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What's Your Worst Car Ever?

Your Worst Car Ever? Tell us!<br/ ><br/ >

It’s Worst Car Week here at Car Talk Plaza. After all the rust-buckets and heaps of scrap we’ve owned, we managed to narrow it down to just one each. Improbably, we realize… but we did it. Here they are!
<br/ ><br/ >

Junk yard treasures" <br/ ><br/ >

Then we put the question to our indentured bloggers, and they had some horror stories too. Like…<br/ ><br/ >

The VW Squareback that made Jim Motavalli wonder if his grandma wanted him six feet under.<br/ ><br/ >

Or the Lotus Elan that narrowly avoided spontaneously combusting. With Jamie Kitman inside it. <br/ ><br/ >

Or the 1972 Fiat that left Tom Bodett unable to truly love cars.<br/ ><br/ >

Now, it’s your turn! We want to hear from you. Tell us about your worst car ever. Did it burst into flames on your wedding night? Break in two on the way to college? Lose its brakes on the Blue Ridge Highway? Bring it on. We’re ready for your stories!<br/ ><br/ >

Yours in worst car catharsis,<br/ ><br/ >

Tom and Ray Magliozzi

My 1972 Vega was my worst car ever. I traded it immediately after reinstalling the rear axle…which slid out of the housing with the wheel attached when the retainer (C-clip) fell off.

But, in truth, I LIKED that car. Too bad it was such an unreliable, downright damgerous, piece of junk.

Well… probably the 81 Chevy Citation. Second day after purchasing new, I close the drivers door and heard a loud bang. Discovered the entire window track/regulator assembly fell to the bottom of the door. Welding wasn’t GM’s forte, I guess.

Within the first 500 miles, was the first of 3 transmission failures. Only car to ever make me walk.

At around 2000 miles, was the first of 4 rear main seals. NEVER had to worry about the floorboards rotting out. There were constantly protected my fresh oil!

Heres an interesting one. While on a road trip, I decided to go to a DIY car wash. As I was spraying the bugs off of the plastic “chrome” grille, I discovered I was actually washing the chrome off. I had a mostly white plastic grille when finished. People pay good money to customize a car. I just had to wash it!

I lost track of the computer / fuel delivery problems. The car would surge from 45-55mph without the driver moving the accelerator pedal. Windshield wipers would start/stop on their own. Didn’t they know I lived in Texas and it never rained!

Purchased the car for just short of 10K. Two years later I traded to some poor Dodge dealer and got $2600 out of it. I felt it was a blessing!

My worst car was a 1963 Corvair Spyder. It was an okay car until you approached a curve at anything over 45mph. If you did…you cleaned out the ditch. When it was raining…30mph was sometimes a problem. My brother borrowed it and blew the engine on the interstate. He paid me back over the course of 2 years at about $25 a month.

Mine was also a Vega.

Engine - Lousy design. Almost 100% would start burning oil before 100k miles. Most at before 50k miles. And there was a simple fix. Steel Sleeve the cylinder walls.

Transmission - Premature failure on ALL of the transmissions in this vehicle. I had the 4-speed manual which I had to rebuild at 10k miles after I rebuilt the engine.

Premature Rust - No inner fender wells. Dirt/salt and water had many places to pool on this car. Mine started rusting with 2 years of ownership.

Again I’m with MB on this one. I actually liked the car. It was very stylish for it’s time…and fun to drive.

Out of all the cars I have owen from rebuilt wrecks to customs. The 2001 4.0 V6 Ranger I had was by far the worse. Gas milage would go from 12 -18 (mostly 12). It was at the dealer for warranty work for this problem at least once a month. It had a miss at idle after it got 15000 miles on it. Never did get fixed. Trans make a whining noise if it 20 deg’s or lower. It was a auto trans. Also it was starting to rust too. I had it a little over a year. I was able to walk away from it ( it was a lease ) The dealer was good friend and we called it a draw and I did not have do the lemon law. It cost me about $1000. in the end. I did get a deal from him on a full size used Chevy. So I don’t feel to bad about it. We are sill friends.

A 1957 Plymouth by far. In 2.5 years at college the front torsion bars snapped, the wiper motor failed, I needed rings and valves, a rear spring snapped, and the floor rusted out so badly that the front seat fell through it. The windshield leaked prodigiously; I could have used wipers on the inside as well.

One of these cars ( Fury Hardtop) was put in a time capsule by the city of Houston, and dug up in 2007. It was a completely rusted hulk, even though it had no miles on it.

By contrast, there is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air parked in front of the Independence Hall in Malacca, Malaysia, which became independent from Britain that year. In spite of the tropical sea air, it stll looks great.

1975 Fiat X19. Need I say more?

1995 Ford Contour

A girlfriends 72 vega, fix after fix, until something went wrong with the aluminum block and killed the car for good.

My worst car? A 1986 Ford Temp. After 3,000 miles, the windshield wipers came on when the headlights were engaged. Okay for driving at night in the rain!

I can’t say the following 2 were bad cars; just cars that served a purpose and were not liked very much.
A 58 Thunderbird with a 300 Horsepower (allegedly) 352 and the car was a tank. Driving down the road one day I felt the rear end suddenly sag and start grinding. A look underneath showed the rear axle split into right near the ring gear.

