There doesn't seem to be a solid count of how many car models exist, yet one could hypothesize it's a lot. So it's not surprising we've seen several disasters hit the open road throughout the past several decades. And since you can't have the sweet without the sour, one can't expect that the auto industry will get it right every time. But sometimes, things go very, very wrong. Check out car experts' picks for the 30 worst cars of all time.
30. 2002 Gem
Manufactured by Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), this “car” was essentially a 2-passenger road-legal electric golf cart. Also available in four and six-seater models, they're classified as low-speed electric vehicles (LSV). And while technically they are faster than most other golf carts, your speed will max out at 25 mph.
29. 1970 Triumph Stag
Inspired by Giovanni Michelotti, this car was a four-seat open-top that gave drivers the option to drive with no top, a cloth top, or a removable hardtop. Known for its multitude of design flaws, it was unreliable (at best), with only 3,000 of the 25,877 made sold in the U.S.
28. 1950 Crosley Hotshot
Touted as the first post-war sports car, the Crosley Hotshot was displayed at Macy's in NYC in 1949. The Hotshot had a removable top, side curtains, side panels instead of doors, and few interior options.
27. 1971 Plymouth Cricket
Initially created to gain a share of the subcompact market, Cricket sales paled compared to its main competitors, the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega. After two years of production and only 27,682 units sold, Plymouth laid the Cricket to rest.
26. 1954 Nash Metropolitan
Measuring 11 inches shorter than the Volkswagen Beetle, it was juxtaposed with its larger competitors as the first subcompact car in America. Manufactured by Nash Motor Corporation, the Metropolitan boasted speeds of 0-60 in a scant 22.4 seconds and remained in production for 10 years.
25. 1977 Lincoln Versailles
In an attempt to scale back in size, Ford prettied up a Granada and crowned it “compact luxury.” They also prettied up the price and sold the Versailles for more than double the cost of the Granada and managed to sell only around 15,000 in its first year on the market.
24. 1976 Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare
Earning the prestigious titles of MotorTrend's Car of the Year in 1976, the Aspen and Volare were Chrysler's attempts at a more compact model that fit the times. After coming onto the scene strong, with sales reaching 500,000 in 1976, issues began popping up. Unfortunately, this pattern continued until the Aspen/Volare claimed a new title — the most recalled car in history.
23. 2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx SS
Chevy's V6 midsize hatchback only stuck around for a year, whether due to the low-quality interior or lack of options. It did, however, boast spacious legroom, adjustable rear seats, two skylights, ample cargo space, and the ability to go from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds.
22. 1990 Infiniti M30 Convertible
Whether sitting in the front or the back, you'd probably feel cramped in Infiniti's M30 Convertible. A close cousin of the Nissan Maxima, the M30 shared many features yet seemingly fell short in comfort and ride quality.
21. 1996 Ford Taurus
The reception for Ford's 3rd generation Taurus was so bad that manufacturers decided to release a second base model halfway through the year. Although trunk space seemed to shrink from the previous models, cabin space was ample. Unfortunately, none of the Taurus' positive attributes outweighed its “sad” appearance.
20. 1987 Cadillac Allante
Unlike its GM counterparts, the Cadillac Allante was in a class of its own, literally speaking, as it didn't share characteristics with any other car on the assembly line. With a body manufactured overseas, a V-8 engine, and the goal of giving the Mercedes 560-SL a run for its money, the Allante was overpriced and pulled from GM's lineup after producing only 20,000 vehicles.
19. 1978 Fiat Strada/Ritmo
It was called the Strada in the U.S., UK, and Canada, and the Ritmo everywhere else. Small and boxy in appearance, the Strada was a less expensive option than other comparable vehicles of its time and the first vehicle to be built mainly by robots. Unfortunately, it failed to gain much popularity in countries other than Italy and Spain.
18. 1975 AMC Pacer
American Motors Corporation's Pacer was on-trend with the automobile industry's push to provide the market with more fuel-efficient vehicles. It was received as innovative, reliable, and bore a slight resemblance to the VW Beetle — and not in a good way. Its unique design made it challenging for the manufacturer to offer variants. Unfortunately, the car was too heavy for its brake system and lacked fuel efficiency.
17. 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet
Marketed as a “city car,” the Cygnet held the title of the smallest vehicle in the Aston Martin lineup. While it possessed many of the high-quality features you'd expect from an Aston Martin, like the paint job and interior finishes, it lacked space, speed, and size.
16. 1982 Renault Fuego
Fuego means “fire” in Spanish. Unfortunately, this 2-door sport compact model, produced in France and Spain, lacked speed, handling, and a sound brake system. After earning a reputation of being unreliable, the Fuego's popularity quickly faded.
15. 1971 Ford Pinto
The Pinto was Ford's attempt to compete with smaller, economic import models. Unfortunately, the fuel tank lived behind the rear bumper, which led to the vehicle bursting into flames in multiple instances. ‘Nuff said.
