By on January 16, 2020

It’s not good to live your life in fear, at least if you can help it. Sometimes there’s no choice but to soldier on with a stiff upper lip, hoping the bombers won’t show up again tonight, but for most of us in the Western world things are pretty okay — regardless of what your coworker posts 18 times a day on Facebook and Twitter.

Yet fear persists in more specific circumstances. One of them may involve a certain vehicle not owned by yourself, but someone you know.

There’s two ways a vehicle can strike queasy, palm-sweating fear into the heart of a mortal. First, it may be in such a state of disrepair that the floor stands a good chance of dissolving beneath you, dropping you onto the highway… if the linkages, an axle, or gas tank don’t get there first.

Or it could be that your friend/family member/coworker simple can’t handle what they bought. Big or small, muscular or wimpy, any car can be a cumbersome, too-hot-to-handle beast in the hands of someone who doesn’t trust their own skills, second-guesses their ability at every turn, or just generally couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a 10-gauge shotgun at five paces. Money and a license can open dangerous doors.

As for myself, I treasure the various tendons and bones that hold my spindly body together. I may live in Canada, but I know what becomes of a person on “disability,” and it aint the luxurious fever dream of a very online brodude who just left Radwood. Ol’ Steph needs to stay in one piece, which is why I avoid — like the plague — the two-door 2009 Hyundai Accent driven by a friend’s mother. One short drive was enough. Have you ever been in one of those things? The Grim Reaper rides shotgun, regardless of passenger count, and IIHS crash ratings bear this out. The shocking lack of….cushion…was vividly apparent during that one drive, showing just how far we’ve come in terms of passenger safety (and vehicle bloat) in recent years.

In no other vehicle, even a friend’s long-gone ’72 Super Beetle, has my head rubbed the headliner in the front seat. Oh wait — I forgot to mention the Fiat 500. Despite its four-wheel drums and a transmission held to the engine with dental floss, that old VW was still a vehicle I had no reservations about getting in. Not so with the Accent.

For some, the object of their ire may have been an early-model Pinto liftback, for obvious reasons.

Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid the kind of flayed rustbuckets that were once commonplace on highways across the continent. Thank the recession and subsequent rock-bottom interest rates for the plethora of newish vehicles on today’s roadways, even if the average age of a road-going car is still 11-plus years old. As for specific drivers, there’s a handful of people who I’d rather avoid as a chauffeur.

Over to you, B&B. You’ve all lived long and eventful lives, and dangerously fragile vehicles and Achilles-heeled drivers no doubt factored into them. Let’s hear those stories. What rides did you turn down, and why?

[Image: Hyundai]

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68 Comments on “QOTD: Turning Down That Ride?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    In high school I had a friend with an MG Midget, oh how I hated that car and would barely exhale the entire time I was in in it. Winter and railroad tracks were especially scary. Why did I ride in it? He had a car and I didn’t. You do what you need to do

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had a friend in high school with a mint Spitfire. Certainly looked awesome but I do recall it having its issues.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        You can guess how dependable that Midget was. I think we pushed it as much as we drove it, of course pushing a Midget isn’t difficult

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        A college friend of mine had a Spitfire. Ever tried to drive a Spitfire in Iowa, in January? Trust me, you don’t want to.

      • 0 avatar
        Lokki

        “I had a friend in high school with a mint Spitfire. Certainly looked awesome but I do recall it having its issues”.

        You have such a way with understatement……

        Even when a Spitfire was in perfect nick, there were issues. The first time my friend told me he needed to top up the oil in his carburetor I thought he was pulling my leg. He was serious.
        https://sucarb.co.uk/technical-carburetter-maintenance-settings-chamber-oil

        And the electrical problems were legion … I used to use a paraphrased Bible quotation to tease him

        Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Lucas, because there are many electrical problems inside this car.”

