100 Worst Cars of All Time

The Awful, Hideous, Heinous Lumps That Shaped Our World


  • 2006 Pontiac Solstice Picture

    2006 Pontiac Solstice Picture

    100. 2006 Pontiac Solstice: Star-crossed idea executed with parts bin technology, a ridiculous top, goofy cockpit and a trunk taxed by a single T-shirt. It was supposed to save Pontiac. Instead this overweight, underpowered, crudely engineered P.O.S. helped kill it. | December 09, 2011

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If there weren't bad cars, how could the world appreciate the good ones? Since we already went through the Top 100 Vehicles of All-Time, here's a look at some truly awful vehicles. Some of them were fragile. Many were dynamically iffy. A lot were underpowered. And a few would melt into a pile of rust before your eyes.

Terrible, for this list's purposes, is loosely defined as a car that shaped current American automotive culture around its bad example. That doesn't mean that all the cars here were big sellers, only that their undeniable stink made everyone notice.

The diabolical nature of these machines, however, is that there's a good idea at the heart of all of them. But it's a good idea betrayed by half-effort engineering, haphazard quality and cynical compromises.

100. 2006 Pontiac Solstice: Star-crossed idea executed with parts bin technology, a ridiculous top, goofy cockpit and a trunk taxed by a single T-shirt. It was supposed to save Pontiac. Instead this overweight, underpowered, crudely engineered P.O.S. helped kill it.

99. 1967 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe: Neat little two-door ruined by the lousy Russian-made steel Fiat used. Rust was standard equipment on every 124 Sport Coupe.

98. 1988 Eagle Premier: AMC's last gasp was this boring box built around the Renault 25 chassis. Also sold as the Dodge Monaco for no apparent reason.

97. 1999 Daewoo Nubira: For a brief, not-so-shining moment, Korea's Daewoo sold cars in the United States. No one noticed and the Nubira is why.

96. 1992 Acura Vigor: A clumsy, redressed Accord with a longitudinally mounted five-cylinder engine. It was the first of too many Acuras that have been easy to dislike.

95. 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP: Shoving a 303-horsepower, 5.3-liter LS4 V8 into the front-drive Grand Prix was silly. Having front tires wider than the rears was just plain stupid.

94. 1996 Ariel Atom: Its nickname is the "woman repellent." Perfect for the track, utter misery on any road. A helmet isn't just for safety; it's the driver's roof, windshield and HVAC system. Helmet also keeps anyone you know from seeing you drive it.

93. 1989 Vector W8: Gerald Wiegert's 625-hp, $400,000-plus folly was obsolete by the time it finally hit production. Only 17 reached customers — and they needed to be shadowed by a flatbed.

92. 1997 General Motors EV1: Advanced technology produces an all-electric that rides poorly, can't haul anything and has the range of a Tyco R/C car. Set electric cars back at least a decade.

91. 1978 Dodge Challenger: A Mitsubishi Galant coupe wears the name of a muscle car legend. The top engine? A 2.6-liter four making — GACK! — 105 hp. The base 2.0-liter puked out only 77 ponies.

90. 2000 Saleen S7: With 550 hp onboard, theoretically it was awesome. But actually it was fragile and just smelled like a kit car. Twin-turbo version came in 2005 at 750 hp with a $585,296 sticker.

89. 2004 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti: A big, blundering, bulbous four-seat Ferrari. The 5.7-liter V12 made 532 hp, but that wasn't enough to pull off the ugly. More Buick than Ferrari.

88. 1993 Ford Aspire: Built by Kia, sold by Ford and ignored by everyone. Basically a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and four wheels bolted to a prison cell.

87. 1989 Geo Metro: Suzuki-made, three-cylinder icon of economic marginalization. Tonight's pizza will be delivered in one. It was even worse as a soggy-chassis convertible.

86. 1990 Chevrolet Lumina APV: Plastic-bodied van with an aardvark nose and dashboard top big enough to host a track meet. The Chevy along with its Pontiac or Oldsmobile equivalent were so stupid-looking they were nicknamed the dustbuster vans.

85. 1987 Volkswagen Fox: VW brings a version of the "Gol" up from Brazil for U.S. consumption. The 1.8-liter four makes 80 hp and feeds a four-speed manual transmission.