14. 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati
Short for “Turbo Convertible,” the Chrysler TC was a two-seat convertible built in Italy. Yet to the consumer, the TC was simply an overpriced LeBaron that only stuck around for three years and sold 7,000 units.
13. 1974 Reliant Robin
A glorified tricycle with a motor, the three-wheeled, fiberglass Reliant Robin would reportedly tip on its side when attempting a hard turn and struggle to accelerate. Robin's classification seemed unclear. Was it a car? A plane? Or maybe a motorcycle? Regardless, this strange contraption miraculously remained in production until the early 2000s.
12. 1983 Renault Alliance
In the early eighties, gas prices ran high when another AMC disaster made its way on the scene. While it did well in the initial rounds of testing, its speed wasn't up to par. It took almost a full 15 seconds to reach 60 mph on the manual model — and the automatic model was even worse.
11. 1917 Chevrolet Series D
The Series D was Chevy's first attempt at a V8 engine. Unfortunately, After producing only 4,000 units over two years, it seemed the writing on the wall was clear. Production ceased when Chevy joined General Motors and decided this powerful model had no place in the lineup.
10. 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel
Oldsmobile hoped its Cutlass Supreme diesel model would offer its customers a solution to the energy problems and tightening regulations of the late 1970s. The Cutlass had spent much of the 70s and 80s at the top of the best-sellers list, yet the Cutlass Supreme diesel engine had a long list of performance issues. Eventually, the company made cost-cutting design flaws which led to internal damage, system failures, and an irreparable reputation.
9. 1957 Trabant
The Gerrman-manufactured Trabant — produced from 1957 to 1962 — was a small passenger car made with a plastic body from a material called Duroplast and required 180 hours of assembly. Other issues: it was expensive, struggled to make it past 60 mph, and lacked basic (and essential features) such as seatbelts and turn signals.
8. 1982 Cadillac Cimarron
Tagged as “one of the worst cars ever,” the Cimarron was intended to be an entry-level luxury compact car. Instead, this 4-cylinder embarrassment was of poor quality and way overpriced.
7. 1958 Edsel Corsair
This late 1950s mid-priced Ford quickly became known for its dismal quality and mechanical problems. For reasons unknown, Ford produced 18 different versions of the model. Yet even the large array of options wasn't enough to change the public's opinion that Ford had overpromised and underdelivered. Deemed an ugly, overpriced flop, after only two years, Ford halted production.
6. 2003 Saturn Ion
The Saturn Ion's claim to fame was a high transmission failure rate that warranted a class-action lawsuit filed against the GM company. And if that wasn't enough, the 2003 model also prompted one of the most significant automobile recalls in history for its ignition switch issue that resulted in 13 deaths.
5. 1971 Chevrolet Vega
The market had high hopes for the Chevy Vega — GM was confident of its potential, and it even won Motor Trend's Car of the Year in 1971. The Vega, however, quickly crashed and burned (pun intended) as it experienced engine and rust problems, design issues, and eventually, massive recalls.
Even after Chevrolet increased its quality control efforts (later reduced due to a labor strike), engine problems persisted, leading to the Vega's last production run in 1977.
4. 1987 Yugo
This Yugoslavian-made hatchback burst onto the U.S. market in 1985, intending to be the cheapest car in the country. Despite its warm welcome, the Yugo quickly became a joke with its slow speeds, poor crash test ratings, and shoddy construction.
3. 1955 BMW Isetta
Often referred to as the “bubble car,” this microcar's engine sat in the back end atop its third wheel and had a singular door that opened from the vehicle's front end. Other quirky features included no reverse gear (um, what?) and a sunroof made of fabric that served as an escape hatch. Not to mention, drivers needed only to possess a motorcycle license to operate the Isetta legally. Nevertheless, the model was a glorified shoebox, and unsurprisingly the appeal wore off as the public once again sought out full-sized vehicles.
2. 1974 Ford Mustang II
Mustang lovers are in a class of their own, yet even they weren't huge fans of its second edition. For its 2nd debut, the Mustang was nipped and tucked and based on a subcompact Pinto. But maintaining the smaller size also required a smaller engine that many people felt didn't live up to the “sports car hype.” However, it managed to serve an unintended purpose as it was born in an era when Americans wanted more compact and efficient vehicles. Unfortunately, the Mustang II no longer served a purpose once the energy crisis subsided.
1. 2001 Pontiac Aztek
Believe it or not, this gem appears on multiple “Worst Car” lists, so you know it deserves this honor. But, sadly, the Aztek isn't only aesthetically displeasing; it's the antithesis of sleek and dynamic. Often cited as its final mistake, Pontiac's minivan-esque frankencar's most significant achievement was its starring role as the meth-mobile in Breaking Bad more than a decade after production ceased.
It's no secret that car enthusiasts tend to have strong opinions on what does and does not make a good car. And while the failures continue beyond this list of the worst cars, the list of great, dependable vehicles is long, and the good far exceeds the bad.