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From Time to You, the 50 worst automobiles.
September 8, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

"Built in Soviet-bloc Yugoslavia, the Yugo had the distinct feeling of something assembled at gunpoint." Come for the pictures, stay for the banter. The Fifty Worst Cars of All Time.
posted by Atreides (78 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
A guy walks into an auto parts store and says "I'd like to get a new battery for my Yugo."

The guy behind the counter says "That sounds like a fair trade."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


Also, the Model T?

Fuck you.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2007


How do you double the value of a Yugo?

Fill the tank.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:49 PM on September 8, 2007


So, to recap:

"Cars suck, but cars are cool, but the cars that made today's cool cars possible suck because they made today's uncool SUV's possible".

Again, fuck you, Time.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:53 PM on September 8, 2007


cf.
posted by cillit bang at 2:56 PM on September 8, 2007


Yeah, this was well written and entertaining, except for putting certain vehicles on there for no other reason than to be preachy.
posted by evilcolonel at 2:58 PM on September 8, 2007


The Yugo 45 was said to be a 1970 Fiat 128. Rumor was they shipped the outmodeled Fiat tooling to Yugoslavia.
posted by Brian B. at 3:03 PM on September 8, 2007


Didn't we just do this a couple weeks ago? And I wish they'd lay off the Corvair.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2007


It is not possible to say "of all time" for a list like this. As you read these words there is a ten year old somewhere on this planet who will grow up to design a car that will make the Edsel look like a really good idea.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2007


Wonderful writing. Thanks for the link.
posted by mert at 3:16 PM on September 8, 2007


Why oh why oh why did they have to spread this across FIFTY-ONE pages! What kind of asshats would do something like that?
posted by Ber at 3:17 PM on September 8, 2007


I just noticed that the list is really not that objective, especially towards the end. You'd think that those cars were all lemmons, but they were just flops for different reasons.
posted by Brian B. at 3:22 PM on September 8, 2007


I see now, you have to find the complete list in the sidebar and go from there. The praise for the Chevy Chevette seems to be misplaced, if I recall correctly that piece of GM shit had a wood floor.
posted by Ber at 3:22 PM on September 8, 2007


The kind that make money per ad impression.
posted by empath at 3:24 PM on September 8, 2007


A Polski Fiat 126-os valamivel kisebb, mint egy szemeteskonténer és valamivel nagyobb, mint egy bernáthegyi kutya (ülve). Alakjára jellemzo az úgynevezett "cseppforma", mert cseppet sem hasonlit a korszerü, kedvezo légellenállású nyugati modellekre...
posted by Wolfdog at 3:39 PM on September 8, 2007


This is actually pretty good, despite the lefty, liberal preachiness. I somehow knew that the Pacer and the Castrato Camaro would be there.
posted by caddis at 3:54 PM on September 8, 2007


I liked this line:
The 3.0-liter Triumph V8 was a monumental failure, an engine that utterly refused to confine its combustion to the internal side.
posted by octothorpe at 3:55 PM on September 8, 2007


My best friend in high school drove a Yugo until it was stolen. It was a nearly unbreakable car, and what broke was pretty easy to repair.

Engine. Steering wheel. Seats. That was about it. I remember holding the engine while he took out the mounts, and then we lifted it out with our bare hands.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:57 PM on September 8, 2007


Oh my, they forgot the Chevy Monza, which with the V8 option required that the engine be lifted to change one of the spark plugs. Nice.
posted by caddis at 4:01 PM on September 8, 2007


caddis, that wasn't anything unusual when it came to big V-8 engines in (relatively) smaller cars. My uncle had a 1967 Ford Fairlane GT, which originally had an FE-block 390 but had a 460 shoehorned in at one point. We got so proficient at undoing the driver's side motor mount and changing plugs on that beast that we could do all eight faster than we could do the six on my mom's Thunderbird V-6.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2007


From the page on the H2:
Introduced shortly after 9/11 — an event whose causes were tangled in America's unquenchable thirst for oil — the Hummer H2 sent all the wrong signals.
No, no, Time Magazine, they hate our freedom. Get it right!
posted by Potsy at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2007


So we're invited to take the mick out of the Kalashnikov of auto engineering, while we believe that the avarage family car, some with hundreds of horsepower, loadedwith pointless gimmicks that we dump after a couple of years is progress?
posted by marvin at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2007


Further, the Corvair, despite Mr. Nader's whine, was one fine car, fast, cheap, decent looking, and dangerous handling. Just don't drive it like an asshole, because then you die.

