Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Worst Cars and Epic Automobile Flops

Wikipedia had a list automotive flops  before it was deleted as "subjective"

also see list of most produced cars: 

Wikipedia lists automotive flops

The open-source Wikipedia has an interesting look at the biggest automotive flops of our time. "The automotive industry has seen its fair share of flops, from models to management people, to entire brands," explains the article. "While some cars flopped for being unreliable (Yugo), others flopped for design defects plaguing the car (Pontiac Fiero), missing their target audience (Edsel, Buick Reatta), poor design (Pontiac Aztek, Acura Vigor), while others don't really have a reason for flopping, but instead they had poor sales (Suzuki X90). Many of these cars however have built a cult following, such as the Plymouth Superbird, AMC Pacer, Pontiac Fiero, and Corvair, or were the genesis for more successful cars such as the Eagle Premier." But like some Wikipedia pages, this one was deleted for being "subjective" so it is no longer open for your contributions.


Acura Vigor

The Vigor was a mid-size sedan introduced in 1992 that fit between the Integra sedan and the Legend in Acura's lineup. Sales were slow due to the car's 5-cylinder engine, small size, and poor interior design. It was cancelled after only 3 years in production.

File:AMC pacer 082009 D42119.jpg
Well Preserved Pace in Europe
...The large amount of glass led Car and Driver to dub it "The Flying Fishbowl".[4] Introduced in 1975 as the "first wide small car", the Pacer was meant to be a wide roomy small car. It  ended up being a short car that was too heavy for efficient 4 cylinder engines. ...

Amphicar "Floating Car"


The Amphicar was a both a car and a boat, but with a top speed of 7 knots in the water it wasn't a very good boat and at 70 mph on the highway it wasn't a great car either. The 43 hp motor would be used in cars like the Triumph Spitfire until 1980. Unfortunately, the floorboard was very prone to rotting which could cause the car to sink, also, water could seep through the hood into the engine, causing the engine to seize, fading away rather than starting a trend. The Amphicar was designed to be marketed and sold in the USA. Though only 4000 were produced by 1965,  nevertheless, it is still among the most successful amphibious civilian autos of all time, and still often prized and preserved as novelty collectible automobiles today.

Bricklin SV-1

This safety/sports car from Canada suffered from quality problems. Just 2,857 were sold in 3 years. Still turns heads.

Buick Reatta

The Reatta was an aerodynamically-styled car originally made by Buick to attract "mature" buyers. But the car's controversial styling and heavy amount of computerized features worked against the car in its intended market. The car was mostly handbuilt and the Reatta sold just 21,751 units in a 4-year run from 1988 to 1991.

Cadillac V8-6-4 variable cylinder engine

Poor reliability and dubious benefit doomed the variable displacement concept for a decade.

Cadillac Allante

Cadillac's first convertible for almost 20 years. The Allante was introduced for the 1987 model year and was by far Cadillac's most expensive vehicle. All parts for manufacture were shipped from Italy to the US where the vehicle was assembled by hand. The relatively high price alongside the lack of an engine as powerful as those commonly found in the price range at the time caused sales to be only 21,000 units over a 4 year run. The Allante also was poorly built, and it is known for its roofs leaking. The Allante also was no help to Cadillac's reputation since it was hacked up due to the Cimarron debacle just before the Allante entered production. Cadillac successfully relaunched the idea of an upmarket convertible with the Cadillac XLR.