        Seriously though, I always found Spitfires terrifying in any kind of traffic. They’re tiny of course, but they they’re also remarkably flimsy feeling. A lot of that stems from that flip-up nose that makes the engine so easy to service. The whole thing shakes… all the time. Then there are those tiny doors – not as big as a carry-on bag- and so low you feel like you could drag your fingertips on the ground.

        Oh, and Last but not Least:

        http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/triumph-spitfire-.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t think his could go fast enough to experience the issue described in the image.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yep, cue the inevitable “Lucas, Prince of Darkness” jokes, but it was absolutely true.

          I once rode in my friend’s Spitfire for a short trip on the Interstate. It was dark and raining. I don’t know what scared me the worst – being able to see *under* semis, the certain knowledge that if we crashed, I was dead as dog**t, or the fact that the headlights, wipers and defroster all worked intermittently.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Funny, my Spitfire has none of those issues. Possibly because it is maintained properly and not a rolling wreck?

            When new they certainly suffered horrendous build quality issues. But 40+ years on, the issues are well-known, so are the fixes, and there is simply no excuse for “unreliability” other than owner laziness or incompetence. Literally every issue I have had with my car in over 25 years can be traced to something either the previous owner did wrong, or I did wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You’re probably right, krhodes, but *everyone* I knew who owned a British car back in the day (late ’70s – early ’80s) had similar problems. The expectation is pretty much the same as it is today – people want their cars to run properly right from the factory, not after they have to fix all the stuff the carmaker f**ked up on in the first place. A lot of folks bought these, lost patience, and dumped them.

            Clearly, that stuff was endemic to British cars – my family had any number of imports from that time (Mercedes, BMW, and VW), and though they weren’t what I’d call bulletproof, they were all generally reliable; none of them suffered from the “prince of darkness” issues.

            Kudos to you for fixing yours, though. I imagine this car would be a ball if it’s sorted out properly.

            Then again, it wasn’t just British cars – I knew a girl whose Corvette decided to jettison its’ passenger side door in a corner, and my the computer brain on my dad’s ’80 Eldorado fried itself.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            As mentioned, British cars were incredibly poorly assembled .

            The designs dated back to the 1930’s and they did a lot with very little .

            Once you take the time to pretty much rebuild the vehicle and correct all the errors, they’re always so much fun to drive and usually amazingly economical to operate too .

            It’s just getting to that point that soured so many buyers .

            When I vacationed in Jamaica everyone my age bemoaned the lack of those simple British cars that were specifically designed to run on octane fuels, crappy oils, bad roads and be maintained by incompetent “Mechanics”….

            -Nate

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    In college, a friend of mine used to frequently drive his dad’s Triumph TR7. I’m being VERY nice in saying this chariot needed a little work! It had some “amazing” 1970’s era British build quality, parts of it was rust holding hands at the molecular level, every engine cough could mean a long walk, and handling…ha! But the top went down, and that’s all we cared about. Looking back at it, it’s amazing that we were never stranded, or that our feet didn’t go through the floorboards, or it didn’t end up in a huge cloud of smoke. And this is before everyone had a phone…when cell phones were still too expensive, so being stranded REALLY meant being horror movie stranded!
    That car has probably turned back into its original elements by now. It should have killed us several times over, but it was “interesting” to drive and survive at the same time!

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    When I was 18 I almost bought a really cool ’69 Cutlass. It had a rocket 350 that had been juiced with new cam/carb/intake and MSD ignition. It was gold with side pipes, chrome Cragars (pretty wide at the rear), and was jacked up to high heaven. It had a tiny, 12-inch steering wheel.
    Being 18, it was the coolest car I ever drove up that time. It was loud as hell as fast as crap.
    I had enough money, but… somehow I just knew that car would land me in the hoose gow or the hospital. I ended up with a much milder stock ’72 Cutlass instead.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      In my 20s I almost bought a ’68 Firebird that had been given the full drag race treatment. Built 455 engine, roll cage, and a bunch of other mods that I’ve since forgotten. I had the checkbook out and was going to sign over a few grand…

      and then I backed out at the last moment for the very same reason you did.

