By on April 12, 2017

2010_Suzuki_Kizashi. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Last week, I asked about vehicles which managed to turn up the Suck Dial between generations. The overwhelming response to this question compared to the opposite question asked a week earlier (about generational improvements) showed me how you all love being negative and trashing cars.

Thus, about six weeks ago, the genesis for today’s question was put into print. At that time I asked about your favorite automotive success story. But today we’re going to be much, much more negative.

Tell me your favorite automotive flop.

By definition, a flop in the automotive world doesn’t live long enough to warrant a second generation. It’s a one-and-done, and the world is better for it. History is littered with automotive flops, and in the interest of summation I will credit those flops to three major and overarching reasons:

  1. Due to the development lag of a brand new model, a manufacturer releases a vehicle at an inopportune time. Having misjudged the strength and/or duration of whichever market/economic/international forces led them to develop said model, the realization of the error came too late — or never.
  2. A manufacturer gets so wrapped up in what they think they wish to accomplish, they focus group a model to death. The resulting product is niche, and not appealing or useful to enough people, for various reasons. The car answers a question nobody asked.
  3. A vanity project by someone in charge at the company pushes past rhyme, reason, and red tape on the way to the factory floor.

Even as I made that extensive three-point list above, I came up with more great historical examples in my head. But alas, it does not change my selected example of a flop, which I think is an excellent representation of item 2 above. And it’s not the Kizashi, sorry. It’s something much worse!

Suzuki X-90

But it does come from the same manufacturer. It’s the kooky and relatively terrible Suzuki X-90 SUV. Succeeding at being the only entry ever into the “subcompact T-top 2-seat 4×4 SUV with trunk” market, surely some focus groups had a field day over in Japan.

Suzuki X-90

Built on the Sidekick platform (which most North Americans know as the Geo Tracker), it could certainly not be considered a replacement of the recently departed and rock-crawling-mudder favorite, the Samurai. And yet it was not an early CUV, with real rear-wheel drive underpinnings and a real frame.

Suzuki X-90

The T-tops added some fun convertible flair (and visibility of the Solo cup inspired interior), while the two passenger capacity and tiny trunk meant you couldn’t haul people or things with your utility vehicle.

Suzuki X-90

Power came from a very small 1.6-liter engine, also borrowed from the Tracker/Sidekick — but only Canadian market ones.

Suzuki X-90

The X-90 was a complete flop, and lingered on the market from 1995 through 1998. According to Wikipedia, just 7,205 X-90s were sold in the United States. Most of those eventually found new life as remodeled Red Bull cars, before being replaced by new Minis later in the decade. Shockingly, there was not a second generation.

Let’s hear your favorite flop of a vehicle.

[Images: eBay, via NY Daily News]

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284 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Favorite Automotive Flop?...”


  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Mine has to be the Kizashi. Those were/are excellent little cars. It’s a shame that Suzuki left when they did, because the Kizashi could’ve been a success with the right marketing. And, of course, without the reputation of Suzuki’s other attempts at cars preceding it.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      I also found the SX4 rather endearing. It probably wasn’t AS impressive as the Kizashi, but it was a weird little thing that I loved.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Suzuki were brave releasing it in the UK at a time when:
      – midsize sedans from non-premium marques were nosediving in favour of SUVs
      – big petrol engines were not selling as diesel was still the king (though now the tide has turned in favour of small / hybrid petrol engines)
      – automatic gearbox when the preference is for manual boxes

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Kizashi was overpriced for what it was. Their timing wasn’t all that great either.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        The Kizashi also disappeared under its own hype.

        As I remembered, the Kizashi Concept was very well received and it was expected that the Kizashi road car would be a close facsimilie AND it would offer flagship performance options like 4wd turbo and dual clutch etc.

        In the end we got the above car in the masthead w/ a CVT and a 2.4 PFI four pilfered from the CUV range.

        This isnt what people wanted or expected and in reality the car did nothing better than an N/A Suburu Liberty/Legacy/Camcord etc.

        It also happened during the uncertainty of the VW Suzuki affair and while the CUV love triangle was going full blast.

        They do not even represent a decent 2nd hand buy as they dont have a USP (ie. Unique Selling Point). If you want me to brave the spotty support afforded a niche product of a niche brand you gots to do something unique for me.

        An FWD medium car w/ CVT does not make me want to go the extra mile in owning it.

        If you want to see a modern day example of a “Kizashi” doing right, I would suggest that car is the Stinger GT.

        I dont know how well it will go in the US but it seems like it will be very well in the English speaking West especially RHD markets.

        Another good example is the Alfa Guilia. These cars are doing *something* special, even in a limited form.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Austin 3 litre :

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_3-Litre

      You know some people said they were ugly.

      Vauxhall Cresta – lovely car !

      I don’t understand why the Holden Epica / Daewoo Tosca (the name !!) sold so poorly. It was just as good as the Camry. Sure the six wasn’t all that powerful, but it was only 2.5L.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I have a “strange love” fascination with the Suzuki Verona. Of all the terrible Suzuki Daewoos, I pick it.

        Or a Reno with a stick shift. It can’t be that bad if its a cheap hatch with a stick.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    While I love both the Citroen C6 and the Volkswagen Phaeton, which both at least were underachievers in the marketplace, the greatest flop in my book is the Renault Avantime. Who has ever thought of a luxury four-seater minivan coupé as something they are missing in their lives? And yet, an utterly cool car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Flop that I’m glad flopped: Chevy SSR

    Flop that I liked: Panther-based Mercury Marauder

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I was always sad they didn’t do more to the interior on the Marauder, to make it as cool as the exterior.

      All of those they sold are now locked in garages on I Know What I Got Street.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Or they’re modded a bit too much, ugly stick shifts, superchargers, bodykirs, stuff you’d expect in a Mustang more than a highway cruiser.

        Fortunately, their high pricing and garage queen lairs prevent them from entering donkdom.

    • 0 avatar
      namstrap

      Ah. The SSR. Every dealer in Canada had to send one tech to Toronto to learn how the roof worked and how to fix it. Parts were hard to get almost immediately. I used to cringe when I saw one come on the lot. Oh no! Hope he doesn’t want parts!

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    I owned a Kizashi. Very good car, definitely an under-the-radar-value. Also owned an Equator. Both were perfectly good vehicles launched a little before Suzuki decided to GTFO of the US market.

    But yes, I have many favorite flops. Let’s see. Chrysler TC, Cadillac Alante, Mazda MPV (I’m going to consider it a flop because it didn’t live through the whole BOF SUV craze), VW Dasher, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback (the first one), USDM Alfas. I even have a soft spot for permanently dead brands like Studebaker, SAAB, Kaiser and others that just left the market, such as Renault, Peugeot, Daewoo, Daihatsu, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      MPV had a second generation.

      • 0 avatar
        GermanReliabilityMyth

        True, but in name only, as far as I’m concerned.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Yeah, it’s a pretty different vehicle. I will give you gen 1 MPV as a flop.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Wasn’t gen 2 an even bigger flop then gen 1?

            As a kid I loved how the first gen looked. Haven’t, of course, seen one in years though.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I think they sold in ok-for-Mazda numbers once they became a real van for 2000.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d put the other non-standard-layout minivans in the “favorite flop” category as well, though I’m unsure of relative sales numbers:

            Aerostar (this one sold in decent numbers atleast, no?)
            Toyota Previa
            1st gen Odyssey/Oasis

            And yes I love gen 1 MPVs, as my family has put close to a quarter million miles on one, and 175k+ on another in the past two decades. Both are still in the family, despite the salty climate.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I agree gtem.

          • 0 avatar
            namstrap

            We had one and liked it. Easy north/south engine to work on and very comfortable. At somewhere around 250,000 thousand KMs, my wife overheated it when the fan belt broke. That was the beginning of the end for that 2.6 engine. First it was adding coolant once in a while, to a definite white cloud show at the end. Cracked head. That was it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            namstrap my brother cracked the head on his 2.6 after overheating driving over some mountains with some other issue in the cooling system. He put a reman head on and it’s been trucking along ever since, I think he just replaced the valve seals on that head (it’s been 7+ years since that replacement, must be low quality seals). A friend of mine with a ’98 just like my family’s apparently had a head gasket let go not too long ago, I sort of suspect from the car sitting a lot and not getting timely coolant changes. Our ’98 3.0L has been solid. Just a few minor top end oil leaks (valve cover gaskets, distributor block off plug), and we swapped out the hydraulic lift adjusters when they were getting noisy.

            I really wish they put a more potent powerplant in the MPVs, boy did they need it. Even a Toyota 5VZ 3.4L would be a massive improvement (bump of 25 hp and almost 50ft/lb tq at lower rpms). Mazda had a DOHC head for that JE 3.0L that bumped power to 190hp, but it sounds peaky more than anything.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Second the Lancer Sportback Ralliart. Owned one for seven years and rarely saw myself coming or going. My only peeve was that there was no manual trans available, otherwise it would have been perfect. More than once folks confused it for a Volvo and youngsters who didn’t know better wanted it because they thought it was a true Ralliart.

  • avatar
    make_light

    Acura ZDX! What even was that? Did it ever ACTUALLY exist? I honestly can’t think of a car built in the past 15 years that I’ve seen less often on the road.
    There’s one for sale at the local CarMax, and if I had disposable income, I’d surely snatch it up.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      I think the ZDX is an omen of what’s to come from this trend of gaining ride height at the expense of greenhouse height.

