We’ve had a lot of fun sharing old Bob Mayer car reviews (see this crappy Chrysler New Yorker and truly LOL-worthy Fiat Strada), and Jason was at it again this afternoon–but with a twist. This time around, a broader point was being illustrated with the malaise-era laughs and comically wide lapels. Specifically, the alleged stinkers that land on “Worst Cars of All Time” lists (inevitably inundated with one-weird-trick ads and inscrutable trypophobia-triggering pics) are not necessarily the worst of all time, or even the not-very-goodest of all time.
And that’s where our Comment of the Day comes in, via LTDScott. As he points out, “didn’t sell well” and “objectively bad” are vastly different things. Plenty of perfectly good, even very good cars, fail to buyers in numbers and simply fade away. But woe to the uniquely-styled or category-defying and perfectly fine car that flops. “It stunk! Everyone knows!”
Perhaps on Earth 2, the Volkswagen Beetle is a Worst of All Time, smeared anew with clickbait articles offering tired appraisals of it’s obvious awfulness year in and year merely out because it didn’t sell. “Air cooled, that rounded shape, motor in the back–what a joke!” Thankfully we live on Earth 1. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows here, but at least we knew the Beetle was cool.
How was your Wednesday? Good? Tomorrow: THE HUMP!
I had to look up trypophobia …I knew it wasn’t trichophobia, but beyond that I was stumped. Thanks Peter! 🙂
The Aztek would have bene a good concept car. Otherwise, it was a styling nightmare and drove like crap. It was top heavy and leaned like a drunken sailor. The only available engine was a weezy 3.4 liter v6 worth about 180HP and a 4 speed automatic. It didn’t go up in flames, i’ll give it that.
The concept that it embodied was great and it had some fun features but the car itself was terrible. Let’s not blame marketing for not being able to sell a turd to people looking for roses.
For the record, I wouldn’t put the aztek in the top ten list either, just so that is clear.
To be fair, I don’t often see the Aztec on “worst” cars lists but rather it shows up on the “ugliest” lists, and I can’t argue with that.
The interwebs sometimes mash the two lists together. But I agree that the Aztek was stone cold ugly, and not in a quirky way that makes the Edsel seem neat. So I’m right there with you.
The concept was pretty awesome, it was the bean counters and focus groups that ruined it. Also, just worth sharing this modified aztek, because it’s really, really awesome:
That looks surprisingly cool. The original is so hideous that this almost seems like a miracle.
I think Jason needs to create an alternate universe in which Major Hirst did not have his way and the Morris Minor dominated the world.
I’d also add that any number of cars that tend to make “all-time greatest” lists had terrible flaws that people tend to ignore. This is for the inverse reasoning as the cars everyone loves to hate: great marketing, nostalgia/cool poster in your childhood bedroom, greatness in one dimension that made everything else worthwhile, etc.
This is spot on. On the other end of the spectrum, how many crap cars sold like hotcakes? A lot!
Mustang II (best-selling Mustang generation by a longshot!)
Chevette (sold new until 1987!)
Somehow awful cars runs through my bloodline. My Dad’s favorite car was a 1958 Edsel Ranger coupe with a big V-8 and 3 on the tree. Until some one ran a red and t-boned it. Replaced with an equally weird 1964 Ford Custom coupe with the same drive train.
I, of course, own a 2002 Thunderbird.
Don’t understand how anyone can heatedly dislike the Aztec when the Prius is exactly the same, but shrunken down.
Every British car I ever owned (6) had bearing material come out on an oil change or holes in the side of the block. So, I rebuilt each of them. Those were objectively “bad” cars, but I loved them.
Have you heard people talk about Prius styling (the new generation excepted)? Let’s just say they are…not kind. 😉
I mean, there’s a reason ChrisFix has a video about a Prius titled something like “I bought the most hated car on the internet”.
Thank you! Justice for the Edsel, I say. So many of these “worst car” lists are bullshit. Recently I made the mistake of scrolling through a click-bait list of the “ugliest cars” and almost all of them were cars whose looks I actually love. (Plus, the PT Cruiser wasn’t even on the list, which is definitely a top-10 ugly car.)