      I wanted more of a cruiser anyways – something to take to the beach with friends. Plus things break and trying to sort out what was custom and what was stock would have been a pain.

  • avatar
    The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

    My daily driver is a 45 year old German Sportscar with safety systems designed sometime circa 1966 or so. I ride motorcycles, I fly a 172, I instruct in the right seat on track. I’m content with my mortality, nothing that I’d be scared to get into.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      You haven’t met my cousin. Anything she drives is scary. She once hit a tractor on the shoulder on the opposite side of the road because she was trying to avoid it. She hit the tractor at speed with the back end of her truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Hamilton

      172s are exceptionally safe airplanes. I was flying a Diamond Eclipse once and a thunderstorm popped up. The Eclipse is carbon fiber and has no lightning protection. Talk about being scared sh**less!

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    We used to pack 4 teenagers in an 80s Honda CRX SI. The only two seats in front were as far forward as possible, and the two in the back had to lay down and contort themselves to fit. Had there been an accident, it wouldnt have ended well. I did it once and never rode in that thing again.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I used to drive + 4 people in 1990 2 door Civic Hatch. It wasn’t good in the back but they wanted to go to school in the car. Yea, that was a professional school and 45 min one way.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I did it in a 83 Civic 1300FE with 67hp. I had a 1990 LX also, both 2 doors. The 90 had more rear room, but IIRC you sat a lot lower and your knees were higher. The 83 was the automotive love of my life, the 90 not so much and I never owned another Honda (yet) after that one.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    A high school pal had a 10-year old 1972 Opel Kadett. There was more hole than there was floor. The shifter needed to be held in place for every gear because the trans was shot and the parts holding it in were missing.

    I rode in it once.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    When I graduated from high school, my dad wanted to buy me a car. Unfortunately, the one he landed on this was this:

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/pix/6507437.jpg

    It was a leftover ’80 model that had sat on the lot for a good year and a half. Why? 1) Puke green. 2) Dark vinyl seats. 3) No A/C. 4) No radio. 5) Diesel. To sum up: Dad got a great deal on a puke green car that would end up trolling around St. Louis, in July, with no A/C, no radio and a diesel so slow that a kid on a Schwinn might be able to take me.

    I drove it. Main conclusion: if you’re ever mortally depressed, don’t drive a 1980 Rabbit diesel – you’ll throw yourself off a bridge. I joked with the salesman that I’d be totally up for it if he threw in a sex-drenched date with Brooke Shields. The salesman laughed. Dad didn’t.

    Dad said this car represented his max budget, so I told him I’d kick in some money that I’d saved up working fast food. We ended up buying a nicely-equipped ’81 gas-powered Rabbit instead.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the dealership burned the car as an insurance ploy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had a teacher in high school who occasionally commented on his MY80 VW Rabbit Diesel. Evidently he got used to mopeds and the like passing him and having to push it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Follow up: I offer this Car and Driver road test of a Rabbit diesel to anyone who thinks cars today suck.

      https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a15141695/1977-volkswagen-rabbit-diesel-test-review/

      0-60: 16.8 seconds. LOL……

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        And the Rabbit was a drag-strip monster compared to the contemporary Merc 240D!

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Wow…I can’t even imagine anything slower than that Rabbit.

          My dad had a mid-’80s Mercedes with the turbo-diesel that wasn’t too bad, though – lots of low-end torque. It was a BEAST on the road.

          • 0 avatar
            quaquaqua

            “Wow…I can’t even imagine anything slower than that Rabbit.”

            0-60 in 16 seconds is awful but honestly not as uncommon as you’d think, during most of the 70s and 80s, depending on vehicle configuration.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I have a great 240D story. Back in the early 80s my boss had a 240D. Our office was at the top of a rather steep hill in Atlanta. The first time the boss took me and three other salesman out to lunch my boss stopped his 240D at the bottom of said hill when we returned. Two salesmen jump out of the back seat and motioned to me to get out as well. Confused and being the “new guy” I get out. The boss then proceeds slowly up the hill.

