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50 Worst Cars of All Time

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,195
    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: 4,004
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    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.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    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
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    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: 5,424
    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: 3,305
    Compared to the 2009 Jag XJ8, the 2011 comes out with a beautious design.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    I like the new Jags too, finally looking ahead rather than to the past.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,004
    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.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,004
    I'm thinking the US tends to be the design leader. The Europeans have kind of flat lined lately. I think Audi has kind of gone about as far as they can with their look, BMW and MB have improved a bit, but still have some cheap trim for their prices. Jag, Volvo, et. al. - their new designs are a mixed bag. The Asians tend to not be style leaders, although Korea is taking some chances lately. Honda/Acura has gone downhill and Toyo tends to get weird when they veer from their conservative roots. If Chrysler survives and gets its verve back, maybe combining with the Italians will lead to some neat stuff.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Very interesting comments.

    It is true that it's hard for a truly lovely car to be a "worst car". As with lovely people, they can say the stupidest things and still be constantly forgiven.

    Also interesting what you said about the 1st and 2nd Golden Age, how one was for the wealthy and the 2nd for the masses. That's quite correct. Maybe that's why we know so little of the faults of the wealthy persons' cars made back then. Their myth might be way better than their reality.

    Japanese styling has always been also-ran, IMO. They are like the Microsoft of car design. The Italians are like Apple. Ferrari doesn't ask a focus group what they want---Ferrari *tells* you what you want.

    German design is pretty good now. Audi really lit the spark for them in the mid 90s. The TT was a ground-breaker. Germans are very conservative designers. They have techno-pride, not so much beauty-pride.

    But yeah, American cars aren't like....startlingly new or anything, but they have some vitality at least, once again. You can at least look forward to what might be next year's models. You don't have to cringe anymore. I give credit to Chrysler for that, goofy as some of their cars were these last ten years.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,305
    we know so little of the faults of the wealthy persons' cars made back then. Their myth might be way better than their reality.

    The Packards, Cads, Roadmasters, Lincolns were built of higher quality. Even into the 90's Lincoln's Wixom plant issued 33 Town Cars an hour while the Mark VIII's were given more detailed attention at the rate of 11 an hour.

    In the last 15 years our Town Car has surpassed our T Bird in quality and lower frequency of repairs. Both have the same 4.6L V8 and other similar components, but the Linc is a better vehicle.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    they certainly had been built of better materials but it's hard to say if they ran any better or longer than a Model A Ford. Many luxury cars of the 30s were quite fussy automobiles in their own fashion. A few had serious weaknesses. Coach-built (hand built) bodies were generally rattle-traps once they got loosened up on the road.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    Kind of like today...even a pink of perfection Lexus is going to age more poorly than a Camry just because of complexity.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Dealer technicians are often just one page ahead of us in the workshop manual. It's getting hard to keep up.

    Wasn't there some kind of singularity theory which suggested that as technology speeds up and up, that one day we'll buy a computer at Best Buy, or a music player, or a video device, and by the time we get it home, they'll have a new model on the shelves with a completely new storage system and it won't read any of our data on our "new" one? :P
This discussion has been closed.