      It’s like the first local case of plague.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      ZDX: the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D. Legit.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Wiki say MDX.

        agentsofshield.wikia.com/wiki/S.H.I.E.L.D._MDX

        Either one is SO whedonishly appropriate.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I feel the ZDX with its Acura reliability, general quirkiness and low sales figures will be a collector’s item at a later date.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I thought the MDX sold very well? Or did you actually mean ZDX? In which case I’ll agree, but…

            I would absolutely horde a first gen like-new 54,000 mile 100% loaded and cared for MDX for a future Barrett Jackson auction in a couple or three decades. Drive it once or twice a year to keep it alive, service it as well.

            It would be what a similar condition a 1957 Chevy sedan/wagon is to a boomer today.

            An early (pre-1996) FWD Plymouth Voyager is also a weird car to preserve but will absolutely stir memories and open wallets, given enough time.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Yeah, I’m going to correct that. ZDX.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Not to contradict, but I’m contradicting.

          ZDX was Agent Coulson’s ride in “Thor” and “Iron Man 2”.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I just saw a brown one in the parking lot at work. In retrospect, I find it kind of cool, in the same way an Aztek was. Ugly, but different. And the ZDX is actually fairly sharp looking, even if it lacks the utility one expects out of a CUV.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Nothing is a “flop” if it safely transports people, however briefly.

    But your article is beautifully written, concise and thoughtty!

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m still regularly tempted by listings for the NG Saab 9-5 (2010-11). I’m not sure it can be classified a flop, as everyone seemed to like it; it might just not have been enough to rescue the company. Too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      Ugh, I remember seeing those in the papers for 10-15k off MSRP when Saab was going under. They were and still are beautiful, I’m jealous every time I see one on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      My mechanic says final Saab 9-5 is a BAD idea.

      “There are so many half-baked ideas in there, and they just sent it out the door unfinished.”

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Like what? Isn’t the 9-5 essentially a Buick Lacrosse?

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I think it’s a Vauxhall Insignia under there somewhere. But it has entirely different electrics and engines, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            That last 9-5 uses the same Global-A electronics suite that powers every GM car released in or after 2010. Some of the interfaces themselves, like the instrument cluster and center stack switchgear, are specific to the Saab brand and will thus be difficult to source, but the modules behind the dash are the same, and any GM dealer should be able to service it. Even the engines and transmissions weren’t specific to Saab, and were global GM units. So I say you’d probably be fine to own one. Now for some real quirky GM import stuff, check out the Saturn Astra. It may be on the same paltform as the Cobalt, G5 and HHR, but virtually nothing is interchangeable. I think Mark had one prior to the Fiesta.

            As for the 9-5’s architecture, it’s on the longer-wheelbase Epsilon platform (Super Epsilon), and, yes, is a sister to the 2010-2016 LaCrosse, XTS and 2014-present Impala.

            I agree about the 9-5 not necessarily being a flop. I’d have to look up sales figures, but realistically, the 9-5 would have continued well past GM’s tenure as Saab’s owner…had GM not effectively blocked Saab from selling itself (and therefore GM intellectual property) to the Chinese.

          • 0 avatar
            PeriSoft

            Kyree, imagine a world where Saab had sold itself to Geely before Volvo did, and their positions were switched, with Saab now releasing world-beating platforms…

            *cries softly*

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Nissan NX? Not sure if it was a big flop, but the one that I rode in (co-worker’s car) seemed to handle very nicely. And 150hp (NX2000) made it sporty for the era.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    The 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO. Everybody bitched about the bland styling while failing to remember that the original GTO looked like a generic LeMans two-door.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      With the benefit of hindsight, I agree with this, but most people think the Judge when they think GTO, and the 04 model had none of that panache. It also had zero retro styling cues when it was a contemporary of the new retro-styled Mustang. It didn’t “look” like what people thought a GTO should look like.

      If that car was named Grand Prix instead, it would have sold a lot better.

      I really liked that car, FWIW, and its sister sales flop, the G8.

      • 0 avatar
        Thorshammer_gp

        +1 for the G8. I’m still disappointed six years later that I couldn’t talk my mom into going for a great deal on one over the G6 she ended up with.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          That car is the automotive “One that got away” for me. I really wanted the G8 GXP when they were firesaling them for $20k/pop in 2009, but I just couldn’t afford a new car at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Jason801

      This one.

      I like performance cars that don’t make me feel like a douche when I sit in them.

    • 0 avatar
      Loser

      Another GTO vote. I had an 06 and loved it, wish they were still in production.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      That’s my pick, too. The fact that the styling was bland, and not boy-racer, is a positive to me. It was a Mercedes CL55 for the masses. (And a good LS2 Goat is now worth more used than a good CL55!)

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Duesenberg J – launched in almost perfect synch with the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Expected to sell about 500 units annually, but the first run took until 1936 to sell out. DOHC 32 Valve Straight Eight, 4 wheel hydraulic brakes, extensive use of aluminum, probably the best and most advanced American car every built relative to its era, but just too expensive for Great Depression buyers. It truly was a Duesie of a flop.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      There were a lot of amazing cars from that era that the depression killed such as the Marmon 16 and Peerless but I’ll nominate the 1929 Cord Front Drive (also known as the L-29) and the 1936 Cord 810.

      Cord beat Ruxton to the market with the first mass produced front wheel drive car in 1929 and they were some of the most beautiful cars from the classic era.

      The 1936 Cord which was also front wheel drive made almost everything on the road look old fashioned with its sleek front end with hidden headlights and low body height without running boards.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        The 810/812 was my second choice. Absolutely beautiful and very advanced specifications, but rushed development and FWD related bugs meant it flopped in part because it was flawed.

      • 0 avatar

        Front wheel drive is one reason why the L-29 looks so good. Not having a driveshaft running to the back axle allowed the body to be mounted much lower. Designer Alan Leamy accentuated the low, sleek look, with broad front fenders that flowed up and out from the FWD’s final drive. Incorporating the face of the differential as part of the front end styling was probably forced on Leamy by the car’s mechanical layout, but he executed it very well.

        The Cord Front Drive is instantly recognizeable.

        For what’s it’s worth, the Ruxton is a very nice looking car as well. I know someone who recently restored one.

        Both cars were known to feature Woodlight headlights, which look great, but didn’t work very well.

    • 0 avatar

      If the Model J was a flop, what of the Bugatti Royale? Six were made and only four were sold. Bugatti ended up selling Royale engines to the French national railroad, which used them for powering locomotives.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    My favorite flop is Honda CR-X, it totally collapsed when came in new body style as Del Sol, which was CRX in Europe.

    Another one, Chevy Volt?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      OK, except neither the original CRX nor the Volt flopped…

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Might not have collapsed so quickly if they had stuck to the formula instead of trying to compete with the Miata as a convertible.

      The Del Sol lost the tossability and road feel of the CRX as well as most of its considerable utility. What it gained in return was a modicum of refinement and a removable roof… and about 400 lbs of mass and a higher center of gravity.

      All at a price premium. It was a poor trade-off.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Might not have collapsed so quickly if they had stuck to the formula instead of trying to compete with the Miata as a convertible.”

        Not really, there were plenty of cars on the market at that time with some kind of fake convertible deal going on. Remember the Nissan NX, or the Toyota MR-2? Both had lift off roofs not all that different than the Del Sol’s. But those weren’t eye-searingly ugly, like the Del Sol was. My brother had one, in lime green. Fun to drive, but SO ugly.

        Ditto for the old Mazda MX-3. Should have been a contender with the little V-6, but it was Gawdawful to look at.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I like the Del Sol. It’s fun! The commercial with the beach towel is still memorable to me, maybe someone else recalls that one too.

          There was a Del Sol styling revision where it got some additional parking lamps at the front, for the Lexus GS effect. Not sure when that happened though.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          I’m going to disagree on the ugly part, and in Si form they were a blast to drive. Like the SC430 following the SC300/400, it was a let-down for many from its predecessor. But I’m a Del Sol and SC430 fan so there you go.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Didn’t Honda have the Beat at the time too? That was a small convertible too (kei car small, but still). Not sure if it was Japan only though.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Chevy Malibu Maxx, particularly in SS form. Signs of things to come.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Subaru SVX. Sort of wanted one-but a bit expensive, auto only, and the windows were sort of goofy.

  • avatar
    eunos

    Mazdaspeed 6: 280ish horsepower turbo 4, AWD, 6 speed manual transmission. I think it was produced for 2006-7, then sank without a trace.

    I owned a 2006, loved it. Not as “raw” as an Evo or STI (according to the mags, I never cross-shopped those), but not as “backwards baseball cap boy racer” as those either.

    I saw it as a bargain 3 series alternative, but I guess the rest of the world did not. List was $32K or so, I picked up a new one for $26K, drove it for 100K miles.

    Only downside was that crappy Mazda steel – it was starting to rust 6 years into ownership. Although Minnesota salt probably didn’t help…

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I sooo wanted one of these, but couldn’t fine a decent used example. I test drove one with 80k miles on it and it really did haul some serious butt. I like that it was inconspicuous, was relatively well appointed and had a very nice 6 speed/awd combo which is very hard to find. Alas, I got spooked by tales of bad turbo bearings and the potential for the dreaded zoom-zoom boom so I bought a POS BMW instead. I think I made the wrong choice.

    • 0 avatar
      igve2shtz

      Seconded on the Mazdaspeed6. Bought my 2006 model brand new in April 2017. Spent 16 months on the lot and got a great deal. Everything you said about it is 100% true. I was too old for boy-racer, and too young in my career for a BMW. Still have it, although it is on its second engine, and the undercarriage is in need of some TLC. I still love it. Everything is right where it should be, it’s not too big, not too small, and inconspicuous.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Suzuki X-90 – the picture you’ve provided, that’s the most butch one I’ve ever seen.

    “A vanity project by someone in charge at the company pushes past rhyme, reason, and red tape on the way to the factory floor.”