Cadillac Cimarron "Too Cheap Caddy"

The first compact car marketed by Cadillac was developed as part of GM's mid 1980s downsizing based on the J-cars like the Chevrolet Cavalier which initially targeted Honda's premium compact Accord but later faded into mediocrity. GM rushed the Cimarron into production about three years ahead of schedule, denying Cadillac time to develop a more refined car and requiring the use of a four-cylinder engine as the V6 would not be ready for a few more years. It was initially sold as "Cimarron by Cadillac", implying a lack of confidence on Cadillac's part. Sales were disappointing as its size and styling did not prove popular with Cadillac buyers. Not only was the vehicle perceived as being too small for a Cadillac, it shared many design components with its much cheaper Chevrolet cousin. Though the Cimarron was eventually improved to the point of complete competence, sales never improved and its initial impression on the public continued to hurt Cadillac's reputation as a builder of luxury cars in the important 35-45 demographic segment. After seven years, the Cimarron was discontinued.
Dishonors: Time 50 worst cars of all Time /

Caterham 21

Intended as a modern, more practical alternative to the Caterham/Lotus Seven. Unfortunately, Lotus successfully reinvented the Seven themselves at the same time with the Lotus Elise.

Chevrolet Citation

Chevrolet Citation GM's Awful First Front Wheel Drive Compact
http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/02/chevrolet-chevy-citation.html by Chris Hafner on February 16, 2009
Citation1If a research company conducted a scientific survey of Americans' opinions of the worst cars ever sold in this country, I would bet the top results would be made up of some combination of the usual suspects--the Yugo; the AMC Pacer and Gremlin; the Chevrolet Vega and Chevette; and the Ford Pinto. Those six stinkers are justly famous for their automotive ineptitude and would likely dominate the list. But I would guess that, trailing just behind those all-stars, the Chevrolet Citation and its General Motors X-car brethren would slot in a solid seventh on the definitive list of automotive awfulness.
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/chevrolet-citation.htm The Chevrolet Citation was a groundbreaking car when it bowed for model-year 1980, and at one point was America's best-selling automobile. But as this article makes clear, the Chevrolet Citation is better remembered today as a design failure

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 110hp Coupe Rally Red Front
Chevrolet Corvair "Unsafe at any speed"

see main: http://hu1st.blogspot.com/2011/12/chevrolet-corvair-epic-automobile-flops.html

Chevrolet Volt 24/7 Wall St called it one of two worst flops in 2012

Chrysler Airflow

Despite the airflow's current recognition as one of the watershed designs of the automotive age, its advanced aerodynamic design made the mistake of being too far ahead of its mid-1930s; during the depths of the Great Depression consumers avoided the car because of its odd appearance and falsly rumored unsafe conditions. The failure of the Airflow pushed Chrysler desig
n the conservative extreme, resulting in the "three-box" designs launched in 1949. On the upside, it does show up on everyone's list of 10 most significant cars of the era, and a pre-war die cast toy went for US$5000 on Ebay in 2006.

De Lorean

Roughly 9,000 were built before John De Lorean's arrest on charges of cocaine-smuggling (which he was later acquitted for) closed the factory two years after its launch. A DeLorean was also the star of Back to the Future, and many show up in small town 4th of July parades.

Dodge Dakota convertible

In 1989, Dodge created a convertible version of its popular Dakota pickup truck, with a ragtop in place of a cab with a small rollbar installed. The general public thought that the design was too awkward and that the idea of a convertible pickup was absurd. Only 2,000 units were sold in two years.

Dodge Charger Daytona/Plymouth Superbird

The Charger Daytona and the Superbird were built to be the best at NASCAR, and they were. As street cars, however, they had radical styling. The rounded noses caps could lead to overheating easily. NASCAR wrote the design out of their rules. Production ceased, with 500 Charger Daytonas and 2,000 Superbirds built. Many Superbirds were converted to Road Runners just to get them off the lots. Today they are among the most valuable of any kind of car, with an all original Superbird recently being sold at over US $200,000 on eBay.

Dodge Rampage

The Dodge Rampage was a mixture of a car and a pickup truck; it was based upon the Dodge Omni. The Rampage was a front-wheel drive truck, which is not normally used for trucks because a heavy load on the rear of the truck can cause traction problems. This is mainly considered to be the downfall of the Rampage, along with a weak engine. Its Plymouth Scamp twin only sold around 2,000 units, making it one of the rarest Plymouths ever created.

Buckminster Fuller's 1933 Dymaxion car

Original and innovative, but a fatal crash and safety issues with rear-wheel steering aborted investor interest and further development. A total of three were built.

