Hammer Time: Your Worst Deal Ever

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time your worst deal ever

There is an old saying that, “Victory has a hundred fathers. But defeat is an orphan.” JFK has been attributed to having said this quote right after the Bay of Pigs with the word ‘thousand’ replacing ‘hundreds’. But the truth is that those words originated from a far worse time. Count Galeazzo Ciano, the Foreign Minister to Benito Musolini, was the one who may have popularized this saying. Or it could have been the peasants of his hometown. Or perhaps his parents. To be frank, I think most philosophical sayings originate from parents while they’re raising their kids.

What does this have to do with our cars? Well, in our modern world we call cars that start 99.5% of the time, “Bad!”. Cars are usually more reliable than the kids and adults who drive them… and why not? Reliability is a given today just as plastic has become an acceptable interior adornment in most cars.

Durability is also a given as well. Yesterday’s 150,000 miles is now trumped by today’s 250,000 miles. Let’s be blunt about it. Most cars, if properly taken care of, can last well beyond our willingness to keep them.

But there are exceptions…

The worst car I ever bought was a silver 1999 VW Beetle with the 1.8 Liter turbocharged engine. That engine in given co-billing with the car for a reason. Within 300 miles of purchasing it, the turbo blew up. This German ‘katastrophe’ was a complete rolling turd of German cost containment, to the point of having Cheech and Chong levels of smoke flowing through the tailpipe and onto oncoming traffic once the trubo went.

The turbo was replaced. A full-tune up given along with the obligatory MAF sensor. Then the automatic transmission started bucking (another major substandard component in early VW Beetles) and the odometer cluster decided to become a virtual Christmas tree of lights. Every time I started it, the dashboard greeted me with some new bright color that would encourage a few more hundred dollars to leave my wallet.

I ended up recycling it through an auction and lost about $2000 on it. By far my worst loss ever.

But I’m one of the lucky guys. When I buy a vehicular Beelzebub, I can broom it to a nearby auction and drive something else. Most other owners are far less able to let go of their daily transportation.They need to get around and make a living. So with that in mind, what was your worst deal ever?

I’m not talking about just a single week or month with a fallen angel that had four wheels. I am talking about the type of car that sucks the very happiness out of you through the grind of months and years of vehicular brutality.

Was it a VW? A Chevy? Did some old Yota turn into an evil jedi? Or was it a Hummer that brought dozens of flipping birds and hundreds of lost c-notes into your life. Today’s best story will receive nothing more than laughter and gratitude. Along with a free drink and conversation if you ever find yourself in the Atlanta area. Share your past sorrows… but enjoy the day!

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  • Oodie Oodie on May 10, 2012

    I've made so many bad decisions with respect to cars I just choose not to think about it. I justify it as being my vice in this life. At any rate, the worst car I owned was one I really wanted to like - a 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport (sedan) 6AT. I don't think its problems were all of Infiniti's doings, but nevertheless, after 5 months with it and pushing $3000+ in repairs (some under warranty, others not), I decided to part ways (it didn't even 50k miles on it). I've forgotten all of the issues, but offhand I remember it needed the following: - new oil pan (allegedly damaged from something the previous owner did) - new subframe brace (allegedly damaged by same previous owner incident) - new rear seal - new weatherstripping (repeatedly) - new brakes & rotors (issues w/ excessive squeal and grinding... not just a pad issue) - new steering wheel & door trim pieces - other minor things that I just can't recall now... It was also plagued by very poor paint quality (again, perhaps attributable to something the owner did), poor fuel economy (I knew that going in), and occassionally poor shift quality. I'd probably buy another G35/G37, but that particular car was hard to like. I clearly bought it in a moment of weakness, despite a nagging feeling that it wasn't in as good of shape as it should have been for its age/mileage.

  • Richard D Richard D on May 10, 2012

    Come on, Has no one else here owned a 1971-73 Plymouth Cricket? I was 17 and the Vega sleeveless aluminum engine made me stay away. I did not like the Pinto's styling, I bought a car that was worse! Should have bought a Gremlin.

    • CJinSD CJinSD on May 10, 2012

      Around 1981, there was an immaculate Cricket sitting unused in a neighbor's garage. I suppose I now know why it didn't have much wear and tear. I like that the UK name for the same car was Hillman Avenger, which sort of sums up the relative formidability of US and UK cars at the time.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