As VW group specialists, we spend most of our time working with beautifully designed, solidly built vehicles. But in this post, we peek through our fingers at the other extreme – the cars that we see in our nightmares. Here’s our pick of seven of the worst cars ever assembled.
1. Austin Allegro
This makes everyone’s list of worst cars, and with good reason. Along with the Morris Marina, it shares dubious top spot for the worst cars produced by the British Leyland in its shonkiest era. Reliability was so poor that owners christened it less-than-fondly the ‘all aggro’. The square steering wheel might be seen as a bold design move, but apparently it was necessary in order to see the display. We think that says a lot.
2. Morris Marina
The Marina has become legendary for all the wrong reasons. Based on a 23 year old Morris Minor design, it was doomed from the outset. The handling was rubbish and the bodywork rusted at the sniff of a wet road (it’s been reported that of the 870,000 cars made, only 120 now remain on UK roads). One anecdote gives some insight into the mindset of the manufacturers: when a minor design flaw was discovered with the windscreen wipers, engineers simply fitted them the wrong way round.
3. Lincoln Continental MKIV
Not that a lot of them made it to our shores, but we think the Lincoln is worthy for inclusion on any ‘worst cars’ list. This behemoth sums up everything that’s terrible about American sedans of its era. At 19 feet long and 6 1/2 feet wide, it’s the size of a hovercraft and it has a turning circle the size of Belgium. Despite a colossal 7.5 litre engine, wheezing up to 60mph takes 10.8 seconds. Handling? Think a barge on springs. All this could be forgiven if it had any charm. But it hasn’t.
Over a thirty year period, East German manufacturers VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau made over three million Trabants. And every single one of them was horrible. Despite being made from recycled materials, Trabants were mobile ecological disasters, churning out smoke like a burning tyre factory. The engine in the last models generated a feeble 26 BHP – about 38% of a Suzuki Alto. That meant that the car reached 60mph in a glacial 21 seconds. Despite its cult status, the Trabant remains one of the worst cars of its era.
5. Ford Pinto
Most of the cars in this list are uncomfortable, unreliable, nasty to drive and worse to look at. But none has the same safety record as the Ford Pinto. In 1973, Ford was receiving reports of Pintos catching fire after low speed rear-end collisions. In a notorious memo, Ford compared the cost of recalls to ‘the societal costs for injuries and deaths related to fires’. The company earned widespread condemnation for its apparently callous calculation and suffered a long-lasting dent in its reputation.
6. Reva G-Wiz
For a while the Reva G-Wiz was the most popular electric car in the world. Don’t let this fool you, though: it only means that no major manufacturer had really invested in electric cars. Blessed with the stability of a drunk walking over a trampoline, the Reva might have found a place in a world without corners. Nevertheless, the Reva was a popular London city car, so we grudgingly admit that it must have had some advantages.
7. Yugo GV
Another entry from the former Eastern bloc, the Yugo was the export name given to the Zastava Koral, produced in the former Yugoslavia. Famed for its agricultural ride, poor build quality, lack of refinement and sheer ugliness, the Yugo regularly appears in ‘worst car’ lists. Its nickname ‘Yugo Nowhere’ sums up the popular perception of its unreliability.
What makes your list?
That’s the top seven cars we hope we never have to work on (though we will of course MOT, service or repair any marque). And no, the Reliant Robin didn’t make it. What would be on your list? Let us know, and in the meantime, don’t have any car-nightmares!
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