By on July 26, 2017

Acura Legend Coupe

Earlier this week in his Question of the Day, Matthew Guy asked everyone to share a favorite vehicle from their year of birth. An interesting walk through history ensued in the days following, and I encourage each of you to head there and read through the comments if you haven’t done so already. You’ve probably already guessed from the title above where I’m going with this particular question.

Today’s inquiry is all about the worst, steamiest pile of junk on sale the year you were born. Let’s get down and dirty.

Some of the Malaisey babies in the room will have a more difficult time choosing the worst car on offer from their year of inception. Matt’s birth year of 1980 is lousy with brown and green boxes containing strangled engines and questionable build quality. All of this goodness was “assembled” with flimsy metal that would rust at the sight of a salted margarita glass. But I digress.

I got in the game early with my special best pick for 1986, the Acura Legend. Surely we can all agree it was an excellent, quality-made vehicle. Flipping the perspective of the question toward the negative, my search began for all things opposite of the JDM Honda Legend. The opposite of a lovely rebadged sedan and coupe, leather-lined and left-handed for the North American market. Perhaps an FDM choice would fit the bill.

As I’m sure you are already aware, that acronym stands for French Domestic Market.

Image: 1986 Renault 18i Sportwagon

Initially, I planned to talk about the Renault Fuego, but that sad hatchback burned out in 1985. This alternate will do! The Renault 18i Break just makes the cut-off. The square beauty was sold in the United States as the Renault Sportwagon between 1981 and 1986. Certainly an obscure vehicle, I wonder if there are any left on the roads. The Sportwagon was a result of AMC’s tie-up with Renault towards the end of their existence — that is, before various Renault, Chrysler, and Mitsubishi vehicles were branded as Eagle for a few final years.

Some additional engineering was done on the 18i (available in 1981-1982 as sedan) and Sportwagon before they arrived on our shores. Changes included bigger impact bumpers, sealed-beam headlamps, and an inline-four cylinder engine (federalized to 82 French horses). Federally mandated modifications did not appeal to consumers. Mercifully, the dated Sportwagon was replaced for 1987, by the much more modern Renault Medallion. Almost immediately, the Renault became the Eagle Medallion for 1988. This new identity would last for just two years, as the Medallion was eliminated from the Eagle lineup after 1989.

Your turn. Reach back in time for the worst pile from your year of birth. Maybe put on some gloves first, though.

[Image: Betterparts.org]

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152 Comments on “QOTD: What’s the Biggest Piece of Crap From the Year of Your Birth?...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    1976?

    *Everything.*

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I’m 1975 and was thinking the same thing.

      For us the QOTD should be: What was the one quality car built in the year of your birth?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Yup. 1982. All of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It would make more sense to ask what kinds of good or crappy vehicles were available when you turned 16 i.e. old enough to drive. My birthdate means that first driving choices of my cohort were late 60’s (used) to 70’s and 80’s models (new). It definitely was the malaise era. At least the 60’s stuff was still available in decent condition.

      • 0 avatar
        qwer38456

        I second this motion.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        “Yup. 1982. All of it.” .

        Well ;

        I’ve told a few stories about my psycho-b*tch ex G.F. here, when I met her she had a seriously bedraggled 1982 Ford Escort L two door in bright red .

        It was amazing it still ran, as it looked like it was from Beirut but it just kept on going and going and going……

        I fixed many things on it and hated the cheapo horn push on the turn signal lever and other obvious co$t cutting things but it was dead simple to repair and I never had the cylinder head off it nor any clutch/tranny problems .

        I grew to respect if not like it, quite a bit .

        She was a beautiful and sexy car killing machine, the Escort chugged along faithfully until I was driving her in it in a *very* rough Barrio on Friday night as the sun was setting, then it broke the timing belt and bent all the valves, I junked it .

        -Nate
        (still remembering the scorching hot sex fondly)

    • 0 avatar

      exactly! another Bicentennial baby here.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      You can say this with a straight face?

      1976 specifically is my favorite corvette of all time, and I’ve always wanted a silver, ’76 Vette. I think that is the single best looking year ever.

