From commie cars to Camaro’s that run zero to 60 in 20 seconds, history is full of absolutely terrible cars. So today, we’re going to look at some of the worst cars ever and see just what makes each one so terrible.
#1 Chevrolet Corvair
Alright, getting straight into it, let’s take a look at a car that I lowkey love for some inexplicable reason and that’s the Chevy Corvair.
I know for a lot of the younger viewers out there, you’ve probably never even heard of this car or seen one driving around because, well, most of these cars are dead now.
When the Corvair made its debut in 1960, it made a big splash and turned lots of heads with its unconventional exterior design.
But it didn’t stop there because it was also mechanically unconventional too, with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.
It was really that unique rear-engine layout that allowed the Corvair to have the sleek, low-profile body that it does.
And compared to just about any other car from this timeframe, the design of the Corvair was so far ahead of its time that I almost don’t want to put this car on this list.
On the underside of the body, though, GM did some more unconventional things with the suspension, which ultimately gave it very odd and frankly unsafe handling characteristics.
What do I mean by this?
Well, the Corvair used a swing-axle suspension design, which in certain situations could very easily lead to oversteer. And this whole thing really gained attention with Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which criticized Corvair’s safety.
Chevy later made significant safety improvements to the Corvair in the form of a fully independent rear suspension layout.
They also made big improvements on the braking system, plus they added a collapsible steering column as well as seat belts.
You might think it’s weird to mention a steering column when it comes to vehicle safety. And it is weird, but the Corvair needed it because the earlier models had a steering column that could impale you in the case of a front-end crash.
There were other problems with the Corvair, but you get the point.
It was hard to drive, easy to crash, and really unsafe when you did crash. Still, though, I want one. What’s wrong with me?
#2 AMC Gremlin
This next car I’m pretty everyone has heard of at some point or another, usually as some sort of joke or funny story and that’s the AMC Gremlin.
Now this is quite a curious vehicle because its proportions are hilariously odd for a compact car. And there’s actually a reason for that.
At the time that AMC brought this car to market, they were pretty well in the weeds, and even worse, American car buyers were shifting to smaller subcompact cars.
So, if AMC wanted to beat Ford and/or GM to the punch, they needed to come up with a car quickly.
And so they did.
They took a car they were already offering to the public, the AMC Hornet, and basically said screw it, let’s chop it in half.
The result is what you see in front of you, a long and low hood, long front overhang, and bobbed tail.
On the bright side, though, it was pretty cheap at $1,879, which is about $15,000, with today’s buying power.
On the downside, it was cheap for a reason. The Gremlin was void of anything fancy, including suspension.
And when you combine cheap suspension with a short wheelbase, you end up with some pretty bad handling, particularly at the rear of the car where lack of suspension travel could very easily cause you to spin out.
With odd proportions, scary handling, cheap construction, and lack of any real creature comforts, it’s safe to say the AMC Gremlin is quite the turd.
Honestly, though, the Gremlin was actually decent on performance and it’s not actually as terrible as it’s made out to be.
#3 Yugo GV
Now this next car I had quite literally never heard of until about a week ago at the bar, and that’s the Yugo GV, aka the commie car. The Commie Car name is even funnier because it was sold during the Reagan era.
Either way, the Yugo’s arrival to the States was put together by one Malcolm Bricklin, a man who had previously gone bust in multiple other automotive-related companies.
Somehow some way, he convinced Crvena Zastava, a communist Yugoslavian automaker, to make Yugos that would appeal to Americans so that he could sell them, but also to keep the price cheap, selling the cars for as little as $4,400.
But, as we’ve seen with other small automakers, setting up shop in the US automobile market is basically impossible for new companies, and unfortunately, Yugo suffered the same fate.
That being said, though, a total of 141k units were produced, but by 1992 sales had dropped down to just 1,412 units. This came among lots of criticisms over safety, build quality, design, reliability, and so on.
Basically, it looked and felt like a car that was slapped together with random bolts and pieces and could break at any moment, which is really a shame because the company behind this car is quite interesting, with a history in arms production and even producing licenses Jeeps from Willys at one point.
Still, though, the Yugo GV is basically the cheapest little sh*tbox ever, but it’s actually got quite the cult following, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see communists somewhere in the comments section.
#4 Pontiac Aztek
This next car you might recognize because it’s Walter White’s sh*tbox when he had no money or taste.
You already know what it is. It’s the Pontiac Aztek. From the second it debuted, it was perceived as a hideous vehicle. At no point did anyone ever think this was a good idea.
But aside from the terrible exterior design, the Aztek, functionally, isn’t a terrible vehicle. I hate that I just said that, but it’s the truth.
The sole reason this car is a terrible car, is because it’s absolutely hideous. Plain and simple.
