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50 Worst Cars of All Time



  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    I guess the 'fun' of carbs gets lost in those rose colored glasses we like to wear. C&D did a comparison of hot pony cars of the time. Major comment? How badly they all ran, with troublesome carbs the rule, not the exception.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Somebody mentioned the 301 in their 1957 Plymouth was troublesome. Did this engine have a bad reputation? What engine do you have in the DeSoto?

    I don't think the 301 in general had a bad reputation. However, the '57 Plymouth was wildly popular, more than Chrysler had anticipated, so they were slapping the things together as quickly as possible to keep up with demand. As a result, normally-reliable components such as the engine and the Torqueflite transmission were slapped together faster as well, ensuring a higher failure rate. A 301 is just one size of the generic Mopar smallblock "A" engine. Other sizes were the 277, 318, and 326 (1959 Dodge only). Mopar also offered a 325 that was used in 1957 DeSoto Firesweeps and '57-58 Dodges, but I think it was a different engine.

    Further up the ranks, while Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, and Imperial were all strong sellers in 1957, they also sold on smaller volume, so they weren't quite as rushed. My DeSoto has a 341-2bbl Hemi. They were heavy, took up a lot of space, and were expensive to build and somewhat complicated for the time, but generally reliable, and gave good hp and economy considering their displacement.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    57 Chrysler products developed a reputation in their day for being notorious rusters and exhibiting (even by Detroit standards) very shoddy fit and finish...although no one used that term back then.

    Part of this isn't really the car's "fault"---in those days styling was vibrant, wacky and irrational, and some cars were put together in such a way as to invite immediate destruction from water intrusion, salt, etc. Some had little "traps" behind the wheels, perfect for accumulating road debris. Others had moldings that acted as little dams and catch-alls for water. Some had such body flex or bizarre curvatures, that water easily got behind front and rear windshield seals.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,907
    That's exactly how my Galaxie was. It would start fine (although it always seemed to start too rich), but if you tried to drive it when cold, you had to be very delicate and precise with the gas, or it would stall - and it loved to play that trick on me, especially pulling away from lights or going around corners. Once it had been running for about 10 mins, it would be fine. I don't miss dealing with that.

    Funny thing, the 289 Fairlane my dad had didn't have any problems like that.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    OMG those big block Fords sucked gas at such an alarming rate, it was difficult for the human brain to comprehend. You'd be looking under the car for gas pouring out--you just couldn't believe the gas gauge could go down that fast without someone actually stealing it from you. And it didn't matter if you drove fast or slow, highway or traffic. Compared to GM cars of the day they idled badly, ran badly and felt pretty cheesy in the early to mid 60s at least.

    The 302 was a good little engine but it had a weakness---stretching timing chains.

    Probably the crappiest Ford ever made after WWII was the 60 Falcon with the 144 cid 6 in it. That made a VW feel like a Bentley Mulsanne. GM entered the crappy car race with the Vega, but Chrysler just couldn't make that bad a car. The early '60s Rambler American was another contender. I can still remember that the labels on the instrument panel were actually water-based decals like you got on model airplanes. AND they had flathead 6s and rubber floor mats. In their defense, they were CHEAP to buy.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    If I were shopping for a compact in 1960, I'd have purchased a Valiant. It had the nicest styling for one and came with the legendary Slant-6. The Falcon was too boring and the Corvair was too weird. The Rambler American was a rehash of an early '50s design and the Lark was ...meh...a Studebaker.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,907
    That Galaxie literally got single digit mpg in town, not helped by my jerky teenaged driving, of course. It could maybe get 12-14 on the highway, but not a drop more. That car kept me pretty broke during the time I owned it, always scrambling to make money to feed it. Maybe my dad let me buy it to teach me a lesson :shades:

    Hey, my fintail has rubber floormats, and it wasn't even a cheap car!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I probably would've gone with a Valiant as well...just with the larger 225 slant six instead of the standard 170. I actually prefer the style of the '61-62 Lancer though. I like the grille better, and IIRC, the Lancer didn't have that "toilet seat" bulge on the trunk like the Valiant did.

    It's funny...the Valiant had the shortest wheelbase of those early Big-Three compacts...106.5" versus 108" for the Corvair and something like 109.5 for the Falcon. Yet the Valiant almost feels midsized to me, while there's no denying the other two are compacts.

    I have a feeling those old 108" Ramblers would have also been classified as midsized cars, had there been such a term in the 50's.

    In 1961, if I wanted a small car, I think I might have been swayed by the Olds F-85. I think all of GM's "senior" compacts looked good that year, but there's just something about the F-85 that appeals to me.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    Yeah but didn't the F-85 have the dreaded 215 cid V8? Mr. Meltdown?

    I forgot about the Lark. Clunky thing, but later ones were fun with a V8 and 4-speed.

    I had a '65 Valiant with a 4-speed. I liked that car.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Yeah but didn't the F-85 have the dreaded 215 cid V8? Mr. Meltdown?

    Yeah it did, but at the time the typical 1961 buyer didn't know that. So if I were buying a car like that back then, I probably would have bought one, have it melt down, and then get so fed up that I swore off GM forever!

