By on March 25, 2020

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham emblem in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About CarsLast Wednesday we recounted the cars of our youth — specifically, the first car we could recall which really impressed. Though few of you could top my example of the superbly fresh and fun Dodge Neon, everyone put in a good effort.

Today we’ll flip the question, and consider the first vehicle we recall as a disappointment to our youthful car enthusiast selves.

The thousands of comments I’ve read here over the years suggest many of our readers grew up in the Seventies, so there should be plenty of Malaise fodder in the comments today. While I grew up a decade (or two) after that, there were still plenty of not-so-great cars rolling around. My parents owned one, and here it is!

A Dodge Dynasty was the first car my parents bought together as married people. It was a nearly new mid-range model, with plenty of power equipment, velour seats, and no vinyl roof. It also had the middle engine option, a 3.0-liter Mitsubishi V6. Do you see where this is headed?

The metallic grey box was a 1988 model, the first year for the Dynasty. I was old enough to see disappointing vehicular qualities by the time it started to have issues (which didn’t take too long). The most notable craptacular experience was the time we traveled all of 20 minutes to the Northern Kentucky International Delta Hub to drop off my great aunt and uncle after a visit. It was a hot summer day, probably 90 degrees or more, and after we pulled away from the terminal the Dynasty promptly died.

We weren’t yet off the grounds of the airport, which is why the nice policeman who picked us up was of the airport variety. This was the obviously best day ever for me at age six or seven, as I got to ride in a police car for the first (and only) time! He took us back to the airport jail while my mom arranged a tow truck and other things in a pre-cell phone world.

Later, the internet helped me diagnose the issue as a junky fuel pump which didn’t operate well in high temperatures — an issue endemic to the Mitsubishi engine found in the Dynasty. That first event was the beginning of a string of situations where the Dynasty would cut out in traffic situations, on ramps, or just when it was hot and the A/C was cranked. Shortly thereafter, the engine often belched blue smoke as it started to implode via compression issues. As I recall, it was about seven years old and had 80,000 miles on the odometer when my parents dumped it for a light blue 1994 Plymouth Grand Voyager. That one had a Chrysler V6 instead.

The Dynasty is etched in my memory as a thoroughly bad car. What model carries that designation for you?

[Images: Murilee Martin/TTAC, Chrysler]

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52 Comments on “QOTD: Youthful Recollections of Superbly Disappointing Automobiles?...”

  • avatar

    Don’t know why, but I’ve been waiting for this question for a long time…
    1990 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan. My dad got this as a company car right before I started driving that year. On the surface, it was a very attractive car – brilliant white with grey trim (not black or body colored that was popular at the time), a light grey leather interior, all kinds of electronics, power everything…everything that gave it the appearance of an elegant, futuristic car.

    And then I drove it.

    We grew to hate that car. Flat out despise it. If we could have left it in a flaming heap in a parking lot somewhere, we would have. Almost EVERY bit of interior electronics failed. The passenger power seat just died and left the seat resembling a torture rack. It was impossible to sit in for more than a short drive. The trip computer displayed random messages and then total jibberish. Steering wheel controls were a joke and only responded when they felt like it. Gauges died. The door belts, when buckled, did an amazing job of cutting your line of sight in most directions. The 3800 sounded ragged above 2500 rpms, especially compared to the new Maxima that was in the garage next to it…silky smooth V6. The FE3 suspension that came standard was like riding on concrete suspension – it crashed and heaved over the slightest imperfection to the point where the interior was filled with rattles after 30,000 miles.

    It just had the appearance of a luxury vehicle but when the surface was scratched, it acted and felt like it was an economy car playing dress-up. Given the price tag, and what it tried to compete with, it was such an amazing letdown.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have loved to take it off your hands.

      • 0 avatar

        And here I had high hopes for the mystical and elusive Touring Sedan.

