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The 10 Worst Car Brands in History

When you review automobile history, some car brands have made the world question the thought process behind several of their car designs or even the logic of creating cards in the first place. A few of these manufacturers have notoriously produced the worst car brand in the world

The worst car brands are ranked based on how bad the vehicle models in question were globally and whether or not these companies are still in production. Furthermore, each vehicle was ranked based on factors like safety and the potential risk they caused each driver.

So, those on the bottom of the list still produce vehicles, but those labeled as the worst have fallen to other companies or themselves. Here's a look at our picks for the worst car brands in history (with their most failed vehicle). Some of the vehicles here might surprise you!

Our Methodology Section

When examining the worst car brands, we took a lot of factors into consideration. It might be surprising to see some of the biggest names on this list, but we do a lot of research to ensure we get it right. Of course, all lists like this have some subjectivity, but we do what we can to ensure that they're as accurate as possible by following an in-depth research and writing process, which includes:

  • Checking our previously published articles and examining their accuracy
  • Doing more outside research to determine whether or not the rankings still stand 
  • Updating the list with new information, including details about specific vehicles
  • Continually changing the list through the years to keep it relevant 
  • Sharing information with our customers to ensure they know the score

The 10 Worst Car Brands in the World 

These are just 10 of the worst vehicle brands on the market today, and other manufacturers might make this list someday. So keep your eyes open and your hands on the wheel while car shopping. Without any further ado, let's dive into the 10 worst car brands to gauge why they're so rotten and which vehicles of theirs you should avoid if you see them rusting in a car lot somewhere.

10. Ford – The Infamous Ford Pinto

While Ford is still an active and thriving car brand in Western countries, it is one of the worst car brands in history because of a few car designs since the Model T. Of course, Ford has created a lot of great vehicles in its time but has also surprisingly produced quite a few duds that are worth examining.

The biggest regret of Ford Motor Company was the Ford Pinto, a compact car that was very different from other models at the time. It was smaller, a little more fuel efficient, and, while not attractive, was designed to appeal to a market interested in saving money. 

Unfortunately, the Ford Pinto was known to be the most dangerous vehicle in history because of the fuel tank. If someone were in an accident with this vehicle, the Pinto would burst into flames because of the insecurities in the fuel tank. It happened to more than one person and impacted Ford for years.

The Ford Edsel was another model meant to stand out as a mid-economy option but was over-glorified by the company. This model was hyped up by the Ford Motor Company to be the next big thing but flopped just a few years later. It was overly designed and didn’t appeal to the average person. 

Its failure was so complete that it inspired an episode of The Simpsons highlighting this idea. When your car is so bad that it shows up on a show like this, you know that a manufacturer has made a big mistake and likely deserves to be on this list. 

9. Suzuki – X90 Model

For decades, Suzuki sold cheap, compact, and poorly designed vehicles across the globe. Even though they produced certain types of vehicles, such as various kinds of high-quality motorcycles, they were the worst car brand in the world in many ways and remains that way. 

Today, you can’t purchase a Suzuki in North America because the models are progressively worse. This fact is surprising because Suzuki produced a lot of compact models. Such an approach should provide some benefits, right? Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.

Unfortunately, even as the car industry shifted to more compact designs, Suzuki failed safety and mechanical tests. As a result, the quality and reliability of this brand have forced it to only sell cars in certain parts of the world, like India and Japan, due to lower prices. 

The worst Suzuki model was the X90, and like many of the different Suzuki models, there were many issues with the timing chain and extensive engine failures. It was considered a weird blend of a Honda Del Sol and a Jeep Wrangler and looked pretty ugly and drove very poorly. 

Ironically, the X90 was one of the first cars to be called a sports utility vehicle. In this way, it birthed a segment that was easily one of the worst cars ever produced in that sector. That’s a strange fact that makes the X90 worth remembering but not driving.

8. Fiat Motors – Multipla

Gaining its popularity as a compact coupe, Fiat does not rate well in terms of safety. It is known for its small size, limiting the number of safety measures in this vehicle. While some people will rave to you about the Fiat, they are a niche manufacturer in most parts of the world.