          The other two salesmen then clued me in that the boss’s 240D does not go up the hill with three salesmen in the back seat

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Said it before and I’ll say it again: whoever bemoans the loss of the “good old days” on this site needs to put down the Kool-Aid!

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Truth be told, the four cylinder Mercedes 240D was just slow to accelerate and only went 83MPH because of the IP’s internal governor .

            I still have a 1982 240D with the power robbing four speed automatic and yes, it’s hard to get it up past 45 ~ 50 MPH when going up a freeway on ramp but I’ve had it go up steep mountain hills and it’ll never stop no matter how much crap or people you have in it…..

            Americans don’t Ken that Diesel NEED TUNE UPS JUST LIKE Gasoline powered engines do so they’re always out of tune and have tight valves and so on….

            Many times it’s easy to buy an old OM616/617 Mercedes Diesel for $500 and simply adjust the zero clearance valves and replace the clogged fuel filters and ZOOM, away it goes .

            Of course, it’s still an old German car which means you’ll have to dump at least $1,500 in parts to make it nice and have AC and so on….

            A ‘CHEAP’ MERCEDES IS THE MOST EXPEN$IVE CAR YOU’LL EVER OWN .

            -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      5280thinair

      Many years ago I bought a 1979 Rabbit diesel with 110k miles on the clock as a commuter beater. Calling it gutless is a huge understatement. Merging into freeways was terrifying.

      For reasons I won’t go into here I twice took it on round trips over the Sierra Nevada mountains. There were points I was doing 20mph on the freeway because it had so much trouble with grades. Not recommended.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Growing up Down East meant I used to ride in the beds of seriously rusty old American made pickups from the 1930’s ~ 1950’s, usually the fenders were held on by straps of angle iron, the bolting flanges having long since gone to the tin worms .

    I’m more worried about other drivers, I suppose I’m a bad driver although I don’t have collisions, I do hear “Nate you’re a really fast driver !” endlessly, that’s not so at all ~ I just like driving my oldies _quickly_, there’s a big difference between fast and quick .

    If you want fast and scary, take a ride with my son, I have no idea why he’s not crashing constantly . he has a skill set I envy .

    I had a domestic market Mercedes 107 with stick shift and V8 that was a hoot to drive but I had to sell it because I knew I’d either wreck it or get arrested driving it .

    I can’t wait to read all the great stories about rust buckets and drunk / crazy drivers .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    The prevalence of “first car” stories here brings up a point I’ve noticed for a while – the (american?) dichotomy of being absolutely obsessed with our childrens’ safety right up until they turn 16, at which point we collectively say, “What’s the most dangerous thing we ever do? Drive. When’s the most dangerous time in our lives to drive? When we’re teenagers. What kind of car am I going to get my kid? The worst, oldest POS I can find!”

    I mean, OK, I get that not many people have the cash to get their kids Volvos, but I see so many people actively bragging about finding the worst possible car for their kids – seriously? Two years ago you wouldn’t let your kid leave the house alone because you were afraid of kidnappers, and now you’re sending him out with four buddies in a rust-eaten ’91 Festiva to teach him a lesson about hard work? Bizarre.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Perisoft: Exactly! I never owned winter tires until my eldest child started driving. Immediately went out and bought/mounted a pair on the vehicle that she would drive. I always drive the oldest/least reliable vehicle in our family, as I am the oldest/most highly insured/most easily replaceable member of the family.

      The kids always get the newest/safest vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Well, most people are either completely clueless about auto safety, or take safety as some sort of personal insult. “Well IIII didn’t need that when IIII was a teen and IIIII’m still alive.” Mind-boggling, but people love to make decisions that aren’t in their best interests. The fact that they’d do the same for their kids is pretty messed up, though.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        And don’t forget those idiots who say ” I don’t wear seat belts because I’d rather be thrown clear” ~

        Ignoring that fact that if you’re thrown from the vehicle it will be rolling over behind you, ready to press you into red mush with it’s 4,000 pounds of moving dead weight…..