    The whole damn Scion brand experiment. Toyota buyers are too old, let’s launch a new brand! Because obviously kids in their 20s have money for a new car just like back when Plymouth was building Roadrunners!

  • avatar
    statikboy

    “Power came from a very small 1.6-liter engine, also borrowed from the Tracker/Sidekick — but only Canadian market ones.”

    Can someone please explain this comment? Did American Tracker/Sidekicks have different engines than Canadian ones?

    Knew someone in Tasmania who had an X-90. She looooved that little thing. She lived on a farm and had a four door Toyota Ute for the Practical Hauling of Large Items and General Farmwork. The Suzuki was her Running-To-Town vehicle. It carried what she needed it to, had the 4wd chops to get her home in any road conditions and as a bonus, was very cheap to buy ‘cuase no one else wanted one.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Yes, American market ones had different engines, but I was not really able to determine which ones exactly, so I left that off.

      Perhaps Gtem will show up with engine knowledges.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        I’m 99% certain these came with the same 16-valve 1.6L four (making a whopping 96 hp) that was also available in U.S. Trackers/Sidekicks in the mid-90s.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Cadillac ELR. Loved the styling, loved the interior.

    And in typical GM fashion, they fixed most of what was wrong with it performance-wise (if not price-wise) in the last year of production.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Just like the Fiero. Great car, once they stopped making it.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The last Fieros were great cars, but the 1st years definitely were not, thanks to typical GM cost-cutting moving away from the original “Concept”, and turning it into a economical-commuter instead, on skinny tires. The were all “Citation” in the back, “Chevette” suspension in the front.

        By the end of the run, those early Fieros had such a terrible reputation, thanks to weak performance, poor reliability and not to mention, they were famous for engine fires, that not many knew the last one’s were actually great cars, and refined sports cars.

  • avatar
    komododave

    A few come to mind:

    2005 Ford Thunderbird: Retro awesome that met no one’s needs. Wasn’t fast, wasn’t luxurious, wasn’t good dynamically, But it WAS expensive. It ended up as just a two seat convertible for Buick buyers. That’s a small market segment already filled by the Chrysler Sebring. All it had going for it was that great retro design. One of the best still. If they’d had the balls to give it the Mustang SVT treatment and drop a stumping supercharged V8 in it after initially slow sales, it might have seen success with retirees who thought the Corvette was too hardcore.

    Chevy SSR: People hate on it and I think they just never drove one, especially after Chevy dropped the Vette engine in. It was awkward, wasn’t particularly useful, and had as much finesse as the Trailblazer it was based on, but dang if it didn’t make you smile when you dropped the top and put your foot down. That’s exactly what it was for: no cares fun. Whenever someone came in the dealership and scoffed at it, I’d take them for a ride and describe it as exactly what it was trying to be: a Vette with a bigger trunk and higher ride height. They usually acquiesced to it being a fun ride by the end.

    Lincoln Blackwood: The Mark LT deserved to fail in all it’s chrome sticker silliness, but the Blackwood was a mainstream exercise in “what if.” I love that. Trying to translate show car swagger to the road. They really tried to set it apart and make something different from the F-150 it was based on. Aluminum and “wood” stripped bed? Barn door tailgate? Yes! If the Blackwood execution had been applied to the Mark LT, it might have sold a few more.

    GMC Envoy XUV: Again with the show car swagger. The roof retracts to make a truck bed! I had this idea when I was in junior high school and to see it produced by a major manufacturer was thrilling. I was immediately partial to it. It was a complicated exercise in making a vehicle that did everything, better executed on the Avalanche, but fell victim to GM’S constantly dismal advertising for interesting vehicles beyond initial release. No one knew what it was, what it did, or that it even existed after the initial push. I still smile when I see one on the road, but they never have the top open. Maybe they don’t know??

    Pontiac Aztec: The posterchild for flops. This one falls squarely under focus grouped and bean counted to death. The initial concept got people excited, and it was the right time to hit the market, but the execution was lacking. As a pure SUV, it was fine and some features were ahead of their time, but no one could look past the exterior that tried to meld too many active lifestyle details with a Pontiac minivan.

    I do love all of these cars for different reasons. Mostly because I just love an underdog and celebrating the uncelebrated. I own a Gremlin. That should be proof enough that I’m serious.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Had the Blackwood offered AWD, I think it would’ve done well. Lol or at least better than it did.

      That’s a good one.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      2005 Ford Thunderbird – I would periodically see one in Gallup, top almost always down, cougar driving, smoking a cigarette, skin like leather. Scary in it’s own way.

      Chevy SSR – My mother’s uncle had one. Basically only bought it for a “fun” car and because he got a screaming deal as they were selling so poorly. But he’s old enough that he’s a Korean War vet – not really the demographic GM was like pursuing.

      Pontiac Aztex – Grandmother owned one but only because she was a GM Widow and got a screaming deal and steep discount. The ride height made it easy for her to get in and out with her bad hips.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The trunk-bed thing was ambitious, but ultimately not as useful as the EXT’s convertible midgate.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Ford Contour. Give me a 1995-1997 SE V-6/5spd (I guess the 99-02 Cougar could be included with this one.)

    Love the ‘Zuki X90, would own. Add Esteem, Sx4, all their quirky §h¡t. Would buy an early 5spd Esteem and I don’t even need (or want) a compact car.

    Isuzu VehiCross, LOVE IT

    Volvo C30

    Toyota FJ Cruiser

    Honda CR-Z

    Plymouth Breeze (see Alero below)

    Is the Olds Alero a flop? I think it sold too well to qualify, and had Olds not been euthanized, it would be in its 3rd or 4th gen by now I’m sure. I would love it over a similar Buick. *I think the same applies to the Ply Breeze.

    Likewise, not sure if the Element qualifies, it did sell decently

    Disliked Flops:
    Chevy Cobalt (but the derived HHR was okay)
    Hyundai S’coupe
    Saab 9-2x (the Saabaru)
    Pontiac Aztec/Buick Rendezvous
    Ford Freestar (minivan)
    Ford Freestyle (CUV)
    Toyota Echo (echo echo…)
    Toyota Solara (although it did have an exterior restyling so it may not qualify. All they did was add more ugly and subtract what little appeal it had.)

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The 9-2x annoyed me. I’d see people driving those around proudly, and think “You’re not really fooling anybody there.”

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Exactly my thoughts. I mean it looks better than the same year Subaru it was based on…

        But that’s like saying lung cancer is better than brain cancer.

        I DO respect the love some people have for Subaru and cars like the WRX, I just don’t share it. As I mentioned the other day, I’m glad they exist but they’re not my cup of tea.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The 9-2 was kinda legit – WRX performance with all the power/lux toys. And by the end of the model’s run, they were giving them away. Not such a bad deal. I worked with a guy who had one.

        @John:
        Agreed on Subarus – they’re underwhelming to drive – but I’d take a WRX.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Might be (with the 9-7x) the easier Saabs to own, what with being rebadges and all. And I don’t mind that generation Impreza wagon, the derpy looks are kinda endearing.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True, and the 9-7 cured the main problem with the Trailblazer/Jimmy, which was the awful interior. A lot less craptastic plastic going on in there.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            @Freedmike and Corey

            I’m disappointed in the whole TrailBlazer-based line up.

            The GMC and Olds versions I like the best as far as front clip, but that should surprise no-one here. The Acender and TrollBlazer look decent. The actual Chevy version is ugly IMO. It looks pre-crashed. Well, they all kinda sorta do in certain angles, but the Chevy makes me think that no matter what front view I glimpse. Perhaps seeing too many of the Chevy taints my impression of the other.

            They also look a little awkward from the rear 1/4, especially the long wheel base and the XUV. I do like those options, if it just wasn’t so ungainly looking.

            BOF SUV with an Inline 6, I love that. Its just that they’re so damned unreliable, it isn’t funny, so…why bother.

            Makes me want to settle for a slightly older V-6 Montero instead. Or a pre-02 Explorer/Mountaineer 5.0L or even older with a 4.0L OHV and selectable 4wd.

            I would like to put a Cummins BT4 Turbo in a 1998-2001 4wd Explorer with SOHC Cologne Sickness (or a Envoy/ect with GM Reliability Syndrome). Now that I know Gtem likes earlier Explorers, he may be interested in that idea

            I have seen one 4BT Explorer on YouTube, but it isn’t a turbo and it has a 2wd Chrysler automatic I believe. I haven’t looked any further but I really dig the idea.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I didn’t like how the Ascender was only available in LWB.
            What did you think of the Rainier? You didn’t mention that one.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Because it killed (replaced) my precious (Olds version)! IT MUST DIE. REEP WHAT YE SEW.

            Kidding, I honestly forgot about it.

            It was the last RWD V-8 Buick in the U.S. (damn you China and the RWD Park Ave you ignored!). I thought about it that way way when I saw one on my trip yesterday (15+ hours again in a 2013ish Focus, this time with a reflashed and properly behaving DCT).

            I would put it, well, here:

            Envoy (Denali, XUV, whatever) and Bravada tie for first

            Acender

            TrollBlazer

            Ranier

            last and least:
            TrailBlazer

            Did I get em all? Lol

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Yeah, that’s all the variations. I have a similar hard time with the Isuzu Rodeo and variants across the globe.

            Holden Jackaroo!

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Ha yes. When I had my old Trooper (II), I researched them. I like that 2 door short wheelbase mid 1990s version.

            I should’ve added Trooper to my list of SUV alternatives.

            I’d like a later 1990s manual trans version, base trim with a black grille, steelies and no options. Find a Acura SLX owner and troll him “this is what your pig looks like with no lipstick!” haha. Troll and pig are too strong of words, but seem the most applicable.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        An Impreza with a better interior and a classy nose job. What’s not to like?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          But the better interior was still bargain basement level. The terrible silver crap on the center stack belongs in a Hyundai Accent.