Unfortunately, while other small coupe competitors have found ways to improve safety, Fiat has not made many advancements. Reliability is another concern, as many owners express issues with the brand once it reaches 30,000 miles. That’s a pretty low level of miles to notice problems!

Fortunately, there are not as many mechanical issues as technology-based and navigation issues plaguing this brand. Chief among its failures was the Fiat 600 Multipla. It’s often been called one of the ugliest cars in the world, and if you see it in action, you’ll understand why that’s the case.

The Multipla is rather unappealing and built with a broad windshield, a stocky front, a broad overall width, and an awkward bumper. It has a few interesting innovations that surprisingly make it an appealing collector’s item, but it’s not the car most people will enjoy. 

When it was initially produced, it won both Car of the Year honors and Ugliest Car of the Year awards. That’s a strange dichotomy that shows how awkward the Multipla is and what kind of strange and unique people enjoy buying and collecting it.

7. Quandt Group - Amphicar

Car history is filled with strange failures, awkward concepts, and other unusual ideas that simply didn’t work out. For example, there was a manufacturer who decided that the world really needed an amphibious vehicle. That’s right: someone built a car that could drive in water. 

What in the world is behind this story? Well, over in Germany, the historical Amphicar Model 770 was made in the 1960s, a hybrid between car and boat. It was actually originally designed as a Nazi war vehicle, which should give you an idea as to the brilliant minds at work on this vehicle.

Unfortunately for Quandt Group, there just wasn’t that big of a demand for this type of vehicle. To put it bluntly, it was a complete failure as a niche product, though ironically, it’s probably the kind of thing that might do well in specific markets today, such as luxury or quirky vehicle buyers.

While it failed miserably as an automobile, it did make history, with only a few thousand built over the decade. Hilariously, President Lyndon B. Johnson owned one and liked to drive it around on his Texas ranch lake. Besides this one major enthusiast, the Amphicar wasn’t a great success. 

As you might expect, this model began to fizzle out with mechanical problems on the automobile part of the car. That much water on a vehicle is never a great idea, and it wore down the car’s struts and steering elements pretty quickly, leading to serious damage risks. 

The Amphicar used front-wheel steering even on water, which wore down the front axles pretty quickly and had issues with the overall steering. Interestingly, this vehicle wasn’t a completely out-of-the-blue idea, as the Automoboat was an early predecessor that also failed to catch on with the market.

6. American Motors – Gremlin

American Motors, or AMC, was a large car brand that developed some pretty poor car designs for several decades. One of those has become a pop culture icon, the Gremlin. Declared a “dorky” car by Motortrend, it was a surprisingly successful vehicle that was “..arguably AMC’s smartest car. 

As arguably the worst car brand in the world for decades, it had many problems. Most people found it a very hard vehicle to ride in, especially for long commutes. Sure, it had a nice compact shape and was available at a reasonable price, but it simply didn’t drive well.

Unfortunately, there was limited to no suspension in the rear, so the gears would feel choppy as they shifted. It was also very loud, with a large six-cylinder engine in the front, so you could hear it coming long before you saw it. Hilariously, it still sold many copies and kept AMC in business. 

However, this vehicle wasn't the only bad design produced by AMC during its brief reign of terror. The Pacer was meant to give more space to passengers with asymmetrical doors, but the reality was that anything stored in the back would fall out once that door was opened.

While it looked a bit like a cousin to the Gremlin, the Pacer was nowhere near as successful. In fact, its flop was so huge that it drove AMC out of business. Indie Auto says, "AMC Head Roy D. Chapin Jr. displayed remarkable recklessness in how he approached the car’s design and marketing.”

5. Triumph Motor Company – Triumph Stag

While the design of the Triumph Stag wasn't responsible for its fall, poor engineering on behalf of Triumph Motor Company was responsible for this model and others failing over time. Ultimately, TMC’s inability to properly adapt to the market led to its failure and the death of the brand.