Ford Ranger EV

Ford's only electric-powered pickup truck. There were numerous problems with the NiMH battery-equipped Rangers associated with an inability to accept a charge in hot environmental conditions, and some other problems requiring replacement of major components, but Ford successfully addressed these problems early in the vehicle's life cycle. There were some range issues around the 25,000 mile service life with the NiMH batteries, and due to the great expense of these batteries, Ford elected not to fix this range problem (a valid response under the lease terms). Some leases elected to continue the lease despite the shorter range.

Fiat 500 2012 24/7 Wall St called it one of 10 worst flops of 2011

Ford Taurus Ghia

Since its introduction in 1986, the Ford Taurus has been one of Ford's most successful models. But when Ford tried to push the slightly modified Taurus on European and Australian buyers, renamed the "Taurus Ghia", it learned the hard way that just because a car is successful in one market doesn't mean that it will be successful in another.


Introduced in 1996 as a fully electric plug-in car, whose design came mostly from the Saturn division. It proved unpopular aside from aspiring politicians and eco-friendly celebrities. It's fatal flaw was its 100-mile range between recharges. Almost needless to say, sales were in the range of 100 to 200 units. In late 2004, General Motors cancelled all outstanding leases on the EV1s.


Despite the groundbreaking retractable roof feature first seen on the 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire, the XUV failed to sell like in sufficient volume to justify the expense to General Motors to continue marketing the vehicle. This vehicle was discontinued after only 2 years since introduction.

Hudson Jet

With its race proven step-down bodied full-size cars in their sixth year, Hudson gambled almost everything that it had into the development of the Hudson Jet, a compact car designed by committee. While Hudson sold more than 40,000 units, the impact to the bottomline was so negative that the company was forced to merge with rival Nash in 1954 to form American Motors.

Hudson 1956-1957

Following a poor showing in 1955 when Hudson's nameplate was applied to modified Nash bodied cars, AMC hired designer Richard Arbib to create a unique personality for Hudson. The designer christened his design motif as the V-Line Style, which applied liberal amounts of chrome in "V" patterns from front to fin and everything in between. The resulting cars were both grotesque and a burlesque of design gone awry. The public reacted by shunning Hudson, which saw its sales drop to 10,671 units (92% off its 1949 production) for 1956 and just 4,108 in 1957.

Jaguar XJ220

The XJ220 concept car was unveiled to great response. Because of this, Jaguar put it into production to compete with Lamborghini and Ferrari. Jaguar expected it to be the next McLaren F1 or Ferrari F40. But unfortuneately, the XJ220 ended up being a giant embarrasement for the company. In fact, potential buyers were so amazed by the concept, that they gave Jaguar a 50,000 GBP down payment on one, and would pay the rest when they took delievery, but when they were to take delivery of their new XJ220s, they were so appalled by it, that they didn't even care to ask Jaguar for their 50,000 GBP down payments back, but instead just upped and left, leaving Jaguar with the finished car. This turned out being very common, so Jaguar had to rent a storage space to keep 78 finished cars that their owners didn't want, which was roughly a quarter of the XJ220's planned production numbers. Jaguar wanted this disaster to end, so they cut production short, and sold off the 78 cars in storage at very low prices, mostly to collectors, predicting that this would make these cars very collectible in later years. While super sports cars are almost never profitible for the company, the XJ220 turned out to be a major disaster for Jaguar, and a rare flop in the super sports car market. Because of this, XJ220s are today very collectible, and are highly valued.

Leyland P76

Infamous in Australia as a commercial flop.

Lincoln Aviator

The Lincoln Aviator was a mid-size luxury SUV made by Ford's Lincoln luxury marque. Since it looked too much like the Lincoln Navigator, sales were very poor, and it was cut after only 2 years on the market.

Lincoln Blackwood

The Blackwood was intended to be a luxurious version of the Ford F-150, much like the Lincoln Navigator was to the Ford Expedition. A velvet-lined bed, low towing capability, and a single exterior color led to the cancellation of this model after 15 months with 3,356 sold. Lincoln reintroduced a more practical luxury pickup truck, known as the Lincoln Mark LT, for the 2006 model year.