        • 0 avatar

          My personal favorite was when the Seek on the steering wheel suddenly controlled the volume…one tap to full blast volume! I still remember that discovery. And when the trip computer suddenly displayed something that resembled a combination of the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. There were more gremlins in that car than we could count.
          Ajla…we tried loving that car! It really was a good looking car for that time. But I don’t know if we got a Monday after a holiday built one, or if they all ended up like that, but it was just a disaster. Having the bulletproof Maxima parked next to it didn’t help our mood towards the Olds any!

        • 0 avatar

          FWIW, this is just one experience. I wouldn’t paint the whole fleet with the same brush.

          Here is a more charitable recent review of a 209K mile example:


          Obviously YMMV, but I’d still buy a clean one today in a second.

  • avatar

    My mother wasn’t (and still isn’t!) a very good driver. After she took out part of a garage, it was ahem slightly used cars for her after that. I spent a lot of time in the backseat of a rusty ’73 4-door 350 powered *Malibu.

    That was until my dad bought her a brand new 1981 Chevy Impala. Yay! Oh wait, it had the 3.8L engine. No, not the Buick mill, the gutless Chevy one. The rest of the car was actually decent but oh that engine. 110hp to haul a B-body around!

    Eventually my oldest brother, who by this time was married and had kids, got the car while he was in medical school. The one time I got to borrow it, when the car was a only 6 years old, it could barely make it up one of the steepest hills in town.

    * I have a fondness for this car because I had a terrible accident when I was eight. A twig actually pierced my eyelid when I took a fall. My dad saw blood coming out of my eye socket, threw me in the back of the car and hauled (well as much as a malaise car could) to the closest hospital. Many laws were apparently broken to get me there. Luckily the twig slid past my eye so I only required some plastic surgery to repair the eyelid. No long-term damage.

  • avatar

    Mustang II, it’s when I first realized that a Pinto-based dog of a car was not going to replace the 60s muscle/pony cars. For me it was the official end of an era

    … and then it got so much worse, 6 cylinder Road Runners and 4 cylinder Camaros :(

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I will never forget my next-door neighbor and his Mustang II Ghia with 2.8L V6. That poor thing was saddled with Ford’s Variable Venturi carburetor, and bucked, stalled, hissed, surged, and wheezed…you name it…just to get it out of the garage. I also distinctly remember how the exhaust ALWAYS had the rotten egg smell from a fouled cat converter.

      My neighbor was a really nice guy, but that car truly tested his patience. One day, the pathetic Mustang II disappeared, and a sweet running 1986 Maxima took its place in the garage. My neighbor’s good humor returned immediately.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        As one with much time under the hoods of 2nd and 3rd gen Maximas, I will pass. They are wonderful when new and right, but some of my least favorite to work on and they were of the era where the Japanese hadn’t quite figured out rustproofing.

        But yes, low mileage with a manual…they drive as well as any Honda of the era, just not as long.

    • 0 avatar

      Can’t agree more. I had a Mustang II in 1979 as a rental car (actually the first rental car I ever drove), and I remember being really excited when the guy at the counter told me that we would be getting a Mustang. It only took a few moments behind the wheel to be somewhat disappointed, and an hour to be thoroughly disgusted.

      • 0 avatar

        Strangely, I found the 6-cylinder cars back then to be far weaker than both the V8 and the I-4 engines… more due to the fact that the 6-cylinders were pushing the V8 tranny with no adjustments for lower torque while the I-4 transmissions were geared significantly lower and actually felt quicker–including the Camaro. On one occasion, I actually test-drove two Camaro side by side and the V6 just felt dead–no performance at all–compared to the I-4 which felt lively and quick, even if it didn’t have much top end.

  • avatar

    My first “Nice” four door sedan, a red 1987 Ford Tempo.

    The paint faded to the point that I went to wax it and the white T-shirt I used to buff out the wax was VERY pink by the time I was done.

    Over the few years I had it, I pretty much replaced everything on it. So, likely someone got a like new vehicle by the time I traded it off.
    water pump
    exhaust pipe
    other things I don’t even remember.

