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Yugo. Are they the worst car of all time?

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Right up there near the top, no doubt. Here are some of my candidates for Worst Car of All Time and Maybe for the Rest of Eternity. You may wish to add your own. I'm trying to stick to cars that actually were sold in the USA.

YUGO--a kind of Slavic Fiat, slammed together and shipped here thanks to the same man who gave us the Bricklin. The Yugo wasn't ready for US roads, and the parts and service networks were virtually non-existant. A recipe for disaster.

Austin America

Renault Dauphine

Jaguar XJ6 (Series One)

First VW Rabbits

Renault Alliance (marketed through AMC)

Chevrolet Vega

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  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    Scratch the S1 XJ6... Replace it with the 87-89 XJ40.

    Oh, and the Denbeigh Super Chauvanist was up there too ;-)

    What else... Hmm...


  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    You forgot the Lada.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I always thought the Series II's were the worst XJ's of the lot. And of course, the early XJ40's were awful as well. As soon as they get the bugs out of the SIII, they go and drop it for a whole new model with a whole new set of problems. Almost sounds like GM!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    Well, you just try to keep a transmission in a Series I XJ6...but you're right, Bill, the XJ40 is right up there. Dropping the rear suspension to get the brake rotors out is nice, as is the 6 hour gas tank replacement (always leaking, BOTH sides!)....and the engine fires in the early XJ12 is a nice touch, too.

    Don't let the good looks fool ya'

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  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Wait a minute. The Renault Alliance was a Motor Trend Car of the Year, wasn't it? :)

    And I must be the luckiest guy in the world. I had a '79 Rabbit and it was great. Fun to drive and never gave me any trouble. I drove it for 85K miles and then gave it to my parents who drove it for several more years until a forklift ran in to it and ended it's life.

    How about the Amphicar? It could be on both the worst cars of all time and the worst boats of all time lists.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I wouldn't neccesarily say its the worst car or boat of all time, but by no means the best. It's problem was that it tried to be a car and a boat at the same time, and was only mediocre at both. Having offshore capabilities didn't offset this with any added practicality, because, think about it, when was the last time you actually had to go over water in your family car? (No, bridges don't count)? Besides that, bilge pumps and an anchor don't help handling all that much. (The amphicar, btw, is the only car ever sold in the U.S. to offer bilge pumps, AFAIK!)
    As far as Jag's go, the inboard brakes and odd gas tanks are common to Series 1, 2, and 3, and the BW 65/66 transmissions traded off a lot of the S1's BW12's durability for smoother shifts. John's cars, (the same people who brought you the 350 V-8 conversion), also offer you a kit to put a GM THM transmission behind the XK engine, and loose the old BW unit (No affiliation, ect., ect., bla, bla, bla!). And when you consider the Series 2 was built during the heyday of British Leyland ineptitude, I still think they rate worse than the Series 1, although the 1 isn't exactly rivaling Toyota. (Well, maybe the Toyota's of 1969.)
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    I don't know, rea98, I think "mediocre" would be extremely generous in terms of the Amphicars' capabilities as a boat or a car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    Well, if you have to put a Chevy truck engine into a Jaguar to make it work, that sounds like "bad car" to me.

    Actually, the Jaguar engine is about the only good thing in the Series I. It's ironic that people spend a fortune to replace the one component that doesn't need replacing. It's all the stuff ATACHED to the engine that you have to worry about.

    I have in my possession (hopefully brief possession) a Series II, along with, in my very hands, $38,000 in receipts to keep in running. And you know, it's still not a car I'd count on.

    Okay, ENOUGH Jaguar bashing. May they live and prosper under Ford!

    Lessee, other BAD cars....oh, could I forget....

    The Maserati Bi-Turbo!!

    Now there's a car that is basically not fixable....

    Speaking of not about another one for the all time bad list....

    Triumph TR7....with the completely bendable cylinder head (fold it up, put it in your pocket!)

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    Well, more of a knee jerk reaction - somebody says "Bad Car" I always immediately think Renault Dauphine. Ugly, slow, unreliable AND French. What more could you ask for?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    As someone else in another thread pointed out, it's possible to keep a TR-7 and its cylinder head on speaking terms--just retorque the head after trips of five miles or more. Of course, that doesn't take care of the parts that break off in your hand. And it doesn't give the car a personality.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    To think that they junked the MG and tore down the factory so that they could spend the money on the TR7!!! Surely there must be a special place in Hell for the execs who thought THAT up!

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,549
    Add those early Audis, the ones with the inboard front disc brakes.

    At least the Dauphines had that nifty two tune horn, remember?

