The Worst-Made Cars of All Time

Cars have come a long way in terms of technology. Achieving tremendous horsepower, remarkable fuel economy, and plenty of modern conveniences and safety features, modern cars are quite simply put—better and safer than ever before. Nevertheless, we never would have gotten where we are now without some failures along the way.

When you think about “Classic Cars,” you probably think about the beloved sports cars of yesteryear that were fun to drive and made a big splash in the nostalgia department. However, there are a variety of “Classic Cars,” that are well-known for their notoriety. Whether suffering from an unattractive exterior, a bare-bones interior, performance letdowns, or significant safety concerns, the worst cars of all-time are classics in their own right.

After all, the point of knowing your history is to avoid the mistakes of the past, and that’s helped automakers move on past these blunders. Some of these cars you may remember while others are well before your time. These are the worst-made cars of all time.

1. 1917 Chevrolet Series D

1917 Chevrolet Series D with the hood up showing the engine compartment

(Image via Wikipedia)

If you bought a car with a V8 engine, you’d expect it to be a lot more powerful than one with a four-cylinder but that wasn’t the case with the Chevy Series D. The V8 engine I the car actually produced less horsepower than Chevy’s four-cylinder engine. Generating just 36 horsepower, Chevy’s first V8 was a big joke. It was such an enormous fail, in fact, that they wouldn’t introduce a new V8 until 37 years later. The Series D was only produced from 1917 to 1918.

2. 1923 Chevrolet Series M

an artist's rendering of a black chevrolet series m

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In 1923, the Chevrolet Series M was another fail for Chevy. Individual air-cooled cylinders were fitted with copper fins, designed to be an alternative to water-cooled engines. But as practical as it seemed, it was plagued with problems and frankly, just didn’t work. Overheating was a tremendous problem with the Series M. the vehicle would dangerously overheat in hot weather and was a huge safety concern. Only about 500 of the cars were built and recalled. At least you tried.

3. 1955 BMW Isetta

a pale blue bmw isetta

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The 1955 BMW Isetta is nothing like the BMWs you see out on the road today. It was one of the ugliest things you have ever seen. And you may be thinking, “oh, but isn’t it about what’s on the inside that really counts?” And you would be right if the Isetta had something more to offer but it didn’t. The Italian-designed microcar had a hugely impressive fuel economy of 78 mpg thanks to its one-cylinder engine and that was its only gimmick. The fact is that a 12hp engine is completely impractical, especially when it takes you 30 seconds to go 31mph. frankly, we’d prefer to walk.

4. 1956 Renault Dauphine

a pale baby blue renault dauphine

(Image via Wikipedia)

The 1956 Renault Dauphine was the slowest piece of junk the mid-20th century had to offer. It featured a rear engine that generated just 32 horsepower. If you can’t quite grasp how slow that is, imagine it taking you a full 32 seconds to catch up to speed on the freeway. Did you die? Yes. At least you would today. The slow heap was cheaply made though, which made it appealing to drivers at the time.

5. 1957 Trabant

a white cream colored trabant

(Image via Wikimedia)

The 1957 Trabant P50 was a car built for communists, introduced in East Germany in 1957. It featured an outdated two-stroke engine and a duroplast body. It was also difficult to get because of production shortages. The front-wheel-drive vehicle had 18 hp and was pretty bare bones. If you think about the most boring car you could possibly drive and then strip that of any possible excitement or joy, you are left with the Trabant. Plus, it didn’t have brake lights or turn signals. Luckily, we Americans never had the misfortune of driving it and that’s a win for democracy.

6. 1960. Chevrolet Corvair

a red chevrolet corvair with the driver side window rolled down

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The 1960 Chevrolet Corvair is the perfect example of why you just don’t put the engine in the back.  The rear-engine Corvair would easily spin out due to heavy weight placed in the back of the car and its wheels. Chevy’s pathetic attempt to compete with the Volkswagen Beetle was a danger to drivers. Whether you oversteered or understeered, you were in big trouble. Allegedly, over 100 lawsuits were filed over Corvair crashes. Sales dwindled.

7. 1968 Volkswagen 411/412

a teal blue volkswagen 411/412 on a busy city street

(Image via Wikipedia)

The 1968 Volkswagen 411/412 were the ugliest Volkswagens to hit the market. The large, bulky, and uncomfortable Type 4 Volkswagen featured rear-mounted air-cooled engines. The Type 4 was only produced from 1968 to 1972. The 1679 cc engine featured twin carburetors and VW claimed that the vehicle could achieve a maximum of 80 horsepower. What was the worst problem? The air-cooled engine could catch fire. Shortly after, the 412 replaced it and it was just as terrible.

