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

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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?

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • 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.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three