          I knew some like it, but I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      komododave

      I’m not sure what your definition of flop is, because half the vehicles you mentioned I wouldn’t consider flops.
      Contour was a mainstream sedan that sold well here and abroad. The SVT version was well regarded. The Cougar was meh but didn’t do bad enough to be considered a flop. Mercury was the flop.
      Vehicross was low production and was exactly as intended. Pure halo vehicle not meant for everyone.
      Cobalt, again, far from flop. Lacklust reviews don’t make it a flop. It sold just fine and the SS version are still sought after.
      Ford Freestyle, again, sold well. It was a wagon 500 and was selling at a 50% to 75% rate of the sedan, which for a wagon, is fantastic.
      And the Alero could only be considered a flop if you negate Olds being on its deathbed and throwing anything against the wall. The Alero still sold decent and was well regarded as one of GMs better products at the time.
      My point, I guess, is that if something sells well, it isn’t a flop, no matter what the reviews are.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        The Contour did not sell NEARLY as well as the Tempo it replaced, and it also had just one generation (with just a mid-cycle refresh) and was unceremoniously killed off. Yes, it was a flop.

        You are taking “flop” to mean a terrible car. None of my examples are terrible cars, they just flopped in the market. This is exactly how the question was asked.

        I did wonder aloud if the Olds Alero qualified since it did sell very well and the only reason it didn’t see a second gen was Olds was killed. I kinda thought doing so would explain its being on my list. I guess I failed to convey that point clearly enough.

        I take that back. Some are terrible cars, and the Freestyle with its standard CVT is one of them. It was a “one-and-done” model and considering how well OTHER CUVs sold, yes it was a flop sales wise.

        The Cobalt was awful, too, and just because GM cranked out a bunch of them and sold them at great discount doesn’t mean it didn’t flop compared to Civic, Corolla and Focus.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The Contour was not a roaring success, but it wasn’t a sales flop by any means. Ford still sold a s**tload of ’em no matter how you slice it.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged Miata Man

            Lots and lots (and lots) of those were fleet sales; of course, so were Tempo/Topaz sales.

            I’d be curious to see how the retail/fleet percentages broke down between the two generations, especially post-1997 with the Contour/Mystique. By that time, we couldn’t give them away at the Ford store I was at.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Evidently not, or they wouldn’t have cut it without a replacement. Ford really didn’t enter that market again until the Fusion, which was successful.

            Towards the end, they decontented the crap out of the Contour and dumped it into fleets. Yes, you could still buy it retail, but there were 10 more that looked just like it on the used lot and were priced affordably. Or, you just moved up to the more comfortable (and far better value) Taurus (which was a common thing).

            Contour did barely crack the top ten selling cars list during some of its time, but I still consider it a flop. It was supposed to sell great, not just okay.

            Its interior was compromised and it was expensive as hell in a segment Ford competed well in previously on price with the Tempo.

            They tried to set the bar higher, and priced it accordingly. But, few were willing to pay $5k+ more than they did for their last Tempo on a car with a compromised interior space. The much-improved driving dynamics, safety features, and an overdrive auto were not enough to justify the price in a lot of buyer’s eyes, especially when it had poor reliability to boot.

            I guess Ford thought if it built an Accord instead of a stretched Escort, they could get Accord money instead of stretched-Escort money. Didn’t work out like that, so they decontented it and tried to make it a value option, and that just made it worse for the few who actually did like it.

            I betcha anything Ford lost BIG money on the Contour. The Mondeo in Europe may have evened things out, but even selling the Tempo cheap in retail and fleets, it was profitable. They also started losing money on Escort after the 91 Mazda-based redesign.

            I would bet that the Tempo and Taurus were Ford’s main source of profit *from FWD cars* from that era. The Escort, Contour, and Aspire were just token offerings after that. Then Ford got serious and launched the Focus and later, in the U.S., the Fusion.

            @ middle age Miata man, agreed 100%.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Thing is, Ford spent US$6 billion developing the Mondeo as a “world car”, but no, that was not good enough for Ford NA. They had to continue tinkering with it until the only thing the Contour/Mystic had in common with the Mondeo was the doors and windshield, I believe. It is hard to believe they made much over that much of an investment.

            I came across a Mexican-built Ford Mondeo in traffic that was visiting Texas. Once I got over the “that sure is a funny looking Taurus” reaction and got a closer look; I thought it was a good looking car; they should have just federalized it and sold here as the Fusion like they do the current generation Mondeo. But that was pretty typical of Ford NA for that period of time, like they did with the Escort and the Fiesta that initially replaced it.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yeah, the Mondeo eventually matured into something we accept. The Contour was just too drasticly different in price/value for the customers who had made Tempo a strong seller.

        • 0 avatar

          Having a Mercury Mystique, the fully optioned version of the Contour, I was pretty happy. The SVT only had better shocks and lower profile tires, which I was able to install once the OE set wore out. Doing shocks in the Contour was horrible…said my mechanic who is very good. They were designed to be installed, not replaced. The car itself was good design with cheap execution…I had the V6 with Manual, a unicorn. The problem was that for the average buyer, the Taurus was more car for the same or less money, and Ford de contented the ConTique as it went on. Mine made 120k with decent reliability but eventually kind of fell apart in four years of very hard use.

          Most other ones appear to have died too…I never see any Con Tiques in any trim anymore

          I liked the Azetc….fave flop !

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            There are still a few Contours and Mystics on the road in my part of the world.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I’m not surprised you enjoyed your V-6 manual. It made my list because I do love it although it didn’t perform in the market like it was meant to.

        • 0 avatar
          komododave

          Actually, I’m considering a flop as a car that sold terribly for one reason or another. Hit the market wrong, bad design, etc. A good car can be a flop and so can a bad one.
          Upon Wikipedia reading, I’ll give you the Contour. I was lumping it as a world car, which sold very well, it just didn’t hit well in America due to pricing and size.
          Freestyle leaned way too heavy on the wagon end of CUV, more so than even the Flex, so considering the wagon stigma, I think it did quite well for itself. I got you on the Alero, I was just musing to myself.
          If we’re comparing market segments to determine flops, that’s different than outright flops. It starts to be murky. I think a true flop speaks for itself.

          • 0 avatar

            The Contour was a euro sized car, so like every single review of a three series, the back seat is tight. My most recent trip over there reminded me of the very tight tolerances that euros accept in everyday driving that States drivers would rebel. You should have seen the parking spaces at a hotel I visited. My Caddy CTS would be a damn parade float. Those flip mirrors on euro cars aren’t an affectation.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            komododave,

            Agreed. :) Great discussion man, and kudos to Corey, he seems to spark my favorite comments with his articles.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Gracias.

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      I’ve owned some of the cars on your list. 1997 Ford Contour, although it was a 4 cylinder/5 speed “Sport” model. 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport 5 speed. 2001 Olds Alero GL2 V6 coupe. I loved all of them in their own way, particularly the Contour, as it reminded me of my Merkur Scorpio. Out of the three, I had no complaints about the Contour or SX4, but the Alero was total garbage. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the styling and performance of it, but it was garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Excellent points and insight. I should include the entire Merkur lineup in my “+” list (flops I like). I just want to change them all over to look externally like their Euro Ford counterparts, as in better front clip for the XR4Ti and Ford ovals.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My brother recently scooped up a high-mile but excellent condition ’96 Mercury Mystique GS on a bit of a whim (a customer was having trouble selling it, my bro offered $500 and got it), 2.0L and 5spd, fairly sparse equipment wise. He says its a remarkably refined-driving and well handling car, and eats up highway miles. It’s been really reliable for the customer too, on its original clutch at 240k miles although it is finally showing signs of needing replacement.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          That isn’t the first Mystique I-4/5spd I’ve heard about reaching incredibly high mileage and somehow living to tell about it.

          I don’t know if I could risk a CD4E (says the man with an old azz Taurus LMAO), so a manual would be required. Besides, might as well get all European like in a Euro-sourced car.

          I think Ford should have done the following:

          Moved Tempo up to a 1st/2nd gen Taurus platform, only shrunk even further to make it noticeably smaller than the actual 1996 Taurus. Fixed console/floor shift like previous Tempo, dual airbags, overdrive auto used in the Escort for I-4 versions. AX4N in the lower production V-6/auto. Build most V-6’s with manuals in GLS trim. Some Vulcan/AX4N in LX trim. Mostly I-4 cars since this is a value model anyway.

          Redesigned the HSC for at least 115 hp. Remember, this car is to be decently smaller/lighter than even a gen 1 Taurus. Make the 2.0L Zetec optional in mid-level models later, as well as the 3.0L Vulcan from the start.

          Launch what was the Contour/Mystique as the Mercury Mondeo.

          As a stand alone Mercury, replacing the Topaz *and* Tracer (Mercury gets no version of the above shrunken-Taurus based Tempo), maybe the price and compromises would’ve been easier to swallow. Build XR high performance versions we knew as Contour SVT. Hell, spread the SVT moniker to Mercury.

          Sell Tempo in fleets and discounted retail just like before. It would be the value option against the larger and more expensive 1996+ Taurus.

          In this timeline fantasy, the Tempo eventually becomes what we know as the 2006 Fusion.

          While we’re at it, the Ford Falcon is redesigned to accommodate LHD with its new generation in the 1990s (before New Edge). Again as a Mercury exclusive car, it replaces the Sable and possibly Cougar, called Mercury Marquis (to complement Grand Marquis, which is later spun off in a LWB version killing the Mercury panther car).