      It was also one of the best non-z28 years for the Camaro. It finally offered power brakes, but of course the 77 with the z28 350 was a big step up. The 76 looked a lot better than the 78+ though, which makes 77 IMHO the best year.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Well I had a ’76 Corvette (the last year with the Stingray cresting) that I acquired new. As Corvette owners we all talked publicly about how much we loved our cars. Privately we cursed a great deal about them.

        The battery was located directly behind the driver’s seat. Try boosting it when you have a manual that requires having the clutch engaged.

        The rear window defog button was located halfway down the tunnel.

        If you did not have A/C the air vents/ducts were routed through an area guaranteed to bring in nothing but very hot air. This made it almost impossible to drive on a hot rainy day.

        The car was also quite narrow, to the point that I could not use it to drive to and from the gym with my training partner as I could barely shift with our shoulders/arms jammed against each other.

        However it seems that I seldom ‘looked better’ to members of the other gender than when I was driving/standing beside my ‘Vette. Of course that was back in the heyday of disco and before the ‘Vette became synonymous with ‘male middle age crisis’.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Camaro? A whopping 165 horsepower from its top engine. Plus the legendary F-Body thousand lb. doors and insta-rust.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredotto

      As a fellow ’76-er I think you’re mostly right, with some notable exceptions (for example BMW still made the 2002 that year). Could be worse. I personally think 1981-1982 is the absolute nadir of automotive history.

      That said, a ’76 Datsun F10 holds the unique distinction of being both a piece of crap, as well as eye-wateringly ugly even by 1976 standards.

    • 0 avatar
      ldl20

      1975 here…..and I concur. What didn’t suck?

  • avatar
    matador

    I’ll avoid the easy, low-hanging fruit like the Geo Metro. Worst I can think of from 1995 is the Ford Probe

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Have you ever driven a probe?

      I used to make fun of them until I raced one, and then I tried to figure out why there’s so much hate for them. I thought it was actually a pretty impressive car for its price point.

    • 0 avatar

      Lebaron?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Would Lebaron have been better with a different name?

        Poor Lebaron was a coach-builder at one point.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        My parents had an ’84 LeBaron. It never could keep the battery charged up. It had some sort of weird electrical issue that no one could figure out. The 318 was gutless but excellent on fuel.
        I liked to drive it because it greatly resembled the Dodge cop cars of the era and was even a similar RCMP car blue. I had borrowed it one night to go to the bar with buddies and on the way home at 3 AM a dude carrying a rather heavy gym bag spotted me and spooked. He bolted down the nearest alley throwing stuff out of the bag over fences into people’s yards. I went after him flicking the high/lo beams doing my best cop imitation. The guy almost killed himself climbing a 6 ft high chainlink fence. It was hilarious.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        The LeBaron convertible (no coupe was available by 1995) was relatively well-sorted in its last year. It was still a K-derived Chrysler, of course, rocking the oil burner Mitsu V6 and A604 “Ultradrive,” but I don’t think it would be fair to call it the worst vehicle available that year.

        Now the Ford Aspire, on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      The Ford Probe GT was loved by the auto journalists of the time. It won all of the comparison tests, was called one of the best driving vehicles you could buy for the price, compared to Porsche, etc. There was no shortage of FWD mostly Japanese sports coupes that were available to participate in those comparison tests, a far cry from where we are today. One of my big regrets is not traveling to Pennsylvania last year to buy a well-kept example of a red Ford Probe GT with a manual transmission that popped up on Craigslist.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    1982 Cadillac Cimarron :(

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      I am also from 1982, and I will have to agree with this choice. In fact, it was one of the first cars to pop into my head when I read the question. Although the J-car evolved into fairly decent basic transportation, the first year with the 1.8 liter engine was particularly awful. It was bad enough as a Chevy, but one expects more from a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I’m 1986, and since it was still manufactured, I have to agree. Not only was it based off of a crappy car to begin with, trying to ask a Cadillac premium for it was what cements it’s place.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        At least by 1986 you could get the Cimarron with a V6, so it wasn’t quite as horrible. Still not worth the price and still should never have been a Cadillac. For 1986, my pick would have to be the Hyundai Excel, which was just making its U.S. debut at that time.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    1982 Ford Thunderbird.