8. 1971 Chevrolet Vega

only the front half of a yellow chevrolet vega is visible

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The 1971 Chevy Vega certainly offered decent stats and features for its time, but the problem was the Vega was loaded with mechanical problems. The vehicle’s aluminum engine was ultra-cheap and riddled with problems. With the Veg, Chevy failed to meet their cost and vehicle weight goals. It cost more than a VW Beetle at the time and it was 200 pounds too heavy. While critics liked the Vega at first, it became clear over time that the quality control was just not there. In 1972, the Vega was recalled because the rear axle shafts would separate from their housing, which meant the wheels would fall off!

9. 1971 Ford Pinto

a lime green ford pinto parked in a space at a parking lot

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The 1971 Ford Pinto is an all-time classic dumpster fire. First introduced in ’71, the Pinto would literally burst into flames, even at low-speed collisions. This was because the poorly designed gas tank would rupture during collisions. Various reports have suggested that there were as many as 180 deaths resulting from the Pinto fuel tank fires. Despite the incidents, Ford refused to recall the Pinto concluding that it would be more cost-effective to let people die and pay victim settlements than it would reinforce the rear-end of every Pinto. You know – because human lives aren’t important or anything.

10. 1974 Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III

a black jaguar xk-e v12 series iii with its convertible top down and parked next to a railroad track

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In 1961, the E-Type was a beautiful sportscar that could hit 150 mph and drive as smooth as butter. The 1974 Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III was a whole other story. This car had a phallic-like body and a massive 5.3-liter V12 that was difficult to maintain and tune. The new E-Type was completely impractical but at least it could go from 0 to 60 mph in under 7 seconds. Unfortunately, it was heavy at the nose and had some hideous rubber bumpers. Who would pay money for this thing?

11. 1978 Dodge Challenger

a black and white photo of a 1970s dodge challenger

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With a name like Challenger, you’d expect the quintessential muscle car but the reality was very different. The 1978 Challenger featured a 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine that really struggled to output 105 horsepower. And that was the higher-end trim. The base model featured a 2.0-liter engine that delivered only 77 hp. The ’70s were just not a great year for sports cars, muscle cars, or anything of the like.

12. 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel

the tail end of a green oldsmobile cutlass supreme diesel

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The 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel was one of the first attempts by the US to produce a diesel engine. It happened because of the 1973 oil crisis. The Diesel version of the Cutlass Supreme featured underwhelming power and a myriad of other problems. Not quite there with the technology, the US diesel engine was a disaster. The engine could achieve up to 90 horsepower but not without exploding. If your car didn’t blow up, it might at least break down.

13. 1980 Chevrolet Corvette 305

a yellow chevrolet corvette 305

(Image via Pinterest)

The 1980 Chevrolet Corvette 305 was the worst Corvette in history. Everything you expect a Corvette to be, this model stripped it down and kicked it repeatedly until it was a sad shell of its former self. State emission regulations neutered the vehicle in a number of different ways. For one, the V8 engine it was equipped with only generated 180 horsepower. To make matters worse, you could only get it with an automatic transmission. So, if you wanted to spend a ton of money for a car and not have any fun driving it, the Corvette 305 was the perfect option.

14. 1981 Cadillac V8-6-4

a purple-blueish cadillac v8-6-4

(Image via Pinterest)

The 1981 Cadillac V8-6-4 engine is undoubtedly one of GM’s worst creations. They featured the engine on numerous Cadillac models in 1981, including the DeVille. The engine could deactivate cylinders while cruising in order to save fuel. Although it sounds good in theory and is similar to what many V8s offer now, the technology of the time just wasn’t where it needed to be. Deactivation and reactivation were slow, so vehicle performance was bad.

15. 1981 DMC DeLorean

a silver dmc delorean with its gull-wing doors opened

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Sorry, Back to the Future fans, the time-traveling car may have been cool in the movie but the real-world version was much less impressive. Frankly, the ability to go back in time would have been the only thing that could have saved it from being a complete and utter failure. The DeLorean, in and of itself, is a joke in the movie. The DMC DeLorean was the only car ever produced by the DeLorean Motor Company. The sportscar featured a 2.85 L V6 engine with an output of 130 horsepower. The weak engine offered lousy performance all around. On top of this, the build suffered from numerous mechanical issues. All of this came at a price tag of $25K, which when adjusted for inflation would be around $70K. Great Scott!