          So Ford has the 1995 Tempo and the regular 1996 Taurus. No Contour.

          Mercury as follows:
          1995 Mercury Mondeo (what we knew as Contour/Mystique inc. SVT)
          1996 Mercury Marquis (redesigned/revised ED Falcon from Australia)
          1998 Mercury Grand Marquis (LWB version of Marquis above).

    • 0 avatar

      I still own a Suzuki Esteem; a 1999 wagon with the 5-speed manual and larger 1.8 liter. It’s a durable, tough, and quirky little wagon with plenty of space and can be fun to drive in its own way. It’s my daily commuter and despite the faded paint, I have great pride in my Esteem, lol

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        +5!

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Our 2000 Esteem might still be around if my son had no slid on black ice and rear-ended someone in it a few years ago. The paint failure was bad on it, but the interior was still in good shape (even installed an aftermarket radio), and it still ran well with over 200K on it.

        It was my daughter’s first car. She had an accident in it one time; the shop that put the front end back together did not hook up the transmission cooler lines correctly and it stranded them in East Texas when it pumped the transmission fluid out. But, once it was fixed, it had showed no side affects from the incident.

        Later, I used it as a commuter car for my 120 mile round trip to commute into Dallas. It was a good commuter car from the standpoint of mileage and not caring about what happened to it; but it was noisy and did not have cruise control. One night coming home from work, the fan belt broke. I did not want to have to pull over and wait in south Dallas for someone to come get me. So when I saw that the engine was staying cool as long as I kept moving, I tried not to use my headlights and drove it halfway home, finally pulling over in a small town at the first traffic light I encountered. Once again, no ill effects from the incident after it was fixed.

        The A/C held up until about 2009, far longer than most cars I have owned. And the styling was 1990s, which I liked very much. So I have nothing but praise for the Esteem itself, the fact that was a Suzuki was probably the main reason it did not sell more than it did.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I loved the earlier Esteem styling, that front end is such a perfectly Japanese conservative little car.

          I like the updated headlights less so, just looked too bug-eyed to me.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      The 2nd-Gen Solara (’03-’08) was more than just an exterior re-skin. It was an entirely-new car based on the ’02 Camry (the Gen 1 was built on the 94-98 Camry.)

      The Gen 1 Solara DID receive a re-skin in ’01; maybe that’s what you are thinking of?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Where I reside Saabarus are rice fodder, couple that with Subaru “qualities” such as rust and headgasket issues I can’t say I like them much.

      The Aztecs, as ugly as it is, was way ahead of it’s time.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I agree on both points, except i don’t see rusty Saabarus, or any for that matter, in my area).

        The Aztec was ahead of its time, yes.
        but it was still ugly as homemade sin going back 10 generations, based on the awful minivan platform, and was only powered by the terrible 3400.

        It made Pontiac a joke, it pretty much sealed the brand’s fate, so much so that not even the G8 (which should be added to my list) could save it.

        Make it not ugly and throw a 3800 in there, then you have my attention. I could ignore the minivan platform if it had a good engine and better styling (no hunched-back for one thing, the Buick version fixed the styling somewhat but still wasn’t exactly pretty).

        I’d say if an argument was to be made at my selection, its that the Rendezvous actually sold well to American car buyers who liked the Lexus RX.

        Except they’re probably not American car buyers anymore due to its polar-opposite reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Oh I agree that it was ugly, and would’ve benefited from a bigger engine.

          But still, when you got Nissan (and recently Toyota) copying it you have to admit the Aztec had an influence, shame they didnt copy the Aztecs spacious cargo area.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I’m going to touch on some of these:

      Volvo C30 – too expensive and the GTI exists.

      Honda CR-Z: Not efficient and not fast. If they had done what the tuners did and crammed a K20 in there from the Civic Si/RSX-S as a CR-Z R or Si they would have had a winner though

      Element: Also not sure if a flop, but I’d sure as hell buy one if I found a decent low-mileage 09.

      9-2x – not great in base form, but as an Aero it splits the difference between a WRX and STi without the bro connotation, so I’m a big fan of these. nicer interior than the limited too.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I like the CR-Z for what it is. I would love a manual trans version.

        I just love the way the C30 looks. Its the only reason its on there. Its so unique, a truly classy small car.

        The 9-2x was just a tarted up Subaru. And that’s just fine if you like Subarus and prefer better styling and such, but I would take a Volvo over the Saabaru any day. It Isn’t a WRX under the skin, yet I am okay with that.

        The more I think about it, the Element was not a flop. It was popular enough and still commands decent money. Make mine an AWD with a manual, please.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          A facelifted Element was behind me yesterday, and I always forget they redid them towards the end (larger headlamps and new grille mainly.)

          I have a couple issues with the C30:
          -For the price, the interior was not up to par.
          -For the price, it was quite small.
          -AWD was not available as a CrossCountry version, which would have made it much cooler.
          -From what I’ve read they’re not incredibly reliable.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Sky/Solstice and the Genesis Coupe. Decent first efforts in their respective markets, but with little brand recognition among potential buyers. A second generation would have been much improved, I think. But GM decided to become boring instead, and Hyundai said “let’s luxury everything!”.

    • 0 avatar
      komododave

      Agreed. Great first effort from a company that hadn’t made a fun, small, convertible in years. A second gen would have refined it into a true Miata competitor. And the Redline/GXP versions offered the extra power potential Miata buyers pined for.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I did like the Kappa, but GM went boring for a reason. Boring sells.

      I would crush 15 Lambdas to save one Solstice, but I fully understand GM’s reasoning.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Agree 1000% on the Sky. Very nice car, but it flopped.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Sky/Solstice had serious usability problems. The tops lacked the ease of use the Miata and S2000 had (I think you had to almost manually remove them standing up), and they both basically had no trunk. Add in the normal “old-GM” build quality issues and you can see why they sold poorly. Solstice GXP coupe is still awesome though.

      The Gen coupe had 3 issues I can see:
      1) name sharing with the luxury sedan, I think it should have been a Tiburon still
      2) trying too hard to be a low-price G35 coupe, and the interior felt like it
      3) Hyundai hadn’t figured out how to do steering feel or suspension tuning yet

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    DeLorean if it counts, Isuzu Vehicross if it doesn’t.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Old aurora and lss. Don’t generally like large cars or GM cars, but these were noteworthy.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The Aurora had a 2nd gen, but I prefer the first.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The LSS is interesting, and I like them. The seats in there have always looked incredibly comfy, and there’s something slightly menacing about the model in black.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        1998 Oldsmobile 88 Regency – we killed the 98 in 1996 but if we slap the 98 grille on an 88 that will keep the customers! (Flop in my book.)

        • 0 avatar
          r129

          My favorite thing about the Regency is that they re-used old photos for the brochure. The exterior photos were lightly retouched from the 1994 Olds 88 brochure, and the interior photos were lifted directly from the 98 brochure, different C-pillar and all.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          The 88 was already dated enough, it did *not* need an even more stodgy front end on it.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I can’t say I like any of the FWD versions you guys are talking about. Yes, they’re okay for what they are, but a lot of GM cars lost their appeal for me when they went FWD.

            I realize the FWD cars were decent, but its like if I want a LeSabre, 88, 98, Cutlass Supreme, Regency, or Park Ave, its gotta be RWD, man. I am not relating all the cars together other than that I prefer their RWD versions only.

            Curiously enough, the Pontiac Bonniville doesn’t apply. I like the FWDs. I guess its my version of a FWD big GM car. The late 1990s Grand Prix is good looking and I really like them, too (the previous and later FWD GPs were not for me)

            I wonder why my FWD Okayness applies to Pontiac, the supposedly sporty brand. The supercharged Bonnie and GP are awesome to me, big FWD performance car, and I’m totally okay with that! Ha

            Maybe Oldsmobile brand is my favorite because it combined some performance from Pontiac and some luxury from Buick, creating my perfect blend of a big RWD American car.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            The only big FWD H / G / K car from GM that I liked was that final 95-99 Buick Riviera. It didn’t hold a candle to the Ford competition in terms of build and materials quality, but I thought it was a gorgeous design.

            Actually, I still have a soft spot for the Lucerne. Don’t ask me why.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            >>–S I L V E R–A R R O W–>

            I hate the front end of the Lucerne, with those globby lamps and grille so reminiscent of the Terraza.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Hadn’t considered it, Kyree, if I’m honest. It could be better, but it is interesting.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Honda Accord Crosstour. Yes, I had one. And yes, I will go to my grave saying it should have been called the Accord Sportback, and sold with the same front as the Accord and sitting at a lower ride-height.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      I never thought this was ugly. Maybe the front end was. But I liked the overall shape. If it wasn’t so darn long I may have considered, would hate to park in the city.

    • 0 avatar
      Philip Lane

      I feel this, because when I think of the Crosstour as a lifted Accord with an ugly schnoz and a big butt, I hate it, but when I think of it as an Accord liftback, I want one.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I would so daily one of these. As I approach my older years (I’m 46 now) it would be easier getting in and out due to ride height, have plenty of room for the kids, and it has a hatch, which I like because it’s where I started driving (albeit the worst hatch, a 1983 Chevy Chevette Scooter).

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Crosstour wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t that ugly in person. It just didn’t photograph well.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    The Ford Flex is my current favorite flop. Also, the Ford Freestyle and 2004 Chevrolet Malibu are favorites.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The Flex has decent staying power for a flop.

      And I’m not arguing about it being a flop, I’m just saying at least Ford kept it around for quite a while to throw us a bone after neutering what was left of the once-great Explorer.

      I wish the Flex had taken off in sales, and then our Explorer could be what the rest of the world knows as the Ford Everest.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I might have considered my Flex for my current car if it had been sized more like the Escape vs. the Explorer. It was just too large and thirsty for my needs.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Yes, the Flex. An awesome flop that wouldn’t die.

