Car manufacturers have experienced a drastic evolution since the invention of the first horseless carriage. However, not every car they create is decent or successful.
Let’s look at some of the worst cars ever to exist. Hopefully, none of you have ever owned one of these yourself.
TransAm Type K
Pontiac's TransAm Type K concept car received favorable feedback from the general public. It was discussed in a two-part episode of The Rockford Files. It seemed destined to hit American roads as a popular family vehicle, just as GM planned.
However, the estimates ultimately revealed that the endeavor was far too ambitious for the intended selling price. To make a profit, Pontiac would have had to charge $25,000 for the Type K. You could buy two Corvettes with that money.
The Space Shuttle Convertible
Only one Space Shuttle Convertible was ever manufactured since it was so unique. It was built in the 1950s by a Norwegian man named Almar Nordhaug with the assistance of his colleagues at the local barrel factory in the Faroe Islands. It made its mark as the first car in the Faroe Islands with four loudspeakers and a cassette player.
It made its way through several owners and became famous for its bizarre design. For instance, in 2011, the Faroe Islands made stamps with the car's image. The current owner reportedly intends to restore it, and we can not wait to see how it looks.
The 1971 Chevy Vega
Upon its release in the early '70s, the Chevy Vega received rave reviews. Its inline, four-cylinder design of the aluminum alloy engine earned it the title of "car of the year" by Motor Trend in 1971.
It was only after it was purchased that people realized it was a fluke.
The Plymouth Prowler
The Plymouth Prowler from the 1990s illustrates what earlier designers looked up to, in addition to some of their own distinctive and frequently bizarre-looking creations.
It turned out to be a lousy car despite being inspired by the hot rods of the 1930s. The Prowler had a 3.5-liter V6 engine that only generated 250 horsepower, unlike the hot rods that inspired it. It may have received a lot of attention upon its release, but poor performance led to low sales.
The Aston Martin Lagonda
The Lagonda seemed like a great idea since Aston Martins was James Bond's choice of car in the 1970s. Its sleek designs and cutting-edge technology made the car stand out.
It's a shame it was too ambitious since the high-tech equipment didn't work all that well. The company was quite embarrassed since they had even tried to fix the problem by replacing the gauges of the cathode-ray tube monitor.
The Suzuki Samurai
In the 1980s, the Suzuki Samurai fell far short of buyer expectations. It was quick and sporty, just like the decade it came from, but far too dangerous. In fact, the 1987 four-wheel-drive outsold the Jeep Wrangler due to its agility.
That is, until people discovered that it tended to flip just like a real samurai. Sales dropped after it was revealed that going around corners at average speed could easily result in a flip and rollover.
The Saturn Ion
Many companies have made bad cars, but the Saturn Ion is particularly bad. The company aimed for it to break into the market as an all-American-made car, but it seemed like a stretch.
Saturn did this in part due to the Ion. Unfortunately, it was clear that the Ion was a poor performer, as its weak engine couldn't keep up with the huge car, which was the longest four-door sedan in the industry. The Ion was no longer manufactured after 2007.
The Yugo GV
During the height of the Cold War, Yugoslavia created the two-door hatchback known as the Yugo GV. For some reason, they believed it would be successful in America even though it didn't sell well on the communist side of the Iron Curtain.
Due to inflation, the price of the Yugo was lowered so it could effectively compete. You can tell it was going to fail from the fact that it listed "upholstery" as a standard feature. It is frequently mentioned as the worst car ever. People joked by saying, "Yugo nowhere."
The Ford Model T
The first mass-produced car in the United States was the Model T. It was also the first car that the majority of people could afford. However, manufacturing stopped in 1927 for a good reason. The romance surrounding this car masks its poor on-road performance.
The engine wasn't good, and there was no windshield. This car was very dangerous since the brakes didn't work correctly. It's a lousy car compared to all the other vehicles that came out of factories in later decades.
France’s automobile manufacturers don’t have the most spectacular history in North America, although they have had several successes. The Citroën Pluriel isn’t one of them, which was also sold as the Citroën C3.
These lemons were called “about as useful as a chocolate teapot” in Top Gear magazine. Despite being marketed as a convenient car to satisfy all your needs, it was unreliable, had terribly designed features, and had a tendency to fill up with water when it rained. Production ended in 2010.
