By on January 17, 2012

Image by Phillip GredenI’ve played many a game of Buzzword Bingo with equally bored coworkers while stuck in 19-hour PowerPoint presentations, back when I slaved as a tech writer in the software biz. Why not apply this concept to a bingo game for car freaks trapped in a boring rental car on a road trip across one of those states that’s nothing but cornfields? Yes, Bad Car* Bingo; you’ve got your card, you look for the cars on your card, and you cross them off when you see them. I tell you what, if the 24 Hours of LeMons crew had some of these cards for those four-hour drives from the airport to the racetrack in a (shudder) Galant or (consider walking as a real option) Nitro, the time would pass a lot quicker. Imagine the thrill of finally spotting that elusive Caddy That Zigs and shouting “BINGO!” to the dismay of your competitors. I’m going to make some more of these cards for my trip to Texas next month.

*My definition of bad, in this case, could be a perfectly good car that failed in the marketplace, or a car that has a negative popular perception… or just a terrible car, period. Feel free to make your own suggestions for further BCB cards.

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76 Comments on “Bored On a Long Road Trip? Bad Car Bingo!...”

  • avatar

    Include the Mazda Tribute! It was always a Ford Escape in disguise that failed!
    The Ford Probe would also be fun because it never caught on!

  • avatar

    Meh… just look at the scenery.

    As for your list – them’s fightin’ words for a lot of the B&B, especially Kreidler’s grandma.

    • 0 avatar

      My bingo version would end too quickly to play because all the bad cars are foreign.

      And Kreidler’s grandma probably likes Bingo.

    • 0 avatar

      They are welcome to make their own Bad Car Bingo cards. You can’t make ANY list of cars without pissing off 40% of the readers… although, damn, I totally forgot to add some Audis!

      • 0 avatar

        How about Auto Bailout Bingo?
        You know, scratch off the cars from companies bailed out in 2009?

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Wait a sec… only one bad Daewoo?

        My auctioneer friend’s last day of work came about because of Daewoo. On seeing a Hyundai Excel coming across the block he announced,

        “That was the shittiest car in America until they made the Daewoo!”

        Needless to say, the car didn’t get sold and my friend got a pink slip.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      As one who is still slowly finishing up a project Pacer hot rod, I am disappointed my own love hasn’t been displayed in that grid.

      It’s far too easy to add more to that list: you could have several cards, each one with a random assortment of vehicle types.

      A few more for the list:

      AMC Gremlin and Pacer
      Yugo GV
      Fiat Strada
      Porsche 924 and Turbo (first gen only: 924S models don’t count)
      Audi Fox and 100 (inboard disc brakes for the – what the hell where they thinking, anyway?)

      • 0 avatar

        The inboard brakes were actually only on the Audi F103 series (60, 72, 75, 80 and Super 90) and the F104 (original 100).

        The reason for those goes back to Ludwig Kraus, the head of Auto Union engineering first under Mercedes and then under Volkswagen: he had been part of the engineering team for the Mercedes W196 Silver Arrows in the 50s, and the F103 (launched in 1965, just as VW was taking over) gave him the opportunity to use the same brake design in a production car. The 100 (a skunkworks project if there ever was one, explicitly forbidden by Heinz Nordhoff) used the same design, but the Passat/80/Fox had conventional brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        Yeah, it was the early 100 series I recall actually seeing with those inboard brakes. I just remember dropping by a friend’s home one afternoon to see him very unhappy with his outside-in teardown fully progressed to where he could get to the rotors. It’s where I began to develop my aversion to such “clever” engineering solutions.

        Audi’s engineers seemed to be especially enamored of unconventional brake designs: I remember in the late 80s their V8 labeled model sported an inverted disc brake system with the rotor bolted to the wheel itself and the caliper facing outwards from the wheel hub. The first thought I had upon seeing it was, “goodbye, aftermarket wheels.”

      • 0 avatar

        Those cars all measure up, but you don’t see many of them on the street these days.

  • avatar

    After moving to Ohio, during trips to and from St. Louis, my daughter would keep a list and count how many bright red Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler minivans we would see – I wanted one very badly.

    Before that, on a vacation trip south, she kept a log on roadkill.

  • avatar

    Other than the 12 cylinder BMW and Daewoo, I could probably get my board filled in an hour just driving around Dayton, Ohio. Disclaimer: I know an eccentric who keeps a Millenia S going and I know where a Volkswagen Fox is at on a car lot.