16. 1982 Cadillac Cimarron

a slate gray cadillac cimarron with a red trim line

(Image via Wikipedia)

The 1982 Cadillac Cimarron was a lame attempt to compete with small luxury models from European automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Rather than create a new car, they remarketed an old one. Rebranding a fully-loaded Chevrolet Cavalier, the Cimarron was the same car at twice the price. The four-door vehicle featured a four-cylinder engine that produced 88 horsepower. The deception continued until 1988. Talk about shady!

17. 1982 Chevrolet Camaro

a silvery gray chevrolet camaro with blue racing trim along the bottom

(Image via Pinterest)

The 1982 Chevrolet Camaro was the third generation Camaro, a well-established all-American muscle car. Nevertheless, the 1982 Camaro was a completely new thing. Aesthetic changes included a large rear window and a windshield with a 62-degree recline. Inside the rear seat could fold down to expand cargo space. The 1982 model was the first time the Camaro offered a hatchback-style body. It also had a weak 2.5L four-cylinder engine that generated just 90 horsepower, which was not even good for its time. It was so measly and slow that it actually took 20 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph. Between the Cimarron and the Camaro, 1982 was a sad time for America.

18. 1985 Yugo GV

a rusty red yugo gv

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The 1985 Yugo GV is one of the worst cars in every regard. Not only is it hideously disgusting in terms of appearance but it’s just as useless under the hood. In 1987, it had a sticker price of about $3,900. For some perspective, that’s about $9,000 today. But Yugo GV drivers certainly got what they paid for—garbage. The quality of the Yugo GV build was completely non-existent. Sure, it held together when parked but if you tried to drive it anywhere, you would experience terrible road performance until it finally broke down. The electrical system of the car would short circuit, the engine would explode or parts would practically fly off as you were driving.

19. 1987 Cadillac Allante

a silvery gray cadillac allante convertible with the top down

(Image via Twitter)

One of the biggest commercial failures for GM was the 1987 Cadillac Allante. It sold as little as 5,000 models every year until it was discontinued in 1993. “But what was wrong with it?” – you may ask. The Allante offered horrible performance and ultimately costly design flaws. The vehicle only achieved 170 horsepower, while carrying a weight of 3600 lbs. This meant that it was exceptionally slow, traveling from 0 to 60 mph in 10 seconds. The convertible design had a top that leaked, and the Bosch anti-lock brakes were extremely flawed and expensive to repair or replace.

20. 1989 Ford Thunderbird

a red ford thunderbird

(Image via Wikipedia)

The 1989 Ford Thunderbird is not only one of the worst cars of all time, but it was the beginning of the end for a beloved classic. This massive piece of junk was expensive, bulky, and much too heavy. To make matters worse, it only came with a V6 engine, so it was super slow. Sure, the V6 engine made the Thunderbird more fuel-efficient, giving it 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, but fuel economy was never really the point of the Thunderbird. The 140 horsepower made the vehicle basically undrivable, so you needed to purchase the upgraded engine to really get it going.

21. 1933 Ford Aspire

the front half of a cream gray ford aspire

(Image via Wikimedia)

The 1993 Ford Aspire should have aspired to be a better car. Taking the wasted efforts of three major automakers (Ford, Kia, and Mazda), the Ford Aspire was a major letdown. The engine generated just 63 horsepower. It was sad. On top of that, you had basically no features for your money. The optional features were a cassette player, a rear defroster, and an automatic transmission. The car at least came with manual roll-down windows—maybe.

22. 1996 Ford Taurus

a shiny light copper colored ford taurus

(Image via Wikipedia)

Once the Ford Taurus was one of Ford’s best-selling vehicles but they decided to ruin all that with the 1996 model. For 1996, Ford gave the Taurus a disgusting redesign that killed everything everyone ever loved about the Taurus. While fuel economy and performance were okay at the time but nothing to be in awe over. The real problem was the new look. The body of the vehicle rounded at every turn, making it look like a submarine rather than a car. Most drivers hated the new look so people stopped buying. It was just difficult to look at. Was it a terrible decision on Ford’s part or an elaborate plan to sabotage the Taurus for good? You decide.