    The Zephyr, Fairmont, LTD, Granada and Marquis were stodgy enough, the Fox T-Bird was just plain awful.

    The next year, it and the Cougar were completely redone, debuting as the first product of Ford’s Aero revolution, featuring wrapper doors that eliminated exterior drip rails and other advancements.

    The Aero ‘Bird was a revolution, the previous one was hideously repulsive.

    Funny, my pick of a keeper from 1982 was a fox body coupe. But at least it wasn’t as ugly or undeservingly pretentious as the 81-82 Thunderbird.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    While not the worst from an absolute perspective, I’ll pick the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare. Why, because their overall junkiness represented everything that was wrong with ’70s cars, and they just about killed Chrysler outright. It took every ounce of Lido’s salesmanship and PR skills to secure those federal loan guarantees.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    1975: I **think** the award has to go to the AMC Pacer. Their are however, so many to choose from for honorable mention or the winner outright.

    Chevy Vega comes to mind. Just about any car coming from the U.K at the time was a steaming piling due to their insistence on Lucas Electric parts: Triumph, Jaguar etal.

  • avatar
    slap

    1955. Sorry, can’t think of any “piece of crap” from then. You guys born in the 1980’s have it easy.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The 1955 Studebaker and AMC lineups were pretty poor. The 1955 Renault 4CV was doing its best to kill Renault’s brand reputation in the States.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        @Slap :

        here I was thinking how to say those of us who are Geezers will pretend that all new cars then were great and forget they had all manner of troubles and the shocks and mufflers rarely lasted 30,000 miles etc……

        I love my oldies but I have no illusions about how dangerous they were and short lived too except for the ones owned by folks who didn’t mind constant fiddling and maintenance .

        They all had style by the boat load but in truth weren’t overly good Automobiles by any standard .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    raph

    1969 – nothing! Actually I’m sure there were alot but Detroit was still king in those days.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The 1969 AMC Rambler and Ford Maverick were pretty lame.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        The Rambler may have been lame, but it wasn’t the worst. It ran, drove, and got the job done. That was the point- to be an appliance of sorts.

        You want the worst car from 1969? I’d give that dubious award to the Subaru 360, a car so bad that Consumer Reports branded as “Not acceptable” for a total lack of any safety, and the fact that it had a gutless engine that wasn’t much more powerful than a modern lawn tractor.

        A Rambler may have been dull, but compared to the 360, not even close to the worst

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          I forgot about the 360, but I think you are wrong in stating it was the worst of 1969 – it was probably the worst of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    1968 VW Type 4

    *mike drop*

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Hey, I had one of those. A squareback/shooting brake. Wonderfully thought out and designed. Terribly executed. Pretty much ended our families over decade long relationship with VW.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    So many to choose from in 1973. I will just go with the low hanging fruit and say Ford Pinto.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    1954 again (damn, I’m old!). My pick is the Henry J.
    http://www.classiccarcatalogue.com/H/henry%20j%201954%20henryjopen.jpg

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m not aware of any decent cars in 1977, so I’ve got nothing. I think they were pretty much all garbage.

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    This is a phishing scam! So, I will take the bait. Led Zeppelin, Sparky, Chris and Red.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    1974 Pinto.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I believe the 2016 F-150 was of poor quality :-)

    Anyway. I can’t really state which car was poor back in 1960. My personal belief is most cars from that era were terrible quality, unreliable, handled poorly, bad brakes, dangerous to drive and didn’t last long.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    1961 – Everything of the Chrysler Corporation – Generally good mechanicals wrapped by hideous Exner styling, and put together with terrible workmanship.

  • avatar

    1976….Ummm… Vega? Pinto? most FoMoCo/Chrysler products?

    I’m gonna punt and say all of them, world-wide.

  • avatar
    arach

    I LOVED the Pontiac Fiero.

