Top 10 Worst Car Financial Failures

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A Brief History

Earlier today, we noted how the 50 millionth Ford automobile rolled off the assembly line, a shiny new Thunderbird!  Nevertheless, not all automotive ideas have been winners…

Digging Deeper

10. Bricklin (1974-1976)

The only car ever with gull wing doors that opened and closed electrically looked good, but was not good.  Only 2,854 of the Canadian cars were built, costing the province of New Brunswick $23 million of their investment.  Built with either an AMC or Ford V-8, the Bricklin had no ashtrays, which made it ahead of its time for sure!

9. Cadillac Cimmaron (1982-1988)

Based on the Chevy Cavalier economy car, Caddy buyers were not fooled.  The Cimmaron was supposed to make the Cadillac experience reachable by more people, but instead succeeded in diminishing the Cadillac mystique.  It contained only a 4 cylinder engine the first 2 years!

8. Sears Allstate (1953-1953)

Actually a rebadged Kaiser Henry J, it did not sell either!  At the time Sears was the biggest retailer in the world and the US was still the king of car manufacturing.  This seemingly match made in heaven ended in divorce!

7. Pontiac Fiero (1984)

The debut model sold well, but was so bad following years sales went down even though the car improved.  It looked racy,but was not.  The small sports car like the MGB, Tirumph Spitfire, Mazda Miata and others just seems to be something Americans cannot make!

6. Tucker Torpedo (1948)

Only 51 prototypes were made before folding.  It probably would have been a decent car, but industry giants ganged up on Tucker to spoil his dream.  At least the 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and his Dream made it to production, although it lost money!

5. Chevrolet Corvair (1960-1969)

Destroyed by 1965 Ralph Nader book Unsafe at Any Speed, it actually was not that bad, but reputations die hard.  It is a collectible today.

4. Mustang II (1974-1978)

This failure was based on the Pinto platform!  1974 remains the only year ever that no Mustang was offered with a V-8.  Named Motor Trend Car of the Year ‘74 during the dark days for performance cars, with pollution control overruling performance.

3. Yugo (1985-1992)

This small, cheap car is a joke to this day.  Dan Aykroyd pokes fun at it in the 1987 movie Dragnet.  Retailers of larger more expensive cars sometimes offered to throw in a Yugo with the purchase of the bigger car!

2. The DeLorean (1981-1982)

The car looked fast, but was not.  A futuristic looking DeLorean starred with Michael J. Fox in the Back to the Future movie series as the time machine!  Nevertheless, buyers found the unpainted stainless steel hard to keep clean.

1. The Edsel (1958)

What has become synonymous with car flop was ugly as sin with the “horse collar“ grill.  The Edsel was actually supposed to be an upscale car line, and was introduced with its own television special!  Pushbutton transmission and 4 models to choose from, including a station wagon, Edsel was actually created as its own division within Ford Motor Company, along with Ford, Mercury and Lincoln.  Although only 68,000 were made its first year, that was in fact the second largest new car line introduction in history at that time.  Sales fell off and only 2,846 were made in 1960.

Question for students (and subscribers): What was your worst experience with a car?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Nader, Ralph. Unsafe At Any Speed. Grossman Publishers, 1965.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.