23. 1997 Plymouth Prowler

a purple plymouth prowler

(Image via Twitter)

The 1997 Plymouth Prowler was a sad attempt to make a retro-styled sports car with modern tech. The retro roadster featured a standard 3.5-liter V6 that was underwhelming, to say the least. But it was the perfect car if you were a poser. Imagine opening a box of chocolates and discovering all the pieces were coconuts. That’s what it was like to drive the Prowler that generated under 250hp. It looks like a hot rod but in reality, took over 7 seconds to go 60 mph. On top of that, it didn’t even offer a manual transmission.

24. The EV1

a red ev1 in the foreground and a silver ev1 in the background

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You might say it was ahead of its time or you could more accurately say that it jumped the gun on electric vehicle technology. The EV1 was the first mass-produced electric car and it was totally ugly and turned many people off from electric cars for a long time. The more significant problem was that it was not practical. The first-generation EV1 in 1997 claimed to have a range of 70 miles to 100 miles. It also outputted only 137 bhp, which is not nearly as fast as modern electric vehicles are capable of now. On top of this, you could only lease the vehicle and it would cost you as much as $549 per month.

25. 2001 Pontiac Aztek

a yellow orange pontiac aztek

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The 2001 Pontiac Aztek is widely considered to be the very worst car ever made. But we disagree. We’d say it’s just one of the worst because we are so nice. The Pontiac Aztek just had so much working against it. It was overpriced, made of cheap materials, and difficult to drive. Visibility in the back was almost non-existent. On top of that, it featured grotesque plastic cladding on the body. *Shudders*

26. 2003 Hummer H2

a gray hummer h2

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Designed for military rejects, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and fragile dudes, this massive tank was completely unnecessary. In no universe, was a Hummer needed or required for civilian life. But alas, the H2 was made. The 2003 Hummer H2 had the worst possible fuel economy you could imagine: 10 mpg. This is largely due to the vehicle’s weight. The V8 engine delivered only 316 horsepower and took 10 seconds to reach 60 mph. As impractical as the vehicle was, at least you got a ton of standard features.

27. 2003 Saturn Ion

the front half of a silver saturn ion

(Image via Youtube)

The 2003 Saturn Ion was terrible—that’s the short version. The long version is that it was of poor quality, noisy, offered poor performance, and had a cheap interior. It generated just 140 horsepower and had awful driving dynamics. It also marked the beginning of the end for Saturn, which ceased production in 2009. The 2003 Ion was such a piece of junk, in fact, that it had to be recalled 12 times. The faulty ignition switch was actually responsible for the death of 13 people. It is consistently ranked among the top 10 worst cars ever made.

28. 2007 Jeep Compass

a brownish slate gray jeep compass

(Image via Pinterest)

The 2007 Jeep Compass was one of the first crossover SUVs to hit the market. However, you could hardly call it groundbreaking. It was poorly designed, inside and out, and worst of all, it offered little to no off-road ability, which is what owning a Jeep is supposed to be all about. The 2007 Compass was produced until 2016 but it never really got any better. The four-cylinder engine offered good gas mileage (26 mpg city and 30 mpg highway) but generated just 172 horsepower. Designed as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Compass was doomed from the start and had totally misleading base trim name: Sport.

29. 2007 Dodge Caliber

a shiny silver dodge caliber

(Image via Wikipedia)

The 2007 Dodge caliber was another truly awful vehicle. Designed to replace the Neon, the Caliber came up short in a lot of ways. For one, it had a shoddy interior. It also offered lifeless performance and no style. Getting 28 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, the fuel economy was alright. The problem was that the base 1.8 L four-cylinder engine provided sluggish acceleration. Additionally, the poorly designed interior made getting in and out of the Caliber difficult and uncomfortable.

30. 2013 Dodge Dart

a white dodge dart

(Image via Wikipedia)

If there is one vehicle that really stands out as the worst from the last decade, it would have to be the 2013 Dodge Dart. The Dart may have offered a spacious interior for its class and a nice interior, but oh boy, did its powertrain really suck. The engine generated only 160 horsepower and got 27 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, which was okay, but the transmission was not reliable at all. Transmission failure occurred for many at around the 25,000-mile mark. After 25K miles, you’d need to either repair or replace your transmission entirely. Yikes!

(Featured image via Wikipedia)

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