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The Jaguar X-Type was not a terrible car, in some ways it was actually quite a good one. However, one of the reasons for this was that it was underpinned by the Ford Mondeo, itself quite a well engineered machine.
The problem with the X-Type was that Jaguar failed spectacularly to disguise the fact that their new BMW 3 Series rival was a dressed up Ford. This was well publicised at the time and hurt Jaguar’s credibility. This would prove to be difficult to shake off.
I want to like the CLK GTR, I really do. It looks fantastic, has racing heritage and is very fast. However, as a road car it wasn’t much good.
Richard Meaden drove one when it came out and describe the handling thus: “It had horrible turn-in, power-on and lift-off oversteer. It also broke down during the test. Still, at least it didn’t take off”. Furthermore, it had a paddle shift gearbox and a clutch, which simply didn’t work well at all.
On top of thisMercedes wanted $1,547,000 for each of the 25 examples and when it went to Le Mans it took off....twice.
The Fiat Strada advert shows a technologically advanced factory, however, it fails to show you that many of the Strada’s were rusting before they even left the gates.
The Strada rusted so badly that the lawsuits actually drove Fiat from the US market. At least the rust problems took attention away from its lousy engine, which only produced 75 bhp, and did that reluctantly.
The good news was Fiat gave customers the option of specifying the car in ‘rust brown’ which would at least mask some of its problems.
In many ways the Ford Pinto was not a bad car, certainly a better one than the AMC Gremlin. However, it did have a tendency to burst into flames if it was subjected to a rear impact.
To make matters worse Ford did a calculation, one that was subsequently leaked, the calculation suggested that the compensation to victims would be substantially less than reengineering the Pinto’s rear end, a cool $71 million to be precise.
The Pinto was produced between 1970 and 1980 and was reasonably successful. It has to be said that, like the Gremlin, it is not the best looking car, but at least the 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine has kept club racers and kit car builders going for years.
The Izuzu Rodeo wasn’t viewed as a particularly good car when it was released in 1998 and by the time Jiangling had finished with it in 2005 it was no better.
Following crash tests the Landwind X6 was declared dangerous, thus endowing Chinese cars with a reputation that is proving hard to shift.
The Corvair has become a byword for poor design following a series of accidents in the early 1960’s. Ralph Nader had a lot to do with this reputation, after a series of crashes, he wrote his book ‘Unsafe at any speed’.
Chevrolet failed to develop the handling of the Corvair with spectacular repercussions. The swing axle suspension was susceptible to rebound making the rear engine Corvair unstable, with oversteer being the main problem.
The reputation the Corvair attained is a pity as it is actually quite attractive and has some interesting features.
The Pontiac Aztek has consistently been awarded the title of ‘world’s ugliest car’, and it is difficult to defend it from this unwanted accolade.
It was finally killed off in 2005, a year when Pontiac only managed to shift a little over 5,000 of the monstrosities. In 2007, there were obviously a few left, and a further 25 were shifted, which seems miraculous considering what it looks like.
In the event the Aztek wasn’t actually all that bad. However, it would have had to have reinvented the wheel to overcome its inherent headache inducing ugliness. What were they thinking?
There were actually a number of Trabant variants made from 1957 to 1991, but for the purpose of this piece I shall think of them as one continuous trail of (slightly amusing) misery.
The two-stroke engine maxed out at a heady 18hp when it ran, but produced enough noxious gases to knock out an elephant. Meanwhile, the body was made from Duroplast reinforced with wood and cotton fibres.
To make matters worse there was a 20 year waiting list, such were the production problems. However, the steady stream of Trabants crossing the border after the Berlin wall came down actually gave them some kudos.
The AMC Gremlin was the result of a rushed attempt to beat Ford and General Motors into the ‘sub-compact’ sector in America. Sadly, at this point AMC was well and truly in the doldrums, and money was tight.
The Gremlin’s designer, Richard Teague, was actually quite revered at the time, but the Gremlin would not prove to be one of his finest moments. They effectively grafted a new nose onto a rehashed AMC Hornet rear-end. To top the monstrous styling off AMC then inserted a thirsty V6 engine under the bonnet and failed spectacularly to sort the handling out.
Incredibly, it was produced for 8 years and 672,000 were sold in North America. There is no accounting for taste.
1. Top Gear Car – Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust
If this car was a serious attempt it would render the rest of the list pointless. However, it isn’t a serious car, but bad enough to be included as an amusing irrelevance.
The video explains effectively how bad the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust is really is. Highlights include the simply atrocious ‘on the limit’ handling (in a straight line), the braking performance and the unimpressive refinement.