Home Facts and History Greatest Failures in Automobile History

Greatest Failures in Automobile History


Like all other things in the business, some cars became sales flops. These cars failed due to many factors, whether they be design or potential danger to the driver and everyone else on the road.

Here are some of the cars that failed big-time


Sure, the GMC Envoy had attractive features — a retractable roof, a movable, watertight section on its back, a covered, lockable cargo space, a lay-down tailgate. However, this SUV was still a misfire because it had a heavy, bumbling chassis. Plus, it was also impractical and not to mention expensive.

The Jaguar X-type is also “hailed” as one of the worst cars of all time. While it was attractive enough to don the famous Jaguar nameplate, it was hideously underbuilt — frequently seizing engines, exploding transmissions, and horrific driveshafts. Plus, the car was also overpriced.


The poor, hasty assembling made the Sterling one of the worst cars to come out on the planet.


When Yugoslavia was still one country, local carmaker Zastava decided to make a brave move to sell its products to the West. This led to the creation of Zastava Koral, more popularly known as Yugo, which was meant to be introduced as a low-cost car in the US. Unfortunately, the car was hit with recurring problems — motors that often exploded, rattling interiors while the car was in motion, failing heater and electrical problems that would often result to fires.

Predictably, the problems prevented the Yugo from making a decent sale. With the international sanctions being imposed on Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, that meant that Zastava had to take all Yugo’s off the export market.


The Suzuki X-90 was an awful-looking two-seater that was introduced by the Japanese carmaker as a concept car. Red Bull used this car to promote its product, with a 5-foot version of the energy drink can mounting over the car’s trunk.  It’s one of the worst cars made in the 90s.

Among factors that contributed to Pontiac Fiero’s failure were combustion issues. Dangerously low levels of fuel in the car led to accidents and fires, 200 of which were reported.

Another ugly vehicle is the Pontiac Aztek which consistently makes the top of the “worst cars” list. This was quite bad, as the midsize-crossover sports utility vehicle was trumpeted as quite versatile.

The Plymouth Prowler was an awkward-looking retro-styled car with front wheels that evoked of those of the Indy-500 race cars. Apart from its looks, the Plymouth Prowler was also underpowered and overpriced.

With General Motors’ Cadillac Escalade’s impact — a truck-slash-luxury vehicle — Ford decided to step into the luxury game with Lincoln Blackwood. It was a pickup truck which was given a more sophisticated makeover. The truck bed was transformed into a trunk featuring a carpeted floor and stainless steel as well as an imitation wood paneling, with a power-opened cover. It means that with the way it was being built, you would hesitate to carry anything (other than a bag of groceries, perhaps) without making the truck bed dirty. In other words, the sophisticated look of the Lincoln Blackwood — priced at $52,000 — undermined its utility factor.


The GM EV1 was the first mass-produced electric car, manufactured by General Motors. While an engineering marvel and indeed a revolutionary car, in theory, the GM EV1 suffered several setbacks. One of them is the battery, which was not advanced and sufficient enough to take the driver more than 80 mph, and battery technology was unheard of yet to replace its piston-powered engine. Also, there was no station around to re-charge it. Plus, this two-seater was too expensive to build, costing $500,000 for each unit. In other words, the technology wasn’t yet ready for it.


The infamous Ford Pinto has been consistently making the “worst cars of all time” lists. Being introduced as a low-cost car, Ford cut some corners that made it alarmingly dangerous.

Ford put the fuel tank behind the rear axle and equipped it with a fuel-filler pipe that would easily tear away in rear-end collisions. As a result, the car would end up exploding and being engulfed in flames each time it got into a rear impact. In fact, about 500 burn deaths were reported.

Reports revealed that Ford engineers actually discovered this flaw while the cars were undergoing pre-production testing. But Ford shrugged the issue as having the problems fixed — at $11 per unit, a total of $113 million — was deemed too costly. So instead, the carmaker thought that it would be much less costly if it would pay off possible lawsuits to burn victims with a mere $49 million.

As if it that wasn’t shameless enough, Ford even lobbied against a safety standard imposed by the government which required Pintos to have fire-prone tanks. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association managed to get Ford to recall all Pintos and pay damages to the victims of rear-collision accidents involving a Pinto.


In an attempt to create cars for the upper market, Ford created the Ford Edsel. Unfortunately, it suffered criticisms for its styling, reliability issues, and overall quality.

In response rising gas prices, General Motors created the compact Cadillac Cimarron basing it on the economy car. It was available in manual and automatic. However, it met a less-than-enthusiastic reception from either loyal Cadillac fans or professional automobile critics who cited the Cimarron’s overall miserable performance. It’s also one of the worst cars made in the 80s.


The Lexus GX’s 460 fairly high propensity to roll over resulted into a Consumer Report’s rating the vehicle as “Safety Risk: Don’t Buy.” Toyota immediately addressed the issue by recalling all GX 460’s for a stability control adjustment. After fixing the issue, the Lexus was now found to be completely safe for driving.

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