    On that note, I know sometimes we fantasize about being able to go back in time and buy some of these cars when they were new, but sometimes, that might not be a good thing. For example, as much as I love the '57 DeSoto, I could see it if I was living back then, buying one for the styling, having it be nothing but trouble for me, and irritating me enough that I'd never buy another Mopar! And today I'd be a bitter old man on these message boards, griping about what a piece of junk that thing was!
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    funny you mention the 302 was 'mid-year' '68, which never occurred to me til my uncle bought a '68 Mustang convertible (green, 3-speed manual, 289, TOTAL rust-bucket) for, believe it or not, a parts car for his '68 fastback (302, automatic). I drove that fastback once or twice. Pretty damn quick (feeling, at least), but the worst rattle-trap ever, and both brakes and steering, on a car with decent acceleration, were downright scary.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    I had a 1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a 500 V-8 that was like that. It took a lot of $$$ to run even when premium was $1.35/gal.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Did you ever notice the similarity of the Lancer's front end to that of the 1960 Pontiac?

    The GM senior compacts could've been badge-engineered variations of the Corvair. The Olds and Buick versions were rather non-descript. The Olds version was to be called the "66." The Buick version was unnamed. Of all of them, the Pontiac Polaris was the coolest:

  • phill1phill1 Posts: 315
    I nominate for worst car in past twenty years the 1988 Hyundai Excel I purchased new. I kept it for barely 2 years and it depreciated almost 75%. I was lucky to get anything for a (trade-in) but fortunately the Honda Dealer next door to the Hyundia Dealer was owned by the same outfit and they gave me a token above what the Junk Yard would have offered. Slow, poor quality, entire exhaust system rotted and needed replacement in barely 24 months. Hyundia, like they say, " You`ve Come A Long Way....Baby!"
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,305
    You even got a nicer grille on a 1966.

    Upon taking delivery of the '67 Country Sedan (Galaxie) I R&R'd the aluminum chincy grille with the chrome grill from a Country Squire. Sure improved the looks.

    For $100 a mechanic R&R'd the 2 bbl manifold & carb with a 4 bbl manifold & carb from a used 352. Hiway mileage improved by 3 mpg, but when needed - the passing gear was a lot more effective going up the Pass to ski. :)
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,195
    Wow. Nice to see all these 57 Plymouth stories. The only new car we had when I was a little kid was a 57 Plymouth Custom Suburban. Not sure of the engine but it had the push button transmission (with no park button). My little brother would get in and pull the N button so it would be out like the others. The first time the mechanic came to the house. The second time he showed my mother how to fix it.

    Somewhere around 65 it had what they figured was a fatal repair estimate.

    Andre - what the latest on the DeSoto?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Andre - what the latest on the DeSoto?

    Well, it ain't gonna be ready by my 40th birthday as I had originally hoped for. Unless the mechanic can slap it all back together by tomorrow! He hasn't really found anything catastrophic, although he got a little melodramatic when he found sludge in the engine. Hell, I TOLD him it had sludge in the engine...on an old Mopar you actually WANT a little sludge...that's what keeps them from leaking!

    It'll probably be roadworthy sometime in the summer, but probably not in time for the Mopar Nationals at Carlisle, which is in July. So I'm hoping it'll be ready by my 41st birthday, and then I'll take it to the Mopar Nats in 2011!

    Oh, and I finally got that supposedly NOS 1957 DeSoto fender from him. Last Friday, he called me at work and told me to come get it, as he'd brought it in to work. Unfortunately, I was driving the Park Ave and not about to strap that fender to the roof! So, he said he'd drop it by on the way home that evening. Only problem is, I was going to be away all weekend, so he said he'd leave it. So I come home on a rainy Sunday, and find this 1957 DeSoto fender sitting end-up on my deck! I thought that was a bit ironic, that this thing had probably been stored indoors most of its life, only to be set out in the rain. Not a good fate for any 1957 Mopar part!

    The fender is in good shape, but I don't think it's NOS. For one thing, it's gray...looks to me like it just came off of a gray car. Plus, it has minor scratches on it. But no dents, and more importantly, no rust. The downside is that it's a 2-headlight setup rather than a 4-headlight. The fender is designed for 2 or 4, but the inner part of the bezel is different, and unfortunately, welded to the fender rather than bolted. So I'm sure that'll cost a few bucks when I decide to replace the fender. And it also must have come off of the cheapest 1957 Firedome available, as there are no holes for the 2-toning, or the chrome accent on top of the fender. But anyway, I don't think I'm going to be painting the car anytime soon.

    Oh, as for your parents' '57 Custom Suburan, my old car book is a bit vague. It lists the 6-cyl as being standard in everything but the Belvedere convertible and Fury. But then for V-8's, it only lists the 301-4bbl, with 235 hp, as being optional in "all except Fury". The other two V-8's, a 197 hp 277-2bbl and a 215 hp 301-2bbl, are listed as being offered in the Plaza, Savoy, Belvedere as appropriate, but none of them specifically mention the wagons (which would have been Suburban for the cheap one, Custom Suburban for the top level, and I can't remember if there was one in between)

    So going from that, my guess would be that it had the 301-4bbl. A Custom Suburban was pretty expensive, so I'd imagine they were more likely to have the big engine.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,349
    and the Lark was ...meh...a Studebaker

    Yeah, but that '60 Lark could be had as a convertible, two-door hardtop, 4-door wagon, or a V8--try getting any of those in a Big Three or Rambler '60 compact. Plus, the Lark was bigger inside than any of the others, since it was in effect a downsized full-size Studebaker...sort of what GM did fifteen or more years later!

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Those Larks were also good-old-fashioned body-on frame, so that, coupled with the fact that they were really just chopped-down versions of the standard-sized cars probably made them a bit more sturdy and durable than the typical Big Three compact of that era.

    They were a great tow vehicle as well. A Lark hardtop could pull a loaded horse trailer across a level soundstage floor with ease, as witnessed on "Mister Ed". :P
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    True but the horse was giving directions. :P
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