QOTD: Youthful Recollections of Superbly Disappointing Automobiles?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd youthful recollections of superbly disappointing automobiles

Last 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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  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 26, 2020

    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.

  • IanCassley IanCassley on Mar 26, 2020

    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.

  • Analoggrotto Over the years GM has shown a keen interest in focusing their attention and development money on large, expensive or specialized vehicles and little to no progress in developing something excellent to complete with such class leaders as : Camry, Telluride, Civic, CR-V, Highlander, Accord, or even ho hum Corolla. And this is the way class division works in the heartland/rustbelt: pretend to care for the common man but cater the public resources to additional security and comfort for the upper echelons of society. GM is Elitist American Communism.
  • Art Vandelay Current Fiesta ST
  • Jeff S Buick Lacrosse and Chevy Montana compact pickup.
  • SCE to AUX Demand isn't the problem; expenses and cash are. With under $4 billion cash on hand, the whole thing could sink quickly. Lucid has a 'now' problem.In contrast, Rivian has $12 billion cash on hand and has moved a lot more vehicles, but they are pretty extended by building a second plant. Rivian has a 'tomorrow' problem.Going up the food chain, Tesla has $22 billion cash on hand plus positive margins. No problems there.
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