    • 0 avatar

      No such thing as a “new vehicle” when it comes to a Tempo. They seemed like they were built with used parts from the start, like Packard Bell computers were for a while.

      • 0 avatar

        Can confirm. Owned a Packard Bell, rented a Tempo once. Beats walking, but just barely.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          V6 Tempo with a stick seemed sort of OK

          • 0 avatar

            My dad had a Silver 1986 Tempo GLS 2 dr with the 5 spd “H.O” 2.3 engine back in 93. It was not powerful but good enough to carry our family of 4. Yes, the clear coat was peeling off by the late 90s, yes the dash cracked and the power steering pump went south (typical on Fords from that era). He never bothered to fix it.
            Most people we knew would not recommend a Tempo, but perhaps we were lucky. He sold it in 2000 with over 200K on the odo. The guy who purchased it drove it 1000 miles southbound to Baja w/o any issues.

  • avatar

    1989 Mustang, hands down. A friend got a base level 4-cylinder as a high school graduation present from his parents and it was no better than a K-Car in terms of acceleration, interior or overall build quality. Went from super stoked when he said he got a Mustang to preferring my hand-me down Camry liftback, which, with a standard, was way more fun to drive and far more reliable.

  • avatar

    My 70’s vehicles were always late 60s Ford or Chevy trucks or early 70’s GM. It was no love affair, rust countered by Zebart, jetting carburetors, oil seals failing, cork gaskets, chokes, vacuum emissions and constant tuning just to keep them running.

    I never accepted the 3 box styling devoid of curves or flow, sadly late 60 and early 70 style combined with size is gone forever. Never own one, never will. I shifted to imports in early eighties replacing a 63 Plymouth with a Dodge Colt so while I was deployed the wife would have a reliable car, followed a Toyota Xtra cab.

    What I find most remarkable is evolution of mechanical and electrical systems. Slow steady progress of computer management over vacuum. Fuel injection over carburetor, anti lock, better tires and electronic ignition over distributors. The entire industry suffering through the 70’s to rise of 80’s imports. Fast forward today where 100k miles is a start, where back then 30k Was the beginning of the end.

    • 0 avatar

      “Fast forward today where 100k miles is a start, where back then 30k Was the beginning of the end.” My father was an on the road salesman in the ’50s and ’60s. He purchased a new Chevy every two years because that would be the 30k mile point and he didn’t trust anything with that many miles.

  • avatar

    Mine was a 1982 Nissan King Cab diesel pickup. My father and uncle decided to retire the company’s ’76 Pinto wagon and get a small compact diesel pickup. I logged a good number of miles in that Pinto and despite its tarnished reputation today, I liked the car…given the era, it wasn’t bad at all.

    The truck had to be an extended cab diesel with relatively low miles. A hard item to find. They searched dealers and classified ads for the desired vehicle and finally found an ’82 Nissan King Cab diesel that fit the bill. I was a car-crazy teen and could barely contain myself leading up to the pre-arranged test drive with the private seller. That all changed when we arrived and I got to see the silver Nissan up close. While these trucks might be considered reliable, what a turd! That Nissan truck simply reeked of cheap! I so wanted to fall in love with the Nissan, but absolutely couldn’t. To my incredible joy, my father and I are cut from the same cloth and he passed on the Nissan.

    A month or so later, my father found a low-mile, medium blue & white, ’84 Chevrolet S-10 diesel with the Tahoe trim package. What a gem! It even looked classy! It was everything that the Nissan wasn’t. For the time, it had extremely nice, cloth bucket seats, quality interior components, and the gauges were numerous. It was more luxurious than our car! So, I learned that it pays to be a patient buyer. That S-10 ran to 180K and we outgrew it. Two, local buyers got into a bidding war over that little S-10 diesel and we were thrilled with the result.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I had a Pinto Wagon of that era that we used as a delivery/runabout, in conjunction with a VW Type III and then a Type IV squareback.

