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50 Worst Cars of All Time

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    The guy next door where I was growing up had a 59 Lark. I liked those things and, as noted, Wilbur Post drove one!

    They were sturdy enough beasts but rust buckets. I don't think I ever saw one other than a restoration that wasn't pretty rusted up. Even when I was looking in the 70s. By comparison I looked at a 59 Edsel back then with no rust at all in 1977.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,037
    edited April 2010
    You know, let's just SAY IT---nothing looked as good as a GM car back then. Best colors, best engines, best interiors, best options---everybody else looked kinda.....dorky.... :shades:

    Oh yeah, now and then another automaker would have a brief flash of brilliance, but pound for pound, year after year, GM beat them senseless when it came to the vitality of the styling IMO.

    They made a few TURKEYS but not too many. Even their turkeys looked good. :P

    Chevy did a smack down on Ford in 1928 or so and never looked back for some 60 years I guess.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,003
    One thing I think GM was really good at back in those days was dressing up their cars so that they looked more substantial than the competition...even if they weren't. For example, when the 1965 Caprice came out, that interior seemed to set a whole new precedent for its class. It seemed downright luxurious! I honestly can't remember the Ford LTD's interior for comparison, but I do remember the Fury VIP didn't seem as much of a class act.

    Pontiac's Bonneville Brougham was also a pretty ritzy ride. I don't recall any really direct equivalent to it in Dodge's lineup. Dodge's Custom 880 was pretty nice, and once the Monaco went full-lineup it was nice too, but I wouldn't put either one in the same league as a Bonneville Brougham.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    good catch re: the Stude on Mr. Ed thing....another silly old show I watch (at least I have no real addictions to new shows, except sometimes "The First 48"). Studebakers were about all you'd see on 'Mr. Ed', at least til the last season (can't remember which was 'cancelled' first).
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    plus, along with the foam padded seats, fancier upholstery and trim and Strato-bench seat (some years), a vinyl top (again, only in certain model years) were standard, as were power windows in '67 and '68, apparently, on the Bonneville Brougham. Another oddity is that it was only available on four-door hardtops the first three or four years (1964-66), then in '67 it was also available on the sedan, allegedly (try finding one!), and in '68 was available for 2HTs, 4HTs and convertibles. In '69, according to my 'book' (which, admittedly, is frequently inaccurate), it was supposedly available only on two-doors. Then in '70, only on hardtops. There's all the useless knowledge my book and I possess regarding the Bonneville Brougham trim option. Go figure.

    For 1971, the Grand Ville debuted, kinda negating any need for a Bonneville Brougham. Oddly, for '71 and '72 only, there was a (separate series) Catalina Brougham (two-door hardtop, four-door sedan and hardtop). Four full-size series those two years, perhaps a bit much, eh?
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    The Bonneville Brougham was available only on the four-door hardtop in '64-65, then became available on the sport coupe and even the convertible in '66, all the way through '70 I'm pretty darn sure (at least through '69). The four-door sedan Bonneville came out in '68 but I have never, ever seen one that was a Brougham and I bet the sales brochure would say it was N/A in a sedan.

    Bill
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    They were sturdy enough beasts but rust buckets.

    It is certainly true that the front-fender rust was all-too-evident after a few years in the northern winters. NOS front fenders were plentiful and cheap for them (still are for '64 and later) and often the fender rust, although looked bad, didn't mean that the rest of the car was a total rustbucket.

    Bill
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    edited April 2010
    yeah, you may be right....like I said, the book I have (The Encyclopedia of American Cars, 1946-75), though an excellent resource I refer to every day, isn't always accurate. Though, as rare as Bonneville sedans are (built only in '68-69, as far as I know), it's possible, I guess.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,333
    My Father drove a '63 Pontiac Bonneville Vista - a 4 door sedan - pillarless.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    Back to the Custom Suburban, this has me wondering. Andre mentioned this as the top of the line for Suburbans. What the heck made it so? I don't remember a lot of optional stuff on it (though I do remember it having the V8). No third seat either which I thought odd because there were five kids in the family!
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    On GMs of earlier era the one thing that didn't do anything for me was the 58 Chevy. While it's almost cheating to pick on a 58 anything because it was a really bad year for design I think the Chevies were the biggest disappointment.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I think the oddest thing about the '58 GMs (in general) were that, while totally different from the '57s they replaced, also looked NOTHING like the '59s that replaced them. Can't imagine the costs involved.....other than engines and trans, ZERO interchangable parts, for a one-year design. I actually kinda like the '58 Chevies (the Cadillacs and Buicks were particularly garish, IMO, but maybe that's cuz of the amount of chrome over-used, but to each his own!!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    "Cheap to fix" can be a compliment, or not, depending on how one interprets it.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    You know, let's just SAY IT---nothing looked as good as a GM car back then. Best colors, best engines, best interiors, best options---everybody else looked kinda.....dorky....