Crash, a buddy of mine put a rather large V8, I can't remember now which one, into a Vega. That made the Corvair seem like a tricycle. I am amazed we are still alive. Of course, even routine maintenance required that the engine be pulled, but this was homebrew, not Detroit.
posted by caddis at 4:08 PM on September 8, 2007


caddis, I would love to have a V-8 Vega. Preferably a big-block, but I am a bit of a masochist when it comes to American iron.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:14 PM on September 8, 2007


What interests me is the stainless steel Deloreans... any other car go the stainless steel route? How are they holding up today?
posted by furtive at 4:18 PM on September 8, 2007


They look nice in the silverware drawer, furtive.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:23 PM on September 8, 2007


Woah, no way does the Fiat Multipla deserve to be on that list - it's a beautiful vehicle that just happens to go in a different direction, design-wise. I mean, the Aztek is terrible - a tacky Homermobile botch up - but the Multipla is a good, well-considered design.
Such a shame that Fiat have stripped it of its character now, giving it a generic MPV snout.
posted by Flashman at 4:34 PM on September 8, 2007


I had a Plymouth Laser with a stainless steel exhaust. It lasted 12 years with only the Y-pipe requiring replacement. (I beat my cars into the ground, and this was the most reliable vehicle I or any member of our household has ever owned, including the slew of Hondas, and it was pretty fast too, although I never got it over 137 or so, damned traffic on the horizon of the lonely highway.)
posted by caddis at 4:37 PM on September 8, 2007


I fail to see how iDrive + Bangle butt = one of the worst cars of all time. They're bad, but not car-killing bad, and I think the jury's still out on whether that 7-Series generation was even all that bad.
posted by chrominance at 4:38 PM on September 8, 2007


I'm surprised the Vega wasn't on this list, but at least the Aztec was. I would have loved to have been at the unveiling just to hear the crowd.
posted by tommasz at 4:40 PM on September 8, 2007


Yeah, the BMW 7 series is one of the 50 worst cars of all time because of the i-Drive?! I'd say every Chris Bangle-designed BMW should be berated - his bizarre, baroque styling demolishes the refinement that BMW spent decades establishing, but the iDrive seems the least of BMW's problems.
posted by Flashman at 4:41 PM on September 8, 2007


And no Lotus ever deserves to be on any list of crap cars. Sure, some models have their problems, but Colin Chapman's cars are all the antithesis of crap.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2007


It may have been a complete piece of shit, but the 1913 Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo makes the steampunk part of my soul happy just by looking at it.
posted by quin at 4:52 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here is a link to the complete list.
posted by quin at 4:54 PM on September 8, 2007


Further, the Corvair, despite Mr. Nader's whine, was one fine car, fast, cheap, decent looking, and dangerous handling.

Rumor was that people would pass out from leaking fumes and then hit a barrier at survivable speeds, but die from being impaled on the steering column. Hence the title of Nader's book, Unsafe at any Speed.
posted by Brian B. at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2007


Speaking of the Vega, it belongs on any Worst Car list. The fenders typically rotted completely through at the top in two years, and the plated cylinder bores flaked out in under 30K miles. It also had an engine-temperature gauge that read 'Cold' when the coolant level was low, which didn't promote engine life. A disaster all around, and proof positive that the Motor Trend Car of the Year award is nonsense. Reinforced by the award later given to the Renault Alliance.

The Pacer was another of those cars that required yanking the engine out to change the plugs, mostly because it was designed for a Wankel engine that GM eventually didn't supply to AMC. The six-cylinder that it wound up with went back too far to allow access to the last plug.