I guess the problem is that weird or avant garde designs are equated with ugly. Of course the Alfa Romeo SZ, Aston Martin Lagonda, Citroën Ami, and the GM dustbuster vans (all included in said list) are pretty different, but they’re all beautiful in my opinion.
From what I remember the Edsel did actually have very serious quality control problems – it was built on the regular Ford and Mercury assembly lines by people who would have rather been building Fords and Mercurys.
That said, you don’t get stuff on there like that Nissan van that was completely recalled.
I’m pretty annoyed that I somehow typoed Pontiac. I guess that’s what happens when commenting while on a work call, heh.
I did have to explain my comment to my wife. I asked her if she could think of an example of an infamously bad car. She is not a gearhead and hasn’t seen one of these clickbait lists online so she couldn’t think of one, so I offered up Ford Pinto and Edsel as examples. Then I remembered I had a copy of “Lemons – The World’s Worst Cars” which sure enough had a Pinto and Edsel right on the back cover.
But to further prove my point, this book dedicates 11(!) pages to the Edsel and even admits that Edsels are coveted today, whereas it only dedicated half a page each to the Aspen/Volare and all cars with the GM 350 diesel, which I think most of us could agree were objectively bad.
Also, Jason Vuic makes the point in his book on the Yugo that any car that passed FMVSS safety standards and crash testing couldn’t possibly be the “worst” car of all time, since it did at least have to meet certain baseline standards in order to even get on the market, which I tend to agree with. I don’t think anything ever sold in North America or Western Europe could possibly be worse, than, say, those Mercedes 190 copies North Korea hacked together from scrap metal in the 1980s. Any attempt at making one of those “worst ever” lists that doesn’t have the Paektusan or Kaengsaeng on it somewhere isn’t worth even clicking on.
I was recently in west Africa (Dakar Senegal, to be exact) when I saw my first Iranian car. Most of the taxis in Dakar were I think Khodro (logo is a horse head), and our driver told us the car was from Iran. I had no idea that Iran even had a car industry, but when I thought about it of course they would have to. Because after 1979 who is going to be able to sell them cars for import? So it seems like they would have had to make their own to fulfill domestic demand. According to Wikipedia they’re like the 20th largest auto-producing country in the world, and one reference said they make more cars in Iran than in Italy. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect they’re probably not as safe in a collision as better known brands. Certainly I’m glad that none of our taxies were in a collision, given the overall state of disrepair most of them were in…
I’d imagine that the Iranian cars are at least fairly solid. Many of the Iran Khodro vehicles are older Peugeot designs with some minor modernization.
Perhaps that is the case but from personal experience I must warn you against making too many assumptions about the nature of Western European automotive standards:
Right on, LTDScott!
Most Worst Cars of All Times Lists makes my blood boil. These articles are always 98% opinion, and 2% fact and 100% cow patties. Even some really bad cars had all the kinks out and were quite good cars by the end, or were good cars all along, depending on which drive train was selected.
Plus a lot of genuinely bad cars are still celebrated for what they got right. Any of us would be excited to see an NSU Ro-80 on the road today, despite the fact that when it was new, its rotary engine needed replacing after 10,000 miles and those constant replacements drove the company to bankruptcy before the problems were eventually solved. But you won’t see those on any worst cars lists, because hey at least they were innovative and genuinely ahead of their time, and the fact that they were pretty certainly helped. Most of these lists are just bullying cars the author deems ugly rather than actually mentioning unreliable or poorly made vehicles.
Yes, this right here. Excellent summation, thank you.
I am thinking COTD should be COTM. Comment of the morning Hell it is not even 4pm PST and we got COTD. And it sucks. Didnt COTD used to be witty, smart, and funny? Who is playing Ed McMann here.
COTD doesn’t always have to be funny. Insight or helpful context is nice sometimes. Nothing wrong with some variety.
And I figure that any comment posted after COTD is posted probably becomes eligible for the next day, so the 24-hour(ish) cycle still counts (I could be wrong on that). Also, I’m not going to expect someone to browse comments late at night just to write this up. I want the Autopian staff to have time to relax and not think about work. Not only does rest make a person better at things, but all people deserve to rest and relax.