QOTD: What's Your Favorite Automotive 'Oops' Moment?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd what s your favorite automotive oops moment

Last night, the Academy Awards officially let Steve Harvey off the hook. As the producers of La La Land were in the middle of their acceptance speech for Best Picture, event organizers rushed to let everyone know they had actually announced the wrong winner for the night’s biggest award. Oops.

There have been more than a few “oops” moments in the car biz, too.

Kia introduced the Borrego, an otherwise competent body-on-frame SUV, at the colossally wrong moment, landing with a thud at a time when gasoline was expensive and customers were shunning big cars. Tales of dealers hiding their allocation of Azteks in the far lot are not urban legends; I know for a fact this happened at a Pontiac store in my home province. And no one reading this site needs a history lesson on the Edsel.

The misstep of an entire model is an easy mark. Individual features aren’t immune to the Oops Factor, either. Witness the original iteration of MyFord Touch, riddled with bugs and response times which could’ve been measured with a calendar. Reports exist of early examples leaving Bill Ford stranded in an unfamiliar city, while far more entertaining is the story of an engineer receiving an email from a mechanic with a photo of a cracked infotainment screen … purportedly caused by an aggravated Mark Fields.

Mechanical innovations are not exempt from the Oops Factor. Twenty years ago, GM introduced Dex-Cool antifreeze, a coolant which was tinted like tasty Orange Crush to distinguish it from the industry-standard green hue. Dex-Cool was marketed as a long-life solution: no need to touch the stuff for five years or 150,000 miles. Over time – either through a design flaw or customers mixing Dex-Cool with traditional coolant – it tended to turn a muddy brown, clogging radiators and inhibiting, y’know, actual cooling, the sole job with which it was tasked.

Remarkably, not all miscues resulted in hits to the balance sheet. When Consumer Reports dumped the Civic from its Recommended list, Honda sat up and took notice, sending their compact sedan for a refresh just a single year into its redesign. Nevertheless, Honda went on to sell more Civics in 2012 – sans CR recommendation – than they had at any point in the previous four years.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, but I like to think I’ve learned from them. One can only hope the auto biz has as well. What’s your favorite moment of automotive schadenfreude?

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2 of 110 comments
  • Cft925 Cft925 on Feb 28, 2017

    Since someone mentioned the Chevy "doesn't go" (I called it the Toylet), I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Buick LaCrosse. It was named the Allure in Canada because LaCrosse is apparently French Canadian slang for umm... self-abuse.

  • EquipmentJunkie EquipmentJunkie on Mar 01, 2017

    Infinity's brand launch advertising campaign. The Infinity brand has had difficulties ever since. VW's TDI fiasco. Not only did VW step in a large, fresh pile, it appears like the corporation was wearing deep-treaded hiking boots and walked all over headquarters spreading the stench.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that