      The Type III was perhaps the best for performance and dependability.

      The Pinto’s driveline was reliable but it was awful to drive. Noisy, rattly, pieces failing or falling off. It was our penalty box, despite having more options/equipment (for example A/C) than the VW’s.

      The Type IV was light years ahead of the Pinto in design, engineering, NVH, comfort, etc. But it experienced regular electrical issues and required frequent maintenance on its brakes.

      • 0 avatar

        Our ’76 Pinto had the Cologne-built 2.8 V6. Peppy engine for the era, but its soft underbelly was the ignition module and the plastic teeth on the timing gear. Other than those couple issues which were infrequent but repeated, our Pinto wagon was a good car.

        Fast forward ten years and our family discovered the beauty of German cars’ driving dynamics, packaging, ergonomics, and seat quality. There was no turning back. It was VWs, BMWs, and Mercedes since. My parents picked up their second, European delivery Mercedes a few months ago.

  • avatar

    I will list what I felt were such a step down from their predecessors that I did not move to the newer model. Since you said automobiles I will mention several.

    1950s 2nd Gen T bird replacing the 1st gen.
    1960s Can’t think of any. They all seemed to be improving.
    1970s W166 MBZ replacing the W109. BMW 3 series replacing the 2002.
    1980s Nissan Z260/80 replacing Z240.
    1990s Volvo replacing the 2/7/9 series red blocks with newer designs.
    2000s Lexus replacing 3d generation with the 4th generation.

    I will say that in terms of performance/economy/safety/handling and reliability cars have continued to improve from 1950s to the current time. Design not so much. For those interested it is a great time to be shopping for cars.

    But I am just not that interested in any of the current offerings. The designs have become too “youthful” for my taste.

  • avatar

    I’m going to say I had two disappointments in my life, though the first one was not my fault. Thanks to a father who was not a ‘car guy’ and rated “practicality” over drivability, using my money to buy a car similar to his own at the time, which he felt was practical and reliable. Of course, he grossly overpaid because that 8-year-old 1964 Chevy II Nova didn’t sit in the driveway more than one week before going to the garage for–of all things–an engine block replacement. He bought the car with a cracked cylinder wall in an already-underpowered inline 6 engine that at its best could only put out 94 horses. HE paid for the engine replacement but I had to suffer a car that couldn’t even get out of its own way–much less anyone else’s–for over two years. Of course, with that cracked cylinder wall, guess where the oil went. Nope, not out the tailpipe but rather into the cooling system and out through the overflow. In that two-year period I had to have the radiator and heating cores replaced, just to get some level of heating in the cabin during the winter. And the Powerglide transmission slipped its bands TWICE in that two-year period, each time effectively locking the transmission into first gear UNLESS you had the gas pedal on the floor, at which point it would finally shift around 60mph and drop right back down to low as soon as you even started to lift the throttle. No WONDER it cracked a cylinder wall! I traded up as soon as I could afford it (working at a car dealership helped in financing my second car) and I finally got something that could move, without being viewed as a sports car.

    My second disappointment didn’t come until after I acquired it. That was the ’97 Ranger I inherited from my step-father. The good news was that with two fewer cylinders than my first car, it still offered 16 more horses under the hood–in all but the hottest days. That little truck was certainly fun to drive and even easy to maintain, considering how computer-driven cars had become by then. But I could never resolve that hot weather issue. When the temperatures rose above 90°, any outgoing trip for the day would see normal performance but any trips after that, even after two hours of sitting parked while I was at the store, bowling or even shopping at the mall, the rest of the day it felt like it was lucky to push 75 horses. Even replacing the radiator and installing an electric fan in place of the mechanical one had no effect on cooling the engine enough to restore performance until it had rested overnight and cooled down thoroughly below that 90° threshold.