  • avatar
    r129

    There are many good suggestions in the previous comments that I wouldn’t mind owning. I will add the Merkur Scorpio to the list. Comfortable and luxurious interior, unique styling, cavernous cargo area, and capable RWD road manners. The weakest link was the somewhat underpowered engine, but it wasn’t that much worse than other cars of its time. The manual transmission improves things. Unfortunately, it isn’t much fun to keep one going, what with the electrical gremlins and lack of parts availability. Hmm… maybe it’s time for me to restore the one I’ve had sitting in a garage since 2001.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Did business for many years with Suzuki’s Head Office in Canada. Their employee parking lot contained a great many X-90’s. Suzuki made reliable, generally affordable vehicles. Too bad that they suffered in the N.A. market.

    Crosstour and Del Sol count as rare Honda flops.

    Allante and Reatta. Chrysler TC by Maserati. Chrysler Crossfire. But none of these were meant to be ‘mass market’ products.

    Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart? Neither embraced by the mass market.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The US Ford Fiesta, 1978-80.

    It’s the car I learned to drive on – an excellent car that arrived too late to the market. By 1978, Rabbits, Civics, and Omnis were owning the FWD econobox niche, and Ford was still pushing the Pinto, and Chevy the Chevette.

    The Fiesta was justifiably replaced by the 81 Escort, but its run could have been longer if Ford could have localized it sooner for the US market.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Oh and the Eagle Summit Wagon. Small 3 door with the 3rd door being sliding like a minivan is genius. I think Mitsubishi has a version as well, the Eagle being the clone. Jack it up .6 inches and put some cladding on it and it would sell today.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The Mitsubishi version was called the Expo, which I think was RVR in Canada. Later, the Outlander (the one that looked like a Vibe) we got was called the RVR in other markets.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        In the U.S. Mitsubishi sold both the Expo (two hinged rear doors) and the Expo LRV (one sliding rear door). The Expo LRV was the same as the Eagle Summit Wagon and Plymouth Colt Vista.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Internationally, there was a trim level called the “RVR Spacewagon.” JDM RHD FWD-based 4wd wagon things were super popular used in Russia around the mid 2000s (ie when those cars turned 7 years old and had to pass Shaken in Japan). There were more Toyota Sprinter Caribs, Honda Shuttle Beagles, Mitsu RVR Spacewagons, gen 1 Rav4s and CRVs than you could shake a stick at. And it seems at the time in Japan rally racing must have been a big thing so the cars came to Russia adorned with some pretty cool aftermarket/factory accessories like bullbars with big yellow foglights, oversized red or yellow mudflaps, funny graphics, oversized window rain guards. For the roads and winters of Siberia these Japanese cars were absolutely ideal.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Mitsubishis weren’t sold in Canada in the 90’s. Only started in the early 2000s.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the AMC Pacer yet. Lots of good ideas undone by AMC’s technical limitations and GM dropping the rotary engine that the car was originally designed for. AMC actually sold a bunch of them in the first model year but it didn’t take people long to realize that it was the ultimate case of an answer in search of a question and sales dropped to nearly nothing within a few years, basically sinking the company in the process.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Chrysler Aspen.

    Sure, its a somewhat more upscale, re-skinned Durango plus some other interior changes, but that’s essentially what GMC and even the Escalade SUVs were to Chevrolet at the time (there is a little more differentiation now)

    And by this point, legit luxury brands like Lexus, Infiniti, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz offered 3 row vehicles.

    Having never sat in one or, quite frankly, even laid my eyes on one in the wild, I can’t speak to why this particular attempt at a non-utilitarian, comfortable SUV failed so miserably, while others did not. In theory, they had a larger sales network than the ‘imported’ brands and as far as I can tell, a certain percentage of potential customers (in middle America) who still gave preference to domestic brands that should have been able to be upgraded to the Aspen over the Durango.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Don’t forget the rare, more expensive, and worse Aspen Hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think I blotted that one out from my memory.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          But VW brought back the hood for those on the new Atlas.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I saw a big rig hauling a load of Atlas models (Atleses?) *towards* Chattanooga yesterday, which I thought was weird.

            Later i also saw a big rig with a load of afflicted TDIs. I shoulda got a pic of it, but I try to leave the phone alone when driving.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Only a few were built. When commuting back and forth to my first bar study course (for the NY bar) in summer 2008, I walked by a brand-new one parked along a DC street every day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one since.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Were any hybrids ever actually sold? Chrysler launched the vehicles to the press and received positive reviews, but then decided to shutter the factory before more than a few hundred hybrids were built. The rumor at the time was that Chrysler would crush them rather than waste scarce resources supporting a few hundred sales of technically complex vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      The Aspen was simply launched at the wrong time, just before the housing bubble burst and sales of large SUVs imploded. Over the Aspen’s brief life, sales of its Durango platform-mate plunged from 120K+/year to 21K/year. (As I recall, the BOF Kia Borrego was introduced around the same time in North America and suffered a similar fate.)

      Apparently someone near me owns an Aspen, as I occasionally encounter a well-maintained one parked in the neighborhood. But apart from that example, Aspens are a rare sight now that they’re getting to be ten or so years old. I always found the second-generation Durango’s awkward styling a letdown from the handsome first generation, so the Aspen was somewhat of an improvement in that regard.

  • avatar
    probert

    Toyota MR2 Spyder: What more do you want? Toyota made interesting cars – no one bought them, and they get trashed for making boring cars. Whatta world.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      The last MR-2 was the worst MR-2 though.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The 1st generation MR2 was “interesting”. The last gen MR2 Spider was interesting too, just not in a way that interested buyers. Toyota ruined the MR2, just like they ruined the Supra, Celica, FJ and a few others.

      I haven’t had a compelling reason to visit a Toyota dealer in decades.

  • avatar
    dkleinh

    Plymouth Prowler

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, it wasn’t intended to be a big seller. It was always going to be super niche.

      They should have given the PT Cruiser to Plymouth, like it was supposed to IIRC.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I really like my 2014 Lincoln MKS. I also liked the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Allante cousins. But my all-time favorite is the Volkswagen Phaeton.

    As for rare flops, I actually saw some kind of Sterling today on my morning commute.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow. I searched that at cars dot com at some point, and found ONE for sale in the whole USA, in CA. No interest, just wondering if any still ran. A Honda with British quality control…what could go wrong ?

      Actually, one look at the wiring harness where it went from the Honda produced transaxle to the Sterling wiring was more than enough to scare me when I saw it at an Auto Show !

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right? Yeah, Sterling didn’t disappoint in its, uh, Britishness. You needn’t have worried that yours might be reliable, or anything silly like that.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Check this out for rare unicorny!
          http://bringatrailer.com/listing/1989-sterling-827-sli/

          Manual, late model, and LSi.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I want it because it’s so rare. You can really see the SD1 design roots, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Chris Tonn says NO, it is not a modern SD1 reincarnation!

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            B¡tch please. You REALLY gotta bring a trailer for these two:

            https://houston.craigslist.org/cto/6083983318.html

            https://nwct.craigslist.org/cto/6049430249.html

        • 0 avatar
          rob in ny

          I’ve got one – 1988 Sterling 825SL. Bought it through an estate sale. Needs some work, but there’s no rust and only 87k miles. Seats are very comfortable and Honda powertrain seems pretty solid. Doesn’t have the rear reclining power seats option though!

  • avatar
    k9H20

    Subaru Baja. As a fan on the Brat I always liked it, its especially sweet with the turbo and manual combo. It’s a shame it didn’t do better.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’d say the C-Max Hybrid/Energi is a flop. Ford initially said that the Hybrid model would get 47 combined and be very competitive with the Prius. Then they revealed that those numbers weren’t accurate once people started complaining and revised fuel economy numbers twice. They sold pretty well to begin with for being a hybrid, but then sales trailed off and it seems a lot of sales currently go to rental fleets.

    With cheap gas right now very few people are buying them new. There likely won’t be a second generation in the U.S. as production is supposed to end in 2018 so MAP can build trucks.

    I’m surprised they bothered to give it a mild face-lift and offer an SE Energi trim for 2017.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      They’ve had an SE trim for some time on the Energi. Prior to the 2017 refresh, it was called SE Luxury, probably because it was on the higher end of SE configurations relative to the gas and standard hybrid models. You’ve never been able to get the SE without leather upholstery, fog lamps or MyFord Touch / SYNC3. And it looks like the ’17 Fusion Energi SE comes with the high-end full-LED headlamps, too.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      47 mpg city is easily possible in my C-Max Energi in hybrid mode. All you have to do is not drive like an idiot. If I hypermile, I can get 55+ mpg city.

      47 mpg highway is a tougher, but possible if you stay under 65 mph.

      Kyree, there was no SE trim on the C-Max Energi before 2017. There were no trim levels at all. You just picked 300A, 301A, 302A, or 303A option package. The 300A was equipped the way you described, but it didn’t have a SE or SEL label. The 301A/302A/303A were all very similar and like the Hybrid SEL. Finally for 2017 Ford added trim levels.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Oh, I don’t know why I read Fusion Energi…haha. The C-Max would look better with the front clip they’ve been using in Europe for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      It would be my ideal (new/nearly new) Uber car.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Late 80’s or early 90’s…Dodge Dakota Convertible.

    How awesome would the world be if the drop top pick up had caught on?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Diahatsu’s Charade and Rocky experiment in the US. Both very good cars from what I’ve read, well built thanks in part to the Toyota mothership. I’d love to try driving a Rocky sometime. They look like Samurais but in underpinnings are closer to a SWB Sidekick (surprisingly advanced/expensive double wishbone IFS).