There's a DeLorean that parks by a gym I pass on my way to work. It looks kind of dated now. Most people painted over the stainless, either with color or a clearcoat, because the bare metal took handprints so easily.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:03 PM on September 8, 2007


It was/is arrogantly huge, overtly militaristic, openly scornful of the common good. As a vehicle choice, the H2 was a spiteful reactionary riposte to notions that, you know, maybe we all shouldn't be driving tanks that get 10 miles per gallon... It all contributed to GM's emerging image as the Dick Cheney of car companies.

Heh, spot on.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:12 PM on September 8, 2007


"Cultural critics speculated that the [Edsel] was a flop because the vertical grill looked like a vagina."

Never heard that before, and, being naive, or something, never thought that before. Story I heard was that it looked like someone sucking a lemon.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:12 PM on September 8, 2007


Interesting, though, as you get into the 70's to notice that the reasons for a car getting onto this list have changed.

Apologies to Chapman, but the Lotus Elite was a bit of a dog (I know someone who tried to own one once, for 12 months), but the Triumph Stag is a different kettle of fish - follow the owners manual, written by serious men in brown cardigans smoking walnut pipes who told you exactly what to do and when to do it, and they continue to run fine. OK, what you should do is "everything", and when you should do it is "every weekend", but the point still remains...

Then you get into the 70's. The worst part of the 1974 Jaguar XK-E is the rubber bumper overriders enforced by US law. If you see one from the rest of the world without those monstrosities, they're still a beautiful car.

And to pick on a 1975 Morgan Plus 8, just because someone butchered it to meet US emission requirements? Sacrilege!
posted by Pinback at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2007


Putting the '58 MGA Twin Cam on any list of "worst cars" marks the maker of that list as a troglodyte, and an automotive philistine. Either you can tune, or you can't. If you can't, MG made serviceable cars with solid (for the time) tractor engines, and lovely lines.

If you got your hands on a Twin Cam, and spent the time and money to care for it, as I did, you were rewarded with experience by which, still, today, you measure every other vehicle you drive.
posted by paulsc at 5:27 PM on September 8, 2007


Let it settle once and for all ; my car rules (old diesel, it runs on cofee vapours, suck it commor rail !) . It follows that yours must suck.
posted by elpapacito at 5:30 PM on September 8, 2007


Many years go, my buddy and I, both rocking a very punk look, were walking out of a Blockbusters video when a guy drove up in a Lamborghini LM002 'Warwagon'. Right in front of us, he hops out, with the engine running and the door open, he runs inside.

Now, this was years before the concept of an SUV had entered our minds, and all we knew was that we were looking at this crazy mean looking truck-thing.

We really considered just liberating it right there. Our thinking being 'what the hell are they going to use to stop us?'

Fortunately for the guy, I had put my evil ways behind me, and I walked away.

I bet it would have been a hell of a joyride though.
posted by quin at 5:40 PM on September 8, 2007


The two worst cars my family owned when I was a kid didn't make the list--the Vega and the Pontiac 6000 LE.

The Vega made its last journey up a steep hill...with my grandpa pushing it with his Toronado and my mother steering it.

The Pontiac 6000 LE had one of those old 1980s GM digital dashboards. The radio would randomly skip stations by itself. The speedometer would flash random numbers and other gibberish. A few times the whole thing just turned off in the middle of a drive.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2007


It seems like Time wants us to drive nothing but boringly styled and/or expensive cars.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:00 PM on September 8, 2007


Well, to me it seems that any "List of the best/worst/etc. ... " is just an excuse to get arguments started.

That said, this list is at least 50% complete and utter bullshit.

MGAs, Elites, and Mondials might be a lot of things, but being among the Fifty Worst Cars of All Time, they most certainly are not.

They're also completely off base on that small block V8 used in the TR 8. Leyland used that engine for decades after they bought the manufacturing rights off of Buick (where it did a great job in var. Buick specials) in a number of different cars.