84. 2001 Jaguar X-Type: Spitting on its own heritage, Jag takes the Ford Mondeo and forces it to wear shrunken XJ sheet metal. It was an insult to loyal Jaguar owners and a joke to everyone else.

83. 1978 Volvo 262C: Italy's Bertone turns Volvo's boxy 260 Series into a two-door coupe only Stockholm's dumbest pimp could love.

82. 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible: It's the front-drive Cutlass no one liked without all that pesky structural integrity. Like driving a cracked egg.

81. 1973 Austin Allegro: Thankfully never exported to America. Underpowered and featuring a problematic "Hydragas" pneumatic suspension, it's the car Top Gear loves to hate.

80. 1980 Rover 3500: Powered by a 133-hp 3.5-liter V8 set adrift by Buick. The body would rot when driven near any body of water, including wading pools and coffee cups.

79. 1985 Hyundai Excel: It cost $4,995, but wasn't worth it. Built from Mitsubishi leftovers, this is the car whose haphazard heritage Hyundai has been striving to overcome ever since.

78. 1974 Mazda Rotary Pickup: The high-revving Wankel engine was ill-suited to any truck. And this is the truck that proved it. Had the hauling capacity of a shopping cart.

77. 1999 Toyota Echo: Awkward successor to the mediocre Tercel. Austere in the most plastic of ways, it's such a bucket it should come with a mop. Roxy Edition was just a joke.

76. 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier: Chevy's first front-drive small car is underpowered, sloppily constructed and apparently dissolvable in ordinary rainwater.

75. 1974 Datsun F10: The first front-drive Nissan in America is legendarily ugly in both appearance and rough-hewn operation. Known as the Cherry in Japan.

74. 1979 Datsun 280ZX: The fatter, clumsier, overwrought successor to the original Z-car. It sold well through the disco era, but sucked and is universally unloved today.

73. 1984 Ford Bronco II: Tipsy, short-wheelbase SUV based on the Ranger pickup. Rode like there were rocks in its tires. Replaced by the massively popular, four-door Explorer.

72. 1974 Bricklin SV-1: Malcolm Bricklin promised a safe sports car. He delivered a plastic, gullwing-doored weirdo with the suspension and powertrain of an AMC Hornet. Makes the DeLorean look like an engineering magnum opus.

71. 1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Turbo: Replacing the T/A's beloved 400-cubic-inch V8 with a turbocharged and carbureted 301-cube version wasn't a good idea. It was a slow grenade.

70. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette: A fiberglass body atop an archaic chassis powered by a lame 155-hp six. And the transmission was a two-speed automatic. The first Corvette was crap.

69. 1989 Ford Thunderbird: It was too big, much too heavy and too expensive to produce. Initially available only with V6 engines, it was slow, too. It's the car that killed the T-Bird.

68. 1987 Sterling 825: Rebadged Rover 800-Series was based on the V6-powered Acura Legend, but was unreliable and rust-prone anyhow. Paint hardly even stuck to it and the electrics lasted a few weeks if you were lucky.

67. 1957 Renault Dauphine: The rear-engine, 32-hp Dauphine made VW's Beetle seem quick. According to Road & Track it took 22.3 seconds for a 1962 Dauphine to reach 60 mph.

66. 2008 Smart Fortwo: Not bad-looking, but unpleasant to drive in every conceivable way. May have the most annoying transmission ever made.

65. 1985 Subaru XT: Subaru at its weirdest. Styled with a cleaver, inside the XT featured a wacky steering wheel with one horizontal and one vertical spoke and controls in pods behind it. Then it got weirder.

64. 1983 Plymouth Caravelle: A stretched K-Car that no one noticed when it was in production and no one misses today. Plain in every way, it's the most boring car ever made.

63. 1983 Chrysler Executive Limousine: ASC takes a LeBaron K-Car coupe, stretches it out, adds LeBaron sedan front doors, and the result is this not-prestigious, fully dopey limo. About 1,500 were sold before production ended in 1986.

62. 1960 Chevrolet Corvair: Nader had a point; the rear swing-axle-equipped, rear-engine Corvair did have diabolical handling at the limit. But the second-gen '65 Corvair was sweet.