As one of the worst car brands in the world, Triumph made a lot of mistakes. The Stag was undoubtedly its biggest. Its long timing chain was slowly rowed in the engine and must be replaced almost every other year. That alone is bad enough to make this a rough car

However, if the chain happened to break before it could be replaced, the damage would extend to other parts, and the pistons in the engine would need to be repaired in addition to a new break. So, while some claim it’s a classic car, most believe it's among the worst car brands in the world.

The Stag truly became more trouble than it was worth. The Stag was short-lived, and Triumph Motor Company stopped production of all models in the early 2000s. Eventually, the company went out of business entirely, and its many vehicles became obscure and expensive collector’s items.

4. Morgan Motor Company – Plus 8 Propane

While trying to maintain competition with other growing motor companies, the Plus 8 Propane model caused the Morgan Motor Company to bow out after this model's failure. As one of the worst car brands, Morgan Motor Company tried to create a unique and attractive style. 

The Plus 8 Propane utilized a sleek style that tried to look elegant and demure. It was a narrow vehicle that looked much like a British sports vehicle. It used propane for fuel, which was a unique idea at the time. However, it just didn’t take off for various common issues. 

Not long after purchasing one of the Plus 8 Propane models, pools of propane would paddle behind the rear bumper and cause extensive mechanical issues. For a manufacturer that was allegedly focused on quality and beauty, that was a major blow to the manufacturer. 

They had the right spirit to move to propane and seek out a different fuel source, but the execution was not ideal, and the new emission requirements were enough to stop all car production. Since then, MMC has gone through many ups and downs. 

3. Trabant – 1975 Trabant

Trabant, a small motor company out of East Germany, only produced models using distinctive compact designs. However, from the first day of production to the time they closed, Trabant did not make any improvements to the different models, and they all started having the same issues of excess exhaust.

In fact, Trabant is still considered one of the worst car brands in the world, with Fee Stories saying the Trabant was a “...dreadful vehicle produced from 1957 to 1990.” It stayed open that long because it operated behind the Iron Curtain, and few alternatives were available.

Throughout the years that these cars were produced, they never went any faster than 60 mph and did not carry essentials such as seatbelts and turn signals. As other car brands continued to advance over the years, Trabant fell behind until they finally fell off the list of competitors.

So, while some might consider them “classic” or even a collector’s item, they’re best left to rust in German auto lots. We strongly urge you not to give in to the desire to own one of these strange cars because finding a running model is harder than ever and very expensive.

2. Smart GmbH – ForTwo Smart Car

The irony of the Smart Car that came into production in the early 2000s is that it wasn't very smart. It was a short-lived production but created much buzz as one of the most compact car options. The ForTwo Smart car was the most popular model and wasn't much bigger than a golf cart. 

Only two seats were installed, and the best thing about this car was the great gas mileage it got when gas prices were on the rise. Everything else about this car, however, was dangerous and just not smart at all. There were no real safety features, and injuries were expected in all accidents.

These and other issues caused Smart to fail very quickly. It never really overcame these problems and is now mostly known as one of the worst car brands in the world. It’s hard for a car to be successful when they’re unsafe and don’t live up to the hype created by the manufacturer.

1. Zastava Motors – The Yugo

For many countries worldwide, the Yugo, produced by Zastava Motors, is probably the worst car in history, making Zastava Motors one of the worst car brands. Eventually, production was sold to Fiat Motors, another manufacturer that’s ironically also on this list. 

This small designed car housed a large V8 engine but was made with very cheap materials. Wear and tear on the Yugo began immediately after purchase and continued deteriorating. Its safety issues were legendary and made driving the Yugo akin to gambling with your life every time you drive.

Despite having an oversized motor, the Yugo was very slow and had a rough ride, making it a true example of getting what you pay for. The only draw to purchasing a Yugo was its price point. The amount of repair and fuel costs would make up for that later over time.

Amazingly, even after 40 years since Zastava stopped producing the Yugo, it’s still considered the worst car brand of all time. The fascinating thing is that you can still find some models operating throughout various parts of Europe, which is almost impossible to believe is true.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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