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8 Worst Automobile Fails of All Time, Who Made Them, What Country did They Come From? And What Would the Cars Cost Today?

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Updated June 24th, 2020

Designing a car is no easy task. After it’s all said and done, thousands of eyeballs have checked every aspect of the vehicle to make sure everything is absolutely perfect.

So how is it possible that there have been so many atrocious cars unleashed on the public? There have been eyesores, lemons, rust buckets, and worst of all – death traps.

Table List of 8 Worst Cars of All Time

Make / ModelCost Today (approx)Years made / Country
Amphicar Model 770 $47,0001961 - 1965 / West Germany
Edsel / Full-size:
Citation, Corsair, Pacer, Ranger
Station wagon:
Bermuda, Villager, Roundup
$11,9001957 - 1960 / USA, Ford Motor Company
Chevrolet Corvair$4,4001960 - 1969 / USA, General Motors
DeLorean DMC-12$85,000 to $100,0001981 - 1983 / USA, DeLorean Motor Company
Pontiac Aztek$21,530 - $24,4452000 - 2005 / USA, Pontiac
Zastava Koral* (Yugo)$500 - $7,0001978 - 2008 / Kragujevac, Serbia
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel$5,000 - $35,0001978 - 1985 / USA, Oldsmobile
Ford Pinto$1,500 - $15,0001970 - 1980 / USA, Ford Motor Company

*Zastava Koral, was marketed in the United States as Yugo

Make / ModelWhat is the vehicle known for?
Amphicar Model 770 A Boat / Car which could do 8 knots in the water. President Lyndon B. Johnson was an owner of Amphicar.
Edsel Horsecollar or toilet seat grille. The car was named for Henry Ford's only son.
Chevrolet CorvairKnown as poor man's Porsche. The name is a blend or "Portmanteau" of Corvette and Bel Air
DeLorean DMC-12In the movie "Back to the Future"
Pontiac AztekXtreme futuristic styling and promised maximum versatility in support of a young and active lifestyle.
Zastava Koral* (Yugo)Crudest, slowest, noisiest sedan on the market
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme DieselThe Diesel Engine which gain such unreliability it ruined the market for 30 years.
Ford PintoRear impact related fuel tank fires which over 100 people died.

Below, we’ve put together our list of the 8 biggest automobile fails of all time.

Let’s start with #8…

#8. The Amphicar

Picture of Amphicar which is a car / boat and goes on land in water

Amphicar under the Creative Commons. Author dontworry

You like cars, right? And boats…who doesn’t like boats?

Wouldn’t it be great if they made a car that was also a boat?

It turns out that no, it wouldn’t be great. This is what Hanns Trippel learned when he made the Amphicar. It was a car that you could actually drive into a body of water (well, I suppose you could drive ANY car into water, but that’s beside the point).

One problem: it only went 7 mph in the water. You might as well just swim at that point.

Oh, and one other teensy little thing: it wasn’t all that great at being waterproof. Turns out that’s kind of a big deal.

#7. The Edsel

1958 Green white Ford Edsel now a collector car

Flickr Creative Commons/foshie. Despite its past, the Edsel has new life as a collector’s item. The 1958 Ford Edsel was supposed to be a great car.

By the late ‘50s, Ford was losing control of the American auto market. But they had an ace up their sleeve: the Edsel.

They called it the car to end all cars. A revolution in auto making.

Except it was just another car. A big, ugly, gas-guzzling car.

The only thing revolutionary about it was the turnover it caused in the Ford corporate offices.

#6. The Chevy Corvair

Photo of Chevrolet Corvair

This Chevrolet Corvair Wallpaper is taken from flickr.com by pixelsandpaper.

The Corvair was actually a popular rear-engine compact car for a long time.

Then Ralph Nader came along. He testified before Congress about how unsafe the Corvair was, and sales plummeted due to the bad publicity.

Rolls-Royce Wraith
Classic Muscle Cars
Iconic Vehicles from Detroit
How Far Can You Drive on Empty?
Ugliest Cars of All Time
BMW i3
Best of the Ford Mustang
Audi R-8

Chevy must have thought they had a winner on their hands until Nader came along. I’m sure Al Gore can relate.

#5. The DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12 EV electric version made after the original DeLorean

Revived carmaker DMC will launch in 2013 the DeLorean DMC-12 EV, an electric version of the coupe car designed by Giorgio Giugiaro’s Italdesign that arose.

The DeLorean is all about the gull-wing doors. When you saw those doors up, this baby looked like a bird of prey.

Of course, it moved more like a flightless bird, taking over 10 seconds to go 0-60. It’s hard to sell a sports car that would get cut from most high school teams.

After 1982, the DeLorean was no more. At least it didn’t ruin “Back to the Future” when we realized half the movie would’ve been spent waiting for it to hit 88 mph.

#4. The Pontiac Aztek

Pontiac Aztek one of the worst car designs of all time

The Pontiac Aztek A picture is worth a thousand words. NETCARSHOW.COM

In case you were thinking that bad decisions only happened in the 20th century, the 2001 Pontiac Aztek proves that automotive fails can happen at any time.

A halfway decent crossover, the problem wasn’t that the Aztek was a bad car, necessarily. It was just ugly. Man, was it ugly.

It’s actually making a bit of a comeback, thanks largely to the TV show Breaking Bad. Anytime a car needs meth to make it look good, you know it belongs on this list.

#3. The Yugo

Orange Yugo and import from Yugoslavia

Yugo from the country of Yugoslavia and considered on of the worst automobile fails of all time.

A car that prided itself on being inexpensive, the Yugo only had one minor drawback: everything about it was awful.

It was not easy on the eyes. It didn’t do well on the road. That’s ok, though – it didn’t last long on the road anyway.

Ultimately, the best thing about the Yugo was that you could put the money you saved buying it towards the cost of your next car.

#2. The 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel

1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon fastback sedan #2 worst auto fails of all time

1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon fastback sedan photographed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. License details All Rights Released.

Many of the cars on this list can claim to have killed an entire production line, or in some cases even sank companies. Only the 1979 Cutlass Supreme can claim to have hurt an entire type of engine.

The Cutlass Supreme line was one of Oldsmobile’s top performers for many years, so naturally they decided to try their hands at making a diesel engine. They did a good job, too – right until you got up to 90 hp.

Once there, the engine had a nasty habit of exploding, sending shrapnel everywhere. It turns out that many people don’t like driving portable land mines. Who knew?

#1. The Ford Pinto

Ford Pinto number one automobile fail of all time plus driver & passenger deaths

Creative Commons photo by Morven1976 Ford Pinto. The Ford Pinto cause over 100 deaths from fuel tank fires. Not only was it ugly, but people died too.

In our top spot is another car that was mostly ok, save for one flaw. In the Pinto’s case, that flaw was a tendency to burst into flames when hit from behind.

Even worse than the fact that they made a land-based Hindenburg, Ford also got themselves in hot water when it came out that they knew about the problem…and decided it would be cheaper to pay victims than fix it.

Congratulations, Ford Pinto…you set the standard for going down in flames.

What do you think of our list? Do you have better ideas? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun is an auto insurance expert with ten years of experience as a researcher and content writer. He's fluent in Spanish, teaching it plus AP computer science at Nyack Public Schools in New York. He has a B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in computer science from Florida State University, and an M.A. from SUNY New Paltz. He also is the lead editor for AutoInsureSavings.org.

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