    And how about the earliest rotary Mazdas? They would build up gas fumes and backfire loudly ten minutes after you parked them!
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    They're being forces to eat British "cuisine". Any "delicacy" named "spotted dick" must be punishment enough.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    Yes! Yes! And kidney pie, but raw, like sushi!

    Oh, the early Mazda rotary had an excuse was a pioneering car...and to Mazda's credit, they made good on those early lousy engines, replaced thousands of them for free, out of warranty. Mazda set a great example for automakers with the rotary....taking the hit for their mistakes, and eventually making a very decent car out of it, too.

    Ah, yes, the Audi 100LS....actually, also a pioneer car, one of the very first 4-door Euro sedans, technically interesting, a great cruiser, but underdeveloped...overheated a lot, some bad trannies--it wasn't a very good car, that's true, but at least a trend-setter. Audi later made another dog, the 5000, but again, eventually made a great comeback with the 90, 100, 200, and of course, the Quattro system, which is fantastic and durable.

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    There's another English food that I've heard about but always been afraid to ask the details of; something called "Toad in the Hole"

    The TR-7... I knew that the Exec's had been out too long in the mid-day sun when they elected not to update the TR-6 (One of the most handsome designs of all time) and replace it with the door stop TR-7.

    There must be a very complicated and interesting story as to exactly how they came up with such an ugly design.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I think it was their interpretation of '70s supercar--look at some of the other cars from that decade--but it suffers because of the short wheelbase. Well, it would have been painful on any wheelbase, but especially a short one.

    Yes, I vaguely remember that the story behind the styling was complicated and interesting...that it was a nice design until the top execs butchered it, or until they brought in the Daimler SP 250 design team, or something like that.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    All the 70s and 80s "wedge-shapes" look pretty dated now, as do the 60s American "reverse wedge" (car thicker in front than back, ala T-Bird). I think it depends on how severe the 'wedge' is, as to how dated it looks these days. Certainly it would be the kiss of death to come out with a wedge design right now. But you know how fashion and design swings back and forth all the time, so who knows?

    But styling aside, the TR7 is still a car with lots of doubt they can be overcome, but a buyer shouldn't have to re-engineer the car he buys. At least the TR8, as homely as it is, got rid of the troublesome engine of the TR7, so it's a little better, and hence more valuable, maybe even collectible in 10-20 years.


    What was that car made for GM by Daewoo....a little Pontiac Lemans was it?
    And of course the stunning Hyundai Excel of the 1980s!!

    Anyone remember the Datsun F10? Or the Subaru FF1?

    Oh, moving upscale here:

    Any Rolls Royce from the 1980s
    The Mercedes 600 limos of the late 60s, early 70s....could they stay out of the shop for two weeks?

    Oh, the BMW 320i.....not really the WORST car in the world, but how about high priced and cheaply built. What a winning combination. And the poor yuppies ate it up (until the horrible truth came out). I especially liked the plastic heater valve piping that would burst inside the car....lovely.

    Suzuki Samurai--designed as a cheap 4X4, it was cute and ran passably well, but OH, what a ride. The dream car for chiropractors throughout the world. How could they design such punishment for the driver? worst riding car made after 1950 that I ever drove in.

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  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    What about the Subaru Brat. It was a pickup with 2 rear facing seats in the bed to get around the tariff on trucks. I heard several stories of the rear passengers becoming paralyzed from the waist down because of a spine fracture from hitting a pothole in those hard seats.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Wasn't the F10 Datsun's first FWD? Apparently they made it look "distinctive" to differentiate it from the rear drivers, and it was weird even by atomic cockroach standards.

    I'd like to respectfully nominate my '95 Firebird for at least honorable mention in this category. This was a car for the true connoisseur of rattles. Spent a month of the year-plus I owned it at the dealer "waiting for parts"--are small-block Chevy parts that hard to find? And it was a pig to drive. Taught me to be careful what I wished for.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    the Austin Marina. ask the Canadians about the Dacia which is Roumanian [!]I think.Wall STreet Journal interviewed a guy who had one who left the keys in it with the windows open hoping someone would steal it....but no one did!
    A good number of Motor Trend's Cars of The Year would qualify: The Omnirizon, Vega, Alliance, Aspen/Volare [whatever happened to the "Bumper of the Year" Award?]the Mustang II,Chevy Citation, and others like the "Porsche 914"[Import Car of the Year] and the one foreign car that got it that sent the readers into a fury. I can't remember the name, but I think it was a Citroen with a Maserati engine. Can anyone remember the name?
    That one's not a certainty about being worse than a Yugo, but.....anything by Fiat would be close.
    The "Eagle" Premiere [and it's Dodge twin the Monaco]ooooooooooh bad!!!
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    The Citroen you were thinking about is the SM. Cooling was a serious problem. I think it was famous for the exhaust manifold glowing cherry red. It had a Maserati designed V6. French or Italian cars scare me. a French/Italian joint venture is really frightening.