    But 1984, the year of my birth, it was known for one thing and one thing only: Blowing up in flames. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/24/us/gm-plans-recall-of-244000-fieros-citing-fire-hazard.html

    By ’88 they were fantastic, but in 84- no question about it- they were a disaster!

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I remember seeing Fieros and Aerostars burned up along the highway there for a few years. Probably saw half a dozen which was far more than other brands.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1977

    Well the Vega was still in production. You could still buy a Pinto brand new.

    You could still buy Chryslers enormous C-body cars (but personally I would have loved one – make mine a New Yorker Brougham with road wheels.)

    The original VW Beetle was still for sale new in all of its 1940s technology glory.

  • avatar
    KevinB

    1959. Edsel. Enough said.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    The 1300cc, 44bhp engine in the 1971 model VW Bug. Especially its distributor, which by some interesting mis-engineering effortlessly doubled the fuel consumption of the humble little car, thus giving it the gas guzzler image it never managed to lose again in its home market even though the engineering flaw was fixed and the cars were recalled within half a year.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      That engine was actually pretty good ~ we didn’t get it in the U.S.A., we got the 1600CC version with tiny main jets in the carby and incorrect ignition timing to make the SMOG rules, both easily fixed for a few dollars .

      Even a new dizzy from the VW $tealer was under $100.00 then ~ a hard hit for the average new VW buyer I know .

      The main fault of the twin port 1300CC engine was : it ran out of breath on the pen road above 55 ~ 60 MPH, right where you needed it for passing, ascending hills and so on .

      I put one of these engines into my 1966 K-Ghia, tuned and tweaked it to the max and it was great around town and a real gas sipped but it sucked for my road trips and rallies….

      -Nate

  • avatar
    chaparral

    1985: the new-for-85 GM N-Body.

    Take a Citation and strip it of everything that was good – the light weight, the modern packaging, the hatchback. Then fix only the worst quality issues and throw in some new ones.

    That was released as the new mass-market compact. Yuck.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The N body was based on the J (Cavalier), not the X. The N body overall was more reliable and less recalled than the Citation it replaced.

      It replaced the X body in the lineup (as a compact bigger than Cavalier/J cars), but the X platform was used to create the (now becoming midsized) A body: Celebrity, 6000, Century, Cutlass Ciera that eventually replaced the RWD A body midsizers like Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      My 1995 Skylark weighed 2900 pounds. That seems pretty light for a compact that missed midsize by about one cubic foot. You can’t compare it to that Citation heap that didn’t have air bags, side impact protection, or even proper sound deadening and was only 200 pounds lighter anyway.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    What’s the most mundane, dull, boring and mind-numbing “What’s The XYZ” clickbait article posted on TTAC in the last 10 days?

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      Yeah, this is garbage content.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      It really sucks to come here and share memories, storys, opinions and experiences with each other. I hate it, too. Because if there is something I come here for, it sure isn’t discussing cars, reading great stories, and comparing notes with the B&B.

      What’s worse? Being forced to click on it and read it at gunpoint, as well as having 0 other articles besides QOTD.

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez_Returns

        I think QOTD is dumb no effort content. Reminds me of Jalopnik. You guys can go and happily share your stories, and I’ll happily share my opinion with stumpmaster. And no, I don’t care about most of these stories, nor do I read them. 90% of them are boring, and are written by people who like to listen to themselves talk. It kind of works at Jalopnik where a voting system sends the interesting ones to the top.

        People love to recycle that line about “no one is forcing you to read it” to justify crappy content.

        • 0 avatar

          It seems to cause you great mental anguish, so please don’t read any more QOTD articles here.
          You’ll be able to pick them out, as they occur daily and are always labeled “QOTD” at the start of the title.

          • 0 avatar
            Dingleberrypiez_Returns

            Thanks Corey, JohnTaurus already gave me the same canned response to justify low effort content.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t follow sports, or celebrity gossip.

            Yet I don’t go comment on either of those pages and say they shouldn’t exist and their content is crap.

            I know I don’t like those things, thus I don’t waste effort on them. QOTD posts will continue despite what two people think in a sea of thousands. Reality.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      I see it as dessert along with the TTAC meat and veggies. Similar to Junkyard Finds.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I kind of miss Curbside Classics.