Lincoln Versailles

The Versailles was introduced for the 1977 model year as Lincoln's new mid-size sports sedan, meant to compete with the Cadillac Seville. The vehicle failed however, due to its many similarties in terms of exterior and interior design with its lesser Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch cousins. The Versailles featured the same dashboard and exterior contour as the much cheaper Ford Granada and failed to meet the standards of Lincoln buyers. Lincoln slightly modified the rear sail panels hoping that the modification would reduce the visual relationship to the Grenada and Monarch, however the change failed to attract consumers. Production of the Versailles after the 1980 model year.

Mazda Navajo

The Mazda Navajo was a two-door SUV that was a rebadged Ford Explorer Sport. Even though four-door Explorer sales soared the day it was introduced and became the best-selling SUV in the US, two-door Sport sales were not equally as good, and the Navajo sold poorly. When the Explorer was redesigned in 1995, the Navajo was discontinued and the capacity given over to producing the new Mercury Mountaineer, in 1997.

Mercury Marauder

The Marauder was introduced in 2003 as a modern day muscle car. However, the Marauder suffered from lackluster sales, blamed by some on bland styling, gutless performance, and incorrect target audience. It didn't return for the 2005 model year.

Mitsubishi Raider

This Dodge Dakota clone sold so poorly that Mitsubishi reportedly stopped production after just four months.

Nissan Axxess

Although this model was successful in Canada and Europe (where it was known as the Nissan Prairie), it flopped badly in the United States. Sales were so poor, that Nissan cut this model after its first year on the market, and later brought in the Nissan Quest, which was a successful venture into the minivan market.

NSU Ro 80

A stylish and advanced car that was plagued by early reliability problems with its revolutionary Wankel engine. The resulting financial crisis lead to the company being acquired by Volkswagen.

Oldsmobile 5.7 L diesel engine

Also marketed as the Olds 350 Diesel, it was offered in General Motors automobiles between 1978 and 1985. Because it was a modified gasoline engine rather than a proper diesel design, the unit had a tendency to tear itself apart. So poor was this engine's reliability record that small diesel engines were shunned by U.S. consumers for a generation.

Pontiac Aztek "number one ugliest car of all time"
File:2002-05 Pontiac Aztek.jpg
Conceived as a practical crossover in 2001 before Honda's Pilot or the 2011 Ford Explorer, it was torpedoed by awkward styling which resulted in just over 27,000 sales per year instead of an expected 50,000 to 70,000. GM Vice President Robert Lutz regularly referred to the Aztek as looking like "an angry appliance" and a symptom of what was wrong with GM's vehicle styling programs. The Aztek was heavily criticized on its exterior styling, with Time magazine in 2007 calling the Aztek one of the worst cars of all time,[1] and again in 2010 as the 34th worst invention of all time.[2]A poll in The Daily Telegraph in August 2008 placed the Aztek at number one of the "100 ugliest cars" of all time.[3] Discontinued in 2005. It is sometimes rated favorably as an inexpensive used SUV.

Pontiac Fiero

Originally conceived as a commuter car, the Fiero was initially a sales success. However the car received negative reviews by Car & Driver and Motor Trend magazines for not having enough power in acceleration tests. In mid-course, Pontiac began to remarket the car as a mid-engine sports car. A design defect in the car's 4-cylinder engine caused it to catch fire. While the V6 version didn't suffer from this problem, the Fiero's reputation was damaged, and even after GM worked out all the flaws, sales fell to an unprofitable level. GM discontinued it in 1988. It is, however one of few collectible GM cars of the 1980s.

Renault Avantime "WTF minivan"

Renault teamed up with Matra to build the next modern European MPV. Many buyers didn't like its strange styling which sacrificed passenger room. Matra later went bankrupt, and Renault scrapped the Avantime after two years in production. Only 8,450 Avantimes were produced.

