12 Legendary Car Flops and What They Taught the Industry

We only talk about successes in the automotive industry. Failures are often swept under the rug. Some cars fail because of bad design, others fail because of faulty manufacturing, and some because of poor manufacturing. Sometimes, cars that were expected to be massive successes fail, too. Those are the cars we cover in this article.  Here are 12 legendary car flops and what lessons did the industry learn from them

Ford Edsel

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 This was one of the most hyped cars of its era. So much research was put into this vehicle from the manufacturing and technical angles. But consumers hated it. The Edsel was launched in 1957, with the incorporation of hydraulic brakes along with a V-8 engine. It had safety glass and other basic technology from the previous Ford models. However, it lacked the people’s trust and failed disastrously due to its poor pricing strategy. The Edsel is a perfect example of a corporate blunder. It had innovative ideas, but its confusing identity, quality issues, and poor timing sealed its fate.

Lesson: Don’t try to be a one-size-fits-all car for everyone. And keep the consumer in mind while building a car.

DeLorean DMC – 12

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 Manufactured under the DeLorean Motor Company, it produced only one model, which began in 1981. It was a stainless steel vehicle that featured gull-wing doors. Even though it had some relevance in pop culture when used in the movie “Back to the Future,” – the management was hit with financial hurdles and quality control issues. Its founder, John DeLorean, was accused of drug trafficking following the company’s collapse just one year later in 1982. 

Lesson: Quality control is essential.

Pontiac Aztek

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 The first comment noted by any critics was that the Pontiac Aztek had an ugly design. The original design and the end product were poles apart, disappointing the public. It was criticized for its unconventional styling, highlighting the importance of aesthetic appeal while building cars. The vehicles were sold from 2001-2005, after which the production of these vehicles was shut down. It was an average car with a V6 front engine, a 5-door crossover, 94 cubic feet of cargo space, etc, but its sales were way below average. 

Lesson: Looks matter a lot when influencing a car purchase decision.


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 As the name suggests, Yugo was imported from Yugoslavia, which soon became the talk of the town because of its poor quality. Introduced in 1985, this vehicle was associated with cheap quality, disposable parts, and reliability issues. Many consumers reported that the car broke down during a drive, which affected their sales and destroyed their image. The failure of Yugo in 1992 highlights the importance of quality control while manufacturing and the need to protect brand reputation at all costs. 

Lesson: You can’t fool all customers all the time. Don’t cost-cut at the expense of running quality.

Chevrolet Vega

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 When the Chevrolet Vega was around the corner, everybody anticipated it to be a revolutionary change. The car was rushed into production and was soon criticized for its range issues. Launched in 1971, the vehicle was put on the market without thorough testing, or at least that’s how the public felt. Even after recalling the vehicle multiple times and designing upgrades, it still faced safety and durability issues. Rushing into production was a big mistake the industry uses as a stepping stone to avoid future errors.

Lesson: The “Move fast and break things” motto works for tech, not in the car industry, 

Chrysler TC by Maserati

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Aiming to combine American luxury with an Italian feel, Chrysler TC began its ambitious project in 1989 but soon lapsed in 1991. There were complaints about the hefty price tag and poor performance. The tires came from Germany, the wiring was produced in Spain, and the brake system was made in France. All of these did not synchronize properly, and when it was finally ready – the market did not accept it as the customers lost interest.

Lesson: If you charge big money, people expect quality.

Fiat Multipla

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 Originally from Italy, the Fiat Multipla has been criticised for its unconventional design and is labeled “ugly.” Recent reports from the 2018 Britain Sunday Times suggested that a person would walk rather than be seen driving in that car. The six-seater car, which began in 1998, had a comfortable, spacious interior. Unfortunately, its unique appearance and slow engine were significant reasons for it to stop production in 2010.

Lesson: Looks matter a lot when influencing a car purchase decision. 

AMC Gremlin

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 This vehicle was launched in the 1970s. Its weird style and dubious performance were reasons for its downfall. The vehicle provided an awful driving experience filled with choppy starts and stops. It was made from incredibly cheap materials with a heavy six-cylinder motor. These deficiencies even extended to safety, which was unacceptable to the consumers. In the quest for short-term gains, the AMC Gremlin faced backlash for its mistakes, eventually producing its last unit in 1978.

Lesson: Half-done is as good as not done in the car industry.

Cadillac Cimarron

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 In terms of marking and branding, the Cadillac Cimarron advertised itself as a luxury compact car similar to the Chevrolet Cavalier but with fewer features. Self-proclamation comes at a cost, and this vehicle did not sell. Even after calling itself a luxury model, it provided a poor driving experience. Due to its low sales, it finally stopped after eight years of its inception in 1988. This “luxury” car is included in Forbes’s legendary car flops, rightly so, after the car failed terribly to deliver on its claims. 

Lesson: Luxury is a privileged word in the auto industry. A sheep in wolf’s clothing is still a sheep. 

Dodge Aspen

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When the Doge Aspen launched in 1976, it was quite a success, rapidly gaining its fanbase. Little did the new buyers know what was in stock when they faced persistent problems with stalling and horrible drivability. The hype and fanbase decreased rapidly, resulting in the company’s tarnished reputation. Premature rusting and carburetor problems were the primary reasons for the stalling. When these problems could not be fixed, 1,300,000 units were recalled for this purpose, leading to its discontinued in 1980.

Lesson: Hype can only take you so far. You have got to deliver.

Ford Pinto

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 The Pinto was essentially a subcompact car made by Ford, which became quite infamous after it burst into flames due to its ruptured gas tank. Numerous lawsuits were filed by injured people and survivors of the explosion who exposed how the Pinto was shoved into the market without verified checks. On top of that, the Pinto was not a great car and had a moderate speed. However, the lawsuits of fuel leakage, accidents, and fatal injuries completely removed Ford Pinto from the automotive industry. 

Lesson: Don’t cost cut at the expense of safety. It will backfire.

Fisker Karma

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 With one of the most extravagant designs, Fisker Karma was launched in 2008 and was the first car from Fisker Automotives. Things took a sudden turn for them as they faced various lawsuits, a major one filed by Tesla, accusing them of copying their Model S hybrid technology. They faced quality setbacks when their A123 battery failed terribly alongside its poor build, whose standard was deemed unsatisfactory for a luxury vehicle. Setting a hefty price tag entails certain expectations that Fisker Karma could not meet. It collapsed even after a relaunch due to production issues and technical failures leading them to file for bankruptcy in 2013.

Lesson: License, don’t copy. 

15 Most Reliable Cars Ever Made — Why They Never Quit

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Some claim that the dependability of autos has decreased. Modern cars have a shorter lifespan than some cars manufactured between the 1970s and the 1990s, but some new and used cars today are good enough to last for at least ten years and up to 500,000 miles. When these vehicles break down, most problems are relatively simple, and many don’t have serious difficulties. Here are 15 of the most reliable cars ever made:

15 Most Reliable Cars Ever Made — Why They Never Quit

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