        As to the topic; was there anything good to come from 1988? I can’t think of anything. The car my parents had at the time has a special place in hell, but the cars manufactured are of unknown quality.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          we had a couple of Accords from that period that were super even by 2017 standards. Lasted forever! Cold a/c. Good MPG. Reasonable noise levels inside.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    1971. I’m going to go with the then-new Cadillac DeVilles. Cost-cutting to chase volume, beginning the end of Cadillac’s place as the Standard of the World.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    1952 Crosley

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    1975 Bricklin SV-1, although I like it.

    I like these demographic research articles in disguise.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    The 1991 hunday [whatever they made in ’91] gets my vote.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      1991 as well. The 1991 Hyundais (Excel, Scoupe, and Sonata) were lousy, but the worst turd from that year would have to be the Sterling (Rover) 827, an Acura full of Lucas electronics. Imagine buying parts for one in 1997, after the dealer network was long gone but eBay and Amazon were just startups.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I owned a ’91 Excel four door. Was a cheap deal so I came out fine in the long run as I was just flipping cars. Had a power sunroof but was not equipped with a/c. In the south.

      Always got the job done but I never liked the car during the time that I owned it. Saw it around town for years afterwards so it was reliable at least.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    1979.

    Leaves me torn. It would be quick and easy to say Chevette.

    A little more specific to say Olds Cutlass Salon…diesel.

    But really, just about all of them. By the time I was old enough to be into cars and remember them (which was like 1984) most of the cars from the year of my birth were well into hooptie status and few were less than egregiously rusted. I still own a MY2002 truck older than all my kids (granted showing its age now) and they all like riding in it better than my 2014 Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredotto

      Normally I love fastbacks, and I have a soft spot for G-body Oldsmobiles, but in this case they did not go together well.

      Oh, and the rear windows of the four-doors were fixed – i.e. they didn’t roll down. GM cost cutting.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Is this a clever ruse to collect age data from your readers? :)

  • avatar
    threeer

    1970 AMC Gremlin.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    In 1970? Subaru 360. I don’t think they brought any over that year, but some ’69s were around for 2-3 years without selling, so I think it counts. It was under 1000 lbs, so not regulated for things like safety. It had 25 HP by that time, although an optional 36hp engine (at 100hp per liter!) was available. The 0-60 times were well over 20, if it would get to 60, as that was top speed for the older models.

    Ralph Nader woulda had a field day.

  • avatar
    3XC

    Ford Pinto “Cruising Wagon” with bubble window and pew-pew 70s arcade game cabinet graphics.

    http://autoweek.com/article/junkyard-treasures/junkyard-treasure-1977-ford-pinto-cruising-wagon

  • avatar
    NRBQLou

    Old-timer edition – ’51 Hoffman is considered by many to be the worst car ever made.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    1974, so Richard Nixon.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Following through with thinking about the options in the ripe-for-collapse Soviet Union, I’d say the worst options would be the AZLK Moskvitch 2141 “Aleko” based on horrible quality, and an air cooled ZAZ 986M would be pretty horrible based both on quality and more so lack of anything resembling modern (for the time) levels of comfort, safety, or performance.

    The Aleko was a fantastic vehicle (heavily cribbed from the FWD Simca 1308 but with a longitudinally mounted engine). Roomy, handled well with excellent traction thanks to favorable weight distribution over the drive wheels, very comfortable and modern interior. It was in most respects superior to the then-new Lada Sputnik/Samara hatchbacks. But the quality was an unmitigated disaster, one that only got worse as the chaos of the Soviet collapse (leading to delayed paychecks to workers among other things) played out. Imagine your gas tank rusting out within the first year of ownership of a new car. This was a reality for 2141 Aleko owners in the 90s. The other shortcoming was the decision to use existing soviet Moskvitch and Lada 4cyl engines taken right out of the old RWD 2106 and even more ancient Moskvitch 412. Towards the end of the run a much more powerful and modern Renault 2.0L 4cyl was finally used, but the rest of the car was still hobbled with terrible build quality.