  • avatar

    Of course, it would be possible to make a much more challenging Bad Car Bingo if you added cars that are rare but not totally unheard of on the street (e.g. British Leyland products, air-cooled VWs, 80s Audis).

    • 0 avatar

      I think if we had easy image hosting, this could make for a VERY popular segment. I’d take my picture next to all of these wonderful cars to win a new tshirt.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed, it could be a fun game if everyone agreed to only use real “on the street” local photos, nothing Google or friend sourced! At first blush some rows look easy, after all finding a turbo Saab or Sebring is cake… but there is always one really tough, older vehicle thrown in there.

        Excellent idea!

    • 0 avatar

      For those Canadians out there, how about a Hyundai Pony? They used to be everywhere, but the tinworm and sketchy quality has killed most of them. If you find one, you should automatically win the game.

  • avatar

    On most bingo cards isn’t the center most square typically a give me or freebie. How about Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Ford F-150, or GM W-Body being in the center square?

    Not to say any of these are bad – but most bingo cards I’ve seen have a star or the like in the center.

    • 0 avatar

      I must admit I haven’t played bingo since, like, second grade. I figured the middle square ought to be a more difficult-to-find car, since you can make diagonal bingos through it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve got kidlets – two types of BINGO cards in the world. One where the middle square is just like any of the others, no harder, no easier and one where it is “free.”

        Free or wildcard speeds up the game; making it hard slows it down. Guess it comes down to how long you’re driving and how many cars you think you’ll be seeing!

  • avatar

    The more I think about it, the more I feel the GM dustbuster style vans don’t belong on the BINGO car.

    No, they were not great from a “minivan” stand point however if you got one with the 3.8L V6 they last forever, certainly better mechanically then the Mitsubishi engine powered Dodge/Chrysler competition.. I still see a fair number of them on the road and between all the different flavors, GM sold quite a few of them.

    Ugly as sin?


    Not a “great” van with ridiculous proportions?


    But I don’t consider them a “failure” and I don’t consider them “bad” vehicles for their era.

    I did put two second generation GM U-Body vans on my list of 18 above because they were both total sales failures, and the Saturn Relay in particular is a quality nightmare.

    • 0 avatar

      The Dustbusters were fairly quick as I remember, too. I took a university badged one from Bloomington to Ann Arbor for a conference with seven people on board and it balanced pretty well at 80 on the highway. Besides, those massively raked windshields and massive dashboards are de rigueur in modern cars, so if anything they were visionary!

  • avatar

    Chevy Aveo anyone! Positively the worst car I have ever had the pleasure of renting this past summer.

  • avatar

    I’ll be the first to say that the Toyota Echo is actually an excellent little car. The tall cabin/small car looks weird, but offers a lot of headroom. I personally think the center instrument cluster is fine once you’ve driven it for about 3 minutes.

    And for the drivetrain, the 1.5 liter engine is indestructible and if mated to a 5 speed transmission it could hit 60 in around 8 seconds, which is pretty decent even by today’s standards.

    • 0 avatar

      Grz – Amen my Echo lovin’ brother. Mine has 180k miles, 5 speed, MY2000, sport cladding, and runs like its brand new. Original everything except for brake pads and oil changes. A tribute to low buck motoring. No depreciation, little maintenance, and moderately sporty with the stick. 9/10 the MPG of a Prius for 1/10 the price. How can you not love it? Worst car of all time? Hah, its one of the best. Ask the man who owns one.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Agreed. The Echo was ugly inside & out, but a great little car. One of the first to pack a lot of headroom into a little b-segment car, and it was pretty quick for the time.

      If you’re going to call a car bad, use the right metrics!

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Oh how it hurts me to see the mighty 750il on that list — I’m sure that you put it here just because it was rare, not because it was crap.

    Uh, nevermind. I think you added it because it was both. My bad.

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with Diamante?

    • 0 avatar

      I think it falls under “failed in the marketplace,” as in if it didn’t, they’d still be making it.

      Poor Mitsu…

    • 0 avatar

      I wondered this, too… I LOVED my Diamante!

      The funny thing about the inclusion of the Galant, and the “rental” reference in the article, is that there’s a good chance the renter will be driving a Galant while searching for these cars!

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Maybe it’s best left for the challenge version, but the Isuzu VehiCROSS should be on here. Maybe rare, but easy to pick out of a crowd.

  • avatar

    How many other popular games could you slant to an awful automotive theme ?