A late 70s Subaru that I acquired on the dirt cheap and became a daily beater work car. It saw duty commuting and got about 160 miles a day and more put on it. The only problem with it was that it was carbureted and prone to carb icing. When the temps were above 35 or below 30 there was no problem. However, when the temperature was around freezing give or take a few degrees about every 40 miles the carb would ice completely up and I’d have to stop and poke a long screwdriver down in there to bust up the iceberg. Otherwise, it would ice up so badly that the car would eventually slow down to 10 MPH flat on the floor. It would ice up even with the air cleaner setting on WINTER which pulled heat from the exhaust header pipe and the carburetor coolant hose intact and functioning. (The carb hose allowed hot coolant to heat the throttle body and apparently not doing a very good job of it.)

My very first (and very worst!) car: a very (old, used) cherry red 1971 Datsun 4 cylinder/manual choke death trap! Which, ironically, got plowed away by a road grader during a blizzard–deposited several blocks away in a snow bank. Ah, those were the days…

I might respectfully add a correction about the 57 Plymouth that was buried. That was Miss Belvedere and it was buried in Tulsa. It’s about as tragic a tale in the auto world as can be.

Much was made on TV and even Boyd Coddington showed up to unveil that car at the Civic Center with people flying in from around the world to see it.
Everyone around here knew it was scrap metal already because 2 weeks before the so-called unveiling a sneak peek was performed and it was reported that the car was rusted to oblivion.
With the hood up, one could even see the valve springs as the valve covers were rotted through.
Other than some odds and ends such as pot metal, stainless trim, and so on, everything else is iron oxide.

While it’s just my personal opinion, I have a feeling that car is going to resurface some years from now as part of a scam. The company that bought it is the manufacturer of a chemical to get rid of rust and has stated they bought another 57 Plymouth for “parts”.
Read that as the parts Plymouth will be passed off as Miss Belvedere after having a few surivor parts from the original placed on it and off it will go to the Barrett auction…

Tulsa’s 1957 Plymouth was buried in mud for 50 years (or muddy water).

Considering the drainage and being located on the banks of the Arkansas River no one should have been surprised at what happened with that poor car. Every mechanical minded person I know figured it was iron oxide long ago.

It’s a real shame though. If that car had pretty much survived with little damage it would be worth a fortune. As of right now, it’s a museum conversation piece.

I doubt there’s any difference in the Schlitz beer or 50 year old gasoline; even when the beer was new. :slight_smile:

I see that somebody already mentioned the 1981 Chevy Citation, and that would have been my pick for my worst-ever car…if not for the 1974 Volvo that I owned prior to the Citation.

Yes, the Citation did need to be repainted 3 times in order to actually cover all of the primer that was showing through the original paint, and yes, the manual trans did need to be rebuilt twice, but the Volvo was far worse. That Volvo, bought new and maintained better than the mfr specified, treated me to the following situations:

Heater inoperative upon delivery. Three dealer visits later, they finally discovered that the temp control knob on the dashboard had never been connected to the heat control valve on the heater core. Great assembly quality!

Two weeks after delivery, all dashboard lights remain lit up after ignition is shut off. Faulty ground is found and corrected (supposedly). More evidence regarding assembly quality.

Shortly after buying the car, I heard a fearsome noise under the hood as I sat at a traffic light. Upon opening the hood, I find that two of the bolts holding the A/C compressor had sheared off, and the compressor is more or less migrating around on top of the engine. The quality of materials is definitely suspect.

During freezing conditions, all lights on the car operate at only partial power until engine fully warms up. Simultaneously, all dashboard instruments are inoperative and engine has reduced power until engine fully warms up. Dealer was never able to resolve this particular ground problem. This car had so many electrical gremlins that I actually can’t even remember all of them.

Engine began burning oil at ~60k miles, and trans began leaking at ~ the same mileage. By 70k miles, it was necessary to add 1 qt of trans fluid every 600 miles. Indy trans shop finally refunded my money when they couldn’t remedy the problem after 3 attempts.

The “constant injection” system was a piece of crap, and needed constant adjustment. Idle was extremely rough.

I needed to get the timing adjusted twice a year.
Explanation: In order for the engine to actually have sufficient power, the timing had to be adjusted in such a way that the car could not pass the annual state emissions test. So, I would have to get the timing adjusted in one way for the emissions test, and then return to the mechanic for readjustment of the timing in order to be able to actually operate the car in a semi-normal manner.

All exterior paint was “chalked” by the second year of ownership.

The electric fuel pump burned out approximately once each year.

If Volvo had stood up and made good on the incredible problems with this car, I might have considered another one. However, the company’s cavalier attitude toward the rolling disaster that they sold to me resulted in my attitude of, “never again” regarding that make of vehicle.

My first (and worst) car was a '63 Corvair station wagon. It started every time but by the time I bought it (for $35), it needed two types of fuel: gasoline, and 30 weight. I used to buy a quart of oil (in bulk) for 15 cents and it would get me ~40-50 miles.

One day I was driving down the freeway and a Highway Patrol guy pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going 80 miles an hour. There is no way that the car was even capable of hitting 80 so I was somewhat perplexed, until I watched him get back in his car and noticed the oil droplets on the windshield…

When I was growing up the used car my mother got for transporting us kids was an old English Ford with a convertible top. A real embarassment for me even at the age of 8 and especially for my teenage sister. No, the convertible was not cool–but it was cool. Whenever it rained the water would puddle in the top and when going around the corner–especially a left turn-- the water poured down on the passenger’s front seat. It was good for a laugh for me since my big sister usually was the one in the front seat!

My first; a 55 DeSoto.