Skip to comments.The Greatest Automotive Flops of the Last 25 Years
Posted on 05/18/2009 6:26:41 PM PDT by Eddie01
Chryslers TC by Maserati (198991)
Arrogance, thy name is Lee Iacocca. In the late 1980s, the Chrysler chairman and perpetual huckster turned a friendship with Alejandro de Tomaso, then president of Maserati, into the most shudder-worthy example of corporate avarice ever to roll off an assembly line. Chryslers TC by Maserati was little more than a Milan-built K-car with a few pricey underhood components and some styling hackery, a wrinkly grandmother dressed up in custom running shoes and ill-fitting hot pants. The Maserati trident plastered on the grille just added insult to injury.
(Excerpt) Read more at caranddriver.com ...
I’ll nominate the AMC Pacer for worst car of all time.
My parents and I were loyal AMC customers and even we did not consider a Pacer. I did think the Gremlin was cute but at 6’2”, it was a bit cramped.
Yes, it was an ugly car and it was kind of like driving in a greenhouse on wheels, but it got me where I wanted to go and in the mean streets of Boston, that counts for a lot.
I think the Pacer got a bad rap and for that, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the AMC Pacer.
I had a Pacer and loved it, my husband hated it because he had to repair it..Great bucket seats....
The low drag coefficient is no lie. With that and the weight you can drive the thing in a gale and never know it. The window is that way not out of styling but because there's no room for the entire thing to go down into the door (too much curvature too). One of the best cars I've ever driven.
Its terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. Its the first car Ive ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didnt have to drive it any more.
We were an AMC family too. I learned stick on my Dad’s “three on the tree” ‘68 Rambler Roug . Talked them into the all-wheel drive Eagle and toured Florida and Canada in an ‘81 Spirit. That 232cu in straight 6 was da’ bomb.
The article speaks disparagingly of the Subaru Justy. Great little cars. Best money I ever spent on a ride.
Outside the 25 year scope, but I nominate the Ford Fiesta, at least as sold in the US in the late 70s.
[on Chrysler Crossfire vs. Infiniti G35 or a BMW 3-series]
...both of which were more fun to drive than the Crossfire, and neither of which looked like a dog in the middle of a life-altering dump.
(Incidentally, whose bright idea was it to name a car after multidirectional gunfire, anyway? In what world do you want a car whose name implies that it might go off in any direction at any moment, killing innocent bystanders?)
And the sound is worse. The Hondas petrol engine is a much-shaved, built-for-economy, low-friction 1.3 that, at full chat, makes a noise worse than someone elses crying baby on an airliner. Its worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, youd have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.
Still, I think the Lincoln Blackwood is kind-of cool. Maybe I would buy one if I was a country music star.
But if you start discussing engines, don't ping me, lolol.
I still have my 96 SVX. Best car I’ve ever owned with over 170,000 miles on it, it still runs smooth. I remember going into a Toyota dealership about 2 years ago and looking at the Solara. Milage about the same, power about the same, comfort nowhere near the SVX, fun nowhere near the SVX. I decided I’d rather keep the SVX than even do an even exchange with the Solara (which wouldn’t even have been possible).
It is one really tough car that you can drive all day (from Kansas city to Kirksville, MO to Columbia, MO back to Kansas City and then on to Denver. I long drive that would only have been posssible in that car.
The strange bar in the window is actually reinforcement so the C pillar can be so small. Great visability.
Wish they still made this great car. If you ever get the chance to see the police chase video of the one in Kirkland, Washington don’t miss it. About 3 1/2 hours long with devestation to everything else including a golf course and a Tahoe that gets hit so hard that it drops it engine. Mad Max could have used one of these!
What?? No AZTEK????
Barrett-Jackson gets huge bucks for many restored then-oddball cars
Car & Driver magazine has a very poor collective memory. They’ve picked on the Chrysler TC Maserati, which is truthfully just badge engineering. Sans the stupid retro porthole a la the 57 T-Bird, it actually was a clean, well-proportioned car, for an American manufacturer at that time. C&D forgets that Cadillac did much the same with the unlamented Allanté, even more grossly overpriced and not as well proportioned. The Buick derivative, with a fixed hardtop, strange bar-of-soap proportions and oddly tall, narrow tires lending a somewhat agricultural stance to the car ... well, it didn’t sell. I forget the name of the thing, and I’m something of a car nut. What does that tell you?
