FAILED CARS IN THE MARKET: UGLY BUT HEY…. LOOK GREAT TODAY
The American people have had a long love affair with cars. Whether it’s a teenager’s new found independence or a grown man’s show of status and power, cars represent much more to people than just a way to get from one place to another. Cars make a statement about their owners–or at least how their owners wish to be perceived.
That being the case, there are likely no car owners who want to be perceived as hideously ugly, poorly engineered, or hazardous to life and limb. For that reason and many others, a lot of cars become consigned to the dustbin of history, forever branded embarrassing failures.
Some are off-putting because of styling as enticing as a leisure suit. Some earned a reputation as a danger to the driver…and everyone else on the road. The reasons for their failures are varied, and while some of the companies that manufactured them recovered, many didn’t. Which cars have been among the biggest failures in automotive history you can view a list below:
1. Crosley Hotshot
The Crosley Hotshot was the work of Powel Crosley Jr., an Ohio industrialist who owned Crosley Broadcasting and the Cincinnati Reds. Despite this impressive resume, he was unsatisfied. Crosley longed to make cars, and in 1939 he founded Crosley Motors. Despite his success in several different businesses over the years, however, the car company never took off, and it became a black mark on Crosley’s otherwise impressive career.
2. Dodge Custom Royal
During a long drive, there’s nothing like music to take your mind off the tedium. Today, people play iPods through their car speaker systems so that they can be spared another radio commercial, but in 1956 drivers had no such option and they were at the sole mercy of their car radio’s disc jockey.
When trapped in bumper-to-bumper bridge or tunnel traffic, it must occur to many commuters that the whole sorry experience could be avoided if it were possible to cross a body of water in a car. In 1961, former racecar driver Hanns Trippel of Germany decided to tackle this challenge head-on, and he developed the Amphicar, an amphibious conveyance that could cross rivers, streams, and lakes, while all the poor saps in conventional cars sat fuming.
4. The Chevrolet Corvair was a compact, rear-engine car made during the 1960s. Initially, it was popular with consumers and it sold well. However, in 1965, consumer advocate Ralph Nader released the book “Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile,” which focused on the car’s less attractive attributes , such as suspension problems and the anti-sway bar that management had decided to remove toreduce production costs.
Nader testified before Congress, calling the Corvair “the leading candidate for the un-safest-car title.” The attention damaged the car’s image beyond repair, and its sales fell by half within one year of the book’s release. The last Corvair rolled off the production line in 1969.
5. Ford Pinto
In September 1970, Ford introduced the Pinto, a budget car that sold for a mere $2,000 . In the pursuit of economy, however, corners were cut that made the car alarmingly unsafe. The fuel tank was behind the rear axle and equipped with a fuel-filler pipe that burst in rear-end collisions, engulfing the car in flames.
When this came to Ford’s attention, the company determined the cost involved in correcting the problem. A memo was later made public revealing that Ford’s cost-benefit analysis put the cost of fixing the problem at $11 per car, a total of $113 million, while simply paying out-of-court settlements to horribly charred motorists would cost a mere $49 million . The car maker chose to pursue the second course of action, and once Mother Jones magazine exposed the memo in 1977, the company had no choice but to conduct a full recall and pay damages to those who had been in rear-impact accidents.
The Pinto went out of production in 1980. To this day, however, its name remains synonymous with engineering incompetence and corporate malfeasance. As recently as 2004, the Pinto was named one of the worst cars of all time by Forbes magazine.
6. DeLorean DMC-12
John DeLorean was an American automobile executive who developed the GTO, the Grand Prix, and the Firebird. Despite being involved with such iconic cars, he’s best known for the one that bears his name, the DeLorean DMC-12, which rolled out in 1981. What first got people talking was the unique gull-wing design of the doors. Once people stopped marveling at it and decided to drive it, however, their enthusiasm quickly evaporated.
The DMC-12 took more than 10 seconds to go from zero to 60 miles per hour, something that would make most Toyota 4 Runner owners take their cars to the shop. The 2.8-liter V6 was lethargic at best, particularly when its job was to power a car with as heavy a build as this one. After a year of flagging sales, the British government ordered the car’s Northern Ireland factory shut down, and the DMC-12 ceased production in 1982. It had another moment in the spotlight, however, when it appeared as a time machine in the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie “Back to the Future.”
7. Pontiac Aztek
The 2001 Pontiac Aztek was an object lesson in the phenomenon known as “Death by Committee.” On the inside, it was a sturdy, reliable ride that scored high on J.D. Power and Associates’ Customer Satisfaction Index. So far, so good. There was one small problem, however: The car was absolutely hideous. According to Time magazine, when it was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, the audience could be heard gasping in horror.
The article went on to state that the look of the car was the result of excessive tinkering and fiddling by designers. By the time they were done fighting over it, they had reached a compromise worthy of Henry Clay, in that all parties were equally dissatisfied with the end design. No one else was particularly fond of the car either, and it ended up on Timemagazine’s 2007 list of the worst cars of all time , as well as its list of the worst inventions of all time and the top spot on The Daily Telegraph ’s list of the ugliest cars of all time .
8. Ford Edsel
Perhaps no car on earth is as identified with failure as Ford Motor’s Edsel. It was discontinued more than 50 years ago, and yet the name “Edsel” is still popular shorthand for a very expensive failed product.
Made by Ford and named after Henry Ford’s son, it was manufactured from 1958 until 1960, but never caught on with consumers. In reality, there was nothing particularly wrong with the car. It’s true that it was overpriced, it didn’t get great gas mileage, and the design of the vertical grill was somewhat ill-advised. However, the Edsel was no lemon, and its failure in the marketplace was due more toexcessive marketing hype and an economic downturn in 1957 that made the car’s sticker price prohibitively high. Still, rightly or wrongly, the Edsel is unlikely to ever shake its image as the ultimate failed car.
This was our list of 8 cars that failed, please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.