    In Bad-Car-Scrabble “Excel” could get you triple crap car points.

    In Bad-Car-Jeopardy! the correct answer for “Squandering historic brand equity for short term profits” would be “What is Porsche Cayenne ?”.

    Maybe in Bad-Car-Clue the killer of the US Auto industry was Colonel Wagoner with a Pontiac Aztek in the Offices of the UAW.

  • avatar

    Ouch. Now you’ve hurt my feeling.

    I’ve owned a number of cars on that list. Some of them I remember quite fondly…

    Mercury Villager — very pleasant powertrain, dead reliable into old age. My go-to minivan for cheap wheels. Precisely because it flopped pretty badly in the market.

    VW Fox: Actually had one of those puppies for 3 years… bought cheap, sold for the same amount, did half shaft, timing belt, exhaust — 35k miles for under $1000. The wife *loved* it and i had to pry her out of it and into a new Nissan hardbody by force. Dirt simple, no air, no power steering, no nothing. Good car for us at the time.

    Mazda Millenia — another fine car, maybe a little bland. Remember, this was supposed to be part of Mazda’s “Amati” luxury division. Mine was the 2.5 l and not the Miller-cycle supercharged S model. Run away! Run away!

    The Opel Omega was a good car. When it became a Cadillac, it was pretty much terrible. I don’t even know how they managed that. They have a bit of a following in Germany. Of course, no car is so bad it doesn’t have some lunatics pining for it somewhere…

    My neighbor has a turbo’d 2005 Saab 9-5. He likes it. But then, he also has a Saab Sonnet… hey, everyone has problems.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    No spot for “Every CUV”!

  • avatar

    Dodge Caliber Dodge Caliber Dodge Caliber!!! Ugly ugly UGLY!!!

    Which reminds me, I would help my former girlfriend get to sleep by reciting the ugly car alphabet. Just about every car on the road these days is ugly!

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t call several of those bad cars.

    Having had the chance to spend some time in both the Millenia S and the Vigor, I was very impressed by both.

    I admired Diamantes back in the mid to late 90s, but never drove one, and I don’t know how well they held up. Considering how rare they are to see today, my guess is not very well.

    Eagle was an interesting experiment, it’s just a shame it never caught on. Before the days of combo Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealerships having a line of cars to sell alongside the Wranglers and Cherokees seems like it would have made a lot of sense.

    • 0 avatar

      Someone here in Portland (Maine) is driving a Vigor as a taxi. It’s painted taxi yellow and I’ve seen it twice now in the area. Very odd choice for a cab but apparently it works in that role.

  • avatar

    Geo Metro, Ford Festiva, Subaru Justy, Toyota Tercel, Chevy Aveo… yeah, those are the worst penalties I’ve ever been boxed into.

  • avatar

    God damn it Murilee… I thought we had an understanding.

  • avatar

    the turbo Saab box is unfair. my girlfriend’s 1996 Saab 900S turbo coupe has been nothing but reliable.

    except when it ate the accessory belts at 75MPH on the highway. and since the waterpump no longer turned like it should, the engine overheated in the time it took for her to get off the highway.

    then it proceeded to eat its headgasket and spew a bunch of oil out of the turbo at the same time.

    amazingly, it still ran long enough to make it off the flatbed and into our new mechanic, a shop call Saab Stories.

    okay, I guess the turbo saab box is justified.

  • avatar

    You forgot to add Panther to the list. I mean, how many cops and old people post on here anyway?

    *ducks and runs for cover*

  • avatar

    Murilee, you have my jorts in a twist over the “Any Turbo Saab” entry. And here I thought we were automative soulmates. Tell you what, point that heap Impala Hell thing to Boston and I’ll race you in my 9-5 Aero. And anyway, any turbo Saab, but only one Daewoo? Good gravy.

  • avatar

    Chevy Celebrity (or any badge engineered A-body. Extra points if it’s powered by the Iron Duke)
    VW Phaeton (for its floppiness)
    VW Touareg V10 TDI
    Any old 2 door car that no longer exists (2 door Camry, Jetta)
    Ford Explorer Sport-Trac

    There are many others, but those are some rarities, POSs and flops I could come up with.

    Also, can we just write “Flying Vagina” on our cards? Tribeca can’t possibly be the real name of that thing.

  • avatar

    Sterling 825/827.

  • avatar

    The sixth-generation galant vr-4 (87-92) are decent cars. Predecessor to the lancer evolution.

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