Supposedly the GM designers behind this car had to compromise on the initial design and eventually, it morphed into this plastic covered faux-SUV that quite literally looks like something a little kid would draw if you asked them to design a car.
Except somehow, I’m pretty sure a little kid could draw up something less ugly than the Aztek.
Regardless, this car is so unbearably ugly and universally hated that it’s actually become somewhat of a cult car for those who dare to be wildly different than the norm.
Or just people who want to look like Walter White.
#5 Plymouth Prowler
Moving from Pontiac to Plymouth, let’s take a look at the coolest worst car ever with the Prowler. I never thought in my life I would say anything positive about the Prowler, but here we are.
Now this is a funky car you’ve probably seen around once or twice. It’s supposed to pay homage to hot rods of the past while also being fully modern underneath. And when it first came around in 1997, it immediately generated a lot of buzz and attention.
But there was one problem. The retro design. The throwback to hotrods of the old days. That attracted a certain type of buyer, namely Boomers. And you know what Boomers love more than anything? A V8 engine. And guess what the Prowler didn’t have? A V8 engine.
I mean, seriously, how the heck can they design and put together a car like this and give then shove a V6 engine into the front of it? Sure, it’s not a bad engine outright, but it should’ve been a V8 from the start.
That problem is made even worse by the fact that it wasn’t available with a manual transmission.
And it’s not like it had a decent automatic transmission, either. The unfortunate truth is that the Prowler was all bark and no bite.
Throughout its four-year production run, Plymouth built approximately 11,000 units of the Prowler, which has since helped this become somewhat of a cult car.
Honestly, one of these cars setup as a drift car would be pretty interesting. But only for the fact that it’s wrong in all the right ways.
#6 Iron Duke Camaro
This next car we’ve briefly looked at in previous articles and videos. And that’s the third generation of Chevy’s iconic Camaro.
And not just any third gen in particular, but specifically the Iron Duke Camaros, with their 2.5L Iron Duke engine outputting a whopping 85hp.
I seriously can’t believe they offered the Camaro with this engine, but in this specific context, it actually makes sense.
In the 1970s, fuel prices were out of control and Americans wanted more fuel-efficient cars. What better to make some money than to take your existing pony car and give it a smaller engine?
It has all the looks of the big boy pony car while also being light on your wallet. At least, that’s the theory. But, with just 85hp, there’s no amount of fuel saving that will offset the poor performance.
And you might think I’m exaggerating about this car having poor performance.
But, it’s worse than you think, with a lightning-fast 0-60 time of 20 seconds. And even worse than that, it had a terrible three-speed transmission behind it.
If this thing had a manual, you could at least clutch kick it or something to have some fun.
But with 85hp going through a three-speed auto, I don’t think the Iron Duke Camaro is going to do much hooning.
#7 Ford Pinto
Next up on this list of terrible cars is the Ford Pinto, but it’s not here for the reason you’d expect.
Sure, it’s another dinky subcompact America car with funny proportions and overall just goofy looking, but other than that, it actually wasn’t a bad car, that is, until you got in a rear collision.
With this car in particular, there was a lot of criticism around the design of the fuel tank, which was more vulnerable than it should’ve been and could become punctured in the case of a rear engine collision. The result is obviously fuel leakage and often the car burning to the ground.
Obviously, this is horribly unsafe and you’d think that Ford would take care of this issue and ultimately take care of their customers, whether doing it honorably by themselves or being forced through the US justice system.
But they didn’t.
In fact, Ford executives knew about these potential safety issues two years before the car was released to the public, which allegedly circled through Ford’s senior management team.
The memo was later leaked to the public and showed that Ford had done the math on either recalling these cars for the safety issue or leaving them as is, literally putting their customers’ lives in danger.
They figured out is way cheaper to let these cars burn, so they did.
And it’s pretty messed up that Ford knew the Pinto was a flaming deathtrap and did nothing about it.
Regardless, it’s safe to say the Pinto is one of the worst cars ever.
#8 Reliant Robin
This next car you may have seen on your TV at some point while watching a show known as Top Gear.
And if you’ve seen the Top Gear episode before, you know exactly why this car is on this list, and that’s the Reliant Robin. The strange and unconventional tiny British car with just three wheels.
Unfortunately, they put the single wheel on the wrong axle. If you’ve ever ridden a three-wheeler, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s absolute pain.
And for those who haven’t figured it out by now, the Reliant Robin is on this list because it’s hilariously easy to tip over.
But despite its weird quirks and the tendency to quite literally tip over if you turn too sharp, the Reliant is still loved to this day.
It’s another very weird cult car and is particularly loved by this who just like doing things differently.
Seriously though, it’s actually an interesting car in automotive history, but it’s still terribly unsafe.