    Now, I’m not some performance driver that likes to push 80+mph everywhere I go but I do like a car that does what I ask of it and even my wife’s ’14 Fiat 500 knew how to run quickly, even with a mere 101 horses up front. But with those three exceptions, I never owned a car that carried less than 145 horses and I never had to complain about a car getting out of its own way with the exception of that Chevy II and the Ranger. I’m now driving a V6 Colorado that puts out more than 3x the horses as that inline 6 in the Nova and I almost never have to use all of the available power.

  • avatar

    Funny, the only issue my parents had with their Dynasty (it had the Mitsu 3.0) was contamination from a gas station that plugged the fuel filter on the fuel pickup. Two friends and I took it from SW WI to Dayton Ohio. Averaging 65mph, including lunch and gas stops, we still got over 32mpg.

    Worst car I remember is a 1979 Dodge Magnum. My parents had a 1978 and sold it to my sister when she got married. Really good car. It had the 727 and the 1979 I got as a youth had the 904LA. Evidently that is code for crap. That stupid slushbox was out of that car multiple times and it never worked right. The only god memory of that car is the rocket launcher we had strapped to the T-tops for launching D engined model rockets out ahead of us.

  • avatar

    My parents bought a Dynasty new. Can’t remember if it was an ’88 or ’89. As much as I didn’t like it (based purely on looks), it never broke down, didn’t squeak or rattle, and was rock solid dependable. I don’t know which engine it had. Funny, for a car that did everything that was asked of it without a complaint, I just didn’t like it. They eventually traded it for a Concord (Concorde?). That Chrysler, shockingly, was also completely trouble free while my neighbor, who had almost the identical car, was constantly suffering HVAC failures of various types.

  • avatar

    One that comes to mind is a bit of a juxtaposition to conventional automotive opinion. My mother bought a 3 year old ’97 Toyota Camry to replace her Intrepid which had been totaled in an accident. The Intrepid was a few years old and had experienced no issues, but she had always heard of Toyota’s legendary reliability and went for it. Over the next 2 years it needed:

    A replacement steering rack which I recall being rather pricey
    2 alternators (never found any issues with the battery, cabling or control circuitry)
    An ignition coil causing a misfire
    An exterior door handle (cheap plastic)
    And many tail lamp bulbs
    It was also consuming quite a bit of oil and would blow blue smoke on startup indicating possible valve seal or guide issues.

    Anyway, while none of these are game enders, it put the Toyota reliability hype behind her. When that car got totalled (again not her fault, she’s a magnet for bad drivers) I bought her a 1 year old final gen Grand Prix at a repo auction for a song which never had an issue in the following 5 years until she grew tired of the dreary interior and got into a 300C platinum as her likely coffin car.

  • avatar

    My parents had an 83 Chrysler LeBaron. My dad bought it used off of a friend. It had a habit of draining batteries. The catalytic converter plugged up and overheated and set the undercoating on fire. The 318 was gutless but ran smoothly.
    The main redeeming feature of that car was that it was the same colour and shape of the RCMP cars of that era so it would freak the sh!t out of speeders on the highway or sketchy characters at night.
    I had borrowed it once to go to a nightclub because my truck was down for repairs. I was coming home around 2:30 AM and saw a dude walking with a heavy duffel bag. He saw me and panicked.He bolted down an alley and was throwing stuff from the bag into people’s back yards as he ran. I saw this and drove down the alley after him and started flashing the headlights like a cop car. The dude scratched the sh!t out of his belly climbing over a chain link fence. That made me laugh all the way home.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Lincoln Mark VI. After that putrid attempt at downsizing from the magnificent Mark IV and nearly as magnificent Mark V, The Old Man switched permanently to Cadillac.

    My 1978 T-Bird. Looked nice (for the era). The T-Bird name still held a lot of prestige/cachet. Was a nice boulevardier/highway cruiser, when it ran. Which it did not with frightening regularity.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    First generation Mitsu Montero, with that horrible, underpowered, unreliable 4 cylinder engine that has been discussed here several times.