    You know, I definitely have to agree with you on this. GM's styling always led the way when I was growing up (born '58). GM's styling VP, Bill Mitchell, grew up in my little hometown of Greenville, PA.

    I think the '65 full-size Chevrolets and Pontiacs were just out-of-this-world, styling-wise.

    I always thought that in the first-impression things, too, GM outshined the competition...the way the doors closed, the look of the instruments and door armrests and door lock buttons...the way the vent windows operated by crank on the full-size cars...all these things spoke 'quality' to me, even if only in impression.

    Bill
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,257
    edited April 2010
    I know I didn't start being "car aware" until the late '60s. That was the heyday of muscle and design. My late Father was mostly a MOPAR guy. His vehicle of choice was a Chrysler New Yorker with a 440 Magnum. Big beast that hauled. Personally, I didn't have a license then, but following in his footsteps, seeing the Charger fastbacks with big blocks rumbling down the street would always catch my eye.

    Granted, GM had the lions share of design and build quality sewn up. But, even the Fords of the day, fastback Torinos, Mustangs, even Cougars (which always looked European to me) in the '60s caught my eye all the time.

    I can still remember my Father taking us on road trips in that big New Yorker, flooring it on the highway. That big hulk would kick down, squat, and then fly. My Mother would chastise him for those antics. He'd reply..."just gotta kick the soot out of it, clean the carb."

    I never knew what he meant by that until much later on. He was attempting to keep the carb clean of carbon by opening the latter two barrels of the 4 barrel carburator. There'd be a a big "whomp" sound coming from under the hood and we went from docile speeds to very illegal speeds (even as the speed limit was 70 MPH, then) in what seemed like a flash. He'd hit 100 MPH on the speedo, hold it for about a mile or two, and then back off, satisfied that the carbon build up was gone.

    Sitting in the back seat (which was like a big couch) with my two sisters, I took great delight in watching the speedo hit 100. Amazing, even today. A car that weighed well in excess of 4,000 lbs, with bias ply tires, cruising at 100 MPH....in as much comfort as you could possibly want.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,037
    In Alfa Romeo circles, that tactic is called "An Italian Tuneup" and, in fact, it often helped. There was also "Italian Rust Proofing" which is used in Italy, not here---you mix oil and some clean dirt or sand and brush it on the floor pans.

    "CHEAP TO FIX" -- I meant that as a two-way compliment: they are cheap to fix and you often have to. Which is the next best thing to "expensive to fix and you never have to". The best one of course, is "cheap to fix and you never have to". :P

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  • berriberri Posts: 4,202
    I actually liked the 58 Bonneville better than the Impala. Bill Mitchell was taking over from Harley Earl after the less than stellar 57 and 58 year models. They spotted some soon to be released 57 forward look Mopars parked in a factory lot which lead to the total revision of the 59 models. I liked the 59 GM models, but a lot of people didn't and they did some major mods for 1960.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...but all '60full-sized GMs were just toned-down '59s. Less crazy fins, a little less chrome, more conservative inside and out; they weren't restyled (not that you said that, berri, so no argument). The 1960 models (at least the big GMs, were in general) a helluva lot better looking (or at least less garish?) than the '59s.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,202
    Yeah, I agree that "toned down" is a better description for the 1960 models. As far as preference, there is something about the 59's that just screams about the space age and optimism of the late fifties, kind of like the 57 Mopars, but more radical and in your face a bit.These are my personal preferences style wise:

    Chevy - 59 (can't help myself baby!)
    Pontiac - 59
    Olds - 59
    Buick - 60
    Caddy - 59 (it's so over the top!)

    Favorite models - convertibles and the flat top (wrap around glass) 4 dr HT's, except preferred the 6 window 4 dr Buick and Caddy. I don't think the longer wheelbase carries the flat top off as well.

    I know I'm probably a minority here. Might be from seeing them as a little kid when they were first introduced! (or maybe I'm just getting old and wacky?)

    But I'll also admit the Bill Mitchell 61/62's were more classic in styling. I'd take a 61 Pontiac over any of them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,037
    I sort of look at '59 cars as evolutionary models, crawling out of the muck and slime of 1958 but still not quite fully out of mutant status. :P The '59s have many very nice styling elements but the silly fins on most of them really push the cars into parody and excess. They are forever doomed to ridicule and snickering, even if we celebrate the excess. We can gawk at an overweight Elvis in his sequins, and honor his accomplishments, but we know he's not the man he used to be.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    I sort of look at '59 cars as evolutionary models, crawling out of the muck and slime of 1958 but still not quite fully out of mutant status.