  • avatar
    Fred

    1952 Studebaker. According to my parents it was the worse car they ever had.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    I was born in the mid 70s, so pretty much all of them, I would think.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    1957 – Edsel, I suppose, not that I have ever driven one.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I was born in 1967 — it was a golden age for autos. This is a tough question.

  • avatar
    Mn12Fanatic

    I think by 1990 the domestics were making “some” ok cars. The worst would probably be the 1990 Eagle Summit/Dodge Colt/Plymouth Colt/whatever the Mitsu name was. There is basically none of these left even though you occasionally see Festivas/Metros you never see any of these. The interference engine and rustprone body probably killed all of them, and the shoddy cheap interiors probably didn’t help either.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’d argue those Mitsu borrowed cars are actually quite excellent, the Summit in particular strikes a cord with me. Cyclists in the NorthEast loved them for the tall body that you could fit a bike into upright. The Colt hatchbacks were neat too in a Japanese economy car sort of way, the GT with the turbocharged motor was quite a pocket rocket for the time. I’d say the “shoddy cheap interiors” were quite a ways ahead of the typical domestic compact of the time.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Such utter disrespect for ‘malaise era’ vehicles. As I have stated many times, if/when I can afford to put any vehicle I desire in my drive/garage my first choice would be a 1976 Pucci edition Mark IV.

    No car epitomizes the ‘brougham’/disco era to the same degree as the Mark IV and the Pucci is my favourite.

    Total road isolation, the ability to parallel park with only one finger on the steering wheel, no noise in the cabin except the ticking of the Cartier clock when the Quadrophonic sound system is turned off, the rich bordello burgundy dash and pillowed velour upholstery, the 4/2/4 front seating with a reclining passenger seat, the silver padded 1/2 vinyl roof, the coach lights, the opera windows, the horn from a diesel locomotive, power everything, 4 cigar lighters/ashtrays and although the 460 cubic inch, 4 barrel engine was thoroughly strangled, I did manage to ‘bury’ the needle on it on a number of occasions.

    As my namesake said, while driving the Pucci, I felt that “the world was my lobster”.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Growing up in the Rust Belt, I can’t give an answer based on personal experience, since by the time I reached an age where I could identify cars, all the cars of my birth year had long since disappeared down the gutter in the form of iron oxide flakes. You young whippersnappers don’t know how good you’ve got it.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    1982

    I can’t even name one good car from that model year…so…

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    1966 was full of automotive goodness. But I’d go with either the AMC Marlin. Or one of the Opels from Buick.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Easy – the Falcon/Comet and Corvair debuted for 1960. I’ve owned a Corvair (a ’66 Monza 4-door), and it was okay, but fair or unfair, the Corvair has its reputation.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    1953 I guess it had to be an Edsel

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    1960 Lets see last year of Edsel no, AMC Rambler no, Studebaker Hawk no, Subaru 360 not sold in the US.

    How about the 1960 Renault Dauphine.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    1991. That narrows it down to two, in my mind: the Pontiac LeMans and Mitsubishi Precis. The former for its slapdash assembly and disgrace to both its Kadett origins and the LeMans nameplate, the latter for not being able to admit that it was a Hyundai Excel (though by ’91, this was at least the second-generation Excel, which seemed to last slightly longer than its predecessor or the LeMans).

    Not knocking the Koreans in particular, since their auto industry was still budding at the time. You could, of course, get a reliable, tossable (because it had to be, with no power), Korean-built rollerskate with a well-known badge – the Ford Festiva – that was worth considering versus the Sprint/Metro. :-)