Sinclair C5

A battery-powered tricycle designed by Sir Clive Sinclair.

Subaru SVX

The Subaru SVX was the only production car to date to have an all around glass canopy. The car failed in every market it was sold in due to lack of marketing dollars, concerns of safety in a rollover and radical styling; the car's introduction also came at a time when American consumers were beginning their love affair with SUVs. It was also plagued with known reliability problems due to its heavy weight. Worldwide production of the SVX never topped 40,000 units through a 6 year run. The SVX is one of the few 1990s Japanese collectible cars, resale values have stabilized and they still look sharp.

Suzuki X-90

This 2-seater sporty mini-SUV was not welcomed in the market. Just 7,205 were sold in 3 years, making it among the slowest-selling full-production vehicles in history.

Toyota Project Genesis

A series of three automobiles born in the late-1990s/2000 - which included the Toyota Echo, Toyota MR2 Spyder, and redesigned Toyota Celica - intended to make inroads to the younger Gen Y market segment. All three models failed to meet sales expectations and have been discontinuted in favor of the separate Scion line.

Toyota T-100

Japan's first entry into the large American pickup truck market fell far short due to its weak towing capacity, mid-sized frame, and engine choices of either a large I4 or a small V6.

Vauxhall Firenza hpF

Just 204 built instead of the projected 30,000+. Killed by the fuel crisis, its rarity has at least assured it classic status in modern times.

Volkswagen 411/412

Volkswagen's last rear-engine, air-cooled car as conventional cars dominated and were soon to give way to front-wheel drive. Although it had interesting and novel technologies at the time (MacPherson struts in front, independent rear suspension, fuel injection, a supplemental heater powered by gasoline), the era of the air-cooled car was on the wane, and was only produced from 1969 until July 1974.

Other dishonors: http://ranwhenparked.net/2009/08/26/great-automotive-failures-volkswagen-411412/
Volkswagen Phaeton

The Phaeton was Volkswagen's attempt to compete with other luxury marques, especially fellow German brands such as Mercedes Benz and BMW. Unfortunately, VW had a entry-level image dating back all the way to the beetle, and the fact of a luxury Volkswagen was plain looked at as a joke. [1] Worse than that, the VW Phaeton pitted VW against the Volkswagen Group's own luxury marque, Audi. While it didn't match sales expetations in any of it's markets, sales in Europe have been good enough for production to carry on, although importation to North America has ceased after a three year run, making the Phaeton one of the biggest flops to ever come out of Volkswagen. In fact, reaction to the Phaeton was so bad that Volkswagen completely stopped advertising the Phaeton midway through it's debut year. Jeremy Clarkson summed up the reason why the Phaeton flopped to plainly being that a 68,000 GBP VW was just never meant to be. Despite poor sales, the vehicle itself gets high reviews.


This Yugoslavian car was sold in the United States from 1986 to 1990, and quickly gained a reputation for being as unreliable as it was cheap. It was featured in the movie Dragnet as a punishment for Dan Aykroyd's character's repeated crashing of his cars, and was referred to as "the latest in Serbo-Croatian technology". Yugo has become to cheapness as Lexus has become to quality.



This Korean marque flopped badly in some markets, especially the United States. When Daewoo made its U.S. debut for the 1999 model year, it sold cars through independent contractors on college campuses rather than at conventional dealerships. U.S. sales ended in 2002 when Daewoo Motor America went bankrupt. New owner General Motors has dropped the Daewoo name outside Asia in favor of its Chevrolet brand. However, Daewoo sales have been moderately successful in some regions, such as the UK and Ireland. Daewoo cars are currently being sold in the U.S. as Suzukis and Chevrolets.


