucks. The big negative mark against the car was written in Ralph Nader’s 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed”.
21. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
Welcome to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, close cousin of the Plymouth Prowler. It’s the same story, so we won’t bore you: the PT Cruiser had the body of a hotrod and the soul of a minivan. They never caught on a sports cars, but we’re told you can still see them in Japan in service as taxis. What more humiliating fate could there be?
20. Peel Trident
The Peel Trident was a three-wheeled microcar produced by the Peel Engineering Company from 1965 – 1966 and resurfaced in 2011 to now. The vehicle debuted the 1964 British Motorcycle Show.
19. Renault Dauphine
Somewhere in the Great Hall of French Engineering Failures, there’s a pedestal underneath a dome. At the top of that column sits the original Renault Dauphine, a testament to what can go wrong in the hands of a really creative people having an off moment. Originally named the Corvette — go ahead, laugh — the undersized Dauphine had a rickety body, a weak and feeble engine, and reputation for safety issues before seat belts were standard equipment. You know, back before anyone cared about safety. We’re told that there are still a few on the road. That’s why we don’t drive in France.
18. AMC Gremlin
The AMC Gremlin was a subcompact car that debuted in 1970 till 1978. This ride was manufactured by American Motors Corporation and designed by Bob Nixon and Richard A. Teague.
17. Original Smart Fortwo
Smart Cars is a subdivision of Daimler, so one could assume that they know what they’re doing and while they may not get it right every time, they’ll at least deliver a passable product with good engineering and solid construction. You’d think that, until you ran into the Smart Fortwo. The obvious problems are obvious: the rear-mounted engine and fore-mounted cooling system means that a lot of heat passes under the passenger cabin. On a warm day, this can effectively cook the folks riding inside—not a recipe for comfort. Despite its ultra low emissions and gigantic fuel efficiency—this is the first car on the list to offer a hybrid variant—the problems with the first round of Fortwos were legion and nearly killed the Smart brand altogether.
16. Triumph Stag
The Triumph Stag was a sports tourer that was produced from 1970 – 1978 by the British Triumph Motor Company. This vehicle was designed by Giovanni Michelotti. There was only 25,939 were made.
15. Chrysler Imperial LeBaron Two-Door Hardtop
The Chrysler Imperial LeBaron was a luxury car produced from 1955 – 1975 then 1981 – 1983.
14. Bricklin SV1
The Bricklin SV-1 was a sports car assembled from 1974 – 1975. The designer of this unique car was Malcolm Bricklin who was also the founder of Subaru of America.
13. Morgan Plus 8 Propane
The Morgan Plus 8 was a sports car built from 1968 to 2004 and 2012.
12. Triumph TR7
The Triumph TR7 was a sports car that was produced from 1974 – 1981 in the United Kingdom. The vehicle was released in the US first in 1975, and released in the UK in 1976. The UK release was delayed twice due to high demand in the US.
The Trabant was a German vehicle that was produced from 1957 – 1990 by VEB Sachsenring. 3.7 Million Vehicles were produced.
10. Chevrolet Chevette
The Chevrolet Chevette was a subcompact car made from 1975 – 1987. This car was the best-selling small car in the US from 1979 and 1980.
9. Ferrari Mondial 8
The Mondial 8 debuted at the 1980 Geneva Auto Salon and was produced from 1980 – 1982. It was reported that at some point every model of this car’s system failed.
8. Cadillac Fleetwood
The Cadillac Fleetwood was a luxury car manufactured from 1976 – 1996. The vehicle was known for jerking, bucking, stalling, making awkward noises, and system failing.
7. Maserati BiTurbo
The Maserati Biturbo was a luxury sports car produced from 1981 – 1994. The Biturbo was a problematic vehicle.
6. Lamborghini LM002
The Lamborghini LM002 was an off-road sport vehicle also known as the Lamborghini truck. The Vehicle was produced from 1986 – 1993. Only 382 of these were produced.
5. Lincoln Blackwood
The Lincoln Blackwood is the result of a combination of ideas that have no business together at all: Ford’s Lincoln division and the iconic American pickup truck. Upgrading a utility vehicle with posh features? We may never know. We do know about the results however. The luxury trimmed interior, fine upholstery, and burled wood accents made it the visual rival of many luxury vehicles. However, these and other features (rear wheel drive in a pickup?) made it of dubious practicality and the whole project vanished in less than a year making it the shortest time of any Ford production run to date.
4. Ford Mustang II
The Mustang is an American classic – a coupe with a roadster feel and performance tendencies. We all know them, most of us love them, and they are pure America. Now enter the Mustang II, an attempt to capture the success of the Mustang brand in compact car form. Based on the infamous Ford Pinto platform, the Mustang II suffered from a number of flaws compared to its illustrious predecessors or indeed any comparable car on the market. Critics at the time suggested that the AMC Gremlin offered performance that was as good or better than anything the Mustang II could deliver. And given the Gremlin’s fate, this is a classic example of damning by faint praise.
3. 2001 Pontiac Aztek
There’s one thing we can say about the Pontiac Aztek, and that is that it did not come with any controversy, debate, discussion, or back-and-forth. This car was hated from the moment it appeared in public and remains hated to this day. The design is ludicrous, especially the front end. The plastic body only served to make it look cheaply built, and the over engineered features and engine didn’t wow with impressive performance. Add on a price tag that was a bit more than most folks wanted to spend, it’s no small wonder that this, this thing is as reviled as it is.
2. 2004 Chevy SSR
This is why we have “truth in advertising” law: The SSR in Chevy SSR stands for “Super Sport Roadster”–and this car does none of those things. Not at all, not even a little. Yet one more attempt to capture an audience with an admittedly cool looking retro body design, the SSR fails the way all other similar attempts do: by emphasizing appearance rather than performance and severely disappointing drivers who were having hot-rod fantasies. With a heavy body, underpowered engine, and sluggish if not lazy performance, Chevy’s SSR quickly lost all street cred.
1. Ford Pinto
Here we are, the ne plus ultra of bad cars. The Legendary Ford Pinto– folks who have never seen one and weren’t even born when they were in production know that these are bad cars. Some of them even know why, but we’ll offer a refresher course anyway. The Pinto was a compact car that on paper looked pretty good: decent performance, good fuel economy, and a fairly comfortable interior. There was just one problem: rear-end collisions tended to result in the whole thing exploding. Coupled with the scandal around Ford refusing to spend the money to fix the problem in favor of just paying off its victims, there’s a reason that the federal review of the Pinto described it as “unsafe at any speed”–a phrase burned into our collective memory forever. Pun intended.