        Plus of course, being thrown clear usually means face first through the windshield .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “And don’t forget those idiots who say ” I don’t wear seat belts because I’d rather be thrown clear””

          The good news is that that attitude is WAY less common than it used to be. I think we’ve gotten to the point now where people who don’t wear seat belts get sideways, “OK, *you’re* crazy” looks; read some magazines from the ’70s (pop mech and pop sci have archives on Google Books) and you’ll find that attitudes then were absolutely nuts, with tons of people in surveys vowing they’d never wear belts no matter what – and the editors of the magazines not even bothering to call it out!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Cars don’t scare me. I drive a Spitfire every day in Maine in the summer it isn’t raining. Drivers scare me. I have a friend with a Forester who is the WORST sort of namby-pamby indecisive but then overly aggressive driver you can ever imagine. Won’t pull out when he has enough space and time to do it three times, then will pull out and cut someone off. Another is my insane Hungarian best friend – you think the Italians are crazy drivers? They learned it from the Hungarians. I wouldn’t ride with him dressed in a Nomex suit with a helmet on in an S-class at this point. He also likes to drive with a BAC JUST under the legal limit – been pulled over twice and squeaked by in recent years. My best female friend isn’t QUITE as bad, but she has zero, and I mean ZERO mechanical sympathy for the car, likes to station herself about 6″ off the rear bumper of the car in front, and is somehow completely incapable of missing any potholes in the road. And she takes criticism of her driving about as well as criticism of her weight… And she’s Italian…

    I won’t ride with any of them. Regardless of who’s car we are taking, I am driving.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    My fear is the incredible horsepower available to young kids now-a-days. In my youth I spent a few years driving like a total idiot. But I was in an 81 Dodge Colt with a rip-roaring 67 hp.
    Near my daughter’s house some family just bought their teenage son a brand new Dodge Charger SRT 392. If I had that much power under my right foot, I may not be typing this right now.
    With age comes the wisdom that driving like an idiot is not a wise thing to do. I glad I learned that in a small under-powered car

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “…some family just bought their teenage son a brand new Dodge Charger SRT 392”

      I hope he lives beyond its first oil change. That is insane.

      Agreed on the underpowered car thing. I learned early on that a 78 Fiesta took 12 seconds to hit 60, but it could still top out at 96 mph.

      I foolishly jeopardized many lives with how I lived back then. More likely, it was *others* who were afraid to ride with me. Besides that Fiesta, I also had several Pintos, and was a passenger on the back of a Yamaha FJ1200 at 135 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        When I was in high school, I had a classmate with rich parents. They were from Vietnam, IIRC, and didn’t speak much English, so he’d convinced them that he could get a car at 15 with no driver’s license, as long as he only drove it to school and back. Because of this, he received a brand-new 2007 Lexus IS 350 for his 15th birthday.

        Dude wrecked it street-racing within two weeks of getting it, and *not* while he was commuting to school or back, either. What did his parents do, as a response?

        Paid his legal bills—for driving underage and without a license—and then bought him an effin’ 2007 BMW M3 Coupe, also new.

        I hope he’s still alive.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Letting a teenage kid loose in a SRT Challenger is the worst idea since my one of my buddies tried out “hood surfing” – i.e., climbing on a hood and holding onto it by the back edge, with the car in motion. What could *possibly* go wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      That is insane. There should be a horsepower limit for new drivers (I say as an old driver). If you have the money, get them a car with great handling, great brakes, and just enough horsepower. Or let them drive the SUV/CUV and buy yourself the Charger.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’d pay real money for a horsepower (redline) limiting feature that could be activated on a powerful car. Similar to the red key/black key on hellcats, but make the lowest setting 150 hp or something.