61. 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Sport Coupe: The base third-generation Camaro was powered by the 2.5-liter "Iron Duke" four rated at 90 hp. That's 90, thrashing, noisy, crude horses — total — in a Camaro.

60. 2003 Chevrolet SSR: Spoiled by its ridiculously heavy retractable hardtop and underwhelming TrailBlazer chassis. It could have been great; instead it was grating.

59. 1975 Chevrolet Monza: Variation on the flimsy Vega that could be ordered with a 262-cubic-inch small-block V8 that only made 110 hp and needed to be tilted with a hoist to change its rearmost spark plugs.

58. 1984 Pontiac Fiero: GM destroys its own good idea by cheapening it out with a Chevette front suspension and the heinous 2.5-liter "Iron Duke" four. And on occasion, it would spontaneously combust.

57. 1973 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4: Ferrari's first V8 was its crummiest. Angular Bertone bodywork covered a cramped 2+2 cockpit and the yet-to-be-sorted 230-hp 3.0-liter V8.

56. 1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite: Desperate to grab some of the personal luxury market, Ford swipes Mercury's Cougar coupe sheet metal, gives it an uglier nose and then misnames it. This was cynical rebadging at its worst.

55. 1981 Maserati Biturbo: Kind of like a BMW 3 Series, only hideously unreliable and powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.5-liter V6 that only made 185 hp. Interior leather on these ages faster than dogs.

54. 1987 Subaru Justy: That it was powered by a three-cylinder engine and available with a continuously variable transmission is enough to put it on this list.

53. 1976 Chevrolet Chevette: Instead of trying to build a world-class small car of its own, Chevy opts for a cheesy, primitive Opel design that's a decade out of date. Yet it stays in production through 1987.

52. 1980 Chevrolet Citation: Chevrolet's first front-drive machine proves to be legendarily unreliable and one of the most recalled cars of all time. Yes, the Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile X-Cars were just as awful.

51. 1958 Ford Thunderbird: The delicate, elegant and sweet two-seat original T-Bird is replaced by this clumsy, massive, overwrought four-seater. Unfortunately it's hugely popular.

50. 1955 Dodge La Femme: The Custom Royal Lancer all girly with pink trim and a special calfskin pink purse. Few were sold because, apparently, transvestism isn't good marketing. Discontinued after the '56 model year.

49. 2006 Saab 9-7X: The only Saab ever built in Moraine, Ohio, was a gussied-up Chevy TrailBlazer. It's definitive proof that GM's ownership of Saab was completely misbegotten.

48. 1975 Clenet Series I: An MG Midget body on a Mercury Cougar chassis with massive fiberglass fenders. The Clenet was a disgrace to the term "classic" and the shame of Santa Barbara, California, where it was built.

47. 1975 Triumph TR7: British Leyland's lame attempt to reinvent the British sports car for the 1970s. An underpowered, four-cylinder, wedge-shaped hardtop that seemed to disintegrate around its owners.

46. 1968 Volkswagen 411/412: The large, awkward Type 4 was the last gasp for rear-mounted air-cooled engines at VW. But it was so lousy that the company replaced it with the sweet-natured Passat.

45. 1969 Porsche 914: Originally designed as a VW, this midengine, four-cylinder breadbox was never a "real Porsche" to the hard-core. OK, even the medium-core didn't think it was a real Porsche.

44. 1975 Rolls-Royce Camargue: Pininfarina designed the body for this two-seat version of the Silver Shadow. Boring and weirdly proportioned, it looked like an oversize Volvo.

43. 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300SD: As the first turbocharged diesel sedan, it's important. But the five-cylinder engine only made 110 hp and it had a big S-Class to haul around. That's misery.

42. 2006 Dodge Caliber SRT-4: Lesson in how to build a bad performance car, start with a bad car. Replaced the wonderful Neon SRT-4, but it was too big and too ugly. Completely undesirable despite its turbocharged 285 hp.

41. 1975 Bristol 412: Britain's most hideous bespoke gentleman's express. The Zagato-built body rode on an ancient Bristol chassis, with a Chrysler 383-cubic-inch V8 tasked with outrunning the nasty looks.