Sure, it might have been Detroit’s first V8 engine, but the handling of ridiculous steering on the Bi-Autogo ensured only one of these cars was ever built. The engine itself only produced about 45 horsepower, which did little to propel the three-seater forward that happened to weigh 3,200 pounds.
It was carried on two wooden-spoked wheels (the standard from the era) and two pairs of outrigger wheels that retracted. Designed by James Scripps Booth, the one unit that exists is in the care of the Detroit Historical Society.
You won’t find many three-wheelers in America because the design never caught on. A car looking like the Reliant Robin will catch the eye of many stateside, shocked that someone actually drives an automobile that lame.
Even in the U.K., where three-wheeled vehicles carry less of a stigma, the Robin has a bad reputation. It has a tendency to fall over, which has made it a laughingstock. Luckily, it’s not hard to fix because the Robin’s so light you can just prop it back up.
Briggs and Stratton Flyer
The two-seat Smith Flyer was renamed the Briggs & Stratton once the rights had been sold. Regardless of what name, it was produced from 1915 to 1925. There were some innovative designs that made this simple, stripped-down vehicle an inexpensive hit in the car market.
There were actually five wheels, and the wooden planks doubled as a floor and suspension. That being said, its shortcomings were pretty evident by the ’20s when seen side-by-side with cars that actually have suspension, windshields, and metal bodies.
While you won’t see many cars with an odd number of wheels in America, this wasn’t always the case. As American cars followed a “bigger is better” dogma, Milton Reeves thought adding more wheels would improve performance in 1911.
He put eight wheels on a 20-foot-long vehicle. Even though eight is an even number, when you take a look at the Overland Octoauto, you’re left with no other conclusion that eight wheels on a car are odd. It was gangly, and the handling was atrocious.
1957 Trabant P50
Trabant P50s are relatively unknown in some parts because they hardly left the Soviet Bloc. The lack of a fool-hardy American importer doesn’t make the East German car any better than the Yugo. In many ways, it was a reflection of life in East Germany, with lofty ambitions that were painfully short of realization.
The plastic body seemed sleek, but inside it was cramped and uncomfortable, and you felt every pebble. The front-wheel-drive was powered by a transverse-mounted, two-stroke engine and required drivers to put oil in the fuel tank — think about the pollution!
The Desoto Airflow was produced along with a sibling Chrysler model as an innovative car that would have probably sold much better had it been introduced 20 years later. It had 50-50 front-rear wheel weight distribution, an aerodynamic singlet-style fuselage, and was light.
Although cheap, it was too ahead of its time because the new design caused the engine to fall out in early models, giving it a bad name. Redesigns solved the problem, but it was unable to shake its bad reputation.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12
The DeLorean has been immortalized in the Back to the Future movies, but the truth is quite the opposite about the cool-looking car. Driving one in real life is quite a different experience than the one you expect from the movie.
As awesome as it looks, the Delorean engine isn’t strong enough to hack the job of powering the heavy frame without a flux capacitor. In addition, the gullwing doors would malfunction. The car didn’t take off and the maker, John DeLorean, was hit with a money-laundering scandal, and the company shut down.
The Michelin PLR
This car was built by Michelin, which at the time owned Citroën. You won’t see this car anywhere but in France, which is now used for various shows as a novelty.
This 10-tire monstrosity is a bit of a Citroën Frankenstein, as it’s made of a who’s who of random parts on hand, mostly from the DS Safari. It weighs 10 tons, so it’s remarkable that the top speed is 111 miles per hour. That’s due in no small part to the two Chevrolet 5.7- liter V8s.
1958 Edsel Corsair
The Edsel Corsair was built by Ford back in 1958 and is another example of a vehicle whose performance didn’t match the hype. Edsel was supposed to help Ford compete with GM, but this example of late-’50s engineering severely underperformed.
It was just another substandard sedan, and less than 10,000 were sold in 1959. The following year, Ford ended Edsels, and the word has become synonymous with failed car ventures. The Corsair, in the meantime, has become synonymous with the word “lemon.”