The Eagle brand was formed by Chrysler from the remains of AMC, leading to the neighborhood Plymouth / Chrysler / Jeep / Eagle dealer. Aimed at the enthusiast driver, sales of the badge engineered cars faltered and the marque was folded after 11 years. Only the Eagle Talon sports car was a sales success, due in part to the fact that it was the same vehicle as the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Plymouth Laser. The Eagle Premier was a relatively sophisticated large midsize car based on French designs that never caught on, even when rebadged as the Dodge Monaco, but Chrysler saw its potential and the next redesign as the Concorde, Intrepid and Vision replaced the stretched K-cars as its family cars to compete with the Taurus.


One of the biggest and most lavish new car line launches in history quickly became a legendary flop. Just over 100,000 were built in four years. In 1960, Edsel's final model year, only a few thousand were built, enough to use up the parts backstock. It was named after Henry Ford's son.


While this brand is successful in the US, it was a tremendous flop in the UK, mostly because of the fuel costs. They are also so big that they are impractical to maneuver around narrow British roads, as demonstrated by Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeep "The Curse of Jeep"

While the Jeep brand and its basic design layout have survived into the 21st century since WWII, nearly every company that bought Jeep went under or was merged. The first Jeep was developed by The American Bantam Car Company, but the Army gave the plans to Willys. Willys was sold to Kaiser Motors in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. American Motors Corporation(AMC) purchased Kaiser's money-losing Jeep operations in 1970. Chrysler took over AMC in 1987, which has since been saved by Fiat. 


In May 1985, hot on the heels of General Motors announced partnership with Toyota (NUMMI) and the launch of the Geo nameplate, Lee Iacocca announced the formation of the "Liberty", a new Chrysler marque targeting younger, import-loyal car buyers. Before the Liberty could get to the formation stage, Chrysler acquired American Motors for the rights to Jeep, and Liberty quietly disappeared, when Chrysler decieded to launch Eagle as its youth-targeted brand.


This was the U.S. marque of European Fords sold by Mercury dealers. The Scorpio sedan had a a reclining back seat, while the XR4ti was a turbo coupe with biplane spoiler. It lasted only four years because potential buyers instead chose to buy the Mercury Sable, which was sold in the same showrooms, and costed thousands less.


This American version of the British Rover 800 and Honda Legend sold as poorly as the Legend sold well. It suffered from poor build quality, feeble performance and a lack of brand recognition. Sales dropped from 15,000 in 1988 to fewer than 2,000 in 1991.


Preston Tucker's streamlined automobile with a rear engine and then-innovative safety features. Tucker's attempt to launch a major automobile company failed, either due to conspiracy by the major manufacturers, shady financial maneuvers by Tucker or both. A total of 51 were built. The company and cars are today considered to be legends, the object of many toys and collectibles and a major movie.


Jacques Nasser's tenure at Ford

When Nasser became head of Ford, he made pointless investments in small companies in order "To make Ford the number one provider of automobiles and automotive services". His tough business practices alienated Ford employees, suppliers, and dealerships, and the Ford family was also alienated by his poor handling of the controversy over camshaft failure on the Ford Taurus SHO. When he nearly ruined Ford's reputation with the Firestone Tire Controversy, the Ford family had seen enough, and they replaced him with William Clay Ford, Jr. Nasser was the head of Ford for only 3 years.


The open-source Wikipedia has an interesting look at the biggest automotive flops of our time. "The automotive industry has seen its fair share of flops, from models to management people, to entire brands," explains the article. "While some cars flopped for being unreliable (Yugo), others flopped for design defects plaguing the car (Pontiac Fiero), missing their target audience (Edsel, Buick Reatta), poor design (Pontiac Aztek, Acura Vigor), while others don't really have a reason for flopping, but instead they had poor sales (Suzuki X90). Many of these cars however have built a cult following, such as the Plymouth Superbird, AMC Pacer, Pontiac Fiero, and Corvair, or were the genesis for more successful cars such as the Eagle Premier." Like all Wikipedia pages, this one is open for your contributions.


Acura Vigor

The Vigor was a mid-size sedan introduced in 1992 that fit between the Integra sedan and the Legend in Acura's lineup. Sales were slow due to the car's 5-cylinder engine, small size, and poor interior design. It was cancelled after only 3 years in production.

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