There are some amazing cars that have rolled off production lines, then there are those that became the most hated on the planet. What makes a car bad? This depends upon your personal preferences in some cases, but in general, cars that don’t perform well, along with those that have defects that classify them as lemons, the ones that are so ugly you’re embarrassed to drive them, and vehicles that have earned a bad rap for one reason or another, are what we consider to be the worst cars ever, and here are the top 20.
1978 AMC Concord
The 1978 AMC Concord was high on the list of the worst cars ever made because it was one of the models that were notorious for throwing bolts out on the freeway and for falling apart. Although it was originally intended to be a luxury car that was affordable, and it did come with air conditioning, reclining seats with premium materials and a red vinyl roof, the shock absorbs were found to be lacking. Backseat riders had a rough experience and the roof liner had a tendency to sag due to the poor glue job performed at the factory. This was one of the worst cars ever made.
1913 – Booth Bi -Autogo
The Bi-Autogo was an experiment that James Scripps-Booth made to discover if he had a talent for automotive engineering. In essence, the Bi-Autogo was a V-8 engine with a ton of copper tubing which was mounted on a two-wheeled motorcycle. It weighed 3,200 pounds and was held up by 37-inch wooden wheels. There were issues with the balance and the car would fall over if the driver didn’t use the outriggers to lower small wheels for stabilization. This massive flop was made in Detroit and does enjoy the historical significance of being the first V8 automobile, but it was an engineering nightmare that was possibly one of the worst vehicles ever made, and we mean EVER, of all-time, but there are nineteen others that elicited even more disgust among drivers.
1909 Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is credited with putting America on wheels and changing our way of life forever, but the mass-produced vehicle was not without its issues. The design was crude, to say the least, and although a forerunner of the modern automobile, the metal was hammered by blacksmiths to create the panels and it was every bit as much a junker as the more modern Yugo, which you’ll see later on in our listing of the worst cars ever.
1934 Chrysler/Desoto Airflow
There were some good thoughts behind the design of the Chrysler Desoto Airflow. It was streamlined and highly stylized but the appearance during the 1930’s seemed to irk the American public. They didn’t like the look of it. Having said this, there were those who were willing to give it a chance anyway, but when some of the engines literally fell out of the chassis, the construction techniques came into question and it was labeled a big yellow lemon, and never recovered from the debacle. It went down in the history books as one of the worst cars ever made
1976 Plymouth Volare/Dodge Aspen
Take your pick of these two vehicles, because they were essentially the same car with a different brand/model name. Chrysler made them be compact cars with affordable prices. If you take a look at the history of these vehicles, you’ll see all of the recalls that made them an engineering embarrassment, not to mention that they had a big tendency to rust out fast.
1954 Nash Metropolitan
The old joke parents made to their teens is that if they didn’t behave, their first car would be a Nash. There’s a reason for this. It was poorly designed and the assembly of the vehicle left a lot to be desired. It was a slow heap of mismatched metal with a 1.2-liter engine that lacked power, and it even tipped when going around corners. One of the biggest bombs in automotive history and definitely one of the worst cars ever made.
1975 AMC Pacer
AMC has had its share of lemons and the 1975 Pacer is one that has gone down in history as one of the worst cars ever made and sold to the public. First of all, the six-cylinder drive train they used was horribly outdated, next, it was one of the ugliest cars ever produced. The design team needed a refresher course in stylization when they built this glass laden terrarium. The Pacer still remains one of the most hated cars in the USA.
1982 Renault Fuego
The Fuego was a sporty-looking coupe with a fancy name, but that’s where the benefits ended. This became one of the most hated cars because of its poor design and materials, which made it a big lemon. They should have all been painted yellow as a warning. The car had a tendency to erupt into flames from the poor electrical design, the steering wheels would literally fall off in the hands of the drivers and the metals used were subpar as they rusted quickly. Not a car you’d want to own on the coast.
1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel
The 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel came with a stock 4.3-liter diesel engine. It was supposed to be an improvement over the old 5.7-liter V8. The problem was that the engine would blow up when it made 90 hp in power surging, which meant that it was a big piece of junk that frustrated drivers to the point of sheer hatred.
2003 Saturn Ion
The Saturn Ion was another big flop that showed promise of being a cool and trendy new car, but it disappointed in a major way. The major drawback to this vehicle was in its design, which was followed by the inferior materials used in its build. The Saturn was made of plastic body panels and there were some big gaps in the body. Drivers also complained about the cheap interior to summarize the fact that this car was nothing short of a big mistake.
2013 Dodge Dart
The Dart has received a fair amount of derision from the populous because of its small bucket seats that offered a tight fit for the driver as well as for the passenger. This was a car that was a throwback to the 1970s and it failed to impress anyone who got behind the wheel or who had the misfortune of riding in the cramped seating arrangements, and it’s definitely not a vehicle that a person of any size could be comfortable in. They continued producing the model for three years before Dodge realized that it was time to retire the Dart, especially when there were much better cars available at affordable prices.
