Building a shiny metal turd is never fun.
No automobile manufacturer sets out to build a complete failure, but sometimes, it just happens. With poor reliability, poor execution or just a poorly conceived idea in the first place, some cars are best left forgotten.
And this isn’t just an issue reserved for terrible third-world automakers – sometimes the automotive elite can produce an abomination on wheels. Here now are the Top 10 bad cars from great manufacturers.
10. 1980 Ferrari Mondial
Being the worst Ferrari ever made really isn’t that bad. It’s like being the poorest billionaire or worst player entered into the baseball hall of fame. Nonetheless, the Mondial is regarded by many as the worst vehicle to ever wear a prancing horse badge.
A mid-engine layout with room for four passengers led to a somewhat awkward shape and the original Mondial 8 had less than inspiring performance. Although things would improve in subsequent updates, the 1980 Mondial is a sore spot in the world of Ferrairs – despite a strong cult following.
9. 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda
Ambition can sometimes get the best of us. Take the Aston Martin Lagonda, for example. To help bolster cash reserves at Aston Martin in the 1970s, a state of the art, ultra-luxury four-door sedan was conceived by the brain trust at Aston Martin.
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Built with cutting-edge yet dodgy electronics and controversial styling that drew few fans, the uber expensive, heavy-weight Lagonda was an ambitious effort that never lived up to its potential.
8. 2010 Acura ZDX
A year after the BMW X6 introduced the world to the idea of a four-door SUV “coupe,” Acura decided to do the same thing with the brand’s mid-size crossover. The ZDX was essentially an Acura MDX with a sloping rear roofline and more aggressive styling.
The issue was that the styling was a bit too aggressive for many and some described it as awkward while others found it downright ugly. More expensive and less practical than the MDX, the four-seat ZDX never caught on and lacked the BMW X6’s sporting character. Sales of the ZDX were slower than a bulldozer in a drag race.
7. 1997 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The first generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class was a bit of a disaster. Forget for a moment its frumpy one-box shape with a grafted-on Mercedes grille. The real issue with the A-Class was its unstable nature. It infamously failed the Swedish moose test, as it was prone to rollover during abrupt lane change maneuvers. It was so prone to flipping on its lid that Mercedes had to recall every model and install stability control to stop this from happening.
The A-Class also felt very un-Mercedes inside and to drive, which can’t solely be blamed on the fact that it was an entry-level model. The new A-Class is positioned the same way and is a great little car.
6. 2001 Jaguar X-Type
To rapidly expand Jaguar’s lineup in the early 2000s, Ford began badge engineering cars for the British automaker. This led to creations like the mid-size S-Type and, unfortunately, the compact X-Type.
Little more than a modified Ford Mondeo wearing a shrunken-down Jaguar XJ body, the X-Type did not drive like a Jaguar. With a transversely mounted engine and a front-biased all-wheel drive system, the car was more of a mainstream mid-size sedan than luxury car. Reliability was not great either, and sales for the model came nowhere near Jaguar’s targets.
5. 2002 Lexus SC430
The original Lexus SC helped solidify the brand’s reputation in America. Based on the Japan-only Toyota Soarer, the SC could be had with a powerful V8 or silky smooth six-cylinder engine. A great performance luxury grand tourer, the six-cylinder engine could even be paired with a manual transmission.
So when its replacement came out, the SC 430, expectations were high. Unfortunately, it lived up to none of them. Although it did feature a V8 engine and rear-wheel drive, the hardtop convertible was immensely heavy and lacked any real performance capability. The folding hardtop took up most of the trunk space when opened, hurting the car’s usability. And then there was the price, tepid look and so on and so on…
4. 2006 Saab 9-7x
Another example of badge engineering gone wrong, in the early-2000s, General Motors was re-badging the brand’s mid-size SUV for basically every division. There was the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Oldsmobile Bravada.
Not to be left out, Saab sadly received its own version of the SUV as well, called the 9-7X. Lovingly nicknamed the Trollblazer, the 9-7x differed little from its numerous brothers, but did include a center console mounted ignition switch in keeping with Saab tradition. That’s about all that kept with Saab tradition, as a mainstream body-on-frame SUV with a pushrod V8 engine couldn’t stray any further away from the great Saabs of the past.
3. 2012 Aston Martin Cygnet
This may be the strangest re-badged car in history. Created solely to meet European Union fleet average emissions regulations, the Cygnet was a Toyota iQ wearing Aston Martin exterior styling and an upgraded interior.
That meant this front-wheel drive ‘Aston Martin’ received a 97 hp 1.3-liter engine and optional continuously variable transmission. A slap in the face to Aston Martin’s proud tradition, the Cygnet was a sales disaster and sold somewhere in the neighborhood of just 300 units before it was mercifully put out of its misery.
2. 1983 Cadillac Cimarron
What’s worse than an Aston Martin iQ built for emissions compliance? How about a Cadillac Cavalier designed as an honest-to-goodness attempt at entry-level luxury? Based on General Motors’ J-body platform that underpinned models like the Pontiac Sunbird and, yes, the Chevrolet Cavalier, the Cadillac Cimarron was introduced in the early 1980s as a luxury compact designed to take on the best from Germany.
As should have been expected, the Cimarron’s economy car roots were not at all disguised, and the car’s quality, driveability and style all woefully trailed the competition. Many dubbed this as one of the worst cars ever made and it’s easy to argue that it should be No. 1 awful car of this list.
1. 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati
But the honor of top spot goes to the Chrylser TC by Maserati simply because not one, but two automobile manufacturers had a hand in this unmitigated disaster. A mishmash of parts from Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Maserati, the TC was as reliable a British roadster in the rain.
Although the 2.2-liter turbocharged “Maserati” engine did provide some excitement, the front-wheel-drive TC was based on a shortened Daytona platform and was neither all that sporty nor luxurious. Worse off, it was more expensive than the Lebaron convertible, yet didn’t really distinguish itself as being any more prestigious and included extra head aches when it came to reliability.
Sales were dismal and it wasn’t long before the TC was dropped and for everyone involved, hopefully forgotten.