POSTED BY: Ken Hehmeyer
Actually, any Fiat would probably rank high (low?) in any "worst cars" list.But the 850 Spider was especially bad because it was actually a really nice-looking car and was something of a babe magnet, so hopeful (read:horny) idiots like me kept pouring money into it in a futile attempt tokeep it operational for more than a few days at a time. They not onlylooked like toy cars, they were designed and built as though they weretoys. It does not surprise me that the Italians had some problems in WWII,especially if anybody connected with Fiat was involved.
POSTED BY: Carl Eilo
Even though I purchased a new MGB in the mid-70s, I immediately found aneed for a sack to collect the parts that fell off the car the firstweek I owned it. Although it ran poorly, overheated constantly and wastotally unreliable, I did learn how to work on cars as an MGB owner. Eversince, I've wondered how I would react if I stepped onto an airplane or spaceshuttle and saw Lucas gauges, realizing that the pilot would be "flyingblind."
POSTED BY: Bob
I'd have to vote for the 1974 Chevy Vega in this category. As near asI could tell, the car was built from compressed rust. The windowsleaked and the engine had to be rebuilt annually. It had noacceleration and was too small for a full-size human. I can'tthink of one good thing about that car, except perhaps that usedones were very cheap.
It was a great starter car--for a mechanic.
POSTED BY: Steve Sozanski
The Chrysler Reliant qualifies as a true oxymoron and one of the worst carsof the millennium. This series could be the poster child for underbuiltcars: Door hinges welded to the frame and the door with hinge pins thediameter of vermicelli. Door handles made of pot metal that break off inyour hand. A suspension package that after 30,000 or 40,000 miles feelslike driving in a tornado six inches off the ground. More rattles than ababies convention. All and all, trash. But I do have to give my worstvote to Yugo, and second to the early Hyundais with the blow-apart motorsand fall-apart transmissions.
Just a note on your Friday column in my local paper. As a fan of oldVolkswagen buses, I think they have a special place as bad engineering thatwas fun. But my real question for you is: If the driver's "front legs"were the "first line of defense in an accident," where were his back legs?
POSTED BY: Bob Friedman
I'm a former college professor turned attorney. I used to teach, amongother things, business ethics. The Pinto was a reliable case study,discussion-starter and general bad example of moral reasoning.
As an attorney, I know that the Pinto made both product-liability andcriminal-law history. (Ford got a not-guilty verdict when they wereprosecuted in a small town in Indiana. Big surprise: they spent a ton ofmoney on their defense--probably more than the county's entire yearlybudget!)
The Pinto is the only car I know that lends itself so well to infamy inboth my careers. A car that kills, maims and scars for want of a known,dirt-cheap fix has got to be the worst. It is a car that will live ininfamy.
POSTED BY: Loren Orvik
The Chevy Vega has my vote as the worst car of the last 1,000 years. My1975 Vega actually broke in half going over railroad tracks in North LittleRock, Arkansas. I knew something was wrong from the cracking-splittingsound, and even more so when I tried to shift down for a stoplight--thewhole rear end of the car came around, slightly, to the front. Sort oflike a dog wagging its tail. This action was even worse when I applied thebrakes. I drove the car--very slowly and carefully--to the Chevy dealerthere, and they put it up on the rack. There I discovered, to my horrorand that of the repairman, that the entire frame on both sides had crackedfrom the wheels up.
POSTED BY: Ingrid
Dad had a baby-poop-orange Pinto around 1974, the year the Car Thieves hit our block. In one night a dozen cars were stolen (this in a relatively crime-free neighborhood). They broke into Dad's Pinto, started to pull out the ignition, then figured (dope slap) "What the hell am I doing?" The car was there the next morning, on a strangely empty street ...
POSTED BY: Jack Kryst
My nominee for Worst Car of the Millennium is the 1970 (or was it'71?) Plymouth Cricket. This mini-compact was manufactured in Japan by acompany that carefully refrained from identifying itself. The car was thefirst fully biodegradable vehicle. It began to recycle itself as soon asthe purchase agreement was signed. Most major moving parts were replaced inthe first year, and the car literally spent more time in the dealer's garagethan in mine during its first year. There was no second year of production.
POSTED BY: Andy Gallien
The 1972 Ford Galaxy was the only car I know of that would let you watch the road slip by through the gap between the front and rear doors. Rear-seat passengers would freeze from the wind that blew in on winter days and roast on summer days. Interestingly enough, Dick Butkus needed a 15-yard charge toget the doors to slam shut.
Add to that nonexistent handling, feeble brakes, rotten mileage, rottensheet metal and 10 miles to the gallon, highway.
The Renault Dauphine should not be considered since it was not a real car,but rather the French government's covert attempt to reduce traffic inParis. They figured only one in 10 would be running at any one time.