    But simply too expensive next to competitors in the US.

    If they had stuck around, the idea that I could have a fun and purposeful Diahatsu Terios available to buy next to the field of pseudo ‘active lifestyle’ subcompact CUVs would be incredible.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      I always see Charades when I visit Hawaii. It’s so interesting seeing cars that were destroyed by the rust belt before I had a chance to even notice them. They say heat is terrible on a car too, but considering the lack of body damage, I think I’m gonna be moving to a hot climate when I can afford it.

      BTW I still see an X90 all the time in my neighborhood. And a Vehicross. Crazy.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        The general rule of thumb is that colder climates are tough on the outside of cars with the salt and temperature extremes, while hotter climates are hard on interiors, with rubber, vinyls and leather shrinking, cracking, and fading. Cars do suffer from paint failure and fading in sunny climates with few cloudy days like Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and much of Texas.

    • 0 avatar
      GermanReliabilityMyth

      Believe it or not, I test drove a Rocky and could’ve bought it. I was first in line with cash. But the problem is that it’s tough to fit in there if you’re anything over 5′ 8″ and I’m 6′ 3″. Can’t blame a guy for trying.

      Seemed to be well built and a neat little rig, though. Too bad the seller’s wife thought it was a good idea to use a pressure washer to get some road rash off the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I went and read up on them a bit, I didn’t realize they were actually a good bit larger than a Sidekick (6 inches longer or so), and in general felt more substantial. Overseas, they made a variant with a very serious-sized Toyota 2.4L diesel, which made it more of a competitor to short wheelbase Land Cruisers, Prados, and 2 door Patrols. Kind of a funny tweener size.

  • avatar
    Thorshammer_gp

    I guess it was a flop compared to regular Civics of that generation, but I’ve always loved the Honda del Sol, even more so since high school, when my best friend had a couple, one of which I took over for a while. That car was pretty much the definition of fun, and I’d love to find one again eventually.

    On the basis of pure schadenfreude, one I was sort of glad to see fail was the new Dodge Dart. My general disdain for Chrysler products (both pre- and post-FCA) kind of started with the fiasco that was my stepmom’s old Stratus with a 2.7 (which admittedly was a well-packaged, roomy car, just with a POS of an engine), so I wasn’t sorry to see the much more poorly-executed Dart get axed.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I saw a del Sol (not soul anymore fixed the autocorrect lol) with a 1996+ Civic front clip. Looked amazing.

      My mom likes the del Sol. I was showing her some CRXs years ago and I showed her the del Sol. She said it was cute (her words) and looked really fun to drive. I drove them and she’s right, they are. Especially zipping around Seattle with the top off in June-July (which is where I enjoyed it). Would also be fun to take up into the mountains that same day, though I didn’t have that opportunity lol.

      Mom didn’t think much of the CRX, guess the wedge shape didn’t agree with her.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    This comment will get lost in the shuffle, but I don’t care. With all the talk of the Trailblazer/Envoy family as being timeless and such (even with the god awful interiors at the time), my fav full SUV, right as gas prices killed it, was the Kia Borrego. It had all the qualities of an Envoy, but it was actually 1) built well, 2) without gigantic panel gaps, and 3) has totally timeless, handsome styling.

    It was a total flop. But every time I see one I think “still looks brand new.” Same goes for the Isuzu Axiom, but unfortunately that had a much cruder platform.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I swear I see more Borregos now in the hands of their 3rd or 4th BHPH owners than I ever did when they were new.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Agreed. I’m always surprised at how much smaller they are in person than they look in photos, especially from behind. They were on the same mechanical wavelength as the 3rd gen Explorer and 05-12 Pathfinder: BOF with burly motors, but IRS for third row packaging efficiency.

        I’m more of a 1st gen Sorento kind of guy myself. Half-decent quality, BOF+solid rear axle, 2 speed t-case, available stick shift on v6+4wd variants.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          We had a 2003 Kia Sorento EX, probably about as well-equipped as they came, with 4WD. It was green with beige cladding and beige leather. It was a fine car, too, until my mother flipped it in 2009. The only defect ours had was window rubber that became gray and ashy-looking after a few years.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I like all Kia BOF SUVs, I’m sure I have mentioned it. Totally forgot or the Borrego would be on my positive list for sure, maybe the poster child for the whole kabosh.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d love to find a clean 5spd 1st gen Sportage and build a fun little offroader out of it. Mild lift and mud tires, good to go!

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You and me both Gtem!

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        The Borrego debuted in 2009 at the worst possible time for a BOF gas hog SUV. They sat at the terminal port for a long time as the take rate was quite low and the dealers obviously did not want them in inventory.

    • 0 avatar
      komododave

      Aww…the poor Borrego. Glad someone else remembered it. Terrible timing for Kia. Just as they finally decide to jump on the gravy train of big full size BoF SUVs, it plunges off a cliff. By all accounts, a perfectly serviceable SUV that would have done just fine had the market not been flushed away.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      +10 on the Borrego.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Agree about Kia of that era. Not all that nice a vehicle, but a good solid vehicle at an attractive price. Modern Kia lost the attractive price.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    My top 3 flops:
    1. Mercury Marauder/1992 Ford Crown sport
    2. Chevy Corvair
    3. Volvo 240 GT? It was a sporty non-turbo 240 with oversteer tuned handling.
    4. Nearly all goofy 80s Turbo one offs.

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the “Vigor” yet.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Vigor, excellent. Did not even occur to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Wonder if it was adjusted to VIGOUR on the back for Canada.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          I wish they did call Canadian ones “Vigour”, since Vigor always throws me off when I see one. I remember when I was a kid and saw one I’d pronounce it “Vy Gore”, and kind of still want to pronounce it like that.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I’m the same way with “Chevrolet”. As a kid, never hearing it pronounced any way other than “Chevy”, I pronounced it in my head phonetically (I believe is the correct word) as “shev-ro-let” when I saw it spelled out on an old truck tailgate, for example.

            I can’t recall saying it out loud that way, but something in my brain triggers that for a split second before I think of how its actually pronounced. Its like a recording that was recorded over on a cassette tape, but you can still faintly hear the old one just as the new one is played. Ha

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I like to call them “Audi by Honda”, as they’re one of the more unconventional Hondas of their time with a charmingly corny title.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I would have had I thought of it!!!! (Vigor)

      No lie. I want a 5spd Vigor in my Honda collection.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    AMC Pacer.

    It was just about all over for AMC anyway. Mom bought a new 1979 Concord instead – a Sherman tank of a car!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Fav flop: Reatta.

    Shocking, I know.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    the 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum.

    BEST
    CAR
    EVER !!!!

  • avatar
    RHD

    Going back in time a bit farther: the 1955-56 Dodge La Femme. It was a Dodge Custom Royal Lancer repainted in rose and white, with special fabrics and carpet, a matching purse (with cosmetics and grooming accessories), raincoat and umbrella. In 1956 it came two-toned with Misty Orchid and Regal Orchid paint, but sorry, no purse.
    About 2500 total were sold, and maybe 40 survive. Hey, nice try, Dodge.
    At least they understood that women make a lot of car-buying decisions. Their efforts would be scorned today – the 1956 brochure said the La Femme was created “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty… the American Woman.”

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    I notice no one has mentioned the Toyota Venza yet. There’s a reason for that…

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Compact pickups

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      [Insert pic of that cartoon racoon and blue jay going, “Ohhhhhhhh!”]

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Normal sized pickups, like back in the early 2000’s.

      I’d consider a modern pickup, they they’re all massive.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        2001 Ford F-150 dimensions

        207-244″ L x 78-80″ W x 71-77″ H

        2017 Ford F-150 dimensions

        209-251″ L x 80″ W x 75-77″ H

        I wouldn’t call that a “massive” difference. In some cases its not that different at all. It grew like 3-5 inches in some places and not at all in others.

        There is a massive difference in the 2017’s safety, comfort, features, capability, performance and MPG. And they’re in the positive direction.

        I compared in fueleconomy.gov a 2001 2wd 4.6L F-150 with a 2017 2wd 2.7L and a 2001 5.4L 4wd with a 2017 3.5 EcoBoost 4wd.

        2wd 2001: 16 combined
        2wd 2017: 22 combined

        4Wd 2001: 14 combined
        4wd 2017: 20 combined

        All vehicles tend to grow. Park a 1988 Camry next the new 2018. Full size pickups haven’t even grown that much. They’ve become far better vehicles and gained MPG while they were at it.

        Full size trucks are better than ever, but they’re just styled to look bigger and tougher than the curvy aero 2001 F-Series and Silverado/Sierra, for example. They’re not that much bigger and its not like you “pay for the bigness” in worse performance/capability/economy. quite on the contrary, they’ve all shot up through the roof.

        If you’re worried about parking it, there’s a camera for that, so those extra 4 inches don’t cause you to completely flatten a Jetta with your massive tank.

        And don’t nobody give me crap about the EcoBoost getting bad MPG. It only does that when you lay into that turbo all the time! Drive it like you haven’t stolen this turbo charged big pick up that is deceptively quick, and it’ll get closer to V-6 numbers. Its like V-8 power when you need it, better MPG when you don’t.

        This is all null and void if you are talking about a 2001 Tacoma and a 2017, or a 2001 S-10 and a 2017 Colorado. Yes. Compact trucks are gone and those are now midsize trucks.
        I say they’re gone for now, but I have a feeling they’ll be back.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          No doubt the newer pickups are safer, more powerful, and more efficient.