    Wasn't the Yugo a rehashed Fiat design. Fiat was bad enough, a Soviet Block copy of a Fiat was....well, a Yugo.

    As far as the MT car of the year, I really think the advertising revenue collected has a lot to do with it. Or sombody is getting paid on the side.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    The 914 wasn't such a bad car....just a lame VW-engined car but with proven Porsche components. Mostly it was hard to work on. But they are going up in value, even equal to old 911s now, so I think that the 914, after a close call, is finally not regarded as a bad car by collectors. It's a ferocious handler and does well in SCCA (does it race H production or G???)

    Citroem one magazine put it, "Maserati and Citroen would have a hard time agreeing where to eat lunch, much less build a car together".

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I drove a SM that was only a few years old and really liked it but the fact that I picked it up at a small specialty garage probably speaks volumes about SM ownership. The first time I braked I stood the car on its nose even though I'd been warned about how touchy they were. The brake pedal was mushroom-shaped, perhaps as a warning that braking this car was going to be a different experience.

    I liked the SM better than the XJ6 I also drove around that time. Both cars were owned by my boss and I bet he walked a lot.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    As re: the dated wedge shape. Am I the only one who thought that Guigaro was the most over rated designer in history? The same car over and over and over again....and the critics rave.
    I think it has something to do with the thinking that anything from overseas is automatically good; the "everyone knows" syndrome.There are some great Italian designs that I like better today [Alfa Romeo] than I did when they came out in the 70's,they look even better now, but HIS are dated. I think that's the way GM is going and it scares me and Ford as well with it's "New Edge"
    stuff. The Farina styled Allante was a very ordinary design as well and Cadillac started basing all their cars on it. Por QUE! Senor?
    Yes the Yugo was a former Fiat design, I had forgotten that.My brother had a Yugo, had the extended warranty. When the engine blew at 45,000 miles the dealer didn't want to make good on it,but my brother had EVERY receipt and they finally put a new one in. Only my brother would do maintenance on a Yugo like it was a Cadillac....but then he IS my brother. His wife got the Yugo in the divorce settlement! Steel fist, velvet glove!!Couldn't have happened to a nicer woman!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    Well, if the wife got the Yugo I hope your brother got equal compensation, or the $12.99 Blue Book at least.

    The SM was fun to drive, when it ran....a very spacey, out of the world experience to drive one....pretty quick, too, for a 6 cylinder auto. Sometimes mankind reaches too far and falls upon his nose.....I read that somewhere....

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    The SM was the first premium European car I drove and I think I've been comparing cars to it ever since. It's been over twenty years so I can't say for sure but that SM was probably better on the freeway than the Lincoln LS I'm driving now. I was in the fast lane on a busy freeway doing what I thought was 65, looked down and discovered I was going twenty mph faster. I look for that now every time I drive a car and don't usually find it.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    I'd have to admit that citroen had some of the most technically advanced cars on the road. Unfortunately there are a lot of great ideas that suffer from poor execution.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    speedshift - Any chance you had a "kph" speedo in that Citroen? :)
  • mpevznermpevzner Posts: 41
    The Worst nominee goes first:
    1. ZAZ (Zaporozhetz) Russian-built copy of NSU Pinz, even the german "parent" sucked, can you imagine how good the russian copy was? Engine had to be rebuilt after 20K miles if well maintained, otherwise - earlier.
    2. Trabant - east german car. Germans say "it's built from band-aid". And you thought german cars were great... Not the ones built under communist rule.
    3. Wartburg - the damn' thing is well worth the name.
    4. AZLK (Moskvitch), Russian - built copy of '60s opel with russian version of BMW1500 engine. Annual transmission rebuild due to inability of a 40hp-rated '30s designed transmission to take the 'superpowerful' 67Hp engine :)
    5. Yugo :) ... Tell me about it.
    6. RWD LADA - The infamous russian FIAT 124. Russians still build versions of this '66 fiat.
    7. VOLGA - russian 'limousine'. Design is similiar to a downsized '60s american car with one half of the engine (Inline 4 2.5l pushrod) installed. Built to the highest eastern block standards (see Yugo) Nickname - 'boat'.
    8. FWD LADA - russian 'simplified' VW golf I. FYI when russians started building this car, germans were building golf III. This is one of the most capable easten block cars to date. I'd give a credit to Porsche consultantants who made it happen :) Even this 'fancy' lada in terms of build quality is way below that of Pontiac LeMans/Opel cadett.

    You're lucky to live in America guys, VERY lucky.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,328
    We know, we know! Wasn't the Lada 4X4 wagon, that was exported to Canada, not half-bad? Anyone ever see one?

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