        I originally thought of this for valets but it would work just as well for teenagers too. Surprised no one has offered it.

        • 0 avatar
          dividebytube

          My Mustang has a “MyKey” feature that limits the top speed. As far as I know, it doesn’t limit engine RPM.

          Ideally you would also want a very liberal traction/stability control too – for younger, less inexperienced drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “some family just bought their teenage son a brand new Dodge Charger SRT 392.”

      Why in the world would someone do that?

      When I was in high school (2000-2004) *literally everyone* with a car that made over 250hp wrecked it.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        @ Kyree ;

        Come to the San Gabriel Valley where it’s normal for a 15 Y.O. child to be living alone in a mansion and driving them selves every where .

        Some understand this is a serious responsibility , others join the wah ching and create havoc, their parents pay for it all .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Didn’t Hulk Hogan give his offspring a ludicrously fast Lamborghini which was quickly applied to an innocent passerby?

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Late ’80s early ’90s Nissan Sentras. Just slamming a door made the whole bodyside quiver in alarm. The engine developed make-believe horsepower so any hill left it exposed as the snail it was, all alone as the rest of traffic except Tercel drivers whizzed by on the left. My mind could not distinguish the body from triple ply toilet paper, so I begged out of that rideshare, just in case. I didn’t like being anxious.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I rented a Hyundai Accent back in 2007 and found it to be meh.
    I grew up with friends and family members who owned vehicles that would be considered to be subpar. My dad owned a Chevette diesel that he used as a commuter car. 53 mpg but the acceleration was pokey to say the least.
    I drove and rode in my share of half worn VW Beetles, Opel Kadetts and 1900’s as well as some British iron.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Allow me to humbly present to you the 1999 Kia Sportage 2-door base convertible.

    This is the worst vehicle ever made including horseless carriages from the 1890s, 70s luxo-barges, and all cars made in Malaysia.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I had (still have, actually) a friend who bought a 2009-ish Chevrolet Cobalt LS, circa 2013, for her first “grown up” car.

    She proceeded to have a number of accidents in it with curbs, with mailboxes and with other cars. Some of it was due to her decreasing mobility, but a lot of it was because the Cobalt really was a sh*tty car, and this example seemed to be particularly cursed. Among other things, the steering rack once fell apart on her.

    I was relieved when the insurance company finally went ahead and totaled it, and her GAP insurance paid the rest off. In the meantime, I always declined to ride in it and insisted upon driving us, myself, in my car.

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    Another 1st car story.
    8 yr old 61 Chevy Corvair. Worn shocks, 3spd Manual. I had to give it 100% attention to drive it at 70 on the interstate. After that a 67 Corvair which was so much easier to drive.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not quite sure how I survived the early ’70’s? Was a passenger in at least a half dozen collisions. Used to fit 9 people regularly in to a Type III VW (11 in a ‘pinch’). 7 high school football players in a Gremlin. 5 in a AMX (yes it is a 2 seater).

    Scariest was a toss up between a Ford Cortina that didn’t have enough power to get out of its own way (love the British TV shows of the 1970’s showing police chases using this cement blocks on wheels) and which stalled intermittently but usually while making a left hand turn, and a ‘souped-up’ Beetle with body rot that would routinely have its passenger door ‘spring’ open when making a turn.

    Got turned back at the U.S. border in an older Ford Galaxie with a coat hanger as an antenna, a back window that was cardboard and duct tape and a trunk without a functioning lock that we used a hunting knife to open.

    Then there were the mid-70’s Porsches that a friend’s father had access to as a senior executive with VW. Used to ‘sneak’ these out late at night and see what they could do. Referred to as ‘dentist killers’ for a reason.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Rich kid at my high school with a brand-new BMW 525i. Only 189 hp and an automatic, but one experience of 110 mph weaving on a city freeway was enough.