    Made me lose faith in Japanese engineering.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    I was totally blown away as a child by the little shelf atop the passenger side air vents of the Chevy Corsica and jump seats in the extended cab S-10. Having attempted to use both as an adult, I now know this was a terrible mistake.

    But I can’t call either car truly awful.

  • avatar

    Not 1 particular car or model, but reading the other posts I recall the innovation of two fuel pumps. BMW was first with this followed quickly by VW. The in tank pumps would fail which led eventually to the main pressure pump also failing.
    The owners/drivers would have no way of knowing what was going wrong. At first all seemed ok. Soon the cars would quit running when the fuel tank got below 1/8. Then 1/4 and so on till the main pump quit completely.
    If there was an internet in the mid 1980s when this got started there probably would have been a large crowd, with pitchforks and hammers, descending on the corporate headquarters.
    It took a few years for a better in tank pump to become available.

    • 0 avatar

      In tank pumps are still a pretty common point of failure. I have read that keeping them bathed in gas prolongs the life and that is a reason why low fuel indicators come on when you still have maybe 1/8th tank and you should fill up when that happens or before. Advice is not to use that last 3-4 gallons in the tank when the light comes on.

  • avatar

    1991 Lumina Z34 that I bought when they first arrived at dealers. The driving experience as fine, and I was willing to overlook the door mounted seatbelts and lack of ABS. But the quality was horrendous.

  • avatar

    Mine is a 1984 Buick Skylark, which my parents purchased for $900 as a second vehicle. It was brown inside and out, equipped with the Iron Duke 4 cylinder and 4 speed manual transmission.

    Let’s start with the transmission:
    Fourth gear would be classified a super-overdrive, almost like the transmission was missing a couple gears between 3rd and 4th. Simply run the engine until it sounded like it was going to explode (no tach), then shift into 4th. Once in 4th, the vehicle couldn’t accelerate because the RPMS were too low and the engine didn’t have any torque.

    The floor mounted shifter seemed to be pulled directly from a Ford 8N tractor, complete with 45 degree bend halfway up the shift lever. Lever travel was measured in feet, not inches.
    – First gear put the shifter directly in front of the radio, blocking it’s use.
    – Second gear was somewhere near the driver’s right hip.
    – Third gear blocked the passenger from using the radio.
    – Fourth gear was somewhere near the passenger’s left hip.
    – Reverse was interesting because it was located directly in your passenger’s crotch.

    The really fun part was how unstable the vehicle was when driving. It would try and spin out at every opportunity, almost like it was trying to kill itself and the occupants. However, this wasn’t predictable. The car could spin out halfway around a cloverleaf at reasonable speeds, with no change in steering angle or application of brakes or throttle.

  • avatar

    In the late 1950’s through the 1960’s many “Thrifty Yankees” (cheapskates) tried all manner of imports, most were abject failures .

    Renaults & Fiats stand out in my memory as the worst of the bunch .

    A lot of this had to do with the poor training most Mechanic had back then .

    I know a fellow who bought a new BMW in 1976 Down Easy then tried to drive it to California, I don’t remember the actual cause of failure but after a few days of repeated failures he gave up, bought a beater and left it behind, had to go back with a trailer for his new Bimmer .

    Of course, all of this is highly subjective ~ I well remember Corvairs that spewed oil every where and heat soaked and stopped running or failed to start, VW’s that caught fire, spun out & rolled over yet I personally like both of them .

    Then there were the cheaper British cars, Ford Anglia and so on, wretched by any measure .


  • avatar

    For me, it would have to be the downsized Chevy Impala / Caprice from 1977 and this is a tale of two cars.

    A family friend purchased a new fully tarted up 1977 Caprice Classic. I forget if it had the 305 or 350 but other than that it ticked just about every option box on the order sheet. It ran like a top and was rock solid.