All Yugo models (1985-1992)
The Yugo was one of the worst cars made in automotive history. This brand became the butt of a lot of jokes and it appeared on several lists denoting “worst cars.” We’ve all seen them in foreign films and a few of them even made their way into the United States from the mid-1980’s through the early 1990’s. They sold for about $4,000 and featured a 1.1-liter engine with a pitiful 55 horsepower for a slow and slugging ride. They were made with a lot of cheap plastic on the interior, and even the carpeting didn’t bring them up on the value scale.
2007 PT Cruiser
The PT Cruiser was popular with a small segment of the population, but for the most part, it was a vehicle that got made fun of on a regular basis, and it’s not solely because of the fact that it looks like a box traveling down the freeway. There were some definite defects which annoyed drivers including the fact that some of them would shut off for no apparent reason, even when going at the speed limit on the freeway. There have been other reported incidences such as the horn honking and the alarm going off without an apparent cause. This became one of the most hated cars in America just a few years after its initial release, and although some choose to drive them still, the majority would like to see them off the road for good.
2001 Pontiac Aztek
The Aztek, Pontiac’s most badly misspelled vehicle is another cultural lemon. The model was intended to be hip and trendy, but when it appeared on “Breaking Bad,” this show pretty much summed up the public sentiment for the vehicle. The design made it hideous to behold and even more embarrassing to drive, and if you wanted to get back at your teenager, this was the car you gave them for your sixteenth birthday.
1988 Eagle Premier
The Eagle Premier was also marketed as the Dodge Monaco. It was made and sold between 1988 and 1992, and it was one of the bigger mistakes made by American Motors and Renault until Chrysler bought out Chrysler and developed the Eagle brand just to market this unpopular vehicle under a new brand. Remember that the Eagle Premier got its start as a Dodge Monaco so you can lump these two together in the absolutely worst cars ever built and marketed. This car has been teh topic of Autoweek’s derision as they commented it wasn’t reliable and when you experienced the inevitable mechanical issues, you couldn’t find a shot that serviced it. The Eagle Premier came in as Edmunds “98th worst car of all time” and they called it a “boring box.” There were several other significant bad reviews on the car.
1997 Ford Escort
The Ford Escort was a big bomb in Europe during the early 1990’s. The major complaint was its lack of power, and although it was a best seller in the 1980s, by the time that the next decade began, it was considered a low-performance vehicle with an outdated and aging design. It was bland, handled poorly and offered an uncomfortable ride. It got some bad press so Ford gave it a face lift and fixed the power issue with a new higher performance engine which quelled the public outcries, prior to its discontinuation in 2000, after the Focus had established a niche in the market.
1971 Ford Pinto
The Pinto was manufactured from 1971 through 1980. Some compared driving it to fly in an apple box, but this wasn’t the worst thing about it. If the car was rear-ended by another driver, it had a tendency to burst into flames. This was discovered to be because of a defect in the design of the fuel tank. The Pinto became one of the most hated cars around and although it was a total bust, they kept producing it and selling it to buyers who didn’t want to spend much money for a small car. It was awarded several booby prizes as one of the worst cars in teh world by CNN, Autoblog, International Business Times, Car Talk, Edmunds, and many others.
1970 AMC Gremlin
The AMC Gremlin was built from 1970-78. It was shorter than the AMC Hornet and built upon its platform. It was oddly styled and had the appearance of a box. The technology was so badly outdated that it became the laughing stock of the automotive world. This car was so famously bad that it made it to Time magazine’s list of the 50 worst cars of all time. It was a design nightmare and it was cheaply built. Numerous automotive magazines and reviewers placed it on their most horrible car lists and most couldn’t resist adding the fact that it’s one of the ugliest cars ever built.
1971 Chevrolet Vega
The Chevy Vega was made from 1971 through 1977 and it was first named as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. Sales flourished, but as time went on, reliability went down to a low place and the reputation of the car went down the tubes. One of the bigger issues was the engine design and the fact that it was prone to corrosion and engine failure. The Chevrolet Vega took its place on several magazines’ worst cars lists including Forbes, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics and others. Some even called it an embarrassing car to drive.
1958 Edsel Corsair
The Edsel was built in 1958. It was one of Ford’s big endeavors and it was intended to be different from the crowd, and it was. Even though it came with automatic lubrication and self-adjusting brakes, these were not enough to make the oddball design a favorite with the public. It never caught on with drivers and it became a huge commercial failure. Although it wasn’t a horrible car, it was so undervalued with the public that it became the butt of everyone’s joke. The worst aspects were the looks of the car. It may in fact be the ugliest car ever produced and there were few who were willing to try to overcome their repulsion to give it an honest shake. The Edsel Corvair has also made several worst cars ever lists.