    Yes! Exactly so. I'm still amazed that it only took two model years to exit the tailfin era.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,202
    I always wondered how 57 could be such a good year for auto styling and then it so quickly trashed in 58? I guess that was the appropriate year for the intoduction of Edsel. The nicely styled 57 Ford became overstyled in 58 with a way too big looking booty. Whether you liked them or not, the 58 Chevy was kind of interesting for its time and the Impala became a bit of an icon. But the Olds and Buick - sheesh, it was like a young New Jersey tart got her first make up kit and troweled herself into a whore.

    I think 59/60 may have gone beyond evolutionary into a weird dream or something. Its interesting that neither outgoing Harley Earl, nor incoming Bill Mitchell took credit for those beasts. Of course, Ford only outsold the 59 Chevy because it was too extreme for many buyers. The 59 Ford wasn't really a looker. It had a boxy front end, too thick of a greenhouse on the sedans and a bit strange rear end. The 59 Plymouth was maybe the best of the truncated finned 59 Mopars, although there were mixed feelings about its fake wheel embossed into the trunk lid. The 60 just odd, but unfortunately would become the good looking one when its 61 sister came out.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,037
    This tail fin styling was the response to jet aircraft development as well as possible the UFO/Sci-Fi craze, and Americans rejection of the past and their yearning for the future--for "futuristic" things, like flying cars and all-electric kitchens, etc.

    Auto styling is also a cultural phenomenon as you know. By 1960, jets were common in the skies, and the media had been pretty relentless in making fun of styling excess.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,796
    I think 1961 is also an interesting styling year...it really bridges the gap between the flamboyant excessive 50s and the relatively clean and modern 60s. Most cars from that year have elements of both.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,037
    Here's my glib view of American car styling in those days:

    1955-57 -- Coming into the Modern Age

    1958-59 -- A Brief Descent into Madness

    1960-63 -- Age of Reconstruction & Experimentation

    1964-1971 -- 2nd Golden Age (1st being early to mid 30s)

    1972--1985 -- Loss of Faith/ Detroit in Retreat

    1985-1995 -- Rocky V (or IV or VI)

    1996--present Brave New World

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,003
    1996--present Brave New World

    I think I'd call it "Been There, Done That, Got the T-shirt". That's about the time retro started becoming the in-thing. Round headlights made a comeback with cars like the Neon and some Benz models. The Dodge Ram went for a retro look that combined the 50's with a bit of big-rig thrown in, and suddenly became a serious contender for Chevy and Ford for what was probably the first time in history. The New Beetle came out. Then cars started getting taller, shorter, and boxier, like how they were in the late 40's/early 50's. Then we got the likes of the PT Cruiser, HHR, SSR, the retro Mustang, and a dusting off of old names like "Charger", "Impala", "300C", the rebirth of the Challenger, and then the Camaro.

    I think the cars are advancing very quickly when it comes to the technology involved, complexity, reliability, etc. But style-wise, it's pretty much been baby steps ever since the mid 80's. And in many cases, it's been a step back.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,605
    edited April 2010
    "And in many cases, it's been a step back."

    I couldn't agree more. It amazes me whey an entire lineup of cars get restyled, with one, two, or more turning from swans to dogs...here are my grades for several brands recent restyles:
    Audi A-, like the new ones, except those LEDs in the headlights I'm not sure about
    BMW A-, get 'most improved', but the new 5 and 7 aren't very distinctive
    Ford A, they're on a roll
    GM B, mixed bag bad (GMC Terraine) with the good (Chevy Malibu)
    Honda D, from mediocre (Accord) to poor (CRV, Crosstour)
    Acura F, not a good looker among them, they inherit the 'what were they thinking' award from BMW
    Toyota C, some OK (Camry), some not so hot (new SUVs)
    Lexus C, would have been better before the HS

    Edit - I almost left off two of my favorites:
    Hyundai B, OK overall but I'm no fan of the new Sonata
    Kia A+, some of their new ones near 'best in class' in terms of styling.

    Comments?
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,333
    Compared to the 2009 Jag XJ8, the 2011 comes out with a beautious design.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,605
    I like the new Jags too, finally looking ahead rather than to the past.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,202
    Always get a kick out of your wording Mr. S! I pretty much agree with your historical chronology. I think the 60's was the high point of postwar design and the mid to late 50's the most expressive. The difference between the first and second golden age was that the second one was about vehicles for the masses while the first was more cars for the rich and famous. I'm a little nervous that the near future is going to bring a return of the mid 70's with new regulations and restrictions putting a choke hold on design just as it is getting a bit more expressive recently.
This discussion has been closed.