Hammer Time: The Last Bad Car

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the last bad car

Ah, the good old days. When a young Kadett could be crude and lewd. A Chevette Scooter could exemplify 14th floor parsimony with it’s cardboard cutouts, and the Yugo was justifiably bombed out of existence.

A bad car was a known commodity back then. But what about now?

Everyone cribs each others specs and suppliers these days and the results are… well… middling.

For example, is the 2012 Kia Rio a bad car? Jack Baruth says, “ Hell No!“. Motor Trend says something in the lines of “B-Class Economy Just Got Better!” and then puts it dead last in a recent comparo (along with putting the Hyundai Accent first.)

Who is right? Who is wrong?

I don’t know. From what I see at the auto auctions, it’s been quite a while since North America was truly exposed to a bad car. But when? It could have been the early 2000’s. Or perhaps the early 90’s when a Peugeot 505 and a four door Saab 900 could celebrate their birthdays together in the very same dealership.

One of the funniest comments I ever heard at an auction came was when an old Hyundai Scoupe went through the auction block and the auctioneer said, “This was the shittiest car ever made until they came out with the Daewoo!” He may have been right that day. Fired… but right.

So what was the last bad car sold in the United States? Does the Aveo deserve to be treated as an inferior to a 15 year old Honda? Did the Daewoo Lanos (and the hands of fate) automatically merit Daewoo’s demise? Or do we have to go further back in time? What says you?

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4 of 120 comments
  • Catbert430 Catbert430 on Mar 13, 2012

    When my father called me in late 2009 to tell me that he had bought a brand new 2010 Chevy Aveo LT2 (top model, I think) sedan, I almost swallowed my tongue having read so many reviews saying that it was the worst POS that you could possibly buy. He loves that little car. Considering that his past 2 cars had been a base model 2004 Neon and a base model 1996 Cavalier, it would be easy to make a good impression. I've since driven the Aveo several times and I honestly don't see anything wrong with it. It seems to be a decent little car for the money and is screwed together pretty well. It actually has less road noise than my 2008 Accord EX-L V6 which was allegedly an improvement over the prior generations. It's not desirable but, I wouldn't say that it was a bad car and he hasn't had any trouble with it.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Mar 14, 2012

    Don't rag on the Yugo. There were three issues from the factory. The first was that the emission controls were slapdash-old style air pump and "lean it out as much as you can". A bit of time removing the old school malaise era "tech" and the car reverted to the Italian design beneath. The carb was easy to re-tune to "enough gas". OK, not totally legal, but....transformed the car. OE tires were nonsense. I got a set of barely scuffed in Michelins from a Honda guy moving up on wheels and it transformed the car-yet another example of tires making the most difference of any mod to any car. A set of urethane bushings in the front suspension made the steering tight and accurate. I had mine for two years or so, till I sold it to a wannabe "Green". Once so modded, it ran decently, was peppy (very light), and could be tossed around on tight roads. It was, after all, somewhere under there, a Fiat. I even wrecked on black ice, hit rear to another car, and it drove away.....never left me stranded, and nothing broke. I've had worse luck with "real" cars....

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on May 16, 2012

    Both of my parents worked at our local Enterprise rental lot and got to drive, clean and deliver many cars during the 90's to mid 2000's. The 90's Kia Sephia was a total pile. They spent more time either getting towed to the dealer or being dropped off for numerous issues. The interiors were very cheaply make, body panels were ultra thin and they drove very crudely. My mom likened the interior carpet to something she would throw outside on her porch to clean off her shoes and it was wafer thin. They also said certain Mitsubishi's were crap, especially the Mirage. Today the worst car vote would go to the Dodge Caliber.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Jun 02, 2012

    The self-badged Daewoo get my vote, but the Aveo isn't far behind or it's terrible cousin, the Pontiac G3. The Dodge Nitro is worse than the Liberty to me, because even though they are the same, the Nitro was a stupid attempt by Chrysler to steal more customers...from themselves? An odd looking body with awful build quality and even worse, the stupid, testosterone-laden ad campaign that came with it. The Com/Patri/Ber was useful due it's small wagon-ness, but horribly executed in every other way. In an Aztek sort of way.