1982 Cadillac Cimarron
The Cimarron was GM’s attempt to introduce the massive Cadillacs to the smaller car range, yet it failed because the car was so bad. Unpopularly based on the GM J platform, it performed terribly and is one of Cadillac’s worst failures. In fact, the brand was almost discontinued because of how badly it failed.
As Elliot puts it, the Cimarron “appealed neither to Cadillac’s loyal followers, who appreciated powerful V8s and Cadillac’s domestic luxury edge nor to buyers who favored Europe’s luxury brands, whose cars out-handled and out-classed the Cimarron in every way.”
The Waterman Arrowbile landed on this list because of its road capabilities, as it’s the first of its kind. You could fly the plane-car hybrid around in the air and also drive on the roads. All you needed to do was detach the wings.
Studebaker executives ordered five, anticipating heavy demand. In the end, though, there was much less demand than the company thought such a novelty would produce. Only five of these were ever built. It was a nice idea, but proof that not every concept is worth making for the market.
1958 Zundapp Janus
Zundapp Janus was a failed attempt by a decent motorcycle company at crossing over into cars, and for that reason remains the company’s only foray into that market. You can understand why it was named after the Roman god with two faces, one facing forward and the other facing back because the car looked the same on both ends.
You had a 50-50 chance of guessing which direction a parked Janus was pointing from the outside. It had a rear door and front door as well, but these features didn’t help it sell.
The Amphicar had a lot going for it, seeing as it could be driven into the water. After that, it needed to be greased in over a dozen points, one of them requiring the driver to detach his seat.
Most of these were sold in the U.S., but these cars aren’t good for much more than their novelty — the front wheels maneuver both on the ground and in water. “We like to think of it as the fastest car on the water and fastest boat on the road,” said one owner.
1947 Davis D-2 Divan
The Davis D-2 Divan is an example of a failed three-wheeler, none of which ever caught on in America. In the 1940s, the Davis Motor Company marketed these cars extremely heavily, and it was expected to be seen everywhere on the roads.
The only thing was the owner of the company overestimated how well the car would perform and the cost, angering dealerships and investors alike. The company tanked, and only 12 of these cars survive today. Although they’re not very good, this rare lemon might actually go for six figures today.
Lotus is a British car company that’s mostly known for racing cars and sports cars, so when they ventured into making cars for everyday consumers, the company had a terrible time making them affordable for customers.
Even though it was the most expensive four-cylinder on the market, the company reportedly lost a hundred pounds per model by slashing the price. That’s over $2,000 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation! Performance-wise, this was a sports car, so it’s no wonder they only built just over a thousand of these from 1958 to 1963.
1975 AMC Pacer
The AMC Pacer was supposed to be the future, but the two-door compact was a failure. Sure, it had great fuel economy, but that was its strongest selling point because it would lose control during hard stops and turns.
It was hailed in the beginning for its small size in a time when the cars coming out of Detroit were massive, but soon better compact cars appeared on the market and replaced the Pacer. Sales dropped, and AMC went out of business.
The MGA Twin Cam was a high-performance car made from 1958 to 1960. It was really fast for its day, hitting 113 miles per hour. Despite this, it had so many warranty issues that pointed to serious design flaws.
The engine would burn oil and even detonate because holes would form in the pistons, although there hasn’t been a reason cited for such a dangerous problem developing in the motor. After producing a bit over 2,000 of these, production ended.
1998 Fiat Multipla
The Fiat Multipla has been used for several different vans and minibusses produced by the company over the years, but Americans will think of the 1998 import. Instead of being a hit on the roads like the other models that used this name, the Multipla was a laughingstock in the U.S.
It was just plain ugly and looked more like a portable Martian greenhouse than the vehicle of choice for soccer moms. The interior is actually quite well-thought-out, but who would want to enter such a bizarre-looking automobile?
The Chevrolet Corvair, named so for being in between the Corvette and Bel Air, was produced for the entire decade of the 1960s. In the middle of that decade, Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed book became a hit.
The Corvair wasn’t spared Nader’s crosshairs, and it was called a “one-car accident” for design flaws that made it a dangerous car to drive. This caused sales to plummet in 1966, and GM decided to concentrate on the Camaro. The company even went after Nader to get back at him, but the damage was done.