There are numerous "Worst Cars of All Time" lists out there from many different authorities, some choosing cars based solely on aesthetics, others on technical liabilities and, in the case of a few especially dreadful cars that tend to show up on every list, a combination of the two. Whether you hate the botched concept-to-production cycle of the storied Pontiac Aztek or consider the Ford Edsel, with its suggestive front fascia design ridiculous proportions, the ultimate automotive mistake, models like these are bound to make it into your rankings. However, there are quite a few cars that are so ridiculous, poorly built or just plain ugly that they deserve a special place in the automotive hall of shame, yet they are often overshadowed by more popular-to-hate models of their generations.
Here is a look at a few of these cars and concepts and why they are so truly terrible.
1899 Horsey Horseless
It isn't clear if the Horsey Horseless ever actually made it to production – let's pray that no one was stupid enough to actually fund a prototype of this thing – but inventor, author and Seventh-Day Adventist church leader Uriah Smith made a patent of this horseless buggy that, in order to fool the witless horses of the time (apparently Smith saw this as a priority) and not hurt their feelings, feature a wooden sculpture of a horses head.
Or maybe Smith wasn't worried about preserving the delicate egos of our equestrian friends so much as taking them down a notch, fooling them into thinking they are kings of the road before – BAM! – they see they've been replaced by a stupid looking tractor.
Whatever his intent, this vehicle had a dumb name and was conceived for dumb reasons – whatever they may have really been.
1911 Overland OctoAuto
Milton Reeves was looking to revolutionize the auto business back at the turn of the 20th century, hoping to revolutionize the look and construction of the automobile that Americans had finally started getting familiar with. In some respects, he had accomplished this task with aplomb, as Reeves is credited with inventing the muffler – a valuable contribution that endures today as a groundbreaking revelation. But he failed miserably in other areas, namely his Overland Motors enterprise.
It was as clear in 1911 as it is today that cars need to have four wheels. Numerous automakers have tried and failed to create cars that feature three, five, six and, in Reeves case, eight axels that appeal to the mainstream and are actually feasible economy cars. The OctoAuto, with a name as ridiculous as its appeal (this seems to be a trend among failed automakers), was more than 20 feet long and had eight wheels, which Reeves swore would account for a smoother ride. It didn't, as it could barely turn a corner, and, thankfully, cars remain today, by and large, hugging the road with no more or less than four tires.
1956 Renault Dauphine
Like most things French, Americans weren't in love with the less-than-stellar, disturbingly small (though later generations of domestic marques would grow to embrace tiny) hunk of tin. While a lot of it had to do with inherent bias, this car was as un-American as you could get and in the worst kind of way.
For starters, this was one of the slowest cars of the second half of the 20th Century to ever grace American roadways. When Road & Track Magazine attempted to at least take this thing to 60 mph – a feat the test drivers weren't sure the Dauphine could accomplish – it took them a whopping 32 seconds. To add insult to injury, these things would rattle even at slow speeds, showing extremely poor construction standards of some economy foreign brands of the time, and they would rust so quickly that you'd be hard pressed to find more than just a crumbling skeleton of one of these rides stateside.
One ironic fun fact about the Dauphine, whose name is synonymous with princess in some connotations, is the fact that Renault had originally chosen "Corvette" as the title for this 'beaut,' but changed their minds.
These are just a few of the overlooked clunkers that many auto enthusiasts have forgotten about over the past century. Do you recall any such messes that deserve to be shamed for their weaknesses? Leave your thoughts below:
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