    Ours was lower on the price scale, a more modest Impala sedan with tan vinyl seats, a/c, AM radio, and power steering and brakes. At least it came with the 5.0 and an automatic, not the base anemic in-line 6. Essentially basic transportation, which naturally disappointed my middle school self, especially when compared to the loaded Caprice next door.

    But this was not the disappointment. The disappointments were the constant and chronic failures of the Impala. First an alternator, then a leak in the cooling system, a freeze plug popping open on the engine, and then eventually a flywheel failure!

    Even the interior wasn’t spared. Large black dots appeared all over the headliner like it had a bad case of the measles or something. The front ashtray broke. It creaked and rattled, buzzed and binged like a pinball machine.

    This Impala was birthed under a bad sign, while the Caprice next door went on and on and on…

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      The Old Man got our mother a brand new 1977 fully equipped Caprice Classic (burnt orange or copper coloured?). A truly nicely packaged vehicle.

      And while we had it, it was 100% reliable.

      • 0 avatar

        My mom’s neighbor still owns a late 70s Caprice. I can’t recall how long he has owned the car but it has to be at least 20 years. It’s tan colored, no vynil roof and still looking top notch, straight body, no rust, chrome hubcaps and all.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    A 1958 white 2 door Studebaker Scotsman that gave a new definition as to how cheap a cheap car can be made. Silver painted steel bumpers, grill, and hubcaps that rusted after a couple of years, a steering wheel that cracked and fell apart, driver’s side windshield wiper only, cardboard driver’s side only sun visor, no dome light, no radio, the heater was the only optional equipment, 3 on the tree, the most anemic straight 6 that I ever encountered, and rear windows that would not open. Most of the interior was cardboard including the kick panels, door panels, and the cheapest vinyl and supposed cloth on seats that I have yet to see replicated on any car since then. The acceleration made an old Datsun 210 with an automatic look like a hot rod. One of my brother sanded and repainted the hubcaps and grill gold and my father took the first $200 for the a car that was barely 3 years old. My father ordered a new 4 door 1962 Roman Red Chevy II 300 with a red interior, Powerglide, and AM radio in Sept. of 1961. We got the Chevy II just before Thanksgiving and it was like a luxury car compared to the Studebaker. During 1957 and 1958 the Studebaker Scotsman was one of the cheapest new cars you could buy well below 2k and it definitely showed it was cheap in more than just price. It was an ugly car as well and one that we soon forgot.

  • avatar

    I know that this is not the type of answer you were looking for, but when I first went to a Can-Am race at Watkins Glen, I was quite disappointed to find that those beautiful McLaren M8Ds that looked so brawny on TV actually looked like little toys in real life.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Here are some links to the Studebaker Scotsman with beginning MSRP of $1,776.

    “The Scotsman had features reminiscent of the “blackout” cars of the shortened 1942 model year, from which chrome trim was eliminated by war-materials rationing, though such refinements have been added by latter-day enthusiasts.”

  • avatar

    This goes back further than the seventies, but my uncle bought a Crosley after WWII. He lived in Ohio and always said that if, on the day he bought it, he would have driven west until he reached the Pacific Ocean and then kept on driving, he would have been ahead.

  • avatar

    A GF had a Fiero back in the day. She’d just graduated Nursing school, and this was her big purchase. Red, but with the first year’s suspension (Chevette) and the Iron Duke Engine. I had my GLH turbo at the time, and the box was 300% better a car than the Fiero. She was fun for a while, the car, not at all….

    • 0 avatar

      Also, a 1979 Ford Mustang. First iteration of Fox Body, with TRX tires. Handling was fantastic for the day, but the engine was the first attempt at a turbo…NOT the SVT motor later. 4 speed trans. Carb would allow flooding in traffic and hot weather. Trans was missing at least one gear…1-2 ok, 3 was where 4 should be, and 4 was where 6th should be. Hard to stay on what power curve there was…. We were very happy when the lease was up…it was a company lease.