40. 1989 Lotus Elan: Corporate synergy results in a front-drive Lotus two-seat sports roadster powered by an Isuzu engine. Who to blame? GM. It owned Lotus at the time and controlled Isuzu.

39. 1978 Chevrolet C/K Diesel: The dread Oldsmobile diesel makes it into Chevy's half-ton pickup, making 125 hp. The same black smoke magic that ruined GM's cars does the same to the pickups.

38. 1923 Chevrolet Series M: Chevy's experiment with air-cooled engines used individual cylinders fitted with copper fins. About 500 were built and virtually all were recalled and scuttled.

37. 1973 Datsun B210: Awful and primitive Nissan that benefitted from debuting atop the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Nasty handling and built so lightly the sheet metal was nearly diaphanous.

36. 2002 GEM: Built to NHTSA "Low Speed Vehicle" regulations rigged for it to succeed, this electric vehicle is nonetheless allowed to operate on roads alongside real cars. Not much more than a golf cart.

35. 1970 Triumph Stag: Seemingly infinite problems with its 3.0-liter SOHC V8 engine and dim Lucas electric parts made this Michelotti-designed four-seat roadster a poster child for British Leyland ineptitude.

34. 1950 Crosley Hotshot: Best name ever put on a terrible car. The 750cc engine's block wasn't cast, but welded together from various pieces. Amazing so much ugly could rest on a car this small.

33. 1986 Suzuki Samurai: A real 4x4 with off-road ability, but it was too small and too unstable for actual highway use. Had the build quality of a high school shop class project.

32. 1971 Plymouth Cricket: Plymouth's response to the Pinto and Vega is a rebadged Hillman Avenger. It was a flimsy British disaster with too little power and suicidal tendencies.

31. 1975 Chevrolet Corvette: Base power for '75 was the ZQ3 350-cubic-inch V8 rated at — ACK! — 165 hp. The optional L82 version of the 350 only wheezed out 205 horses. An abomination.

30. 1954 Nash Metropolitan: Combining the worst of 1950s American design with British half-baked engineering and haphazard assembly. Tipsy around corners, so it was good that its 1.2-liter Austin engine kept it slow.

29. 1977 Lincoln Versailles: Responding to the challenge of the Cadillac Seville, Lincoln takes the Mercury Monarch, adds a continental bump on the trunk and a Mark IV grille up front, and tries to pass it off as sophisticated.

28. 1976 Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare: At Chrysler's nadir, it built these strictly conventional compact cars that are nonetheless terribly built and rust-prone. Subject to a long series of recalls.

27. 2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx SS: Kind of a station wagon, but with less utility and style. The worst car ever built to wear Chevy's "SS" name.

26. 1990 Infiniti M30 Convertible: Spongy suspension, lackluster drivetrain and a soggy structure was enough to doom the M30. Infiniti almost didn't survive this car.

25. 1980 Cadillac Seville: A front-drive atrocity with a weird bustle on its behind. Ruined the goodwill established by the first, rear-drive Seville. The super-lousy V8-6-4 engine was added for '81.

24. 1996 Ford Taurus: The bulbous blob redesign of Ford's best-selling sedan that effectively killed it in the retail market. Weird when it didn't need to be.

23. 1987 Cadillac Allante: Pointless, front-drive roadster that was ludicrously expensive thanks to Pininfarina building its bodies in Italy and then air-shipping them in 747s to Detroit for completion. Embarrassing attempt to take on the Mercedes SL.

22. 1997 Cadillac Catera: An oafish 3,900-pound German Opel with a 200-hp English V6 slowly lugging it through a French four-speed automatic. It took three countries to build this crap — and GM to call it a Cadillac.

21. 1978 Fiat Strada/Ritmo: Disposable front-drive subcompact that was so poorly built that Fiat fled North America in shame in 1983. It wouldn't return for 28 years.

20. 1975 AMC Pacer: Desperate AMC bets on weird and wide small car with a fishbowl greenhouse and archaic six-cylinder drivetrain. It's been an icon of disenfranchised losers ever since.

19. 1970 AMC Gremlin: AMC buys into the subcompact market by slicing off the tail of the compact Hornet. Powered by AMC's ancient six or V8, it runs second only to its brother the Pacer in Loserland.