          Your numbers are interesting, but when you see the older picksup on the road, they look diminutive compared to current models.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            It’s all in the tall front and the bedsides creating a perception of bulk. Like John showed, the only dimensional difference between a jellybean F-150 and a new one is the 6″ cab stretch in 2004 (for SuperCabs and regular cabs, or SuperCrews in 2009). Chevys have gained about 2″ in the past 30 years, and Dodges very little since the 1994 Ram. In terms of width, every full-size pickup has been 78-80″ wide since 1961.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @brn – it is a pervasive myth that current trucks are much bigger than 70’s era trucks.
            I’ve posted dimensions a few times and and the Gentleman Doctor has done so on several occasions as well.
            My F150 supercrew 6.5 box 4×4 isn’t much different in size than my neighbour’s 1979 F250 extended cab long box.
            I was referring more to the Subaru Brat, Datsun rustbody little compact trucks.

            I am surprised that I wasn’t flamed by the “alt-truck” crowd.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I have a sweet spot for the final generation Nissan Quest. Sure you’ll die in a small overlap crash, but the interior was far better than the competition and I like the general weird factor of the design. It was big, quiet and smooth with a series of pano roof glass. It didn’t matter that it was a CVT, it was like driving a pillow. Even after the crash testing results came out, the dealer wouldn’t budge on the price and this was AFTER they used it for a courtesy car for the better part of two years and put a whopping 8000 miles on it. That’s one I feel that (crash test aside) would have made a welcome addition to the fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      GermanReliabilityMyth

      I have one and am still alive to tell the tale. It’s an excellent, comfortable and fairly economical van. It doesn’t hurt that we got it for about $5-6k below sticker because the dealer screwed up on the price.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I used to hate the look of the current Quest, but it’s really grown on me. Full-size vehicles always wear “outlandish” looks well.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yes, except the artist formerly known as the Infiniti QX56. It was pure ugly. The new concept, with the higher headlamps and more buch front end, is finally a good looking Infiniti full-size SUV.

        I like the current Quest, but when I priced a base/strip model new one when researching Uber candidates, it shocked me at what they wanted for it. I thought it would have been a huge bargain, but I was wrong. I just couldn’t stomach a Grand Caravan. I guess if I got a minivan, which I pretty much ruled out, I’d have to test out the Transit Connect passenger.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    The BMW 318ti was a car I very much enjoyed even as many BMW’s fans themselves detested it, let alone the general market. I had a 1997 black on black M-tech model back in the mid 2000’s while in college, dumped a little bit of money into it with a custom suspension (450f/550r springs with custom valved Bilstein’s), grippy summer 245/17’s tires all around, upgraded bushings/ball joints/mounts, and so forth.

    That car could take tight turns at speeds beyond most sports car I’ve owned or driven, having the wheelbase of the E36 but being 8 in. shorter with almost no rear overhang made it super quick to transition. Also with the lighter/shorter 4 cylinder up front it had an eagerness to turn in, definitely a momentum car but really great package for not a lot of money. After that car I went to a Z3 M Coupe which was pretty much an upgraded version underneath with more power and lower center of gravity, speaking of another unicorn.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Love the 318Ti, would’ve made my list had I thought of it. I search for em all the time.

      I want two, first must be a really base model, no options. The Civic DX from BMW. I’ll take the wheel covers off and paint the steelies silver, with a BMW center cap from ages ago. I would keep the stock wheel covers in a box somewhere in case anyone wanted to undo the mod to make it truly original.

      And I want a California roof model with an M3 powertrain conversion.

  • avatar
    Meat

    While it may not have been a true flop inline with the 3 categories listed in the piece the Mazda2 is dead and gone in the US. Not receiving the Kodo designed second generation hurts me deeply.

  • avatar

    BMW M1

  • avatar
    jhefner

    “The overwhelming response to this question compared to the opposite question asked a week earlier (about generational improvements) showed me how you all love being negative and trashing cars.”

    Cory!!!

    How dare you think so negative about us!!! Why, just a few days ago, I picked up again a book called “The World’s Worst Automobiles” (I am not kidding, next to a book titled “The World’s Worst Aircraft”), and have been enjoying reading it every since.

    Boy, there are some really bad ones in there that no one has mentioned, along with the some of the above. But here are my favorite three:

    Chrysler TC by Maserati — I wanted one of these when I was in college, and if I had the space and money, I might own one. One is for sale in a museum in Branson, MO.

    Chrysler Airflow — besides being too futuristic for most buyers, the early copies had terrible build issues — welding was new back then, and poor welds could cause the engines to fall out! I am glad I finally got to see one in person, even if it was in derelict condition.

    Amphicar — I read that LBJ had one on his Texas ranch, and loved to drive it straight into a lake on his property, not bothering to tell his visitors with him that it was an amphibious car! Good thing it never sprang a leak due to rust and sank like some Amphicars did.

    While most of the cars mentioned so far were sales flops, most of them were not bad cars at all; at least not compared to cars that rusted while sitting in the showroom, dropped or blew an engine or lost major body parts after just a few thousand miles, or would rust until the springs punched through the sheet metal. If you placed a heavy load in the trunk of a tired FSO 125P, it would fall through to the ground, taking the gas tank with it!

    Sidebar: A few years ago, I was walking up and down a long row of DUKWs at the “Ride a Duck” place in Branson, MO (yeah, same trip as the museum.) I noticed that they came from “Ride a Duck” locations from around the country including California. Some of them were registered as boats, some had license plates, still others had both. Was it up to local laws whether you registered an amphibious vehicle as a boat, a vehicle, or both, or was just up to the owners or how much it was used where?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      There have been bargain basement TC’s I’ve seen on Craigslist.

      Nice deal https://tucson.craigslist.org/cto/6054408640.html

      Nice car, less of a deal
      https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/6004671849.html

      Cory, Rare Rides Edition
      https://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/6019338529.html

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I think the TC is too common to qualify, even in manual guise. Very irritating that the seller maintains the car has a very interesting hijacking story, puts it in the title, and then only includes one sentence about it, with no detail. Oh, and two random photos of a different car and one of a statue, for good measure.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I like the Portland guy, note the cons to ownership:

        Cons:
        It does not have GPS so you will need to find your own way to the latte hut and home again.
        It will not park itself.
        It will not keep you from running into the stopped vehicle in front of you.
        It will not stop you from backing into something.
        It will not drive itself while you are texting.
        It requires a fully functional brain to operate in an enjoyable manner.

        I think at 12 even with a parts car he is in the upper stratosphere with pricing, but I like the enthusiasm.

  • avatar
    manu06

    Let me defend the Honda del sol. I bought my wife a used 93 Samba green del sol SI manual in 1994.
    It was actually a fun little convertible, and being able to lower the back window was great.
    While not as tossable as the CRX I drove, it felt really solid. We put 165k miles on the car
    and no major repairs were needed. Sold it in 2011 with the original clutch if memory serves.
    Placed an ad on Craigslist and eBay and the phone rang for 6 months after we sold it.
    We did test drive the automatic and it was truly a dog but the manual transformed the car.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    ’89-’97 Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar by way of flop formula #3, when the project team tried to make a BMW 6-series at a Ford price. (On the Ford they even kept the Hofmeister kink!) The Super Coupe and the original supercharged Cougar XR7 weren’t too far off from their targets but the base cars were underpowered, too thirsty, and well over their weight and cost targets. They were meant to only use the two versions of the 3.8L V6 that they launched with, but Ford ended up having to cram the 5.0L into the engine bay by the 1991 model year to have a midrange option (followed by the 4.6L in ’94). They were one of Ford’s last cars to get airbags and not until the ’94 midcycle refresh, going straight from motorized belts to dual airbags and skipping the intermediate driver-airbag-only step that was common in the early ’90’s.

    Great cars though. I still have my ’96, though it’s starting to show the inevitable rocker panel rot from having been my daily driver in SD, ND, and occasionally MN from ’98 thru 2010.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I liked the Daihatsu Charade (with the 4-cylinder engine). I liked the Ford Freestyle and Taurus X (much nicer than the too-big Ford Flex). I liked the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. I liked the last Cadillac STS sedan (especially with the non-turbo Northstar V-8). I liked the Toyota Camry Solara and earlier Camry 2-door sedan.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Oh! Wait!

    Does the 1981-83 Imperial count? If it does, that one’s my favorite.

  • avatar
    focus-ed

    I’d add 2 more:
    Honda CRZ – I really considered buying one, price and timing gor in teh way.
    Subaru Baja – I’d get a pickup of similar (or smaller) size if one was offered today (2 door would be better yet).

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    How about the 2004-2008 Chrysler Pacifica?

    A decent idea a little ahead of its time sunk by a combination of faulty engine cradles in the 04-06s, ill-advised engineering foisted upon it by Daimler, and an initial decision to push upmarket which was more than most were interested in paying for a pentastar badge.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Two that no one has mentioned:

    Chevrolet Orlando: typically tardy GM response to the Rondo and Mazda5, styled like a giant bland Kia Soul combined with a tortoise, with one of the worst names in recent memory. Only sold in Canada, naturally, to minimize any possible profit. It was one of the first manual vehicles I ever drove (so yeah, I guess the fact it was available with one is a positive to you guys).

    Hyundai Veracruz: Profoundly blobby and ahead of its time, since Hyundai replaced it with the 3-row Santa Fe to much greater success. The rear end is one of the worst SUV/CUV rear end designs of all time in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Very nice.

      I know someone who has the Hyundai, he said he loves it, but his actions say otherwise. Though, he was trying to sell it for a while and was turned off by the low offers. He ended up keeping it, but someone else is driving it and presumably paying the payments.

      The Orlando sure was ugly, but it wasn’t too bad of a vehicle. Just one in a virtually dead segment.

      Corey, if you’re reading:

      Sterling for $500!

      https://montgomery.craigslist.org/cto/6127657442.html


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