    I drove like a nutcase too sometimes at that age but usually at least had the judgment to do it on empty roads. I also had only 140 hp in my Taurus.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    My work car for about a year was truly sketchy.
    It was a 2002 Mazda Protege5.

    My sister bought it used in 2007 and drove it around Chicago for 9 years. By 2016 it had become a death trap. The underside was so corroded that you couldn’t jack the car up because the jack would just go through the rust. The front and rear wheel wells were 90% rusted out and the rear quarter panels were being held on by only a few plastic snaps. A huge ant colony had taken up residence behind the right front wheel and there was a mystery family of tiny red spiders that would come out from behind the dash. Those little fvckers bit me, but at least they were only active in warm weather!

    The rear brake calipers were absolutely frozen solid. That kind of didn’t matter because I had a leak in the brake system and I had to periodically top up the brake fluid.

    The front struts were also pretty flaky. There was so much rust there that it was only a matter of time before the mounts failed and the top of the strut would come crashing out through the hood.

    Also, since it was low to the ground and I live in an area with many, many bro-dozers and texting drivers, there is a fairly good chance I would have been squashed like a bug anyway.

    Other than the aforementioned issues, it was a heck of a lot of fun to drive. I used to see how much rust would hit the deck whenever I closed a door.

    Eventually I came to my senses and offered it for $500 on craigslist. A guy actually bought it from me for $460!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve never personally driven a car I would consider egregiously terrible. A friend of mine got a car when he received his license in 2004. The car in question was a circa 1986 LeBaron, well worn with acceleration approached that of a frisky turtle and the throttle had to be matted to get up to speed. I was 16 when I drove it once, it was my first dose of driving without asking permission.

    My first car was an Aerostar, 160hp, topped out at 90, shook violently while doing so. Body was in decent shape and it was mine. It will have a special place in my driving life because it was my first car and I paid for and insured it myself. The only questionable thing I ever did in that was to carry 6 friends in the back without the seats in.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    My former best friend had a real thing for just awful cars. His first car was a 1960 Ford Galaxie 500, which was just a complete mess. I put my hand through the driver’s side quarter panel just leaning on it slightly. It didn’t last long after that, it blew up it’s transmission about a month later, and went right to the junkyard. After that turd, he got a Triumph TR-4A, which made the Ford seem solid and reliable. The engine had 1 totally dead cylinder, one sort of dead cylinder and two that fired well. The differential howled, their garage floor was covered in rust dust, after the car just going in and out. His mother’s six cylinder Gremlin was a great car compared to those awful things. Riding in either of them scared me, the brakes were scary bad and the Triumph was so slow it was dangerous in traffic.

    When he started working steadily, he saved up his money and his grandparents kicked in some cash and he got a very nice ’70 Corvette convertible. It had a hopped up engine in it and he loved that car. Of course, being a young guy who wanted to get married and have a kid meant the Vette had to go. His first “serious” car was a hand me down ’72 Olds Cutlass from his wife’s parents. When he started making some money, the Vette was back for a year or so, then he had a Porshe 944 for a long time, then a couple of BMW’s, a Mustang, which he hated, and since then, it’s been BMW’s and Mercedes. He’s a father of three now, grandfather of 4, smokes a lot of pot and looks fantastic. His wife looks like his mom now, and she’s a couple of years younger than he is (63). He had a Honda S2000 last I heard for a play car, and drives a high end BMW to work every day. The Honda, of course, is vastly more reliable than the BMW is.

  • avatar
    beken

    I remember my dad’s 1960 Pontiac Strato Chief. When he finally got rid of it in 1972, the fenders had literally rusted through and so did the rear passenger seat floor. You can see the asphalt while sitting in the car. It had the wonderful GM Straight 6 motor in it that would not break but I did expect to fall through onto the road at anytime. It had drum brakes all around, so stopping was always a prayerful proposition when going home meant driving via a hilly mounting highway. Of course living in a paper mill town in the late 60’s accelerated the rate in which a perfectly good car would crumble all by itself.

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