The Biggest Car Flops or “Whoops!”
From the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger to the Pontiac Trans-Am and GTO, there are some vehicles that stand the test of time and are universally considered cool, no matter what the year, model or modifications. Then, there are other vehicles so heinous that the mere mention of their name sends shivers down a gearhead’s spine. For some manufacturers, these models are distant bad memories and bumps in the road of an otherwise stellar history.
There are also a handful of vehicles so wretched their mere existence was enough to bring down multi-billion dollar automotive companies. Here are four of the biggest vehicle flops in history:
Here is a common list of reasons why any human being on earth with sense, or a guy named Bubba, would purchase a truck over a car: cargo space, rugged dependability, four-wheel drive, space, more space and even more space to haul equipment, tools, furniture or fishing gear. Let’s run down the “features” offered on the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood: a cab that is basically a glorified Ford F-150 fitted with imitation mahogany, a few LED lights and the word “Lincoln” instead of “Ford.” Add to that a cargo bed that is about 6”2 short and adorned with nauseating stainless steel and carpet. Yes, carpeting that was intended to seem “upscale,” but actually turns the Lincoln Blackwood into the Ford F-150’s ugly stepsister. The best part? All of this useless luxury and giggles you’ll hear from your friends that own Ford F-150s and Chevy Silverados (aka real trucks) will only cost you a base price of $50,000.
Utter the word “Cadillac” in a room filled with car enthusiasts and you’ll hear several desirable factors being thrown around. Luxury, style, dependability, beauty, elegance….the list goes on and on. Now scream the phrase “Cadillac Cimarron!” and watch the reactions of sheer horror these two tiny words elicit. In response to BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s success in the premium small car arena, GM thought it would be a swell idea to throw their hat into the ring and the Cimarron was unfortunately born. If you’ve never seen a Cimarron in person, just conjure the stock image of a Cadillac in your mind. Now shrink the body, replace the leather upholstery with tacky and cheap fabrics and remove anything luxurious or dynamic. Throw in a few ugly accessories and you have the basic idea. No wonder the car almost brought this classic automaker to its knees.
You have to give it to John DeLorean; the man had gumption and a dream to make a car that would suit the needs of every American. He left a job working for General Motors with the intension of turning the automotive world on its head with a car that was luxurious, economical and safe, all the while looking like an unpainted, stainless steel Lotus Esprit. During production, the car was so coveted that potential buyers were willing to pay $10,000 dollar over list price, which was the equivalent to around $63,000 in 2012. Unfortunately, John DeLorean’s dreams of ruling the automotive world were short-lived, and the DeLorean Motor Company went belly-up shortly after the first cars left the assembly line. Before you shame the name of John DeLorean keep one point in mind: what would Marty McFly drive in “Back to the Future” if it weren’t for this gull-winged monstrosity otherwise known as the DeLorean DMC-12?
No list of the worst vehicle flops in history would be complete without the Ford Pinto. It’s not that the car’s styling was too offensive to the eyes, had an interior that looked like the shag carpet under Grandma’s couch or sounded like a dying seagull after it hit 55 mph. No, the reason for a general disdain of the Pinto might have something to do with the small, insignificant fact that the car would literally burst into flames if involved in a rear end collision. 27 deaths were attributed to these fires, making the Pinto by far the worst vehicle in automotive history. Who knows, maybe something as simple as replacing the suspension ball joints could have saved the reputation of this snazzy vehicle.
Thank goodness for odd people, because even the worst cars have diehard fans. Several of the world’s biggest flops are actually loved enough to warrant the formation of fan clubs, meetings and extensive car shows in their honor. Even the ugliest ducks are beautiful swans; it just depends on how you look at them.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.