Very funny reading
Definitely amusing to read if not entirely accurate. There are a lot of good vehicles listed on their “worst” list and a conspicuous abscence of Asian vehicles.
The Asians have manufactured more than their share of toads over the years; Honda 600, 76 Civic, 79 Accord, Subaru FFI, Subaru GLs and DLs with the “wet sleeve” engines, early Nissan Pulsar, etc., etc.
Those cars are far worse reliability and safety wise than the Pinto and Corvair.
In spite of the bashing that the Gremlin got, I know several people who owned them and drove them into the ground. They’re not as bad as portrayed, although they’re near the top of the Ugly category.
Yeah OK, I remember years ago I was with a friend at a Chevy dealer looking at cars he was considering buying. And while he was off talking to one sales rep, I struck up a conversation with another. At one point I asked him, “What’s the difference between a Celebrity and a Cimeron?” He looked at me without batting an eye and said, “About three thousand dollars.”
The Gremlin, in spite of its name, was a reasonably good car for that period. When Consumer Reports tested small cars in the 1973/74 are, they rated the Gremlin over other domestics and a number of imports. The problem was the lack of visual and physical balance. My brother owned one (he drove it 13 years and then sold it for $500) and it was the worst car I ever drove for traction; a big engine over the front wheels and no weight on the back whatsoever. On dry pavement this was no problem; in Fresno, Cal. it would be a pleasant car; good air conditioner, mostly straight roads, etc. The gas mileage was not bad either, I recall.
I noticed that for 1981 they named the Caddy. This was the first (and only) year of the 4-6-8 system. In 1980 the 368 came with a 4bbl carb and in 1982 they went to the 4.1 litre V-8. My dad purchased one of these brand new in October of 1980 by January of 1981 the local Caddy garage had bypassed the 4-6-8 system per a GM TSB. 25 years later the car has 54,000 miles on it and continues to be the best road car my dad has ever owned.
I had to repair a couple of Cimarrons. That was not one of GM’s better ideas; to throw Caddy badges and stick on wood grain trim on a FWD Citation, Phoenix, or whatever it was and pass it off as an upscale car.
I think the worst one I ever saw along those lines was in the early 80s when Subaru came out with an “upscale” model. The dealer I worked for got one in (very limited edition as you can imagine) and it was hideous.
A small 4 door Subaru sedan with a heavily padded vinyl roof, opera windows, and cheap gold electroplated plastic from one end to the other. It made me want to puke and my boss was not keen on it either as he was paying interest on the floor plan for months on that car since no one on earth wanted it. Finally the right buyer came in and took that rolling embarassment off his hands.
Great post Tester; thanks. The title should be 50 Most Interesting Motor Vehicles.
Comment: As was said, the descriptions leaned more toward entertainment than accuracy. The Model T Ford was quite suitable for its time, easy to drive and cheap and easy to repair. Our 1970 AMC Gremlin drove and rode just fine and a few bags of sand in the back pretty much solved the winter traction problem.
How about the VEGA? Any small bodied FORD of the late 60’s (rusted out as you looked at them) . . . The K-CARS? And don’t let me forget. . . how great those British cars were of the 60’s and early 70’s (pick one . . I had it and worked on it in my folks driveway). Great post Tester! Rocketman
Agree that British cars of that era were bio-degradble! There was even an association of unhappy Vauxhall Firenze (the GM captive import) owners. They organized a protest trip to GM’s headquarters, but most of the cars did not make it; they broke down somwhere on the way. My neighbour had one and even the jack rusted to unusable junk right in the trunk. My vote for the worst car of all time is a tie between the Yugo and the Fiat 131. Consumer Reports wisely recommended its readers to take the money and buy a good used American car instead.
I don’t think the British cars are as bad as portrayed. I had a Sunbeam Alpine that was very reliable, a blast to drive, and only suffered one mechanical fault; a faulty alternator.
Also had a pair of Morris Minors that were outclassed and outrun by everything on the road. One green one and one black one, with the black one having a huge pink daisy painted all over the roof. Talk about stylin’!
Just think, you could drive the hech out of those little cars, have a blast doing it, and NOT break the speed limit! Try that with a Corvette, etc. You can’t wind it out of first gear without breaking the speed limit (and, serveral other laws).
I was disappointed not to find Renault Le Car on the list. Maybe I got a lemon but would really be a good contender for any list that has bad adjectives in it!
Agree the Renault Le Car was a dog. The only area it sold well was in French Canada, where it became some kind of cult car with young kids.
Oh, no, some unnamed country in the middle east thought it is a good idea to assemble these. I think the French company not knowing what to do with the machinery had to do with it and some other “incentives”. At any rate they assembled that car in that country for many years and I am sure they still have a few on the street.
I was referring to North America. However, I was in Iran last year and yes, there are many substandard European cars still built there. The Hillman Minx, and other Hillmans are the National Car. Older Fiats are still built under local license. Also some tough US cars, Chevs, Buicks, etc up to 1978/79 (the year of the Iranian revolution)are still running around, lovingly cared for, which make it look a little like Cuba.
Tester–Thanks for that link!
Overall, it was very entertaining, despite some inaccuracies (the Model T was not a piece of junk) and some omissions (The Austin America was surely the worst example of British engineering of the 70s!), and I am glad that you provided this for us.
The Model T wasn’t a piece of junk in 1908, but Henry Ford was very adamant about not upgrading it. By the late teens, all of its competitors worked and drove like “modern” cars while the Tin Lizzie still had primitive fuel and ingnition systems and the befuddling pedal system. If you’ve ever looked at a 20’s Model T next to a 1920’s Chevrolet or Plymouth you’ll get the idea.
The list does seem to be more of poorly marketed cars as opposed to poorly engineered cars. A friend of mine had a Cimmeron, and it was a great (definitely not a Caddy, though), as were the later Edsels, Corvairs, Pintos, Gremlins, Explorers and heck, some people swear by those Azteks.