The Subaru SVX sold in low numbers because it was expensive. I don’t know about “flop,” though. It’s a great car. Rock solid, reliable like a Subie always is, and they’re very popular as ski cars. The segmented windows weren’t a Subaru/Giugaro exclusive. There were many exotics and concepts with a variation on this theme. I actually like the styling. It reminds me of what a modern Citroen should’ve looked like (and yes, I’m fond of the old DS21).
As far as AMC is concerned, I too have a soft spot for old Ramblers, my dad bought my mom one, a Rambler American wagon, antique white with a red interior. It was a great car for her, small enough to be easily parked and negotiated, a nearly bulletproof straight six, and room enough for us, the neighborhood kids and a few dogs for picnics, trips to the swim club or the local state park ... no bad memories here.
As far as the Pacer, it was plagued with the budget problems that all seventies AMC products experienced. Dick Teague was a genius, as far as design, but practical reality dictated the use of existing platforms, engines, suspensions, etcetera. This resulted in cars that were 1/3 again too large to “work” visually. If the Pacer had been produced at the scale it was originally designed for, with a rotary engine or a four-banger base engine as intended, it would not have seemed quite so peculiar, that ambulatory fishbowl thing. Another Teague design that was ruined by bad proportions due to budget constraints was the last AMC Matador coupe. Had it been yet again not 1/3 too large, it would have been a beautiful car, and it actually still is in photos. In person, it’s out of scale.
If you’re going to crap on the old AMC, the four door Matador, with it’s weird Jimmy Durante proboscis, would be the one to crap on. But, that again was driven by lack of budget, and the need to meet crash testing. They just put a snoot on there for a crumple zone.
During this time, GM ruined the Riviera, the Coupe de Ville, really every evocative, beautiful, iconic American coupe they had in their roster. They killed them with ugly, with proportions that reeked of four door sedan but with just two doors (like some hastily thrown together postwar “coupes), and they pawned it all off on “changing tastes.” People don’t buy ugly when they’re buying a coupe. Ugly killed them, and that was a massive, stupid flop.
I can’t really think of anything noteworthy from Ford during this timeframe; the worst you could say is that they could be fairly dull and often had lackluster performance.
Outside of these examples, the biggest flop of all in this era belonged to Fiat. From the strange Strada, to the lovely but temperamental and breakdown prone X1/9, they were forced to pull out of the US. Engines that needed to have the timing belt changed out every 35K miles, and if you didn’t and the belt broke, you’d throw a rod, rust, flimsy interiors. Pieces of junk. I have no idea how they could ever dominate any market.
I've always thought the Pacer was the "Most butt ugly car of all time." HOWEVER...
Nissan has come out with a car that may just take this title away from the Pacer.
My nomination for "Most butt ugly car of all time - The Nissan Cube". Down right UGLY!
Sorry, LOVED my Fiesta. It may have been a flop because it was only sold here for 3 years or so, but it is still sold worldwide, 30 years later. It was a bit ...minimalist (i.e., I had to buy the glovebox kit with a door), but it had personality and got me where I wanted.
I owned a ‘79 for seven years, and had a variety of bizarre mechanical and electrical problems with it.
I still have one souvenir from that time — a stick shift that decided to simply shear off one day, leaving a half-inch metal stub.
I am not exaggerating when I say that a lot of mechanics simply refused to do engine work on that car, because of the way the thing was packed.
One thing I will grant — it was solid. Back then, cars had real bumpers, and car bodies weren’t made of foil.
“Ill nominate the AMC Pacer for worst car of all time.”
I disagree. Worst car? ANYTHING made by British Leyland.
Hey looks like we do agree on Fred Thompson though! I love Fred. He was my #1 choice for presidential nominee. I was so disappointed he was out of the race.
I have been shocked (shocked I say!)at the unattractive clown cars the libs are driving these days. Some are very boxy and cannot be aerodynamic. Others are just too aerodynamic and have no style at all. I have taken to pointing and laughing at them, especially when they are plastered with Obama Fuhrer stickers.
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