The less said about them dissing Morgan, the better.

To read ill conceived crap like this after watching qualifying at Monza this morning and getting the new tires and wheels mounted on the sports car I'm rebuilding was a bigger slap in face than Kimi stuffing it at the Variante Ascari in the morning practice.
posted by Relay at 6:03 PM on September 8, 2007


Rumor was that people would pass out from leaking fumes and then hit a barrier at survivable speeds, but die from being impaled on the steering column. Hence the title of Nader's book, Unsafe at any Speed.

wimps
posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on September 8, 2007


Say what you will, but I believe the Waterman Aerobile inspired thousands of modders to add cheap spoilers to their rides.
posted by SPrintF at 6:21 PM on September 8, 2007


I think the only reason the AMC Hornet didn't make the list is that the Gremlin was just a teeny bit uglier.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:37 PM on September 8, 2007


The Lotus Elite was a revolutionary car: the first composite monocoque body in the car business. Actually, composite monocoques were quite novel in the airplane business at the time, that's how far ahead Chapman was.

Unfortunately, Colin Chapman never got a very good grip on the concepts of "quality" or "reliability", and both his road and race cars had an unfortunate tendency to disintegrate on the tarmac...

And, damn, I do like the Multipla. Not that I'd ever think of buying one, though...
posted by Skeptic at 6:41 PM on September 8, 2007


Why do they call them spoilers, when they make any car better?

Also, the Fuller Dymaxion is one of the 50 worst?
posted by jtron at 6:44 PM on September 8, 2007


Yeah, and what's up with their take on the Dymaxion?

The accident that totaled the prototype was no mystery, another car pulled out in front of it, causing the crash.
posted by Relay at 6:49 PM on September 8, 2007


The amphicar is totally cool, I see one driven around town and it is such a wtf moment when I see that propeller on the back.
A lot of those pre 70's cars are cool and if the author does not like them I would love one or two.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:24 PM on September 8, 2007


The Dymaxion had three wheels instead of four, making it inherently unstable. This is why the three-wheeled off-road vehicles became "quads" a number of years ago. Thankfully archival footage of the three-wheelers can be seen here.
posted by Tube at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2007


that guy can write.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:28 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


He slags the '71 440! Enough said.

caddis writes "Crash, a buddy of mine put a rather large V8, I can't remember now which one, into a Vega. That made the Corvair seem like a tricycle."

Drove one with a warmed over 327. It was quite the package.

furtive writes "any other car go the stainless steel route? How are they holding up today?"

Cadillac made a stainless body in the late fifties, painted not brushed.

Kirth Gerson writes "Most people painted over the stainless, either with color or a clearcoat, because the bare metal took handprints so easily."

Funny, of the dozen or so deloreans I've seen only one was painted. And that because it had upwards of a hundred pounds of bondo on it.
posted by Mitheral at 8:34 PM on September 8, 2007


All this talk of Vegas and Gremlins... I remember, oh, the early eighties, guys in the neighbourhood jamming big eight cylinder engines in them and making pseudo muscle cars.

Oh, the horror.
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:35 PM on September 8, 2007


What, no Leyland P76?
posted by Jimbob at 8:41 PM on September 8, 2007


this is what people in my hometown think is useful
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 PM on September 8, 2007


Man, we owned a Catalina somewhere along the way. Seriously, I think that sedan may have been larger then an H2. They knew about land boats back in the day. And not a station wagon with fake wooden panels on the list? Tsk tsk. Still, a very entertaining and fun read.

Oh yeah, and the Le Car. I don't think you muricuns got that one though. I think the Lada *might* have been worse then the Yugo, though I still see quite a few of the 4WD Lada's kicking around.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2007


As I mentioned in a previous thread, my parents owned a fucking Lada. And it wasn't one of the fancy 4x4s. Of course, being a copy of a copy of a Fiat, the Yugo may actually beat it out for general shittiness. Not to mention the Trabant.

The cool thing about the Lada was that it came with a complete socket set in the trunk. The sad thing was that you needed it.