18. 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet: A $47,000 restyled Toyota (er, Scion) iQ. Necessary to meet EU fleet emissions standards, it's nonetheless a betrayal of all things Aston.

17. 1982 Renault Fuego: Fragile, front-drive French coupe that rusted quickly into dust or burst into flames amid random electrical fires. Recalled for steering wheels that came off in drivers' hands.

16. 1971 Ford Pinto: Built to a $2,000 base price, the subcompact Pinto lacks protection for its rear-mounted fuel tank. It earns a reputation as a fire-prone death trap and Ford pays out millions in judgments.

15. 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati: Stupid combination of front-drive K-Car bits, indifferent Maserati assembly in Italy and a two-seat roadster body that was indistinguishable from a LeBaron. It's both the worst Maserati and worst Chrysler ever.

14. 1968 Lamborghini Espada: Bizarre sci-fi styling over an ill-sorted, hideously complex chassis with a thirsty 4.0-liter, 325-hp V12 under the hood. The first Lambo offered with an automatic transmission.

13. 1974 Reliant Robin: Ludicrously unstable three-wheeler that turns turtle on its plastic body at the slightest provocation. Fortunately, with a 750cc engine, it was underpowered, too.

12. 1983 Renault Alliance: AMC-built, Americanized version of the front-drive, 60-hp Renault 9 subcompact — monochrome paint and whitewalls. Worse, in '85 came a convertible so droopy, the doors often couldn't close.

11. 1917 Chevrolet Series D: Chevy's first V8 could only manage 36 hp — less than the brand's four. Killed after 1918, the next Chevy V8 came a full 37 years later.

10. 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel: As bad as the 5.7-liter Olds diesel V8 was, the 4.3-liter version was worse. Sold only in the '79 Cutlass, the 4.3 diesel made 90 hp before shattering into shrapnel.

9. 1957 Trabant: East Germany's two-cylinder, two-stroke disaster that stayed in production even after the Berlin Wall fell. One more reason why Communism is evil.

8. 1982 Cadillac Cimarron: Shameful, cynical attempt to compete against BMW with a redecorated version of the front-drive, four-cylinder Chevrolet Cavalier. A self-inflicted wound that nearly killed Cadillac.

7. 1958 Edsel Corsair: Ford goes hunting for a market niche that wasn't there with a redecorated Mercury that had been beaten with an ugly stick. The legendary flop of all automotive flops.

6. 2003 Saturn Ion: Shockingly incompetent to drive and with a stupid interior to match. Kick it and your foot could get stuck in the gaps between the plastic body panels. Easily the second worst car of the 21st century.

5. 1971 Chevrolet Vega: An engine that couldn't hold oil, in a car built with contempt for its buyers. It's the car that invited Americans to buy Toyotas and Hondas. However, it did make a good Pro Stock racer.

4. 1987 Yugo: A Serbian-made version of the Fiat 127 that couldn't possibly be as awful as its low price suggested. But it was! Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary as shorthand for automotive crap.

3. 1955 BMW Isetta: Originally designed by Italy's Iso, BMW built the atrocious, single-cylinder 12-hp, one-door Isetta for 7 years. Parked nose-in to a wall, the door wouldn't open. The whole car was a crumple zone.

2. 1974 Ford Mustang II: Built upon the spindly bones of the Pinto, this shrunken, malformed pony is instantly appalling to Mustang lovers. And, unfortunately, hugely popular with buyers stuck with serial fuel crises.

1. 2001 Pontiac Aztek: Drive one and you quickly realize that the Aztek's exterior design is its best feature. It's the very worst car of all time because it's the only car on the list to kill an 84-year-old car company. It's undeniable that the Aztek's utter hideousness drove the biggest and last nails into Pontiac's heavily side-clad, plastic coffin.

Most Recommended Comments

By exhaustbearing
on 08/22/12
3:00 PM PST

That's actually a pretty terrible list. But what else would I expect from Edmunds?

Recommend  (126) (62)

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By tennisguy1
on 10/03/12
5:27 PM PST

How is the Chevrolet HHR not included on this list?

Recommend  (13) (3)

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By larrysjazz
on 09/07/12
3:44 PM PST

Awesome article John. I had tears with your witty descriptions and your #1 is dead on.

Recommend  (6) (8)

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