      Many years later, I drove an Eco-Tech Mustang….all sins are forgiven.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Well my memory is full of cars I wanted, or at least THOUGHT I wanted, even one I got, that turned out to be terribly disappointing. Funny that every one of them had the GM Mark of Excellence.

    When the Buick Somerset took it’s bow, I though the T-Type was the stuff, a technological tour-de-force. I was never in a position to get one because a college degree and a decent job got in the way, then to have the passage of time determine that it was one of the more forgettable Buicks ever made. I eventually obtained a 1989 Olds Cutlass Supreme International which was even MORE of a technological tour-de-force, only to be constantly let down by the poor quality of the interior and the overworked 2.8 V6. Oddly enough, that car had zero electrical gremlins even when I traded it in at 121k miles for a …

    1995 IMPALA SS. This was a truly lustworthy car at the time, a perfect marriage of Caprice and Corvette. I felt like a true Bravo Alpha rolling down the road and embarrassing Mustangs with the last of GM’s truly full-sized cars. Once again, poor interior quality let me down, as well as the transmission, which just couldn’t handle the power from the LT1 mill over the long haul and expired at 107k miles.

  • avatar

    mine was a 75 pontiac astre hatch. Find it odd that i bought one because my dad had a couple of astre wagons and he brags that he could change a motor in record time as he had done it so much ! I bought t because the guy selling was moving out of province and had to get rid of it in a hurry ($100.00)
    By the time i flogged it off I had replaced absolutely every mechanical part on it (I am not exaggerating) and strangely enough the only thing not replaced was the motor lol which is what they are best known for in failures. I just added my weekly oil and gas and it kept running, haha

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    FZJ80 Land Cruiser. Yes, they last forever but they do so by having you replace everything and rebuild the front end every 60k miles. It is still running today, but it is the “Truck of Thesius” at this point as very little of the parts attached to it, to include the Long Block, Transmission, and both differentials rolled off the assembly line with it. And don’t damage that little oil pump bushing…It is available…attached to a new short block. And really, who puts a rubber heater hose back there that requires engine removal to replace.

    Honestly I’d rather have a TBI 305 powered truck if I needed no power and ease of repair with reliability.

  • avatar

    Brand new 1975 Dodge Dart Custom 4 Door – with the boat anchor slug 225 slant six paint shaker engine. Could be one of the worst vehicles ever made. Front seats didn’t recline other than the slant they had from the factory and it was uncomfortable. It was my Mom’s car and I’m not sure how much they test drove the putrid thing, but all I know is that my Mother hated it.

    Being the know it all 13 year old I was, I started nosing around the car and the car had apparently been wrecked somehow (it was a new car) – the A-frame had jagged metal stampings with weird welds on one side that did not match the smooth areas on the other side. The fender on that side had ripples and the car leaned to that side. Why my Dad bought that putrid thing is beyond me, but that Dart was replaced a year later with a 3 year old Torino station wagon with 75,000 miles that looked and drove like new that lasted us into the late 80’s (with over 200k miles on it with original engine and transmission)and was replaced ONLY because it got 13 mpgs on a good day. That car was a tank and it looked new the day it was replaced by a new T-Bird. And that car was 15 years old when Mom wanted something smaller.

    I can say that Dart was the reason my family would never buy another Chrysler product again.

  • avatar

    For us the most disappointing/bad car had to be the Hyundai Pony we bought new in either 1985 or 86. We were at a point that we needed a car and Hyundai was offering a zero down payment plan so we took the bait.

    Fit and finish inside and out were horrible with mis-aligned brackets vibrating loose and a glove box that looked like it was meant for a different car’ dealer service was extremely poor (granted that could have been just the dealer we were working with), and worst of all the engine had to be rebuilt at 16,000km (10,000 miles)as it was burning one liter of oil in about 500-600 km! We took a substantial hit financially when we sold it about a year later.

    It did have one redeeming feature and that was its great gas mileage. Fortunately that is exactly what our buyer was looking for.

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