I'm also not seeing the Fiero on that list. Now that was a shitty American car.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:06 PM on September 8, 2007


Tube writes "The Dymaxion had three wheels instead of four, making it inherently unstable."

There is nothing inherently unstable about three wheel vehicles especially when the drive wheel is at the back. Rear steering is tricky which is why you only see it on forklifts.
posted by Mitheral at 10:10 PM on September 8, 2007


Soviet-block Yugoslavia? Tito would beg to differ.
posted by Harald74 at 10:37 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with Relay. I don't care that he won a Pulitzer Prize, Dan Neil should be embarrassed for creating this list.

The Airflow's "worst"-ness derives from its spectacularly bad timing.

So an advanced design at a bad time makes it a worst car? Come on.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:06 PM on September 8, 2007


You might not agree with the writer's choices, but the writing is a master class in snark. Bad things to understate about 50 cars with no repetition.
posted by Cranberry at 12:02 AM on September 9, 2007


Agree with pmurray63 that the Airflow did not fail, the public did.
posted by Cranberry at 12:03 AM on September 9, 2007


* American Cars.
posted by triv at 12:40 AM on September 9, 2007


I have a great love for Catalinas. The bulk of the naughtiness of my younger days was born in the passenger seats of a big-ass Pontiac. To this day, the predominant memory of my misspent youth, is cruising down back roads at 120 mph in an old Cat, with nothing but the parking lights on.

I think that beast got, maybe, 12 miles to the gallon. But damn was it fun to drive. And yeah, I bet it was longer than a Hummer.
posted by quin at 1:27 AM on September 9, 2007


Clearly, a list of 15 bad cars would have sufficed, but alas, the word whores of editors wanted more. I mean, Aston Martin Lagonda? Rear engine bashing? BMW 7?

Loss of time. Oops, should have seen that "in partnership with CNN" blurb.
posted by Laotic at 3:07 AM on September 9, 2007


Wow. What an utterly crap-tastic list. Inclusion in the "all-time worst" list seems wholly dependent on either:
A) Bad sales
B) Just a weird idea.

This one, for example. Nowhere in the description does the author mention any failings or shortcomings. In fact, it's inclusion on the list seems to boil-down to the author's disbelief that the builder actually flew it. As if anything not churned-out from a 21st century mega-factory can't possibly be built right.

The whole article is the sound of one journalist fapping.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2007


Oh yes, we in the U.S.
had Le Car. AKA Le Joke. It's on Car Talk's 10 Worst list.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:44 AM on September 9, 2007


My brother had a TR7. God, what an awful car.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2007


No discussion of Yugos can go without mention of the movie
Drowning Mona with Bette Midler, in which almost everyone drives a Yugo. The movie takes place in Verplanck, New York, where the Yugo was supposedly introduced into the US. Those that are not driving Yugos are driving other cars on the 10 worst list.

Where they got that many working Yugos, I cannot even guess.
posted by eye of newt at 6:28 AM on September 9, 2007


Holy smokes do I ever want a Lagonda.
posted by sourwookie at 6:59 AM on September 9, 2007


WANT
posted by item at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2007


REALLY WANT
posted by item at 8:42 AM on September 9, 2007


REALLY REALLY WANT
posted by item at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2007


Let me summarize this list for everyone:

1. This car was devastatingly successful at its intended purpose, but it was ugly. Worst car of all time!
2. Ha ha, this cheap car kind of sucks! Plebian ****ers should have to WALK!
3. This car has an oversized engine and is bad for the environment! That sucks!
4. They cut the engine size on this sports car for environmental reasons! Now it sucks!
5. This car helped create the idea that everyone has to own a car into the American consciousness. That's bad! (by the way, I own several classic cars and am so involved in the car culture that Time hired me to write this list.)
6. (occasional token valid entry)
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:40 PM on September 9, 2007


Soviet-block Yugoslavia? Tito would beg to differ.

Yeah, that was bugging me too.
posted by Gnatcho at 12:34 AM on September 10, 2007


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