  • avatar
    Joss

    1961 Amphicar. A car should never be a boat & vice versa.

  • avatar
    lowreyldjd

    1953 Henry J Corsair Model 533

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Those of you who think that the Malaise Era represented the worst of automotive Americana have obviously never had the dubious pleasure of driving, much less owning, their budget analogues from the Kennedy era. In the late 1970s I inherited a low-mile rust-free (mostly) 1962 Ford Fairlane 500, since my grandfather had died in 1971 and my grandmother had never bothered to renew her 1926 driver’s license. It featured a 120-hp Windsor 221ci V8, the very first of this line of engines, coupled to a 2-speed FordOMatic transmission. The body was solid like few American cars later; the doors closed with a solid thunk and the trunk and hood shut and latched with precision. That’s the extent of the good news. No power steering, with what must have been ten turns lock to lock. No power brakes, with four drums. Silvertown bias-ply tires. The dealer installed underdash a/c had never worked. It’s just as well that the excursion to highway speeds was a leisurely affair; it’s difficult to describe the nature of steering such a beast if your only frame of reference is for a similar size car involves power rack and pinion steering with radial tires. It wandered like a puppy on a long leash. It never, ever gave me the confidence to explore its handling limits.

    My frame of reference at this point was a hand-me-down Mustang II, a vastly superior car in every way. Tight steering, decent braking, infinitely more engaging to drive. To this day I permit no criticism of this car, destined to be the rarest of Mustangs, from people who have no context of relevant experience. I have driven budget six-banger early Mustangs and they were much closer to the experience of my Fairlane then they were to my Mustang II. I also owned a fire-breathing 390 Mustang GT fastback, which for all its raw power was nearly as tiring to drive as the Fairlane. Malaise cars were almost uniformly far better by every metric other than power. And that, too, is relative.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      There were some cool, interesting, forward-looking cars in 1962, mostly coming out of GM, like the Corvair and the “rope drive” Tempest — but the engineering, like the x-frame on many of its full size cars, didn’t age well. Given the engineering limitations of this era, I’d still go for a FoMoCo product; preferences for this year would be either a Bullet Bird or Continental. Upgrades to the major systems would still be required, given that seatbelts were still optional at this point in time (dealer installed on my Fairlane). Thank heavens bias ply tires are no longer available.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        To be fair if bias ply tires were still commonly used on cars and light trucks they would probably also have benefited from the advances in materials and construction techniques.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          not so much; they inherently have much higher internal stresses than radials. the crossed cord plies try to “scissor” across each other as the sidewall flexes while driving, and eventually the sidewall weakens and fails. It’s why “blowouts” became almost unheard of once radials took over (and people stopped over-inflating them.)

          They still are common as trailer tires since they can safely carry more weight for a given tire size, but are still pretty short-lived in comparison. A lot of motorcycle tires are bias too, IIRC because it’s easier to get the rounded profile and have enough sidewall stability. But radials are creeping in too; my FZ-09 came with Bridgestone radials.

          plus, I don’t see it being very easy to do today’s low-profile, wide tires in a bias-ply fashion.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Interesting that you don’t mention Chrysler products. I know/knew some people who had strong preferences for their road holding and engineering during the era, often people who drove at a high level.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Good post RR. I try to never judge vintage cars by modern standards too harshly. To be objective I try to judge them by what they replaced.

  • avatar

    1952. . .hmmm, can’t think of anything off hand. But a vehicle that is closer to that year that comes to mind is Rambler. I don’t remember the specific model, but it was a sedan. A classmate suffered major injury and his older sister (driving) was killed in one. The rear suspension was prone to “buckling” – the wheels folding up – in a collision as I recall being told. That’s what happened with this car anyway. I was young enough that I accepted the explanation without question as I had no reason to like Ramblers in the first place. Most likely my bias for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I know those Ramblers like many other cars back then had a torque tube diveshaft. I wonder in a bad rear ender if the torque tube could come through the floor?

  • avatar
    geo

    1974 Rabbit. This car made my family poorer, with its constant trips to Valley Autohouse in Abbotsford where expensive mechanics happily replaced axles, suspension components, engine components. At least it got great fuel mileage. We would have been better off with a 1974 Pinto,which was reliable at least.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Hudson Jet, the car that killed the company.

  • avatar
    applesartini

    ’74 means Vega. We had one, a ’73. I was rotting in a junkyard by 1976 because of the wonderful engine. Less than 50k miles in three years, $3k purchase price to paying the tow truck $50 to haul it off. Folks, that’s rapid depreciation.

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